This was a good quick meal for Halloween night. It utilized a lot of ingredients that I just had sitting around, and it was very filling. As I indicated on my weekly menu, on Sunday night we had Chicken Parmesan. I reserved a few of the breaded cutlets that night, and tonight I sliced one of them very thinly. I also sliced up a bunch of mozzarella. I then grabbed a bag of Trader Joe's pizza dough and rolled it out. I filled it with sauce (leftover from Sunday), the sliced chicken, the mozzarella and a bunch of ricotta. I folded it over, sprayed with extra virgin olive oil and sprinkled it with sesame seeds. Cheap, tasty, and I have a ton of it leftover in my fridge.
This is going to be a week of old favorites. We are having some major issues here (will write more tonight, likely), and I know in advance that I will have little to no time to prepare any dinners. So, we are turning to the easy favorites, and using leftovers judiciously.
Sunday: Last night I made Chicken Parmesan. I made a couple of extra breaded cutlets, and though we only used about a third of it (if that), I prepared an entire pound of spaghetti. I also made extra sauce.
Monday: Chili. I am going to make a huge vat of chili. This will take little prep time. Leftovers will be frozen for future use.
Tuesday: Halloween craziness, and the first of three nights in a row that Michael is out of town. Pizza made with dough from Trader Joe's.
Wednesday: Spaghetti and Meatballs
Thursday: Squash soup in the crockpot - I have a recipe for an Asian-flavored variety, but I think that sticking with my old standard recipe might be the best bet this week. No matter, there will be plenty of squash at the market for a while yet.
Friday/Saturday: Take out or eat out (we might be traveling)
I haven't purchased any of our Halloween candy yet. Michael is going to be out of town, so I don't even know if I will be handing anything out. I'm sure I'll be traipsing around the neighborhood with the kids, and then I'll probably just call it a night.
BUT, if I were buying candy, I would certainly only be buying candy that I like. Namely, 3 Musketeers and Kit Kats. Those are my favorites. Never mind that it's not for me (though I do eat a damn lot of it). Do you guys only buy what you like? And, do you buy the mini sizes? Michael's Aunt hands out full size candy bars. I've always thought that was awesome. Crazy, but awesome. If I were a kid, I would have multiple costumes available and go to her door over and over. She must be the most popular house in her neighborhood.
Our weekend is chock full of Halloween activities. I don't know if it's a Chicago thing or just the fact that Halloween has become a much bigger deal, but there are events and parties everywhere, starting this afternoon and extending through Halloween proper. How are you all celebrating?
The other day, I had Dylan's Parent/Teacher conference. We were talking about Dylan's unque attributes; her leadership, her sensitivity, her need to be busy at all times...
I asked her teacher if she had noticed some strange stories coming from Dylan. She hadn't, and was a bit confused by my question. I had to give some background. Michael and his dad have a thing for teasing people. Specifically, they make up crazy stories in an effort to trick others into believing them. I think the best one his dad ever got me on was a couple of months ago. He is slightly narcoleptic, so the story was believable. He told me that while watching Max, he fell asleep. The next thing he knew, Max had crawled all the way upstairs. I believed him, and I was appalled. I vowed never to let him watch the kids on his own ever again. He was teasing, of course. Max DID climb up those stairs, but his Poppy was behind him every step of the way.
Dylan has inherited this love of teasing, but because she is still so young, she hasn't quite caught on to the difference between teasing and lying. She also has yet to realize that with the tease, you eventually let the teasee in on the joke.
The other day, she came home from school beaming. She said, "Mom, I did the BEST tease at school today." "Oh yeah? What was it?" "I told all my friends that when I'm in a time out, I get ice cream."
She started chuckling.
"You DID?? Did you tell them you were just teasing?" "No! They all believed me too!!"
Like father, like son. Like father, like daughter. And so it moves on through the generations. Gotta love it.
I've been getting a lot of Dear Foodmomiac questions lately about fall produce. Mir emailed me last week asking for gluten-free spaghetti squash recipes that don't suck. And Lauren has emailed me for butternut squash recipes and just this morning for some leek ideas.
I have a few ideas for these ladies, but I'd love all of you readers to chime in as well. What do you do with your fall produce?
For the leeks, I'm tempted to have Lauren try something out of the ordinary. The usual suspect would be Potato Leek Soup, but with a glut of leeks in the fridge (Lauren belongs to a C.S.A.), why not go for something even LEEKIER. I've been thinking about this all day, and the best idea I have is to try a Braised Leek recipe. This idea came to me after browsing through Molly Steven's All About Braising book (one of my favorite cookbooks). She has a recipe for Braised Scallions. I googled Braised Leeks, and came across a bunch of recipes. Some included cream, some included bacon fat. This one sounds the best to me, mostly because of its simplicity. I also will point you to the phenomenal Mariquita Farm website. Their leek page is brilliant.
And now to address Mir's question. Spaghetti squash is tough, because I don't think it has the depth of flavor that other squash have. It's not as sweet, it's not as rich. Sure, it does that funky spaghetti thing, but that's not enough to make this vegetable sing. As Mir suspected, one of the best ways to make spaghetti squash taste good is to load it up with butter and cheese. But, there have to be some more interesting ideas out there, no? Indeed there are. This one sounds pretty interesting, though making it gluten-free will require a touch of finagling, as it calls for both flour and bread crumbs. However, I'm sure there are some good substitutes out there. Can any gluten-free experts chime in? Finally, not to be repetitive, but I also love the ideas on Mariquita Farm's website. Check out this Spaghetti Squash page. The first recipe is definitely intriguing, but I especially love the idea of making the squash into a pancake (you'll need to scroll down a bit). Again, to modify this for gluten-free, you'll need a flour substitute, but the amount of flour here is relatively small, so I think it will do well.
I'm going to handle the rest of the winter squash in another post. In the meantime, please let me know if there are other fall veggies and fruits that you are trying to use in interesting ways. I'm always happy to help!
(P.S. I have received all of your crockpot inquiries, and I'm working on an answer. The crockpot and I have a love/hate relationship, so it's taking me some time to create a response that is actually helpful. Stay tuned!
I couldn't resist posting this. My babysitter just emailed me this photo, along with this one from her cellphone. First of all, he is just so stinkin' cute. Second of all, how funny is this pumpkin patch? It's in a parking lot. So city. At least they didn't steal anything. ;-)
This was supposed to be our only night this week eating dinner together as a family, so I decided to make the Finnish Meatball recipe (registration required) from last week's New York Times. Unfortunately, Michael didn't get home till after the kids and I had already eaten, but it was still a nice meal.
The article that accompanies the recipe explains that this is a dish that takes a long time to prepare. Knowing this in advance was helpful, and I made some adjustments to fit my schedule. I made the meat mixture before I picked up Dylan from school. After we got home, she helped me shape them, and then I quickly fried them up (a very messy ordeal). The recipe says that the meatballs should then be transferred to a Dutch Oven with a bit of warm broth. I still had two hours till dinner, so I put the broth in my big crockpot, and kept hte meatballs there. These were great, though mine were very ugly and misshapen. Max ate a ton, I had two servings, and Michael declared them "awesome." Dylan thought they were just a little OK, but since she's in the minority, we'll ignore that. ;-)
- Dealing with telephone customer service. We finally got Comcast to work after six weeks (though, our DVR apparently has some weird glitch. If you turn it off, when you turn it back on, the screen is black and there is no sound. To fix this, you need to go to a recorded program, play it for two seconds, and then hit exit twice. But, I'm not supposed to worry. Motorola knows ALL about this problem. They are working to fix it AS WE SPEAK.). So, where was I? Oh yes, Comcast is working-ish. And, I thought this would be the end to my endless phone calls with customer service. Ha. This morning, I tried to sign on to my Yahoo! email. It's been suspended. The story is totally boring, but I spent an hour on the phone with customer service this morning, and I still can't get in to my email. I can access my foodmomiac email on the server, but I can't access any of my folders. So, all of the Dear Foodmomiac questions I have in the queue? Can't get. All of my saved information on upcoming travels? Can't get. Saved emails with various account information? Inaccessible. ARGH!! (I still plan to do a Dear Foodmomiac this week. I remember a bunch of the questions, but I don't remember the senders of all of them, which kind of stinks. So, if you have a question, now would be a great time to send it. I will hopefully have access to the old questions by the end of the week.)
- Dealing with my Toledo house. We FINALLY accepted an offer. We were supposed to close last Friday. Apparently, though, the "buyer" is a freak. He doesn't understand any of the papers he signed. He thinks everyone is out to get him. He is no longer happy with the offer. He is no longer returning phone calls from our realtor. How does this happen?? We have a contract! I'm just totally baffled here. I can't say much more because I'm literally speechless.
And for some balance, two things that are great:
- Friday is doing pretty well. Her tests last week came back with great results, and the bump on her head that I thought was a tumor was just a pimple (I know - I need to stop jumping to horrendous conclusions). Our biggest issue right now is her anxiety. We are trying to handle that with some alternative treatments that our vet recommended. One is Bach's Rescue Remedy. The other is a D.A.P. collar. The collar hasn't arrived yet, but it sounds so cool! It has the scent of a mommy dog's pheromones on it, and that scent has a calming effect on anxious dogs. Can't wait to try it out. I'm so relieved that Friday is OK.
- I joined our local Y.M.C.A. today, and we know have access to a bunch of great classes. I signed Maxy up for Musical Munchkins, and Dylie starts Floor Hockey next week. Floor Hockey! I'm so excited. This will be her first team sport experience.
The eGullet week was fun, but boy am I glad to be back to normal life!!
Let's try to get back to the normal routine, shall we? I will post my weekly menu today, and will get back to Dear Foodmomiac on Wednesday. (And please feel free to send questions - I'd love to keep the hopper full.)
As I mentioned previously, feel free to post a link to your weekly menu in the comments section (or leave a trackback if you know how).
Foodmomiac Weekly Menu, October 23
Monday: Chicken and Noodles (made with leftover rotisserie chicken) Tuesday: Finnish Meatballs with Noodles (I'll make extra noodles on Monday) Wednesday: Caribbean Black Beans with Rice Thursday: Spaghetti and Meat Sauce (made with leftover pot roast from tonight's dinner) Friday: Pizza Saturday: My birthday! Out to dinner with Michael