Welcome to One Little Corner of the World. I share with you new recipes, some family recipes, and the antics of my kids. Enjoy reading!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Meal Planning for the Week

I try to plan my meals, so that I am not running to the store every day. Some weeks it works, some weeks it doesn’t. This week I am trying something new for me. I have planned out each day’s menu – almost, and am going to try to cook five dinners without going to the store for extra ingredients.

On Sunday, I made several items in preparation for the week. I had been craving chicken and noodles, so I made homemade chicken stock, used the chicken and made chicken and noodles. I also made Cold Tuna Noodle Pasta Salad – an old family favorite. My little one helped peel the eggs for the salad – he likes to help in the kitchen.

Chicken Stock – I often double the recipe so I have quite a bit on hand.

1 whole chicken, skinned and cut into parts – I don’t skin the wings (I am lazy)
4 cloves garlic
3 celery stalks cut into large chunks
2 carrots cut into large chunks
1 onion chopped into quarters or 1 leek chopped in large pieces.
2 bay leaves
2 sprigs rosemary, thyme and sage
Salt and peppercorns
Place all ingredients in a large pot with a lid and fill enough to cover chicken and other ingredients. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Simmer with lid partially on for 2 ½ to 3 hours.

Remove chicken to a pan and strain liquid. Let stock cool overnight, remove any excess fat that has floated to top of container. Place stock in containers that are freezer safe and freeze for up to three months.

Separate chicken from bones and use in a variety of dishes.

Keeping in the made from scratch mood, I also made homemade bread – see previous post – which filled the house with that wonderful yeasty smell that for some reason, always reminds me of winter. I took some of my bread to a neighbor, whose son told her that I was the best cook. That made my day.

Chicken and Noodles

Shredded chicken from whole chicken – 3-4 cups
2 quarts chicken stock
4 tbsp butter
4 tbsp flour
1 lb pasta – your choice
½ cup chopped fresh parsley
2 tsp poultry seasoning
Salt and pepper
¾ cup Parmesan cheese shredded

Bring stock to a low boil. Add poultry seasoning While stock is heating up, make a blonde roux with the butter and flour. Melt butter and add flour to combine. Cook for 2-3 minutes to cook flour taste out of the roux. When stock boils, slowly add roux and whisk into mixture. Stock should start to thicken. Reduce heat to a simmer. Add chicken to thickening stock and warm through. Season with salt and pepper

Meanwhile, bring a pot of water to a boil and cook pasta according to package directions, leaving pasta al dente. After pasta is cooked, add to chicken mixture, stir in parsley, and pour into casserole dish. Sprinkle parmesan cheese on top of chicken and noodles and heat in 400 degree oven until cheese is melted and browned. Let stand for about 5 minutes and serve with warm bread and salad. Makes a great meal!`

Monday was a leftover kind of night. Hubby worked late and we had leftover White Castle –that’s right, White Castle. My oldest went with his dad to watch the Rams lose at the football game, and they brought home White Castle. I will admit that I do like the chicken ring sandwiches every once in a while. We also had leftover noodles from Saturday’s dinner and I made a green bean casserole, just because.

Tuesday, Hubby is cooking ribs that we bought from the local fire department – that is our dinner, along with grilled corn and potatoes. He is using a dry rub we bought in Memphis from the Rendezvous restaurant we ate at a couple of years ago on a trip to Memphis. They are famous for their dry rub ribs. We are not making dry rub ribs, but we are putting the rub on the ribs, grilling them for a while and letting them finish off in a low temp oven soaked in bbq sauce. Hubby loves bbq sauce.

Wednesday we had linguini with clam sauce, garlic bread, and spinach. This is one of my favorite meals – I just love the combination of pasta and seafood. Sometimes I add shrimp or crabmeat. Today I am adding crabmeat to the pasta.

Linguini with Clam Sauce

2-3 tbsp olive oil
4 anchovy filets
1 tsp basil
Pinch of red pepper flakes
4 cloves garlic, diced small
1 ½ cup white wine
2 cans clam in juice – not drained
1 cup crab meat
Salt and pepper
1 pound linguini cooked according to package directions
1 scoop pasta water
½ cup chopped fresh parsley
3 cups chopped fresh spinach

Bring pasta water to boil and cook pasta according to package directions. Meanwhile, heat oil in large skillet over medium high heat. Lower heat to medium and sautĂ© anchovy filets until they melt into oil. Add garlic, pepper flakes, and basil. Heat for 2 – 3 minutes. Don’t burn garlic. Deglaze pan with white wine; bring to boil and reduce heat. Cook down by 1/3. Add clams and crab with juice. Warm through. Add one scoop pasta water, cooked pasta, parsley, and spinach. Cover and allow steam to cook spinach. Stir to combine and serve with garlic bread and salad or vegetable for a great dinner!

Thursday will be leftover day. Since the boys have football practice at 6:00, it is hard to have a hot meal ready before 8:15 or so. I have tried since school started to have enough food in the house to have a meal of leftovers.

I don’t know about Friday yet as I don’t know exactly what our plans are.

I am also trying to use ingredients that are already in the house. The ribs, for instance, have been in the freezer for a while – thank goodness for the food saver! The clams, chicken, tuna, and ingredients for the bread are always on hand.

Enjoy the recipes! I am going to try this again next week! See ya!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Family Recipes and Homemade Bread

Again, I don’t have a specific recipe for this month’s Family Recipes. I do however have another story about food and family. Family Recipes is an event that is hosted this month by HoneyB over at The Life and Loves of Grumpy's Honeybunch.

As a child, we would go to Toledo almost every Sunday for dinner with my dad’s parents. Grandma was the best cook. I have no idea how she would do it, but she could walk around her kitchen one time – it seemed – and have dinner ready on the table. I walk around the kitchen one time, and I still don’t know what to make for dinner. Anyway, I used to love to watch and help her cook. This month I decided to make homemade bread. I love to make bread as it reminds me of happy times with my family. It also gives me new memories with my boys - they love butter bread.

One of my fondest memories of my childhood was the homemade bread Grandma used to make. It was always warm, fluffy, yeasty, and just the most wonderful tasting bread I ever ate. She always made it for us.

When I was about 13, I tried to recreate the bread that my grandma used to make. I also tried to do all on my own. I kicked my family out of the kitchen for the day and sat down with the Betty Furness cookbook that my mom had on top of the fridge. I do have to add that this cookbook was not written for beginners, so that is my excuse for the story that follows. Had the cookbook had more specific instructions, my bread would have turned out great. I just ordered the cookbook from Amazon – I will have to update on the recipe when I get it. it is supposed to ship within the next day or so.

Back to the story. I gathered my ingredients and started cooking. The recipe called for lukewarm milk. Not knowing what lukewarm really was, I went and asked my dad – wrong choice. He said that the milk would be fine if I just let it set out for about 15 minutes. Yeast doesn’t really rise very well in cold milk.

The recipe called for, I think, 12 cups of flour. I was making bread for an army. I ran out and asked my parents to get me some more flour. They quickly figured out what I was doing, walked into the kitchen, and totally wigged out. The kitchen was a disaster area. There was flour and wet bread dough everywhere. I even managed to get some on the ceiling. Needless to say my mom wasn’t too terribly impressed with me.

We got more flour and tried to fix the recipe, to no avail. Mom decided to put the dough in a paper bag and set it beside the garbage after she learned about the cold milk. Hours – and I mean about 3-4, the bread rose – really! I screamed for my mom and showed her the risen dough. I was so excited. The dough rose!

Mom decided to try and make the bread. Rescuing it from the near garbage, she kneaded and kneaded working her cooking magic on the bread. It didn’t rise too much the second time, but we baked anyway. We ended up with three small loaves of very tasty, very, very heavy bread. It was suggested that the army might want in on my secret so they could use the bread as bombs. Did I say that it was heavy? Dense too. I have never had bread so dense since – it really was good, and it stayed with you for quite a while.

While I don’t have a ton of recipes that my mom used to make, I do vividly remember the bread incident. To this day, the smell of freshly made bread reminds me not only of my grandma baking away in her house, but also of my mom trying to rescue a 13-year-old’s bread mishap.

Ok, here is the recipe - and I was right, pretty close - it calls for 13 cups.

White Bread - Straight dough method From the Betty Furness Cookbook

Tin or aluminium bread pans......Preheat oven to 375 F.

2 cakes quick-acting yeast
1 cup lukewarm water
5 tbsp sugar
4 cups lukewarm milk
5 tsp salt
About 13 cups all-purpose flour, sifted before measuring
5 tsp shortening

Place lukewarm milk in bowl in which you expect to mix dough. To the milk, add the remaining sugar and salt. Add dissolved yeast to milk mixture. Next, add all but 1 cup of the flour and the shortening. Start mixing with a spoon, but as the four and liquid become blended, you will need to finish the mixing with your hand Add remaining cup of flour, but only if needed. Bread dough that is too stiff never makes quite such good bread.

When all ingredients have been mixed, and the dough begins to leave the sides of the bowl, turn dough out on lightly floured board.

Knead until dough becomes elastic and does not stick to board. Place in greased bowl, cover, allow to rise until double in bulk, then punch down. Allow to rise a second time until double in bulk. Remove dough from bowl, punch down and cut into four equalized loaves. Recipe makes approximately 4 1 1/2 lb. loaves. Shape and allow to stand 20 minutes. Then flatten out each loaf and again reshape.

Place in greased pans. Allow to rise until double in bulk, or until imprint does not disappear when pressed with a finger. Just before placing in oven, sprinkle a little cold water over raised dough. Bake. Remove from pans as soon as baked. Cool on wire cake rack.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Pesto for the Winter

I went to the local farmer’s market the other day before football practice and bought all the basil I could find. My friend’s mother gave me more basil and away I went. I made three big batches of pesto for this winter – I spent a total of 3.00 on pesto. Buying basil in the winter almost bankrupts me, but since my oldest loves pesto, I always buy it. Now, with my stash in the freezer, I am ready!

I made the pesto and put it in a zip lock bag. I then used the Foodsaver to vacuum seal it. It should stay fresh for a while. Here is the recipe I used.

Pesto Sauce from Food Network

5 big handfuls basil leaves (about 2 hefty bunches)
1/2 cup pine nuts or 3/4 cup walnuts
1/2 cup fresh grated Parmesan or Pecorino cheese
Juice of 1 small lemon
2 cloves garlic, peeled
Kosher salt
About 20 grinds freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Place all ingredients with 1/2 cup of the oil in a blender and blend. Gradually drizzle in the remaining 1/4 cup of oil until pesto is thick and smooth.

Yield: about 1 1/2 cups

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Melt-In-Your-Mouth-Meatloaf

A couple of weeks ago, one of my friends gave me a recipe for “Melt in Your Mouth Meatloaf.” I finally got a chance to try it. It is very easy to prepare, and I love any recipe that utilizes my crock pot.

Here is the recipe from Allrecipes.com

Prep Time: 15 Min
Cook Time: 5 Hrs 15 Min
Ready In: 5 Hrs 30 Min
Yields: 6 servings






INGREDIENTS:
2 eggs
3/4 cup milk
2/3 cup seasoned bread crumbs
2 teaspoons dried minced onion
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon rubbed sage
1 1/2 pounds ground beef
1/2 cup ketchup
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground mustard
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
2 tsp. allegro marinade (or to taste) I used liquid smoke - a suggestion from my friend. It worked out really well.

DIRECTIONS:
1. In a large bowl, combine the first six ingredients. Crumble beef over mixture and mix well (mixture will be moist.) Shape into a round loaf; place in a 5-qt. slow cooker. Cover and cook on low for 4-5 hours or until a meat thermometer reads 160 degrees F.

2. In a small bowl, whisk the ketchup, brown sugar, mustard, marinade or liquid smoke, and Worcestershire sauce. Spoon over the meat loaf. Cook 15 minutes longer or until heated through. Let stand for 10-15 minutes before cutting.

Ok, so I served the meatloaf to the boys, and man, did they eat. They loved it!!! Like my friend’s daughter, they cleaned their plate. My little one said that I need to make the meatloaf for dinner tomorrow. Little did the little guy know, that was the plan – I made a double batch!

I also made roasted potatoes with garlic, salt, pepper, and olive oil and fresh green beans.

I loved the flavors – it had an Italian twist; I used Italian seasoned bread crumbs. Sage is also a favorite seasoning of mine; I could taste a hint of it in the meatloaf – now I have another use for it besides the holidays!! Anyway, this is a great main course to serve. If your crock pot cooks quickly like mine does, it might cook a little faster than the recipe says.

School tomorrow! Have a great evening! Talk to you soon.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Zucchini Cookies, er Muffins I mean.

So, I was all ready to make zucchini cookies from a recipe that one of my high school friends sent me. I gathered my ingredients, and started measuring the shortening……as I was measuring I noticed that it expired in 2008 – not a good thing. I scrapped that idea and started looking for a recipe for my zucchini that my boys could eat for breakfast. My blog dashboard was pulled up and I noticed that Honey B over at The Life and Loves of Grumpy’s Honeybunch had baked chocolate banana zucchini muffins – I was saved!!! Go over to Honey B’s blog! She has tons of neat recipes and giveaways!!

I started gathering ingredients…..now I was out of cardamom!!! I quick facebooked Honey B and she said that cinnamon should be a good substitute. Great I was saved….until I grabbed my cinnamon and saw that it was empty. No worries, I had another jar in the pantry.

Hubby walked in and I told him what I was making – he thought the combination of bananas, chocolate, and zucchini didn’t sound good; until he tried them. They were great! The boys ate two each and we have breakfast for a few days. Since they are so moist they should last – I am keeping them in an airtight container to ensure their freshness. What follows is Honey B’s adaptation from the original at Allrecipes.

Chocolate Banana Zucchini Muffins

3 eggs
2 cups white sugar
1/2 cup oil
2 mashed bananas
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups grated zucchini
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease or line two 12 cup muffin tins.In a large bowl beat the eggs. Beat in the sugar, oil and banana. Add the cocoa, vanilla, zucchini and stir well.

Stir in the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and cardamom. Mix until just moist. Pour batter into prepared muffin tins filling 2/3 of the way full. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Cool.

Back again soon with more recipes! I have meat thawing for meatloaf and a chicken dish. See ya soon!!

Paul Mineo's and Friends

I went, with my friends the other night, to a restaurant owned by Paul Mineo. When I was in college, I used to work for him at a restaurant named Willoughby’s. I gained about seven pounds working there – I loved the food. I was so excited to hear at the end of the school year last year that he had opened another restaurant in Westport Plaza. My in-laws dine there quite often and had recommended it to Hubby and me. I didn’t get up there in time to see Paul, though. He passed away from cancer during the summer. Going to his restaurant was bittersweet for me. On the one hand, I was so impressed by what he and his wife created – it was so grown up, elegant and wonderful, on the other hand, I was saddened by the loss of someone I had really respected and disappointed that I didn’t get to tell him how nice I thought his restaurant was.

Every few months, my friends and I go out to eat at a restaurant that one of us picks out. We started doing this a couple of years ago, and it has become an evening that I look forward to each time. We all get along very well - it is just so nice to be able to have friends who accept you for who you are no matter what.

Paul Mineo’s Trattoria is an Italian restaurant that serves Southern Sicilian Cuisine. While it is more formal than Willoughby’s was, there is still an air of casualness about the place. It is comfortable yet elegant. We had, I think, the best time at Paul Mineo’s. It was by far the best food and service of all the restaurants we have gone to as a group. In my opinion, the only restaurant that comes close is Sidney Street CafĂ©.

For starters we all tried an appetizer, I ordered the lobster ravioli; and my friends ordered calamari fritti; eggplant parmigiano; and Carciofini Alla Lea, which is artichoke hearts prosciutto and cream cheese – yum! We sampled each other’s apps and they were all very good. I have to say that I was surprised by the eggplant. I have never been a huge fan, but the eggplant was very good – I am going to have to make some. The calamari was perfectly cooked, and the marinara was a perfect compliment, not too spicy, not too bland. Heather thought the lobster ravioli was the best – she loved the cream sauce with the sherry and saffron. We also each had a salad and then it was on to the main course!

My friends ordered Bucatini Ala Arabiata, a spicy tomato sauce with capers and mushrooms; Linguini Mare Monti, seafood pasta with mushrooms in a garlic butter white wine sauce; and Chicken Spiendini. I have since talked to one of my dinner companions, and she did the same thing I did – she took her leftovers to school, just like I did. I usually give my leftovers to my husband – not this time! The seafood pasta had lots of meat and the sauce was light and flavorful, allowing the seafood to be the star, the mushrooms added a freshness that always adds to a dish. The only down side to the entrees would have to be the bucatini – it was a bit spicy for my friend. She really liked the flavor, but for her it was too much heat. While I didn’t get to try everybody’s dish, they all looked great.

Dessert was a complete surprise – we were treated to a sampling of three of Paul Mineo’s desserts; cheesecake, a cannoli, and tiramisu. Since I am a big fan of cheesecake, that was the best for me. The tiramisu and the cannoli were also very good, but I just can’t pass up cheesecake.

Christoff, our waiter, was fabulous – he is in our picture. The service was probably the highlight of our meal. We really enjoy a waiter who tries to make our dining experience something special. He paid attention to us, without suffocating us, and just did what he could to ensure that our dinner an event. I would highly recommend this restaurant to anyone who wants a special night out without totally breaking the bank. They also cater almost any event one might want; from wine events to wedding receptions, they can make any event a total celebration.