Category Archives: Cooking at Home

We Cook: Purple Citrus and Sweet Perfume – Eggplant Stacks with Pomegranate, Mint and Yogurt Sauce

Last year we were overrun by cucumbers and this year we’re drowning in eggplant. There’s an x-rated joke in there somewhere (a garden-variety one, at that. HA HA HA!).

To make a dent in the nine pounds of eggplant I harvested in one day, I chose a recipe for eggplant stacks from Silvena Rowe’s Purple Citrus and Sweet Perfume. Made of chopped sweet potatoes with feta cheese between layers of eggplant, mint, pomegranate, and yogurt are also main components in the finished dish.

Served with the eggplant stacks is a yogurt sauce that uses suzme as its base. According to Rowe, suzme is drained yogurt, or labne. I followed a separate recipe in the book for the suzme by draining whole milk yogurt in the refrigerator overnight.

I chopped fresh mint

and then got out my favorite unitasker for the garlic

and measured out the pomegranate molasses.

If you can’t find pomegranate molasses in your grocery store there is a simple recipe in the book on how to make it at home using pomegranate juice. I can almost always find pomegranate juice at the grocery store but have to go out of my way for the molasses so, in ten years, when I run out of the molasses, I’ll have a recipe I can use.
The yogurt sauce also called for the seeds of one pomegranate. I looked in every store close by and found no pomegranates. I shut my eyes and left them out of the sauce completely. I did not substitute anything for them because I felt that would be doing a disservice to the tart, juicy little things.

Obviously, the sauce would taste like it needed something and the texture wouldn’t be the same, but since I didn’t follow the recipe, any fault in the yogurt sauce this time around would be my own.

The finished sauce went into the refrigerator

and I started after the sweet potatoes.

I had a touch more than the recipe called for but by the time I removed the skanky ends of the sweet potatoes (I got the last few in the bin at the store) I had just enough.

Rowe calls for boiling the sweet potatoes until tender but with no central AC in our house I am selective about when I create a sauna in my kitchen. I microwaved the sweet potatoes exactly like baked potatoes and let them cool before removing their skins.

The instructions only call for the sweet potatoes to be ‘coarsely chopped.’ I would’ve liked a more exact measurement (surprised?) but bearing in mind the pieces would be in between slices of eggplant, I kept the pieces on the smaller side for easy cutting and chewing.

Too big.

Just right.

Had I cut the potatoes before boiling I think 3/4″ dice would’ve been a good size for the pieces to allow for a little breakdown while cooking.

I put all the sweet potatoes aside and got out two eggplants.

Rowe calls for two small eggplants in the ingredient list but specifies that you only need sixteen 1/4″ thick rounds for the recipe. Specifying a 4″ eggplant or something in a similar size-range would’ve been a little more helpful (or even two 2″ eggplants. Although, that is an odd size unless she’s calling for something other than the standard globe eggplant. The ingredient list just says ‘two small eggplants’).
I took a tape measure to the eggplant to make sure I was cutting at an proper thickness

starting after the metal tab on the tape measure since that thing is just annoying.

I switched over to a mandoline after my first slice looked like this.

The mandoline sliced most of them a hair under 1/4″, but the difference in size was negligible.
When building the eggplant stacks a few steps later in the recipe, Purple Citrus instructs you to stack the eggplant slices in ascending size.
Since I had extras thanks to my one big eggplant, I cherry-picked the pieces that were most equal in diameter instead of making eggplant pyramids

I salted, peppered, and floured the chosen

then fried them in a bit of olive oil.

I refried two in this batch as they didn’t look like they absorbed enough oil.
After each batch finished frying I drained them on a naked plate.

I generally forego paper towels when draining fried food because I’ve found the towel causes the food to lose crispness. My bacon has been much crisper using this method but my arteries are probably crispier, too.
While batches of eggplant fried and drained, I made the filling for the stacks.

I broke the feta cheese apart into pieces roughly the same size as the sweet potatoes

and added mint to the mix.

The eggplant was done by the time I had crumbled and chopped things for the filling, so I did a quick wipe of the pan, melted a tablespoon of butter

and then dumped in the mixture.

Immediately after stirring it looked like this

but got less crazy after gentle mixing.

The cheese, potatoes, and mint only needed a brief time on the stove and after they were combined I started making the eggplant stacks.

They came together quickly and when I was done I had four very pretty vegetable towers:

As instructed, I placed everything in the oven to warm through before serving and when they came out they were ready to eat.

I served the eggplant as entrees with two per person but they’d work as a substantial side just fine.

I would’ve liked the recipe to be more specific about eggplant size and cut-size for the sweet potatoes. On a positive note, I was happy that I did not end up with a mountain of filling leftovers. When a recipe is for filled or stuffed foods, I often end up with excess filling or not enough. Happily, this recipe left me with only a small amount in the bowl after putting together the specified yield (four stacks). Since I had eggplant rounds left over from my big eggplant I was easily able to make two more stacks. Based on the amount of filling leftovers and typical eggplant size I would change the recipe yield from four to six stacks.

I’m not saying that a bigger yield of these vegetable towers is a bad thing at all. They certainly were as nice to eat as they were to look at.

Maple Butter (or Maple Cream, If You’re Fancy)

I’ve had maple butter bouncing around in my head for a while, a new fun something to make after being told that I must try it.

I had no idea what maple butter was, but research explained that by heating maple syrup to 233 °F, cooling to 40 °F, then warming it back up to 60 °F, the syrup morphed into maple butter (or maple cream, if you’re fancy). The promise of a spreadable maple syrup stuck with me since I discovered its existence, but I wanted a yard full of snow before I tried to make something that required rapid cooling.

Cold, wet, or messy on their own are fine, but they make up the Trifecta of Horrible when combined. As such, I do everything I can to avoid making an ice bath.

A heavy snow on Friday night and Saturday morning took care of the ice bath problem so I got out the trusty candy thermometer to make maple butter. I confess that my research on maple butter was minimal and that I stirred when I ought not to (during the cooling phase), but everything still turned out, and how.

I kept eating the maple butter off of the spoon and finally had to pack it up so I would leave it alone. The next morning I had my doubts about why I was swooning over this stuff (OH THIS IS NEW SO IT MUST BE AWESOME AND BETTER THAN ANYTHING ELSE), so I compared a drizzle of maple syrup to a bit of the maple butter in oatmeal to see if I was simply infatuated by something bright and shiny.

No, it was love. Straight maple syrup tasted tinny and one-dimensional but the maple butter was full, toasty, and strikingly buttery. I figured the name ‘maple butter’ referred to the consistency (it is spreadable like peanut butter), but it tasted so buttery that, had I not made it, I would have guessed butter had been added. I went ahead and added butter to the bowl in this photo, just to push it over the top.

What also surprised me was the texture of the maple butter. The maple butter appears to be a dilatant. Like a cornstarch and water mixture, it is solid if you touch it but if you begin to push it around or stir it, it has fluid-like qualities. Dilatants have “a dense mixture of granules and liquids” which makes perfect sense as to why the maple butter acts as it does.

With hopes of finding out more about sugars in maple syrup, I opened McGee’s On Food and Cooking and read how the process of making maple butter is very similar to making maple sugar (his temperatures are a little different from Wikipedia, if you’re fact checking). The difference between making maple sugar and maple butter is the step of cooling and stirring in maple butter. Maple sugar is made by heating maple syrup to above boiling, then allowing it to cool and form sugar crystals. Maple butter is heated, rapidly cooled, then rewarmed and stirred vigorously– instead of ending up with big crystals of maple sugar in syrup, the sugar crystals are very fine and densely distributed in the reduced maple syrup. Maple butter, the great dilatant confection.

Maple Butter (Maple Cream)

Full-flavored, buttery, and spreadable, I have to keep this out of my sight or I eat it straight off of the spoon. I put a pat on a waffle and added it to oatmeal, but maple butter would be great in a milk-based drink, added to BBQ sauce, in a sweet-savory sandwich, between two cookies….
You must use 100% pure maple syrup for this recipe.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup pure maple syrup

Instructions

  1. Prepare an ice-bath (or wait until you have snow drifts deep enough to put a small pot, your call) for a small pot.
  2. Fit a small, deep pot with a candy thermometer.
  3. Over medium-high heat, bring the syrup up to 233 °F (112 °C), stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, about 3-4 minutes.
  4. Immediately remove the pot from the stove and set in the ice bath. Stir occasionally until the syrup cools to 40 °F (4 °C), about 5-8 minutes.
  5. Back on the stove over medium-low heat, warm the syrup to 60 °F (15 °C), stirring frequently.
  6. Once the maple syrup reaches 60 °F, remove from heat again and stir vigorously for 2-3 minutes.
  7. Set the pot aside and let stand for 10 minutes. The syrup will begin to cloud and turn a light tan color.
  8. Stir until the maple butter is smooth and easily spreadable.
  9. Use at once or store covered in the refrigerator.

Quick notes

This is exactly how I made the maple butter, goof-ups and all. Keep an eye on the syrup since as it reaches 233 °F it boils up considerably. If you’d like to experiment, try leaving the maple syrup undisturbed as it cools, then beat it with a wooden spoon while bringing it back up to 60 °F until it is tan in color and smooth.

Buttermilk and Date Ice Cream with Orange Blossom Water and a Goode Company Giveaway

The contest is now closed. Scroll down for the winner!

This ice cream has always been about pecans.

I came up with the recipe as an accompaniment for pecans
specifically for a pecan pie.

Usually, pecans make me feel mushy and happy because I associate them with home:
my parents have pecan trees growing on their property in Texas
my grandmothers both say PEE-can, tickling me no to end
and while I don’t care for plain pecans, when holiday baking begins I end up eating a treeload’s worth in pecan pralines.

The gooey and sentimental feelings on pecans persisted until a few days ago
right up until the fifth attempt at making a pecan pie simply to photograph under the ice cream.

Five times on top of a burned Thanksgiving pie is past my threshold of Pie Failures in Ten Days.

Just the ice cream photographs, then.

Pitting dates is easy enough.

If you spray your knife blade with non-stick spray
(or wipe it with neutral-flavored oil)
the dates will spend much less time clinging desperately to your blade.

I pitted the dates
sliced them into quarters
then piled the quarters up neatly and chopped into even pieces.

After all of the dates were chopped
I put everything into a small bowl

and poured over enough Grand Marnier to soak everything.

Soaking the date pieces in alcohol helps prevent them from turning into violent, tooth-cracking bits of shrapnel.

I covered the bowl in plastic wrap and then microwaved everything for a few minutes.

I would’ve done this step in a small pot
but every single pot in my kitchen was waiting to be washed at that moment.

I set the hot fruit and alcohol aside to soak for a while
and began on the custard.

I had not used orange blossom water with heat before
so I didn’t know if heat would diminish the water’s flavor
(the same way heat can dull vanilla’s flavor)
and decided to wait until I cooled the custard to add it.

Putting the orange blossom water aside
I warmed buttermilk, sugar, and cream in a pot.

While that was heating, I separated the eggs

(freezing the whites for later use)
whisked the warm milk mixture into the yolks to temper them

then added the yolks and milk back into the pot

that was clean, despite its appearance.

It had an unfortunate experience of being empty, forgotten, and over heat for a while.

I’m not sure its finish is going to ever recover.

After a few minutes the custard was ready:

I strained it
and poured in some reserved cream to help it cool down.

I added the orange blossom water and mixed everything to a uniform color.

Then I kept licking the spatula
and I knew things were good.

The custard went into the freezer for about an hour to chill.

Once the custard was very-cold-not-frozen
I poured it into the machine and let it churn for about 25 minutes.

I added the dates
which had soaked up all of the liquor

and continued to run the ice cream maker for another five minutes.

I like firm ice cream
so I packed the ice cream into a container and popped it into the freezer overnight.

The next morning I had buttermilk date ice cream with orange blossom water
and one of my failed pie crusts for breakfast
(failure is good for something, at least)
with chopped pecans on top.

It’s pecans that really make this ice cream.

The pecans and buttermilk remind me of buttermilk pralines
the orange blossom water of oranges, flowers, and pecans at Christmas
and dates soaked in Grand Marnier… well, that’s just a good idea at any time.

While good on its own
I made this ice cream with pecans in mind
and pecans it demands.

In light of demanding ice cream and (five) pie disasters
I’m happy to be able to give away a Brazos Bottom Pecan Pie from the fine people at Goode Company.

The fact that it is a pecan pie
and that the box is emblazoned with “You might give some serious thought to thanking your lucky stars you’re in Texas”
makes me a little homesick all the way in Pennsylvania
but the sweet-sad coverts quickly to excitement when I realize I get to facilitate pie appearing on someone’s doorstep.

Here are the rules to winning a pecan pie that you don’t have to make (or try to make five times and fail):

  • The Prize: A Brazos Bottom Pecan Pie from Goode Company
  • Number of winners: 1
  • Prize Ships: Within the continental U.S..
  • To Enter to Win: Leave a comment on this post. You could tell me if you like to eat your pie à la mode or if you like it stark naked (the pie), how your day was, or if you’re going to make this ice cream I’m proud of.
  • Bonus Entry Opportunities: Pin a photo from this post to Pinterest, Tweet a link to this post, or share through Facebook. Come back here and tell me how you did it (if you share this post multiple ways, make sure to leave a separate comment for each way you shared) and you’ve got yourself another entry.
  • Giveaway Ends: Friday, December 9, 2011 at 11:59 pm Eastern time.
  • The Fine Print: The winner will be selected at random. Up to four entries per person (one comment about anything, one pin on Pinterest, one tweet, one Facebook share). Entrants must have a valid e-mail address.

Notice: I am only a pie facilitator. I was not compensated in any manner by Goode Company or anyone else to host this giveaway. Goode Company will be shipping the pie directly to the winner.

If you don’t win the pecan pie
you can console yourself by making ice cream that needs only some toasted and chopped pecans to make it sing.

Buttermilk and Date Ice Cream with Orange Blossom Water

Use a light hand with the orange blossom water. It is easy to add too much and quickly find yourself in a bouquet of flowers that you now have to eat. Don’t buy pre-chopped dates. Buy whole ones and practice your knife skills. This yields about a quart of ice cream.

Ingredients

  • 5 oz pitted dates, chopped
  • 6 tablespoons (100 ml) Grand Marnier or other orange-flavored liquor
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1/2 heaping cup of sugar
  • 6 large egg yolks
  • 1-2 teaspoons orange blossom water
  • Pecan pie or toasted and chopped pecans to serve

Instructions

  1. Combine dates and Grand Marnier in a small bowl. Cover and microwave over high heat for two minutes. Set aside.
  2. Have ready a shallow casserole dish with a fine mesh strainer set over it.
  3. Mix together buttermilk, one cup of cream, and sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat. Heat through until the mixture is steaming (but not boiling) and the sugar has dissolved.
  4. Place the egg yolks in a medium bowl, and while whisking constantly, slowly add one cup of the hot milk mixture to the yolks.
  5. While stirring the milks and sugar, gradually add the yolk and milk mixture back to the saucepan.
  6. With a cook spoon or spatula, stir the custard slowly and constantly over medium heat until it has thickened enough to coat the back of the stirring implement. Do not let the mixture boil.
  7. Strain the custard into the casserole dish and add the remaining cup of cream.
  8. Add 1-2 teaspoons of orange blossom water to the custard and stir until the custard is uniform in color.
  9. Chill the custard in a refrigerator or freezer until very cold (overnight in a refrigerator or about an hour in a freezer).
  10. Once cold, pour into an ice cream maker and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for freezing, adding chopped dates in the last few minutes of churning.
  11. Pack ice cream into freezer safe containers and freeze overnight.
  12. Serve ice cream with chopped pecans or better yet, a pecan pie.

Quick notes

You can warm the dates and Grand Marnier together in a small sauce pan on the stove, if you’d like. Make sure your pot is small enough so that the dates are nearly covered by the alcohol.

Drumroll please…
Using the And The Winner Is… plugin, the lucky pecan pie recipient is:

lizlizliz!

Keep an eye on your email lizlizliz and thanks to everyone for participating!

If you didn’t win, give the ice cream recipe a shot.
I promise it’s delicious.

Kale, Sausage, and Potato Soup

Most people think that my mother taught me how to cook.

We have a lot in common.
She cooks a lot, I cook a lot
I have lots of cookbooks, she has lots of cookbooks.

She did not teach me how to cook, however.

I’m sure I could’ve asked her to teach me.
She did try to teach me how to make bread one time
and I didn’t try to make bread for years afterwards.

It was not her fault.
I was one of those kids who liked to cook everything over high heat
then wonder why the crust was burnt and the inside raw.

I’m much better about that
(most of the time)
but my mother and I are still very, VERY different cooks.

My mom never met a recipe she loved for how it was
and cakes are her sworn enemy
…probably due to her recipe aversion.

I taught myself how to cook when Trevor was studying for the MCATs.

The standardized tests for entrance into medical school warranted serious attention
and 8 hours of studying on top of 3 hours of daily college classes
didn’t leave him a lot of room for cooking
or for eating.

I decided to cook for him.
That way, I figured,
he wouldn’t one day find himself unable to get out of his swivel chair because of malnutrition.

Scared to waste food and money by mangling perfectly fine ingredients,
I started cooking out of the few cookbooks I had
mostly chicken dishes.

Trevor didn’t waste away
and I got really good at cooking chicken.

I never stopped cooking after that.
People always tease Trevor
saying that he must be a really shitty cook
but he’s actually a very good cook.

(We won’t mention the one time he made cornbread that I privately dubbed ‘cornbrick.’)

He doesn’t cook because he loves my cooking
and PROBABLY because it’s significantly less work for him.

Eh heh.

Different though we are
Trevor also loves my mom’s cooking.

Every now and then I will unwedge a binder from the crammed bookcases
a binder full of notes and printouts
scribbled half-recipes and ingredient lists cut from packages
and pull out one of my mom’s recipes.

Of course, I use the term ‘recipe’ loosely;
like everyone elses beloved family member
her recipes are ‘a little of this, some of that, a few of those.’

A recently added recipe to the binder is another one of my mother’s.
It’s recipe for soup with a lot of kale
some sausage and potatoes
something fitting for the cold day that appeared out of nowhere.

We’ve had a weird fall here, with snow last month
one side of our yard home to blooming yellow flowers
the other, trees with fiery leaves.

It’s quite the technicolor show.

When I went to go collect the greens from the garden for the soup
I also brought in a few branches from a very red bush outside.

I’d like to believe I got all of the caterpillars out of the kale.

I haven’t run into any while eating the end result
(yet).
Such is a hazard of cooking from the garden.

Now
I like kale a lot.

(You know this because the last recipe I posted had kale in it.
Sorry about that.
We have a lot of kale in the garden.
Next year: less kale.)

Since I like kale so much
I decided I was going to put a lot of it in the soup this time around.

Like the kid who wanted to cook everything with the equivalent energy of the ENTIRE SUN
I realize, in hindsight,
that I need to learn moderation.

One of these things is not like the other.

Side note:
Flexible cutting boards are not my favorite cutting boards.
They get the job done
but I’d much rather thick plastic or wood under my knife.

I don’t feel like I’m cutting on anything when I use these.

I didn’t have enough small potatoes for the soup
so I grabbed a big potato
and cut it in half lengthwise before slicing it crosswise.

More on the cutting board topic:
the trick of putting a wet towel under your board really, really works.

You can even use a scrinched up paper towel
(one is just fine)
and you’ll find that you’re not battling your board from dancing off the counter.

The easiest way to take sausage out of its casing is to take a sharp knife
run it along the length of the link
then peel the casing off.

I remember that a few times when my mom was working on this soup when I was younger
she didn’t remove the casing from the sausage
and the slices ended up looking like I feel after too much Tex-Mex–
all muffin-toppy.

(I figured I should clarify that statement as it could have different meanings to different people.
Uh.)

I broke down each link into about 6 meatballs.

Incorporating the sausage into the soup is the hardest part
(after eliminating kalerpillars).

Like casing issues
I kept running into broken meatballs
since they would stick to the bottom of the pan when I tried to brown them
then crumble when I tried to stir.

I wanted the fond
so a nonstick pan or boiling them were out of the question.

Using more oil didn’t sound appealing, either.

The dumplings I made the day before came to my rescue.

The previous night
I steamed pork dumplings and had been off in lala land for a while
thinking about the texture of the filling and how it transformed
from globby to cohesive– all from steam.

I’ve made dumplings several times
I’ve made this soup several times
but for some reason
the two finally came together this time around
UNITED AS ONE to solve my broken meatball problem.

That’s how I like to think of it, anyways.

I chopped a large sweet onion
then threw it into a big pot with some olive oil.

Once the onions were soft
I placed the meatballs on top of the onions
turned the heat down to low
and covered the pot.

After a few minutes
I lifted the lid off
and there were steamed meatballs
keeping it together.

I stirred them to see if they would continue to hold their shape
and sure enough
it worked.

I increased the heat to let the meatballs brown some.

I would’ve liked for them to brown more
(the lighting in my kitchen was weird here and shows the meatballs more golden than they actually were)
but my onions were in danger of burning.

Garlic and flour went in
one after the other
and after each was toasty
I added chicken stock, potatoes and a bay leaf.

I brought the mixture up to a boil
then left it to simmer for about 20 minutes.

The potatoes were soft
the sausage long since cooked through, but not dry.

Since the sausage I used was sweet
I added crushed red pepper to the pot.

Then
the kale.

You know what’s too much kale?

THIS IS TOO MUCH KALE.

This was after half of it had already cooked down.

I ended up taking out a good quarter of the kale once everything was cooked.

After I finished kale fishing
I stirred in the cream
and the soup was done.

Like many other soups
it benefits from a night in the refrigerator
warmed up the next day for lunch
preferably with some crusty bread
and fall colors all around.

Kale, Sausage, and Potato Soup

A recipe based on one of my mothers, I’ve played around with it a little because I guess I still have a hard head about following directions from my mom. If you have a recipe for an Italian sausage mixture that you like, use it in place of the purchased sausage. You want a little bit of fennel seed in somewhere in the soup, though. A Parmesan rind in the broth while the potatoes are cooking would probably be very good. Grated Parmesan on top is not a bad idea, either.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb Italian sausage
  • 1 large yellow onion (about 12 oz), chopped
  • 2 TB olive oil
  • 2 lb potatoes, scrubbed and sliced crosswise into medium rounds
  • 4 medium cloves of garlic, minced
  • 3 TB flour
  • 9 cups chicken stock or broth
  • 1 large bay leaf
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
  • 3/4 lb kale, stemmed and chopped
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • salt and pepper

Instructions

  1. Remove sausage from casings and form into medium-sized meatballs.
  2. In a large pot, heat the oil and add the onion.
  3. Sauté onions over medium high heat until just beginning to soften.
  4. Reduce the heat to low and gently place the meatballs on top of the onions.
  5. Cover the pot and let meatballs steam for 3-4 minutes until the sausage mixture lightens in color and begins to firm up.
  6. Once the meatballs are firm enough to stir, increase the heat to medium-high and brown the meatballs as much as you can without burning the onions.
  7. After the meatballs have browned, add the garlic to the pot and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  8. Add the flour and cook, stirring constantly, until it smells toasty.
  9. Pour in the chicken stock and add the bay leaf and stir well well, scraping the bottom of the pot to release the fond. Make sure the stock covers the potatoes. Supplement with water if you need.
  10. Increase the heat to high and bring soup to a boil.
  11. Once the soup boils, reduce the heat to low and partially cover the pot.
  12. Cook until the potatoes are tender but not falling apart completely, about 20 minutes.
  13. With the heat still on low, add crushed red pepper and mix well.
  14. Place the kale in the pot, stir, and cook over medium-high heat for 4-5 minutes until wilted but not mushy.
  15. Take the pot off of the heat, stir in the cream and add salt and pepper to taste.
  16. Serve immediately, garnished with crushed red pepper if you like.

Quick notes

If you don’t want to use heavy cream, you can use milk (of whatever fat percentage you’d like) and potato puree to thicken the soup. Once your potatoes are cooked, remove a few rounds to a blender with a bit of the broth and milk and blend until smooth. Add everything back into the pot and repeat until you have the desired thickness. Just remember not to puree all of your potatoes.

Preparation time: 20 minutes

Cooking time: 45 minutes

Number of servings (yield): 6-8

Keep Your BBQ Sauce Off of my Pizza

Unlike the times before it
last week’s pasta making was successful.

Given my previous attempts at making noodles
I probably should’ve started the project the day before
but lady luck stood by a few hours before the supper club
and I had beautiful strands of beet pasta swaying on clean chairbacks.

My kitchen looked festive
and I think hats and horns wouldn’t have been out of place.

I kind of wanted to put on a flapper outfit.

I was disappointed that the pasta didn’t stay magenta.
It faded into BubbleYum pink
(just like this)
which was… interesting.

I didn’t overcook the noodles;
I put them in the boiling water and the color immediately leached out.

Boo.

Here’s this week’s menu plan
a little late:

Monday
Pizza with leafy green salads

Last night was movie night at the last minute, so for dinner we had frozen pizza.

When I picked up the pizza at the store I didn’t realize it had BBQ sauce on it.

There are three things that should never be on my pizza:
Chicken
Cheddar Cheese
BBQ Sauce

Last night I had a salad, theend.

The unfortunate BBQ sauced pizza made me wish for homemade frozen pizzas.
I freeze pizza dough all the time but haven’t frozen a composed pizza. I’m curious to see how that would, ah ha, pan out.

Tuesday
Dumplings with homemade wrappers

Trevor has been off of work today and yesterday, so today I made chicken fajitas for lunch.

I hope to squeeze out enough time between kitchen remodel work and baby wrangling to make a combination of this recipe and one from The Dumpling.

I have hopes, but they are not very bright.

I need to work on my nonexistent pleating skills, too. Given the time restraints put on me by Tiny, it may end up being the seal-n-go method.

Wednesday
Carnitas with homemade corn tortillas and queso fresco

Trevor was in the grocery store with me last week and came across pork shoulder on sale while I was looking at something else.

He brought it over to the cart and asked if we could make carnitas.

I nearly did the moonwalk in the aisle for two reasons:
1)The man barely asks for anything other than pizza, steak, or macaroni and cheese
2) He knew that pork shoulder was for carnitas

By all means, let us do carnitas.

Thursday
Kale, potato, and sausage soup

This is ripe for a blog post. My mother gave me this recipe and I’ve modified it to my liking.
I’ll negotiate with Tiny and see if he’ll let me photograph and write this week.

Friday
Leftovers

Saturday
Leftovers

Ordinarily I wouldn’t do leftovers back to back, but Trevor’s schedule is crazy this week and freshly made dinners would be wasted on these days.

Sunday
Mutti’s Louisiana Chicken Stew with pickled peaches

Mutti, my grandmother, made a gumbo that is one of my favorite meals. Growing up, we all called it Louisiana Chicken Stew and it wasn’t until I started playing with gumbo recipes that I realized her Louisiana Chicken Stew is a gumbo.

Now ‘gumbo’ sounds funny. Gumbo, gumbo gumbo!

She gave me her recipe for the stew and (quick) pickled peaches for my wedding
and it was my favorite present.

The leftovers are even better than the meal the first time around, as usual for stews and gumbos.

I’ve linked up to Menu Plan Monday.

Menu Plan, Menu Plan, Menu Plan All the Way

I’m listening to Christmas music
and I’m Ok with that.

I am surrounded by people who are adamant about waiting until after Thanksgiving to get the Christmas music going
but I like to multitask.

I may have Dean Martin warbling about his love keeping him warm
but on the dining room table are various dried corns, two types of wheat, teeny white pumpkins, and gourdsgourdsGOURDS.

There are also a few pumpkins on the doorstep
so I have my holidays covered until the end of the year.

I wait to break out the Christmas decorations until after Thanksgiving
but music is a go after Halloween.

Look.
YOU can’t hear it
so you can’t complain.

The week’s meal planning is more fall than winter
with fresh carrots ending up in a soup I’ve never tried or eaten before.

I picked one row of carrots from the garden this weekend,
surprised that they grew so well
even though we planted them a little late.

There is still another row to come up
but there were a lot of slugs and worms in the carrot tops
so that row is ALL Trevor’s.

Escargot is not on this week’s menu
and it never will be, either.

I realized that half-way through making a meat sauce for spaghetti tonight
that I accidentally planned two pasta dishes this week.
We have a supper club that meets once a month
and this Friday happens to be a meeting with pasta as a main.

Spaghetti is Tiny and my favorite food
so it’s only Trevor who is complaining
who also had tortellini last night at work, too.

Forget decorative gourd season.
In our house, it’s pasta season.

Monday
Capellini with Meat sauce

I made my pasta sauce with 85/15 ground beef, sliced garlic, onions, fresh thyme, oregano, and parsley, garden tomatoes, and garden tomato sauce. I will sulk when we use up all of the tomato items we canned from the summer. I used Spanish onions which were a little sweet, but I liked the sliced garlic in place of the regular minced garlic.

Tuesday
Almost Confit” Chicken from Radically Simple
Cannellini beans
Frisee salad with piquillo peppers and balsamic vinaigrette

Through trial and error (and lots of crunchy beans) I figured out how to use my pressure cooker for dried beans. I will save so much money by eating dried beans that I will be able to buy canned beans with all the money I’ve saved!

Wait.

I think I’ll throw some Parmesan rinds into the pot. I have no idea what dressing I’ll make for the salad.

Wednesday
Leftovers

We having Tiny’s one year photography session on Wednesday. I’m planning some small bites and possibly cake so I don’t want to deal with those and dinner on the same day.

Thursday
Carrot soup with fried tops
Leafy salad with a lemon shallot vinaigrette from America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook

I think I am going to use a little bit of Heidi Swanson’s soup recipe with a garnish I saw in Rozanne Gold’s Radically Simple.

I could drink the salad dressing from ATK. I will try to restrain myself.

Friday
Beet Pasta with two sauces

This is supper club night. The theme is “favorites from childhood, kicked up.”

I haven’t narrowed down what my “two sauces” are other than one will be cream or vegetable based and one will be a meat sauce. I’ll play with The Flavor Bible and figure something out.

I’ve made mediocre pasta every time I’ve tried to make fresh pasta. I have some nerves.

Appetizers, sides, and desserts are the responsibility of the other members of the supper club.

Saturday
Skirt steak with chimichurri from Seven Fires
Roasted endive from Seven Fires
Mashed potatoes

Like the salad dressing up there, I have to stop myself from tipping the little bowl of chimichurri into my mouth. What is it about condiments?!

Sunday
Leftovers

Probably steak sandwiches or mashed potatoes with a chimichurri swirl or lemon shallot vinaigrette with a side of chimichurri.

Side projects for the week are bread, yeasted waffles one morning, melting peppers from Slow Mediterranean Kitchen, jalapeno jelly with the bushel and a peck in my refrigerator, and maybe, oh maybe, some cake for a very cute one year old.

I linked this up over at OrgJunkie.com because I like seeing what other people are eating, too.