Touch of Nectar

{December 26, 2011}   Down to the Wire! Last Menu of 2011

Whew!! Project 365 really has been a project! I’ve learned a lot. And we’ve eaten a ton of great food this year. I’m a little tired of my cookbooks though… And there’s a few that are not going to be staying on the shelves.  And I’ve discovered a handful of new books that I’ll be adding to the collection in 2012. Yes, I have a problem. lol. 

I am looking forward to being able to cook whatever I want, without the pressure of having it “count” toward the project.  We’ve found a lot of new favorites. I think about half or more of the recipes that we tried I will be making again.

I did a RIDICULOUS amount of cooking for Christmas… I was at 21 recipes and 9 days to go. Panic!!  Now I’m at 354/365, so 11 to go and 6 days to to it. I can DO IT.  Problem is… I have a refrigerator full of yummy leftovers!

So this week’s menu is things that can be stored for awhile (salad dressings) and some things that can be frozen. AND recipes that use up leftovers in creative ways.  As usual, these are in no particular order.  There’s more than 11 recipes here to finish, but I predict that I will not get to all of them.

There’s a Lichi Martini recipe I want to try and I bought vodka for xmas. I need to find which book it is in. Yum!

Rounding the dinners out are leftover vegetables and crackers with a big variety of dips and cheeses. It will be fun to have “appetizers” before dinner every night.

Mon 26: Shrimp with Green Beans, Tomato and Feta – 365 One Dish

Tue 27: Polish Noodles and Cabbage – Frugal Gourmet Ancient Ancestors
Leftover Prime Rib, SunDried Tomato and Goat Cheese Dressing – 1001 Low Fat

Wed 28: CORN/Leftovers night

Thurs 29: Beef (leftover) with Red Wine Tarragon Sauce – Cooking Light 2003
leftover twice baked potatoes, salad

Fri 30: Parmesan Vinaigrette (salad) – 1001 More Low Fat

Sat 31: Happy New Year!  Cioppino – 1001 More Low Fat
Maple Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins – Xmas Kitchen

Sun 1: I ain’t cooking nothin! 

Lunches: Orange Cabbage Salad – Bento Boxes
Crunchy Cabbage and Carrots – Bento Boxes
Orzo with Sun Dried Tomatoes and Mushrooms – 1001 More Low Fat

Other: Beef and Barley Soup (leftover beef) – 365 One Dish (eat one for lunch, freeze rest)
Carrot Raisin Nut Bread – Xmas Kitchen (freeze in small portions for lunches)
Korean Style Honey Marinade – Xmas Kitchen (freeze)


{November 12, 2011}   Marching On

Okay as of this morning Project 365 sits at 297 recipes done. Gonna have to double up quite a bit to finish on time. At least I have the holidays (I host) and Christmas baking coming up. I’ve been working on creative new ideas for bento lunches.  We’ve had enough leftovers lately, so I’ve worked in two leftovers night. I will likely run the bread machine again this week too. Both hubby and the kidling like having bread with dinner.

There are grapes and satsumas in the fridge, so those will be heavily featured in the bentos this week.

Here’s this week’s menu…

Sat 12: Navy Bean Soup with Ham – 1001 Slow Cooker, Mini Corn Muffins with Prosciutto – 365 Appetizers

Sun 13: Chuckwagon Beef and Beans – 365 One Dish

Mon 14: Ravioli in Butter and Sage Sauce – From Asparagus to Zucchini, Pickletini – Food Fest

Tue 15: Leftovers

Wed 16: Angel Hair Pasta with Shrimp and Spinach – Cooking Light 2004

Thurs 17: Knitting group night. Leftovers

Fri 18: Chicken Vegetable Pesto Stir Fry – 365 One Dish, Hasselback Potatoes – 300 Great Potato Recipes

Lunches: I have a variety of chicken salads picked out (using up leftover chicken),  Curried Lemon Mayo – 365 Appetizers (to be served with carrot and celery sticks), Sage Roasted Squash – From Asparagus to Zucchini

Other: Banana Oat Energy Bars – Trail Food (for the kidling’s 2nd breakfasts), Oatmeal Nut Waffles – Food Fest 365, Peanut Butter Cheesecake Cones – Food Fest 365.

{November 10, 2011}   The Delicata Cycle

I mentioned the other day about roasted delicata squash. Sooo delicious!

Delicious Delicata. Say it with me. It’s fun!

1. Get yourself some lovely delicata squash.

2. Wash the outside of the squash. These things grow in the dirt ya know. You don’t want dirt in your bentos.

3. Slice off the stem and blossom ends and cut in half.

4. Remove the seeds. I suppose you could roast these like pumpkin seeds, but they’re kinda little so I never bother.

5. Slice the squash into 1/2 inch (or so) half moons. Meanwhile, turn the oven on to about 350 and spray a cookie sheet with cooking spray.

6. As you slice the rings, arrange them on a cookie sheet. When you are done slicing, spray the tops of the rings with cooking spray and sprinkle them with grill seasoning. I like the 21 Seasoning Salute from Trader Joes.

7. Stick the cookie sheet in the oven and bake for about 1/2 hour or until the squash is done to your liking. I don’t like mine too mushy, but I like the edges just a bit caramelized.

These fit nicely into bentos and they are good hot or cold. You can eat the rind even. It is soft enough. Most of the time, I just scrape the flesh off with my teeth and toss the rind.

{November 8, 2011}   Bad News, Good News, Good News

Okay, first the bad news… Our house got broken into on Friday. They literally kicked in the door. So hard that they broke the pin on the deadbolt. Scary stuff.

The good news is… our neighbors saw them, called the coppers and got a license plate number. They not only caught the bad guys, we got almost all of our stuff back the same day! And we have a new door now. I’m a little sad that our front door is no longer going to be purple.

So that is why I haven’t been blogging the last few days. I’ve been dealing with all that stuff. Weee…

But onto my other good news… I have lots of bentos to share!

I roasted some delicata squash last week. My favorite! I’ll blog about that later today if I get a chance.

This bento uses some fridge and freezer stash… boiled quails eggs, salad, edamame, cheese sticks, turkey meatballs, pickled green beans, mushrooms, carrots and squash. I forgot dressing for the salad! Bah!

And hers. Quails eggs, cheese, deli turkey, Halloween candy, pretzels and mango.

Another for me. Pickled green beans, roast beef, cheese, edamame, squash, stir fried bok choy and carrots, mushrooms.

Hers. Bagel with peanut butter and jelly, mango, grapes, pretzels and edamame.

{November 2, 2011}   Summer is Over

I’m using up the very last of the summer fruit now…  I always miss the variety of fruit I can get in the summertime. This year was not a very good year for us weatherwise, so while we got strawberries (barely), I missed out on blueberries and raspberries. Very soon it will be on to bananas, apples, pears and oranges for bento fruit. Thankfully satsumas are beginning to make an appearance in the grocery stores. Persimmons too, but I have no idea how to choose a perfect persimmon. Any suggestions?

The kidling got mango in her box today. These were not pretty and did not ripen well (on the windowsill like I always d0). I doubt that I will be buying more.

Also in her box is a mini bagel with strawberry cream cheese, grapes, quails egg, cheese and dry roasted peanuts. Needs something green, don’t you think?

And my “bento” today, if you want to call it that was another emergency bento. I did chores this morning like a good girl instead of messing with my lunch. It was still delicious though. I loves me a noodle bowl. Especially on a cold rainy day like today. Yeah, welcome to Seattle.

I put the carrots and dried shiitakes in with the noodles and water when I heated them up in the microwave. This works perfectly. After the soup was hot, I added everything else. Not the prettiest lunch, but it was very satisfying.

{November 2, 2011}   Almost Bento Twins

Both mine and the kidling’s bentos are similar today. First hers…

Cheddar and roast beef wraps, grapes, cereal bar and banana. The only thing that came back was the grapes (which are getting a bit wilty anyway)

And mine…

Orange slices, dried plums, olives, quail eggs, cheese and cucumber kabobs, carrot slices, snow peas and roast beef wraps with provolone cheese.  I ate everything except the olives.

Project 365 marches on. I’m currently at 279/365. Only 96 recipes left to go! I have a few weeks left, right? RIGHT?

My menu isn’t 100% finished yet. I still need to figure out what I’ll be doing (extra) for lunches, but I may decide that after I see what fruits and veggies look good at the store. I still have quite a bit of unused produce from this week, so I need to use that up. We don’t need a dessert on the menu this week. There is still leftover (storebought) coffee cake and chocolate rice crispy treats. What? I had marshmallows that weren’t being eaten. *grins*

Grocery List for the week: ham steaks, spinach, lettuce, leeks, rice cakes, chicken broth, ground beef, cucumbers (and a reminder to self to not let them get slimy!), orange chocolate candies

Everything else I will need is either in the freezer or pantry. Looking good here.

I had picked out a bunch of recipes from my Bento cookbooks for this last week and many of them did not get made, so I might just recycle them into this week. There are also some veggies sitting on my kitchen table that I haven’t cooked yet. Delicata squash (oh how I love thee!) and some zucchini that I have no idea what recipe it was supposed to go with. I think the zucchini might get snuck into the spaghetti sauce. Muwahaha….

This week is a tight budget week (damn those day care costs!) but I never let that stop us from eating yummy food… And thank goodness for dollar stores, where I can find chicken broth and ham steaks.  Anyway, on to the menu.

As usual, these are in no particular order. I just write it out this way so that I make sure I have all my bases covered… And like for Monday, which is Halloween, we won’t have a lot of time for preparing dinner, so I’ve planned leftovers.  Add salad and/or a vegetable and bread and the dinners are pretty much complete

Saturday: Fish from Trader Joes? – depends on what they have. OR Navy Bean Soup with Ham (1001 Slow Cooker )and corn bread

Sunday: Scalloped Ham, Potatoes and Leeks (365 One Dish)

Monday: Leftovers

Tuesday: Chicken Drummettes Valencia (365 BBQ) – I have legs in the freezer

Wednesday: Fettuccini with Greens and Caramelized Onion (1001 Low Fat Vegetarian) – put whatever leftover meat we have into hubby’s portion

Thursday: Leftovers

Friday: Tomato Sauce with Ground Beef (365 Pasta)

Lunches: Tuna and Cucumber on Rice Rounds (365 Low Cal)
Three Mushroom Rice (Bento)
Baked Delicata Squash

Other: Chocolate Cream Muffins (1 Mix 100 Muffins) – with orange chocolates

{September 8, 2011}   Deconstructed Salad Nicoise Bento

I got the Just Bento cookbook last year for Christmas and this is one of the bentos featured in it. Also one of my favorites.

The box that I’m using today was a gift from my friend’s kids. They brought it back special for me from Japan. 🙂  And it is PERFECT for this style of bento.

This doesn’t follow Maki’s recipe 100%, but her’s is a great jumping off point. On the left are salad greens and my Zydeco green beans.

On the right is olives (I didn’t have Nicoise olives. Sad), tuna tossed with vinegar and Dijon mustard, a few capers. 

In the larger compartment is boiled egg, cornichon pickles, cherry tomatoes and boiled potatoes (from a can – a new bento staple!).

Sprinkled over everything for a touch of color is parsley.

When lunchtime arrives I’ll top the salad with the tuna as a sort of dressing.Not too shabby for just cleaning out the fridge! And it’s pretty! 🙂

For dessert I have a few fresh figs. That seems appropriate to go with this bento for some reason.

{September 1, 2011}   12 Minute Bento – Step by Step

Yeah, yeah. It’s been awhile. I know.

 I am getting very excited because the kidling starts “real” school in about a week and she’s decided that she wants me to make her a bento for lunch each day too. So now I’m all inspired and I decided to take photos and time myself while making today’s bento.

Get out the food.

Get out the tools

Make onigiri. I used a pouch of salmon to stuff them this time. 1/2 a pouch for 2 fairly large rice balls.

Add stuff. Here I’m filling in with cherry tomatoes and a cucumber salad. The salad is tucked into a silicone lined paper cup. There’s a bit of fried, seasoned tofu tucked in the box too. I also topped the rice with a vegetable furikake (seaweed sprinkles). We’re half done! 7 minutes on the clock…  Yes those are picked onions (delicious!) but they didn’t make it into today’s box. Back into the fridge they went.

The rest of the bento.  More fried tofu and a silicone cup to hold a wet salad.

And finish it off.  Beet and orange salad. Pickled daikon and carrot. And I tucked a couple more cherry tomatoes in there too.

I’m having a cut up peach for dessert. Not sure if this counts as a bento, but it IS in a bento box. 🙂    12 minutes start to finish. Another minute or so to put everything away. Easy peasy!

The Menu this Week. April 16-22 2011

As usual, these are not in the order that I will make them. Fruit/dessert on the menu this week is pineapple, bananas, pears and oranges.  Do you see a theme with this week’s menu? Hubby brought the barbecue back from our property. It is one way I can get him to help me cook dinner. Shhh… don’t tell him I said that!

I’m super excited because the farmer’s market near my house is now open. You can expect to see lots of fresh fruit and veggies in the upcoming menus. I have asparagus to use but I haven’t decided what I want to make yet. Maybe a white bean and asparagus salad?

I bought half a ham for the kebabs, and only need a small portion of it, so I will make a ham and bean soup in the crock pot to freeze. I will also freeze a portion of diced ham for quick omelets or quiches. I love having a well-stocked freezer!

Sat – CORN/Leftovers Night

Sun – Olympic Burgers #   from 365 Grilling Recipes

Mon – Ham and Pineapple Kebabs #445833 from 365 Grilling Recipes

Tues – Chicken Sandwich with Lemon Basil Mayo #451586 from Eat Well Stay Well

Wed – Pork chops (TBD),  Dijon Parsley Potatoes from George Foreman

Thurs – Grilled Chicken Fajitas from 365 20 Minutes Meals (make double and freeze half), Salsa Fresca Mexicana from 365 Mexican Recipes, Rice

Fri – Watercress and Cucumber Salad with Fresh Tuna from George Foreman, sliced tomatoes

Breakfasts – Sunday, unless we go out to breakfast. Almond Pancakes from Beyond the Moon (didn’t get made last week) and fresh fruit
Muffins (TBD)

Lunches – (smaller portions of the recipes) Grilled Pear Salad with Parmesan from 365 Grilling Recipes
Shredded Carrot Salad # from 365 Grilling Recipes
Dessert – Applesauce Cake #451271 from Spices of the World (didn’t get made last week)

et cetera