Sunday, February 6, 2011

menu for two

{the menu}
monday: spicy oven-fried chicken, roasted vegetables, salad
tuesday: grilled cheese and salad
wednesday: sausages and rice
thursday: eggplant meatballs with mushroom polenta
friday: beef roast and salad
saturday: spaghettini with garlic butter roasted mushrooms
sunday: chicken noodle soup and grilled cheese

what actually happened

{monday} I love this recipe. It's not exactly the taste of fried chicken, but since we never eat commercially fried chicken, this really fills that void without all the extra calories and fat. I use chicken pieces (4 legs/thighs and 4 wings) and I remove the skin. I skip the thyme and hot pepper sauce, I use panko instead of bread crumbs or crackers, and I don't put butter on them before baking. Those are really the only changes I make to the recipe. Apparently, you can marinate them for only 3 hours, but I've always started them the night before I want to have it. It's nice to know I could get away with it in a pinch. I still had enough vegetables left to do another pan of various roasted veggies. I timed them better this time and they were less burnt with more caramelization. I also cut up a potato into fries and added that along with the veggies (I made sure they were seperated to one side of the pan) just for Idle Husband (though I had some, too. They turned out really well).
{tuesday} I should have gone shopping, but if I miss my window of time, I feel like there's no point. Going to superstore later in the morning will almost always end up putting me in a bad mood. There was also a piece of chicken leftover from Monday that I ate for breakfast, so I really wasn't all that hungry by dinner. I made some grilled cheeses for Idle Husband. One with tomato and another with some leftover chicken I had frozen from a previous night. I had grilled cheese with tomato and pesto. (I know this was vegetarian night, but I had leftover chicken spilling out of my fridge this week and I just wanted to get rid of it.)
{wednesday} Still no groceries (sometimes, I have this little contest with myself to see how far I can go. It makes me get really creative). I was so sick of chicken and all I had in the freezer aside from chicken was sausages. I didn't really know what to do with them. I thought about doing brinner (breakfast for dinner) and then I thought about a jambalaya of sorts and settled on that. But like a stupid, I started cooking rice in the rice cooker and realized that's not how to do jambalaya, so I had to improvise after that point. It ended up turning into a kind of sausage and rice chili with chopped tomatoes and mushrooms and the rest of the leftover chicken (finally). I had doubts as to how well received this would be, but surprisingly, Idle Husband gobbled it right up. I guess it was meaty enough for him and when I gave him the cayenne pepper, he really dug in.
{thursday} Disaster. The directions have you slice the eggplant and bake in a 450 degree oven on a sheet pan with only a drizzle of oil and some salt and pepper. Well, looking at the pictures again, I can see now that they meant super thick slices. With just the printed directions in front of me, I had no idea what that meant so I went ahead and got as many slices out of that eggplant as I could. Obviously, only the thicker pieces survived baking. I also think 450 is crazy now, but at the time, I remembered that eggplant is not a vegetable you can eat raw (which I've accidentally done and suggest you don't), so I really did want to make sure it was fully cooked this time. Anyway, at least three of the slices (and whole slices, not end pieces) were completely burned and all that was left were their sad charred outlines on the pan. There was still some that was salvageable, and I went back and forth about just scrapping the whole plan, but I decided to forge ahead and decrease the other ingredients by more than half. The result was not bad but not delicious. They looked disgusting (no joke, we were calling them little turds) and they were like dry chewy puffs of vaguely eggplant tasting disks (ketchup to the rescue). It was entirely my fault, though, so I'm not blaming the recipe on this one. Polenta. Stupid stupid polenta. This is the third time I've made it and it's the third time I've been really pissed about it. That recipe has gone in the garbage and I'm never making it again. It tastes like nothing. And it's enough nothing to feed an army and for some odd reason, I always forget that fact and keep forgetting to halve it (probably because it doesn't sound like that much at first. A cup of polenta. That seems reasonable). So after making this stupid slop, putting a ton of dried mushrooms in it (what a waste), we both had the equivalent of four tablespoons and that was it. Idle Husband suggested happily that I eat it tomorrow. A whole 4 quart pot of gelatinous polenta (as it gets like that about 5 seconds after you take it off the stove). Yeah. I'm so sad about the mushrooms but I had to chuck it. I don't want to walk around with a belly full of disgusting polenta goo all day, thankyouverymuch. And I've seen that you can cool it and slice it and fry it and don't even comment about that cuz I've tried it and it was even more disgusting than in its original form. I'd never heard of polenta until I started reading American food blogs and it seemed like such an interesting fancy alternative to rice or pasta which is why I tried it in the first place. But you know what? Polenta is gross and we don't like it and that's that. Smack me on the face if I ever say, 'maybe I can put that on a bed of polenta!' again.
{friday} After thursday, I wanted to do something basic. Like, really basic. Same as for a roast chicken, all I do is defrost, salt and pepper, 350 degree oven till done. Delicious. Can't go wrong. Comforting safety recipe.
{saturday} This mushroom recipe was so amazing, I really wished I'd have purchased capers cuz I'm pretty sure that would have made it even better. I used about 10-11 ounces of button mushrooms which I cut in half no matter their size. I then kept all the other measurements the same since I planned on mixing it into the spaghettini as a sauce. I also didn't have any parsley, so I substituted some green onion. It was very garlic-y and mushroom-y and delicious. A vegetarian dish on the weekend and Idle Husband loved it. I think I'm going to do more mushroom dishes like this for vegetarian night. And I could have gotten away with a bit more than 200 g (about 7 ounces) of spaghettini since we were both still a little hungry after.
{sunday} With the amount of chicken we'd been eating, I had quite the collection of chicken bones hanging out in the freezer, so I made stock. It's really easy and if you've got a crock pot, you don't have to babysit it at all. I put the bones of two chickens (at least -- this time, I was maxing out at four) into my crock pot, add an onion, a couple carrots, some smashed garlic cloves, a couple bay leaves, and a sprinkling of a rock salt with chili peppers mix that I have. Add enough water to cover the bones and leave at the high temperature until you can smell the chicken. Then I strain the bits out, and put the stock in the fridge to cool so I can remove the fat later (it floats to the top once cooled and you can easily skim it right off). For some reason, I used to think that everything that came out of the pot was pretty much spent when it came to taste and I think that usually applies to the vegetables, but if there is any meat left on the bones, go ahead and pick all that meat off. It's delicious! I missed out for a few months there. Anyway, from that, I usually get about 6-8 cups of stock and I'll only use 4 cups for soup as that seems to be a good amount for us. The rest of the stock I measure out and put in yogurt containers (any plastic containers I have saved actually), write the amount that's in there and the date on them, and freeze them for later. I used to make all that stock into a humongous amount of soup and freeze that, but it's so much better to have the simple stock in the freezer because that can then be used for a lot of different meals instead of just soup. To make the soup, measure out 4 cups of stock, add your chicken back in, add vegetables if you want (I chop up the stock carrots and add them back), let it come to a boil and add whatever pasta you want. I really like broken pieces of spaghetti and random noodle bits (broken lasagna is nice). It gives variety. Serve once the pasta is cooked to al dente.

1 comment:

Deborah said...

I think I wrote this long comment and didn't do those letters so it didn't get published. Did I mention to you about your calenders and how much would you charge to print one for me? I don't have a color printer and a whole month has gone by and I really really love your calender and have this great idea for it in my house. Let me know if you would consider it.