Touch of Nectar











{January 19, 2012}   Some for now. Some for later.

Sometimes it is nice to channel your roots. My family’s history can be traced back to Poland. I’m the 4th or 5th generation to be born in the US. I don’t even really consider myself Polish. I’m a mutt. 

This is one of those recipes that should have been handed down from my grandmother or great grandmother… Total comfort food.

If you are going to make them to freeze. Freeze them individually on a tray or baking sheet before boiling them. Then package them in zip lock bags. Don’t forget to lable and date the bags.  You can drop them into the boiling water right from the freezer. No need to thaw. I love that.

I always seem to have WAY more filling so I double the amount of dough. Freeze half and eat the other half for dinner. Delicious!

Potato Cheese Pierogies

3 1/2 quarts water
2 cups chopped unpeeled potatoes (I peel mine)
1 cup ricotta cheese (Jack works too)
3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard (I use more)
1 teaspoon dill (I used more here too)
1 dash black pepper
1 1/2 cups white flour (do NOT try and use whole wheat.  It won’t work. Ask me how I know.)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg  (use more if you like this flavor – I love it)
4 tablespoons butter
2 eggs , beaten
butter
sour cream
paprika

Bring water to boil and cook the potatoes until they are tender. Drain and mash in a medium bowl.

Add the cheeses and lemon juice, mustard, dill and pepper. Mix well and set aside.

Combine flour, salt and nutmeg in a mixing bowl. Cut the butter into the flour until well blended.

Add eggs and knead until smooth. Divide into 16 balls. Meanwhile, bring water to a boil.

Roll out each ball into a circle. Place 1 ½ tablespoons filling on one side, leaving a ¼ “ border.

Fold in half and press edges with a fork to seal. Cook in the boiling water until they rise to the top. Serve with sour cream, butter and paprika.



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)



Rigatoni with Escarole and Sausage (link to recipe)


I love a fast dinner! This took about 20 minutes or so.

First I put a pan of water on to boil for the pasta. (correction – first pour a glass of wine to drink while cooking dinner!)

From the freezer, I pulled out a package of basil-chicken sausages. I thawed them in the microwave, then sliced them into ¼ inch slices. While those were heating in the skillet, I chopped the garlic and escarole. The head of escarole I had was huge, so I only used half.

When the pasta water was ready, I dumped in the farfalle pasta that I was using.

I added the garlic to the skillet and let that sauté for a bit. When the pasta was almost done cooking, I added the escarole to the sausages. I also added a bit of the pasta cooking water to help it wilt.

When the pasta was done cooking, I drained it and then tossed it with the escarole and sausages.

Served topped with lots of Parmesan cheese.

Dessert was fresh cantaloupe.



No time to pack a pretty bento lunch this morning, I just grabbed something from the well stocked freezer.

Butternut Squash and Pear Soup. I rounded out the rest of my lunch with some cheese and crackers. Easy peasy. And very tasty!

This soup has a nice little zing to it from the curry powder and just a hint of sweetness from the pears. Just the thing for a gray day like today.



I received the 365 Ways to Cook Pasta cookbook as a Christmas present from my boyfriend’s sister when I was 18. I was just learning how to cook and this was a great start. The boyfriend is long gone, but the book has stuck with me.

Pasta itself is inexpensive and easy to prepare. We eat some sort of pasta dish in our house at least twice a week. Last night was no exception.

The recipe was Spaghetti with Butter Parmesan and Browned Bacon. It was found in the chapter titled “Emergency Dinners” which rely on ingredients from the refrigerator and pantry. Easy and fast meals.

I did cut back on the amount of butter, but the final dish is nicely creamy and flavorful. Dinner took about 15 minutes to make.

I served this with cheese rolls and fresh orange slices, but I was wishing for a fresh tomato salad. There is just something special about bacon and tomatoes together.

The Emergency Dinners chapter may be my favorite part of the book, but I like some of the other chapters as well; Savory Summer Salads, Spaghetti in the Pantry, Elbows on the Table, Tiny Pasta Shapes, No Cook Sauces, Quick Cook Sauces, Meat Sauces and Light and Easy.

I’ve made a LOT of recipes from this book and definitely plan to make more. There is something for every season and the recipes range from almost instant to more complex dishes.

These are just a few others that I’ve tried:

Confetti Orzo Salad
Shells with Tomatoes Arugula and Parmesan
Wagon Wheels with Chickpeas and Creamy Lemon Dill Dressing
Elbows with Cannellini Beans, Bacon and Red Onion
Elbows with Chickpeas and Escarole
Penne with Grilled Salmon, Asparagus and Lemon Butter
Linguine with Tuna, Lemon and Arugula
Spiral Pasta with Shrimp, Peas and Tomatoes



The Menu this Week. March 19-25 2011

It’s official! I am ¼ of the way through Project 365. I have made 92 recipes. Only 273 left to go! I am about 2 weeks ahead of schedule, but I’m anticipating a lot of days in April and later this summer when I will not be cooking at all.

Dinners this week are mostly from the pantry. Pretty much the only things I need from the store this week is a pound of hamburger and a large package of chicken.

As usual, these are most likely not in the order that I will make them. I’ve been trying to get the husband and kidling to eat more fruits and vegetables so I will also serve melon, grapes, pineapple and/or oranges with dinner. And bread. Always with the bread.

SatCanton Chicken and Rice  from 1001 Low Fat

Sun – Chicken Stew with Parsley Dumplings (my own stew from the freezer) from 1001 Low Fat

Mon – Pork Schnitzel from Rachael Ray’s 365 No Repeats and Rice Pilaf with Shallots and Parmesan from Cooking Light 2004

TuesPasta Shells with Tuscan Tuna from Cooking Light 2004

Wed – Beef and Been Burritos from 1001 Low Fat and Zucchini with Oregano and Sun dried tomatoes from Asparagus to Zucchini and Herbed Polenta from 1001 More Low Fat

Thurs – Knit night. Hubby and kidling to eat leftovers or order pizza.

Fri – Fettuccini with Chicken Piccata from 1001 More Low Fat

Breakfasts – Almond Pancakes from Beyond the Moon and Muffins (undecided. Strawberry?)

Lunches – (also doubles as side dishes) Potato Salad with Parsley and Chives from Cooking Light 2004, Macaroni Salad from 1001 More Low Fat, Armenian Bean Salad from Asparagus to Zucchini and Egg Salad with Sun Dried Tomatoes from Beyond the Moon.

Dessert – Double Crust Blueberry Pie from 1001 Low Fat (made with home-canned blueberries)



Lentils – Make ahead and freeze.

Lentils are cheap and easy. For a little more than a dollar, I can get a whole pound of dried brown lentils.

They are also good for you. They are low in fat and high in fiber, protein and folate. They are a good source of iron and potassium. One cup of cooked lentils has 230 calories, almost no fat, 7mg of iron and 16 grams of protein. Plus they are delicious!

I cook the entire bag of lentils, either in water or broth, then freeze the cooked lentils in 1-2 cup portions. A vacuum sealer works wonders for this. Try to freeze the packages as flat as possible so that you can stack them in your freezer like library books.  Don’t forget to label and date the bags. This same method also works for barley and rice. It is nice to be able to make soups, salads and pilafs almost instantly because you have done much of the work ahead of time.

When you are ready to make a lentil dish, just thaw and add the lentils.

Some lentil recipes I’ve tried recently: (recipe titles are links to the recipes)

Lentil Pear and Goat Cheese Salad – from Eat Well Stay Well

Lentil and Fennel Salad – from Cooking Light (holey smokes batman! This is fantastic!)

Lentil Salad with Spinach, Cheddar and Pecans  – from Food & Wine

Country Lentil Soup

– from 1001 Low Fat

 

 

And some old favorites:

Bacon and Lentil Soup

Lentil Soup with Cauliflower and Bacon – from Food & Wine (this freezes well)

Tomato Lentil Salad

Mushroom and Lentil Soup – from Super Foods (this soup also freezes well)

Green Lentil and Mixed Vegetable Pan Fry

– from What’s Cooking Vegetarian
 
 

 

Still need more ideas? These are on my to-be-tried list:

Lentil Soup with Chard – from Cooking Light

Bay Scented Lentil Salad with Pancetta – from Cooking Light

Barley-Lentil Salad – from Beyond the Moon

Lentil Vegetable Soup – from Horn of the Moon

Lentil and Pancetta Soup – from Cooking Light

Bulgur and Lentil Pilaf – from 1000 Great Recipes

Sweet and Sour Lentils – from Moosewood Low Fat Favorites



{December 16, 2009}   Dinner Leftovers Bento #56


Dinner Leftovers Bento #56

Originally uploaded by dicentragirl

This is a much nicer bento than yesterday, even if it is just dinner leftovers.

The box on the left is snacks/dessert. Veggies, herbed chevre and some chocolate truffles. Nom!

The box on the right contains rice with salmon furikake, sauteed mushrooms and sweet-and-sour pork broccoli stir fry. There’s a little fishy of soy sauce for the mushrooms (they were not seasoned when I cooked them.)

I tried to make a flower pattern on the rice with the furikake, and failed miserably, so I made a funky design instead.



Bento47

No chocolate?! Say it ain’t so… Not to worry. I have a secret stash hidden in my desk. 🙂

Today’s breakfast/lunch bento consists of lots of fruit and very little meat! We’ve been eating WAY too much meat for dinner lately (much to hubby’s pleasure). I went as vegetarian as possible for my lunch today.

The box on the left is “breakfast”. Fresh raspberries, grapes, boiled quails eggs, liches and Laughing Cow cheese wedges.  A couple of cherry tomatoes for filler. I’ll have the strawberry jello for dessert later.

The box on the right contains a hickory smoked tuna filled onigiri with vegetable furikake, cucumber, yellow bell pepper and teriyaki marinated, pan fried tofu. Green goddess dressing in the little container for dipping the veggies.



{June 19, 2009}   Bento-Italiano (sort of) #46

Dinner last night was sauteed mahi mahi in marinade from TJ’s. Since I don’t really like leftover fish (with the exception of tuna/salmon cakes) I needed to raid the fridge and freezer for today’s lunch.

I found the pesto turkey burgers I made last week and decided to go with a theme, more or less.  Under the turkey burgers there are some red/yellow roasted red peppers from a jar (also TJs). I have the turkey burgers in a divider cup so they won’t get soggy. They look a little strange because they were still frozen when I snapped the photo. I usually make my lunch the night before, so they will be thawed by lunchtime.

There was fresh basil and heirloom cherry/grape tomatoes in the fridge that need eating, so I grabbed on of the kidling’s string cheese sticks and made mini caprese skewers. The rest is just spinach salad with olives, yellow bell pepper and carrots. There are 3 radishes tucked in there too. I’m always surprised at how much food this small box can hold!

In front there is also a small container of Annie’s Green Goddess dressing, some TJ’s animal cookies for dessert (oh, how I want some nutella to dip these in!).

In the sidecar there is fruit (watermelon, cherries, grapes and blueberries) and a laughing cow cheese wedge for breakfast/snack/dessert.

Everything but the cookies fit in the box. 🙂



et cetera