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.

Creamy and Easy Stove top Mac-n-Cheese and Weekly Menu

This weeks menu kind of came together over the course of the week. I had plug in stuff and than made changes or modifications. I’m sick of the winter food and really want some more spring like entrees but its cold and snowy, its a conundrum. Besides the fact some weeks menus are just hard to come up with. This week was a hard one but in the end I think its turned out more inspired than it started.

Sunday – Alfredo Pasta and chicken asparagus
Monday – New England Boiled Dinner
Tuesday- Stove Top Mac-n-Cheese, broccoli
Wednesday – Corned Beef hash and toast
Thursday – Chicken, spinach, avocado, mushroom sandwich oven fries
Friday – Easy night
Saturday – Freezer Soup, rolls

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The featured recipe this week is Stove Top Mac-n-Cheese which is really easy to make. There is no rue and all you need is the pot you cook your pasta in. Which I love who wants to dirty a ton of dishes making dinner. I know I don’t. This recipe is a great alternative to the boxed macaroni and cheeses out there. There are three of us and we get about 1 dinner, a side, and a bit of leftovers from this recipe.

Stove Top Mac-n-Cheese
1 pound macaroni, uncooked
2 1/2 cups milk or milk substitute
Half pound to a pound Cheddar and Gouda, grated
2 tablespoons flour
1/4 teaspoon powdered mustard
Salt and pepper to taste

Boil macaroni (or pasta of your choice) until al dente according to directions on the bag. While pasta is doing its thing get your other ingredients ready and set them out. Once past is done dump it into a colander and set aside. We are using the same pot to make the sauce.

Put 2 cups of the milk into your pot on medium high heat. Combine the remaining half cup of milk with the flour, you want to get this fairly smooth. Whisk milk and flour mixture into the warm milk. Add the the mustard and whisk again. When milk looks like heavy cream turn heat down to low and add the cheese. Stir well and let the cheese melt. Once cheese is melted add pasta and combine.

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.

Corn Muffins

Here’s an easy week night muffin to go with soup or any dinner for that matter. make sure you cornmeal is a whole grain for maximum taste. An easy way to make this even faster at dinner time is to have your dry ingredients mixed together ahead of time.
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These corn muffins were a nice change from the usual rolls or cornbread we have with soups. Plus they are in muffin form which makes the extras easy to freeze. The recipe says it makes 12 muffins but I got 18 muffins. What we didn’t eat got popped into the freezer for another dinner.
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Corn Muffins from the Joy of Muffins
2 cups cornmeal
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 large eggs, beaten
2 cups butter milk or milk substance of choice
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon oil

Stir together dry ingredients in a large bowl. Whisk eggs, buttermilk, honey, and oil in another bowl. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and combine until mixed. Spoon into greased muffin tins and bake until done. Bake at 375 for 15 to 20 minutes. This batter will be runny but firms up, so don’t worry.

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.

Multigrain Bread Recipe

Bread is one of my favorite things to make. There’s something about the hands on kneading part that I love. Beside the fact you can make what you want, how you want it. Homemade bread is not hard to make it can take some time but most of it is hands off.
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One of the main concerns I hear about is the yeast and the fear of killing it. If the water feels how when running over your wrist it is too hot. The other way to tell is stick your finger in it and count slowly to ten. If you want to pull your finger out or it feels hot, your water is too hot. Your finger should feel a little cooler from the water. Or if you are really technical you can get a thermometer to check.

This is a multigrain loaf and one of my favorites the base recipe comes from a Hobby Farms bread magazine I picked up a couple of years ago. It has some great recipes for home bread bakers of all sorts. I have modified the recipe a bit to suit my tastes and accommodate what I have on hand. Feel free to substitute with the millet and nigella (black onion seeds) and use what you have on hand that is seedy or nut like.
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This bread makes some of the best toast in the world and avocado toast with it is stellar. One more note do not rush the rise times and go longer if you need to. This is a heavy and dense bread which means it will rise slowly especially on the first rise. Feel free to tweet me or facebook me if you have questions or trouble shooting.

Multigrain Bread

1/2 cup lukewarm water
4 1/2 teaspoons yeast (or 2 packets)

Put in small bowl and let sit for 10 minutes to soften and get bubbly. You can put a bit of honey or sugar in to help activate the yeast.

Next gather up the dry ingredients
1 1/2 cups plus 4 to 5 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups whole grain rye flour
1 cup old fashioned oats
1 cup multi-grain cereal (such as Bob’s Red Mill, I buy mine from the co-op bulk bins)
1/2 cup wheat bran or oat bran. (original uses wheat germ)
1/4 cup vital wheat gluten
1/4 cup ground flax seed

Now that we have all that gathered up we can start on the wet.

2 1/2 cups warm water
1/2 cup honey or brown rice syrup

Put in big bowl and mix until honey is dissolved. Make sure your water is not too hot, let cool if you need to. Add yeast, 1 1/2 cups whole wheat, and the the rest of your dry ingredients. Mix it all in. Dough should still be very wet at this point. Keep adding in whole wheat 1/2 cup to a cup at a time. Dough will start holding together and be workable. It will also remain slightly sticky, if it losses its sticky you put too much flour in, err on the side of too little flour if you are unsure.

Knead bread for 10 to 15 minutes by hand, it will be smooth and a little tacky when done. Use flour as needed to keep from sticking to counter and you. Grease a large bowl and cover with damp tea cloth, set in a warm and draft free place. I use the bowl I mix the bread in. It works just fine and I don’t have to dirty a second big bowl. This rising process will take two to three hours. You know the dough is ready when it has some levity to it and if you gently insert your finger into it the dough does not pop back.
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While dough is rising gather the following:
1/4 cups Millet ( or sunflower seeds use a 1/2 cup)
1/4 cup Nigella seeds ( or walnuts use 1/2 cup)
2 teaspoons salt

Once dough has raised. Punch down and let rest for ten minute, this will make the second kneading process easier. Spread dough on counter and sprinkle salt, the millet and the Nigella seeds over it and knead for about 5 minutes. The seeds and salt will be well distributed through out the dough when ready. Let rest again for ten minutes.
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Place on piece of parchment or baking sheet to rise, slash top with an X. Cover and let rise for 30 to 40 minutes. Preheat oven to 425. If using a baking stone put it in when you start the preheat. (I do parchment paper & baking stone. Gently lift bread on the parchment and put it on the baking stone.) Once dough has risen put in oven and cook 20 minutes at 425. Than lower temperature to 375 and bake for another 20 to 30 minutes.

Weekly Menu for 1-19-14 and Chicken, Avocado, Mushroom, Spinach Sandwiches

Pizza is always a favorite with the family we make it about once a month and at the moment its been about two months since we have had it. Competition for pizza leftovers is stiff so I make two of them. One is a veggie pie and the other a meat and veg pie. The veggie one is made first for two reasons. One it tends to be more moist and doesn’t hold up as well and two we hit the first pie the hardest. I’ve tried adding a salad or carrot sticks, no one eat them so I gave up on that.

Tried another new recipe for Asian style meatballs that was lack luster and am kind of over new recipes for a bit. Going to stick to some of our standards and favorites for now. We have avocados and am going to make a chicken sandwiches with them this week. This particular sandwich is a hybrid of two different sandwiches.

It started out as a duplicate to a Village Inn sandwich it was chicken, avocado and mushroom. Than I came across a recipe in Bon Appetit for chicken, mushroom, and spinach sandwiches. I decided to combine them and come up with my own sandwich. They are really good, If you don’t do bread they are good just as a regular entree. If you do, do bread make sure to use a high quality roll.

Sunday- Pizza, one veg, one meat.
Monday – Asian meatballs, rice, broccoli
Tuesday – Mom’s Chicken and Noodles
Wednesday – Tuff Pork, risotto cakes, and spinach (risotto was frozen)
Thursday – Chicken, avocado, spinach mushroom sandwich and oven fries.
Friday – Easy Day
Saturday – Turkey tetrazini

Chicken, Spinach, Mushroom, Avocado Sandwiches
I love these sandwiches, love them. Don’t let the steps put you off you only use two pans and the chicken takes the longest to cook. I make my own rolls for this. They are so good.
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Makes 4 sandwiches.

2 chicken breasts cooked and cut in half
1/2 pound mushrooms, sliced
2 to 3 handfuls Spinach, sautéed
Cheese
Avocado, sliced or mashed.
salt and pepper
olive oil
butter
wine
paprika

1.Take chicken breast and cut them in half. If they are small you will need more breast, tenders also work well. Season with salt and pepper, dust with paprika. Heat pan, add teaspoon of olive oil, and sauté chicken until done. Set aside..

2.To make the mushrooms, slice and in the same pan you cooked the chicken, pour in about 1/2 cup wine and deglaze pan. Add tablespoon butter, toss in your mushrooms, sprinkle with paprika, and sauté mushrooms until soft. Add a little more wine if you need to, you can also add some garlic.

3. Cook the spinach while you make the mushrooms. Heat a pan and sauté up your spinach. About 5 minutes.

4. Melt cheese on chicken.

5. Let folks assemble their sandwiches.

Weekly Menu for 1-12-14 and Tacos ala Beth Recipe

Sometimes what you plan and how things are scheduled don’t work out. That’s what happened this week with this blog and my menu scheduling. As we didn’t make it to Costco last week we have carrots and celery for fresh veg. Notice the lack of lettuce needed for tacos which is this weeks recipe. So no tantalizing pictures of tacos for you kids.
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Tacos are quick and simple to whip up and if you make your own taco seasonings so much better than what they sell in the store. Think the basic ground meat taco not fancy pants tacos. The kind of stuff I ate when I was kid. I still love the basic taco that I grew up with and make them every once in a while.

The brussels stir fry was a new recipe, no one was super keen on the brussels in it. Give it a try and see if you like it.

Sunday – Tasty Beef, baguette
Monday – Meatloaf, roasted red potatoes, and green beans
Tuesday – Steak, brussels, & carrot stir fry, rice
Wednesday – Tomato soup & grilled cheese
Thursday – Costco
Friday – Easy night
Saturday- Taco Night!

Taco Seasoning from All recipes
1 tablespoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon black pepper

Makes about an ounce. I use 1 tablespoon of the mix for tacos. Most people use 3 tablespoons but I find that over powering.

Tacos ala Beth
1 pound ground meat, browned I like beef or turkey.
small can green chilis about a 1/4 of a cups worth
8 oz. tomato sauce
1 cup water
1 tablespoon taco seasoning

Brown ground meat. Add chilis and tomato sauce cook for until juices are reduced. Add 1 cup water and 1 tablespoon taco seasoning. Let reduce and its done. Correct seasonings.  While taco meat is cooking: slice lettuce, dice tomatoes, grate cheese, and get any other toppings ready.