Monday, February 25, 2008

A springish menu plan for this week

(the lunch plans are for my kids' school lunches. I normally have either leftovers or I make some soup.)

Tonight's supper: Chicken Sandwiches, Steamed Broccoli, Oven Fries

Breakfast - Steel-cut oatmeal with maple syrup and bananas
Lunch - They don't need to pack a lunch that day. I'm probably just going to send them in grapes and some cheese and whole grain crackers.
Supper - Chicken Marbella, Jasmine Rice (save extra for Thursday's lunch), Carrots in a honey glaze, spinach salad with red onions and a poppy seed dressing.

Breakfast - Fruit Smoothies, French Toast
Lunch - Homemade Wholewheat Mini-Pizzas, Orange Wedges, Cookie
Supper - Breaded Fish Fingers with Sweet Potato Oven Fries, Raw Veggie Tray with Dip. Homemade gingerbread with lemon sauce for dessert.

Breakfast -Poached Eggs on Toast, Orange Wedges
Lunch - Gingerbread with Lemon Sauce, Rice and Veggie Salad, Apple Slices
Supper -Enchilada Stuffed Shells, Mixed Pepper Salad. Make Triple-Chocolate Cookies with The Girl.

Breakfast - Buckwheat crepes with strawberries
Lunch- Salmon Sandwiches on English Muffins, Cucumber Chain, Corn Chips and Salsa, Red Grapes, Triple Chocolate Cookie
Supper - Homemade Pizzas (what, again? Apparently.) - one Tex-Mex, one Jerk Chicken.

Breakfast - Yeast-raised waffles with fruit salad

Monday, February 11, 2008

Hamburger Vegetable Soup

A friend who was from Down South (aka Toronto) was over one time and another friend brought over some hamburger soup for lunch - and my southern friend had NEVER had any! Hamburger soup, apparently, is a rare thing down there. I don't know why - it's pretty yummy AND it's cheap.

Brown a package of ground beef in a Dutch oven and drain off all of the goop.
Add 28 ounces of beef broth (two cans), 2 cups of water, 1 can of diced tomatoes, 3 chopped celery ribs, 2 large peeled and chopped carrots, 2 sliced onions, one peeled and cubed potato, 2 tsp. dried tarragon, 1 tbsp garlic powder, and 1/8 tsp pepper. If you want to add a sprinkle of salt, you can.

Bring to a boil, and then reduce heat, cover and simmer for half an hour or until the vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally. Cook 3/4 cup of mararoni until tender, strain, and stir into the soup, heating for a few minutes.
Makes 8 servings.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Sour Cream Sugar Cookies

Valentine's Day is coming up and you probably need a good sugar cookie recipe to make heart-shaped cookies, right? Here's a dandy one.

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup shortening (the butter is for flavour; the shortening helps the cookies hold their shape)
1 1/2 cups white sugar
2 eggs
3 tablespoons sour cream
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt

Cream butter, shortening and sugar. Add eggs and beat well.
In another bowl, mix sour cream and baking soda together and add to egg mixture. Add the flour and salt and make sure everything is well combined.
Put the dough in the fridge for a few hours. This helps the cookies become stiff enough to roll out - and when you're baking with little kids, it makes it into two easy sessions.
Preheat your oven to 325.
Roll out the dough. Cut into shapes with your cookie cutters. If you need to reroll the dough, it's a good idea to refridgerate the dough again. Bake the cookies for 5-7 minutes (this will depend on how thick they are.).

Hot Fudge Cake Pudding Thing

I have no idea what this should be called. I've heard it called "Chocolate Cobbler", but that makes me think of a guy who makes shoes, made inexplicably out of chocolate. My kids call it "Chocolate Stuff" and we make it A LOT. This is probably are most-served dessert, and The Girl can make it entirely on her own, with an adult handling the oven stuff. She IS only 8, after all.

Anyway. This is one of those desserts that magically forms two layers while it's baking - one semi-solid cake layer and a sauce to serve with it. It's yummy, too, and it's not a tremendous splurge calorie-wise. You should probably start making this frequently at YOUR house, too.

Preheat your oven to 350. Find a 9" square baking pan. Don't grease it.

In a bowl, mix together:
1 cup flour
3/4 cup white sugar
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

Stir in
1/2 cup milk
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla.
Spread in the ungreased baking pan.

In a small bowl, combine
1 cup PACKED brown sugar
4 tablespoons cocoa powder.
Sprinkle this on top of your cakey stuff in the pan. DO NOT STIR IT IN.

Carefully pour 1 3/4 cup VERY hot water over everything. DO NOT STIR!
Put it in the oven and let it bake for 35-40 minutes. Serve warm, and if you're feeling generous, with big scoops of vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.
Makes 9 servings.

(later on, when you want to mix it up a bit, you can add 1/2 cup of white chocolate chips to the cake-y batter. That's pretty nice, too)

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Chocolate Buttermilk Cupcakes

These are so good that it's a bit ridiculous. They are deeeeelicious. I am thinking - yearningly - of the one lone cupcake left in the kitchen, the one intended for my son. Bad mama.

They're also really easy, unlike convincing your son that he should let you eat his last cupcake. If you don't bake much, this is a nice recipe to try. Just read through the recipe first and make sure you have everything you need before you get started.

Preheat your oven to 375.
Line 2 cupcake trays - so 24 cupcakes altogether - with paper cupcake liners.
Get out a big (reasonably big. Don't go crazy looking for a giant vat) bowl and your electric mixer. If you have a stand mixer, you can use that. If you don't have either, you can just stir everything together with a spoon.
Mix together:
1/2 cup softened butter
1 1/2 cups sugar.
2 eggs, one at a time, beating well after each.
Now mix in - in THIS ORDER:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup buttermilk.

Stir it together first so flour doesn't fly everywhere, and then mix it all together. Fill the paper-lined muffin cups until they're 2/3 of the way full. Bake for 15-20 minutes. (you can tell they're cooked when you can stick a toothpick into one of the center cupcakes and it comes out clean, not covered in batter.) Let them cool down and decorate.

Spanish Lentil and Sausage Soup

This recipe came from Sacramental Magic in a Small-Town Cafe by Peter Reinhart, who is best known for his breadmaking books. It's out of print now, but there are lots of copies for sale on Amazon. It came out in the early 1990s and was responsible for me learning how to make certain now-essential recipes in my repetoire - my black bean chili AND my carnivore's chili, my tabbouleh, my chicken salad recipe AND my favorite brownies all came from this cookbook. But like many things that were very important to us when we were younger, this cookbook doesn't see the light of day much now.

There are lots of notes attached to my copy of this recipe - I always use one drained can of lentils, but you certainly could add lentils that you cooked yourself. 2 cups of cooked lentils should be just about perfect.

And if you're wanting a vegetarian version of the soup, that's easy too - just add paprika, cayenne, black pepper and a little bit of vinegar to get the right spice balance.

2 pounds spicy sausage - not the pre-cooked kind - cut up into small pieces.
2 onions, diced
8 cloves of garlic, minced
8 cups packed fresh spinach or 2 of those little boxes of frozen chopped spinach
1 can diced tomatoes (the 28 oz size)
1 can lentils or 2 cups cooked lentils
cilantro for garnish, if you like.

In a heavy soup pot, saute the sausage until brown. Take out the sausage and add the onions and garlic - cook those until the onion is transclucent. Stir the sausages back in and add the spinach , lentils and tomatoes and let the soup simmer for ten minutes or so. Garnish each serving with cilantro, if you like.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Some useful advice and a recipe from the Girl

This is the Girl's very own advice for sneaking some higher food value baby spinach into your kid's sandwich - hide the spinach between the lettuce. Of course, all three of my children adore spinach, but that's just because they're weird little mites.

Here's The Girl's Sub recipe that she wanted me to share:
- one whole wheat hamburger or hot dog bun
- one slice of pickle
- a few slices of cucumber
- baby spinach leaves
- a few circles of red onion
- some sub sauce or Italian dressing.

Her favorite!

Friday, February 1, 2008

Sour Cream Silver Dollar Pancakes

This is from my Kitchen Party post. I really must emphasize again how GOOD these are and how enchantingly weightless - I really urge you to try them.

Sour Cream Silver Dollar Pancakes
4 eggs
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 cup cake flour (you CAN use the regular sort of flour, but your pancakes won't be as ethereally weightless. They'll still be GOOD, though.)
2 cups sour cream
3 tablespoons sugar
Stir the eggs in a mixing bowl until they're light and fluffy. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well - and if you'd rather, you can even do this in a blender, for even FLUFFIER results.
Heat a frying pan or griddle until it's hot, and add a light layer of vegetable oil. Drop a tablespoon of batter on the griddle, enough to make pancakes about as long as your thumb (unless you have freaky long thumbs. If so, aim for a bit smaller.). When there are a few bubbles on top of your mini pancakes, gently flip them over and cook briefly.
This makes about a zillion tiny little pancakes. Enjoy.