Friday, January 29, 2010

Winter Cooking

Winter always seems so cold and dreary to me - so to keep things entertaining around here - I like to try out least one new recipe, or ingredients or a method of cooking a week.   I always tell my son - cooking is not hard.  You just need to plan ahead.  Some meals take longer than others to cook so you need to know your times before you even start.  He likes to look at the sales flyers with me, helps with the menu planning and the grocery shopping list.  It is just a process that's all.  Look at this rolled beef.  Looks hard, right?  Nope - it was easy - just had to POUND that beef very flat (that means you can use a fairly cheap cut of beef!).  Stuff it with feta, spices, peppers, onions.  Roll it up, brown it, and put it in the oven on low for what seems like an extra long  time.  Next time around I will try a higher temp and shorter cooking time.  The sauce is a red wine/tomatoe sauce with sauteed onions.  The left-over tomato juice went right into the weekly soup pot!  I knew ahead of time that the dish needed those green beans for a splash of color!  I have several cutting boards - they all fit in the dishwasher and make clean-up a snap!  Anyway - DH and I both loved this meal and will be serving it next time we have company because so much of it can be done ahead of time.

Not that we eat "fancy" every day!  These sausages filled with cheese, flavored rice, carrots and a salad is a quick and easy meal to put together.  This is one of my sons favorite meals.  Everything is done by the time the rice is cooked!  Actually, just about every meal I make - I put on either rice, noodles or potatoe, and by the time that is done - the rest of the meal is also done.  I think my rice pan is pretty so use it as the serving dish.  I love that little blue pan.

This dish is mini flavored hamburgers over fresh veggies with a creme freche sauce (it is in the bottom of the pan so you can't see it - but it sure tasted good!).  I brown the burgers first and then bake everything together.  I used a new seasoning mix for the burgers - I thought it was a bit salty, but might be worth trying again with less mix.  Served with rice.  In anycase - trying new things gives us variety!

I love fresh veggies!  Since we are a small family and you can't really buy - say - just 1/2 a package of mushrooms - I tend to put fresh veggies in just about everything I make.  Got to use it up before it goes bad!  Amazing how many of my meals start out with a veggie platter that looks like the one above.  I arrange them on the platter as I cut them because they have different cooking times.  I sautee the onions first and then when they are glassy - I start adding other veggies finishing with the mushrooms.  These veggies are pretty easy to get in the winter, but the zuchinni was a find!  We also eat alot of carrots and brussel sprouts.  I make a big soup 2 + times a week and whatever needs to be used - goes into the pot!  We almost always put ziti in our soup so when I make it as a side dish - I make extra to put in the fridge for soup.
This interesting vegetable caught my attention at the store - I had never seen it before, but the store always has them and people buy them, so they must be edible, right?  I asked my husband.  It is a Kohlrabi - like a turnip.  OK, let's try it.  You chop off the leaves, peel it and chop it up.  I put it in with my potatoes and carrots with honey roasted chicken.  Next time I will chop it so it looks different than the potato chunks because I never knew what I was eating until it hit my tastebuds!  Kohlrabi and potato look the same, LOL.  Interestingly enough - this one Kohlrabi cost 78 Euro cents and I can buy an entire bag of potatoes on sale for 80 Euro cents.  I am not sure why they are so expensive?  They are a cold weather hardy plant that are easy to grow, so I bought some seeds to bring back to Canada with me.  Move over potatoe farmers, here I come with my Kohlrabi seeds!  Here is a photo of the chicken right after it was sliced open.  Yum.  If you rub the skin with paprika it will get a nice color when it roasts.

I was going to try Judy's chicken-paprikash as my new recipe this week, but I am sick.  I went to the DR yesterday and only had 50% lung capacity.  I am afraid that I have been ordered to take meds and rest.  Yesterday and today DH walked our son to/from school - so that saves me 80 minutes of walking each day - that counts as resting, right?  Yesterday I made a big lentil soup with ziti that should last another 2 days.  Today I am just going to make honey roasted chicken with garlic under the skin.  DH will peel the potatoes and carrots and it all can just go into the oven.  Easy.  Tomorrow is sausages.  And Sunday will be pasta with left-over chicken on the side.  Hopefully by Monday I will be feeling better - but in the mean time I re-arranged the menu for very easy things to make.  All the other meat dishes I was going to make - I would have to stand up too much, so I put all that into the freezer for now because it just isn't going to happen in the next few days.
Go ahead and try 1 new recipe this week!  You just might find a new family favorite.  Can't cook?  Neither could I when I first started out - I have some funny kitchen stories.  But, I can read - so I figured it out.  Except hard boiled eggs.  How come cookbooks never tell you how to hard boil an egg?  I had to call my Nana long-distance to learn how to do that when I first was learning to cook!  Boy did she think that was funny - she was a retired chicken farmer and here she had a grand-daughter that didn't even know how to hardboil and egg!  But I learned!  Have a small family?  So do I.  I often cut the recipes in 1/2 and go from there.  If it is something that will freeze well - then I freeze some portions.  And all those fresh veggies that you have to buy for a recipe that are left over?  It all makes a great soup.  Sometimes I will cream all the leftovers (cook them first)  together with my stick blender, add milk, add some bouillon if it needs more flavor, add flour if it needs thickening and potato chunks and it is like a creamy potato soup.  You would be surprised how many veggies I can "hide" from my son doing this, although he does like many, many vegetables so I am lucky in that department.  He does not like rice in his soup so pureeing it is one way that I use the left-overs secretly!  DH is always amazed at how I use up left-overs - you just have to be creative.  If you do cook something new this week, I would love to hear what it was and how you liked it!


Not Lucy said...

We always grew kohlrabi when I was a kid and I still plant it when I manage to get a garden going! We never cooked it though. As kids we ate it fresh out of the garden like an apple (after removing the root and leaves and skin). Great on a plate of veggies with dip!

Brenda said...

Just like Not Lucy said, I have never eaten a cooked kohlrabi!! Fresh out of the garden and yummy!!!! I love them, I am glad you hgave them a try. Now, I am going to have to try them cooked!!
And I love to try new recipes - moving from the city to a small town, I had to cook new things because there was no variety to try living here...... So, I made my own!!

And making what I nicknamed 'Garbage Soup' - for fun is the best for using up your leftovers!!!! And sometimes you wish you could make it again, it ends up being sooooo gooood!!!!
Have a great weekend, and rest!!! Get yourself better. I am sorry you are not feeing well, and I am glad you have a great hubby to help you!

Lori said...

Hope you are feeling better soon. I like to read your cooking "experiences"! All little boys (and girls) should learn that food just doesn't appear on the table. I tried with my DD, but for some reason she was always either working or studying--so now I get phone calls on "how do you....!" And sewing--is it because we are ready for spring? I bought a couple of patterns and some extra cheap fabric to experiment with--if the pattern works--fine, I can always remake it in more expensive fabric. If not--I haven't wasted much!

Shirley said...

Oh so sick. Hope your better by now.
Kohlrabi is so easy to grow. Here in Oklahoma you have to plant it super early as it likes cooler temps. Its also good raw.

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Mama Koch said...

I'm like the others--we always eat it raw. They are very easy to grow too.