Sunday, November 16, 2008

Menu Plan Monday

I think my headaches have finally broken - after 4 days. I've been taking Topamax for at least a year now, and it's done quite well for me for controlling my migraines. But since I've started taking Ritalin and my Wellbutrin's been upped, I'ved noticed that I am able to start drinking regular sodas without them tasting as horrible as they used to (the sugar-free ones are still too bitter) and my headaches are starting to come back (not full-on but not responding to OTC's). This weekend I've had a horrible one, and yesterday found out the reason - not just because of the weather but hormones too. :( I talked to the psychiatrist on Friday, and she checked the PDR but nothing was specifically mentioned. I see my GP this Friday and I'll ask the pharmacist then too, but I imagine my dose will have to be increased. I do know that Ritalin can cause headaches, and from reading the literature it mentions about taking other seizure meds - so I'm wondering if it lowers seizure thresholds or if it lowers the medicine in the bloodstream (I'm thinking it's the first).

Anyway - I'm glad that I picked up 3 of Trader Joes pizza doughs to try on Friday. I had already made my homemade dough for our pizzas on Friday, but I wasn't sure if 2 pizzas would be enough since we were having Mike and Jennifer over. Since I wouldn't get home until late (I had to see the psychologist and the psychiatrist and the appointments weren't until later), I swung by TJ's to pick up the dough to have on hand just in case. Since they had all 3 doughs and we've not had either, I picked them all up. I was planning to try the Whole Wheat one on Sunday at MiL's but she had a weather migraine too - so we didn't go over there on Sunday. I didn't need to make the TJ's pizzas, but I did make the Garlic & Herb for supper on Saturday, and then I went ahead and made the whole wheat and plain for supper on Sunday. Since I wasn't really in any shape to think because of the migraine, it make an easy meal. And the dough wasn't bad - not as good as mine, but not bad. I also picked up a tub of their sauce too. Once more not as good as mine, but not bad. And if I'm short on time, totally worth it! But one thing that I will totally buy again - the Quattro Formaggio cheese blend. I think it's the fontina in it.

I also picked up a bag of cut up root vegetables. I'm going to roast them and toss them with some goat cheese and pasta. I don't really have a recipe for it, but it should turn out fine. I haven't decided what herbs I'll use yet. Monday & Tuesday's recipes are ones that I didn't use from last week. For the French Onion Soup- it looks complicated, but it's not. Make the Caramelized Onions first - (I usually do it overnight a few nights before and then separate the onion broth from the onions so the butter congeals on the top in the fridge and can be lifted off), then continue with the second recipe - using the onion broth and adding beef broth to make 6 cups. I use half the onions, save the other half for other things (Indian foods, pizzas, pastas, etc) and the butter is good for flavoring other things too (vegetables, etc), but use some for the soup.

Monday: Lentils w/ Greens Soup
Tuesday: Szechuan Braised Meatballs
Wednesday: Pasta with Roasted Root Vegetables & Goat Cheese
Thurs: French Onion Soup
Friday: Pizza

For more Menu Ideas visit: I'm an Organizing Junkie

Lentils with Greens Soup

1/2 cup dried lentils, rinsed and picked over
8 cups water, divided
1 lb escarole or spinach
1 tsp vegetable oil
1/2 lb Italian sausage, casing removed
1/2 medium onion, chopped
3 tsp chicken broth granules
1/8 tsp hot pepper flakes
4 Tbsp grated Parmesan cheese

Combine lentils and 4 cups of water in saucepan. Simmer, uncovered 20 minutes or until just tender. Drain.

Meanwhile, cut out and discard escarole stems; separate leaves. Rinse. Chop coarsely.

Heat oil in a 4 quart pot over medium-high heat. Add sausage; cook, breaking up any clumps with a wooden spoon, for about 3 minutes or until no longer pink. Add onion and escarole; cook 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add remaining 4 cups water and broth granules. Bring to a boil, lower heat; simmer, covered 15 minutes. Add lentils and pepper flakes; simmer 3 minutes more. Ladle into 4 bowls. Top with cheese.

HOW I MAKE IT: Saute sausage and onions, breaking up clumps of sausage, until no longer pink. Add 6 cups water, lentils, pepper flakes, 10 oz box frozen chopped spinach (still frozen) and bring to a boil. Lower heat; simmer, covered 20 minutes until lentils are tender. Ladle into 4 bowls and top with cheese.

Family Circle Magazine 2/1/98 244 calories, 12 g fat, (4g sat fat) 17g prot, 20g carb, 6g fib, 1,247mg sod, 28mg chol

Szechuan Braised Meatballs
Makes 4 servings
From Eating Well Magazine Jan/Feb 2008

Szechuan cuisine, from Western China, is full of fiery-hot peppercorns and braised dishes. This recipe gets its heat from prepared Szechuan sauce and crushed red pepper. We braise the meatballs and Chinese cabbage in a bit of beef broth. MAKE IT A MEAL: Ladle over brown rice or noodles with steamed broccoli and carrots on the side.

1 pound 93%-lean ground beef
1 5- to 6-ounce can water chestnuts, rinsed and finely chopped
2 teaspoons plus 1 tablespoon cornstarch, divided
1/2 teaspoon five-spice powder (see Shopping Tip)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup reduced-sodium beef broth
4 teaspoons canola oil, divided
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper, or to taste
1/4 cup Szechuan sauce (see Shopping Tip)
4 cups shredded napa (Chinese) cabbage
1 15-ounce can straw mushrooms, rinsed
2 scallions, sliced (optional)

Gently mix beef, water chestnuts, 2 teaspoons cornstarch, five-spice powder and salt in a medium bowl until combined. Shape the mixture into 12 balls (use about 2 tablespoons each to make 1 1/2-inch meatballs). Whisk broth and the remaining 1 tablespoon cornstarch in a small bowl until smooth.

Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a large nonstick skillet or nonstick wok over medium-high heat. Add the meatballs and cook, turning once, until brown, about 3 minutes total. Transfer to a plate.

Add the remaining 2 teaspoons oil to the pan. Add garlic and crushed red pepper and cook, stirring, until fragrant, 15 to 30 seconds. Add the reserved broth mixture, Szechuan sauce, cabbage and mushrooms; cook, stirring, until the cabbage is just wilted, about 2 minutes. Reduce heat to a simmer, return the meatballs to the pan, cover and cook until the sauce is thickened and the meatballs are cooked through, 8 to 10 minutes. Serve sprinkled with scallions (if using).

Shopping Tip: Find five-spice powder in the spice section and Szechuan sauce near other Asian condiments in most supermarkets.

Nutrition Information: Per serving: 295 calories; 13 g fat (3 g sat, 6 g mono); 64 mg cholesterol; 17 g
carbohydrate; 28 g protein; 4 g fiber; 760 mg sodium; 310 mg potassium. Nutrition bonus: Vitamin C (40% daily value), Zinc (37% dv), Vitamin A (20% dv), Iron (16% dv). 1 Carbohydrate Serving Exchanges: 2 vegetable, 3 lean meat, 1 fat

Caramelized Onions

Lora Brody "Slow Cooker Cooking"

Yield: Makes about 3 1/2 cups
Cooking Time: 12 to 14 hours on LOW
Slow Cooker Size: 4 quart

This recipe made me fall in love with my slow cooker and recognize its potential for dishes other than beef stew and chili. Caramelizing onions in the slow cooker eliminates the possibility of burning them that exists when you cook them on the stove top. An added bonus is the heady broth you end up with, which can be used in other dishes along with the onions.

Use the onions and liquid to flavor soups, stocks, and stews. They make a wonderful addition to risotto, a perfect pasta sauce, and the world's best pizza topping (for this use you will have to drain off the liquid first). The onions can be served on their own as a vegetable to accompany fish, meat, or fowl. Cook a very long time until they are a deep mahogany color.

3 pounds Vidalia or other sweet onions (4 to 5 onions, 3 to 4 inches in diameter), peeled and cut into 1/8-inch-thick to 1/4-inch-thick slices
8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter (see Note)

Place the onions and butter in the insert of the slow cooker, cover, and cook on LOW for 12 to 14 hours, until the onions are deep brown and very soft. It's almost impossible to overcook these; make sure to let the onions cook until they are mahogany colored.

While this recipe calls for Vidalia onions, you can use other sweet onions such as Maui, Walla Walla, or Texas 1015s. If you have a large slow cooker, you can double the onions. It is not necessary to increase the amount of butter.

Don't blanch at the amount of butter called for here. When you drain and chill the onions, the onion-flavored butter will congeal on the surface of the cooking liquid. Skim it and use it when you sauté other vegetables, over pasta, or in risotto.

French Onion Soup
Serving Size : 6

1 1/2 lbs onions -- (5 cups) sliced into rings
1/4 C Butter
6 C fat-free Beef Broth
Salt and Pepper
6 French bread slices -- toasted
8 Tbsp Grated Parmesan Cheese

Slice onion thin. Brown lightly in butter. Add broth and simmer, covered for 30 minutes. Season to taste.

To serve: Place soup in bowls, cover with a toasted slice of french bread sprinkled with Parmesan cheese.

Per Serving (excluding unknown items): 223 Calories; 11g Fat (36.8% calories from fat); 17g Protein; 24g Carbohydrate; 3g Dietary Fiber; 26mg Cholesterol; 863mg Sodium. Exchanges: 1 Grain(Starch); 2 Lean Meat; 1 1/2 Vegetable; 2 Fat.

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