Touch of Nectar











I had leftover pork tenderloin. And leftover rice.  And there is always a variety of veggies in the fridge and freezer.  Not liking to have the same meal twice in one week, I tend to get creative…

Bring on the fried rice!  Easy.

Here’s what I did.

I sauteed 1/2 an onion and 2 carrots in some vegetable oil until tender. Then I added the rice. Make sure your (nonstick!) skillet is nice and hot.  When the rice started to brown, I adde the leftover pork tenderloin (diced) and some peas from the freezer.

When the whole thing was heated through, I added soy sauce.  Meanwhile, while everything was cooking, I beat 2 eggs with a little bit of water. I stirred this in, trying to get chunks of scrambled egg throughout the rice.

I served this with some steamed broccoli. Delicious! And easy.



{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.



{January 9, 2012}   New Fridge! New Menu

If you follow the blog on Face Book, you’ll know that our fridge went out last week.  After multiple calls to the landlord (oops! Their out of town?! Arg!) and hubby going to buy a fridge himself, we have the new one coming today.  I’ll have to rush home and get all the freezer stuff loaded into coolers, but I’m happy to have a new fridge.

Thankfully the freezer didn’t go out too, but it sickens me to have to throw out as much food as I did.  As a result, last week’s menu got more or less thrown out the window and I was working with what we had.  Add another $26 to the budget last week for dinners.

This week’s menu isn’t 100% complete, but it’s getting there. I want to see what’s on sale at the market this week.  Unlike 2011’s challenge, this year’s lets me have a lot of wiggle room.

So here’s this week’s menu. I haven’t done the grocery shopping yet, so I don’t have the price breakdown. It will be a little higher this week since I have to replace a lot of basics like milk, eggs and mayo.  

As usual, in no particular order…

Mon 9: winging it. Whatever I can find in the freezer/pantry

Tue 10: Cheeseburger Casserole (from 101 ways to use pancake mix), Salad

Wed 11: CORN/Leftovers

Thur 12: Sundried Tomato, Sausage and Fontina Pizza, salad, orange slices

Fri 13: Beef Burgundy or Beef Stew (in the crock pot), salad and noodles

Sat 14: Feta and Sundried Tomato Ravioli (from 1001 Vegetarian) with a prosciutto and browned butter sauce

Sun 15: No plan yet.

Lunches: Barley Lentil Salad (from Beyond the Moon)

Other: Chocolate Stripe Cake (Hershey’s)



{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
Leftovers

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 16, 2011}   Project 365 Update!!

I’ve been working like mad to get caught up with my numbers for project 365.

As of this morning my count sits at 304/365 with plans for two (easy!!) recipes tonight.  I put a Navy Bean Soup with Ham in the crock pot this morning (recipe from 1001 Slow Cooker). 

Thanksgiving is coming, and while I’ll be doing all of the ordinary things, I have a few great looking recipes to try out too.

Here’s a few of the latest creations…

Chuckwagon Beef and Beans from 365 One Dish (the biscuits are cooked in the liquid) Brilliant!

Ravioli with Sage Butter Sauce from Asparagus to Zucchini. Wicked easy.

Oven Crisp Chicken from 365 Ways to Cook Chicken – the coating is made with stuffing mix. Soooo good. This will be going on the regular rotation!



{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.



Okay… nobody panic… As of today I have 79 recipes to go to complet project 365. Yeah. And there are less than 60 days left. AND I’ll be going to Mexico for a week in December. YIKES!!

I will get this done. I’m determined.  I’ll just have to do more baking on the weekends (hubby will hate that, I’m sure!) and more salads and stuff and dinnertime… Not going to panic. Really! Afterall Thanksgiving is coming and giftmas baking must be done, right? RIGHT??

This is another pretty low budget week. I do need a bottle of olive oil. And satsumas are on sale at QFC for $4 for a 5 pound box. Those will be my biggest expenses this week.  Hubby also requested cereal and Top Foods has some he likes for $2 a box (if you buy 4) this week. Canned tuna is on sale there too.  It may sound like I’m running all over the place, but between work and home, I’m really not going out of my way to stop at different stores.

Here is this week’s plan. Again, I may not make what is on the menu on the night it is listed.

I need one more dinner. Burgers of some sort?  Beef stew in the crock pot?  I could use a few more ideas for lunches too. I’ll take a look at the bento cookbooks tonight and update. I did roast some delicata squash last night.  Hubby will be gone on Sunday, so I might use that day to stock the freezer with soups and such.

btw, CORN stands for “Clean Out Refrigerator Night”

Sat 5: Linguini with Salmon and Lemon – 365 Pasta

Sun 6: Chicken and Black Bean Enchilladas – 365 One Dish

Mon 7: CORN – Leftovers night

Tue 8: Spaghetti with Prosciutto and Peas – 365 Pasta  and Creamy Pesto Bread – 365 BBQ

Wed 9: Oven Crisp Chicken – 365 Chicken (this one uses stuffing mix for the breading!) and Rice Acapulco – 1001 Low Fat

Thur 10: Tuna and Corn Fish Cakes – 1000 Great Recipes

Fri 11: Undetermined

Lunches: Curry Cream Stuffed Prunes – Eat Well Stay Well

Other: Pineapple Muffins – Horn of the Moon and Potato Leek Bread – The Breadmachine Cookbook



{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.



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.



et cetera