Wednesday, September 30, 2009

A Sleeper Hit. Chicken Posole. Who knew?

Be honest, do you know what chicken polsole is? My guess was some kind of Mexican soup, and apparently there's many versions of this chicken/hominy broth. Perhaps I'm just the last to know.

Anyway, color me popular, because the crew over here actually liked it. (Dramatic pause while I fall off my chair). "It's really good," said Alex. Not so sure, Max eyed his little dish very suspiciously. "What are you afraid?" taunted Alex. And that was it, Max tried it too. Note to self, why not try some fourth-grade playground tactics at dinner? I kid, I kid. Not.

The recipe from Real Simple is here, but I googled around a bit, and found some great suggestions from the chat boards at epicurious. The bon app recipe calls for Monterey Jack cheese, but one commenter recommends chopped avocado and cilantro on top which I think would be fabulous. I also used some of the chili-garlic sauce from week one instead of an ancho chili. I bought my roasted chicken from the butcher rather than Stop & Shop, and it was perfect.

Turns out even the folks at Real Simple can make this one complicated, here's their longer version. I would not go through all that trouble with an unknown for kids, but it might be fun to try.

We did have one kitchen disaster tonight though, just to keep things interesting. I opened the refrigerator, only to have the word "balmy" come to mind. Yes, it was 70 degrees in there. As Miss Clavel would say, "Something is not right."

Sears guy coming tomorrow. Wish the trash guy was too, because we have a frig full of disposables. Needless to say, I'm baking a big batch of artisan bread tonight to use up that dough. My grocery store procrastination did pay off though. Ha.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Spaghetti with Roasted Potatoes Made Them Cry

And they were not tears of joy.

Clearly I have really struck a nerve when one of my sons began crying when he saw that I added sweet potatoes and rosemary to the PLAIN spaghetti. It was not my two-year old either. And you wonder why my dinner repertoire has slowed to a trickle.

Well, he did have a bit of a point. I had high hopes for Spaghetti with Sweet Potatoes & Ricotta. Sounds lovely doesn't it? Perfect comfort food on a rainy Sunday night? Hate to say it, but it was a loser. It was just too many heavy ingredients all together. Maybe squeeze a lemon over it..

I didn't cry, but I did cringe.

Tomorrow: beef stir fry with bok choy.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Day 2: It's Friday, it must be Tilapia

I'm starting to think perhaps I should have read these menus before I began. I didn't -- I wanted it to be stress free and feel like someone else was answering the question, "what's for dinner?" The meals are far enough from my usual fare to get me out of my shrinking repetoire rut, but kid-friendly they are not.

Day 2: Tilapia with Peppers and Olives

Overall: Mark & I loved it. Will be a keeper for us, but have a hard time envisioning the kids who would happily dig into this one. If you have these kids, send them over, I will cook for them. It's a simple recipe -- saute the tilapia, then in separate pan (or, put it on a plate and use the same pan, like I did) saute peppers & onions and, here's where it gets interesting, at the end, add parsely, green olives and lime juice. Sounds a little funky yes, but it's just that twist that takes it from ordinary to "hey now."

On the plus side, all ingredients were cheap, fresh and seasonally right on track. Quick and lovely presentation. Just delicious mix of flavors and a new way to serve fish. I would serve this dish to friends.

On the what-was-I-thinking side: Kids would not touch this dish with a ten foot fishing pole. For them, I made Friday's dinner: Spaghetti with Sweet Potatoes & Ricotta. More about that one tomorrow. Also, it's not really a full meal, you need to throw together a salad or Friday's dinner (as I did) if your husband wonders where the rest of the meal is.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Day 1: A flop. And some technical difficulties.

First, the sad news. Somehow a piece broke off my camera lens and it won't go back onto the body. I never took it off in the first place, just found it unattached in my camera bag. It gets worse. Took it to the camera shop with high hopes that I was the problem, but no. They have to send it out for repairs, and the fix starts at $100 just to clean the body of the camera (since the lens was off) not to mention the cost of fixing or possibly replacing the lens. And, it will take a while.

So, my plan for a well-photographed journey to a month of meals has started with a plotz.

Night one: Spicy orange drumsticks, green beans & cornbread.

Looked good. Easy. I liked little things like the drumsticks and the cornbread both baked at 400 degrees (something I never plan for). Nutritious and no allergy ingredients (well, the cornbread, but Jack skipped it). Annoyed that I bought a jar of chili-garlic sauce to use 1/2 teaspoon. I should have read that one through first.

Down side: The big boys ate the beans and the cornbread. Told me they weren't hungry for the chicken. Husband liked the chicken, but pronounced it a little weird. Perhaps because I think this is the first time I've ever made drumsticks. We will have to try it again, because I have a lot of chili-garlic sauce and orange marmalade left. Perhaps chicken breasts next time. Little guy had it for lunch the next day with no complaints.

Nothing I couldn't have thought of myself, but easier that I didn't have to plan it. I have a thing for citrus + chicken, so I liked it. The boys didn't eat it, but since they rarely do, so I don't feel so badly, and at least it was cheap.

To be re-booted when the camera returns. How can I continue with an undocumented life?

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

A little scrambled

which way did he go?
Originally uploaded by Grey Cottage Studio
Many potential posts, but nothing felt right. This time of year feels like the time of new beginnings, and yet, I'm already pulled in so many directions. Our weekend was wall-to-wall birthday party, practices, scouts, neighborhood gigs, blah blah.

Anyway, I have a big idea though (thanks, Molly).

The challenge: Dinner. Little time. Lot of chaos.
Objectives: Home-cooked, nutritious meals that everyone can at least enjoy some parts. I feel like I've already hit a wall and we've just gotten back to Sept.

The strategy: Use someone else's plan. I'm going to cook the cover story from October's Real Simple Magazine,Month of Easy Dinners.
I should add that I have a cast of unique eaters. The older two are quite picky, and feed off each other's food reviews. The little guy's food allergies include: nuts, peanuts, sesame & egg. The older guy is lactose intolerant. And me, I'll eat anything, and it shows.

I would have a kick-off picture, but I can't get the lens back on the camera and I'm slightly panicked. Another story. Hoping a trip to the camera shop tomorrow will resolve that little crisis.

Now, back to the kitchen for reviews of night one.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Harrisville General Store or When I Have a Store

Our go-to store while in New Hampshire is so perfect. At the Harrisville General store, they:

- write the menu on a big old school chalkboard
- sell bait. and arugula sandwiches.
- seat you in old farmhouse tables and mismatched chairs with the perfect amount of old peeling paint
- have an old cart loaded with clear jars of nearly-penny candy by the front door
- sell five different newspapers, three local and the Times and the Globe
- make homemade donuts daily
- place a basketful of local apples by the cashwrap as they come in
- have the only wifi sight for miles
- sell french jam, Mrs. Meyers counter cleaner and All free & clear detergent
- make great coffee

I started fantasizing about owning such a store, and then one of the kids asked me for more eggs, after I had already cleaned up. I was so annoyed about having to get up, that Mark and I both laughed at the idea of my fantasy of cooking and serving (don't I do that anyway?).

Can you tell I loved it?

Saturday, September 5, 2009

a thing for lakes

I love the ocean. But there's something about the lure of a lake. I think it started with Racing with the Moon and even On Golden Pond. Anyway, we had colds, we never climbed the mountain, but we did make a camp fire, catch fish, play board games, eat bad food and squabbled some too. The boys had to work an hour a day on their summer packets -- the whole idea stinks, but it's just the preamble to the next ten months. Sigh. Goodbye, summer. You were lovely.