Thursday 31 January 2013

Weekday Mushrooms

You know I feel very strongly about eliminating kitchen waste?  

And that I like to hit the stores in the early morning to find the manager's specials?  

Well, this dish is a result of both those things.

Every weekend, I bake enough bread to get us through the week.  My fussy eater loves it, but leaves some of each loaf behind.  He won't eat the heels of the loaf and, if the bread's been out of the freezer for more than a day, he'll leave it in the bread box until it grows an unattractive blue-green beard.

It drives me crazy to throw bread away.  It feels like my hard work is going in the bin right along with the discarded slices, so I often use my food processor to grind the leftover pieces into crumbs.  I put the crumbs in the freezer and use them in my recipes.  

The other day I was at the store, and found these mushrooms on the "marked down" rack in the produce section.

They were perfectly fine, just a little brown around the edges, and they were a perfect size for stuffing.  

I brought the mushrooms home, cleaned them up and pulled my bread crumbs from the freezer.  

This is what I made:  It's a simple side dish, quick enough for a weekday supper, but tasty enough to feel like a treat.

To make Weekday Mushrooms, you'll need:

  • Several mushrooms suitable for stuffing
  • Fresh (not toasted) bread crumbs
  • Ranch dressing (I make my own using homemade yogurt, a little milk, and this seasoning mix from Tara Cooks)

Clean the mushrooms and remove the stems.  Place the mushroom caps on a parchment lined baking sheet.

Chop the stems into a fine dice.

Combine the chopped stems with a roughly equal quantity of breadcrumbs.  

Add in enough ranch dressing to moisten the mixture enough so that it holds together when lightly pressed between your fingers. 

Divide the filling between the mushroom caps, packing it just enough so that it stays in place.

Bake the stuffed mushrooms in a 400F oven until they're cooked through and the crumbs are golden brown. (This takes about 20 minutes in my oven.)

Serve immediately.

Tuesday 29 January 2013

Gingered Rutabagas

One of my very favourite cookbooks is "Greene on Greens" by Bert Greene.  Besides giving lots of interesting and unusual vegetable recipes, the narrative is entertaining.  I've learned a lot from that book, and gained a few good chuckles from Mr. Greene's anecdotes.

This recipe comes from "Greene on Greens."  I first tried it on a cold, grey winter's day not unlike this one.  I was bored out of my mind with the usual limited selection of winter vegetables, and the bright, peppery taste of the ginger appealed to me.

Mr. Greene's recipe called for a little rum at the end but, since we don't keep it in the house, I left it out.  It turned out great anyway.  I've made it many times since that first dish, and enjoyed it every time. 

To make gingered rutabaga, you'll need:

  • 1 smallish rutabaga (about 1 pound when trimmed and cubed)
  • 1 cup Jamaican style ginger beer (The original recipe called for ginger ale but I prefer the stronger flavour the ginger beer brings to the dish.)
  • 3 cloves
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated fresh ginger

Peel the rutabaga and cut it into 1-inch cubes. 

Put the cubed rutabaga in a medium size saucepan and add in the ginger beer and cloves.

Bring the pot to a boil, cover it, and reduce the heat to a low boil.  Cook the rutabagas about 20 minutes, until fork tender. 

Remove the lid from the pot and turn the heat back up.  Continue boiling until almost all the liquid has evaporated.

Stir in the butter and ginger.  Return it to the heat for just a couple of minutes, gently stirring the mixture, so that the butter mixes with the remaining pan juices and coats the rutabaga pieces.

Serve immediately.

Cook's note:
I sometimes make these ahead and then roast the cooked rutabaga.  It caramelizes nicely and makes an excellent accompaniment to a roast dinner. 

Monday 28 January 2013

What We Spent January 21 - 27

It wasn't a stellar week at our house.  The 'flu kept us at home and out of the stores, but spurred us to spend money on Gravol and acetominophen.  Neither are inexpensive, although we did manage to find some coupons to help offset the cost.

We were, once again, over budget on gasoline.  This will likely continue for the next several months so we'll be adjusting our budget figures to accommodate the change.  

On a positive note, I've had enough extra work this month to offset the increase in gasoline expenditures. That's encouraging.  :)

Here's what we spent last week:  

Jan. 21/13
4 liters skim milk

Fresh ginger

2 bunches fresh spinach

Jan. 26/13
1 head cauliflower (manager's special)

1 head butter lettuce

1.68 lbs/.76 kg tomatoes

1 English cucumber

1.26 lb/.57 kg rutabaga

4.43 lb/2 kg red potatoes

4 x 10 oz/283 grams frozen, chopped spinach

4 liters skim milk

2 liters ginger beer

Personal care items


Total Coupons Redeemed


What We Ate January 21 - 27

So, you're going along, following your regular routine - going to work, doing the chores, trying to fit in some exercise - and WHAM!, along comes the 'flu.

That's what happened to us this week.  I only took one day off work because of it, but it took a big bite right out of the middle of the week, eating up much of my ambition and sending me to bed at a ridiculously early hour.

Sick tummies dictated our dinners on Thursday and Friday but by Saturday it appeared the 'flu bug had moved on.  
We returned to our usual routine.  

I even cooked a proper turkey dinner last night!  We're looking forward to enjoying the leftovers over the next few days.

Here's what we ate last week:

Monday, January 21:

  • Breakfast - Yogurt and applesauce
  • Supper - Portabella burgers on homemade foccacia buns with sunflower shoot garnish, oven baked parsnip fries, red cabbage, carrot, and radish slaw, butterscotch pudding

Tuesday, January 22:

  • Breakfast - Homemade granola
  • Supper - Venison and black bean chili (made with home canned black beans), mashed potatoes, a salad of sunflower shoots, carrot, and red onion with a red wine vinaigrette, Pumpkin Not Chocolate drinks made with honey instead of stevia

Wednesday, January 23:

  • Breakfast - Soft boiled eggs, whole wheat toast, apples
  • Supper - Borscht made with leftover sweet and sour cabbage, homemade stock and home canned beets, biscuits, applesauce pie

Thursday, January 24 (sick day):

  • Breakfast - Tea and wholewheat toast
  • Supper - Steamed white rice, carrots, and peas 

Friday, January 25:

  • Breakfast - Yogurt and canned pears
  • Supper - Boneless, skinless chicken thighs poached in homemade chicken stock, gravy made from the thickened poaching liquid, leftover steamed rice, spinach, corn (from the freezer), applesauce

Saturday, January 26:

Thursday 24 January 2013

Earl's Mom's Sweet and Sour Red Cabbage

A few years back, we went to dinner at my sister's house and she served a red cabbage side dish.  It was tasty, and different from what we usually serve.  I really enjoyed it so I phoned her a few days later to ask her where she found the recipe.

"Earl's mom makes it," she replied, "And it's not really a recipe; just a way of putting things together."

"My kind of dish!"  I thought.

I've been making it ever since.

This recipe makes quite a large quantity so I use the leftovers to make borscht.  Two tasty meals from half a head of cabbage is a good thing in my world.  :)

I owe Earl's mom a great big thank you.

To make Earl's Mom's Sweet and Sour Cabbage, you'll need:

  • 1/2 of a large-ish head of red cabbage
  • 1 teaspoon bacon fat
  • 1/2 of a large onion, chopped (about 3/4 cup)
  • 1 apple (Try to choose one that will hold its shape well when cooked)
  • 1 teaspoon cider vinegar, plus more to to adjust the flavour later in the recipe
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • a generous pinch of cloves
  • salt to taste

Cut your half head of cabbage vertically into two pieces.  You'll have two quarters of your cabbage head, with part of the core at the bottom of each piece.

Remove the core from your cabbage quarters, then slice each quarter crosswise, into slices that are 1/4 inch thick, or less.

Transfer the sliced cabbage to a sink or bowl full of very cold water, and leave it to soak while you prepare the onion.

Melt the bacon fat over medium high heat in a large, heavy saucepan or Dutch oven. When the pan is hot and the bacon fat melted, add in your onion and saute it until it's tender and lightly coloured.

Reduce the heat under your pot to low.

Scoop the sliced cabbage from the water (I use a sieve to do this) and add it to the pan with the onions.

Cut the apple into 1/4 inch dice and add it to the pot, along with the teaspoon of cider vinegar, the sugar, and the cloves.

Stir the ingredients together.

Cover the pot and allow the cabbage mixture to cook - stirring it now and then - until the cabbage is tender and the mixture has cooked down.  This can take up to an hour.

When the cabbage has reached a consistency you like, turn the heat up just a bit.  Taste the dish and then add in more vinegar until it achieves a level of tangy-ness that suits you.  I added in about 2-1/2 tablespoons more.

Continue cooking and stirring, with the lid off the pot, until the vinegar has cooked off, then salt the dish to taste.

Serve piping hot.
This recipe is linked to the Hearth and Soul Blog Hop  hosted by Premeditated Leftovers, The 21st Century Housewife, Zesty South Indian Kitchen, Elsa Cooks, Savoring Today, and Penniless Parenting

Hearth & Soul Hop

Monday 21 January 2013

What We Spent, January 14 - 20

There is a good side to everything.  We felt out of sorts all week - which was not great - but it was actually good for our budget.  I didn't feel like going to the store so we ate mostly from the pantry.  

We ate very well this week, but we spent very little.  My largest expenditures fell on Wednesday, when I took advantage of a sale price and some coupons I had on hand to stock up on basa fillets, and on the weekend, when I stocked up on bread flour and produce.

Here's what we spent last week:

Jan. 15/13
250 ml/8.5 oz whipped cream
Jan. 17/13
3 x 900 g/2 lb frozen basa fillets

4 litres skim milk
Jan. 19/13

20 kg/44 lbs bread flour
Jan. 20/13
1.56 lbs/.71 kg red onions

.47 lbs/.21 kg portabella mushrooms

1 bunch radishes

2.34 lbs/1.06 kg parsnips

10 lbs potatoes, 5 lbs carrots, 3 lbs onions

Total Coupons Redeemed


What We Ate, January 14 - 20

It was an odd sort of week at our house this week.  We were both feeling out of sorts; not sick enough to say we had the 'flu, but lacking in energy and just generally cranky.  It was a week for curling up on the couch with a book, or watching TV, or enjoying long soaks in the tub.  

It was a week for comfort food.

There were lots of simple dishes on the menu this week, most of them made from what pantry and freezer items.  Very little shopping was done.

We did treat ourselves to one special meal: an eggs Benedict variation made with potato and onion latkes, grilled tomato, steamed spinach, poached eggs, and an onion and gouda sauce.  It took a little fussing to put it together but it was fabulous and - I'm proud to say - made from what we had on hand at the time.

Here's what we ate last week:

Monday, January 14:
  • Breakfast - Boiled eggs and wholewheat toast
  • Supper - Rice and bean burritos made with wheat and white tortillas, a salad of pea shoots (grown on my windowsill), shredded carrots, shredded radish, red onion, and homemade ranch dressing, leftover gingerbread cake with homemade eggnog ice cream for dessert

Tuesday, January 15:
  • Breakfast - Oatmeal and applesauce
  • Supper - "Bennys" made with potato and onion latkes, grilled tomatoes, steamed spinach, poached eggs and an onion and gouda sauce, sauteed bell peppers (from the freezer), brûléed orange halves topped with a little whipped cream

Wednesday, January 16:
  • Breakfast - Egg and cheese quesadillas made with wheat and white tortillas
  • Supper - Turkey thigh braised in the slow cooker with potatoes, garlic, herbs, and onions, steamed green beans (from the freezer), Christmas jumble cookies (from the freezer)

Thursday, January 17:

Friday, January 18:

Saturday, January 19:
  • Breakfast - Peanut butter, marmalade, and raisin sandwiches on wholewheat toast
  • Supper - Stir fry of broccoli, red cabbage, bell peppers, carrots, and onion in black bean sauce, vegetable gyoza with a hoisin and oyster sauce for dipping, green tea and ginger cookies

Sunday, January 20:

Friday 18 January 2013

Chicken, Potato, and Cabbage Gratin

I had the good fortune to score a big block of Gouda at the grocery store last week, on manager's special for half price.  I love it when that happens!  

I shredded the entire block of cheese, portioning most of it for the freezer, but I kept a couple of cups aside to use right away.  

I had the cooked breast from a slow cooker roast chicken set aside in the freezer, together with the chicken's pan juices.  

Gouda melts well and its mild taste pairs nicely with poultry, so I saw an opportunity to pair the two in a gratin.  

As with every dish I cook, the ingredients were chosen based upon what I had on hand: There was some cooked cabbage in the fridge and I had canned potatoes in the cupboard. There was a bag of bread crumbs in the freezer.  

These ingredients provided the framework for the dish.

Since I was going to be preparing some for the gratin anyway, I decided to make a fairly sizeable batch of cheese sauce.  I doubled the sauce portion of this recipe, and used half of it to make my gratin.  The other half was set aside to make us a memorable eggs benedict variation, and will provide us with some very tasty creamed spinach tonight.

(The ingredients photo shows the amounts I used for my double batch of cheese sauce, but the recipe gives the amounts required for just this dish.)

To make chicken, potato, and cabbage gratin, you'll need:

  • 7 Tablespoons butter, divided
  • 3/4 cup chopped onion
  • 3 Tablespoons flour
  • 3/4 cup strong chicken stock (I used the juices from roasting a chicken in the slow cooker)
  • 3/4 cup fat free evaporated milk (or use regular if you prefer, or you can use light cream)
  • 1 cup shredded gouda cheese
  • 1-1/2 cups cubed cooked chicken (I used breast meat from our slow cooker roasted chicken)
  • 1-1/2 to 2 cups cubed cooked potato (I used home canned potatoes but any cooked potato will do)
  • 2 cups coarsely chopped cooked cabbage
  • 2 cups bread crumbs
  • salt, pepper, and poultry seasoning to taste

Melt 3 Tablespoons of butter in a Dutch oven.  

Add in the chopped onion.  Saute the onion until it's tender and has taken on a light golden colour.

Sprinkle the flour over the onion and continue stirring the onion, butter, and flour together over medium low heat for 5 minutes or so.  (The flour should take on little or no colour.)

Add in the stock, a little at a time while stirring constantly.

Do the same with the evaporated milk.

Continue stirring the sauce until it thickens and comes to a boil.  

Add in the shredded Gouda and stir until the cheese is melted and completely incorporated into the sauce.

Remove the pot from the heat.  Add in the chicken, potato, and cabbage, gently folding them together until they're well combined and the sauce is mixed through.

Pour the breadcrumbs into a bowl and season them generously with salt, pepper, and poultry seasoning.

Melt the remaining 4 Tablespoons of butter and then add the butter to the breadcrumbs, stirring with a fork until the butter has moistened the entire mixture.

Spread the buttered crumbs in an even layer over the gratin ingredients.

Place the pot in the oven and bake the gratin for 20 to 25 minutes, until heated through.  

Serve immediately.

This dish will keep a few days in the fridge but should not be frozen.  

Leftover gratin can be used to make a tasty and satisfying soup.  Simply make another batch of cheese sauce, thinned with extra chicken stock.  Stir in the leftover gratin, and heat through.  It'll be ready in minutes.

This post is linked to Gallery of Favorites, hosted by Premeditated Leftovers and The 21st Century Housewife, to Foodie Fridays hosted by Rattlebridge Farm, to Strut Your Stuff Saturday hosted by Six Sisters' Stuff, to Your Great Idea Saturday hosted by Or So She Says, to Nifty Thrifty Sunday hosted by Nifty Thrifty Things, to Weekend Potluck hosted by Mommy Time Party, The Better Baker, Sunflower Supper Club, 4 Little Fergusons, and The Country Cook, to Think Pink Sunday hosted by Flamingo Toes, to Scrumptious Sunday hosted by Addicted to Recipes, to Marvelously Messy Monday hosted by Marvelously Messy, to Busy Monday hosted by A Pinch of Joy

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