Blizzard Guest-Blogger!

When Melissa asked me to be her guest blogger, I jumped at the chance.  What perfect timing! A blizzard was on the horizon so that meant multiple trips to the grocery store. This is Maryland and we take our winter weather seriously! I looked forward to the opportunity to spend time at home with family, cooking wonderful winter comfort foods.  At least that was the vision I had in my head.  In reality, I drank more wine than usual and we watched a great deal of news coverage about the blizzard.

First up:  International Comfort Food! Arroz con pollo.  Grocery store #1 was practically giving away pork shoulders so I nixed the international chicken for this favorite pork and pasta dish.  Lucky me, our friend Susan H. brought the Arroz con pollo to our Blizzard Arrival party. (Hint: Always give your friends a heads up when you plan on cooking something. They just may test it out for you!)

The pork shoulder was huge so I cut it down, put the smaller piece in a slow cooker with this great carnita sauce.  I had it in the pantry so it turned out to be a very cheap dinner. Score!

As the blizzard week dragged on, my motivation to spend quality time with the family lost some of its luster as the snow melted but no one returned to work or school. What is with you people, you are always hungry! Schedules were off and it seemed like someone was always looking for a meal.

By the end of the week I was left with a great deal of leftovers, a bin of wilted produce and wilted enthusiasm.  Using Melissa’s kitchen pantry clean out as a guide, I made a big pot of leftover soup.  Anything in the fridge that was on life support made the cut.

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Leftover canned crushed tomatoes, some sad celery, half an onion and other random castoffs.
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I’m sorry. I really had high hopes for you this week.

Among the wreckage were leftover braised beans and kale which made an outstanding snow day lunch.  Do not leave out the lemon zest or pepperocini!

Into the pot went chopped onion, shallot, garlic, sad carrots, sad celery, sad mushrooms, the leftover tomatoes, whatever was left in the box of chicken broth, the cup of leftover beans and kale, another can of roman beans I had on hand and a bunch of chopped parsley.

About 30 minutes later I had this:
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Miracle stew! The vegetables lived to fulfill their destiny! A little Parmesan jazzed it up.

After the cathartic feeling of a clean fridge, I am ready to face the blizzard-free week ahead. On the menu is this favorite pot pie

And this Greek chicken 

Recently I was at a dinner party where we played a game called “Something everyone loves but I hate.”  It’s fun, you get to shout out something like Rainbows! Puppies! Starbucks! and everyone gasps “but how could you hate ___________!”

Lentils. Yes, the perfect food. I hate lentils. Yet I keep buying them whenever I get the feeling I should eat Superfoods so that I feel Superhealthy.

I have several half-full pouches of lentils.  I’m a hopeful gal and I was willing to give them one more chance.  Happily, lentils and I have found our happy place. This soup has changed my relationship with lentils. I have yet to resolve my relationship with curry, so I left that out. But me and lentils. We’re a thing now.

I hope you fared well during the blizzard or at least ate well!

Blizzard Guest-Blogger!

January cupboard cleaning

I did a little cupboard inventory before meal planning this week.  John reminded me, however, that usually the food left in the cupboard is there because nobody wanted to eat it in the first place.  Hmmm…he may have a point….  At any rate, here’s what I found in the pantry and how I used it:

  • smoked salmon, fettucine  This one was easy.  Fettucine with salmon, a family favorite.  Sometimes we make it creamy, and sometimes we make it with a tomato sauce.  With roasted broccoli (I’m digging the roasted broccoli lately.  Love the flavor and easier than steaming!)
  • black beans, pinto beans, chipotle in adobo, cornmeal  Chili with ground turkey, tomatoes, peppers.  Cornbread muffins.
  • tofu, black bean garlic paste, brown rice  Stir fry tofu with added veggies (carrots, pea pods, celery).
  • jambalaya mix  (brought back from New Orleans by a friend!) Jambalaya with andouille sausage and chicken thighs.  Started with the “holy trinity” of New Orleans cooking (onions, green peppers and celery) to boost the flavor profile.  Served with garlic and parsley peas.
  • matzoh crackers, mozzarella cheese  Lasagne with matzoh and spinach, or  matzoh with tomatoes, spinach and mozzarella.
  • lentils  Honestly, I wasn’t too excited about cooking lentils, then a friend emailed me this recipe for cozy lentil soup, and I came across this recipe for lentil and potato salad later in the week.
  • sloppy joes  Not because I had any of the ingredients, but because 93/7 ground beef was on sale and Isabel declared we hadn’t had sloppy joes in “forever,” which probably translates to “I saw tofu on the menu and got scared.”  I used the Red Fork package this time, added a little chipotle in adobo paste for smoky flavor.  No complaining kids for that meal!
  • preserved lemons   Chicken Tagine?  That would be a first for me!
  • Next up – comfort food for a winter-weather-weekend.  How about a new take on arroz con pollo?

So, what did my kids do for winter break?   John spent a week skiing in Colorado with a friend’s family.  He said the snow wasn’t that great but raved on and on about the views.

 

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Meanwhile, Ana spent the week in the Dominican Republic on a service trip with a dozen nursing students.  She didn’t say much about the weather but raved on and on about the experience and the people she met.

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xo M.

January cupboard cleaning

New Year, New Food

“…and mom and dad could hardly wait for school to start again…”  Really?   That must have been when school lunches were actually tasty and nutritious and the bus came after 6:20am….

Saturday the girls and I had a fun day in Georgetown.  It was my ***Christmas break is almost over let’s get out of the house and do something fun together*** idea.  We did a lot of window shopping and people watching, then we ate, of course.  Pizza Paradiso for Margherita pizza, Panino Grosso and Arugula salad with creamy garlic dressing.   Oh wow, the garlic dressing!  Sprinkles for cupcakes – red velvet, coconut, chocolate peanut butter, black &white.  Oh so good!  We wanted to get a cup of coffee at Baked & Wired, but alas, the line was around the block.  The night ended with a fantastic meal at a local place, Vin 909.  What a great day!

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As for the rest of the week, here’s what we ended up with:

  • Sunday night we returned to our Sunday steak theme, with NY strip steaks, parmesan risotto, sautéed mushrooms and salad.  Super yummy, and a special treat!  (NY strip steaks were on sale at WFM this weekend but still a special treat.)
  • Monday I cleaned out the potato drawer, and roasted two sheet pans of Yukon gold and red skinned potatoes with an onion and olive oil.  Halfway through I threw a cut up whole chicken on top of one pan, and a bunch of multi-color carrots to the other pan.  I love those multi color carrots.  Hey kids, foods do come in many colors!
  • Tuesday was soccer night (Return of the Soccer Carpool after a nice holiday break), so we made tamales (we ordered extra for Christmas Eve and froze them), black beans and roasted broccoli.  Delish!
  • Wednesday we will all be home for dinner (yes, all SIX of us!) and Ana gets to pick the meal as she goes back to school Thursday morning.  Stuffed pork loin, grandma’s rice, haricots verts, salad, and sticky toffee pudding cake for dessert.
  • Things get less predictable towards the end of the week.  I have some sausages in the freezer for Thursday, and I’ll find a starch and vegetable to go with them.  Leftover roasted potatoes and frozen peas maybe?  Corn pudding if I’m feeling like mixing and cooking….
  • Friday is usually big salad night, with leftovers or eggs and fresh bread (did you know you can buy par-baked bread at WFM bakery?  Freeze it at home then bake for 15 minutes at 400 for hot fresh bread).
  • So far for the weekend this King cake is the only thing on my to-do list.  I’ll look here or here for recipe ideas after the sugar rush.   Or, this Thai coconut soup came into my mail box today and it looks perfect for this time of year!

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Happy New 2016 and Happy Food to you!  xo M.

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New Year, New Food