When Hubby Cooks

Probably most of you are like me. . . we get into the same ruts of shopping, cooking, and meal planning. We know our family favorites so well that we rarely pull out a recipe. I enjoy cooking — I don’t enjoy having to cook. In other words, I’ve defaulted to the quick and easy (and cheap) dinners that I can cook without much thinking.

Hubby used to tell me he couldn’t cook anything beyond coffee and microwave pizza. Over the past couple of years he’s done a bit more cooking, and well, he’s discovered he can cook and actually enjoys it! Cooking has evolved into shopping and menu planning as well. Suffice to say, Hubby is a bit more adventurous than I am in the kitchen and so the recipes on the fridge for this week include:


Tempura

Osaka Okonomiyaki
Yakitori – Skewered grilled chicken
Wakame Seaweed and Okra Sunomono
Japanese Sweet Potato Casserole
Japanese Pounded Cucumber Salad – Shojin Ryori
See a Japanese theme this week?
Asian Green Beans
Moroccan Lentil Soup
Shredded Potato Salmon Cakes
A Jerky Chicken
Pork Tofu with Watercress and Bean Sprouts
Ethiopian Vegetable Bowl
Mabo Nasu (spicy fried eggplant)

Thankfully the kids are willing to try anything foodwise and the most unusual dishes don’t contain any weird meats, which would make me squeamish. I made the Mabo Nasu tonight, and think I’m going to enjoy Hubby’s meal planning and shopping. Hubby has a wok (a Father’s Day gift a few years ago) that is being put to good use, and found an import grocery store on his drive home where they offer great specialty items. The boys are already great at cleaning the kitchen, making pancakes and oatmeal — and I bet with Hubby cooking more, they’ll expand their repertoire along with him.

Practical Planning – Thanksgiving

This year my parents and sister will not be coming down for Thanksgiving, breaking with a not-quite-tradition which we hadn’t quite established. Last year we had a casual, immediate family only Thanksgiving dinner with the kids pitching in a lot. This year we’ll continue with the low stress theme, but probably have a few guests. To keep it low key, however, we do need to do a little bit of planning ahead. These are my notes, to access as we go along and to refer back to next year — not advice for anyone else’s Thanksgiving! Though, feel free to share your keeping it simple Thanksgiving ideas with me!

Tentative Thanksgiving Dinner Menu
Dad’s Roast Turkey and Stuffing (I’ll make, my Dad’s recipe)
Gravy
Green Bean Casserole (R9, make ahead)
Red Mashed Potatoes
Green Peas (C7)
Corn (C7)
Dinner Rolls (baked from frozen)
Cranberry Sauce (make ahead)
Hot Mulled Apple Cider (T10)
Pumpkin Pie
Ambrosia (J12, make ahead)
Bailey’s Irish Cream (continuing a Kyiv tradition)

Maybe. . .
Green salad? Pumpkin dip? Appetizer?

Other things to keep it simple. . .
Remember to check the oven is on “bake” not “broil”
Remember 10 am Thanksgiving service at church
Remember to thaw the turkey
A glass of wine while cooking
Do as much ahead of time
Kids participate
Peaceful music

Bayou’s Hearty Bacon Potato Soup

It’s overcast and rainy this evening. Perfect autumnish weather — or at least as autumnish as we get here in Florida. This is such a yummy recipe that a friend shared with me about a decade ago. It took awhile to hunt it down this afternoon, so now I’m posting it for easy reference.

Bayou’s Hearty Bacon Potato Soup

2 cups cubed potatoes
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup sour cream
1 1/4 cups milk
1 can cream of chicken soup
8 slices bacon, cut in 1-inch pieces
1 (8 oz.) can whole kernel corn, drained
1 1/4 tsp. pepper
1 1/4 tsp. thyme

In 3 quart pan, cook bacon for 5 minutes (longer for crisper bacon). DO NOT DRAIN. Add potatoes and onions and simmer 20 minutes (at this point you MIGHT want to drain a LITTLE of the grease– it was awfully RICH RICH RICH). Add remaining ingredients and cook 10-15 minutes. I sprinkle a little grated cheese over the top. Enjoy!!

Some notes: I’ve modified it a lot at times and it is always good. If I didn’t have cream of chicken soup or sour cream, so I just used milk or yogurt and added a little flour before adding to the potatoes so it was a little more saucy. I’ve added Lipton’s onion soup mix when I’ve had it on hand and I thought it might add a little more flavor. I’ve used fresh green beans instead of corn. And I’ve left out the thyme when I didn’t have any on hand.

Mrs. E’s Mac and Cheese

Mac & Cheese isn’t on our regular meal rotation. I’ve never been good at making it, but my family loves when Hubby’s mom makes it. A few weeks ago we had a delicious surprise, Mrs. E brought us dinner. The family raved and she kindly emailed me the recipe. Now I’m sharing the recipe with you (as well as keeping it easy to access for me.) Did I mention we’re making this for lunch today, too?

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MACARONI AND CHEESE CASSEROLE

Ingredients:
1 16 oz package elbow macaroni
1 lb cottage cheese
3/4 cup sour cream
1 egg – beat slightly with fork
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
2 teaspoons dried onion (or fresh) – optional
1 8 oz package cheddar cheese (grated or shredded)

Method:
Cook macaroni according to package directions; drain. Combine remaining ingredients; pour over noodles and mix well. Bake 45 minutes at 350 – uncovered – or until heated through. Use 9×13 pan. This can be made ahead of time, or frozen.

Notes from Mrs. E: I have made this casserole numerous times: for guests, church dinners, families needing a meal. It it always well-received; and, it’s so easy to make. . . when I made the dish for your family I used a mixture of shredded (mild? or medium?) cheddar, colby and jack cheeses (I think those were the ones.) I think L. says she sometimes adds a little ham.

Carin’s Almond Chicken

This recipe was probably the first one I put online in my Computer Cookbook archives. Thanks to Michelle, I’m reposting it and making it for my family today.

Carin’s Almond Chicken

½ C flour
1/3 C butter, melted
1 t celery salt
1 t paprika
½ t salt
½ t curry
½ t oregano
¼ t pepper
6 boneless chicken breasts
1 ½ C whipping cream
1/3 C dry bread crumbs
¾ C sliced, toasted almonds

Add spices to melted butter. Cover chicken with flour; dip into butter mixture. Place in dish (9×13). Pour cream around chicken. Bake, covered, at 350 for 45 minutes. Combine bread crumbs with remaining butter (or melt more). Remove chicken from oven, uncover, sprinkle with buttered crumbs and almonds. Bake uncovered for 5-8 minutes.
Serve with warm pasta.

Carin’s Notes: I never toast the almonds (and my slicing is dubious – in fact, once I left out the almonds all together!), I rarely measure the butter, and have used half cream half milk or other variations. The only spices included in the recipe that I do not buy here are celery salt and oregano.

My Notes: I serve this with rice, because whenever I make pasta for a crowd it’s too starchy and sticky. Instead of heavy cream (which is expensive here) I use 6% milk, and it turns out just fine. Though, I don’t remember if 6% milk is available in the States. I make mine without celery salt, because I don’t have any–it still tastes good, but Carin’s is better. This recipe doubles easily. I usually cut chicken breasts into thirds, so that I can serve less meat to the children. Tonight, 10 breasts served 12 adults and 4 children, with enough left over to send home with a friend for her husband and mother.

Monday’s Pot o’ Beans

On a completely different note, do you have recommendations on how to cook dried beans so that they taste good? :)
–Carole

Carole, who obviously knows her way around a kitchen already, asked about the wonderful, marvelous, nutrient-rich (and cheap! unless you live in Ukraine) legume.

It’s Monday, and we have a New Orleans carry-over tradition of Red Beans and Rice on Mondays. Only, now it’s morphed into any kind of bean on Mondays. (Once upon a time, I also did laundry on Mondays, as tradition dictates. . . now I’m just thankful whenever it gets done. . .)

Red Beans and Rice is still my favorite. It’s comfort food and totally divine when served with hot buttered French bread. Hubby prefers Cuban Black Bean soup with a dollop of sour cream.

While those are our most common bean-based meals, it’s good to have a range of recipes to try. Most of these recipes can be modified easily for the vegan and vegetarian amongst us. However, I’ve found that cooking beans with just a little bit of meat makes it yummier.

I usually make a full pot of beans or a double batch, and freeze the leftovers in smallish ziplock bags. Lots of recipes call for canned black beans–having your own in your freezer is quick and inexpensive, and doesn’t have the metallic taste some canned beans have. (I do the same with brown rice–DIY convenience foods.)

The Bean Report is a good resource for info on cooking beans and minimizing their oftimes unpleasant side effects. One other thing I find important is not to salt the beans until after they are cooked.

Sooooo. . .

What other bean recipes should Carole and I try?

Recipes to Try

Just a collection of recipes I want to keep handy so I can try them.

Sun Dried Tomato Hummus

Pierogi Casserole


Shiny, Happy Carrot Hummus

White Bean and Avocado Club

Crispy Falafel

Lemon Spinach Chickpeas

Garlicky Bean Spread

Hummus Hall of Fame

Potato Sourdough Starter and Herman

Herman Pancakes

Grilled Fish Tacos

Spatulatta’s Chocolate Almond Biscotti

Easy Granola Bars

Chickpea and Escarole Soup in a Breadbowl

Sweet Squash Flan

Winter Sage Pesto

Coconut Curry Rice

Indian Carrot Salad

Lavender Lemonade

Chicken Mole

Artichoke Soup

A Good French Bread Recipe

Black Bean Recipes

Black beans. . . Yummy and good for you. I make a big pot o’ beans and then freeze leftovers in baggies to use when I need convenience foods. (I really dislike the metallic taste of canned beans.)

But, it gets a little too routine to make Cuban Black Bean soup one day and have Bean Enchiladas the next, so I’ve gathered some recipes to expand my black bean repertoire.

Black Bean Chili

Black Bean Hummus

Moros y Cristianos

Spicy Black Bean Cakes

Fusion Black Bean Dip (Dare I?)

Kitchen-Sink Quesadillas

Black Bean and Tomato Quinoa

Veggie Enchiladas

Boys Will Eat Anything

I’ve got to say, I’m super thankful that my boys will eat just about anything. They are each allowed to choose one food that they don’t have to eat, but if it is in something I prepare, they are responsible for just eating around it. Right now, the “one things” include leeks, onions, carrots and lima beans. For a long time, monkey brains were R8′s “one thing” and then he realized I never serve those. . .

I’m thankful they are willing to try just about anything. One wasn’t thrilled with the millet I’ve made a few times. I tried to convince them it was yummy by saying it was like a cross between rice and couscous. I forgot that rice had been his “one thing” for quite a while.

We had a light lunch the other day of veggies dipped in hummus and toasted pita bread. Hubby bought the hummus at the grocery store, and it reminded me of how much we all like it. It’s pretty easy to make, too–and you can skip the tahini if you aren’t a hummus purist.

Tonight we had deeeelicious Cuban Black Bean soup. We try to have a legume-based dinner once a week, and Black Bean soup is a fave. I forgot just how good Cuban Black Bean soup is when you’re sure to season it with cumin and serve with fresh chopped onions and sour cream. Yummmm. We all had seconds.

Maybe it’s the cooler weather, but I’m more inspired to cook and create in the kitchen these days. R8 is asking to make apple butter with me–I’ve hardly done any canning since Ukraine.

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