One of my sisters-in-law, Lauri, used to describe her desire for "clean food" after the holidays. Keep in mind, this was decades before the phrase "clean eating" became popular. When I asked her what she meant, she said she was burned out on holiday (high-fat, high-sugar) foods and craved vegetables, whole-grain bread, and fruit. I am convinced now that she was a visionary. That's pretty much how I'm feeling, too. This week's menus will have a more healthy emphasis. True, there is one more cocktail party this week, but I have planned healthier pupus to take.
Hilo had SNOW this past week -- always amazing -- and I don't know if it's just in my head, or if it's truly colder. I just know I'm not in the mood for salads! Bring on the hot food!
Happy New Year (Hau'oli Makahiki Hou!)
Sunday: Baby Potatoes and Artichokes with Lemon and Rosemary; Baked Chicken
Monday: Tomato Bisque; whole-grain rolls. (I combine canned crab with a little plain yogurt and chives; dollop onto soup).
Tuesday: Fish Tacos and Black Beans; Hapa rice
Wednesday: New Year's Eve Cocktail Party! Turkey Meatballs, vegetable tray with hummus, and assorted cheese and crackers
Thursday: Shepherd's Pie (using turkeyburger, low-fat sour cream, and vegetable broth)
Friday: Costco Rotisserie Chicken, Squash, and Salad
Saturday: Mushroom Ravioli in Brown Butter Sauce; Salad; Breadsticks
Merry Christmas! I hope you have reached the point in the frenzy where you can relax and enjoy the season. I think we have. Aside from making a few cheese balls, I'm down to wrapping presents.
The photo, above, is my view from my desk. Mr. L decorated our palm tree. I tried to discourage him, because it's very tall and I have a (justified) fear of tall ladders. So, he did it while I was gone, the stinker. It is beautiful, I must admit. It also got three of the other neighbors motivated so our section of the street is now very pretty.
This week's meals include two extra-special dinners -- Christmas Eve and Christmas Day -- so I have tried to make the rest of the meals a little on the healthier side.
I sincerely wish you and yours a beautiful, magical, holiday. --Love, C. Ironing.
Sunday: White bean, kale, and sausage soup; whole-grain French bread
Monday: Burrito Bowls
Tuesday: Twice-Baked Potato and Broccoli Casserole
Wednesday: Caprese Lasagne; salad
Thursday: Sirloin Pork Roast with Apricot-Jalapeno glaze, roasted red potatoes, green beans
Friday: Mushroom-Rice Pilaf with leftover sirloin, baked sweet potatoes, and kale salad with Asian pears, pecans, and bleu cheese
Saturday: Spaghetti Squash Primavera
This recipe, written in my Aunt Joyce's charming hand, is for my Grandma Mary's English Toffee. I made three batches of it this year, so far. I realized, after the first batch, that I needed notes. It's hard to re-learn a year later. Also, I believe that a family's favorite recipes should be cherished, and shared. It's incredibly delicious candy.
However, it's not for wimps. If you aren't able to stir for 13 minutes, handle heat, probably get burned, and work fast, stop now. Go find a faux-candy recipe. This recipe is from a working woman who raised five kids. She was a tough nugget and she wouldn't have the patience for whiners.
Here is what you will need:
2 cups sugar
3/4 pounds butter (three sticks) . As you can see, Aunt Joyce used margarine, but that's not for me.
1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon vanilla (I only use real vanilla)
2 cups ground walnuts (I use pecans; I like their buttery flavor). Get them all ground and ready to go.
2 cups good-quality chocolate chips
1 1/2 tablespoons of butter (for buttering the cookie sheet)
Cookie sheet with sides
Microwavable bowl, for melting chocolate chips
Heavy saucepan (I only use Revere Ware for this. Don't use a cheap saucepan, at any rate. )
Candy thermometer. This is absolutely essential.
Ove Glove (yes, the Kevlar "As Seen On TV" glove. It's awesome.)
Tins or boxes to put the candy into
Here we go.
Don your apron. Your local hospital may not have a burn unit. Butter the living daylights out of the cookie sheet. This is no time to be cheap with your butter. Keep in mind: You are eventually going to need to flip this mother OUT of the cookie sheet.
Combine the sugar, water, and vanilla in a heavy saucepan. See my note above. Don't use a dinky, cheap pan. And, be prepared. This mixture is going to burn in your pan, every time. Suck it up and get ready to scrub. Photo will be below. If you use Revere Ware, it'll come off with a little elbow.
When this mixture comes to a boil, keep it boiling, and stir for one minute. Remove from heat and add the butter. Aunt Joyce suggests cutting it into cubes, which works well. She's a genius. I love her.
Now comes the tricky part. Turn the heat back up, and get your candy thermometer in the pan, and hang onto it (it won't stay put, even with that stupid clip. ) Hopefully, you have an Ove glove. Those have little grips that are handy. Start stirring. It'll come to a boil. Keep stirring. At first, the mixture is just foamy. No sweat, you think. You're wrong. Keep stirring. At the five-minute mark, your arm is shaking. Quickly, lest things burn, switch your glove/candy-thermometer hand and your wooden spoon hand. Resume. At the ten-minute mark, give up hope. Obviously, your candy thermometer is broken. Your stove is broken. This stuff is never getting to 325, is it? YES IT IS. Keep stirring. If you have a relief pitcher, send him in. If not, despair, and keep stirring. At the ten-minute mark, things start to happen. The mixture sort of gets thicker and pulls away from the sides a little. DON'T STOP STIRRING. You have to get to 325. At 300, the thermometer will give you a sliver of hope. It begins moving. Keep stirring. At 325, breathe, and remove from stove. Pour it CAREFULLY onto the buttered cookie sheet. It will spread out.
Now: Massage your arms. They will be involuntarily spasming. Fill your pot with water to let it soak. That will help with clean-up. Let the toffee cool for about 15 minutes. With your fingernail, you can tap it. It should be getting hard. You can now start getting the chocolate ready.
If you have a double boiler, I am very impressed. Also, you must be like . . . 80. Who has double boilers anymore? The microwave is great for melting chocolate chips. In your microwave-safe bowl, add the two cups of chocolate chips. Melt for 30 seconds, on high. Remove and stir. Put the bowl back in the microwave, and hit them for another 30 seconds. Stir. FOR THE THIRD TIME, another 30 seconds, and stir. This ought to do the trick, unless you have a wimpy microwave. If that's the case, hit them again.
Pour HALF of the melted chocolate over the toffee. Spread it around evenly with your spatula. Sprinkle HALF of ground nuts over it. Distribute and press, gently.
Now, guess what. We need to do the other side. Don't cry. It will be OK. This is good practice for making a frittata.
Get a big sheet of waxed paper and cover the toffee. Now, get your cutting board and put that on top. In one confident motion, flip that sucker. Yes, you will lose some nuts. It'll be OK. Take the rest of the chocolate, and spread it, just like you did on the other side. Same with the nuts. Now, let it all rest for 30 minutes.
Finally: Take a metal spoon, and press the edge onto the toffee. It will break into pieces. This is the fun part. It will also make a big mess, but that's life. Put a layer of pieces into your container. Add a layer of wax paper, and then the rest of the candy. Refrigerate until you are giving it away.
I have put together a slide show, below. E-mail me if you have questions. Try not to get burned. Use real butter.
I looked at my meals for this coming week and thought well, this isn't terribly exciting. (Way to sell it, Marla.) However, (1) they're real and (2) economical. I stay within a budget, and try to keep dinners on the nutritious side. If you want realism, here you are.
Some people don't like leftovers. We happen to, and we're very good about not wasting food. I usually make the full amount of a recipe, as opposed to cutting it in half. I have found that being able to heat up lunch, or pull a Ziploc out of the freezer, help me save time, money, and energy.
Without further ado . . .
Sunday: Turkeyburgers and home-made French fries. If you have not made your own fries, they are really easy. Just wash potatoes, slice them, and toss with olive oil and seasonings. Bake at 450 for about a half-hour
Monday: Leftover Beef Bourguignon and French bread. If you don't have leftovers, there some very nice pre-cooked, packaged dinners out, now. Check the meat section of your grocery store.
Tuesday: Grilled Salmon over mixed greens; couscous with peas.
Wednesday: Shredded Chicken Burritos, pinto beans, and iceberg lettuce salad. (To my shredded chicken, I add a package of cream cheese, a can of chiles, and about a cup of salsa. Mix; roll mixture into whole-wheat burritos. Place in pan and cover with foil; bake at 350 for about 45 minutes.)
Thursday: Grilled Pork Chops, home-made macaroni and cheese, and green beans.
Friday: Pizza night! I'm picking up a store-made one from Safeway.
Saturday: Turkey Chili and Cornbread. Note: Dennison's makes a canned chili that is quite good. It has a lot of "zing" and is much better than one would expect of a canned chili.
I hope you have a wonderful week and are enjoying the Christmas season. :-)
Pictured above: Strawberry Guava. It's really coming on, and I should pick some, but I haven't finished dealing with the crop from last year, yet!
This week I was looking at a cookbook that belonged to my mother: Better Homes & Gardens' "Meals with a Foreign Flair." If you enjoy older, or vintage cookbooks, you'd get a kick out of this one. Some folks have made fun of it, and yes, the writing is a little dated. They would probably make fun of me, too, and I'm OK with that. My mother liked to make notes in her cookbooks, and would "star" good recipes. Boy, if I had written in a book, she would have skinned me!
Unfortunately, not all of the recipes from that cookbook have been uploaded to the Internet, so I'll be using some similar ones.
Sunday: Starting off with a tried-and-true Jambalaya. It has just been a little chilly outside today and something spicy and hot sounded good.
Monday: Baked Chicken Thighs and Spaghettini with Green Sauce. (Green sauce: 1 8-oz package of cream cheese, 1/3 cup parmesan, 1/4 cup olive oil, 1/2 cup chopped parsley, 1 clove garlic, 1/2 tsp pepper and 2/3 cup boiling water. Blend well and serve over warm spaghetti.)
Tuesday: Taco Salad. I could eat a bowl of this stuff. In fact, we don't keep the bowl on the table, having learned that we will eat it all. Recipe below.
Wednesday: Beef Bourguignon. Don't be intimidated! It sounds and tastes fancy, but it's really easy. Crusty French bread is the traditional side, but I happen to have some fresh Kings Hawaiian rolls I am going to serve with this.
Thursday: Chinese Walnut Chicken and rice.
Friday: Crispy cod (yup, from a box) and panko-fried eggplant; coleslaw.
Saturday: Chicken Cacciatore and pasta; salad.
Taco Salad: I brown a package of turkeyburger and add some Penzey's Arizona Dreaming spice mix. Let it cool. In a large bowl, combine 1/2 head of lettuce, shredded, 1 cup sliced olives, 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese, 1 can chiles, 1 chopped avocado, and 1 cup chopped tomatoes. Add the cooled meat and toss. Smash a handful of taco chips and put them on a plate; add the tossed salad. Couldn't be easier. I like it with 1000 Island dressing, salsa, and sour cream.
I hope you all have an excellent week. -M.