Monday – Broccoli cheese polenta pizza – Fast Weeknight Favorites – page 258 – well this one seems to be a keeper. So we don’t have a baking sheet (J ruined it last time he was broiling steak… it was on fire!!) so I improvised and put aluminum foil over our broiler pan. Also we don’t have an electric broiler, we have gas and I am not sure how I feel about it at times. When we lived in Az I have ONLY ever had electric, this is the FIRST time I have used gas stove/oven/broiler/etc. Needless to say the broiler pan doesn’t fit on it’s “holders” very nicely (story to follow). So I cut my polenta open and it squirted all over the kitchen, tip 1 – be careful when opening polenta “loaf/roll”. Polenta is easy to cut and I suggest keeping it to 1/4 of an inch or smaller, J said he liked the thickness we had tonight, but I am thinking thinner would have been better. Making the “pizza” is a pain in the booty… and as soon as you get it be careful because it can slide very easily off of your work space (i.e. broiling pan). When I was checking it, to make sure the broiler didn’t burn it… the broiler popped off it’s holders and there went my nice (took 15 mins) to make pizza circle. Dang it… so I through it back together, this time not worrying too much. Scooping on the broccoli was fine, hot though, cheese mixture went well – it was SMART to have it stirred/prepped prior to opening the broiler area up. All in all it was an easy recipe and went great paired with a homemade/tossed salad. There wasn’t too much left over either (and I made extra). The recipe called for 16oz of polenta, I used 24… it said 3/4 cup of ricotta, I used 1 cup… I needed to make a little extra, because as my sister-in-law reminded me… my husband, J, eats alot!! (Note – the leftovers of this meal are not my favorite, tastes so much better fresh)
Tuesday – Chicken/asparagus strata – BHG: New Cookbook – page 238 – Ok let’s start tonight’s dinner off BEFORE I even place it in the oven. MAN… I was happy and shocked to find out this meal could be prepared prior to cooking it. When we were choosing recipes we weren’t looking at ease of cooking, or anything to that sort, so I missed that this one could be prepped up to 24HOURS in advance. I could have saved myself some dishes if I would have prepped it last night… luckily the hubby did dishes. This recipe may become a new fav to cook… it was EASY and seems versatile. So to start the kids can help… remember tearing bread the night before thanksgiving with your grandma?? If you don’t you are missing out… but the point is the kids can help by prepping with you. They can sit at the table (stand at the counter) and tear the muffins into small pieces for you… LOVE HELP in the kitchen right? They can also tear the cheese… my son however would need more cheese; he’d probably eat while tearing. Also this dish is versatile and you can shift it a bit… at least I hope you can, because that is what we did. So we are using the leek chicken I cooked up this weekend in the crock pot, the recipe calls for ham… but since I don’t eat that much ham we felt good changing it for chicken. Next it called for torn up Swiss cheese, Ken’s had shredded Swiss on sale (and it was local cheese) so we went with that… love to save money right? Next you can use diff veggies… we are using asparagus, but the recipe says you can also use broccoli. It calls for frozen veggies, but why use frozen when you got fresh? Plus my mom always taught me to eat fresh asparagus, frozen doesn’t hold up to taste standards. The last thing we changed (other than adding more veggies/cheese) was using leeks instead of regular sweet cooking onions. Since I was using the leek chicken, I had an extra leek in the fridge and I love the smell/flavor of leeks, we decided to go with leeks… and instead of 2tbsp we added 3. So will all these changes still give us a yummy dinner… we shall blog later so you can read!! ***So dinner was good. S took the first bight tonight and said he liked it. I took second… I liked it… BUT… I would change the cheese. I am not a HUGE fan of swiss and I didn’t like it melted with these ingredients. I need to google search some nutty/salty cheese to use, J felt it was lacking in salt. I felt the leeks worked nice, as did the chicken… AND the fresh asparagus was amazing!!! All in all this was a good meal that will be repeated… however next time we’ll fiddle with the cheese! (Note – the leftovers of this meal aren’t too shabby… I do prefer fresh but I won’t toss leftovers of this one)
Wednesday – Savory stuffed loaf – Great American Home Baking – card 13 of main dishes – So this meal WAS supposed to be cooked by J, however he is on his way to Lansing so I am stuck with the duties. He said just order out and I said, “nope… we are going to do this cooking at home thing, so I am cooking at home.” So I suited up in my apron and started going. Now I will say I was not too thrilled about cooking this meal since I DIDN’T choose it, but hey we have to eat right?? Here is what I did… I changed some things in the recipe – are you surprised?? I started off adding more onions, we love onions so I added an extra ¼ cup (if they have true health benefits then I’m only helping), I also added more garlic (we love garlic as well – I used 4 instead of 2). I added the called for amount of tomatoes since our oldest S isn’t too found of them, which is ok. I also added a few more ounces of frozen spinach, if I didn’t we would have had 2oz left over in the freezer – which would make no sense. I added the called for amount of black olives, add nearly 2x the amount of cheese (we love cheese – we love food). Also when I pinched this loaf together I really didn’t read the directions… I just pulled the ends together and pinched – didn’t go so well (we’ll see how it looks when it comes out), if I were you I’d do what the recipe calls for. Also, it calls for breadcrumbs… well J forgot to buy those at the store, so only parmesan it is!! We, meaning J, has made this loaf before and have served it at gatherings and have good feedback… we’ll see how mom’s turns out. Oh and I sliced my thumb… hey J that wouldn’t have happened if you were cooking! (oh and if you are like me… as you were slicing the olives you were eating them, as well as the left over tomatoes… mmmm I love snacking and cooking) So dinner came out great, even though I didn’t fold it “correctly” – S said it was good, he gave me an A+ for my firest time he says!! Yahoo for mom being a good cook!! What would I change… maybe the way I fold it, also I might try it on parchment paper and see how that goes. Clean up wasn’t horrible, I just thought it might help keep the bottom a little softer… don’t get me wrong the bottom was fine, I just don’t want to dirty 3 knives, I want to it to cut with a fork. Note – there were no leftovers to comment on. This one was gone FAST!
Thursday – Asparagus and artichoke quiche – The Essential Baking Cookbook – page 201 – so today didn’t go so bad. This quiche was super easy to make, and tasted SUPER good! We had a dinner victim, I mean guest, over for dinner and perhaps she’ll get on and share her feedback of the meal. Ok so how did I drift from the recipe?? I hardly drifted… I cooked/refreshed/added the asparagus as called for, I added the artichokes as called for, I whisked, stirred and poured the egg mixture as asked for… I did not top with cheddar, we topped with a colby/jack mixture we had on hand, I am one for using what I have. I popped it in the over for the 25mins… and guess what?? It needed an extra ~10 mins prior to being done. While it was setting/cooling I put together the herbed white bean crostini (http://loveandcupcakesblog.com/2012/04/26/from-the-kitchen-herbed-white-bean-crostini/) that a fellow blogger posted earlier today. I of course worked with what I had in the house and threw my own spin on it. I left out the crushed red pepper, I put the white bean mixture on the baguettes prior to putting them in the oven and I sprinkled them with a bit of parmesan cheese. Our oldest, S, LOVED them and ate more than his fair share! There are absolutely no leftovers… so tomorrow’s meal may have to be Sat’s meal moved up.
Friday – leftovers – well there were supposed to be left overs, however… there were none! So today was pick a local resturant and eat there day. With our little test coming up we are going to have to find local diners that shop locally for their produce/food. I know of a couple, but I think we are going to need to find more to accomodate nights out.
Saturday – Turkey/broccoli filled lasagna rolls – BHG: New Cookbook – page 355 – these were fun to make together (hubby J helped out). So here is what we did differently, first we doubled the recipe… sorta. So we cooked 9 noodles, instead of 4, we cooked 2 cups broccoli instead of 1, we added 2 cups ricotta instead of 1, we used a giant duck egg instead of 2 chicken eggs, we used twice the dried amt of thyme, and instead of red sauce we used alfredo, but only 15oz, not 24oz. So here is what we learned. Cook the meat/broccoli/onion first so it can be cooling while you cook your noodles, then cook your noodles… while those are cooling whisk up your egg/ricotta. Cooler noodles are easier to work with, put a little bit of oil in the water so they don’t stick however when you have them on a surface. We let the broccoli/meat/onion mixture cool so it didn’t go into the ricotta/egg hot and start “cooking” them, this seemed to work well. When you start rolling it is messy, have fun!! Seam side down, top with sauce and bake covered. I put the parmesan on and let it stay in the oven while we prepped the table and sliced some fresh apples. This melted the cheese and let it “solidify” up for pretty serving. From our 9 noodles we got 8 rolls (good thing we did extra, one of our noodles split down the middle), there are 3 left over for tomorrow’s lunch. We’ll comment on how they are as microwaved leftovers and let you know.
Sunday – Spinach and Chicken lasagna stacks – FWF – page 136 – what to say about this recipe. First my husband cooks and he sometimes rushes, and sometimes doesn’t think when he is rushing. He was supposed to post this recipe review, but I think he is a little upset with it’s outcome and refuses. Here is a little story about J and his rushing/not thinking when cooking. We were making soup in the crock pot, a chicken/rice soup. I started the soup and he was supposed to add the rice about 45 mins prior to it needing to be served. Well he started pouring the rice right on time… and he kept pouring, and pouring… he kept pouring because he couldn’t see the rice and he wanted to make sure there was enough rice. All the while he is pouring he is not thinking that rice EXPANDS. So needless to say it was a very creamy mush type soup… the baby LOVED it blended up, but the rest of us chewed our way through. Well using this rice story as a base, let us discuss last night. J was cooking and was doing great. It was my job to wash the spinach – and prepare the fresh veggie/fruit side dish (this means carrot and apple washing/slicing). We were setting the table, feeding baby E and J was finishing up the sauce. Well he decided it was too thick for him… so he added more flour, then some more flour… he kept adding until it seemed thick enough – again not thinking. We know that flour would make the sauce even thicker… if he added it slowly and waited between adding more it might have worked. But because he added so much so fast… well it made glue. Dinner was a bust. He ate two servings – he admitted he did it because he felt bad – S ate one and then had ramen he bought himself at the store, and I just had a few bites and it was too “thick” and was making my tummy upset. So here is a challenge for anyone reading. Please make it better and share your secrets and thickening techniques… we would love to hear if someone made a good meal from this one.