Lunch of the Week 2 22 16

If you want to stay in shape you have to plan ahead for weekday meals.   It is only by making decisions in advance, such as “what will I have for lunch” that you stay on track.  One of my weekday lunches this week is steak, asparagus and yam.

The problem I always have with steak is the same problem I have with everything – overcooking.

Another answer from Alton Brown.

This week I bought a 3/4 lb sirloin.  I always estimate that the cooked weight is 75% of the raw weight.  That’s probably high but until I get a food scale its the best I can do.  Therefore, I estimate that I end up with 9 oz cooked and split into three meals.

What about the vegetable?  Asparagus was on sale this week – decision made!  12 spears give me the approx calories I need in a meal.  It does not take very long to cook so I either throw it in the oven for a few minutes while something else cooks or I steam it separately.

One half of a yam (also on sale) rounds out the meal.  Bake one yam, and you have it for two meals.

Calorie and nutrient breakdown - steak, asparagus, and yams

 

Pork & Apple Picnic Pie – February 2016

We’re trying recipes from Pies – Sweet and Savory by Caroline Bretherton.

Actually, my son is the chef, I just eat the pies.

The pork is a home run!  We used approximately double the pork that the recipe calls for so the pie was really thick.  However, I don’t count this as a negative.

rolling out the doughHe made the pie dough the day before and left it in the fridge overnight.  We took it out approx an hour before we needed it and that was probably not enough time.  He got it done but it was a bit difficult to work with.

Otherwise, we followed her recipe.  Came out great, can’t wait to try anotherone.

IMG_3187pork pie before the oven

Salmon Quiche

So it turns out that you can make a crust out of potatoes!

“Duh, of course you can” is probably what you are thinking but this was a great thing for me.  I try to avoid the processed carbs whenever possible and that includes pie crusts.  If not for the ordinary crust a quiche can be a great meal.

I discovered the potato alternative when I learned to make salmon quiche.  It calls for grated cooked potatoes or hashbrowns.  I’m not doing the hashbrown thing so potatoes it is.

I make three of these quiches every year on or about New Year’s Day.  We eat one and a half and freeze the rest for another day.

About 4 lbs of peeled white potatoes should do it.  Boil them for 10 minutes and then drain the water and let them cool off.

potatoespotatoes

Next step is to grate them, but you could probably get away with simply crushing them.  Add generous amounts of seasoning, some melted butter and Parmesan cheese.

Press them into the pie plates and bake them for about 40 to 45 minutes at 425°.  The big thing is to make sure that you grease those pie plates.  Give them a serious coat with butter.  Also, don’t be bashful with the potatoes.  You don’t want a thin crust.

That’s just for the crust.  If you want the quiche you can get it her.  Like most of the things I try, it comes from the Food Network.

The end result is awesome.  Try it and see,

potato crust for salmon quiche

Chicken Tetrazzini

Sunday dinner this week was chicken tetrazzini.  This is a Giada De Laurentis recipe that you can find from the link above.

The recipe calls for mushrooms.  My kids HATE mushrooms and I don’t want to hear them complain.  I love mushrooms and would definitely miss them if I left them out.  Fortunately, this is easily avoided by cooking this dish in two batches – one with the mushrooms and one without.

Here are the ingredients:

9 Tbs. butter

2 Tbs. olive oil

2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken ( I used 1lb breasts and 1lb thighs )

2 1/4 tsp. Kosher salt

1 lb sliced white mushrooms

1 large onion , chopped

5 cloves garlic, minced

2 tsp. dried thyme

1/2 cup white cooking wine

1/3 cup flour

4 cups whole milk, room temp

1 cup heavy cream, room temp

1 cup chicken stock

1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

1 box linguine

1 cup frozen peas

1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped

1 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

1/4 cup Italian style bread crumbs

I like to do all the chopping, grating, slicing etc… that needs to be done before starting so once I start cooking I don’t have to stop.

Prepare the 13 X 9 baking dish by spreading 1 Tbs. of butter all over.  (use two smaller dishes if going to do 1/2 with mushrooms and 1/2 without)

Preheat oven to 450°

  1. Melt 1 Tbs of each butter and oil in large pan.  Season chicken with salt and lightly brown chicken on each side (enough so it is just cooked through). remove chicken from pan and set aside.
  2. Add another Tbs of each butter and oil to pan.  Add mushrooms and saute over medium heat until lightly golden and most liquid evaporates. (Remove mushrooms and set aside if you are planning to only add them to 1/2.)
  3. Add onion, garlic and thyme. Saute until onion is translucent.  Add wine and continue to cook until it evaporates.  Transfer to large mixing bowl.
  4. Cut chicken into 1 inch pieces and add to bowl.
  5. Melt 3 more Tbs. of butter in the same pan.  Add flour and whisk continuously for 2 minutes.  Add milk, cream, chicken stock, and nutmeg.  Simmer until sauce thickens slightly.  Whisk often.
  6. Cook linguine according to directions on box. Drain and add to the bowl with the chicken and onion mixture.  Add peas, parsley and sauce.  Toss until all is blended together evenly.
  7. Dump into baking dish (or dishes).  If you are  going to do 1 /2 with mushrooms and 1/2 without, dump 1/2 into one dish, add the mushrooms to the bowl, toss to evenly distribute, then dump that into second dish.
  8. Mix the bread crumbs and cheese together and sprinkle over top.
  9. Bake 25 minutes.  Should be golden brown on top.

ENJOY!!!

 

 

Where Should I Eat In Hershey, PA – Dec 2015

No cooking this week.

This week was spent in Hershey, PA for a post-Christmas vacation.  There are some fun things to do there, but my favorite part of any vacation is the food.  That’s not to say that every meal is great, just that I like eating out.  Here’s a few of the places that we checked out:

  • cheeseburgerDuke’s is a sports bar & grill not far from where we stayed.  I went with the PA Dutch Burger with pepper jack cheese.  Although the service at this place was great, the food was just OK.  The burger was bland.  I needed lots of ketsup to get through it.
  • There is one highly recommended breakfast place in Hershey that we tried to go to.  Actually we tried twice but bailed out due to the line out the front door.  After searching around a bit for an alternative we stumbled upon Funck’s.

No wait – sold!

The food was ok.  Good enough for us to go back a second time.  The first time I went for the cruncoatmealhy honey banana oatmeal.  Its steel cut,  but all of the toppings were just sitting on top and not mixed in.   They give you a good sized portion, but it fills the bowl so you can’t even mix up the ingredients yourself.  As you get below the top layer you find that most of the oatmeal is extremely dry and under cooked in spots.

chiocolate pancakesPumpkin PancakesThe second time through I went for the pumpkin pancakes while my kids went for the chocolate.  I like pancakes and these are pretty good.  The chocolate was good enough for the kids to order both times AND with enough leftovers to eat the next day.  Service was great, food just OK.

  • scallops and fettucineThe Chocolate Avenue Grill was not “just OK”.  The food was fantastic.  I had the cajun scallops over fettuccine.  The salad that came with it was not the best.  The bread was outstanding.  We did not make it to most of the recommended places, but this was the best food we found in Hersey.

hot dog with mac-n-cheese at chocolate world

  • This was the hot dog and mac-n-cheese available at Chocolate World.  It tasted good but not the healthiest thing you could eat.

 

Not pictured is the double cheeseburger sub from Roxy’s Grill in Harrisburg and the Subway sandwiches we ate on the last night there (it was the only place available without an hour long wait).

No wait, sold!

Poached Eggs Shouldn’t Be That Hard

Ever try to poach an egg?  I have.  I can get by with the results but not without problems.  Two big problems:

  1. The egg spreads out all over the pot.
  2. The clean up is problem.  Lots of scrubbing – no fun.

There must be a better way!

There is, and I got it from the Food Network and Alton Brown.  Create a whirlpool in the middle of the pot.  It works wonders.  Since the egg stays in the middle and there is a decent amount of water in the pot, there is very little contact between the surface of the pan and the egg.

One thing I will say is that I prefer to let my eggs cook a bit longer then is recommended in the recipe.  Try 6 or 7 minutes instead of 5.

 

photo credit: Raw Eggs 100_0854.JPG via photopin (license)

Turkey Soup – Acorn Squash Soup Dec 2015

Thanksgiving is over but the turkey lives on.

I always freeze the carcass because it makes for some great soup later on.  However, the turkey is not the only thing still kicking around.  I had a couple of acorn squash that never made their way into the meal.  They’ve been sitting there on the counter mocking me for the last two weeks.  I bought them to go with the turkey.   I’ve never used them in a soup before and I didn’t quite know how to make it work.

I make soup a lot and I have to admit that most of the time I lack imagination, but that what the internet is for.  A Google search turned up this recipe from Guy Fieri.  Savory and sage are not spices that I would ordinarily use, even though I have a sage plant growing in my garden in the backyard.

Bottom line is that this soup is fantastic.  Roasting the garlic in the squash is amazing.  The recipe is presented as an appetizer but mine was an entree.  I added rice to mine and serviced it as our Sunday dinner for the family.  The only thing I should have done differently was I should have done a better job with the immersion blender.  My squash was a bit on the “rustic” side as Emeril used to say.  Still, I was awesome and I would not hesitate to make it again, so thank you Guy.

 

Split Pea Soup

When my son was two years he loved Emeril.  We would watch Emeril Live on the Food Network and he would really get into it.

“Bam”.

In the process, I learned something about cooking.  I learned that there is room for error and room to take liberties with the ingredients.  I also learned about one pot meals.  One of my favorites is split pea soup.

Ingredients:

  • A ham bone.  The next time you have ham for dinner save the bone.  Put it in the freezer and it will last a few months.
  • Dried split peas.  I use two pounds.  Remember that you have to prepare them.  I always screw that part up.  Just follow the directions on the package.
  • 1/2 lb bacon.
  • Chicken stock – I used 3 1/2 quarts for this meal.
  • 1 diced onion.
  • A clove or two of garlic.
  • Some carrots.
  • Some celery.
  • Some heavy cream.
  • Salt and pepper if you like.  I don’t use the pepper due to some allergies in my family

Start with the bacon.  Render it until its crispy.  Then remove the bacon and leave the fat.  I think this part is the key to the whole thing.

Add the garlic, carrots celery and the onions  Cook them for a few minutes, at least until the onions get translucent.

Add the stock, the peas and the hambone.  Let it simmer for a while.  I like to leave it for two hours.  One hour is pushing it but might be enough.

After that, take the hambone out.  Take an immersion blender and mix up the ingredients that are still in the pot.  Take the ham off the bone.  Throw the bone away.  Cut the meat into bite-sized pieces and add it back to the soup.

At the very end gradually add small amounts of the heavy cream.  You don’t need much – maybe a half cup.  Keep stirring as you add it.

Egg Drop Soup

This one is quick, easy and a good way to get miscellaneous vegetables out of the fridge.

The basic components are:

  • 1 quart of chicken stock plus one cup of water
  • As much ginger as you like, sliced into thin sticks
  • 1 bunch of scallions (about seven) sliced thin, discarding the top halves

Those amounts will serve two people.

Add whatever other vegetables you want. I added asparagus, bok choi and cauliflower because I had those in the refrigerator. Bring the soup to a boil and allow to simmer for 30 minutes.

During the last few minutes of cooking break two eggs into a small cup or bowl.  Scramble them and slowly pour them into the soup.  This will create ribbons and give it that egg drop soup look.  The eggs cook instantly so at that point you are ready to serve

Slow Cooker Chicken Soup

Inspired by this post from Family Fresh Meals.com, this past Saturday was a day for chicken soup.  Last week we had a roasted chicken for dinner so this week I had a frozen carcass.  Always freeze the carcass so you can make stock later on.  So many recipes call for stock that you can’t have enough of the stuff in the freezer.

This weekend was a particularly busy one.  My oldest was in the school play, Beauty and the Beast.  That means that the family attendance was mandatory at each of the three performances.  I had enough time to throw a ton of veggies in the crock pot, make the stock and dump it on top.  I use enough to cover the veggies, so the exact amount will vary depending on the amount of vegetables you use.  Left it on low for five hours, went to the matinee and came home to a great chicken soup.

I took Corey’s advice about the No Yolk noodles, but I mixed up the veggies a bit because I love the variety.  I kept the onion, carrot, celery and parsley but added turnip, parsnip, cauliflower and asparagus.

The soup came out awesome.