Monday, June 24, 2013

Menu Plan Monday!

It's Monday, and I'm joining in her Menu Plan Monday link-up. To start out, here's a link to my menu calendar. I don't post regularly on Menu Plan Monday, but you can always check my calendar.(Several recipes have links inside the description field to the original recipe).

Here are Pepper's beautiful Chicken Thighs, our Saturday dinner. They look fried but aren't and she has perfected this dish. We enjoyed them with spaetzle and green beans.

Her method is thus: Brown the thighs in a non-stick pan with a little olive oil and garlic until they are very brown. Then she covers a jelly roll pan with foil and tops it with a cooling rack.  Place the thighs, skin side up on the rack and pour about a cup of white wine over the thighs. Roast at 350 for 40-50 minutes until done, about 180 degrees. The wine helps steam the thighs and oh, my goodness, they are delicious.

Breakfast Tacos and Fruit
Leftovers for lunch
Taco Cupcakess with salad
Dr. Bircher's Museli
Egg salad on lettuce, crackers, refrigerator pickles (any kind)
Homemade Mac-n-Cheese, Zucchini and carrot "fries," some type of fruit

Scrambled egg, bacon, strawberries
Mini cabbage rolls, OJ carrots, white rice, greenery, grape tomatoes
Bacon Brown Sugar Chicken, Brown Rice, Broccoli

Boiled eggs, toast, milk
Meat cubes, cheese cubes, pasta with pesto, grape tomatoes, olives, grapes
Too Easy Fettuccine Alfredo, green salad, cookies

Cereal Day
California Roll in a Bowl
Three Cheese Potato Tacos using pre-made taco shells, Iceburg Salad, Fruit Salad

Yogurt and bananas
Crockpot roast beef, potatoes, green veg

Pancakes or Waffles
Eat out for lunch
Leftover night

What's for dinner at your house?

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Simply Gnocchi

Gnocchi is part pasta, part dumpling, patently potato -- in other words, it's the perfect food!  Gnocchi is pronounced "NO-key" but you have to say the "no" with your tongue far back on the roof of your mouth and us your nose to say it.  But who cares how it's pronounced; it's so delicious!

It's also a great family cooking project.  Don't do it when you're in a hurry (like me, tonight).  Do it ahead of time and freeze them for a day when comfort food is of the highest order.  Here is my favorite gnocchi recipe followed by 2 simple and perfect sauces:

3 russet potatoes, baked
1-3/4 cup flour
1 egg, beaten
Salt to taste, I probably add 1/2 a teaspoon

While the potatoes are hot, peel them then  rice them or mash them. (If you don't know what a ricer is, just mash them with a fork).  Then spread them out and let them cool off a bit.  It's best to wait until they are not steaming.

Add to the potatoes the flour and the egg; stir as lightly as possible so as not to make the potatoes too starchy.

Then working with a handful at a time on a lightly floured board, shape into a rope (remember play-dough?) about 3/4" thick and using a thin, sharp knife, cut into 3/4" lengths.

When all are cut, you are going to use a fork to give them the classic gnocchi shape. Flatten your hand, palm side up, and place a piece near your finger tips. Now hold a fork with the "rump" up and press the gnocchi off your palm with the tines of the fork, sort of rolling it.  Now you gnocchi should be long and ovalish with nice divots for collecting sauce.  Press pretty hard and let them fall back to to board.

At this point, you can freeze them by laying them out on a sheet pan (on waxed paper), cover and collect into a bag when frozen. Alternately, you can refrigerate them on the same sort of tray up to 48 hours.

Bring a wide pan of salted water to a boil; using a straining spoon, lower the gnocchi into the water, cooking a half-batch at a time.  When done, they will float to the top (about 2 minutes).  If frozen, this will take up to 3 minutes. Using the strainer, remove them when done and add them to your prepared sauce.

Our favorite sauce is a Sage and Butter sauce we originally got from Cook's Illustrated Italian Classics.
It couldn't be simpler:
Melt 8 Tablespoons butter in the microwave or a saucepan
Finely chop 10 sage leaves; add to the hot butter
Finely grate 2/3 cup parmesan (plus more for passsing)

Sauce the gnocchi as it is removed from the water, add the cheese when all the gnocchi is in the bowl.

Second favorite:  Gnocchi allAmatriciana. I found this recipe in Family Circle.  I've linked it here for you.  Our main change was that we subbed in basil for the thyme. My people are not thyme people.  Do not substitute the pancetta or you will lose some of the authentic Italian flavor.  This is sauced then baked 20 minutes which gives you plenty of time to make a quick salad or  have a glass of wine. We had this one for dinner tonight. It was lovely.

I know -- by now you are thinking, that sounds like a lot of trouble. Make the gnocchi ahead and it will be a breeze and I promise, it is completely worth it. It is like eating potato clouds. Can't wait to hear what you think!

Sunday, June 9, 2013


Because life has been so full, full, full lately, I have been thinking a lot about blogging but not doing a lot of blogging. So I am "putting a toe in" and for your reading pleasure, I present a short list of things I adore:

I love the rain.  Love it.  I  LOVE IT!  We got "sheet rain" today in Seguin.  I let the Littles splash in -- then sit in -- then roll in the puddles.  They had a ball.

I love how little kids laugh.  It is truly the sweetest thing.

I love the crack of the bat and the sound of the crowd. I love the smell of the dirt and the heat and the sound of the ball hitting the mitt.  I even love it when someone bobbles the ball and all the parents say, "Ohhhhhh" in the saddest way.  I love keeping score and I love analyzing the stats even more.

I love our new kitten and our old dog and that they both love me. Pets are so awesome. I love the way Bubby "sings" when we do and is so jealous and how kitty purrs so loud when I first see her in the morning.

I love watching Pepper drive and I love riding with her and I love it that she takes me to work instead of the other way round.

I love my nieces and nephews on both sides though I don't see much of any of them.  I love FACEBOOK because it is the tie that binds.

I love Dr. Sanchez. He's my Puerto Rican superhero.  And he's super sweet. And he probably is helping me save my own life.  Here's his picture but he's cuter in his glasses. (Don't worry, Dear Hubby loves him too.  He's humble and loveable.)

I love watching Tinker's face light up when she rhymes something or sounds out a word. She'll be reading wonderfully by August -- her revelations light up the room. Oh my gosh it is the greatest.  

I love hearing the boys play an elaborate game that spans the whole day and involves hats, plastic airplanes, towels and a lot of giggling.  I love that they love each other. I was so worried three years ago that Tinker and the Captain were too close for The Blitz to get a foothold but there is enough love for all.  Yay.

I love clean laundry and I do not love wrinkles.  I miss having long mornings in the laundry room.

I love hearing Sunshine sing and she is singing a lot for me lately.

I love that both Bigs are growing up.  I love that they will leave us one day and I do not love thinking overmuch about that.

I love my job and my customers. I love it.  I think it is good for all of us, though I miss my kids all day.

I love my friends.  I have the most amazing friends. I do not spend much time with them now but I love them all the same. Cocktails tomorrow night, ladies!

I love blogging and glad I remember that now.  I have been so distracted lately with all this love.

I love the idea that you now may tell me what you love.  Please do.