Friday, January 9, 2015

Ice and Food

I had to break out the chisel again this morning to get my car out of the ice block it had become overnight, but even that didn't work.  Bring on the hot water.  They say we should get to freezing tomorrow.  

I've got a list in my head of things I'd like to get done today, besides getting dinner together.  Among them start to take down the tree (the rest of the house is pretty much devoid of Christmas), tackle some end-of-year paper work so I can move on to the next step, and start to work on the basement (there's not need to talk about the pigs that moved in down there.)  We'll see how it goes, since it's cold enough outside to not make me leave until I do the kid round-up later.

While I still can't manage an ounce of creativity in the crafting arena, cooking is flourishing, and usually does this time of year.  The menu for the week was all Pinterest.

Let me state - there is NO bourbon in this Bourbon Chicken recipe.  This is more like Bourbon Street. . .and holy cow was it good.  I doubled the recipe in both chicken and sauce.  I also used chicken thighs, instead of breasts, because they hold up better for simmering.  There were a couple comments, on the original blog post, that it was overly salty, but I didn't think so.  I used low sodium soy sauce, so maybe helped.  I wouldn't add any additional salt though.  I also used pineapple juice, which I keep on hand in small cans.  You could add julienne carrots, sweet peppers and broccoli if you wanted to up the nutrition. 

Sunday night my family found me and asked for dinner, of which I had none planned, because I usually do leftovers on Sundays.  I remembered pinning this Potato Kielbasa Skillet and it looked quick enough for a toss-together meal.  The bad part of not menu planning, you're not sure to have everything on hand.  Enter tonight's meal.  I didn't have red potatoes, enough spinach and zero onions (a staple in my kitchen.)  However, I did have russets.  Note, leave the skin on, they'll hold up better.  I also had about a cup of the four cups of spinach, though I think one was good enough, maybe two cups, but I think four cups would have been a lot.  I didn't have onion, but I had dried onion and some green pepper.  It was good.  I knew it wouldn't be enough for the six of us, and debated adding in a can of northern beans, but instead left the skillet to my kids and hubby and had leftovers myself.

I am cooking this week by the seat of my pants.  I have the menu, I just haven't hit the store.  So it's been interesting as to whether I have the ingredients, or if I'll have to wing it; I did send the 16 y.o. to get me onions.  I thought I had everything I needed for One-Pot Chicken Burrito Bowls.  I was wrong, by one can of black beans (also a kitchen staple.)  This was a quick In-Law dinner meal.  I toyed with the idea of using Quinoa instead of rice, even brown rice, but thought I'd give it a go as written.  Plus I still have a ton of rice to use up from one of hubby's restricted diets.  I will give the Quinoa a try, though.

On Mondays I usually make a dessert that doubles for the kids' lunches.  They are die-hard Chocolate Chip Cookie lovers, big time.  I keep trying to broaden their cookie horizons, usually with little won effort, which just means the cookies last all week instead of two days.  So, when I found these Cranberry Double Chocolate Chip Cookies, I thought the chocolate chips might give me an edge.  Turns out, they love them.  They'd be really good with dried cherries, which would have been my go-to had I not had enough dried cranberries and I was about 1/4 cup short, actually.

Apparently I should have waited one day before making Creamy Chicken and Corn Chowder; it was 55 degrees when we sat down to it, but less than 12 hours later it was 16 degrees, and wouldn't get any better than that.  Still it was thick, creamy and smooth.  I used rotisserie chicken, as I usually do with recipes like this.  It's even better the next day.

I had already determined to make my own, well, everything, for this Meatball Sub Kabob recipe.  The sauce, the bread dough and the meatballs.  My sauce is tried and true, as is my dinner roll recipe.  The only thing I don't have is a good meatball recipe.  Well I have a good one, but wasn't sure the flavors would "go Italian."  I should have just tried it, because I searched, found one and tried it and they were so-so.  I usually mix in ground pork to keep things moist, but didn't have any on hand, so the double cook times dried out the meatballs.  Next time I'll either go with the Salisbury steak-style meatball recipe I have, or re-try the recipe I found adding ground pork and then cooking the meatballs, just until they hold their shape, since they're getting cooked again.  I might also make them a bit larger, more meal sized.  Those things aside, I still liked them.  Meatball sub-y without all the bread and the mess of eating a fully sauced sandwich.

This week's menu has been an exercise in flexibility and creativity (at least there's creativity alive somewhere in the house.)  Take this Avocado Black Bean Enchiladas recipe, which was supposed to be my meatless meal for the week.  I had everything on hand, but the avocados weren't ripe; I could barely cut into the stupid things.  Luckily I had a rotisserie chicken in the 'fridge.  The recipe calls for flour tortillas, which I had, but I had planned on using up some corn tortillas instead.  I found those had become a science experiment, so flour it was!  The flavor was great and we agreed to try it again with the avocados.

I have my plan for tonight, which is supposed to be french dip, but since I have no roast I'm not sure creativity and flexibility will work with that one.  Which means I either head out, into the ice, for the roast or come up with something else.  I think I'll see what I've got for fish in the freezer.

Happy Friday,

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