Saturday, September 22, 2012

First Fall Recipe of the Season

This is only a slight exaggeration.  Seriously.
Okay, so after my post last week about how it doesn't really turn to autumn in Texas until the end of October, we had a cold front move in the next day bringing fall-like weather for a few days, followed by a whole week of temps in the 80's and 90's with more in the forecast next week. (This is the other thing Texas weather does.  It tricks you into and then changes and laughs in your face.)

Regardless, maybe this little taste of "fall" softened me a little bit to whipping up something more autumn-like, plus I found apples at the farmer's market yesterday.  Hence, this morning for breakfast I decided to add a twist to our Baked Oatmeal recipe and create Apple Cinnamon Baked Oatmeal.  The words out of my husband's mouth? "You've outdone yourself this time."  Why thank you very much.  (By the way, even my non-oatmeal-eating kiddos LOVE this recipe.)

Apple Cinnamon Baked Oatmeal

1 1/2 C Rolled Oats
1/2 C Honey
1/2 C Milk
1/4 C Olive Oil
1 tsp Baking Powder
1/4 tsp Sea Salt
1 tsp Vanilla
1/2 tsp Cinnamon
1/4 C chopped Pecans
1 Small or Medium Apple, chopped

1. Stir all ingredients together in a medium bowl. 
(Tip: Use a glass measuring cup to measure the olive oil first, then the honey.  The coating from the olive oil will help the honey pour out easily without sticking.)

2. Spread evenly in a greased 13 X 9 X 2 inch baking pan.

3. Bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes. (You can vary the cooking time according to your preference.  Shorter cooking time 20-30 minutes will result in softer oatmeal, while 30-35 minutes will yield a chewier consistency, more cookie-like.)

Next time I think I might add the chopped apple to the top after baking to give it a fresh crisp taste.  However, this version was quite yummy as is.  Happy Fall!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Quick Go-to Dinner

Have I told you how much I love Frittata, Tortilla Espanola and all versions thereof?  It is quick, easy, requires no actual measuring or precise recipe, and calls for eggs and whatever I have on hand.  It's the perfect meal when I'm home by myself (although I make it for the family sometimes, too), or when I wrote down Calabacitas on the calendar which I read at 5 o'clock after getting home from the Chiropractor.


As I said above, there isn't a real recipe to this.  Once you know the method, you can tweak it as you see fit.  

Step One

Chop up your veggies of choice. (I used a new potato and a little red onion tonight.) Heat some olive oil in a ovenproof skillet and saute the veggies until they're cooked and a little soft. (For potatoes, I cook them until they're soft, but not too brown.)

 Step Two

Beat eggs and a splash of milk together in a bowl.

Step Three

Add eggs to pan.  Add a little cheese of choice if you want.  Let the eggs cook until they're mostly set.  Put the pan in the oven under the broiler to finish cooking. (2-7 minutes depending on how long you let them cook in the pan.

That's it.  Enjoy your yummy, easy, inexpensive dinner.  This is one of those dinners I consider a "free" meal.  I know it's not really free, but you're using up odds and ends in the kitchen so it feels like it's free.

P.S. I am not posting a finished product picture because it broke on the way out of the pan, and I don't want you to laugh at me.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Extended Summer Menu

I know, the title is disappointing.  You were hoping for great "fall recipes" weren't you?   But I live in Texas, and although the temperature has dropped considerably (85-95 feels like heaven after 100+), it won't be fall here for a while.  So far we've gotten off pretty easy this year, though.  Last year at this time we were in the middle of a drought and trying to keep first graders from falling into huge cracks that had formed around the school playground, never to be seen or heard from again.

In spite of the multitude of fall decorating ideas and recipes on Pinterest, I absolutely refuse to decorate my house for fall until after October 1st, usually closer to mid-October.  One year I dutifully hauled out scarecrows, pumpkins, and hay September 22nd as the calendar dictates only to be ready to rip it all down all before Halloween.  When the trees don't even change color (if you can call it that) until November, it feels terribly foolish to have decorations up for over a month prior.  (To all of my friends out of state who are happily making soups and apple-type desserts and decorating their house for fall, just wait until March when that snow has long lost it's beauty, and we're close to enjoying the first tomatoes of the season.  Texas rules. Winter drools.)

But enough of all that.  Below is what's cooking in my kitchen for the next month--some of which I precooked and stashed in the freezer over the past few weeks. (Those recipes are linked to which has links to the original recipes as well.)  I realize I provided two different options per night.  I like to have a myriad of choices so that I don't get bored with the same old-same old, and so I can pick and choose from what I have on hand and can buy at the Farmer's Market.  Although these recipes still include summer veggies, there are some "warmer" recipes for the cooler days.  Enjoy!

Week One

Saturday- Veggie Panini/Eggplant Parmesan
Monday- Ginger Peach Chicken/Sweet and Sour Chicken (I would use arrowroot powder instead of cornstarch.)
Tuesday- Chickpeas and Tomato Basil Salad/Summer Veggie Pasta (Use less pasta or more veggies than the original recipe.)
Wednesday- Calabacitas/Zuni Stew (Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker Cookbook)
Thursday- Veggie Stirfry/Frittata
Friday- Homemade Pizza 

Week Two

Sunday- Caprese Lasagna with Spicy Turkey Sausage/Grilled Pork Chops
Monday- Vegetable Tian/Quinoa Salad
Tuesday- Teriyaki Chicken Thighs/Orange and Honey Chicken Drumsticks (Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker Cookbook)
Wednesday- Heirloom Tomato Tart/Tomato Basil Soup (both new recipes to try!)
Thursday- Chicken Wrap/Chicken Pesto Pasta

Weekend Lunches

Our tradition is to eat out for lunch on Sunday, and I typically eat leftovers during the week.  However, I am adding weekend lunches to my meal plans because somehow lunchtime on Saturday rolls around (as it does every week), and I am consistently shocked and surprised that we need to eat lunch.  Of course I have absolutely nothing at all planned, and all leftovers have been consumed as of the night before. Somewhere out in Chicago my husband is cheering and possibly dancing a little jig out of sheer joy as he loves my lack of planning for Saturday lunches.

Hummus (I use less lemon juice.) and Pita Bread (I used all whole wheat pastry flour.)

Any others have a favorite "not quite fall/end of summer" recipe to share?

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Not so "once a month" cooking

I’m not even going to mention the fact that I haven’t blogged here in a while.  (Oops, I just did.)  I have come to accept the fact that I am an inconsistent blogger.  We all have our shortcomings.

A blogger friend of mine is doing the “500 month” on her blog--100 dollars per person for food for the entire month.  I have seriously considered joining her, but alas, this is not the month to do it.  I need to order both beef and salmon and place a large order to Azure as I am not sure how often I will be able to order from them when I start working part time.  Sooooo, we’ll try it next month.  I think.

School Lunches and Snacks :)
Here is what I’ve been up to lately.  I haven’t been blogging about food because I’ve been in the kitchen making food—a. lot. of. it.  And the kids started school.  And I’ve been painting while the hubby put together IKEA furniture for two kids rooms.  Which means I’ve been living in a black hole for the past month.

Over the summer has been our go-to for cooking and menu-planning.  For some reason effective summer menu planning escapes me, so it has been nice to have someone else kind of tell me what to do.  I also used their back-to-school mini menu to put some food in the freezer for school lunches, which the kids have been loving!  Variations of peanut butter, cream cheese, and tuna sandwiches/roll ups gets boring after a while.  I’ve been loving the daily simplicity of lunch-making, too.
Homemade Spaghetti-O's and Mac and Cheese

In this process of giving once a month cooking another shot, I have discovered some things about myself, which I will share with you for your reading pleasure:
1. I love making bread, chicken broth, breakfast items, school lunches, snacks for the freezer.
2. I am thrilled to make a double batch of whatever I’m making for dinner on occasion to put in the freezer as an “emergency” meal.
3. I hate once a month cooking, because somehow or another one day turns into three, and as much as I really do love to be in the kitchen and cook, I don’t want to live there all day every day.  (I’ve tried to break it down into a few recipes per week, and that hasn’t really worked out so well either.)  I also think I prefer using my favorite recipes and adding in one or two new ones per week.

That being said, I’m not gonna do the once a month thing.  I still like the website for the school lunches, and I’ve enjoyed a lot of their recipes.  I’m thinking I’ll still use them, just not for a whole day-long cooking session.  Maybe someone with a different personality type could do it in one day and be done and would love it.  And maybe I will end up using it in the future when I know a busy season is coming up, and I want to have some meals prepared in advance.  As for right now, I’m going to spend the rest of my day putting together the August meals as I have already bought all of the ingredients for them but I'm not even going to worry about doing the September cooking session.  Be on the look out for a new menu plan for September/October next week!