Monday, December 15, 2014

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas...

Well, if you count the days, it's beginning to feel a lot like Christmas, even if we have no snow outside.  I'm certainly not complaining, because a green Christmas is a good Christmas in my books!  But I'm running out of time to get things done, and all I've done is decorate the house, and send my Christmas cards.  I have, however, made some lists!




I have lists of gifts to buy, groceries to buy, things to bake, things to make, things to clean, things to put away, and things to do....if I don't accomplish at least one or two things every day from now until the 24th, I'm going to fall short.  I wasted an entire day yesterday laying around the house, feeling slightly under the weather, and catching up on Downton Abbey.  Oops.  At least I did some laundry.

Last week I won a $50 Sobey's gift card on Facebook!  That was unexpected.  I wrote a comment about our family's traditional turkey stuffing, and apparently they liked it.  Strangely enough, I'm not planning to make said stuffing this year.  I've decided that I don't feel like cooking another 20 pound turkey this soon after Thanksgiving.  My freezer is still full of those left overs!  So I plan to try out a couple of Jamie's recipes, one for Turkey Wellington and another for Veggie Wellington, and if the kids want stuffing, they can make a box of Stovetop.  If anyone bitches about the lack of dark meat, I'll defrost them a bag.  :p

Yesterday, in between TV episodes, I threw together a batch of Pumpkin Chicken Chili, with some frozen chicken quarters, frozen turkey stock, frozen garden tomatoes, and a butternut squash that's been kicking around the fridge.  I also used some of last summer's frozen corn, a couple of dried ancho chilis, and fresh cranberry beans from Farm Boy.  Was it ever delicious!  I served it over rice.

Soon I have to start baking....everyone expects cherry balls and shortbread cookies at Christmas, at the very least! I'd also like to try my hand at some Festive Honey Roasted Nuts and perhaps a few jars of Better Than Nutella Vegan Spread as gifts. For the big day, I might just pick up a Costco pumpkin pie for the masses, but make a small vegan cheesecake to go along with it, for me. :)




I'm going to try not to break the bank on groceries this week, because the majority of my hard earned cash needs to go towards Christmas gifts & goodies. The kid has advised me only to buy him egg nog and white rice, as that's all he can afford to eat.  LOL. 

Let's see if I can stick to something similar to this:

Monday - pumpkin chicken chili left overs
Tuesday -  seared tuna steak with stir fried veggies & noodles
Wednesday - out for dinner with friends (the kid can make himself some frozen chicken strips or burgers)
Thursday - sausages with mashed potatoes and cabbage
Friday - breaded haddock on a bun

Lunches will be fennel/apple salad, deli smoked chicken breast on buckwheat/chia bread, and left over Sicilian fish soup from the freezer.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Another Monday, another meal plan

I pretty much stuck to the plan last week.  I even made Cooking With Poo's pad thai, which was easy and delicious (but didn't translate well to left overs).  Yesterday, I made the Sausage & Broccoli Gnocchi I'd planned for earlier in the week, because we ended up going out for dinner one night.   I also made a pan of rice krispy squares, and a vegan pumpkin pie with coconut whip.  So tonight, we're having left overs!



Last weekend I spent a lot of money on veggies and healthy, dairy- & gluten-free options for me.  This past weekend I mainly bought things for the kid (and a few necessities for me).  Therefore, this week's meals are going to based on what veggies I need to use up.   In no particular order, I plan to make:

Squash & Spinach Rotolo
Fennel Risotto with seared tuna steak
Fish on a bun & homemade coleslaw
Tacos/burgers for the kid

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Dim Sum Pork Buns

I had trouble selling my left over pork roast this week.  The common complaint was that it was dry.  That was fine with me, though, because it meant I could finally get to make this! 

457.  Dim Sum Pork Buns (Save With Jamie, page 164)

JamieOliver.com video

First, I needed to buy a bamboo steamer at the Asian market.  Jamie says they're cheap as chips.  Maybe not quite...$6 each piece for the base and the lid.  If I decide I need another layer later on, they are stackable, so I'd only need to buy one more piece. 

I shredded about 5 oz of left over pork, and mixed it with two tablespoons black bean sauce, but I also needed "hot chili sauce".  I'd seen Jamie use sweet chili dipping sauce, but all I had was Sriracha, so I used a bit of that, and then also added some mirin for sweetness.  There were three of us, and the book said that would be enough for four people. 

I mixed about 2 cups of self rising flour and 1 1/3 cups of almond milk in the food processor, but found that it was far too wet, so had to add quite a bit more flour to bring it together.  Not sure if I measured wrong, or the almond milk instead of cow's milk caused the discrepancy.  There is a vegan version of this recipe that is very similar, using coconut milk and mushrooms.  I'll have to try that one another day.


 
 
In any case, I managed to roll the dough into a sausage shape, and cut it into 8 equal pieces.  I flattened each piece, then added 1/8th of the pork to each round.  I stretched the dough up and around the pork, and pinched it together  at the top.  Then I greased some double-layered muffin liners, and put one little pork bun upside down in each.



 
I dug the electric wok out of the cupboard (asking myself why I don't use it more often) and put about an inch of boiling water in it.  I turned it onto a medium heat, and the steamer fit perfectly!  The buns needed 12 minutes exactly.
 

 
 
Lindsay got busy toasting the sesame seeds.  I got busy preparing the bits and pieces to go with the buns.
 


 
I was pretty impressed with how much they puffed up!  I sprinkled them with some of the sesame seeds while they were still sticky.


 
 
We put everything in the middle of the table and assembled our individual buns.  I had a bit of everything....more sesame seeds, green onions and a tiny bit of red chile. Sadly, I didn't have any fresh cilantro, but that would have been nice too.   I saved the hoisin sauce for dipping.  ;)
 

 
 
These were delightful, and surprisingly filling!  Two was enough for each of us.  Stuart said they were better than he expected.  However, I think I received the best compliment from Lindsay, who said "you'd never know these were left overs".  High praise indeed!  Jamie was right when he said I'd be proud of myself.  :)

Monday, December 1, 2014

Monday Meal Planning

I made a traditional roast dinner last night, with one exception...I did the actual pork roast in the slow cooker instead.  I surrounded it by apples and onions and threw the last of the red wine in for moisture, along with a splash or water.  However, I used the oven to roast the parboiled veggies - potatoes, heirloom carrots and beets.  I also boiled some green beans and seasoned them with garlic and olive oil.  It was quite the feast for two people, so of course there are lots of left overs!

I stocked up the crisper with lots of veggies this weekend, including mushrooms, squash, potatoes, carrots, cranberry beans, cabbage, broccoli & peppers.  I like having a good variety, because it inspires me to cook more.  However, I think I need to hit the Asian market at lunch tomorrow for a few more items, including a bamboo steamer.  ;) 

I'm really trying to keep most of my meals gluten free, at the advice of my naturopath, but it's difficult.  I discovered some great Organic Works' buckwheat chia bread at Farm Boy on the weekend, and that rocked my world!  First GF loaf I've seen that doesn't consist of some combination of brown rice, chick pea or corn flour (all of which I can't eat) and actually tastes like real bread.




Monday:
Lunch - left over Sicilian fish soup
Dinner - left over roast pork dinner

Tuesday:
Lunch - left over roasted veggies
Dinner - Save With Jamie's Dim Sum Pork Buns & coleslaw

Wednesday:
Lunch - left over pork buns/coleslaw
Dinner - Cooking With Poo's tofu/shrimp pad thai

Thursday:
Lunch - tuna salad sandwich
Dinner - gnocchi with sausage and broccoli

Friday:
Lunch - tuna salad with rice crackers, fresh veggies
Dinner - quinoa mac & "cheese"

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Chicken Katsu Curry

I would not have attempted this dish last night had I not already marinated the chicken.  I was not feeling 100%, but everyone wanted dinner, so I soldiered on.

456.  Katsu Chicken (Jamie's Comfort Food, page 100)

I have some fussy eaters to feed....one hates coconut and curry, one hates onions, and one is vegetarian.  I made this meal for me, not omitting anything.  I figured they could pick and choose whatever bits and pieces they wanted.  ;)

I had marinated two chicken breasts in soy yogurt with garlic & curry powder overnight.  I got them out of the fridge, and rolled each of them in panko bread crumbs.  I put about half a cup of oil in a frying pan (not 4 cups, WTF Jamie!) and heated it until the chicken was sizzling.  I turned it every so often so it wouldn't get too dark on either side, and would cook evenly.

I put a pot of basmati rice on, with some creamed coconut and salt.  And then I got to work on my curry sauce.  I chopped onion, carrots, ginger & garlic, and added some of the frozen, chopped cilantro stalks from my garden.  I sauteed these in a pot with a bit of oil and a combination of turmeric, curry powder and garam masala, and once the veggies were carmelized and soft, I added a spoon of mango chutney and a bit of  flour.  I boiled the kettle and added the water, then let the sauce simmer until thick.

Last but not least, Jamie wanted me to pickle some red onion in lemon juice.  I didn't have any red onion, so I sliced some sweet onion and cucumber instead.  I zested the lemon and then juiced it over the veggies, added some salt, and let this sit for a few minutes.  I sprayed a ramekin with olive oil, so I could mould my rice.  Jamie cracked me up in the live video about the moulded rice (it starts about 21:30).  Ha ha ha, I love it when he disses Gordon Ramsey!  I sliced up my chicken breasts, for sharing.
 

 
 
As Jamie would say, this looks like a dog's dinner. But it tastes amazing!  The sauce made the whole meal.  The chicken was moist and tender with a nice crunch on the outside.  The rice was very coconut-y, and the pickle cut through everything...it was just a perfect combination of ingredients on a plate.  I'd make this again in a heartbeat.
 
One kid had chicken on a tortilla wrap with BBQ sauce.  One had rice and chicken with no sauce.  One had rice and sauce with no chicken.  LOL.  To each his or her own.  :P  There were no left overs!

Monday, November 24, 2014

Monday Meal Planning

I took a week off of meal planning because it took me that long to make everything I posted about last time!  Work was crazy last week, with two offsite, all day conferences.  The beauty of it was that all food was catered, and I let them know about my food sensitivities in advance.  They had so many goodies, changing the selections from breakfast to lunch to mid-afternoon snacks....things like fresh fruit, crispy sliced beets that tasted like potato chips, sweet & spicy whole pecans, crispy green beans, vegan sandwiches...I did not go away hungry.  They also had soy and almond milk, and all the Tazo teas.  Amazing!

This week it's back to normal, so I spent a lot of time cooking, reading, relaxing and catching up on the PVR on the weekend.  I'm really noticing the effects of gluten lately, so I'm going to try to take it easy this week.  However, the banana bread sitting on my counter isn't helping....LOL.  I'm my own worst enemy sometimes.  My naturopath says I need to eat more fish (um, is that even possible?), so I'm going heavy on seafood this week.  Such a hardship.  :P




Monday:
Lunch - left over spaghetti vongole
Dinner - left over roasted veggies & beet greens, sauteed shrimp
Prep - marinate chicken for Katsu Curry (Jamie's Comfort Food)
        - marinate tofu for vegan feta

Tuesday:
Lunch - left over roasted mushroom risotto 
Dinner - Chicken Katsu Curry
Prep - defrost beef

Wednesday:
Lunch - beet salad with vegan feta, rice crackers, deli chicken
Dinner - ground beef wellington (for the kid), left over roasted veggies & shrimp for me
Dessert - it's vegan doughnut night at Veg Out!
Prep - defrost fish

Thursday:
Lunch - beet salad with vegan feta, rice crackers, deli chicken
Dinner - Sicilian Fish Soup because I love the combination of squash & tomatoes!
Prep - defrost pork

Friday:
Lunch - left over Sicilian fish soup, rice crackers
Dinner -  pork roast w applesauce and whatever veggies I have left in the crisper/freezer

Hopefully I'll find interesting ways to use up the pork leftovers on the weekend.  ;)

~~~~~~~~~~

One year ago, I made Trout Al Forno.
Two years ago, I tried to complete Pork Steaks & Hungarian Pepper Sauce in 15 minutes....it took 30.  :P
Three years ago, I was recovering from seeing Jamie in Toronto.
Four years ago, I showed my kids how to make Farfalle Carbonara.
Five years ago, in an attempt to eat my fridge, I made a Lamb and Red Wine Stew.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Overly Ambitious Carbs

Do you ever get overly ambitious?  Yesterday, I had a lot of ingredients I wanted to use up.  I started out by making a banana bread in the morning, to use up three spotty bananas.  While that was in the oven, I made the spaghetti vongole for lunch, and briefly forgot about the bread.  I overcooked it by at least 15 minutes.....so it's edible, but a little crunchy.  :P

I spent a lot of money yesterday morning at Sobey's, and one of the goodies that found it's way into my cart was a monstrous bunch of fresh Ontario yellow beets.  I defrosted some trout for dinner, and planned to eat it with the sautéed beet greens, plus this colourful roasted veggie tray that Jamie tweeted about yesterday.  However, I also had some defrosted turkey stock waiting in the fridge, so I decided to make a pot of risotto for Stuart.  Then I remembered a flat of cremini mushrooms in the crisper, and thought "why not make some risotto for myself too?"  I got to work on that, while also assembling the potatoes and beets for the tray bake.  My head was spinning.

455.  Risotto ai Funghi e Prezzemolo (Roasted Mushroom Risotto with Parsley) (Jamie's Italy, page 142)

I've made a few varieties of risotto in the past couple of years.  As usual, this recipe starts with risotto bianco.  It also wants wild mushrooms, garlic, butter & thyme.  I sliced some creminis and added them to a dry pan with about 6 cloves of garlic, each cut in half.  I then added a pat of vegan margarine and some of my dried garden thyme, and put the pan in the oven to roast for about 10 minutes. When the risotto was just about done, I scooped half out into a pot for myself,  and finished the other half with butter and parmesan cheese for Stuart.  I added half of the mushroom/garlic mixture to mine, along with some chopped parsley and a pat of vegan margarine.  I covered this for a couple of minutes, then seasoned it with a squeeze of lemon juice and sprinkled it with my vegan parmesan "cheese" (aka ground cashews, nutritional yeast and salt).


 
 
This was delicious.  It was also filling!  I didn't need the colourful, roasted veggies, the beet greens or the trout.  Those will have to wait until tonight's dinner!  LOL