Monday, March 02, 2009

Menu Plan Monday - Snowbound Edition!

Well, things went just a bit different last week, and my menu plan has already changed for this week.

For last week, hubby's windshield totally cracked and then his truck was making a funny noise. I had moved up the easy meal to a different night because of a migraine, and of course the next night I had to go pick him up from work because he had to drop his truck off to be looked at the next morning. *sigh* We ended up having the Red Beans and Rice on Tuesday, Chef Boyarde Ravioli on Wed. I had missed my WW meeting on Tues because of the migraine, so I drove him to work on Thurs. and would hit the Thurs 11:30 meeting. I still had a migraine, and my meds hadn't kicked in yet (he actually drove TO work, I just rode) so I asked his mom if I could crash at her place until my WW meeting instead of going to the Library like I planned. She was ok with that, but hubby had forgotten to tell me that she had a really bad cold, and she was worried I'd catch that. I fell asleep on her couch for a bit, woke up feeling a bit better and went to WW, left my jacket at her place and went back. She ended up convincing me to stay since I'd have to pick up hubby that evening anyway and no reason to drive home. I offered to pick up a few things at the grocery store for her and she offered to buy me pho (I tried to convince her of it's healing properties earlier but it wasn't working). I also ended up taking her to CVS later too. About 5:45 I texted hubby to see if he was going to be late, or if I needed to be there at 6 and he tells me that his truck was ready early that morning but he got busy and forgot to call me. *SIGH* At least I got to do some stuff for his mom that she probably wouldn't have let me do otherwise. That night we had Beans & Weenies - not hubbies fave, but I love. Turns out he was either really hungry or he really likes the new Bush's Grillin' Beans because he ate 3 servings! Hubby announces he wasn't to go out and try The Silver Diner for our anniversary instead of me cooking. Fine by me- the cheesecake will be tried next year. And for Fri- we didn't have homemade pizza - I still wasn't feeling great, so hubby brought home a FoodLion pizza. Not one of their freezer one, but one of those fresh ones that you bake. It wasn't bad. Not a Chez JJ but not bad for $8.00.

Sooo, they're calling for bad weather, and I'm still getting migraines. It's rainy and when we leave for dinner it's starting to sleet. It's rain in Richmond, we have a good meal (I have enough fried food to last me a year - fried onion rings, fried clams, french fries) and we stop by FoodLion to pick up bread and stuff for John's lunchs for next week since I didn't get bread made. At this point we're hoping to make it to MiL's on Sunday - but not sure we're going to with the weather. I put a bit of icemelt on the steps because it's pretty slippery already.

I wake up on Sunday to a layer of ice over everything and we let MiL know we're not going to go anywhere. And then it snows....and snows....and snows...and snows. I fix the Red Lentil Soup that I had planned for earlier this week for dinner (YUM!) and the power starts to flicker. We lose power not soon after. *sigh* Luckily it's not off for too long, and since it's not too cold outside the house doesn't get too cold either. When we get up Monday, I'm thinking we have about 10 inches (that's what they mention on the news). So, since I didn't go shopping for my menu (I planned it on Friday), I have had to move it around already.

For more menu ideas visit: I'm an Organizing Junkie

I'm not posting days since it could all change (although the first one we're having tonight as long as we still have power - it's been blinking):
Koshary (Egyptian Lentils with Rice, Macaroni, Browned Onions and Spicy Tomato Sauce)
Ravioli with Garlic Parsley Sauce (I've actually still got some pasta from Costco - but I'll post the recipe I use when I don't)
Poutine (French Fries with Cheese Curds and Gravy) [I'm either oven baking the fries or buying frozen fries]
Migas with Fresh Tortillas
Cheeseburger Soup with bread bowls

Egyptian Rice and Lentils (Koshary)
Adapted From "Extending the Table" -Fiza, Mattareyya, Egypt; and Mary F. Beck, Cairo, Egypt
Koshary is Egypt's street food. Vendors serve this low-cost, nutritious meal in dishes or plastic bags from little kiosks. It is also an important dish for Coptic Orthodox Christians because it is meatless and can be eaten during times of fasting. In Egypt the sauce is made from fresh tomatoes, and the rice and lentils are always served with macaroni.
My Notes: From a friend on the WW CLC board (Jilly) who's husband is from Egypt, she makes a spicy vinaigrette to go on top at the end just like we would use Tabasco or Pepper Vinegar and puts a bay leaf in with the rice and lentils. She just gives ingredients for the vinaigrette, just mix them to your tastes.
Serves 8

Rice and Lentils:
2 tablespoons oil
1 1/4 cups lentils
3 cups boiling water (or stock)
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon salt
1 dash pepper
1 1/2 cups rice
1 cup boiling water (or stock)
3/4 cup tomato paste
3 1/2 cups tomato juice (or tomato sauce or pureed tomatoes)
1 green pepper, chopped
3Tbsp celery leaves, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (or crushed chilis to taste)
2 cups macaroni, any variety
3 Tbsp of above sauce
1 Tbsp oil
Browned Onions:
2 tablespoons oil
3 onions, sliced
4 garlic clove, minced
JillyBean's Spicy Vinaigrette (all to taste):
red pepper flakes
minced garlic
apple cider vinegar
olive oil

In a large heavy saucepan over medium heat, brown lentils in 2 Tbsp oil, about 5 minutes, stirring often. Add the 3 cups boiling stock, bay leaf, and the salt and pepper. Cook uncovered 10 minutes over medium heat. Stir in the rice and 1 cup stock. Bring to boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer 25 minutes without stirring.

Meanwhile make sauce: Heat all the sauce ingredients together in a medium saucepan. Bring to boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer 20-30 minutes.

Once the sauce is made, Cook the macaroni according to package directions. Drain and mix with 3 Tbsp of the above sauce and 1 Tbsp oil.

To make browned onions, heat oil in a small skillet. Saute onions and garlic over medium heat till brown, about 10-15 minutes.

Serve rice-lentil mixture in one serving dish and macaroni in another. Place side-by-side on plates, ladle sauce over and top with browned onions. Or pile rice-lentil mixture and macaroni on a large serving platter. Spread tomato sauce over, and top with onions. Individuals may add plain yogurt.

Ravioli with Garlic Parsley Sauce
This is like the frozen Garlic ravioli you can get at Costco.
Serves 4-6

16 ounces ravioli, preferably spinach
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 bunch fresh parsley, minced
4 ounces grated Parmesan cheese
salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
2 Tablespoons butter, or olive oil

Cook pasta according to directions. Drain and put back into pan. Add everything else to pan and stir to mix. Serve with crusty bread and a salad.

Poutine (French Fries with Cheese Curds and Gravy)
Makes 4 side servings or 2 main servings
To save calories, oven bake the fries, use FF stock and thicken with cornstarch and use lowfat cheese.
4 large russet potatoes
oil for deep frying
2 cups beef stock
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup flour
1 1/2 cups cheese curds

Peel and slice the potatoes into thick fries (at least 1 cm thick). Soak the potatoes in ice water for about 30 minutes. Remove and drain well.

Heat oil for frying to about 325F and deep fry potatoes for about 8 minutes. Remove from oil and set on paper towel. Turn the oil up to 375F.

In a saucepan melt the butter and stir in the flour. Add the beef broth and stir over medium-high heat until thickened. Reduce heat and keep hot. (I use a tiny bit of gravy browning to get that nice dark color).

Return the French fries to the oil and continue frying until golden and crispy. This should take about 5 more minutes. Remove fries to drain on paper towel and salt to taste.

Assemble the poutine quick while everything is still HOT. (Poutine is best made in a bowl or other container which will contain the heat and help melt the curds. Also, the curds should be at room temperature before assembling the Poutine). Start with a layer of fries. Put some cheese curds in the middle. Add more fries and top with more cheese curds. Ladle gravy over the fries and cheese curds.

Migas with Fresh Tortillas
Migas (pronounced MEE gahs) is a Tex-Mex tangle of eggs, bits of corn tortilla, and a host of savory , from black beans, chorizo and cheese to salsa, avocado and chiles. A dish that many professed egg-haters relish, it probably can thank its existence to thrifty cooks looking to use left-over tortillas, since tortillas are an integral part of the dish. The word, migas, in fact, is derived from the Spanish word for crumbs.

4 large eggs
1 tablespoon water
1 tablespoon salsa (your favorite, but it should be chunky)
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 6-inch corn tortillas, torn into small pieces
1/4 cup finely chopped white onion
2 tablespoons chopped green chiles
1 medium tomato, seeds and pulp removed, chopped
1/2 cup chopped avocado, sprinkled with a little lemon juice
2 teaspoons minced fresh cilantro
2/3 cup grated mild cheddar or Monterrey jack cheese, or combination of both
crema or sour cream
In addition to the ingredients called for in this recipe, some additional possibilities for enhancing your migas are:
crisply cooked and crumbled bacon
chopped ham
crumbled chorizo (browned before you add the eggs)
cooked, shredded chicken or turkey
grated or diced potato (sautéed until tender before adding the eggs)
poblano chiles
green bell pepper
green onion
cayenne pepper (a dash or so)
minced garlic

In a small bowl, lightly beat together the eggs, water and salsa, and set aside.

Warm the butter and olive oil in a heavy skillet. Add the tortilla pieces and sauté until softened. Add the chopped onion and sauté until it is transparent. Stir in the chopped green chiles.

Pour the egg mixture into the skillet, and "scramble" until eggs are done. Remove the skillet from heat, and sprinkle the chopped tomato, avocado, cilantro and cheese into the eggs, again stirring well.

Serve at once with warm flour tortillas. Garnish with additional salsa and crema or sour cream.

Note: This recipe makes two servings, but it can easily be doubled or tripled or more for a larger crowd. Migas are a terrific brunch dish.

Chop the onion, green chiles, tomato, avocado and cilantro before you start the migas so they'll be ready when you need them.

Lightened Cheeseburger Soup

1 pound lean ground beef
1 large onion
1 c. diced celery
1/2 c. diced red bell pepper
1/2 c. carrots, julienne-sliced
3 c. peeled and cubed potatoes
1 tsp. parsley flakes
1/2 tsp. dried leaf basil
1 quart fat-free, reduced-sodium chicken broth
4 Tbsp. butter
1/3 c. flour
2 c. low-fat milk
8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1/2 tsp. pepper

Brown the ground beef, onion, and celery in a large saucepan or stockpot. Add the red bell pepper and cook for one minute longer. Drain the fat. Add the chicken broth, carrots, potatoes, parsley and basil or herb seasoning blend. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes or until vegetables are tender. In a saucepan, melt butter over medium low heat; stir in flour until smooth, about 30 seconds. Slowly stir in the milk. Stir in the cheese. Continue cooking and stirring until the cheese is melted and the mixture is thick and begins to bubble. Stir the milk mixture into the soup mixture until well blended. Heat thoroughly and season to taste.

Makes eight servings. Each serving has 350 calories, 18 g of fat, 21 g of carbohydrate and 460 mg of sodium.

Bread Bowls

2 1/2 c. warm water (105 to 115 degrees)
2 packages active dry yeast
1 Tbsp. salt
1 Tbsp. sugar
2 Tbsp. oil
6 1/2 to 7 1/2 c. bread flour
1 egg, beaten
1 Tbsp. milk

Measure warm water into a large bowl. Sprinkle in yeast; stir until dissolved. Add salt, sugar, oil and 3 cups of flour. Beat until smooth. Add enough additional flour to make a stiff dough. Turn out onto a lightly floured board. Knead until smooth and elastic, about 10 to 12 minutes. Place dough in a bowl that has been lightly coated with nonstick spray, turning to grease top. Cover and let the dough rise in a warm place until double, about 1 hour.

Grease outside of 12, 10-ounce custard cups or ovenproof bowls. Punch dough down and divide into 12 pieces. Cover and let rest 10 minutes. Spread each piece into a circle about 5 inches in diameter. Place dough over outside of bowl, working with hands until dough fits. Set bowls, dough side up on baking sheet coated with nonstick spray. Cover loosely with plastic wrap; let rise in warm place until double, about 30 minutes.

Combine egg and milk; gently brush mixture on dough. Bake at 400 degrees for 12 to 15 minutes until golden brown. Using potholders, carefully remove the bowls. Set bread bowls open side up on baking pan; bake 5 minutes.

Makes 12 bread bowls. Each bowl has 296 calories, 3 grams (g) of fat, 57 g of carbohydrate and 538 milligrams of sodium.

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