Monday, January 19, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

I took hubby to Trader Joes on Saturday since we were having Mike and Jennifer over for dinner. He hadn't been there yet. He's not much of a food shopper, but I wanted him to see it so if I need him to stop for something he could. Since he works near there, sometimes it's easier for him to get something on the way home rather than me making a trip into town if I'm not headed there in the first place. Anyway, I had the dinner planned out, but they were bringing some sweet wine for dessert, so I was planning to pick up some bread, cheese, fruit and nuts and thought TJ's would be a good place to pick some up. I was right. I thought I'd also stop by Whole Foods for the cheese actually, since I could get the actual amount of cheese I needed, but TJ's was pretty packed, and I knew WF would be the same. We just got everything we needed at TJ's and left it at that. So hubby and I will hit WF's some other time since he hasn't been there either. The leftover Raclette cheese is going into the strata along with the leftover French bread, leeks, and green beans. The Double cream brie will get eaten as well as the leftover Gruyere Foccacia with no problem in this household. *grin* and I'm thinking of using the Stilton w/ apricots (which is AWESOME!!!!) on the pizza on Friday if it doesn't get eaten on crackers as evening snacks. The apples and Asian pears will get eaten as snacks also.

Monday: Chili Lime Chicken Patties (from Trader Joes) with Mrs. T's pierogies
Tues: Strata
Wednesday: Pea Soup
Thursday: Beef Tongue
Friday: Homemade Pizza
Saturday: My Mom's Birthday "Party" so we're headed there

For more menu ideas visit: [She's starting to get over 400 now!]

Easy Strata & Variations
from: Cook Smart by Pam Anderson

1 pound each of prepared meat and vegetable (optional) OR
1 pound each of 2 prepared vegetables (optional)
1 quart half-and-half
1 dozen eggs
1 tsp. salt and several grinds of pepper
12 slices fluffy white bread
12 ounces extra-sharp cheddar cheese, grated (about 3 cups)
1/2 cup thinly sliced scallions (about 3 medium)

Prepare meat and/or vegetables, if using.

Whisk half-and-half, eggs, salt and pepper until smooth. Spray a 9-by-13-inch Pyrex or ceramic baking dish with vegetable cooking spray. Line bottom with 6 slices of bread. If using meats and/ or vegetables, scatter half of each over the bread, then sprinkle with half of the scallions and cheese. Pour 1 cup of egg mixture over the top. Repeat layers with remaining bread, meat, vegetables, cheese and scallions. Slowly pour remaining egg mixture evenly over top. Cover with plastic wrap, then weight down casserole with 3 16-ounce cans for at least 15 minutes to submerge ingredients. (Can be refrigerated overnight, but return to room temperature before baking.)

Adjust oven rack to middle position. Bake in preheated 325-degree oven until custard is just set, about 50 minutes. Turn on broiler and broil until strata is spotty brown and puffy (watch carefully), about 5 minutes longer. Let stand for 8 to 10 minutes, then serve immediately.

Serves: 12.
Nutrition varies, based on meat/ vegetables used. Basic recipe, per serving: 362 calories, 17g protein, 17g carbohydrates, 24g fat (13g saturated), 1g fiber, 600mg sodium.

MUSHROOMS OR BELL PEPPERS: Slice and sauté in 1 Tb. olive oil. Salt.
BABY SPINACH: Steam, covered, with 1 Tb. oil and salt until wilted, 3 to 4 minutes. Drain.
FROZEN CORN: Thaw and drain.
ASPARAGUS: Cut in 1-inch pieces. Steam, covered, with 1 Tb. oil, salt and 1/3 cup water, 3 to 4 minutes. Uncover and cook off liquid.

BACON: Cut into 1/2-inch pieces and fry until crisp. Drain well.
SAUSAGE: Fry bulk breakfast or Italian sausage until fully cooked. Drain.
HAM: Cut into small dice.
KIELBASA: Thinly slice.
CRAB: Pick over pasteurized backfin crab for shell and cartilage.

Split Pea Soup (3 pts)
From bag of split peas
Serves 10-12

1 lb (2 1/2 cups) dried green split peas
3 quarts (12 cups) water
1 3/4 – 2 lbs ham hocks or bone
1 large onion, minced
1 cup diced carrots
1 cup diced celery
1 bay leaf
1 Tbsp lemon juice
2 Tbsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper

Rinse and sort peas. In a large soup kettle (I use a 6 qt crockpot and add everything together), combine peas, water and ham; simmer, covered for 2-2 1/2 hours. Add remaining ingredients; simmer covered for 45 minutes. Removed bones. For thicker soup simmer 20-30 minutes more, uncovered. Will thicken when refrigerated, but thins when heated.

Corned Beef or Veal Tongue
Tongue takes particularly well to spicing, but if you prefer a plain cure, omit the spices from the brine. If calves' tongues are available, be sure to try them; they are very lean and delicate flavored. Home-cured tongue does not have the excessive saltiness or the deep-rose hue of commercially brined tongues which are cured with saltpeter.
Recipe By: Better Than Store Bought by Helen Witty and Elizabeth Schneider Colchie
Serving Size: 6

1 beef tongue -- fresh (or frozen and thawed)
water -- as needed
kosher salt -- as needed
1 egg -- in shell to test the brine
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
2 bay leaves -- crumbled
1/2 teaspoon allspice berries -- bruised
1/2 teaspoon whole black peppercorns -- bruised
2 teaspoons coriander seeds -- bruised
1 teaspoon mustard seeds -- bruised
2 cloves garlic -- peeled but left whole

Select a ceramic, glass or enameled crock or bowl large enough to hold both the tongue and enough brine to cover the tongue by 2 or more inches. Be sure the container will fit into your refrigerator.

To determine the brine quantity needed, enclose the tongue in a plastic bag (no need to close the bag- just hold the open end above the water level), and run cold water into the container to cover the bagged meat by 2-3 inches. Remove the tongue.

Stir coarse salt into the water, letting each addition dissolve before adding more, until an egg will float in the solution. (you'll probably need about 1 1/2 cups salt.) Remove the egg once it has served its
purpose and pour the bring into a pot.

Stir into the brine the sugar, bay leaves, allspice berries, peppercorns, coriander seeds, mustard seeds and garlic. Bring to a boil and simmer, covered, for 15 minutes, then let cool completely.

Remove the tongue from the bag and prick it well all over with a skewer or larding needle. Return it to the crock or bowl.

When the brine is cool, pour it over the tongue. Cover with plastic wrap, then add a plate (with a weight on it, if necessary) that will hold the meat well under the surface. Cover the crock with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 10 days to 2 1/2 weeks for beef tongue, 3 to 10 days for calves' tongues. (Figure a minimum of 3 days curing per pound of any single piece of meat.) Turn the meat every few days and be sure it is always immersed in the brine.

To cook: Put the tongue or tongues in a pot with water to cover by several inches, 2 or 3 carrots, coarsely cut up, a peeled whole onion or two, and a few tablespoons of vinegar and simmer, partly covered, until the meat is very tender. (The time will vary with the size of the tongue and its original tenderness.) Remove from the cooking liquid, then slit the skin and peel it off neatly. Serve hot as a main course or cold and thinly sliced for lunch or in sandwiches.

Per Serving (excluding unknown items): 131 Calories; 4g Fat (28.0% calories from fat); 4g Protein; 20g Carbohydrate; trace Dietary Fiber; 52mg Cholesterol; 33mg Sodium. Exchanges: 0 Grain(Starch); 1/2 Lean Meat; 0 Vegetable; 1/2 Fat; 1 Other Carbohydrates.

NOTES : *Tongue: 3-4 lbs, well trimmed, or 3 or 4 calves tongues (about 3/4 lb each), trimmed

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