Friday, September 29, 2017

Food for Thought

This week has been rainy and cool - almost cold.  I almost put flannel sheets on the bed this morning, but I saw we would be back in the 80's next week.  So, not quite yet.  The heater is flipped to the "on" position and runs every now and then.  I've had to pull on a sweater in the evenings.  Fall is creeping in.
It is making its way into my menu planning as well, though this week isn't a good example - I made mostly sandwiches for dinner.  I also have been cooking from Taste Of Home recipes, rather than Pinterest.  Because of that, this is the last of my back-logged recipes - some are totally cool-weather-worthy.  And some are mental-note worthy.

I've really gotten in to the "Bowl" thing for meals.  Besides recipes like this Chicken Veggie and Brown Rice Bowls with Peanut Sauce, it's also a great way clear out the 'fridge.  This Chicken one, though, was really good.  The whole peanut sauce, chicken thing is a family favorite anyway.  I didn't use white rice, I used farro - another new favorite.  Loved the crunch of the red peppers and peanuts; bowls are always filling.

For some reason sandwiches have been on the menu a lot, too.  They are easy on nights when the older kids are all over the place.  I can make them up and the kids can grab and go, or grab one when they get home.  These Hot Italian Sandwiches were tasty, from the zip of the dressing, to the tang of the giardiniera (which I would chop up a bit next time.)

I needed a side to the Vegetable Enchilada Casserole and remembered this Taco Rice.  I was still out of rice, so I used Quinoa, but followed the same general recipe.  While the quinoa was okay, and a decent substitution nutrition-wise, I think the longer grains of the rice would have been better - white or brown.  Next time.

The non-meat recipe for the week, this Vegetable Enchilada Casserole was good; lots of flavor and hearty bites.  It took a bit longer to get it all together than the noted 15 minutes.  15 minutes I guess if you have the sauce made, which doesn't take that long, but adds to the time nonetheless.  It has zucchini, which the 19 y.o. can spot and will pick out, but he'll just deal - though it would be good with roasted squash or sweet potatoes if zucchini isn't your thing.  I also added extra of all the ingredients because I was feeding nine.  However, once it was all assembled, I could have probably just left it as is, which was for six (I'm guessing pretty large portions), based on what was left over.

I liked this Kielbasa and Cabbage Skillet, plus it was fast.  I added apples to it - I did Honey Crisp, but Granny Smiths would be better.  Next time I think I'll either shop the cabbage thinner, or I'll buy pre-shredded.  I didn't mind the larger pieces, but cabbage being what it is, by the time the ticker chunks got soft, the thinner leaves were really done.  The pre-shredded stuff is a more consistent size to avoid that.

Baking at altitude can be tricky, though I seldom make any adjustments.  I will if I'm using a box and the box says to, but if I'm baking from scratch I don't.  I've used other make-your-own mixes with success, so when the 9 y.o. wanted a chocolate cake for his birthday I went with this Chocolate Cake Mix.  I know chocolate cakes are a drier crumb.  I know that chocolate cakes, cookies and brownies generally benefit from a bit of under-baking.  I know if I can smell chocolate, it's done.  All that being said, it was dry.  Now the dry could be because it was a bit over-cooked.  The center wasn't setting up, so I think I went a couple minutes too far.  Given the texture though, I think it would have still been rather dry, even if I'd caught it earlier.  It didn't rise much and it was rather dense, too.  If I were an altitude adjuster I might know how to fix it for a future shot, but I'm not, so I'm moving on to another Pin for chocolate cake.  I'm just bummed because it was a birthday cake.

Hubby cooked up a pork loin, which left me with the sides.  He had purchased some brussel sprouts "just because" and so I used them to make this Balsmic-roasted Brussel Sprouts.  They were good.  I liked the purchased balsamic reduction, instead of reducing it myself, for simplicity's sake, but in terms of ingredients, there were things in it that I'm trying to avoid (maybe Trader Joe's is a better option, we just don't have one.)  Next time I'd just make my own reduction, and mentally note the addition of parmesan and pistachios.

Happy Friday,


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