Wine Braised Pork Shoulder and Weekly Menu for 4-13-14

Finally getting around to the pork shoulder on Monday, remember that was on last weeks menu. Pulled it out on Saturday but it was no where near thawed on Sunday so we had some soup from the freezer instead.

Just because you plan a menu doesn’t always mean you know exactly what you are having. While I do base it on what we have right now, sometimes you don’t. Menu’s are not set in stone and can change depending on mood, how one feel, or you just don’t want to cook. Don’t become rigid in it, its a guide.

Saturday – Turkey and rice casserole, green beans with tomatoes
Sunday – Freezer Soup and rolls
Monday – Tuff Pork, polenta, broccoli fritters
Tuesday – Chicken or Costco
Wednesday – Quesadillas, pork
Thursday – Spaghetti and garlic bread
Friday – Easy Night, brats
Saturday – Panini as requested

Finally we get to the pork shoulder. There’s not a lot of extra cooked meat in the freezer so made extra. That extra will give us something for lunch the next day and extra for BBQ Pork sandwiches. Braising meat is easy. You pop it in the oven and let it cooke while you go about your day. This can also be made in a crock pot but I find the oven gives you more flavour.
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Wine Braised Pork Shoulder
3 to 6 pounds pork shoulder or any tough cut of pork you like
2 cup wine (red or white, use what’s open)
2 cups water
1 teaspoon herb of choice, I used thyme.
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 350. Meanwhile salt and pepper meat, heat an oven proof pot and put oil in it. Brown pork well on all sides. Pour wine and water over pork and add your herb. Bring to a boil. Put in oven and cook for 2 to 4 hours. You know it is ready when you can pull it apart with a fork.

Malibu Turkey Burgers and the Weekly Menu 4-6-14

Here it is this weeks menu. This was an easy week to put together, pulled a few meals off the waiting list and going out for Chinese for my birthday filled in the last spot. This week kind of got re-arranged and originally the Tuff Pork was going to be featured, haven’t made it yet. I’ll get to it on Saturday most likely as we had the freezer meal earlier in the week. Aspen pollen in out and I’ve been sneezy and foggy.

Sunday – Sweet and sour chicken, rice, broccoli
Monday – Pork Chops Milanese, roasted butternut squash, and green beans almondine
Tuesday – Tuff pork, sweet potato gnocchi, and green beans
Wednesday – Turkey Enchiladas
Thursday – Chinese, eating out for birthday.
Friday – Easy night Malibu turkey burgers, sweet potato fries, and birthday cake!
Saturday – Freezer Meal, thinking soup.

So what the hezmna is Malibu Turkey burgers? They are based on Sizzler’s Malibu Chicken which is a fried chicken patty with ham and swiss cheese. Not something that I make at home and a take on Chicken Kiev. I started doing this with turkey burgers for easy night and it really transforms them from an good dinner into one we really like.

I like Kirkland’s turkey burgers since they don’t have a bunch of weird stuff in them. This is a good example on how to turn a pre-made product into something different. Turkey burgers can be a bit bland and boring, this perks them up. Everyone enjoys this version.
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Malibu Turkey Burgers
Turkey burgers, cooked
Ham, sliced
Harvarti or Swiss, sliced or grated
Buns if you want them

Put ham on first turkey burger and top with the cheese. Pop under the broiler until cheese is melty. Dinner is ready!

John B.’s Chicken Fajitas and the Weekly Menu for 3-30-14

Pork and cranberry stew was supposed to be on this weeks menu. Its been on the let’s make list for ages now. It seems like we never have all the ingredients, this week was the lack of oranges. It shall just have to wait for ye another week.
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In the next month or so we are getting half a cow so eating out of the freezer for prepared foods is a priority, plus it gives me two low maintenance cooking nights. I also ended up with two jars of salsa open so the fajitas will kill one of them. Dad requested Beef and Barley that got put on the menu this week. Its nice when someone else has an idea besides me.

Sunday – Spaghetti (freezer) and garlic bread
Monday – Chicken Fajitas
Tuesday – Pizza
Wednesday – Sweet and sour chick thighs with carrots. Orzo or basmati
Thursday – Beef and Barley soup
Friday – Easy night, thinking burgers
Saturday – Freezer meal, Unstuffed Cabbage

This weeks recipe comes from John B. who was my boyfriend in the early 20’s. Originally it was salsa, beer, and Lawry’s seasoning salt. The seasoning salt got swapped out for spices and a lower salt content. It’s not a traditional fajita recipe but that’s what he called them and I kept the name. I made these for a couple of friends who were on a speaking tour in the 90’s with the African National Congress Youth Tour and they were so excited. Clayton exclaimed, “They had not had food like this in the U.S.” It was a big hit.
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You want to use a good quality salsa in this recipe as it is one of the layers of flavors. Mushrooms may seem a bit odd but they help make the recipe. Vegetarians can easily make the fajita recipe using a mix of mushrooms and have it be satisfying meal. The recipe also works well with steak but you will need to add the juice of half a lime. The steak variation needs the lime juice or it just tastes flat.

John B.’s Chicken Fajitas
2 -3 cups salsa (I used Kirkland’s and used to use La Victoria)
1 12 oz bottle beer (Corona is what’s on hand)
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 packet (a pound) chicken breasts or tenders, cut up
5 to 10 mushrooms washed and sliced
1 -2 teaspoon Coriander, ground
1 teaspoon cumin
Salt and pepper to taste.
Olive oil

Sautee chopped onion in the olive oil until soft and add half the beer, half the salsa and all of the chicken. Cook for a few minutes and add coriander and cumin. Cook until chicken is not pink and add the mushrooms and the rest of the beer and salsa. At this point it will seem like there is a lot of liquid. Put the heat on high if it isn’t already and let it reduce. When the sauce has thickened you know its done, about 5 to 10 minutes.

Fixings
Extra salsa
hot sauce
grated cheddar cheese
shredded lettuce
avocado slices
tomatoes,diced
tortillas
or anything else that sounds yummy.

Beef Braised with Caramelized Onions and Beer

Beef braised with caramelized onions and beer is a staple in my menu repertoire. It is easy to make and it freezes well. Having this in the freezer saved me when some friends on their way home to Utah surprised us with a phone call saying they would like to stop by. Oh course you say yes and than try to figure out what the frack you are going to feed them.

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We ran through a few ideas and ended up keeping it simple by pulling this and some rolls out of the freezer. Since it was summer we had a salad from the garden and I whipped up a batch of Ruby Bars and viola we had a nice lunch ready for surprise guests.

This recipe hails from the now defunct Gourmet magazine. I miss Gourmet dearly, loved that magazine so much. It also goes by the unattractive name of Onion Beef on menu’s and when we talk about it. Leftovers are used for making French Dip sandwiches. Even if you only have onions leftover freeze them for French Dip jus or to add in gravy.

The onions are the key to this recipe, take the time and let them caramelize. They get all lovely and buttery. We tend to have Corona for beer and that’s what I use in this. Use whatever beer you like or if you don’t drink beef broth would work too.

Beef Braised with Caramelized Onions and Beer

3 pounds onions, peeled and sliced
1 – 5 pound chuck roast
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 bay leaves
2 – 12 oz bottles of beer
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar.

Sprinkle roast with salt and pepper and than brown beef in 1 tablespoon of the oil. Make sure you brown all the sides. When roast is browned set it on a plate. Add the rest of your oil into pan and make sure you have your burner on low. Add the onions along with the bay leaves and place a lid on your pot. The lid helps the onions sweat so they do not burn. Stir onions occasionally. Once they are nice and brown and smell sweet you know they are done. This step takes time but it is worth it, do not rush the onions. Preheat oven to 350. Put roast back in your pot and add the beer and vinegar. Cook for 3 1/2 hours.

Stuffed Zucchini Recipe and Weekly Menu for 3-16-14

Menu schmenu, this past week I banged out a menu on Saturday and by Sunday I didn’t like it anymore. Haven’t really made any of the dishes that were on my menu other than freezer soup and the stuffed zucchini. I did attempt to make a scheduled meal last night but the lamb shoulder wasn’t thawed enough and I kind of space caked putting it into the oven. Yeah, I started on a move furniture project and forgot.

Sunday – Stuffed Zucchini
Monday – Ginger Pork chops, rice, and asparagus (not the planned meal)
Tuesday – Freezer Soup
Wednesday – Costco
Thursday – Lamb Shoulder, gnocchi, and asparagus Tacos
Friday – Easy
Saturday – Corned beef and cabbage

I keep trying to get the family on board with my tomato sauce over these. There is much resistance so I keep using the tomato soup from a can. Its just how it is sometimes. This recipe is easy to customize use your favorite grain instead of rice (I had leftover rice makes it so easy.) Don’t want meat leave it out. Change up the herbs if you want too. I’ve been on an Italian seasoning kick as of late so that’s what I used.
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1 pound ground meat of choice, I used beef
2 to 3 cups rice
1 teaspoon Italian seasonings
3 oz. feta
1/4 cup pine nuts
salt and pepper to taste
2 to 4 zucchini, depends on size
2 cans of tomato soup or 1 quart homemade tomato sauce
2 cans of water

Brown meat and while that’s happening slice zucchini into boats and scoop out the innards. Rough chop innards and toss them in with the meat when its browned. Finish browning meat scoop off fat if needed. Saute your zucchini insides until soft and add Italian seasoning and salt and pepper.

Put meat in medium bowl with rice and pine nuts and mix. Add about half your feta and stir that in. Place zucchini in 13×9 pan and put stuffing in the hollow. I just pack it on, the best stuffing is what is not in the actual zucchini.

If using the soup option dump it into the bowl with two cans of water and mix it up and pour over it all. If using your own sauce just pour it over. Sprinkle the rest of feta on top and cover with tin foil. Pop into a 400 degree oven and cook for an hour. Check zucchini for softness, you want it to be fairly soft. If you your fork won’t go through cook it longer. Thick zucchini takes longer. So give yourself plenty of time.

Weekly Menu for 3-2-14 and Chicken and Dumpling Recipe

Not much to say this week, the cooking dinner slump is starting to resolve itself which is nice. Tried a new recipe it was the pork shoulder with tomatoes, not a favorite. It had a bitter taste to it from all the paprika and it was just okay. If a recipe is just alright I know we don’t really love it enough to make again. Often the second time round got it a no. Life is too short for mediocre food.

Sunday – Stuffed Shells & garlic bread
Monday – Steak baked potato, veg
Tuesday -Turkey Tacos
Wednesday – Chicken and Dumplings
Thursday- Pork shoulder with tomatoes, noodles, green beans
Friday – Easy
Saturday- Stove top Mac-n-Cheese, spinach

This week recipe is a family favorite. The soup part is improvised depending on mood and what I have on hand. We are out of celery, used the last of it in the spaghetti sauce I made last week. So I subbed celery seed in this to give it more flavour. The dumpling recipe is originally from Fanny Farmer but I’ve modified. I also double the dumpling recipe. This recipe will freeze fine if you do not expect to have actual dumplings intact. They disintegrate and create a pleasantly thick soup. Dumplings are also an easy way to perk up leftover soup. Just make sure you have enough liquid.
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Chicken and Dumplings

Soup
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 packet chicken breast or tenders (about a pound), cut up
2 cups carrots, chopped
1 cup celery, chopped or 1/2 teaspoon celery seed
1/2 pound greens (I used collards)
2 quarts stock
parsley.

Saute onion until translucent add garlic celery, and carrots. Cook for about 5 minutes and add chicken, let it cook for a couple of minutes. Add stock and greens, bring it to a boil. Cook for about 10 minutes meanwhile get the dumplings ready. Turn heat down before adding dumplings. You want it simmering.

Dumplings
1 cup flour
1/2 cup fresh bread crumbs (1 slice bread)
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 egg, well beaten
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1/3 cup milk or milk substitute

To make the bread crumbs use your immersion blender and use the bowl for the dumplings for blitzing. The immersion blender works like a dream. Otherwise use your blender. I use our everyday bread from Wheat Montana.

Put flour, baking powder, and salt in bowl with bread crumbs and stir. Add the egg, butter, and milk. Stir until blended. You can do the dry ahead of time if you want to and add the liquid before cooking.

Use a spoon and plop dumplings into soup. Cover and cook for 20 minutes. Do not check, do not take lid off, its hard not to look. Put heat on low and let cook undisturbed.

Weekly Menu 2-23-14 and Sweet Potato Fries

I’m in I don’t want to cook dinner mode. I’d rather be cooking for fun than well dinner. Trying to keep it basic and not too crazy since I don’t want to cook dinner. Everyone cycles in and out of I don’t want to cook dinner, it passes. So don’t worry when you get in that mode.

The menu that looks so neat and tidy on here is nothing of the sort. Sunday was supposed to be the steak, but OMG didn’t feel like cooking, that’s a big surprise. Pulled out the Bolgenese one night since I didn’t feel like cooking. Realized that all I had left for red pasta sauces is a lamb ragu. Which reminds me we should have lamb next week. I digress. The point is prepared for the I don’t want to cooks. Having stuff in the freezer makes getting through this much easier.

Sunday – Freezer Soup and corn muffins
Monday – Steak, bulgar pilaf, and the last of the Asparagus
Tuesday – Bolognese and pasta
Wednesday – Sloppy Janes and Sweet potato fries
Thursday -BBQ Ribs, baked potato, green beans
Friday – Easy night Malibu Turkey burgers, oven fries, spinach
Saturday – Stuffed Shells

We love these simple oven fries. I like to use a high heat to get some nice caramelization on them. If they start getting to dark drop the heat down.
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Sweet Potato Oven Fries
Serves 3

1 big and one medium sweet potato, cut up into sticks
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 500. Peel and cut up sweet potatoes. Place on baking sheet and toss with oil and salt and pepper. Pop into oven and cook for 10 minutes. Stir after 10 minutes and cook for another 10 minutes stir again and set timer for 10 minutes. Total cooking time is 30 minutes. Sometimes I need to drop the heat down to 450 after the first 20 minutes.

Weekly Menu for 2-16-14 and Sweet and Sour Chicken Recipe

You might have noticed last week didn’t really follow the plan very much as we didn’t have a couple of things. That’s just part of life and you just have to deal with it and modify your plan. Believe me its a bummer when one of those items is the recipe you are using for a blog. We survived.

This week will hopefully be better. I’ve been still trying a lot of new recipes lately and that’s not always the case. I go in streaks with trying new stuff. Don’t go crazy and make everything you are cooking new, you will freak out at some point and end up not doing it. One new recipe a week is plenty.

Sunday – Sweet and Sour Chicken, zucchini, and rice
Monday – Freezer soup, bread
Tuesday – Hopefully Costco as we are running out of veg.
Wednesday – White Enchiladas (finally)
Thursday – Onion Beef, spaetzle veg,
Friday – Easy night
Saturday – Salisbury Steak, mashed taters, veg

This weeks recipe is a new one for us. I usually don’t make sweet and sour anything if we have stir fry its usually soy and ginger based so this is a nice variation. I don’t have any peppers but I do have zucchini that needs to be ate so we are having that on the side. Don’t let convention hold you back if you lack an ingredient that is not integral to the recipe.

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The results were stellar, everyone loved it and wants to have it again in the future. The recipe was easy to make and super delicious. The lack of peppers made it visually made it look a bit blonde but did not impinge on the flavour of it. Its a nice lighter alternative to restaurant style sweet and sour chicken.

Two notes: I used all the juice from my can of pineapple and next time will add the whole 14 oz. can of pineapple bits. We like sauce and two of found we really wanted more pineapple bits. Make that 3 the White Enchilada picture is finally up!

Sweet and Sour Chicken adapted from Food Network.
1 packet chicken tenders or breast, cut up into chunk
2 tablespoons neutral oil

Saute breast until cooked while this is happening assemble sauce.

1/2 cup or all your Pineapple juice
1 cup or the whole can of pineapple chunks
4 teaspoons cornstarch
3 tablespoons brown sugar
3 tablespoons rice wine vinegar

Mix in bowl and set aside for when chicken is cooked.

1/2 cup green pepper, chopped
1/2 cup red pepper, chopped

add when chicken is done cook for one minute. Stir the sauce and pour into pan. Bring sauce to a boil and turn down, let cook for about 5 minutes.

Weekly Menu for 2-2-14 and Chil Verde recipe

You will notice the reappearance of Chili Verde on the menu this week as it got scratched last week. I’d done a fairly hard session of weight that day after working and by the time I hit dinner it was all down hill, or is that up hill? I realized I had to go out the garage and get more stuff and than the pot I needed wasn’t clean. The pot pushed me over the edge. We had quesadillas instead.
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So it is back this week. Its kind of nice when you can roll a dinner over to the next week one less meal to think about. This Chili Verde recipe comes from the Joy of Cooking, it originally uses chicken. We didn’t care for it with chicken but overall liked it. I made it with pork and loved it that way. I usually use pork tenderloin or chops for this. You can use a tougher cut just make sure to adjust cooking times for the meat.

This recipe makes enough for a dinner and lunch. It freezes well so feel free to big batch it if you want to. A friend in Canada won a chili cook off with this recipe.

Sunday – Lamb Ragu, garlic bread
Monday – Steak, baked potato, and asparagus
Tuesday – Chili Verde
Wednesday – meatball sandwiches
Thursday- Karcho, bread sticks, Freezer soup
Friday – Easy night
Saturday – White Turkey (from freezer) enchiladas

Chili Verde – adapted from The Joy of Cooking
2 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup chopped onions
1/2 cup celery
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
Cook on medium heat until vegetable are tender about 5 minutes, Sprinkle with:

2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon salt

Cook about 1 minute. Meanwhile cut up:
2 pound pork tenderloin

Add to pot and cook for 3 minutes. While pork is cooking drain and cut up

1 cup canned tomatillo ( you can use fresh if you want to)
1 large bunch of cilantro (reserved the leaves for later)
Finely chop cilantro stems and leaves separately.
Add stems to pot with 3 cups chicken stock (use two cups if you wan less sauce.)

4 oz. green chilis chopped (I use canned)
2 fresh jalapeños (optional)
Add to pot and simmer for 20 minutes. Add the cilantro leaves and cook for 10 more minutes.

Add 2 tablespoons lime juice at the end and correct seasons. Serve with tortillas and rice or just eat by itself.

Note: I bump up the chilis and drop the jalapeños as a member of our family does not tolerate hot/spicy food well. The recipe still turns out great.

Weekly Menu 1-26-14 and Chicken Divan Recipe

I knew we were going to have chicken divan sometime this week. Here’s the thing with casseroles they use a ton of pans. If you start from the beginning you have to cook chicken, broccoli and make your sauce than you put it in a baking dish. That’s a ton of dishes for so little.
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Most casseroles I make a big batch and freeze half of of it, so I get two dinners and leftovers for lunch. You feel better with your pile of pots and pans knowing at least one night you don’t have to dirty what feels like a billion dishes.

My other strategy is to make extra food for the casserole. For the Chicken Divan I cooked the chicken on Monday when we had chicken and gravy. I made two packets instead of one. Saturday we had broccoli and made double what I needed for dinner. Since two of my components are already cooked all I need to do is make the sauce and put it in a baking dish which makes it easy peasy.

Sunday – Porcupine Meatballs, potatoes and carrots
Monday – Chicken, gravy, mashed taters, green beans
Tuesday – Pork Chili Verde, hominy, tortillas Pork Quesadillas & hominy
Wednesday – Freezer Soup, rolls
Thursday – Chicken Divan and rice
Friday – Easy night
Saturday – Stuffed pork chops and spinach

Chicken Divan adapted from Savuer. I love this stuff, the almonds on top are so good we like to eat it with rice. We like things saucy so I use 2 cups broth if you like things not as saucy use 1 cup.

1 pound cooked chicken, cut up
2 cups cooked broccoli

Put in 9×13 baking dish and set aside while making sauce.

Sauce
1-2 cups chicken stock
1 cup milk or milk substitute
5 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup flour
3 tablespoons wine
pinch nutmeg
1/4 cup parmesan (optional)
salt and pepper to taste

1 cup Sliced almonds

Melt butter and add flour cook for a two minutes. Whisk in stock and add milk or milk substitute making sure there are no lumps. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and add wine (I use what’s open, sherry works too) and nutmeg. Stir occasionally cook until thickened about 10 minutes. Turn off heat and add cheese if using. Pour over chicken and broccoli. Sprinkle almonds on top.