Monday, December 7, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

Monday - Spaghetti with meat balls and garlic bread (not sure what sauce I'll use yet)
Tuesday - 50's Style Meatloaf with mashed potatoes and corns
Wednesday - Chicken wings with white rice and green peas
Thursday - Salmon cakes with baked fries and tartar sauce (old recipe from Parent Magazine)
Friday - Pizza Friday (as usual)
Saturday - Burritos (as usual)
Sunday - Honey Soy Porkchops, Chinese Ramen Noodles and Broccoli
Notes: We have a potluck at the karate dojo on Saturday. I'll be making black bean and couscous salad that everyone loves - I always get a recipe request. I think I'll also make popcorn balls for the kids. I add a box of cherry jello for colour and flavouring. I find it tastes just like the expensive flavoured popcorn you buy at Kernels.
Recap of Last Week's Menu: I made the baked chicken with acorn squash for the potluck at my church. There was lots of main dishes there and I was pretty much the only one who brought home a single piece of chicken (and that was it!!!). I made a huge batch and it went right away. Everyone loved the squash - it was a big hit!! I also bought some President's Choice Kobe Beef Frozen meatballs not expecting too much but the girls loved them. I have some leftovers that we'll eat this week.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

Monday - Burritos (too busy on Saturday to make them)
Tuesday - Oven baked chicken with white rice and brussel sprouts
Wednesday - Baked ham, mashed potatoes and baked beans
Thursday - Meatballs, white rice and corn
Friday - Pizza Fridays
Saturday - Potluck at the church (I think I'll make baked chicken with acorn squash), a vegetable and some brownies for dessert
Sunday - Burritos (the girls love having this weekly and we'll miss it on Saturday because of the potluck
I have to say that we've had some favourites this past month. Most noteworthy were the baked chicken and acorn squash (I'd say it was the best tasting squash I'd ever made). The girls really loved the honey-soy porkchops done on the BBQ.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Making Strawberry Jam

I thought I'd document the process so I can follow it the next time I make jam.

  1. Put on a large pot of water to boil.
  2. Place a clean tea towel on the counter
  3. Wash jars/lids in hot soapy water
  4. Keep a sink of hot soapy water ready to add pots/bowls, utensils for easier washing later
  5. Place jars in pot of boiling water to sterilize for 10 minutes - also add ladle and tongs
  6. Wash and cut strawberries - place in large pyrex glass bowl for measuring
  7. Use wand mixer to blend strawberries. Keep adding berries until it measures 4 cups of pureed berries.
  8. Transfer berries to pot on med-high heat.
  9. Add 1/4 cup of lemon juice
  10. Add 2 cups of sugar
  11. Stir in sugar until dissolved then add liquid pectin
  12. Boil on med-high heat for 8-10 minutes until it turns darker (maroon) in colour. Keep stirring to avoid the jam burning. Liquid pectin reduces cooking time!! Stir and watch the pot constantly as the jam can burn in an instant.
  13. When done, take off the heat and let sit for 5 minutes - skim off foam from top
  14. Take hot jars out of the water at the last minute (they must be hot for the lids to set) and set on tea towel
  15. Pour jam into jars and screw on lids.
  16. Don't screw lids too tight or air can't escape
  17. Jars should seal as the jars cool.

Makes 9 - small jars of jam. The whole process from start to finish takes about 45 minutes.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

Here's a quick post this week:
Monday - Oven baked chicken with rice and vegetables
Tuesday - Honey-Soy Porkchops with chinese noodles and green beans
Wednesday - BBQ chicken wings with classic macaroni salad and carrots
Thursday - Ham with mashed potatoes and baked beans
Friday - Pizza Fridays
Saturday - Dinner at a Friend's House
Sunday - Not sure (it's up to hubby)
Quick note: our girls are known to be picky but they both love the chicken! The classic macaroni salad lives up to its name and reminds me of the salad the ladies bring to our church potlucks. Good old-fashioned salad - true to its name.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Dominican Rice and Beans

This was my mom's specialty dish. Although she made many kinds of "rice and peas" dishes. The one with kidney beans was my favourite. I also loved her rice with "black eyed peas" as well. I make this on special occasions such as Thanksgiving and Christmas. It also makes a good Sunday dinner accompaniment. It's great with roast beef, roast pork or roast chicken. My daughters love it with roast gravy on top. Here's the recipe:

Dominican Rice and (Kidney) Beans
(makes about 6 cups of rice)
Printable recipe

1 - 19oz can kidney beans (I prefer Unico brand)
2 cups white long grain parboiled rice (choice of rice is critical - it isn't the same unless it's parboiled rice)
Reserved liquid from kidney beans + water to make 4 cups
1 small can of tomato paste (freeze what you don't use for another time)
1 tsp salt (there's salt in the boullion cube)
1 tsp vegetable oil - helps to keep the rice from sticking
1 chicken boullion cube

1. In a medium sized pot, add the liquid, salt, boullion cube and oil and bring to a boil.
2. Meanwhile, rinse the rice in cold water until the water runs clear. Don't rinse too much. My mom used to say that if you rinse too much, you'll take the "strength" out of the rice. Never knew what that meant but I always heeded her warning.
3. Add the rice to the pot and stir. Add 1 - 2 tbsp of tomato paste (for colour)
4. Turn down the heat to low, cover the pot and let the rice simmer for about 45 minutes.
5. Check the rice and when the water has been absorbed, remove from heat. Stir.
6. Keep rice covered and let it sit for about 10 minutes off the heat. This step is important as it gives the rice just the right consistency (hard to describe). Taste the rice and add more salt if needed before serving.

When done, the rice should not be soggy or soppy. Tastes great reheated.

Chicken Soup (A Canadian version of my mom's recipe)

My mom is from "The Islands", namely the Dominican Republic. She came to Canada in the 1950s and has been here ever since. When I was a little girl, she used to make this soup and everyone loved it. We lived in an inner city neighbourhood and my mom was the best cook around. The neighbours would come over for a bowl and she'd make some for the few Dominican ex-pats that there were in Canada in the 1970s. My mom's in a long term care facility now and no longer cooks. I make this soup from memory and always bring her some when I can. I'm documenting it so my daughters' will have this recipe and to share this soup with others. It's great comfort food and helps me when I'm on chemo.

Keep in mind this is not an exact science. My mom was always short on money and this was a great way to feed lots of people with whatever you had on hand.

My mom always put in Yucca/Cassava and green banana. Mine is the Canadian version and will leave it out.

Chicken Soup with Dumplings
(makes a big pot)
Printable Recipe

Chicken pieces (4-8 pieces will do)
3-4 large carrots, thickly sliced
5-6 medium sized potatoes (yellow or russet is fine) cut in chunks
1 large onion (whatever you have on hand - I used a yellow onion) cut into chunks
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
2-3 stalks of celery, sliced.
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 to 1 tsp poultry seasoning (to taste)
2 tbsp powdered chicken broth (use cubes or liquid broth - the idea is to enhance the chicken flavour)
1/2 green pepper, diced (seems odd but I love the subtle taste it adds to the soup once it's cooked)

Optional vegetables:
Green banana
Butternut squash
Green peas

1. Fill a large pot with cold water (I add about 8 cups of water) and bring to a boil
2. Meanwhile, remove skin from chicken pieces (in true West Indian style, my mom would leave the skin on)
3. Wash and season the chicken with salt and pepper. You could do this first and leave the chicken in the fridge until it's time for the pot.
4. Prepare the celery, green pepper, garlic and onion.
5. Once the water comes to a boil, drop in the first piece of chicken. Wait until the water comes back to a boil before adding the next piece of chicken, etc. I find this keeps the water clear and you don't need to skim anything off the top.
6. Add the celery, green pepper, garlic and onion to the boiling water.
7. Add the chicken broth, poultry seasoning
8. Bring the heat to low and cover the pot. Let the chicken simmer for about 45 minutes to an hour. It's done when the chicken meat falls off the bone.
9. At this point I strain the soup and remove the bones and leave just the chicken meat (Canadian version) in the pot. My mom wouldn't have bothered with this. I guess part of the enjoyment of the meal is to pick the chicken off the bones when you're eating the soup.
10. Before you continue, taste the soup and adjust the amount of salt, pepper, garlic, etc. until it tastes "seasoned enough".
11. Add the carrots and the potatoes. At this point you can add optional vegetables. My mom often added green peas (for colour and to use up what was in the fridge), cassava and green banana.
12. Cover the soup and cook until the vegetables are done.
13. Taste the soup again before serving. You may need to add more salt, poultry seasoning or chicken powder.
14. About 20 minutes before eating the soup, prepare and add the dumplings. Use your favourite recipe if you wish. I just love the way the dumplings thicken the soup.
15. Pour into a large bowl and enjoy!

I've added the recipe for dumplings that I use. This isn't my mom's recipe but it comes pretty close.

1 cup All purpose flour
2 tsp Baking powder
1 tsp Sugar
1/2 tsp Salt
1 tbsp Butter or margerine
1/2 cup Milk

Stir flour, baking powder, sugar and salt together in medium sized bowl. cut in butter until crumbly. Stir in milk to make soft dough. Drop by spoonfuls into boiling soup. Cover and simmer 15 minutes without lifting lid. Serve. Makes about 6 dumplings.

Menu Plan Monday

Okay, here it is. My stomach's kinda picky this week from the chemo so there's more chicken (i.e. comfort food) on the menu than usual. I've added some "quickie" foods as the comfort foods I like aren't often loved by my kids. I've been dropping weight like crazy from the chemo so I'm trying to "fatten myself up". Ordinarily this would be a happy dilemma but being on chemotherapy is a terrible way to lose weight.

Monday - Chicken soup with dumplings (KD for one of my girls who doesn't like this West Indian version of the "old favourite".

Tuesday - Oven Baked whole chicken with mashed potatoes and vegetables

Wednesday - 50's style meatloaf (thanks, Tiffany) with white rice and corn (I'm making double to give a "loaf" to a friend). Normally we'd have mashed potatoes but I think rice is easier to transport.

Thursday - Hamburger Helper with green salad - man, my kids love this. Perhaps if I add it to the menu every week, they'll grow tired of it and I'll no longer need to make it! I have to confess that it is EASY and is a blessing to make when you're dragging yourself around most of the time.

Friday - Homemade cheese pizza (dough from bread machine) - Cheese was on sale this week so I bought lots

Saturday - Spaghetti dinner fundraiser at the church (no cooking tonight!!). Everyone's panicked at the church about H1N1 so I wonder if this will be cancelled??

Sunday - BBQ burgers/fries OR breaded sole/fries and a vegetable - TBD (cooking out of the freezer tonight)

I'm feeling pretty optimistic with my menu but I hope I have the energy to make it. This chemo sucks but it keeps me alive.