Monday, April 26, 2010

I'm back!!!

After a busy several of weeks, I am back! I have so many blog posts that I composed in my head while scurrying around, and they will come, but for now it is merely a "Menu Plan Monday" post, you know, just to ease back into things. So, here it is....

  • Sunday--Red lentil soup, barley flat bread, roasted asparagus, beet salad
  • Monday--Chili, polenta, roasted cauliflower
  • Tuesday--Red beans and rice, coleslaw
  • Wednesday--Split pea soup, potato dumplings, salad with roasted squash, fresh bread
  • Thursday--Gumbo, squash-corn muffins, sauteed greens
  • Friday--Pizza and leftovers
  • Saturday--Pasta with mushrooms and leftover greens
There have been complaints of not enough dessert. Although, those complaints come from the family sweet tooth so I am not sure how seriously to take them. We usually have a dessert on Friday night along with our movie night. Miss Tooth, says *all* of her friends have dessert *everyday* so wouldn't I PLEASE consider just one more day for dessert. How often do real people have dessert?

This post is linked to Menu Plan Monday at I'm an Organizing Junkie.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Wet Burritos

OK, I said something in my last post about cooking traditional Mexican food this week.  Check back tomorrow if that's what you want, because tomorrow we're making tamales.  Today, we're having wet burritos.  Wet burritos are traditional - in Colorado, where my husband has relatives.  This is the one entree that his mom made that I had to learn.  I'd like to think I've improved upon it, too.  The sauce is not spicy at all, almost bland.  I like spicy food, but I don't spice these, because the simplicity of this is part of the appeal.

The Sauce:  
Sauteed 1 lb ground beef or ground turkey until browned.  Add about 3 cups of tomato juice, and
about 2 cups of refried beans, or one 14 oz can, and stir and cook until blended and the consistency you want.  If it gets too thick, you can thin with broth, more tomato juice, or water.  Salt to taste.   (This is really good with homemade refried beans.  It doesn't call for much, though, and it's not worth making the beans just for this dish, so I always make extra beans to use with future meals - see my post on planned leftovers.)

Other ingredients:

flour tortillas (I use whole wheat for these)
optional fillings -In my family we use cheese (I don't, but the others do), caramelized onions (a by-product of my refried bean recipe), avocado chunks, sour cream, and salsa.  Some people like lettuce, tomato, and raw onion.  You get the idea.

Assembling the burritos:

Warm the tortillas on a skillet until soft and pliable.  If you're using cheese, you can warm it on the tortilla to melt it.  Put the tortilla on a plate, and put a little puddle of the sauce in a strip down the center.  You'll have to experiment to see how much you like.  Add any other fillings you like.  Roll the burrito up, and add another puddle of the sauce on top.  Add any other stuff you want on top.  Eat with a knife and a fork.  Enjoy!   

Bookmark and Share

Planned Leftovers

I love good, homemade traditional Latin American cooking, including Mexican food. If it's prepared properly, it's nourishing, and it tastes fantastic, like someone slaved over it all day. That's because someone did. Traditional cuisine can be a boatload of work. It's a load of work when I cook this way, and I have the benefit of a food processor, which most Latin American cooks don't use. I have lived and traveled in Latin America quite a bit, and I have noticed that in Latin America, someone, usually Mama or Abuela or Tia, is in the kitchen all day.

One way I have learned to handle the workload, when I decide to prepare these more labor-intensive meals, is that instead of one day of Mexican dinner, and then back-to-our-regularly-scheduled-program, I plan several Mexican meals in a row, and strategically plan for leftovers. That's how I'm starting this week. We'll see how it goes.

This week's Menu Plan:

Monday:  Wet burritos (I had never had these until I got married and got the recipe from my MIL.  It's a burrito with sauce on top that is eaten with a knife and fork.)   Today I am doing the bulk of the food prep for the next three days - refried beans for today's burritoes and as a side for the tamales, poached chicken for the tamales, and as a by-product of the poaching, chicken stock which will be used in the masa for the tamales.  Oh, and also homemade salsa, which will be used for today and the next three meals.

Tuesday:  Tamales, refried beans, Mexican rice

Wednesday:  It's ballet night, so no cooking - leftover tamales, refried beans, and Mexican rice

Thursday:  Albondigas (Mexican meatball soup), tortilla chips, and salsa.  And that will be the end of our Mexican extravaganza for the week.

Friday:  Dandelion green fritters, Greek-ish salad with feta and carrots, yogurt dressing

Saturday:  Soft polenta with pesto shrimp (pesto frozen from last summer)

Sunday:  Creamy polenta and spinach soup, white bean bruschetta, and stuffed mushrooms.  Cake with strawberries and yogurt for dessert.

We'll see how it goes!  I'm going to try to post about a few of these meals this week, as long as life cooperates!

This post is linked to Menu Plan Monday at I'm an Organizing Junkie.

Bookmark and Share

Friday, April 2, 2010

West African Peanut Soup and Banana Fritters

 This meatless, gluten-free dinner is fast, frugal as all get out, and good for you to boot.  The best part about it is that it tastes fantastic.

The Soup:  West African Peanut Soup may be the recipe I have been making longer than any other.  I found it in my early twenties in the Sundays at Moosewood Restaurant: Ethnic and Regional Recipes from the Cooks at the Legendary Restaurant, and I have never looked back.  There is another similar recipe in the same chapter called Groundnut Stew - almost the same ingredients, but chunkier, not pureed.  Kids almost universally love this.  I leave the cayenne called for in the original recipe out, and put a bottle of Tabasco on the table for those who are inclined to spice.  The chives or scallions are also added at the table.

2 cups chopped onions
1 tablespoon peanut or vegetable oil
1 teaspoon grated peeled fresh ginger root
1 cup chopped carrots
2 cups chopped sweet potatoes
4 cups veggie stock, chicken stock, or water
2 cups tomato juice
1 cup smooth peanut butter
1 tablespoon sugar (optional)
salt to taste (how much depends on if your tomato juice was salted - I'd start with a 1/2 teaspoon)
1 cup chopped scallions or chives

1.  Saute onions until just translucent.  Stir in fresh ginger.  Add the carrots and saute a couple more minutes.  Mix in the potatoes and stock or water, bring the soup to a boil, and then simmer for about 15 minutes, until the veggies are tender.

2.  In a food processor (or, even better, with an immersion blender - man, I want one of those!), puree the vegetables with the cooking liquid.  Return the puree to a soup pot.  Stir in the tomato juice and peanut butter until smooth.  Reheat gently, stirring often.  Add more water, stock, or tomato juice if a thinner soup is desired.  Taste the soup.  Its sweetness will depend on the sweetness of the carrots and sweet potatoes.  If it's not there naturally add the sugar.  Salt to taste - make sure to add enough.  Serve with tabasco sauce and plenty of chopped scallions or chives on the table.

The Fritters:  I'm on a bit of a fritter kick.  It has something to do with this sack of whole grain cornmeal that's been in the freezer for a while - I've almost used it up!  As I've mentioned, I'm trying to use up the contents of the freezer so that I can defrost it and fill it up again this summer.  Cornmeal mixed with stuff and fried - that's a fritter.  The salmon patties I've been making with canned salmon are basically a fritter.  I was planning to make weed fritters this week.  Sounds weird, huh?  Our local food coop gets fresh spring nettles at this time of year that a local person picks, de-thorns, and brings in.  They are supposed to be very healthy and tasty.  I tried to buy some yesterday, but we've been having such stormy weather that it seems the picker hasn't wanted to pick them lately.  You can also make fritters out of dandelion greens, but they didn't have any of those either, and the little yellow-flowered weeds that fill my yard are some other yellow composite, not dandelions.  A dandelion impersonator, I suppose.

With the soup, I decided to make African banana fritters.  I found the recipe on RecipeZaar, my favorite online source for recipes.  These are simple as can be (5 ingredients), and delicious.  I rolled them in cinnamon sugar.  Both my kids, neither of whom likes bananas, loved these.

On bananas:  we don't eat a lot of bananas, because, as I said, my kids don't like them, and we do strive to make foods that must be air-freighted from across the globe an occasional treat.  At this time of year, however, there aren't a lot of fruit choices.  The quality of California citrus and kiwis is declining, so I stop buying them.  California strawberries are becoming available, but they're mostly not very good and I always try (and usually fail) to hold out until we get the first really good ones from our CSA in June.  My husband starts complaining that there is not any fruit to pack for his lunch.  When I ignore him, he eventually goes out and buys his own dang bananas.  So there you have it.  I am a banana nazi, but I try not to get "all hard-core psycho" about it (I saw the phrase "all hard-core psycho" on the blog Chile Chews, and it has become part of my internal dialogue ever since.).  What do you get "all hard-core psycho" about?

This post is linked to Pennywise Platter Thursday at The Nourishing Gourmet.

Bookmark and Share