What's for Dinner?
Tonight, Last Night in April, it's Shepherd's Pie Made [Mostly] from Leftovers
Yes, that's Polish Pottery; I love the stuff!
Yesterday I got busy and forgot to load up the crock pot like I had planned in my "What's for Dinner?" post. So instead I cooked the potatoes in a pot, and while I mashed them (adding two-thirds of a block of neufchatel cream cheese to about a half dozen large potatoes), I par-cooked the broccoli in the potato water. Meanwhile, I boiled the chicken, inadvertently boiling out all the water, which resulted in a nice, crispy golden hue to the pan-side of the chicken. (Fortunately I caught it in time before it burned.)
This morning I cut up the leftover chicken, mixed it with a cut-up leftover burger from Monday's dinner, and placed that in the bottom of a non-greased casserole dish. Over that I poured leftover potato-broccoli water, about a cup. Atop the meat I placed the leftover broccoli. Since it was sparse, I added a bag of frozen organic green beans. Then I frosted the concoction with leftover mashed potatoes.
Tonight I'll heat the casserole in a 350-degree oven, letting the potatoes turn golden brown on top (about 35 to 45 minutes). I'm hungry already; perhaps I'll take a break from grading papers to eat some lunch now....
If you make this dish, I hope you enjoy it!
Tonight, Tuesday, April 30, it's Chicken in the Crock Pot Over Potatoes, Squash, Carrots, and Broccoli
I have three thick chicken breasts and I'll simply rest them atop the veges (cut into roughly one-inch cubes). Over it all I'll pour about three cups organic, low-sodium chicken stock, and then add garlic powder, oregano, and basil. An easy meal on a workday. And we'll have slices of bread leftover from last night's dinner. Yum!
Tonight, Monday, April 29, it's What's on the Grill...& an Experiment in Yeast-Risen Gluten Free Bread
We'll be eating locally-raised beef burgers (no antibiotics added, from free-range, grass-fed cows). I'll probably add some freshly smashed garlic to the patties when I form them. My husband may have his on bread, but I'll eat mine on a bed of lettuce, and if the gluten-free bread experiment works out, have that on the side. We're also grilling slices of yellow squash, with some extra virgin olive oil brushed on each side.
The great gluten-free yeast-fed bread experiment is courtesy of Bob's Red Mill GF Homemade Wonderful Bread Mix, recipe here. I seldom buy gluten-free mixes, but this one had a nice compliment of flours. What makes it such an experiment is that I've been generally lousy at making yeast breads all my life. Even the bread machine breads often turn out like delicious-smelling hockey pucks. Later this evening or tomorrow morning I will update this post with information about how the loaf turned out.
Update on the Bob's Red Mill Gluten-Free Bread
It took many eggs (one whole egg, plus the whites from four eggs), but it tasted great last night warm from the oven. And this morning it was even better; it was still light and fluffy and tasted like the cream puff shells we used to bake for French Club fundraisers when I attended high school in Stillwater, Oklahoma.
Oops, it's what WAS for dinner last week: Striper & Sides and "The Dana"--a Gluten-Free White Pizza with Goat Cheese, Caramelized Onions, & Spices
"Save Our Stripers" by my son Leo when he was in junior high.
I had all best intentions of posting my daily menus five work days a week. Yet one week in, I botched it. Sorry. I'll try to behave myself this week, and post each day.
Rather than recap the entire menu list from last week, I'll capture the two highlights: Striper and Sides, and "The Dana" -- a gluten-free, mozzarella-free white pizza created by my BFF.
For the pound of fresh Striped Bass I combined 3/4 cups of Riesling wine and 1/2 cup of dry vermouth. I cooked it in a 350-degree oven for about 20 minutes. The fish is done when it flakes easily off with a fork pull. Depending on how thick the cut is, it may take a few minutes longer to cook. Note: I did not use any oil or butter in the bottom of the pan; I simply poured some of the wine in first, then set the fish in, skin side down, and poured the rest of the liquids in. Our sides were brown rice and peas.
The gluten-free pizza was more work, and I greatly appreciate my friend for her help in finding unique and tasty things I can eat when I visit her!
She found the gluten-free pizza dough recipe here at King Arthur Flour. She had no xanthum gum, so the crust did not rise as it may have with the added ingredient. I've since bought her a bag for her freezer; it's pricy, but since only a wee bit is needed, and because it keeps nicely in the freezer, it ends up being cost-effective over time. One word of warning though: a tiny bit of xanthum gum goes a long way. Do not be tempted to add more than the recipe calls for, otherwise your dough could end up slimy and gummy. Ick!
She added caramelized onions, goat cheese, basil and oregano and cooked the crust as directed in the King Arthur recipe. Once she and I and our husbands had tasted it and declared it delicious, she dubbed it "The Dana." I am humbled and overjoyed by her kindness.
Tonight, April 19, it's Last Night's Dinner With Fresh Shrimp Stir-Fried into the Reheated Rice
Last night I attended a Crystal Bowls Concert and relaxing--and extended--yoga session at Ohana Yoga New Hampshire, and returned home too late to eat a full dinner...and too late to let my hubby know I'd made dinner--so he bought a pizza and ate that instead. Thus, tonight I'll be refrying the rice with the beans, broccoli, and shredded chicken, and I'll add onions, peas, and fresh shrimp for a Friday night treat. Photo to be posted later.
Tonight, April 18, it's Homemade Baked Beans, Cornbread, and Steamed Rice-n-Broccoli-n-Chicken
For the homemade baked beans I rinsed and soaked a third of a pound of small white beans yesterday, all day, in the slow cooker with about two and half cups of chicken stock. Last night before refrigerating the beans, I added a quarter cup of maple syrup to the pot. Today I'll add some garlic powder, and let them cook on low again all day today. I have enough chicken stock/liquid in the pot already, but if I didn't I'd simply add more stock (or water) to the pot.
The rice I will cook in my rice cooker; I'll use a two to one ratio of water to rice. In the steam basket above I will cook three slim chicken breasts. The two-plus cups of broccoli I will steam on the stove in a scant amount of water (or chicken stock).
Finally, here's the Cornbread Recipe that we've been using in our home since my son was in the third grade. It's adapted from the Ramona Quinby recipe provided by his then third-grade teacher; we are forever indebted to her!
Tonight, April 17, it's Breakfast!
You've probably scrambled eggs before, but one trick I learned years ago is that adding a bit of water to the eggs makes them scramble up lighter and fluffier. I probably add a tablespoon of water to every two eggs. (I don't measure, so don't get hung up on the exact amount.)
If you don't have any leftover polenta, you can make some (following the directions below for last night's dinner). Or you can always fry up some leftover mashed potatoes, or bake a potato, cube it, and stir fry it in a pan for a few minutes. If you don't want to use any oil at all on the tater, cut it in half, bake it right on the metal rack in your oven. It browns up nicely and then can be cubed or eaten as is.
Tonight, April 16, it's Stir-Fried Peppers, Onions & Eggplant over Polenta
Tonight I'm frying up:
Two red peppers, sliced
One green pepper, sliced
One onion, sliced
Probably five-six garlic cloves, sliced thin
One eggplant, skin removed and cubed
You can cook up whatever vegetables you want; that's just what's handy in my vegetable drawer this evening.
I'll fry it in two tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, and once the vegetables are limp and slightly blackened, I'll add some chicken stock and Riesling wine to make a bit of a sauce. I may even scoop a half cup to a whole cup of last night's soup into the mixture.
For the polenta, I'll soak 2/3 cup corn meal in one cup chicken stock. I'll add that mixture to about two cups chicken stock--once it's simmering in the top of a double boiler, as per the instructions on page 169 of "Great Recipes for Good Health" (Reader's Digest, 1988). Next, according to the Digest chef's cooking instructions, I'll stir the mixture until it boils, then place the top of the double boiler over the bottom, cover it, and and cook for about 45 minutes, stirring only occasionally.
Before I became ill, I would also add Romano cheese to the polenta mixture. Instead, I may add some crumbled goat's cheese to the dish when I serve it.
Tonight, April 15, it's Chicken-Vegetable Bisque
It's Monday, and for me that means leftovers. That doesn't mean you can't dress them up in a new suit. In fact, no one has to know they're leftovers.
For this dish, I combined leftover chicken vegetable soup with two-cups leftover brown rice and three-quarters of a jar of roasted red peppers.
If you're making this dish from scratch, here's what you'll need:
2-4 chicken breasts (most grocery stores now sell antibiotic-free chicken; you can also buy from a local farmer who you trust)
~3 sweet organic [*See note on side column] potatoes (or regular potatoes)
1 medium yellow squash
half an onion
1 pound carrots
3-4 cloves garlic, crushed, or 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon dry basil (or a sprig of fresh, chopped)
1 cup brown rice
3-4 cups left over chicken stock, or organic low-sodium chicken stock
2-3 cups water
1 cup white Riesling wine
Chop potatoes, squash, and carrots into 1 to 2-inch cubes. Chop onion fine. Add all ingredients, finally placing the chicken breasts atop the lot. Cook in a slow cooker all day on low, or half a day on high (see your slow cooker booklet for more precise instructions).
When all is cooked, chop/shred the chicken. (Note: you can chop the raw chicken and add it to the bisque to cook; I don't like to handle raw chicken, which is why I cook it then shred it.) Add the ingredients to a blender, adding:
3 freshly roasted peppers, or a jar containing approximately 3 roasted peppers.
Whirl until pureed. You will likely have to whirl this in batches. You may have to add more water to the puree, but only do so if absolutely necessary. Stopping and stirring with a wooden spoon that can reach the blades of the blender, then whirring again might also do the trick.
Place the pureed bisque back into the crock pot and keep it on low or warm until dinner is served.
Note: I don't add salt to my cooking and baking as a general rule, but if you'd like to add some sea salt to the mixture, you could add about 1/4 teaspoon; then let your family and friends add their own sea salt to taste.
My husband likes to add a dollop of sour cream to his soup. Or, if you can eat yogurt (I cannot because of my I.C.), you might try a spoonful of plain yogurt. Occasionally I will add a slice of American or some crumbled goat cheese to mine, especially if I don't add salt to my bowl. (Wish I could add cheddar, but that's also not on my list of dietary friendly foods; do what works for you.)
This is also good with cornbread*. That recipe will be posted soon....
* Update: the cornbread recipe finally made it on April 18, 2013.
A new page dedicated to helping people cook for people with I.C. or similarly constrained diets. I decided to launch it after a weekend email exchange with a friend who faces similar culinary challenges.
*Note: instead of writing "organic" next to every ingredient, just presume that's what I mean. I try to cook only with organic ingredients, and also strive for local items.