This week, an astonishing thing occurred to me. I could actually take the bulging binder of recipes I had clipped from magazines and newspapers, and downloaded from the internet, and sort them. Due to the high volume and rapid growth rate of this recipe stash, it was very difficult to put it to any good use – I might have a vague recollection of a tomato tart using the kind of heirloom tomatoes and fresh basil that are just about to appear at the Farmer’s Market, but the idea of digging through the huge pile of clippings was more than I could bear. I could also start looking through it if I saw that a certain food was on sale for that week, but I might grow old and die before locating even a single recipe containing that ingredient. I also knew that there were recipes I would never use, either because I am just never going to be a Velveeta kind of girl, or because I had already tried serving a meal with a certain ingredient once, only to be told that my regular audience NEVER wanted to see it again. Broccoli rabe comes quickly to mind.
So, I bought two big plastic file holders, each divided into 7 sections. I sat down and began sorting, only temporarily stumped by decisions like “is taglietelle with sauce Bolognese a beef dish or a pasta dish?” (Its a pasta dish, in my world). In less than two hours I had weeded out the rejects, and made order of the rest. That means that when I plan menus on Thursdays, if I see that flank steak is on sale, I can pull out the beef recipes and see if there’s anything I’d like to make.
Although I have cookbooks I’m anxious to dip into (Tyler Florence’s newest and one coordinated by Morgan Freeman) I decided to test drive my new filing system for menu planning this week. Here’s what we’re eating on Forest Street:
Macaroni & Cheese & Fresh Green Beans from the Farmer’s Market
If you are an observant and regular reader (are there any regular readers?!) you will know that Macaroni and Cheese was on last week’s menu. I am not serving it two weeks in a row; we ended up eating leftovers from the Big Dinner Party last night, and since the Macaroni is the meal I had planned that involves no delicate perishables (like meat), I moved it to the following week.
Beef Stroganoff, Egg Noodles and Carrots with Butter and Fresh Dill
The Beef Stroganoff recipe comes from my beloved Blueberry Hill Cookbook. I do not actually own the cookbook because my mother has the copy she inadvertently STOLE from the public library many years ago (although she did pay them for it before she found it in the house) and she will not release it into my custody. I therefore have the recipe written out long-hand on a sheet of notebook paper. Its kind of like being given permission to view original manuscripts at the British Museum, only she doesn’t make me wear gloves. I’m making this recipe because round steak is on sale, and because its delicious.
Beef Stroganoff, Blueberry Hill
- 2 lbs. round steak, 1/4 inch thick
- 1 clove garlic
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 3 teaspoons salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 1 large onion
- 1 chicken boullion cube
- 1 pound fresh mushrooms
- 1 cup sour cream (I use light)
- 1 teaspoon sugar (optional)
Rub steak on both sides with cut clove of garlic. Pound it into mixture of flour, salt and pepper. (To do this, I put the steak, flour, salt and pepper in a Ziploc, shake to coat the meat, and then pound with a meat mallet through the bag). Cut meat, against the grain, into strips about 2 inches long.
Peel and dice onion. In heavy pan or pot, brown onion in trimmings of beef fat (I use olive oil). Remove onion with slotted spoon. Quickly brown meat in the same fat. Return onions to pan. Cover tightly and simmer about 15 minutes; meat should be quite tender.
Dissolve bouillion cube in 1 cup hot water. Slice mushrooms. Add bouillion and mushrooms to meat mixture, cover and simmer about 10 minutes. Uncover. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature. (I believe these directions are intended to keep the sour cream from being destroyed by the heat. I never cool to room temperature, although I do remove the pot from the heat before adding the sour cream. I’ve never had a problem, probably because of the stabilizers added to light sour cream). Just before serving, stir in sour cream. Season and serve over hot noodles.
Grilled, Garlic Lime Chicken, Sticky Rice and Steamed Green Beans with Butter and Toasted Macadamia Nuts
The Garlic Lime Chicken recipe comes from Leanne Ely, who provides menu planning and recipe guidance on the Flylady website. The original recipe calls for sauteeing the chicken in butter on the stove, but I have often asked Rob to grill it, and its still delicious.
Garlic Lime Chicken
- 1 1.2 teaspoons salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/2 teaspoon thyme
- 1/2 teaspoon parsley
- 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 2 additional teaspoons garlic powder
- 6 tablespoons lime juice
In a small bowl, mix together all seasonings except the last measurement of garlic powder and the lime juice. Dredge chicken on both sides. (I do all of this in a Ziploc).
Grill until nearly done; during last five minutes drizzle each breast with lime juice, sprinkle with remaining garlic powder, and turn to cook “sauce” into both sides. To follow the original recipe, sautee in a large pan with 2 tablespoons butter and 1 tablespoon olive oil until golden brown, adding lime juice and additional garlic powder for five final minutes of cooking).
Cheese Ravioli with Vegetables and Focaccia
This recipe for using frozen ravioli actually calls for frozen vegetables, which seems like a ridiculous waste of seasonal resources. Here’s my version.
Cheese Ravioli with Vegetables
- 6 quarts water
- 2 cups assorted, chopped fresh vegetables that steam well, such as carrots, green beans, zucchini, yellow squash, broccoli, and cauliflower
- 1 package (25 ounces) frozen cheese ravioli
- 1/4 cup butter, melted (or olive oil)
- 1/4 cup shredded Parmesan, plus more for individual servings.
- Fresh Basil, Oregano, Italian Parsley and/or Rosemary (optional)
To make this, I use a steamer insert in the pot I use to boil the pasta. If you have no such pot, you can also steam the veggies in covered, microwave-safe dish with a bit of water in about 3-4 minutes.
Bring water to boil, drop ravioli into water, place vegetables in steamer atop boiling water, cover, and cook for five minutes. Ravioli should be floating to top, and veggies should be tender but not mushy.
Drain pasta, and combine with vegetables and butter or oil in serving bowl. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and fresh herbs, if you like.
We will be out to dinner, and if I eat anything fabulous, I’ll let you know.
Sauteed Chicken Breasts with Country Ham & Summer Succotash and Melon Slices
The recipe for the chicken comes from the August 2006 Bon Appetit, and I have never made it – it was buried in the Binder of Lost Recipes. If its lovely, I’ll take a picture and share the recipe.
Hawaiian Pork Kabobs and Rice
I am willing to cut up the pork chops that are on sale this week to make these, but it would be much easier to buy a small pork tenderloin instead.
Hawaiian Pork Kebabs
- Shish Kebab Skewers (soak in advance if they are wood)
- 4-6 pork chops or 1 small pork tenderloin
- 2 sweet onions
- 2 green bell peppers
- 1 fresh pineapple, cored and peeled
- Bottled Hawaiian Marinade
Cut pork into bite-sized chunks. Place in Ziploc bag with half of marinade and put in refrigerator at least 1 hour, but as long as overnight.
Cut onion, peppers, and pineapple into bite sized chunks.
Once pork is marinated, thread all ingredients onto skewers as you like them. If you have leftover veggies and pineaple, make skewers using only those ingredients.
Grill, brushing occasionally with remaining marinade from bottle. (Do NOT use the marinade left from marinating the pork. Throw it away!!).