Monday, February 18, 2019

Meal Plan Monday #11 Dad’s Favorites

As you read this, I am preparing to bury my beloved Dad. You all have read a lot about him on the blog, and I can tell you that he was really a special man. Sadly, last week, on the sixth anniversary of my mother’s passing, dad took a tumble down the stairs, fractured his skull, and sustained a traumatic brain injury from which he did not recover. He passed away with me by his side the following afternoon. I cannot tell you how devastating this has been for me, but I’m sure you all know the pain.

So this week, for Meal Plan Monday, I am going to do favorite dishes of my dad. He was always one to lavish a compliment when it came to a good meal, or rich dessert.

These are the things that he enjoyed the most.

Saturday –
Oven Chicken Kiev, Wild Rice, Smothered Green Beans, Pie

I will not be doing a tablescape for this week, but will have a centerpiece paying homage to dad that I will share later.

Tell that special someone that you love them today.

Friday, February 15, 2019

Spicy Sesame Noodles with Peanuts

I thought I would round out the two-week celebration of Chinese New Year with this tasty noodle dish. After all, who doesn’t like noodles? It’s Asian pasta! This recipe looks more difficult than it actually is. I absolutely love it, and I kick up the heat on mine so that it is really spicy. I suggest a quarter teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes, but you can scale that back if you like. This dish is equally good cold as it is warm and I don’t know anyone who hasn’t loved it.
Spicy Sesame Noodles with Peanuts

1/2 lb. linguini
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 1/2 tablespoons
low-sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon peanut butter
2 teaspoons
Sriracha, or to taste
1” Melissa’s fresh ginger, grated
2 tablespoons
sesame oil, divided
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 cup shredded carrots
4 ounces mushrooms, sliced
1 large cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup peanuts, rough chopped
2 green onions, chopped
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

Cook linguine according to package directions. Drain and set aside.

In a medium bowl combine brown sugar, soy sauce, peanut butter, Sriracha, and ginger; whisk to combine; set aside.

In a large stockpot over medium heat, add 1 tablespoon oil, and heat slightly. Add beaten egg and red pepper flakes, and stir to scramble the eggs. Once cooked, set aside with pasta.

Return stockpot to stove, heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil over medium heat. Add carrots, mushrooms, and garlic. Sauté over medium high heat for 5-6 minutes or until vegetables are cooked through.

Turn heat down to low, add pasta and eggs back to pot, then pour the sauce mixture over the top. Toss well to coat pasta
and vegetables with sauce. Remove from heat, add peanuts, green onions, and cilantro; stir to combine.


A different kind of noodle bowl is this Easy One-Skillet Beef and Broccoli Ramen.

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Thursday, February 14, 2019

Mandarin Salad

With Chinese New Year coming to an end for 2019 on the 15th of this month, I thought it would be fun to share a few appropriate dishes. No, the salad has absolutely nothing to do with Chinese New Year, but the word “ mandarin” in the name made it appropriate enough for me. This recipe goes back to the ‘70s. My mother made it frequently, and everybody always enjoyed it, even salad snobs like the often-picky Mr. O-P really liked this salad.

One of the reasons that it is so universally liked is that it is light and refreshing, and goes very well with a variety of meals, particularly those that are a bit on the heavy side. You might turn up your nose at iceberg lettuce (reference the picky Mr. O-P comment above), but you shouldn’t here. The crunch of the iceberg lettuce along with the celery is quite pleasant, and offsets the citrus-y sweetness of the oranges, the peppery kick of the scallions, and the wonderful toffee chewiness of the almonds. The dressing is flavorful, but not overpowering, particularly if you happen to use too much. In this case you simply cannot.
Mandarin Salad

1 head iceberg lettuce
2-3 scallions, white and green parts, chopped
1 cup chopped celery
1 15-oz. can Mandarin oranges, drained

Mix above ingredients together in a large bowl. Add dressing, toss, and garnish with almonds. Serve immediately.

1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 tablespoons
rice vinegar
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
Few gratings fresh black pepper
3 to 4 drops
hot sauce
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped

Mix above ingredients together in a mason jar, put the lid on, and shake for all you’re worth. Store in refrigerator until ready to use.

1/2 cup
slivered almonds
2 tablespoons granulated sugar

Stir almonds and sugar together in a skillet over low heat until sugar melts and almonds are a light toasty brown. Remove from pan to plate and allow almonds to cool slightly; break into clusters.

*To see a tutorial on this, click here.

Another delicious use of mandarin oranges is this Thai Chicken Salad with Spicy Peanut Dressing.

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Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Not Quite Cleveland Heath’s Brussels Sprouts

On the east side of St. Louis in the state of Illinois lies a town called Edwardsville. It is home to many things including a restaurant called Cleveland Heath. Cleveland Heath is good quality indeed, and is known for their Brussels sprouts. I find this significant. How many restaurants do you know that even serve Brussels sprouts, let alone are known for them?

Recently, their recipe appeared in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, and I cut it out. When I read the recipe I saw that their beautiful, fresh Brussels sprouts were fried in cooking oil. Blasphemy! I’m not a fan of anything fried in oil. They also wanted you to clean them (of course), halve them, fry them, flip them…this is way too much trouble for the everyday cook.

Because I find Brussels sprouts to be tremendously good simply roasted, and Melissa’s to be uniformly small and tender, I combined my roasted version and favorite brand of sprout, with their sauce, and came up with the perfect combination of the two.
Not Quite Cleveland Heath’s Brussels Sprouts
Adapted from Cleveland Heath, Edwardsville, IL 

8 oz. fresh Melissa’s Brussels Sprouts
1 T. good olive oil
Salt and freshly ground cracked pepper

2 T. good
olive oil
1 T. fresh lemon juice
Melissa’s medium shallot, finely chopped
1 T.
2 T. freshly grated Parmesan

Preheat oven to 400° F. Toss Brussels sprouts in oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast for 20 minutes.

While sprouts are roasting, make sauce; set aside.

In a small bowl, combine olive oil, lemon juice, shallots, and capers. Toss with roasted Brussels sprouts, salt, and pepper to taste. Place into a serving dish, top with Parmesan cheese, and serve hot.

*This sauce was so tremendously good, by the way, that I made some up separately to use to dip Italian bread. Yummy!

For a more elaborate use of Brussels Sprouts, try Angel Hair Pasta with Brussels Sprouts and Bacon.

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Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Malt & Vinegar Smashed Potatoes

You will doubtless find many people who don’t like vegetables, but few of that group who don’t like potatoes. I mean, what’s not to like about a potato? It’s inexpensive, nutritious, and so incredibly versatile, that you can use it to make all kinds of dishes from snacks and appetizers to breakfast dishes to main dishes, breads, and even desserts.

This is an easy way to deal with the buttery deliciousness of Melissa’s Dutch Baby Yellow Potatoes. I don’t know anybody who doesn’t like these, and I have served them at brunch as well as at dinner. They also make a great finger food when you’re serving nothing but snacks. They pack a lot of flavor for such a small amount of work. I used
this meat mallet to flatten the potatoes and it worked very well (Don't get overzealous or you'll mash them to bits.).
 Malt & Vinegar Smashed Potatoes

1 1.5-pound bag Melissa’s Baby Dutch Yellow Potatoes
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon kosher salt
Malt & Vinegar Salt*
Freshly ground pepper
Parmesan Cheese

Preheat oven to 400°.

Place potatoes and kosher salt in a large saucepan of water. Bring to a boil and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes until the potatoes are tender when pierced with a fork. Drain potatoes and place on a foil-lined sheet pan. With a potato masher, press each potato until it's about ½" thick. Be careful, or you’ll make a right mess. Toss potatoes with the olive oil, Malt & Vinegar Salt, and lots of pepper. Roast for 25 to 30 minutes, turning once, until the skins are crispy. Sprinkle the
potatoes with bit more salt and dust with Parmesan. Roast for another 2 to 3 minutes until the cheese is hot.

Serve them with sour cream, ranch dressing, chopped chives, chopped scallions, applesauce, and extra salt, and a bottle of Malt Vinegar. These are so good that it’s hard to stop eating them, so you might want to make a double or triple batch.

*I got this from Williams-Sonoma. If you don’t have one near you, you can buy Malt & Vinegar Powder and add sea salt of your own.

If you prefer potato chips, you can make your own. See the recipe here.

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Monday, February 11, 2019

Chilling in the Northwoods Tablescape

Today my mother will be gone six years. I tell you this only because, with the passing of time, dad has found it a tiny bit easier to part with her things. I never ask him for anything, I just wait for him decide, and accept gladly.
This past week he was in the “Northwoods” theme guest room, looking around at things, and asked me if I would like the display that she had on the shelf. It was just getting dusty in his house (and much to my chagrin some of the dust is still visible in the pictures), and he wondered if perhaps I could put these things to use. Absolutely!
It had been a long time since I had last seen these things, so I have to admit that they really tugged at my heart. I thought they would make a wonderful centerpiece for a Northwoods table, and I do believe that I was right. It makes me feel as though I’m dining with my mother. Once the tablescape is taken down, I plan on finding a cozy little nook to put these things, they are just too precious to tuck away.
I hope you enjoy this table as much as I do.
The runner is a recent purchase from Anthropologie, and I absolutely love it.
The white chargers are from Pier One, and are topped with wonderful pinecone-edge plates from Pottery Barn.
Salad plates from Maison Versailles provide a base for the handled chili bowls.
Flatware is from Cabela — one of my favorite places to shop for flatware.
 The stemware, among my favorites because the smoky color goes with so many things, once belonged to my mom. 
The pinecone salt and pepper shakers look right in place on this mini charcuterie board.
The mini deer candleholders came from Pottery Barn years ago. I use them at Christmas and throughout the winter.
The gray plaid throw is from Pottery Barn, and I honestly don’t know where I got the pillow, but it expresses my sentiments during wintertime.
Stay warm everybody, I wish you all could join me for chili and cornbread.

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Sunday, February 10, 2019

Meal Plan Monday #10 Casserole Week

It is casserole week! The beauty of a good casserole is that it can be made ahead, and so yesterday I spent all day in the kitchen making main and side dish casseroles in individual portions, so I can mix and match. I’ll pull things out of the freezer this week without having to go to a lot of trouble. 

Here is my plan, but no guarantees that I’m sticking to it 100%.

Monday - Ham Steak, Party Potato Casserole, roasted carrots

Tuesday -
Chicken Noodle Casserole, side salad

Wednesday -
Oriental Beef Casserole, hot rolls

Thursday -
Hot Chicken Salad, mixed fruit

Friday - Pizza delivery

Saturday -
Salisbury Steak, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole

Sunday - Breakfast for dinner:
Egg Brunch Casserole, Hardee’s Raisin Cinnamon Biscuits, fruit
Here is my seasonally appropriate tablescape for the week.

 What’s cooking at your place?

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