This weekend in my kitchen…

It snowed and snowed. 20 car pile up on a highway near me. Hubby has the electric cord running to the shed to start the snow-blower. It is cold and wintry. The dog romps around the yard to do his business and romps right back up the steps to the back door to come back inside.

To start the weekend we over bought the groceries. This is so easy to do at the discount grocery store. And we waited 30 minutes in the check out line because everyone was stocking up for the impending storm. Do we all forget that we live in New England and in the winter it snows? Heavy at times? With blowing wind? My excuse is that is the day and time that we usually go to the grocer.

I’m trying to get us to eat more fruits and vegetables and Hubby loves his animal protein. And the chicken breasts were $.99 per pound! I’ll be making this blogger’s recipe this week: whatsfordinnermoms slow cooker taco pasta. Sounds yummy!

With the many groceries filling up my pantry and fridge and freezer, I find that I need to use the bag of potatoes that have been languishing in the bottom of the pantry. Shepherd’s Pie for dinner. Now one can make Shepherd’s Pie all kinds of ways. I have never used minced lamb although I understand that is traditional. I use ground turkey. See, I’m trying to be healthy! Never mind that Hubby has put cheese and sour cream in the mashed potatoes!

The mire poix for the Pie is celery, onion, and red peppers (from a jar). I am using a garlic infused beef broth so I do not add any other seasonings. Saute the mire poix and then brown the ground meat. My standard ingredients for cooking include bags of frozen mixed vegetables, frozen chopped spinach, and red pepper flakes. The latter were not added to this dish but could have been. The amount of ingredients is variable depending on the amount of Pie you wish to make. I used 1 pound of ground turkey, 2 cups of mixed vegetables, 1 cup frozen spinach, 1/4 cup red peppers, 2 stalks celery, and half an onion. I add 2 tablespoons cornstarch to 1/2 cup broth and mix that in with the ingredients in the skillet. Put all of this in your baking dish. Make your standard mashed potatoes and pile on top. I baked this in a 350 degree F oven for 45 minutes. This is a 13 inch oval baking dish. This could feed hefty portions to a family of four or decent portions for six. It will feed Hubby and me for two meals and possibly one leftover for lunch for one.

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The beauty of this mixture is its versatility. Bake with biscuits or cornbread batter on top and it becomes Hungry Boy Casserole. Use it to fill pie crusts and it becomes Pot Pie. Add beans and chili powder and tomatoes and it becomes chili. I am certain there are numerous other dishes it could become. I’m thinking one could cook this up in advance and bag it up in freezer bags for “emergency meals” or take camping!

The next project in my kitchen this weekend was not as successful. Somewhere on FB someone posted a gluten free pancake recipe using just bananas, eggs, and cinnamon. I’m thinking pumpkin would be the same as mashed bananas and waffles can be made from pancake batter. So I give it a go. I had to add milk to thin the batter. I oiled my waffle iron and heated it according to manufacturer’s directions. Well, it did not cook up well. I had to peel it off the grid. It did not stick, it was too soft and did not crisp up. So I add 2/3 up flour, a little more milk, a 1/2 teaspoon baking soda, and heat a pan to make pancakes. These were edible but mushy. I should have just made a normal waffle recipe and added the pumpkin. Live and learn.

I very much enjoy puttering around my kitchen on weekend mornings, and afternoons. I think about what ingredients I have on hand, what recipes I would like to try for both dinners and baking. I have made the seasoning mix for the slow cooker taco recipe that I will put in the crockpot Monday morning. I have several recipes I would like to try over the week and need to put those in order to enhance the possibility of follow through. I get all these great ideas but then when I come home from work during the week my motivation often lags.

What I hope to do: no bake energy bites from the King Arthur Flour website, practice making marshmallow roses to decorate a Christening cake, boil eggs to take for lunches along with salad, cut the cantaloupe so there is fruit to snack on instead of chips, and make something citrus-y out of the grapefruit, oranges, and lemons in my refrigerator.

Wish me luck and have a blessed week!

Quinoa 2

Continuing on my quest to use interesting ingredients and healthy ones I have made another quinoa dish. This one I found on food.com: http://www.food.com/recipe/southwestern-quinoa-vegetable-casserole-304705

This is an easy to prepare recipe as it is mostly assembly. I added ground beef and an onion so that had to be browned before putting it all in the dish to bake. I actually followed the directions exactly but for that. Sort of.

  • 1/2 pound ground beef, browned
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 14 ounce can diced tomatoes with green chilies (I used the store brand; the name brand is Rotel.)
  • 1 15 ounce can black beans, drained (I forgot to buy black beans most recently so I substituted a can of pinto beans, drained.)
  • 1/4 cup sliced jalapeno
  • 1/2 can vegetable broth (I used chicken broth because that is what I had on hand.)
  • 3/4 cup quinoa
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 cup cheddar cheese
  • sour cream for serving

I had only whole cumin seeds and whole coriander in my spice cabinet so I got to use the mortar and pestle that my son brought back from his international travels. I believe he brought this from Morocco. So these are “roughly ground”!

Preheat oven to 400 F. After browning the onion and beef, all the ingredients except the cheese and sour cream are mixed together in a 2 quart casserole.

quinoa 2 007Cover the dish with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove and stir. (I was not sure if this meant to remove the foil for the next cooking segment, so I covered the dish again. Bake for another 20 minutes until liquid is absorbed and quinoa is tender.

At the 30 minute mark the quinoa still looks quite small and raw. But the next 20 minutes finished cooking it perfectly.

After the 20 minutes remove the foil, cover with cheese and broil until cheese is melted about 1-2 minutes only. Serve with sour cream.

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I served this with tortilla chips to add some crunch. This makes four servings so I will have leftovers. I’ll serve the leftovers with a big salad and freshly baked cornbread or rolls.

Note: This dish has heat. It is very spicy. I might leave out the jalapeno next time or use a can of regular diced tomatoes without the chilies.