Cooking Notes – October 2010

Continuing on from September’s cooking list, here’s October’s, to be updated throughout the month as usual. You can see all the cooking notes to date by clicking on the “Cooking Notes” link in the tag field on the right side of the screen.

Baking/Desserts

  • Chocolate-Chip Banana Bread – For easy breakfasts while camping in the mountains. Joy of Cooking recipe, with 2/3 cup of chocolate chips thrown in. I toss bananas that are starting to go bad in the freezer and pull them out for baking days.
  • Hungarian Criss-Cross Tart – From Heirloom Baking with the Brass Sisters. My third repeat with this one – so far we’ve had one strawberry tart, one apricot tart, and one raspberry tart.
  • Biscuits – Basic Joy of Cooking version.
  • Pumpkin Muffins – A very good recipe from Martha Stewart. I tossed in about a cup and a quarter of chocolate chips after reading peoples’ comments on the recipe – they were very tasty. I didn’t end up frosting them with cream cheese frosting as suggested, but probably would if I hadn’t added the chips. Great recipe that goes on the “make again” list.
  • Oatmeal Raisin Cookies – The classic Quaker Oats recipe except with generic brand oats from Aldi because I’m cheap like that.

Main Dishes

  • Tortillas – How many ways can you have ground beef after you find a “buy one pound, get one pound free” sale, with no limit on the number of pounds? Lots. This is the most recent itteration: tortillas with ground beef, taco seasoning, refried beens, tomatoes, and shredded cheese. If San Antonio taught me anything, it’s that you can’t go wrong with a tortilla.
  • Poached eggs on toast – Fast dinner after an afternoon driving home from the mountains. Served with tomatoes.
  • We took a five day camping trip to the mountains. Camping food needs to be fast, protein rich/filling, and use minimal dishes – camp stoves cook quickly and efficiently, but you don’t have room for many ingredients or utensils, and washing dishes while camping is extra work. While I like to cook with fresh ingredients at home, I have no problem cheating with the occasional canned good while camping, especially for later days in a trip when perishables in a cooler may start to go. For breakfasts we had french toast, chorizo and egg tortillas, and chocolate chip banana bread (baked in advance) with coffee, cocoa, or tea (you want that hot drink on cold mornings!). We were out hiking most days so lunches were cold cuts, cheese, rolls, dried apricots, apples, and shortbread cookies. Dinners were steak with mushrooms served with tomatoes on the side, bratwurst with baked beans (canned) and tomatoes, cheddar bacon potato soup (canned) with bread, and lentil soup (canned) with bread. Frequent extra servings of fruit, s’mores, and cocoa as needed. All these dishes can be made in a single frying pan, and most require only one or no utensil. We bring utensils and tin camping mugs, but use disposable plates, bowls, and cups.
  • Carne Guisada – Recipe from a friend – chunks of beef simmered in a tomato/hot pepper/onion/seasonings puree.
  • Hot Pesto Sandwiches – A favorite around here – pesto mixed with mayonnaise, spread between good bread and topped with tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, and prosciutto or capicola ham, then wrapped in foil and baked until melty. Pesto was homemade, since the basil plants were begging to be picked clean.
  • Steak Tips au Poivre – Steak tips in a red wine-butter-shallot sauce, served with mashed potatoes and a salad.
  • Bacon-Wrapped Maple Pork Loin – Pork loin was on sale two for the price of one last month so I stocked up. This recipe is from Epicurious.com and is a keeper for sure. I changed the recipe a bit to suit my needs and what I had on hand. I only marinated the meat for about four hours, used about a third less bacon (which was plenty to cover the roast), skipped the vinegar, and used dried sage instead of fresh. The sauce is mouth-watering – a perfect autumn meal served with some vegetables on the side.
  • Chorizo and Egg tacos – These are really breakfast food, but who cares. They’re good.
  • Enchiladas Verdes – Not quite as good as the ones at Martha’s in San Antonio, but close. The second night, i put them in the oven under the broiler for just a couple minutes after cooking/prepping the enchiladas to make sure the cheese on top melted. Recipe from The Art of Mexican Cooking by Diana Kennedy (borrowed from the library).
  • Potstickers – This and ravioli are the only frozen pre-made foods I buy. We both love pan-fried pot stickers, and at about $1.00 for each of us, buying them frozen is far cheaper than a restaurant or buying all the ingredients and making them at home. I buy a bag now and then for a treat.
  • Steak with seasoned tomatoes – It’s going to become painfully obvious that this was a “fly by the seat of my pants” sort of month for food – my workload jumped dramatically, and Carl is on the ICU-rotation-that-never-ends.
  • Seasoned Hamburger patties served up with leftover pesto pasta. Also made by my wonderful husband when I had an unexpected 12 hour work day.
  • Pesto Pasta – Served with a side of sliced tomatoes. This is the kind of meal we have when Carl gets home from the hospital at 9:00 at night (he did) and I spend the evening vacuuming and dusting rather than cooking (I did). Homemade pesto with fresh basil is the best, but we keep a packet or two of pesto mix in the cupboard for busy-day backup meals.
  • Omelette – The Man volunteered for dinner-duty since I had a migraine.  It’s a little unsettling watching him pull canisters out of the spice cupboard and sprinkle their contents across the eggs while muttering “I have no idea what I’m putting in here…” but it tasted delicious. Not only is he a great husband, he’s a great husband with a talent for omelettes.
  • Sausage and Sauerkraut – Maybe my taste buds are dying off, because sauerkraut is one of those things I couldn’t bear as a kid, but don’t mind occasionally now. Take a 1 Lb roll of sausage (not links or bratwurst), slice it into patties, fry them, split each patty in half, drain off most of the fat, rinse about 14 oz. of sauerkraut in a colander (rinsing sauerkraut removes a lot of the sour brine), and toss it in with the sausage until warm. Serves 2 – 3.
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