Monday, March 23, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

It's still Monday, even though it's 9:30 pm and one of this week's meals is already in the bag, so to speak. Weird week ahead--I've chosen a menu that will hopefully provide many leftovers so that after I have my knee surgery on Friday, we'll have some food left to sustain us until my mom arrives on Tuesday evening to feed us. So if it looks like I'm cooking for an army, that's why.

Monday (dinner elsewhere)
Broccoli Rice casserole
(And some very tasty pork steaks smothered in a rich rosemary and mushroom cream sauce. Thanks, Beth!)

Shepherd's Pie

BBQ Western Pork Ribs
Baked Mac n Cheese
Corn Dish

Chicken Tetrazzini

Taco Soup
(and fritos and cheese for garnish)



Monday, next
good question

hope Mom gets here soon

Come to think of it, there's nary a mess tent to be found here. Perhaps I need to cook a little bit more, just to have it on hand... Maybe I can toss a pot roast in there somewhere, with some roasted potatoes. Hmmmm.... or maybe some stew. Or a turkey.

Monday, March 16, 2009

The Best Pork Roast I've Ever Made

A while back, there was an amazing sale on center-cut pork loin (Beth C., if you're reading this, I apologize for the use of the words pork and loin), so I snapped up a big one and portioned it off, and froze the portions for future use. I had planned to use one piece of it this past Friday for pork chops, but we invited Abe's sister's family over for a dinner/tile laying party, so I wound up doing pork roast instead.

Before I continue, let me say that I'm hardly ever excited about eating pork roast. I didn't eat it growing up, and I usually like some sort of glaze that covers it all, as with pork chops, and pork roast doesn't really jive with those things. But after Friday's Pork Roasts, I'm rethinking pork. With this recipe, I think I'll love pork roast from now on.

I started with a recipe from, and modified, modified, modified, and this is what I came up with.

Glazed Herb Pork Roast

Roast and brine:
approx. 5 lb. pork loin
1/3 c. salt
1/2 c. brown sugar
4 c. hot water

1 tsp. sage
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 tsp. garlic powder

1/2 c. sugar
1 Tbsp. cornstarch
1/4 c. apple cider vinegar
1/4 c. water
1/4 c. soy sauce
1/4 c. apricot or peach jam

In a large bowl, dissolve the salt and sugar in the hot water to make the brine. Submerge pork loin, cover, and refrigerate for a few hours. While the roast brines, combine the sage, salt, pepper, and garlic powder for the rub.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Remove the pork from the brine, and discard brine. Pat pork dry with paper towels, and rub all over with garlic/sage mixture. Place roast fat side up on a wire rack above a cookie sheet lined with foil or a silicone mat (trust me on this one). I used a cooling rack sprayed with non-stick cooking spray, but you could also use a v-rack if you have one. Place pork in oven, and roast until the internal temperature reaches 160 degrees. (*NOTE: I used two smaller pieces of pork, and the total cooking time was around 1:15, but a whole 5-lb. roast will take longer.)

Meanwhile, whisk together glaze ingredients in a small sauce pan, then cook over medium heat until mixture bubbles and thickens slightly. Brush this glaze over the pork 3-4 times toward the end of the cooking time.

After removing pork from the oven, allow it to rest for ten minutes before carving. Pour any remining glaze over the sliced roast, or serve glaze alongside.

Serves 6-8.

Menu Plan Monday

April, I hope this helps. Thanks for the encouragement--until your comment, I hadn't even sat down to make a plan! Now I've got one, and I'm actually looking forward to dinner this week. Hope your plan works out!

Brats/Italian Sausage
Sauteed Onions
Bacon Ranch Pasta Salad

Grilled Steak
Fried Potatoes with Garlic and Dill
Corn Dish

Chicken Nuggets
Oven Fries
Green Beans Amandine

Focaccia Pizza

Chicken and Vegetable Three-Cheese Lasagna Rolls

Ham and Scalloped Potatoes (we didn't have this last week)
Steamed Peas


Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Menu Plan Monday,


Yesterday we had layered baked rotini and salad for dinner. Here's what's on deck for the rest of the week.

Beef BBQ Sandwiches
Corn Dish
Pasta Salad

Tomato Soup
Cheese Panini (because it sounds cooler than Grilled Cheese)

Yellow Rice

Pork Chops with Brown Butter Sauce
Twice Baked Potatoes
Steamed Broccoli


Baked Ham for Judah and Gideon's Birthday party
Scalloped Potatoes with Ham

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

White Rice

I love rice, and sometimes I can make it turn out fluffy and perfect.


For me, cooking consistently perfect rice has been the Holy Grail of cooking. Now, thanks to this method, I drink from the sacred challis of knowledge while feasting on separate, fluffy grains of rice. I learned this no-fail, pasta preparation-like technique from The America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook, and now it's my preferred method. (I've used a lot of cookbooks, and this is one of my all-time favorites! Check it out from your local library and see if you don't fall in love with it, too.)

White Rice

3-4 qts. water
1 Tbsp. salt
Uncooked rice

It really is like cooking pasta! The beauty of it is that with this large amount of water, you don't have to measure your rice exactly; just dump in a random amount (about 1 or 2 cups...ish), and it will turn out fine. But beware: it is all too easy to make way more rice than you need.

Bring water to a boil in a large pot. Add salt, then add rice. Wait for reboil, then cook 12-15 minutes, or until rice is as tender as you like, stirring occasionally. Drain in a wire mesh sieve.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

My mom was a Home Economics teacher for years. She will tell you that I didn't learn to cook by watching her, but I beg to differ. I learned a lot from the things she put on the table: casseroles are a great way to stretch a dollar (even if I wouldn't touch them when I was a kid), salad is a healthy accompaniment to almost every meal (even though I used to DRINK the extra Italian dressing from the bottom of my bowl), a plate should have a variety of colors (because you eat with your eyes first, and you get a variety of nutrients that way), and every meal should feature the (formerly known as) four food groups. I try to abide by all of these strictures, but I do get tripped up by my use of starches; that is, I include them, and I love them, but I have a hard time using a variety of them. I'd choose potatoes almost any day of the week.

When I make my menu plans, you can always assume there will be some sort of casserole, quite a few salads, a variety of colors and flavors, and it will be mostly balanced, but it is sometimes challenging for me to space out my potato usage ("...oh, man, we can't have potatoes three days in a row! But what the heck else can I fix?"). This week, however, I wrote out my menu plan as I felt led to do, and it all fell into line quite nicely. I am especially proud of my use of starches this week. I think my mom would give me a gold star.

Shepherd's Pie Skillet
Mashed Potatoes

Maple Roast Chicken
Salad with Grapes and Toasted Almonds
Authentic Garlic Bread

Chicken Stir Fry with Ginger, Broccoli, Carrots, Water Chestnuts, Red Peppers, and Mushrooms

Challah BLTs
Broccoli Slaw

Pancake Wraps with Sausage, Eggs, Cheese, Onions, and Green Peppers

Creamy Chicken and Wild Rice Soup
Hard Rolls