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.
 photo DSCF2010-6.jpg
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 12-15-13 and Chicken Caccatoire Recipe

Let me tell you a secret, I don’t always make the scheduled meal on the scheduled day. You can change the day you make something. I do it all the time. If you are tired or short on time and that new recipe you want to try is too much that day…

You do not have to stick completely to the plan, change it around or even change what you are making on a day. Don’t be afraid to change it up if you need to. Last week got all re-arranged to better fit my week.

Sunday – Chicken Cacciatore with polenta
Monday – Russian beef and black rice
Tuesday – Costco, something very easy ???
Wednesday – Spaghetti and meatballs
Thursday – chicken and stuffing (freezer), winter squash
Friday – Easy – turkey burgers, oven fires, veg.
Saturday – Stir fry, chicken

 photo DSCF2018-5.jpg
Chicken Cacciatore
3 to 4 pounds of chicken thighs (skinless, boneless, your choice)
Brown chicken in about 2 tablespoons olive oil

1 cup onions, chopped
1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary and sage
Add to pot and cook for about five minutes, onions will soften up.

Add 1 clove minced garlic sauté for about 30 seconds and add
1/2 cup wine, I use what’s open.

8 to 14 oz. tomatoes chopped
3/4 cup water or chicken stock.
Bring to boil and than reduce heat and cook for 20 minutes with lid on.

Add 1/2 cup kalamata olives
1/2 cup slice mushrooms
Cook ten minutes with lid off and let reduce.

I didn’t have any mushrooms, so I left them out.

Big Batch Cooking

The other day I was talking to my fellow mastermind Ashely about how I do a lot do big batch cooking. She said she was the only one who ended up eating it. My response was I freeze it and serve it as a meal later.

Big batch cooking does not have to mean eat it this week and that’s all you are getting for the rest of the week. Most families are probably like Ashely’s and mine where one person eats the leftover big batch of food. So how do we avoid being the only one eating the big batch?
 photo DSCF2010-3.jpg
Freeze it. I use gallon or quart freezer bags depending on what it is. Soups go into gallons even though its only a quart, its hard to pour stuff into a quart bag. I know people who have containers they use for this purpose. Bags work well for me.

Have a couple extra pans that you can freeze. I have two 10 inch round cake rounds I don’t use often for baking cakes. When I make a casserole I make enough to fill an extra pan. It doesn’t take much more time to make extra for a casserole. Cook once and eat twice, plus leftovers for lunch. That’s a win for me.

If you can freeze it make extra. I do this will spaghetti sauces, meatballs, ground meat, chicken, turkey, pork, and beef. Don’t know what to make for dinner, tired, or sick? Grab a packet out of the freezer and voila dinner!

Pumpkin Chai Smoothie

 photo DSCF2006-4.jpg
We all end up with that little bit of leftover pumpkin that you either find a way to eat or grows mold in the back of the refrigerator. There’s not really enough to make anything with and freezing it seems silly since half of it will get stuck in the bag. Here is one of my solutions Pumpkin and Chai Smoothie.
 photo DSCF2003.jpgThis is one of my favorite fall smoothies. It contains two things I love to combine chai and pumpkin they work together so well. This is an easy way to sneak an extra veg into your life. You know any food with that much color has to be good for you. Pumpkin has beta carotene, potassium, folate, magnesium, calcium and more. It is a powerhouse of nutrients.

Pumpkin and Chai Smoothie
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1 cup chai tea, already brewed
1/2 cup almond milk
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
1 to 2 tablespoons maple syrup (optional)

Brew your chai and let cool. Toss it all into your blender and blend until smooth or you can use an immersion blender, like I did. Yes its that easy. Sometimes I turn this into a protein shake with a scoop of vanilla protein powder. Want it thicker add some ice. Want it warm use warm chai.

Easy Roasted Winter Squash Recipe

Winter squash or pumpkin is an easy way to change up your veggies and make them more seasonal. Once fall hits I start looking forward to this addition into dinners. I like to roast a big batch and than I have leftover pumpkin for lunches. You can stuff it, roast it, bake with it, smoothie it, eat it sweet or savory. It is a very versatile veggie.
DSCF2011 photo DSCF2011-2.jpg
This is my favorite way to cook pumpkin and how we eat it most often. It adds such a bright cheeriness to a fall or winter meal. Cooking it this way also brings out the natural sweetness in the pumpkin and you can get some nice caramelization depending on the type of winter squash you picked.

Easy Roasted Winter Squash
1 pumpkin sliced
1 to 3 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Slice you pumpkin and toss in oil and salt and pepper. I do that on the baking sheet, makes life easier. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes. The thicker your slices the longer it will take.

Freeze it! What to do with leftovers

My uncle and aunt were  in town this past week so we had more food on hand than we normally do and also had two dinner parties.  Needless to say there was a lot of cooking that went on for that.  My strategy is to have what I can done beforehand which makes life so much easier. But you can’t do all of it ahead of time.  And what do you do with all the extras that you end up with?

There is some of the new food stash.
They were here for about five days and in the end we ended up with way too many leftovers for the three of us to eat after the fact. Most of the leftovers were unavoidable, the normal pan size for us of lasagne or macaroni and cheese is not enough for five people.  For the dinner parties I would rather have too much than not enough, running out of food is a bummer, too much I can deal with that.  Some items such as the pork shoulder I made extra for sandwich meat that would be lunch the next day.  Cook once and eat twice, love it. We had leftover over fruit and cucumbers too that needed to be dealt with after they left.  The two casualties we had were the spring mix (almost didn’t buy it and didn’t use it) and the strawberries which we did use but not fast enough ( tossed about half of them).

So what did I freeze?

  • Sliced peaches in 2 cup packets
  • Mac-n-cheese in single serving lunch packets
  • Chard risotto in 2 cup packets for risotto cakes
  • 2 packets of rice, 1 basmati the other regular
  • One roasted Hutterite chicken 4 packets 2 of breast meat and 2 dark
  • Blackberries
  • Polenta
  • Cucumbers for smoothies
  • 3 large packets of pork shoulder
  • Pomegranate/cilantro sauce for pork
  • Lasagne in single serving lunch packets
  • Summer Meatballs for a dinner
  • Two 2 cup packets of roasted tomatoes
  • Chicken carcass for stock
  • Cavapcici and ajvar  Ignore the picture with the recipe as that is not cavapcici.

We are stocked up for a while now and that feels very good. Plus I do not have food languishing in my fridge going bad and that makes me feel awesome.  What do you freeze?