Sunday, February 22, 2009

Week of February 22, 2009

Last week's Penne with Ricotta and Pine Nuts was simple and more delicious than we expected. A good way to get some extra spinach in as well.

Here is this week's menu:

Sunday: Dinner at MILs
Monday: Mommy's choice (it's only my birthday once a year!)
Tuesday: Pasta with Shrimp and Broccoli
Wednesday: Crock Pot Chili
Thursday: Cayenne-rubbed Chicken with Avocado Salsa
Friday: Smoky Beef Tacos (recipe to be posted in March)
Saturday: Out at party

The Smoky Beef Tacos recipe comes from Martha Stewart's Everyday Food Magazine, and they don't post any of their recipes online until the first of the month (so the March magazine recipes don't go live until March 1st). I will add the link at that time, b/c they look *really* delicious.

Crock Pot CHILI
I got this recipe from my friend Tammi and I thought I'd try it out since I haven't made chili in ages and I couldn't find the recipe I use anywhere. This version seems simple enough that my kids should eat it.

2 cans of kidney beans
1 large onion (chopped)
1 green pepper (chopped)
2 stalks of celery (chopped)
1 lb of ground beef
1 can of sliced mushrooms
1 can of diced tomatoes
1 can of tomato paste
1 1/2 tsp chili powder (or more to taste)
1 1/2 tsp of salt
Pepper and other seasonings to taste

Brown onion, pepper, celery and meat until meat is cooked and veggies are translucent.
Place in crock pot.

Add beans, mushrooms, tomatoes, tomato paste and seasonings.

Cover and simmer 1 1/2 hours. (I will probably put it on low and leave it for most of the day.)

Monday, February 16, 2009

Week of February 15, 2009

This week's menu is not all that exacting because I am going to be using up a lot of things from the freezer as well as making a couple meals from past weeks that I *still* haven't managed to get to.

My husband made a delicious Hungarian goulash for Valentine's Day dinner. He "winged it" it a bit so I will get the recipe and post it when I get a chance. It was delicious and the leftovers were even better.

Sunday: Leftover goulash
Monday: Penne with Ricotta and Pine Nuts
Tuesday: Speedy Lentil and Bean Casserole
Wednesday: Pasta with Sausage and Mushroom Sauce
Thursday: Freezer Meal
Friday: Slow Cooker Chili (will post recipe)
Saturday: Roast Chicken and Roasted Potatoes

Last week's broccoli soup was fantastic. We got a cauliflower in our basket this week, so I may use the same recipe to make cauliflower soup - we are not big cauliflower fans and it seems like a good way to get some lunches for the week.

I also made the Kitchen Sink cookies and they - in all seriousness - are the best cookies I have ever eaten.

I didn't end up making the brownies for Valentine's Day, I made a batch of cupcakes for us to have at home, with leftover icing I had from my preschool cupcakes.

So far saving money is going well. We are using a lot of what we have and looking to our very full freezer for meats and other meals. I am trying to buy things on sale and have cut out foods and drinks that are not necessity. We are not drinking Perrier or Club Soda (favourites of ours), and actually we are mostly just drinking water. I am making cookies and things for the kids, so we are not buying very much of anything that is prepackaged. And, the kicker of course is that we are not buying wine. It just seems like a luxury for a family with no income, so we will save our wine-with-dinner days for the future.

(Yes, we had a bottle for Valentine's day, courtesy of my mother-in-law!)

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Egg and Dairy-free Cupcakes

Due to some allergies at Thing 2's preschool, I was required to make an egg and dairy-free recipe for a Valentine's party. I found this and it turned out surprisingly well!!

Simple Chocolate Cake (egg and dairy-free)

1 1/2 cups flour
3 T cocoa
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup white sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup cold water
5 T oil
1 T vinegar
1 tsp vanilla extract

Mix the dry ingredients and the wet ingredients separately. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and add the wet ingredients. Beat until smooth.

Bake at 350 degrees:
15-18 minutes for cupcakes
22-25 minutes for cake

I just used a plain buttercream recipe for the icing, and added a little red food colouring to make it pink. I can't find the recipe anywhere, although I got it in a Martha Stewart magazine and it is basically unsalted butter and icing sugar and vanilla extract - mixed for a good long time.


Monday, February 9, 2009

Week of February 8, 2009

It's looking like A Crafty Mom's recipes will be taking a new direction over the coming weeks. Gone are the days of trying new things, entertaining for guests, buying top quality and organic grocery items - from now on I will make do with what I have in my kitchen or buy whatever I can on sale or at discounted rates. Yes, the downturning economy has reared its ugly head at our house and my husband was very unexpectedly laid off from his job in software engineering at a small high tech company.

Thus, saving money is the name of the game now and I'm going to do my best to feed us for less.

Monday: Pasta with grape tomatoes and feta
Tuesday: Fajitas
Wednesday: Speedy Lentil and Bean Casserole
Thursday: Leftovers or Freezer Meal
Friday: Penne with Ricotta and Pine Nuts
Saturday: Hungarian Goulash (husband is making this one for Valentine's Day - no recipe yet)

I adapted a recipe I found in my Martha Stewart Everyday Food magazine, and made a big batch of pureed vegetable soup. We'll eat this for lunches this week, and I hope to get a chance to make some fresh bread in our breadmaker.

Pureed Broccoli Soup

2 pounds broccoli
1 large baking potato
2 T olive oil
1 onion, coarsely chopped
salt and pepper
chicken broth (14 oz)
1 to 3 t fresh lemon juice

Cut broccoli into florets, and peel and cut stalks into 1/2 inch chunks. Peel and cut potato into 1 in chunks.

In a large dutch oven or pot, heat oil over medium. Add onion. Season with salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 5-7 minutes.

Add broccoli, broth and enough water (4-5 cups) to cover. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to medium and simmer until vegetable is tender, about 20 minutes.

Working in batches, puree broth and veggies in a blender until smooth, transferring to a clean pot as you work. Adjust soup's consistency with a little water if necessary. Season with salt, pepper and lemon juice to taste.

After enduring a couple of weeks that tested my ability to remain sane to a degree I had not dealt with before, I am diving into some comfort-food baking to help heal the heart . . . and the tummy.

These look fantastic for a cold winter afternoon with a cup of tea:
Jumbo Coffee-Cake Muffins

I'm going to throw these together on Saturday for our at-home Valentine's Day dinner - I am not always a fan of "light" desserts so we'll see if this passes the Crafty Mom sweet tooth test.
Light Chocolate-Chunk Brownies

On my quest to save money we will be making anything we can at home - cookies included. I'm hoping the kids and husband gobble these chalk full of goodness cookies:
John's Kitchen Sink Cookies

Monday, February 2, 2009

Week of February 1, 2009

: Cheddar-Topped Shepherd's Pie
Monday: Leftovers
Tuesday: Artichoke Chicken
Wednesday: Easy Pasta with Vegetables
Thursday: Speedy Lentil & Bean Casserole
Friday: Pasta with Pesto
Saturday: Home-made pizza

I'm not even sure where this recipe comes from . . . but I know I got it from my mother.

Artichoke Chicken

1 can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
3/4 cup mayonnaise (I used a bit less and it seemed to work)
1 clove garlic minced
ground pepper
4 boneless chicken breasts

Preheat your oven to 375. In a medium bowl, mix artichoke, cheese, mayonnaise, garlic and pepper. Place your chicken breasts in a greased baking dish. Cover evenly with the artichoke mixture. Bake, uncovered, for about 30 minutes or until golden brown.

I was going through an old recipe book over the weekend, and I found this recipe that was my friend Kristen's when we were in university together. She was my only friend who could "cook"!

Speedy Lentil & Bean Casserole

1 T olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 (19 oz) can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 (19 oz) can lentils, drained and rinsed
1 (19 oz) can tomatoes, drained
1/2 t rosemary
1/2 t thyme
ground pepper
1 1/2 cups cheddar or mozzarella cheese, shredded

Heat oil over medium heat. Cook onion and celery until onion is softened. Add beans, lentils, tomatoes, rosemary and pepper to taste. Stir and break up tomatoes with back of spoon. Bring to simmer. Transfer to a baking dish, sprinkle with shredded cheese. Broil until cheese is melted.