Thursday, August 6, 2009

Fresh Fig Ice Cream

We have a very large fig bush, actually, a tree, I guess! It is in its 4th year and looks to be our best harvest, yet. So, here's the first recipe I'm trying with this year's harvest. I found this recipe at Burp! Where Food Happens, but changed it just a little bit (added vanilla).

Fresh Fig Ice Cream

2 lbs fresh figs (must be fresh, do not substitute dried; however, the fresh ones can be ones that have gone a little bit over)
1/2 c water
zest of one lemon
3/4 c sugar
1 c heavy cream
1/2 tsp lemon juice
1/tsp vanilla

Cut figs into quarters or eighths. Cook figs in water and zest for 8-10 minutes or until figs are tender. Add sugar and cook until jam-like (took about 20 minutes or so, stirring frequently). Let cool. Blend in cream, lemon juice and vanilla (use a handmixer if you have one, if not a quick whirl in the blender). Chill well (overnight, if possible - otherwise for a few hours). Pour into you ice cream maker and follow manufacturer's directions.

Oh, my goodness it is absolutely heavenly!

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Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Tuscan Garbanzo Bean Soup

As you might have noticed from my post frequency, May is a ridiculously busy time in my family! End of school, summer plans being formed, son's birthday party, and state homeschool convention.

Well, here's what we are having for dinner tonight. It is simmering away on the stove right now!

Tuscan Garbanzo Bean Soup

1 c medium pasta (shells, elbows, etc)
2 T olive oil
1 small white onion, chopped
a couple dashes of garlic powder
3 T fresh rosemary or 2 tsp dry
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (opt)
1/2 c chopped canned, stewed or sun-dried (packaged in oil or softened with water) tomatoes
1 medium carrot, chopped
2 cans 16 oz Garbanzo beans, drained and divided

Cook pasta according to package directions.

At the same time, in a medium saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion and saute until just soft, add carrots and saute a few minutes more. Add garlic powder, rosemary, bay leaf, and red pepper flakes. Add 2 cups of water, tomatoes, carrot, and garbanzo beans, reserving 1 cup whole beans. Bring to a boil, stiffing occasionally, then reduce heat, cover and simmer for 7-10 minutes.

Puree vegetables (in blender or with a hand blender) and return to saucepan. Add pasta and remaining whole beans and heat through adding water if soup is too thick.

Top with cheese at the table!
2 T grated parmesan

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Thursday, May 7, 2009

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Good Seasonish Italian Dressing Mix

Do you love Good Season's Italian Dressing Mix as much as I do? Do you hate the preservatives and other chemicals they include as much as I do? Would you love a dry mix you can make yourself and keep on hand? Look no futher!

Good Seasonish Italian Dressing Mix

First you make the dry mix:
1 T garlic powder
1 T onion powder
1 T sugar
2 T dried oregano
1 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp dried basil
1 T dried parsley
1/4 tsp celery salt
2 T salt

Store this in an airtight container. When you are ready to make dressing, put the following in a jar with a tight lid - or one of those handy Good Seasons dressing bottles:

2 T dry dressing mix (above)
1/4 c vinegar (my favorite is red wine vinegar)
2 T water

Shake this really well then add:
2/3 c really good olive oil

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Sunday, May 3, 2009

Farmer's Market Report: May 4th

Welcome to the Farmer's Market Report!

Lovely red french lettuce, turnips, carrots, baby bok choy, radishes, and eggs - these were all the wonderful things I brought home this week. Missed the strawberries, but there are local stands all over the backroads of my NC county, so I'll pick those up later this week. I'm planing a batch of strawberry ice cream!

Be sure to come back and visit later this week as I add recipes for Salad Dressing Mix, Roasted Carrots and Brussels Sprouts, Baby Bok Choy with Oyster Sauce, and Turnips Au Gratin.

The market has really picked up steam in the last week...the produce is coming in thick and so are the shoppers!

After my farmer's market run, I had to swing by the conventional grocery to get milk. Such a stark difference! The first thing I noticed was the smell - mostly refrigerant, but with some wafts of vegetables from the produce section and warm bread from the bakery. But nothing like the earthy, warm, rich fragrances from the onions, herbs, etc at the farmer's market. Then there were the shoppers. The shoppers at the farmer's market was comprised of some singles, but also lots of couples and families. At the conventional grocery, on the other hand, there were only lone shoppers - no couples, no families. Now, I know that couples and families do shop together at conventional groceries, but it the difference that morning highlighted how different the two are. The farmer's market is very community-oriented and can be a delightful family outing, unlike the conventional grocery.

So, how was your farmer's market this week? Can't wait to read about your visit to the farmer's market! Please be sure to read and follow the guidelines before submitting your post. Thanks!

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Monday, April 27, 2009

Kale and White Bean Soup with Chicken

This recipe was my first real adventure with kale. I always thought I didn't like kale, but I was wrong! I was inspired by a traditional Portuguese soup with kale and beans (and sausage) which sounds wonderful, but this one uses up my leftover chicken!

This dish is great for many seasons: late fall, winter or early spring whenever kale is available in your area.

Kale and White Bean Soup with Chicken
1 T olive oil
1 large spring onion (or a small yellow onion), halved and sliced
1 to 1 1/2 quarts of chicken stock
2 cans cannellini beans, with the liquid
1 large bunch of kale, well rinsed and chopped into bite-sized pieces
2 cups (more or less) chopped or shredded, cooked chicken
a rind of parmesan or some parmesan to top at the table

Heat olive oil in a large soup pot or dutch oven. Add onion and saute until transluscent. Add stock and bring to boiling. Add kale by handfuls (allow to wilt a bit and then add the next handful), stirring well. Let kale boil for a few minutes to soften well, then reduce heat and add beans and liquid from can. Cover and simmer until kale is tender. Add cooked chicken and keep soup simmering to warm chicken through. You can toss in a rind of parmesan into the pot for extra flavor or top with freshly grated parmesan at the table.

Serve with a nice crusty bread!

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Farmer's Market Report: April 27th

Welcome to the Farmer's Market Report!

Radishes, Kale, Turnips, Spring Onions...and some greenhouse Tomatoes - we brought home a nice bag full. Did you find similar things at your market? I've got some ideas for using these, do you?

On our way to the market, we have been stopping by our local coffee shop. It is a great way to break large bills into smaller ones, and who doesn't need caffeine at 7:30 on Saturday morning? Then we walked the block or two down to the market.

We had a heads up that the "Tomato Guy" had his first crop of greenhouse-grown tomatoes. I debated purchasing these because it is most definitely NOT tomato season...but they are local and they are GOOD. So, I caved and we brought home two lovely red ones and a nice fat green one. He was down to his last box (there was a line to get tomatoes!) by the time we left at 8:00.

The market was much busier today than last week and the farmers seemed to have a bit more produce.

Some recipes I plan to try this week (and blog about): Green Tomato Casserole, Scandinavian Radish Salad, Kale & White Bean Soup, Roasted Potatoes and Turnips, and a Spring Onion Quiche. Be sure to check back for those recipes!

Here's a question: Do you have a favorite farmer from whom you purchase most of your produce, or do you purchase a little from a number of different farmers? I feel a little obligated to make purchases from a number of different farmers, but I do have my favorites. I usually buy the most from them. How about you? What makes a farmer a favorite for you?

Can't wait to read about your visit to the farmer's market! Please be sure to read and follow the guidelines before submitting your post. Thanks!

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Sunday, April 26, 2009

Roasted Potatoes and Turnips

Roasting turnips brings out a little bit of their sweetness and combine them with the savoriness of potatoes and they are just delicious! This makes a wonderful side to Roasted Chicken (try my favorite recipe for Roasted Chicken with Lemon and Rosemary) since you've already got the oven on and everything can cook at the same time.

This is my recipe.

Roasted Potatoes and Turnips
4-5 medium potatoes
5-6 small white turnips
1 small onion (in spring use green onions, in fall use a nice yellow onion)
1/4 c olive oil (or whatever seems to be enough to coat your vegetables)
a few dashes of salt, pepper and dry or fresh dill

Wash (peel the onion), trim and roughly chop the potatoes, turnips, and onion. Place in a large bowl. Pour the olive oil over the vegetables and season with salt, pepper and dill. Toss to coat well. Lay the vegetables on a rimmed cookie sheet - one layer as best you can. Use two cookie sheets if you must to keep it to one layer.

Place in an oven preheated to 375 degrees and roast for approximately 30 minutes, or until vegetables are tender and golden. Keep an eye on this as it cooks - stir if you see your vegetables getting too browned on the edges.

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Farmer's Market Report - Coming Monday!

Don't miss the Farmer's Market Report this Monday, April 27th. The "Mr Linky" will be up early that morning, so get your posts ready to submit.

I can't wait to read about YOUR trip to the farmer's market this week!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Scandinavian Radish Salad

Oh, my this is refreshing: slightly peppery and slightly sweet! Slice those radishes as thinly as you can for a really delectable salad. I made this with an assortment of white, hot pink and deep fuscia radishes and it was beautiful as well as delicious.

Scandinavian Radish Salad

2 tsp white wine or rice wine vinegar
2 tsp olive oil
1 tsp dry or 1 1/2 tsp fresh dill
a dash of garlic powder
a pinch of sugar
a pinch of salt
a grinding of fresh black pepper
15-20 medium radishes, trimmed and thinly sliced (or shaved)

In a small bowl, combine vinegar, oil, dill, garlic powder, sugar, salt, and pepper. In a large bowl, toss radishes with vinegar, oil, spice mixture. Cover and refrigerate about an hour (more is fine, of course) before serving.

For a different, and still Scandinavian, flavor you could replace the dill with caraway seed (1 tsp).

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Green Tomato Casserole

You've heard of Fried Green Tomatoes, but there are other ways to enjoy those early (and late)green tomatoes. They have a nice tang that goes really well with cheese, so why not combine them into a casserole?

Green Tomato Casserole
4 medium green tomatoes, sliced thinly
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 cups soft breadcrumbs
1 cup of shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 tablespoon butter, softened

Butter your casserole dish, or spray with non-stick cooking spray. Arrange one layer of tomatoes in the bottom of 1 ½ quart casserole. Sprinkle with sugar, salt and pepper 1/3 of bread crumbs and 1/3 cheese. Repeat layers twice omitting the cheese from the top. Dot butter over the bread crumbs on top. Cover and bake at 400 degrees for one hour (if you reduce the recipe, be sure to check for doneness earlier, say at 30 minutes). Add remaining cheese, bake uncovered until cheese melts.

This was delicious and surprisingly filling. You could even "jazz" it up by adding a layer of onions, if you wish. Although the tartness and slight sweetness of the tomatoes with the cheddar was so delicious, I'm not sure I'd mess with it!

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Monday, April 20, 2009

Farmer's Market Report: April 20th - OPENING DAY 2009

Welcome to the Farmer's Market Report 2009 Season!

How was your Farmer's Market this week?
Get a great deal?
Find a wonderful new vegetable?
What delicious dish will you be making with your find?
Got a funny story to tell?
What did you bring home?

Well, our market morning didn't start quite as early as we'd liked, but we still managed to get to the market by 7:45. We made our initial tour and saw, as expected, mostly greens and early onions. We opted to wait on the onions for the week and instead purchased spinach, kale, a really nice spring salad mix, eggs from my favorite "egg lady" and a Lenten Rose plant.

My attention was attracted by one farmer selling carrots; however, he was out - they go quickly. We talked for a minute and he assured me he expected to have more next week. He gave me his card and suggested I email him and he'd be happy to set some aside for me. Isn't that nice? See how talking with your farmers is a good thing?

During the day there is almost always a cooking demonstration. Today, the chef featured in the cooking demo also gave a market tour detailing how he suggested using the various greens and other vegetables.

Last night, we ate the salad mix with a nice bunch of thinly sliced fennel - and some thrown in leftover shrimp. Delicious!

We didn't buy enough of the greens to go for more than one recipe - we'll correct that mistake next week. But I do have enough to make a lovely Sausage and Greens Soup (made with lamb stock from my Easter Lamb Roast).

So, what did you find at your farmer's market? Blog about your experience at the farmer's market this week, then use the Mr. Linky to add your post's URL.

A few guidelines, if you please:

1) Mention the Farmer's Market Report in your post.
2) Link back to this edition of the Farmer's Market Report from your post.
3) Link directly to your Farmer's Market post, not your main page.
4) If you wish, you can give a couple words in the "name" field to help describe your post or give your general location. (ex. Kerry - Charlotte, NC or Kerry - heirloom tomatoes)
5) Feel free to use the graphic above, but please only use in it conjunction with this event or this blog.
6) I reserve the right to delete any links that are inappropriate or entirely off the subject.

Have fun!

Sausage and Greens Soup

1/2 lb bulk sausage
Brown sausage in soup pot and drain all but a spoonful of fat. Remove meat.

1 C onion, green onion, or chives, chopped
Saute in reserved fat until soft. Return sausage to soup pot.

4 C chicken or vegetable broth
1 C potatoes, diced
salt and pepper to taste
Add to pot, bring to boil, reduce heat, and simmer unitl potatoes are soft, 10-15 minutes.

1 1/2 C evaporated milk
1-3 C fresh greens (spinach, kale, purslane, watercress, or any tender young greens)
Add and cook until tender (just a minute for spinach, a few extra minutes for greens like kale). Garnish each bowl with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

From Simply In Season , a favorite cookbook of mine.

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Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Farmer's Market Report RETURNS!

Hi, friends! Are your farmer's markets starting back up yet? Ours started last weekend and I can't wait to go this Saturday! Early spring greens are in ...and soon we'll have strawberries. I can taste the salads already.

Well, you know what this means, right? It is time to bring back the Farmer's Market Report! Each week, I'll offer you a chance to enter a report post from your most recent farmer's market visit. (Here are some from last year.)

So, head out to your farmer's market this week or weekend, blog about what you saw, smelled, found, tasted, and cooked and then come back here on Monday morning (starting this Monday, April 20th) and submit your post to the Mr. Linky. I can't wait to see what is happening at farmer's markets across the country!

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WFMW- Repost: 8 Steps to a Successful Farmer's Market Trip

Recently, many families have become aware of the importance of eating organically, sustainably, and locally. This means many people are looking to the farmers market for their grocery needs.

But I've seen a few families wandering around aimlessly or arriving late only to find most of the produce gone. To avoid this, I've got 7 simple steps that WORK FOR ME and will help you have a successful trip at the farmer's market.

I bet some of you will be able to add to these, too...leave a comment if you've got other suggestions!

1. Get up EARLY! If this means you have to go to bed early, do it. Know what you are wearing, what you are bringing to the farmer's market, and, do not underestimate the importance of this one, how you will get caffeine. Plan to arrive when the market opens - or even a few minutes before (which might give you time to take care of #4 before the market even opens).

2. Have cash. I go to the ATM the day before and generally take $40 with me, sometimes more if I know I have a lot to purchase (like when I was buying a heap of peaches a few weeks ago). Try to break large bills into smaller ones (5s and 1s are best). But if you don't have time to break your bills, consider making a large purchase from one of the farmers first and breaking your bill that way. (I break my bills by getting a cup of coffee on my way and they are usually happy to make change.)

3. Bring a big bag, basket or small hand cart. Many farmers will have plastic bags on hand, but it can get very cumbersome to pick out produce and dig your cash out of your pocket while holding all those heavy bags. A big bag can be hung on your shoulder freeing up your hands. A basket can be set on the ground and obviously a small hand cart is a breeze to roll around.

4. Take a tour. When you first arrive at the farmer's market, take a quick tour around to see what is available from the farmers. This also gives you a chance to quickly compare prices a bit. Once you've made a full circuit, then start shopping.

There are some caveats here - 1) if you are worried about the availability of an item (for me it is eggs), go to those farmers first. 2) if you have a very large farmers market (more than, say, 30 farmers) you might prefer to skip the tour and instead head for the back of the market and work your way to the front. However, even for a large market it can be wise to make a simple tour of the main "aisle" just to see what is available.

5. Talk with the farmers! Get to know your farmers and let them get to know you. Ask them questions about the produce they are selling, what their future harvest might hold, where they farm, etc. Enjoy your time with them. And if there is something you particularly liked from a previous purchase, let them know! (Conversely, if there was something you didn't like, let them know that, too.) And let them know you support their efforts to continue supplying local food.

6. Remember, this is NOT a grocery store. Vegetables will not be sprayed with wax to be shiny. Some vegetables may have little "friends" with them (bugs). Vegetables may be less "regular" than what you are used to finding in a store. This is NORMAL! Super shiny, no bugs, pefectly uniform is NOT NORMAL. The farmer's market is real stuff and real stuff is, well, real.

7. Make a plan for your purchases. When you get home be ready to go to work.

  • Figure out how you'll use what you've purchased. Do you need shrimp to go in that Shrimp Gumbo you are planning to make with your fresh okra? How about a new Fig Tart recipe for those figs?
  • Wash and trim any vegetables that need it. Give that spinach the long cold soak it may need to get rid of all the sand in its leaves. Chop up those carrots into "matchsticks" and store in an container for the kids's snacks.
  • Provide the proper storage to keep everything fresh. Does that cantaloupe need a day or two more to ripen on the counter? How about a good container to keep the lettuce from wilting in the refrigerator?
8. Yours to share! Do you have an additional tip for a successful farmer's market? Let's hear it! Leave a comment with your tip.

So, are you planning a trip to your farmer's market this week? Let me hear about it! Come back Monday, April 20th and participate in the first "Farmer's Market Report" of the 2009 season.

This post was submitted to Works For Me Wednesday at We Are That Family.

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Monday, April 13, 2009

Lamb with Shallots & Mushrooms - Leftover Lamb Recipe

My Lamb Roasted with Rosemary (in the dutch oven) was wonderful last night! Now, for ways to use up the leftover lamb!

Here is the dish I'm making today...

Lamb with Shallots & Mushrooms (this recipe only fixes enough for 3, so I've increased it and changed just a bit).

cold lamb chopped into bite-sized pieces
12 oz. sliced mushrooms
4-5 chopped shallots
4 tbsp. butter
3 3/4 tbsp. flour
3 c. stock
3 tbsp. tomato paste
3 tsp. Herbes de Provence
1 c. white wine

Saute shallots in butter until just transluscent. Add mushrooms and cook until just soft. Sprinkle with flour and cook a few more minutes. Add stock, wine, salt, pepper and tomato paste. Cook over low heat 10 minutes or until the sause thickens up a bit. Lower heat and add meat to sauce and let warm. Serve over rice or noodles. Serves 8-10.

I'm serving this with a side-salad, bread, and leftover strawberry-rhubarb crumble a la mode.

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Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Easter Sunday Menus

Easter Sunday is fast approaching and I'm late making my plans. Perhaps you are, too? Are you looking for some last minute ideas for your Easter Sunday meals? Here's what I have planned (with linked recipes!).

Breakfast Casserole with Sausage (the "old stand-by", but it is good and I have the sausage already cooked and ready to go in my freezer)

Armenian Easter Bread - "Choereg" (if I can get to the middle eastern grocery for the mahleb spice needed)

Fresh Fruit and yogurt

Deviled eggs and veggie platter (we'll get home late after church where we will have had snacks)

Leg of Lamb with Rosemary (cooked in the Dutch Oven - I like the ease of letting the pot and the oven do the work!)

Ginger Ale Salad (a fruit salad in jello - southerners can't have a special meal without some congealed salad!)

Gratin Dauphinois

Asparagus with Bernaise (I know the usual is Hollandaise, but I just love the flavor of Bernaise with asparagus) (here is a "quick" version)

Strawberry-Rhubarb Crumble a la Mode

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Gratin Dauphinois

Gratin Dauphinois - Oh, so yummy and delicious! This goes great as a side dish to so many main dishes (beef, chicken, turkey, pork, lamb) and even could be part of a "vegetable" platter-type dinner. This recipe is the Julia Child version from my favorite: Mastering The Art of French Cooking, Volume One. If you want, you can even make it ahead a little and reheat/finish cooking just before serving (see directions for this at the end with "**")

2 lbs boiling potatoes
1/2 clove unpeeled garlic
4 T butter
1 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
4 oz (1 cup) grated Swiss cheese
1 c boiling milk

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. peel the potatoes and slice them 1/8 inch thick. Place in a large bowl (or sink) of cold water. Drain when ready to use.

Rub the baking dish with the cut garlic. Smear the inside of the dish with 1 T of the butter. Drain the potatoes and dry them on a towel. Spread half of them in the bottom of the dish. Divide over them half the salt, pepper, cheese and butter. Arrange the remaining potatoes of ther first layer, and season them. Spread on the rest of the cheese and dicide the butter over it. Pour on the boiling milk. Set baking dish over heat and when simmering, set in upper third of preheated oven. Bake for 20-30 minutes or until potatoes are tender, milk has been absorbed, and the top is nicely browned. (As the oven is hot, and the dish shallow, the potatoes cook quickly.)

**You may hold the dish for half an hour, loosely covered, over simmering water. For a longer wait, stop intial cooking just before all milk has evaporated. Set aside uncovered. Shortly before serving, dot with 2 T of butter, reheat on the top of stove, and set in a 425-degree oven for 5-10 minutes to finish cooking.

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Thursday, April 2, 2009

Recipe Swapbox for April: Pasta!

swap blogpost

Hey, I'm back!

And today is the Recipe Swapbox hosted by a bloggy-friend at i have to say. The theme for April is PASTA. YUM! Go check out the yummy recipes (and Howdy to all those stopping by from her blog!) and then come on back here and give this one a try.

So, being a seasonal food blog, I decided I needed to find a pasta dish that is appropriate for early spring. I figure early spring peas will be on hand soon, and if you don't have them yet, you can always use frozen.

Peas and Prosciutto Sauce with Cream
adapted from Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking - my FAVORITE Italian cookbook

3 T butter
A 1/2-inch thick slice of prosciutto or country ham, diced very fine
1 cup tiny frozen peas, thawed (how good would fresh be! might need to be blanched before using in this recipe)
1 cup heavy whipping cream
freshly ground black pepper
1 cup freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese (plus a little at the table for topping)
1 to 1 1/2 lbs of penne pasta (or other tubular pasta)

Put the butter and diced prosciutto into a saute pan and turn on the heat to medium. Cook for a minute or less, stirring frequently. Add the peas, and cook for another minute or so, stirring to coat them well.

Add the cream, salt, and several grindings of pepper, and turn up the heat to high. Cook, stirring constantly, until the cream thickens. Toss the sauce with cooked, drained pasta, swirling in the grated parmesan. Serve immediately, with additional grated cheese.

Wouldn't this be fantastic with a salad of early spring greens?

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Sunday, March 1, 2009

This blog has not been abandoned!

I promise this blog has not been abandoned! We are currently out of the country for longer than we expected. I expect be back to blogging shortly after we return. Please keep checking back!

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Sunday, January 4, 2009

Menu Plan Monday: Jan 5th-10th

Well, tonight we had leftovers and/or nachos - mostly the kids picked nachos and hubbie and I enjoyed some leftovers. Here is my plan for the rest of the week:

Monday: Broiled Chicken a la Diable* (a mustard and breadcrumbs sauce), Gratin Dauphinois* (scalloped potatoes), and broccoli

Tuesday: leftovers from Monday

Wednesday: Crockpot Cabbage Casserole, sausage, and corn bread

Thursday: Fish Poached in Wine*, saffron risotto, and green beans.

Friday: homemade pizza

* These recipes from from Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child:

More menu plans at!

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Crockpot Cabbage Casserole

Serve this with sausage and corn bread and you've got a nice meal! Serves 6.

1 large head of cabbage, chopped
2 c water
1 T salt

1/3 c butter
1/4 c flour
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 1/3 c milk
1 1/3 c shredded cheddar cheese

Cook cabbage in saucepan in boiling water and salt for 5 mintues. Drain. Place in slow cooker.

In saucepan, melt butter. Stir in flour, salt and pepper. Add milk, stirring constantly on low heat for 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in cheese. Pour over cabbage.

Cover and cook on low for 4-5 hours. Can be made ith cauliflower instead of cabbage.

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Friday, January 2, 2009

Black-eyed Peas and Sausage

This is a dish I made up last night and it was just wonderful! Easy to put-together, a one-disher (well, except for the rice), warm and filling...and cheap.

1 lb bag of dried black-eyed peas (or 4 cans of cooked, but dried are easy and cheap)
1 small onion, chopped
2 stalks of celery, sliced
butter or oil to cook the onions and celery (about 1 - 2 Tablespoons)
1 lb or so of italian sausage (I get "sweet" italian turkey sausage)
1 can of tomato paste
salt, pepper, cayenne to taste
4 cups of cooked rice

Soak the dried peas overnight in 7-8 cups of water in a seperate bowl.

In a large stock pot or dutch oven, melt your butter/warm your oil and saute the onions for a minute. Salt the onions to "sweat" them out a bit and then toss in the celery. Cook it all until just soft. Pour in your beans and the soaking water in to the pot.

Bring the pot to a gentle boil. Add the tomato paste, stirring well to make a nice sauce. Throw in your sausage and cook everything for 20 minutes or 30 minutes. You can put the sausage in whole or cut it up. If you you cut it up first, you should throw it in towards the end so it doesn't overcook.

Season to taste and reduce heat to a very, very gentle simmer to keep it warm with the flavors meld a bit more. If cooking in a dutch oven, put the pot in a warmed oven rather than keeping it on the stove top if you wish. I warmed my oven to 250 and then turned it off when I put the dutch oven in.

Serve it over warm rice and you are set to go! This will serve a crowd or a family of 5 for dinner and lunch the next day...and then some. Since this is a new dish to me (and I made it up), if you have any suggestions please leave me a comment.

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