26 April 2012

Weekly Menu 4.26.12

Thursday 4/26
Lunch -  Sam's Club Pizza
 Supper -  Conquering the Compost Pasta. 

Friday 4/27
Lunch - Pic-A-Nic to the Park.  We may take Compost Pasta as Pasta Salad - or maybe PB&H Sandwiches - or maybe the hummus that's been in the fridge for 10 days -  what is Hummus's Fridge Life? 

Supper -  Bowling Alley Pizza.  This is not something clever.  We are going on a bowling date.  Our groupon outing includes a pizza.  We will be eating it.     

Saturday 4/28
Lunch - I have a Baby Shower.  Paul has already declared he'll be having leftover Compost Pasta.  I've got to quit calling it that - it's making it less appetizing. 

Supper -Going to a friend's to play poker. Bowling and poker in one weekend?  What?  say something.  Our kids are going to grandparents.  We're pretending we're still in our twenties.  


What the hell happened to our twenties? 

Sunday 4/29
Lunch -  Being hosted for lunch by some sweet friends at church.  I hear shrimp pasta is in our future.  Since shrimp + noodles is my favorite ever, I'm thrilled.  I'm bringing German Chocolate Caramel Cake and Ice Cream.  Every Single One Of Those Letters Deserves Capitalization.  Dadgomit. 

Supper - Multiple Courses.  I'm in the mood.  Kids gone all day Saturday.  Which means cooking day for me!  Main Dish - Sausage and Chicken stuffed Manicotti.  Also having a roasted corn bisque, a cannelini and arugula salad and a ginger sorbet.  It's my hobby. 

Monday 4/30
Lunch - Salad.  ;) 
Supper -Black Bean Soup and Veggie Quesadillas with my daddy, favorite stepmother, and my sweet granddaddy. 

Tuesday 5/1
Lunch -  Taking a pic-a-nic to a friend's for a work meeting.  Good to be friends with colleagues. 
Supper - Leftover Clean Out / If there aren't enough - meal out of the freezer - garlic, white bean and salsa verde enchiladas.  

Wednesday 5/2
Lunch - Leftovers / Doctored Up Rice
Supper -  Hymn Sing / Pizza

Covetous Compost (Pasta)!

The relevance will become apparent. 

I have a challenge.  For the seven people who read this blog. 
It is to Conquer the Covetous Compost!  

I am in a constant battle with our compost pile.  It wants to eat as much as possible.  It puts teenage boy sports teams to shame. 
It gobbles our peels [onion, banana, potato, carrot, cucumber, et cetera].
It grabs our other droppings [apple cores, pear cores, flower stems, celery leaves, carrot greens, et cetera].
It greedily consumes our plate and dish scrapings.

However, apparently, it is not enough.

How do I know this?  Well, it seriously wants more food. It longs for it.  It covets.  The Forster Compost Pile breaks the 10th commandment like it's going out of style.  

 What do we [and the compost] covet?   We begin by coveting what we see every day.

[Name the movie.  If you know off the top of your head, we should probably be best friends forever.  If you don't, call me.]

Weekly Menu 4.19.12

Weekly Menu 4.19.12

Thursday 4/19
Lunch -  Meeting Mama for a Bite
 Supper -  Roasted Chicken. Mashed Potatoes.  Green Beans. 

Friday 4/20
Lunch - I genuinely don't remember.  Cannot recall, no matter how hard I try. 

Supper - Griled Chicken Paninis.  We were supposed to have Red Beans and Rice, however, I spent Thursday night at the hospital with dear friends having their first, precious son, so I didn't get the prep work done.  And I needed a nap.  Luckily, I had plenty of chicken to grill and then all I needed was some comeback, some Sam's Club French bread, various sauteed toppings and cheeses and we had a gourmet sandwich evening. 

Saturday 4/21
Lunch - On the run -  Catfish Sandwiches (We were taken on a treat supper on Wednesday night to celebrate school victories and we have left over Catfish.  It wouldn't be yummy alone, but a bop in the broiler and some po'boy bread picked up at the store and we'll have lunch for kings and queens)

Supper - Taco Soup at friends'.  I'm making margaritas and white cheese dip to go with.

Sunday 4/22
Lunch -  Bad for Us Chicken Casserole to go to Church Lunch With,
Supper -Crawfish, Onions, Potatoes, Corn [All courtesy of one of our favorite folks who ended up with WAY too much Crawfish]

Monday 4/23
Lunch - Cooking Class with the Kids
Supper -Spicy Cheese and Onion Enchiladas.  I planned these to trigger labor in my sweet friend, but didn't need them.  However, they are one of my favorite dishes - modeled after the enchiladas at the Elite Restaurant, a Jackson staple [at which only the enchiladas are good]

Tuesday 4/24
Lunch - Leftover Cheese and Onion Enchiladas. 
Supper -Red Beans and Rice [Finally]

Wednesday 4/18
Lunch - Red Beans and Rice
Supper -  Prayer Meeting / Subway

17 April 2012

Ecstatic Shellfish

I was supposed to make Red Beans and Rice today.

To make decent RB&R, one really needs to start early in the day.  I frequently think to myself, "Oh, well, I can speed make them."  It never, ever turns out well.  Neither does the crock pot, at least for me. You just need to be able to stir, add water, taste - all the day long.
I looked up and it was 1:30.

Additionally, when I made my menu plan I didn't know I'd want to feed a couple of ladies tonight -  ladies who are Louisianans, at least when it comes to food.  Ladies who, I know for a fact, make much better Red Beans than I do.  In fact, one of them smoked me in a Red Beans making contest.  So, why serve a third or fourth place dish to the creator of the gold medal winner?

So, I started poking around my kitchen to see what else I could make.  I needed it to be quick - I had some extra small people around here and it wasn't a day for kneading anything.  Secondly, I needed it to be yummy.  Third, I was not going to the store.

My friend Anna, when she was a fairly-new-lywed, tried this recipe called Happy Shrimp.  Then, one Sunday I think, she made it for us.  It was delicious.  I already have a tried and true shrimp pasta recipe that I have been making since childhood - and I'll never give it up - but Happy Shrimp is different.

I went a googling today and I found the recipe for Happy Shrimp.

But, of course, I didn't have all the things and I messed with it so much that it was really not the same thing anymore.

Ada Brooks asked for the recipe.
Paul used cuss words to describe it that I'll not reproduce here. But, you know in Lethal Weapon when Danny Glover says he's too old for this Something?   Well, Paul said this recipe was "Some Good Something"  

My same friend Anna quietly admonishes me about twice a month to quit fiddling with and/or making up recipes and not writing down what I do. 

So, I'm trying to grow.

Ecstatic Shellfish

1 to 1.5 lbs Shrimp, Peeled  (Medium, Kroger Brand with Shells On EZ Peel is what I use for everything.  The only way in which it lets me down is it spells Easy, "EZ")
1/2  of a purple onion, finely diced.  This measured out to be right at 1/2 cup.  Be pround, Anna.  Be proud.
6 Tablespoons Butter (3/4 of a stick)

Melt butter over medium heat.  Throw in onions.  Throw in Shrimp.  Stir it around for about 5 minutes, until Shrimp turn pink and are no longer translucent.

Remove Shrimp.

To warm butter/onion/shrimpjuice mixture add 6 cloves garlic, pressed/minced.  Stir for a second.
 Throw in 2 cups of grape tomatoes that you have cut in half.   
Stir for a minute.

Pour in 1/3 cup of Riesling.  I know.  That's specific. Most wine/creamsauce combos call for dry white wine.  Well, I didn't have any.  And, the coming cayenne pepper I think plays nicely with the Riesling.  So, go with it.  Or go with whatever white wine you have.  I'm not the cream sauce police.  Far from it - I think it all tastes good. 

Stir it around for a second.
Add 2 tsps dried basil
Add 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper.  I'll confess.  Tonight, I added more like 1/4 tsp. I thought it could have used a bit more kick.  My kids loved it, though, and I think if it had had the kick I love, they probably wouldn't have loved it, so I'll likely vary my cayenne in the future based on my audience. 
Add 3/4 cup of heavy cream. 

Swirl it all around.  S&P to taste.

Meanwhile, put on to boil 12 ounces of the pasta of your choice -  Bowtie is what we used and I thought it worked nicely.Also, the 12 ounces was the right amount.  Not 8.  Not 16. 
Let it simmer a bit - till it coats the back of a spoon  - 8 minutes maybe.

Add back the shrimp.  Heat through. 

Toss with the drained pasta.  Yes, toss it.  This is a thin sauce - you want it coating all of the crevices.  Don't do your tastebuds a disservice by trying to make it prettier and piling it on top.

There ya go, Anna Dubs -

There ya go, Future Ann Lowrey who cannot remember what she does either.

This is the way to make happy shrimp with ingredients you keep on hand.   

12 April 2012

Weekly Menu 4.12.12

Last week, we had an Easter Feast.  You always forget the major amounts of leftovers from Easter.  So, we haven't made a lot of the food scheduled for post Easter feast.  We didn't even attempt to eat dinner on Sunday night, much less prepare it. 

And I was gone both Monday and Tuesday evenings.  Which meant that my people were even happier than I would have been with the smorgasbord of leftovers in the fridge. 

So, we've shifted most things forward to this week, with a few minor changes.

Thursday 4/12
Lunch -  We have a field trip, so we're likely going to bop out a bite.  
Supper -  Pulled Pork Enchiladas.  I'm making this up today.  And taking to friends as well.  This is breaking all sorts of rules, but they're an understanding bunch and I have pounds and pounds of pulled pork calling to me leftover from a sparsely attended Wednesday Night BBQ at Church last night. 

Friday 4/13
Lunch - Sammiches / Mish Mash, as my Mama used to call it.  (This is code for find what you can people; find what you can)
Supper -  Date Night with the Hubby

Saturday 4/14
Lunch - Baby Shower for a Dear Friend at our house.  I'd say what we're eating, but she'll read this, so I best not ruin her surprises.  It's a modern classic luncheon.  How is that for nonsensical?  I'll post pics and a menu next week for posterity.  And for her mother, who is a thousand miles away.  
Supper - Shower leftovers.  It's not fun, but it's the most responsible I can be.

Sunday 4/15
Lunch -  Tuna Salad Sandwiches
Supper - Spaghetti and Meatballs

Monday 4/16
Lunch - Leftover Spaghetti for the Grown Ups; Sandwiches for the Small People
Supper - Bean Burritos

Tuesday 4/17
Lunch - Cooking Class with the Kids  (They get to get out their kids' cookbooks and go in the pantry and see what we can rustle up.  It's a great Math and Reading exercise.  Especially when I make Ada Brooks tell me what all the measurements would be in reduced fractions if we were trying to prepare exactly 2/3 of the recipe.  What is 2/3 of 1/4 of a cup? Well, 2Tbls, 1tsp, clearly.....)
Supper - Red Beans and Rice

Wednesday 4/18
Lunch - Red Beans and Rice
Supper -  Out to Dinner to Celebrate A Successful Score on A Final Latin Exam. 

(Hopefully.   We won't dangle but rather surprise with this specific carrot.  She's worked hard all year, though - and this is the first real, consistent, difficult, academic work she's done, so it will deserve to be celebrated.  I do love that kid.  If she doesn't work for the next six days, and bombs it, though, we just won't say anything.) 

A good week of food and a cheap run to the store considering most of it was bought erroneously and ambitiously last week!

05 April 2012

Weekly Menu - 04/05/12

I seriously must do better!  We don't stop eating - I just stop writing about it, and I really do love to be able to look back and see what we were eating and doing and loving and so much more. 


Lunch with Ma at the 'xican restaurant. 
Supper - Maundy Thursday Soup, Biscuit Bread, Wine


Lunch - plundering of leftovers
Supper - grilled chicken paninis (comeback, onions, cheese, spinach, sam's french bread)

Lunch - mediteranean picnic - hummus, tzatzkiki, veggies, pita, grilled chicken tenders
Supper - haven't quite gotten there yet, but I will.  I'll be cooking for Sunday, so it will likely involve a box of angel hair, some vegetables, and some parmesan cheese


Lunch - Easter Feast
Supper - Spaghetti and Garlic Bread


Lunch - Leftovers, clearly
Supper - I'm headed out for a dear friend's birthday celebration. Paul and the kids will be feasting upon bean and rice burritos. 


Lunch - bean burritos
Supper - Red Beans and Rice with Sausage

Lunch - Red Beans and Rice
Supper - Pork at Church

Sons of Men and Angels Say!

This Sunday is Easter! 

Easter is a big deal around here;  then, again, what's not a big deal around here?  I feel like my job in life is to make sure all the things are big deals. 

Good Friday:  Hot Cross Buns and Prayers at the Church.  We remember in sobriety, grieving our sins, though not grieving his death, because after all, God has already redeemed the Cross.  It may seem difficult theologically - it is a nuance, but I don't think it's especially hard. 
There are two errors into which one can fall.  First, not remembering the crucifixion.  You cannot sing Christ the Lord is Risen Today on Easter if you haven't first remembered from what He rises.  You really cannot put everyone in their best outfits and cook the fatted lamb (more on that later....) if you don't remember the sacrifice of the Lamb of God.  It's so very American, and in all the bad ways, to ignore Good Friday and hunt eggs anyway. 
The other error is to obsess - to lament.  We must remember, but in fact, we are remembering the death of Christ in a context of a redeemed world.  He has died, but He has risen.  We are remembering His death, but we cannot and should not ever be as Mary wailing at the cross.  We can wail for our own sin that put Him on the cross, but we cannot wail for our dead Lord.  He is not dead.  He sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty.  Every day - even on Good Friday. 

So, we remember. 

Easter Vigil - or Holy Saturday- is a day of preparation.  The disciples would have been in a prayer vigil.  That's what you do, after all, after someone dies.  You keep a vigil.  You pray.  But, we don't have to do that.  We know what's coming the next day.  And of course, it's not actually coming again.  Nothing is any different about Good Friday or Easter Sunday than any other Friday or Sunday, metaphysically, ontologically, or in any other way.  Christ is just as risen today, tomorrow and Saturday as he will be on Sunday.  It is all about us - our ordination toward Christ and His life.  We are a dumb people - like asses and oxen and goats - and without being forced to remember, we'll (do what we've done and) skip everything but birth and resurrection.  So, we don't keep a vigil to pray for our departed Savior.  Instead, we prepare our hearts for the joy of the resurrection and of course our tables for the accompanying feast. 

And then the trumps sound and we're Eastering!  A day of feasting like no other.  Breaking bread and egg hunting.  Toasting with wine and champagne and wearing our beautiful clothes.  Lilies and tulips and the best of all hymnody. 

So, what of the menu for our feast? 

Well, we're sharing Easter with some dear friends.  They're in charge of meat and I'm in charge of everything else!  They're smoking a lamb (I'm nearly dying with the literary significance) and roasting a beef brisket.  I'm sure it will all be thrilling. 

So, what to round out the table? 

Shrimp and Pineapple wrapped in bacon for appetizer. 

Fresh Corn Casserole, a la Pioneer Woman, who doesn't generally get my culinary vote, but I don't see how this could be bad.  

Three Bean Salad, a favorite at our house, especially for special occasions.  Ada Brooks is in charge of this and will make tomorrow so it will be super yummy by Sunday.  Kidney Beans, Wax Beans, Green Beans, Celery, Onions and Bell Peppers swimming in a vinegary, peppery, sweet dressing.

Deviled Eggs, of course.  Don't know what the devil has to do with it, but they're so damn good, so maybe that's it?

Scalloped Potatoes, because I love my husband.

Scallion Cream Sauce and Bowtie noodles, because I love myself.

Roasted Asparagus, to make us feel better.   I'm so tempted to make it asparagus casserole.  So tempted.  Someone stop me. 

Sister Schuberts, because I'm cheating.  I'm sacrificing making my own bread.  I'd rather have strawberry pie and buy the rolls.  

Buttermilk Chocolate Cake - Easter without chocolate is apparently sacrilege. 

Strawberry Pie - again, because my heart lies in the hands of Paul William Forster.  If the man could eat scalloped potatoes, hamburgers and strawberry pies for the rest of his life, he'd be happy as a clam.  

Plentiful fresh whipped cream for both of them. 

We're going to hunt the fire out of some eggs. 

Now, back to sewing the new outfits and making a grocery list! 

Bread, Wine, Soup

Today is Maundy Thursday.  In the church calendar, we commemorate the Last Supper and Jesus's washing of the disciple's feet.  If you have a phenomenal church community who is very liturgically inclined, you may have a great Maundy Thursday service.  Foot washing, a somber, simple meal of bread, wine and perhaps soup, followed by the stripping of the altar in preparation for the rememberance of Good Friday tomorrow. 

Or, you make do at home - bread, wine and soup, the reading of the gospel sections about the Last Supper, and talking about the significance of foot washing and the various happenings the night before the crucifixion.  I think we'll probably wash feet one day -  what a great picture for our kids - but right now they're just too young to be serious while having their feet in a basin of water.  And that's okay.  But you cannot save all of the somber stuff until they're older.  So, we'll be quiet, have bread and soup and try to give them a picture to make the resurrection celebration in just three days all that more important.

(Of course, we are blessed that we know already that He rose from the dead.  It takes the edge off of the mourning and grief, and by golly, it should.  We don't wail and beat our breasts for our Savior has been crucified.  But, we do humbly remember.  It's a fine line - but worth, like most great things in life - making the effort to strive for the balance.)

There is this soup.  We call it Maundy Thursday soup. And, actually, so do the people who came up with it - the Saints at the Chapel of the Cross in Madison, MS.  I've messed with it a bit.  Shocker, I know.  Of course we have no idea what, if anything, Jesus and the Disciples had at supper with their bread and wine.  It was most likely nothing or something very simple.  So, we try to echo that a bit.

Maundy Thursday Soup, one of my favorites:

1/3 cup olive oil
6 cloves garlic, whole
1 T minced, fresh rosemary
2 tomatoes, moisture squeezed out, diced
3-4 cups cooked or canned chick peas (2 cans if canned) 
1/4 cup minced, fresh parsley
4 cups chicken broth

Fresh grated Parmesan or Asiago

Heat olive oil over medium low heat until warmed through.  Throw in garlic, still whole.  Brown the cloves, but be very careful not to burn!
Remove garlic, set aside.
Add rosemary, tomatoes.  Stir and simmer until most of the liquid has been evaporated.  Stir in garbanzos.  Add parsley and broth.
Cook over medium heat 30-45 minutes.

Remove and puree and return some of the beans
Immersion blend the whole garlicky lot.

Serve with cheese and parsley on top.  Along side bread and some of the sauteed garlic.

02 April 2012

Long Days at Work: Slow Cooker Marinara

I've been more label conscious lately, and as much as I'm pro the occasional easy meal, I'm more and more aware of the unpronouncables on almost every, even seemingly innocent, packaged food. 

I mean, we all know that Velveeta cannot be doing great things for you.   And condensed cream-of-x soups.  But look at Nature's Own 100% Whole Wheat Bread.  Or a jar of simple jarred spaghetti sauce.  Multiple ingredients that didn't exist 100 years ago, much less 1000. 

I don't want to be an alarmist, but what I'd like to do is say that we don't know what any of that stuff might be doing to us, so let's try to avoid.  And when I say avoid, I don't mean avoid like yet another germ in the winter of 2012 (we've had stomach bug 1.5 times, flu, strep and probable pneumonia this year).  I mean avoid like stepping in muddy puddles or throwing away plastic rings off of coke cans without cutting them up first. 
Just avoid it when possible, but don't lose sleep or make other people's lives miserable in the process.

All that to say:  I've been looking for a low key pasta sauce that could substitute on those long days at work when I need to boil up a pound of angel hair and call it a night.  If you don't have those nights, then you have it all more under control than I do - or maybe you just live a charmed life. 

A couple versions of this have been floating around Pinterest.  My friend Jessie tried one and remarked that it needed something more.  So, I drew from a few sources and amped them up a bit. 

Paul declared that it doesn't taste so much like jarred spaghetti sauce - but rather like "real marinara - you know - like in a restaurant." 

I'll take that.

So, for posterity and for next time when I cannot remember exactly what I did: 

  • 56 ounces crushed tomatoes (2 28 oz cans or 1/2 giant Sam's can.  I happened to need crushed tomatoes for other recipes this week, so I just got out my scale, measured out 1/4 of the giant can for one thing, 1/4 for another, and 1/2 for the crock pot)
  • 1 large onion, finely diced
  • 1/2 - 1 head garlic, minced  
  • 1 can tomato paste 
  • 3 bay leaves, whole, dried
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons dried basil
  • 1 Tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 Tablespoon brown sugar (Sugar!  But if you don't do it, the tomatoes will be too acidic - and really for the 12 or so servings you're getting out of this, 1 T isn't a deal breaker)
  • 1 Tablespoon Parsley
  • 2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 tsps salt
  • 2 tsp black pepper

Throw it all in a crock pot.  Yes.  I said it.  Throw it in.  Throw it.  Throw it.  Stir until tomato paste seems incorporated.  Cook on low 6-12 hours.

Serve over pasta of choice.

My estimation is that this has about 60% of the sugar that a jar of regular ol' spaghetti sauce has and exactly no fat, unlike most jarred sauces which add oil for flavor  - not that a little fat will kill ya, but wouldn't you rather have it in say...cheese?

Speaking of, Parmesan cheese was not unwelcome piled on top.

We had this and fresh spinach with a little dab'll do ya dressing tonight for dinner.

Paul, Ada Bee, Collins and I gobbled up.  Eason prefers the sweetness brought on by high fructose corn syrup, but he cleaned his plate.  I doubt the promised result of 1/3 of a hershey bar had anything to do with it.  

I have the same amount we ate left over and will freeze in a gallon size bag.

Have I told you lately that I'm thankful for a husband who is happy with a meatless meal. Almost as happy as a meatful meal.

This will be our new marinara, I imagine.  For pizza, all red sauced pasta, as a base for meat sauce and the perfect dip for cheesy focaccia. 

Who needs Velveeta when you've got that jazz?

(Well, me, but only much less often!)