Saturday, February 23, 2013

What We Cooked for Grandpa

My father-in-law came to visit - a little unexpectedly - so I had to re-work the meal plan a bit (I didn't think he would like black bean chili or braised kale with chickpeas), but this is what I managed to feed him.

While browsing the web, I came across a cookbook title that was so applicable to my life that I had to borrow it from the library: Parents Need to Eat Too: Nap Friendly Recipes, One-Handed Meals, and Time-Saving Kitchen Tricks for New Parents. I'm not a new parent but with the baby demanding to be held all the time and snatching anything in my hand so she can shove it into her mouth, I thought it would give it a try.

Honey Soy Salmon - A winner. The marinade is made of honey, soy sauce, and sriracha. Incredibly easy. Marinate salmon fillets for 20 minutes at room temperature or overnight in the fridge and stick in the oven for 12 minutes then serve. Everyone loved this meal, including the 4 year old, who gobbled it up, and my father-in-law, who ate it with as much gusto but with much more refined table manners. My husband asked that I add this one into the regular meal rotation. I served it with steamed rice and stir-fried broccoli.

Apparently, this is also a freezer friendly meal. Just marinate the fillets and freeze. The fish will marinate while it thaws.

Overnight French Onion Chicken - I wasn't a big fan of this dish but I'm glad that I tried it. The recipe calls for caramelizing 6 finely sliced onions in the slow cooker overnight and then adding chicken, broth, sherry, and thyme in the morning. Just before dinner, I also toasted Italian bread in the oven and melted gruyere on top. The preschooler refused to touch it. The husband picked out the onions. I thought it was a little too sweet and slightly disappointing for the effort. My father-in-law really liked it. One note in the book suggested keeping the leftover onions and using as a base for French Onion Soup so I may do that.

I haven't decided what else I'll make from the book. Below are recipes that I found elsewhere.

Lacinato Kale and Ricotta Salata Salad - This was my first time making a raw kale salad, which I served with the French Onion Chicken above because I wanted some kind of green added to the meal. I liked it but everyone else refused to touch it. I think I'll try to make other raw kale salads.

Roasted Mushroom and Beef Barley Soup A nice standby soup recipe for cold weather. My 4 year old used to love the barley in this soup and would ignore the mushrooms, but this time around, she refused to touch the barley and would only eat the mushrooms.

Chocolate Banana Bread - A recipe I found off the Cook's Illustrated site - I didn't add the link since you need to be a subscriber to get the full recipe. I am not a good baker, but this was simple and good. The bread was nice and moist, it had good banana flavor, and it wasn't too dense. It has been our unhealthy snack of the week.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Candice: Turns Out I'm Horrible at Planning Meals

Meal planning is something I aspire to, but just isn't happening. I did join the winter CSA and I keep the newsletter up on my fridge, checking off veggies as we go. This winter has been brutal for me. It's unusually cold for Northern California, and I'm about 20 weeks into my third pregnancy. We're also in the middle of renovating our master bathroom and repainting the master bedroom so our bed has been relocated to the living room. The novelty has long worn off. All of the above, coupled with a body clock that is still confused by my distance from the equator even after a decade in the Bay Area, has made for a really sessile mama. I normally love the meals of winter: hearty soups and stews, chunky casseroles, more bread and pasta than is wise…but we're not making any big culinary plans over here.

My childhood memories, though, are filled with my mother's obvious disdain for cooking, so I keep trying to be less bitter about the fact that I have to produce meals for my family every damn day. It certainly didn't make her any happier to feel that way and it's not working for me, either. And, when I do force myself to plan out meals in advance, I find it makes things easier on everyone because my husband is grateful to have an "assignment" even if I am too exhausted to assist in the kitchen.

Here's a list of things we've been eating for dinner: 
-Meat Muffins (really just fritattas in muffin tins)
-Butternut squash soup (with ham, beans and greens)
-Nacho night (a weekly favorite. I probably should establish a set day of the week for it)
-Pad Thai (homemade and thus peanut free for the boy. He LOVES it. I get weepy knowing he will probably never experience real pad thai out in the wild)
-Beef Stew
-TJ's corn penne and some kind of tomato-based meat sauce

I've also been trying to reduce the amount of packaged cereal and cow milk eaten by my children. My husband takes breakfast duty and has been pretty good about trying new ideas. He mixes and matches from the list below depending on hunger levels:

-Sprouted-grain toast and jam
-Plain puffed millet with almond milk (the girl loves and requests this)
-Yogurt with jam
-Leftover meat muffins
-Scrambled eggs
-Fruit with everything

When I am functional in the morning I make myself pretty much the same thing every time: Full fat greek yogurt, nuts and seeds (sunflower, chia, sliced almonds, pepitas), some kind of freeze-dried fruit from TJ's (blueberries or grapes), a diced apple (minus whatever the kids claim when they see me cutting up an apple) and a boatload of honey. Lots of fat and calories for incubating, yay!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Tiffanie: this week's menu

Missed last week; developed some severe jaw and tooth pain that is either sinus related or one of my molars is dying. Lovely times! So I ate very little and all of it was soft.

But! This week I am cooking again, just in time for a cold winter storm.

My plans:

  • mushroom taco night
  • white bean rosemary soup, with no-knead bread and green salad
  • a lal dal (red lentil curry) with jasmine rice and roasted brussels sprouts
  • posole verde; a vegetarian version with mushrooms, tomatillos, poblano peppers, hominy.... so very good.
  • potato leek soup (my comfort soup), aloo samosas (filled with peas and mashed potatoes; the kids will help make these), and possibly smoothies.
  • shakshuka, from this recipe: It looks perfect for me when I'm eating alone. It's a spicy tomato sauce with poached eggs. 
Happy eating!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

the latest dishes

What I've been making:

Chicken and Pork Adobo from a recipe cobbled together with my parents' offhand instructions and two Filipino cookbooks (adobo is one of those recipes where everyone's version is very individual and everyone is very attached to their version of the dish). This wasn't a new recipe but I haven't made adobo in a long, long, long time so I thought it worth noting. While what I made wasn't quite like my parents (too much sauce!), the flavors were right and the father-in-law and husband were very happy with it. My mom also told me that adobo is very freezer friendly so it can be made in huge batches but leftovers of adobo never last long.... Served with rice and sliced tomatoes on the side.

Butternut Squash Risotto from the Pioneer Woman - This was delicious. I haven't made risotto in a long time - maybe 3 years? - and this was my first time making butternut squash risotto. Will definitely make again but not too often since it does require standing by the stove for a little while to add the broth in 1 cup increments and stir the rice. Served with roasted asparagus.

Mushroom Stroganoff with Goat Cheese from Alton Brown - This was the first mushroom stroganoff recipe that I've tried and liked. Definitely a keeper although more of a once in blue moon dish rather than one to put in the regular meal rotation.

I almost forgot to mention that I made potstickers for Lunar New Year. Mine were filled with ground pork, water chestnut, and chives. mmmm.

Also, old standby recipes such as chicken cilantro burgers, turkey tacos, pasta, and breakfast for dinner.

Up next:

Seven Vegetable Couscous with Spicy Harissa
Chicken and Pork Adobo (again)

The baby also started solids! She's been eating bananas, pears, avocado, and rice cereal (okay, well, maybe the avocado hasn't really made it in to her mouth but she was very good at mushing it with her hand....) Next up for baby are roast yams.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Tiffanie: this week's menu

Very late this week!

My plans/history:

  • bok choy and chickpeas with toasted cashews. Onion pancakes, baked marinated tofu.
  • sweet potato corn chowder with kale. A no-knead loaf, of cherry and walnuts.
  • a wild rice pilaf to supplement the soups (from Clean Food).
  • green salads with beets, to eat up the two lettuces in the CSA box.
  • pancake night, with roasted potatoes and smoothies. (Kid request)
  • an apple and squash soup (puree)