Monday, April 29, 2013

Meals we had, April 22-28

New series! I don’t always have time to edit and post recipes, but I’m going to do a little retroactive menu “planning” and just type up what we ate all week, to use for meal ideas in the future.

Note: My in-laws generally deliver groceries and some cooked meals to us regularly. I organize the week’s meals around those ingredients, along with using up leftovers. If we are having a repeat combination then I try to change the presentation. If I want to use a particular recipe then I start with something we already have and buy the rest of the needed ingredients. But I try not to buy a lot of additional groceries if we already have something in the refrigerator that needs to be used.

Breakfasts: Eggs
Lunches: Homemade soups with sour cream and fresh herbs; bread with cheese or a slice of meat

-Monday dinner: Fried potatoes (Russian-style) with sliced pork and steamed broccoli
-Tuesday dinner: Scalloped potatoes with cubes of pork
-Wednesday dinner: Boiled pelmeni with sauteed green beans
-Thursday dinner: Eggless meatballs (we ran out of eggs) and boiled potatoes
-Friday dinner: Homemade popcorn chicken with angel hair pasta (we just make plain and garnish with cheese/butter)
-Saturday dinner: Pizza made with this crust and using leftover meatballs/popcorn chicken as toppings
-Sunday dinner: Chicken-bacon-cheese bake with boiled buckwheat and sauteed bell pepper

Looks like we need to add more veggies to the menu. Got any recipes to recommend?

Friday, April 26, 2013

How to Make 10-minute "Roasted" Potatoes

I usually turn up my nose at microwave recipes, but I needed to cook just one potato fairly quickly, and it seemed like a waste to boil a whole pot of water or turn the oven on.

These were a great alternative to add to the soup I was heating up, and could even be used for a quick side dish. Okay, it's not the same as oven-roasted, but I was surprised by how tasty they are!

What you need: potatoes, cooking oil, your favorite seasoning


1) Peel potatoes and cut into desired size.

2) Drizzle with olive oil and add preferred spices (I did salt, pepper, and garlic powder).

3) Cover with plastic wrap, but leave a little corner open for hot air to escape.

4) Microwave on high for about 10 minutes, checking after 5.

They even got browned a bit from the olive oil-yum!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

A Food Decor Flashback

This is what I was talking about in this post. I posted a summer photo in the fall, so it's only appropriate that I post a New Year's photo in April, right? :)

I love creative presentations like this, but as a new mother, I often have to rein in the creativity.

So here's a contribution from my mother-in-law: a penguin-shaped salad for New Year's Eve. She used a seafood salad here, but you could use a chicken or potato salad or any kind of cheese/veggie spread that is somewhat sculpt-able.

-black olives for the wings/eyes
-red bell pepper for the feet/beak
-grated boiled egg white for the belly and egg yolk for the chest

I wonder what summer scenes would be cute, using a similar concept?

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

How to Make Roasted Pork Shoulder

When I used to cook meat, I found that it was usually hit or miss as to whether it came out well or not. It would come out well and I would think I had the hang of it, only to have it turn out tough and flavorless the next time. It turns out, intuition isn't enough. I would like to learn more about food chemistry, either by taking a course or reading some books. For now, I'm glad there are lots of recipes available for the culinary challenged.

One thing that made a huge difference was actually trying to follow the recipe. A lot of times I would do a different cooking temperature or use a different cut of meat than recommended, and not get the desired results.

Now I go to the store FIRST, see what cuts of meat are available, and then find recipes based on that.

One day a few years ago, I bought a chunk of pork and translated the name of the cut from Russian to English: "shoulder." That led me to a recipe which is now my favorite fool-proof way of roasting pork shoulder. It's not a slow cooking, pulled pork kind of recipe. It's a roast that will be done in a few hours depending on its size and how long you want to brine it (easily put together the night before or the morning/afternoon before cooking).

Of course checking the doneness is still a little tricky. Learning how to use a meat thermometer is on my list of cooking goals! I still have great success with this recipe, though.

Here's the recipe, and my photo is below. Roasted Pork Shoulder from

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

How to Make Tender Chicken Morsels

I really want to keep up with this blog, but it's SO hard to find the time! We'll see how it goes. Here is a chicken success I had recently.

Somehow I got the idea of looking for recipes for "popcorn" chicken. I think it was after I experimented with wings (I'll get around to posting that, too).

It can be hard to keep chicken breast moist, but this method works. Note that the chicken bites are baked, not fried.

The technique is a combination of these two recipes here and here: the "shake and bake" flavoring idea mixed with a baking technique.

Kid-friendly, but could be jazzed up?