Food + Wine

Home Sweet Home (Mealplan)

I’m sitting in my new living room looking out my new windows into my new yard filled with my trees. My little family now has a home that we can call our own. What a delightful feeling this is, we’re incredibly excited to be here. And we have wonderful friends and family who devoted their time to helping us get here. (You all know who you are and I thank you, thank you, thank you!)
We’re still not completely finished, but most of the important things are in their places. I have a bigger pantry, bigger refrigerator and bigger freezer…and all three of them are filled to the brim!! So far this week we’ve had Grilled Steaks and Veggies (on our new grill:) and Pork Bolognese with Whole Wheat Rigatoni and Homemade Italian Bread (the pork was shredded from leftover pork butt). As expected, my game is a bit off so I’ve anticipated being extra frazzled in the next couple of weeks. That is why I’ve come up with a meal plan that should get us through a week or so…
*Chicken, Grapefruit and Fennel Salad
I have a few pieces of fried chicken leftover from the bucket (courtesy of my folks on moving night), a head of romaine lettuce in the fridge and a sad little grapefruit that needs some attention in a bowl on my kitchen table. And G and I desperately need something fresh and green (we’re feeling a bit run down lately…). I’ll segment the grapefruit to use in the salad and use the leftover flesh to juice into the dressing. I’ll thinly shave the fennel and lettuce, then toss it with the grapefruit segments and shredded chicken. The dressing will simply be grapefruit juice, olive oil, salt and pepper. (If your family digs olives, black olives go so well with grapefruit and fennel…but G hates them. And Napa cabbage is lovely in place of the romaine.)
*Barbecue Chicken Legs and Cheesy Potato Salad Balls
I have a tremendous amount of potato salad leftover from moving day (I totally miscalculated the number of people I was going to feed!) and I hate having the same leftovers more than twice. So… I think I will mold some into large balls, stuff them with a little extra sharp cheddar, roll them in bread crumbs, then bake until golden brown. (If you make your potato salad filled with lots of pickles and olives, etc. I wouldn’t recommend this method.) They had organic chicken leg quarters on sale this past week so we’ll just grill them and toss them in some leftover barbecue sauce from last week.
*Shrimp and Corny Grits
The shrimp is from my freezer, and grits (like every good southern girl) is from my pantry. I make a ton of different versions of shrimp and grits – some with sausage and cream, some with okra and tomatoes, but this week I’ll let G decide what he’d like his shrimp and grits to taste like. I have corn on the cob in the fridge from last week that I’ll kernel up for some added crunch in the grits. (*Tip – don’t just toss the cobs, use them to steep in cream or water to add extra flavor and sweetness to your grit-cooking-liquid.)
*Succotash Omelet Paninis
A great alternative to the plain-jane egg sandwich: Make an omelet, (any kind you’d like), sandwich it between 2 slices of bread and grill. I have some hamburger buns leftover from moving day and I always keep lima beans and corn in the freezer, so I think I’ll use them, along with some onions and bacon to turn succotash into an omelet. I’ll put some Swiss cheese under each slice of bread to keep the sandwich together and it will be a delicious, well-balanced meal.
*Taco Salads
These were such a big hit the last time I did them, I think its time to have them again! I make the taco shells by baking the extra large tortillas, molded over oven-proof bowls. Then fill them with the usual taco-fair. (I have all of these ingredients on hand usually). They’re awesome and so much healthier than the fried version you find at restaurants.
*Chicken Caraway Havarti Calzones with Roasted Grapes
I am not a lover of rye or pumpernickel bread, I’ve just never been a fan of caraway seeds. But I am a lover of food and trying new things so I’ve decided to create a recipe that will change my mind. I love Havarti cheese, it is probably my favorite semi-soft cheese and I have some in my fridge that I need to use up. There has also been a jar of caraway seeds in my cupboard for longer than I’d like to admit (courtesy of G for who knows why…it’s still got the plastic wrapping on it!). So…I’m going to turn them into calzones with some shredded chicken and roasted red grapes. If you’ve never had grapes this way, you should definitely give them a try. You can leave them on the vines for a pretty presentation on the plate or take them off like I will for this meal. You put them on a cookie sheet, coat them in olive oil and season with s&p. Roast them until they start to burst a little (just as if you were roasting grape tomatoes) and they come out extra sweet, but also a bit savory due to the seasonings. And I think they will be a wonderful accompaniment with these calzones because Havarti cheese, like anything rich and creamy, craves sweets.
*Green Quinoa with Goat Cheese
During the move I discovered a box of quinoa I didn’t know I had so I thought I’d give it a little love this week. Quinoa is a protein-rich, grain-like seed that has a lovely, nutty flavor that I happen to love but you can most certainly use brown rice, couscous, or barley. I’ll cook it up in a little stock, toss it with some basil pesto, roasted broccoli florets, avocado slices, and green onions, then top it with some tangy goat cheese crumbles.
*Sweet Potato Carrot Bisque and Cheddar Chutney Sandwiches
A wonderful, sweet and creamy soup that is a cinch to make: Sweat your veggies with a bit of onions, apples, a cinnamon stick and a bay leaf until fork tender, put everything but the sticks and leaves in a blender (or use an immersion blender) with a little stock or broth until you reach a nice puree, then put back in the pot. Add a little cream or milk, maybe some more stock until the desired consistency is reached and season to taste. (I like mine more sweet than savory so I might add a little sugar or honey with the s&p). I’ll serve it this week with a simple sandwich (using the leftover hamburger buns again) of extra sharp cheddar cheese and peach chutney (mango works fine too..)
*Eggs in Potatoes with Brown Sugar Bacon
Brunch for Dinner! I have some more of those pre-shredded potatoes that I need to use up so I’ll use them to make a crust in little baking crocks with some butter and s&p. (Just press it into the sides of the dish or jumbo muffin tin and bake until golden brown.) Then I’ll crack an egg or two (depending on the size of your dishes) into each crust and sprinkle in some cheese and bake until the whites are set, but yolks are still runny. They’re adorable and very yummy. I’ll serve them with some thick slices of bacon that I’ll brush with a mixture of Dijon mustard, brown sugar and maple syrup and bake in a slotted pan til crispy . It’s like bacon candy. Yum.
*Crockpot Pineapple Pork
Now that I have more cupboard space in my new kitchen I can see all my gadgets and gizmos that used to be hidden. My crockpot is one of those things that I use a few times a year but I’m always glad when I do. It’s not a very chefy thing to do but man, is it easy. It’s great to do on days that you’ll be gone a lot because you can come home to dinner already done! I’ll trim up a pork tenderloin that I just got on sale, season with s&p and place it in the crockpot. Then I’ll just dump a bunch of stuff on top – a small can of crushed pineapple, onions, soy sauce, brown sugar, ginger and garlic, then cook on low for 6 hrs. (Bell peppers are great in here too, but I didn’t get any this week. If you add some, add it when you have about 2 hours left or else they’ll get mushy. When it’s done, I’ll thicken the whole thing with a little cornstarch by way of slurry and serve it over brown rice.
*Grilled Flat Irons with Rosemary White Beans and Greens
I always make sure to have at least one flat iron steak in my freezer at all times. It is, after all our favorite. So whenever they go on sale, I buy a couple. G will grill them to perfection while I roast a head of garlic and make the beans and greens. My mom taught me this dish – it’s super easy and I think I’ve made it even easier over the years. I open a can of ‘Great Northern Beans’, empty it in a small saucepan with a couple of cloves of minced garlic, a small stem of fresh rosemary, and s&p and then just let all the flavors simmer and mingle until the steaks are done. For this particular meal I’ll also add some frozen, chopped spinach to the beans to bulk up the vitamins.
*Linguini with White Clam Sauce
This is a meal I can make completely out of things in my pantry. Of course you could go buy fresh clams and it would be great but when you can’t, this is all you need: Pasta, jarred clams and juice, garlic, white wine, lemon and fresh herbs. It’s delicious and you’d never know it all came from a can because the lemon and white wine really brighten it up. (I’ve even made it without the lemon and herbs and it was still good.) I have more Italian bread in my freezer from the batch I made last night and I think it needs to be pulled out for this occasion, (you gotta have something to sop up all those yummy clam juices at the bottom your bowl!)
Happy Eating Everyone!

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  • Reply Anonymous September 17, 2009 at 11:35 am

    Your new pantry and refrigerator have definitely been inspirations! What a bounty of suggestions are here…I love the idea for using frozen hashbrowns for potato cups for baked eggs and cheese (I like to beat the eggwhites with the cheese and seasonings into a souffle-like mixture and then make an indentation in the center for the yolk; bake until just set and the yolk will still break like a sauce. With potato cupping the eggwhite cup this will be even more terrific!). I'm definitely going to try your maple syrup method for making roasted sweet and spicy bacon (I usually use a mixture of sprinkled brown sugar, cumin, and black pepper). And I suggest those savory cooked grapes as an accompaniment to good sausages (like chicken and apple sausage) for a quick, inexpensive fall supper. Yum. Your whole post makes me hungry!

  • Reply Everyday Champagne September 17, 2009 at 12:17 pm

    Ahh yes…the Roasted Grapes and Sausage meal! LOVE IT! I'm so happy to hear someone has had them this way! I've also served them with a brined porterhouse pork chop stuffed with prosciutto and fontina. And your egg white cups and sweet cumin bacon sound delicious! Thanks again for your ideas!

  • Reply Anonymous September 18, 2009 at 2:06 pm

    The roasted sausage and grapes meal we both must know via Molly Wizenberg's Orangette blog. 🙂 I'm in withdrawal now that Molly's so utterly preoccupied with Delancey. (But have you tried the thick-sliced tomato, shallot vinaigrette, raw corn kernals, and basil chiffonade salad she makes there? Delicious. The taste of summer.)

  • Reply Everyday Champagne September 18, 2009 at 3:11 pm

    No I have not tried that salad but it sounds delicious. I adore Molly and everything she does! Have you read her book, "A Homemade Life"? It's my favorite. I cried when I finished it.

  • Reply Anonymous September 18, 2009 at 4:19 pm

    Yes, I love that book too (though I wished for the beautiful blog photographs to go with it). I made myself read it as slowly as possible because I didn't want it to end. You should definitely try Molly's sliced tomato-raw corn kernel salad before the end of tomato season! It's become my favorite summer salad.( I like it best on undressed arugula leaves–to just sop up the shallot vinaigrette and tomato juices.)

  • Reply cary Wade September 29, 2009 at 12:44 pm

    roasted grapes? oh coo!
    and adding the spinach to the white beans so i can have another side? oh, oh coo!

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