Thursday, July 30, 2009

Sweet Potato Fries

Not too surprisingly we've gotten off the menu plan a bit more.  DH actually cooked tonight -- he made pork loin roast (seasoned with coriander & all spice...quite nice) and then in true DH fashion decided to experiment and made carrot & roasted pepper pancakes.  He claims to not really know what the recipe was, but it was darn tasty.

In the meantime, we'll be having the Cuban Sandwiches & sweet potato fries in honor of that:

Sweet Potato Fries

2-3 large sweet potatoes, cleaned & peeled
several T olive oil
seasoning of your choice
  1. Preheat oven to 450
  2. Line baking sheet with aluminum foil & lightly grease with olive/canola oil
  3. Prep your sweet potatoes.  You can cut them by hand (or make wedges if you prefer) or use a french fry cutter. 
  4. Microwave them in a large microwave safe bowl/dish for 6-8 min (depending on how powerful your micro is).
  5. Arrange them neatly on the prepared baking sheet and use a pastry brush to liberally brush them with olive oil. 
  6. Sprinkle with your choice of seasoning.  Sometimes we'll do cinnamon-sugar or I'm partial to Tony Cachere's for a more savory dish. 
  7. Alternately you could toss the fries, oil, and seasoning in a plastic bag.
  8. Bake in the oven for 15-20 min.  Depending on how thick they are & how crispy you like them you might need a few extra minutes.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009


Well the chicken with curried peaches (I ended up using plums since the peaches were not ripe) wasn't anything particularly worth blogging about. The biscuits were good though -- the ones I cut out with a star-shaped cookie cutter were very popular with Miss Picky.

Dairy-Free/ Soy-Free Biscuits
Makes 12+ (depending on how big you cut them)
2 c AP flour
3 T baking powder
1/2 t salt
3-4 T shortening*
1/2 t instant yeast (I use the kind for bread makers)

2/3-3/4 c rice milk + 2 t lemon juice

* Spectrum Organic Vegetable Shortening is made from palm oil. No soy, no trans fats....not health food but certainly fills a void when you're avoiding dairy & soy products. I've also found generic store versions of the same thing at Whole Foods & SunHarvest/Wild Oats/Henry's.
  1. Preheat oven to 450.
  2. Combine dry ingredients (except yeast).
  3. Cut in shortening til crumbly/coarse meal stage.
  4. Add in rice milk and yeast and stir to combine.
  5. Knead til a nice dough forms.
  6. Roll out to 1/2" thickness. Cut.
  7. Bake on ungreased baking sheet for about 12 min.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Chicken with Mushroom -Peppercorn Sauce

I'm getting off the plan slightly, but I realized we didn't have any apricots/peaches since I still haven't made it to the store. Gotta do that tomorrow. I made this pretty light on the meat (with only 1 medium chicken breast), but it had lots of gravy so the chicken wasn't really missed. I served this with basmati rice, broccoli, and a nice fruit salad.

Chicken with Mushroom -Peppercorn Sauce

1-2 chicken breasts
8 oz mushrooms, sliced
1/2 onion diced
1t peppercorn (ground/crushed)
1 c water + 1 t Chicken Better Than Bullion
1/2 c rice milk
3-4 T AP flour
2 T sherry
1 T dijon mustard

  1. Saute chicken breast in a bit of olive oil til browned on both sides (but not fully cooked). Cut up into bites and reserve.
  2. Saute the onion, mushrooms, and peppercorn. Add a touch more oil if necessary. Cook til onion and mushrooms are softened.
  3. Add in water, Better Than Bullion, and diced chicken. Cook over medium heat til chicken is cooked through.
  4. Mix flour and rice milk (adding extra liquid from the pan if necessary) to create a slurry. Add to pan along with sherry and mustard. Cook til thickened. Don't boil.
  5. Serve over rice or pasta.

The Verdict: A
This was a great creamy sauce without any dairy. I'm a big fan of mustard cream sauces, so it was nice to be able to approximate one pretty closely.

DF-SF Ranch Dressing

I found this recipe for Vegan Ranch Dressing on Recipezaar the other day and adapted it making it soy-free and no longer vegan. I used my favorite Hellman's Canola Mayo (or of course you could always just make mayo), rice milk (regular Rice Dream which is pretty sweet), and dried parsley instead of fresh (1t/1T). It made a very nice ranch.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Menu Plan 7/25 - 7/31

No 'zaar recipes this week...I raided the cookbook collection this week for inspiration. Lots of stuff coming out of the freezer or fridge from last week's shopping trip. We did alright on this past week's plan until Thursday when we went off the rails. I was just too tired from VBS and then Friday we ended up dropping the kids off at PNO and going to dinner. Belgian...moules....yum. So after a rather pricey few days, hopefully this week's grocery trip will be a little smaller.

I'll update the plan with recipe links as I make and post them.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Recipe Round-up

Well, Tuesdays Balsamic Chicken got off to a bad start when I realized that I was more or less out of balsamic....doh! I decided to improvise with the T of balsamic I had left, a good dose of Worcestershire, and then a few T of my fig-cherry jam. That would have been fine except that I then proceeded to neglect my sauce and it burned. We salvaged the chicken, but only just.

The one bright spot of the evening was the asparagus. This recipe was vaguely inspired by a dish my grandmother always used to make for company (canned asparagus, cream of something soup, crumbled cracker topping, and sliced hardboiled egg at the end).

Asparagus "Gratin"

1 bunch asparagus, trimmed into 3-4" pieces
handful of Ritz-style crackers (I used our Wild Oats Original Crackers that are SF&DF!)
lemon-pepper seasoning

  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Place asparagus into baking dish. Top with crumbled crackers and a liberal sprinkling of lemon-pepper seasoning.
  3. Bake for 15 min or so.

The Verdict: A-

My 2 yo loved this! We thought it was good as well. Next time I might toss the asparagus with a little mayo (Hellman's Canola is DF&SF).


Wednesday's Souvlaki wasn't anything particularly exciting. However, I did experiment with grilling some Halloumi, which was a nice treat. I also served everything (Souvlaki, Halloumi, toasted pita pieces, olives, curried couscous w/ peas, golden raisins, and some carrot sticks) family-style on the dining room table. The kids really loved the picnic feeling of the meal.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Brined Oven-Baked Pork Chops

It was my FIL's birthday (72!!) and I cooked. My MIL and I have this arrangement periodically...I bring over food and she provides the ambiance (and the clean house). I volunteered my pork loin chops that I'd cut from my $7, 7lb pork loin. ( I cut two large roasts and 9 chops from that that's like what $.30/chop....ridiculous!).

Served with Crash Hot Potatoes and an Iceberg Lettuce wedge with homemade ranch, diced tomatoes, and crumbled bacon (menu shamelessly plundered from the Pioneer Woman blog entry about the self-same potatoes).

Brined Oven-Baked Pork Chops

For Brine:
1/4 c kosher salt
3 1/2 c water (v. hot)
3-4 T brown sugar
1/2 t vanilla
1 c ice
  1. Dissolve salt, sugar, and vanilla in hot water.
  2. Add ice.
  3. Then add pork chops and soak 4 hr min pref. overnight.
5 1" pork loin chops

Panko breadcrumbs (Ian's -- no soy!)
1 egg, beaten

  1. Heat oven to 450.
  2. Rinse and pat pork chops dry.
  3. Dip in egg and then breadcrumbs. Drizzle with a scant amt of olive oil.
  4. Place on a greased baking sheet. (I line my rimmed baking sheets with aluminum foil and grease that.)
  5. Bake for 30 min. Turning over about halfway through.

The Verdict: Excellent. A+

The brining definitely added flavor (mainly salt) and some moisture to the pork chops. This was my most successful oven-baked breaded item to date. Had an excellent crispy outside (love those Panko breadcrumbs!) without being overcooked inside. DH likened it to Church's Fried Chicken...he said that was a compliment. (eye roll)

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Lemon, Chicken & Artichoke Pasta

Lemon, Chicken & Artichoke Pasta

Serves 4-6

~ lb chicken breast, cubed
1/2 med yellow onion
2 slices bacon, diced
1 lemon, zested & juiced
14 oz can artichoke hearts (not marinated), cute into bite sized pieces
1/4c white wine
1 T olive oil
salt & pepper to taste
8-16 oz cooked pasta (depending on # served and how carb conscious you are)

  1. Saute bacon and onions til onions are translucent.
  2. Add chicken, white wine, and lemon juice.
  3. Once chicken isn't obviously raw on the outside, add artichokes, lemon zest, olive oil, & season with salt and pepper.
  4. Cook til chicken is done.

The Verdict: Pretty good, needs a little tweaking. B+

It had a good lemon-y flavor. DH said it was too lemony, but this is an on-going disagreement we have whenever the zester makes an appearance. He's not as big a fan of zest as I am. My biggest beef (ha ha) aside from the fact that I overdid the chicken a bit (note to self: lower the heat and cover to go for more of a poached chicken effect) was that it was a little monochromatic. We didn't have a side dish with it, so it could've benefited from a sprinkling of fresh herbs, couple of cherry tomato halves or something.

Menu Plan 7/19-7/24

Sun - Lemon Chicken & Artichoke Pasta
Mon - Brined Oven-Fried Pork Chops, Crash Hot Potatos, and Iceberg Salad
Tues - Balsamic Chicken with Mashed Potatos and Asparagus
Wed - Chicken Souvlaki with Couscous
Thur - Chicken Salad Stuffed Shells and Broccoli Slaw
Fri - TBD...Something Involving Ground Beef...

I made Fig & Cherry Fridge Jam(ish) last weekend in the crockpot. I'm trying to come up with a recipe to use some of that up. Maybe as a dipping sauce for the pork chops.

Friday, July 17, 2009

SW Pasta Salad

The SW Pasta Salad was not bad. Needed a bit more salsa and was even milder on day 2. I didn't include the boiled egg...maybe another time. The Costco Carnitas were good if salty.

Today was my big shopping day. Took advantage of the $1.99 chicken breasts and $1.88 ground beef at Sun Harvest and the $1/lb pork loin (7lb bag was the smallest I could find) at HEB. I'm going to be doing a lot of meat prep tomorrow.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Recipe notes and reviews

Did the Fritatta tonight -- not bad. I followed a suggestion to not bother trying to flip it and to just finish it in the oven (I used the broiler for about 3 minutes). Next time I'll make the initial stove time closer to 3 minutes too. It was a little overdone on the bottom.

I made the Tuscan Beans yesterday. I put the beans in the crockpot on high before we went to church. 5 hours was too long for canned bean texture. So it's not a very pretty salad, but it makes a great pita filling. Next time however I will not use the fresh sage...didn't care at all for the flavor it brought to the party. Also I added another couple tablespoons of olive oil and apple cider vinegar and more salt.

The chicken and dumplings on Saturday turned out reasonbly well. I liked the dumplings -- actually quite easy to make. I halved the recipe and still only used half of that. The chicken/broth/soup part wasn't any great shakes for the amount of time involved, so next time I'll probably roast the chicken in the oven (or use leftovers) and some homemade stock with the veggies for a much faster alternative.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Menu Plan 7/11 - 7/17

Sat: Chicken & Dumplings
Sun: Spaghetti Frittata with Tuscan White Beans and Tomatos
Mon: Apricot Salsa Chicken with Broccoli and Saffron Rice
Tues: Ropa Vieja (crockpot)
Wed: Church
Thur: Carnitas with SW Pasta Salad & Squash
Fri: Left-over Carnitas Tacos with Pintos and Avocado
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