Menu Plan Monday: Simple and tasty

The ground outside is wet and covered in yellow and orange leaves. My driveway, normally an interlocking stone, is littered with more leaves, my red car spotted in yellow and orange.

Yes, fall is definitely here.

That's rather depressing when you consider we are still waiting for summer to arrive. Sigh.....

Normally my summer menu's would have been filled with light and fresh items, and only now, when the weather is cooler and wet, would I be turning to heartier and warmer dishes. Well nothing in my menu plan is going to be new and innovative, and all of it repeats of items I made during the summer.

Sunday: Left overs.

Monday: Fajitas, making use of left over peppers.

Tuesday: Sheppard's pie (I didn't have time to make this last week so have moved it to this week.)

Wednesday: Pasta with garlic and tomatoes and sausages.

Thursday: Take out night (it is my day off and I have lots I need to squeeze into it, none of it happening at home.)

Friday: ???? It isn't a surprise, it is an unknown. I will be working all day, and then going to a different job at night (feel free to stop by and see me at my second job, I'll be at the Farmer's Table/Country Kitchen.)

As usual, don't forget to add your own menu to Menu Plan Monday.

Tyler Florence Friday: Making best of seasonal and local

It is a good thing I got alot of recipes for Tyler Florence Fridays in August, because September has not been good for recipe type cooking so far!

And besides', this tart, a Peach and Blueberry Crostata, really would be at its best when peaches and blueberries were in season. Fortunately they both were during August. While the peaches were Ontario grown and seasonal, the blueberries were hand picked by myself, with a bit of help from my children.

A crostata is a free form pie, with all the flaky goodness of a pie without the pan. Perfect for bringing somewhere and sharing, which we did with this crostata. It was enjoyed all around and made enough that 8 of us managed to share it.

You can find the recipe for the crostata on page 260 of Tyler's Eat This Book. His picture is much better than mine but the end result was likely the same: empty plates.

RIP Marvin

Just a baby.

Do you remember Marvin? My beautiful and well loved sour dough starter, loved "nephew" of Aunty Sour Dough?

Unfortunately he has met with an unexpected end and I am sad.

As balls of homemade Timbits.

I had not baked with him in awhile, but that was okay, he was dormant in the back of my fridge. My instructions were to take him out every 6-8 weeks and give him a feeding, maybe bake with him. And this weekend, it was time to take him out and at least give him a little love in the form of warm water and flour.

Alas, poor Marvin, he was frozen solid.

Marvin made such beautiful loaves of bread.

I didn't send off a panicked email to his Aunty, but instead took him out to let him defrost and waited to see how he would do.

Poor Marvin, he never defrosted but instead stayed a block of very sour smelling and greenish-greyish looking ick.

His favorite way to shine, as a breakfast muffin.

You will be missed, Marvin!

Menu Plan Monday: Getting used to a new schedule

We aren't all adjusted to my new working schedule yet, it is still a work in progress. It is a good thing it was a nice weekend and I was able to get a fair bit done. I've even managed to squeeze in a bit of baking for the lunches, and got my grocery shopping done (except rice, no one had the rice I wanted.)

We capped off last week's menu by having fair food: the boys each ate pizza while the hubby and I shared a pulled pork sandwich and a beef brisket sandwich. I could smell those wonderful little donuts you can get at the faire, but I didn't see any until we were leaving and by then, the line up was long and we were tired.

On to the plan!

Saturday: Spareribs and coleslaw. Normally this is hubby's night to cook but he cooked a few times earlier in the week so I gave him a break and made him ribs.

Sunday: Leftovers. Cause the ribs he picked up were huge and we have lots left over.

Monday: Prime Rib with scalloped potatoes and roasted veggies. Clean up the freezer time.

Tuesday: shrimp stir fry with rice.

Wednesday: Spaghetti and meatballs with garlic bread.

Thursday: Sheppard's Pie

Friday: Club sandwiches and chips.

The weather is changing, getting cooler, and soon I will have to put away my Crocs and find where I put last years mittens. Expect to start seeing more cold weather menu items in the next little while!

Don't forget to add your own menu plan to Menu Plan Monday.

Tyler Florence Friday: Two for One dinner

My selection for this week's Tyler Florence Fridays features two recipes in one meal, Herb and Lemon Roasted Chicken with Smashed Broccoli and Garlic. It is listed in Tyler's Real Kitchen cookbook, under the heading Table for Two. I made it for four. Expecting left overs.

As much as I like Tyler and his recipes, he uses way too much oil. The chicken for this recipe involved making a flavorful oil then marinating two bone in chicken breast in the oil. Well I used a bunch of chicken legs, cut into drumsticks and thighs, and found there was plenty of oil to marinate the chicken in. And some left over.

The chicken turned out pretty well, and was a decent match for the broccoli. And 2 tablespoons of oil for that broccoli was too much, plus 1 pound of broccoli for two people is alot. I made it for four and had alot of left overs. Most of which weren't eaten.

All in all, a pretty decent selection though. Not a throw together at the last minute kind of meal, and not the kind of thing I will make during a weekday, but a nice change for a Sunday dinner or for company with scalloped potatoes.

Don't forget to go see all the other choices for this week's TTF. And tell them I said hi, cause I'm still behind on commenting from last week!

Omnivores Ottawa Supper Club: The Urban Pear

If you are part of the food world in the city of Ottawa, you likely know who Ron Eade is (and if you aren't, he is the Food Editor at the Ottawa Citizen and a fellow blogger, you can find his blog here.) He also plays host, along with Mike McCracken, to the Omnivore's Ottawa Supper Club, where food lovers can join them for an evening of good food at a local restaurant.

This month's featured restaurant was The Urban Pear, a cozy restaurant found in the Glebe. Forty foodies, including myself and fellow blogger Mary of Beans and Caviar, enjoyed a 4 course meal for the reasonable cost of $70, $93 if you wanted the wine pairings for the evening.

When the announcement for this edition of the Supper Club went up, I didn't ask my husband if he wanted to go - I asked Mary instead! Full of life and great fun to dine out with, I couldn't ask for a better "date".

First on the menu was the soup, a spiced cauliflower soup with a confit lamb tongue filo, green onion pesto and a preserved lemon and golden morel mushroom compote.

This soup was divine, creamy and thick. While I didn't find the green onion pesto added much to the flavor, the preserved lemon and golden morel mushroom compote was wonderful, bright and with a slight crunch. The confit lamb tongue filo was good, but did not seem to bring anything to the soup other than garnish. Floating in the soup, the filo was also a bit soggy, rather than having that nice, messy pastry texture that I so enjoy in filo.

Our second course was a pan seared Albacore tuna loin and steamed manila clams with a kohlrabi puree, grilled okra, and a red pepper broth mounted with a house smoked smelt sour cream.

Try saying that five times fast!

The tuna was perfectly cooked, tender and melting. The clams hit that right point, not over cooked and chewy, but not underdone either. I'd never tried okra before but was happy to finish off my pieces, crunchy and not at all slimy as I'd expected they would be. The kohlrabi puree and red pepper broth were both full of flavor and everything in this dish matched well together.

Next was our main course, a beef tenderloin with a panzanella salad of 5th Town fedda cheese, organic tomatoes and balsamic marinated bread with grilled king eryngii mushrooms and a black olive tapenade with basil pesto highlights.

I love beef tenderloin, but only if it is done right, medium rare, pink throughout. This tenderloin melted into my mouth, soft and perfect. I needed my steak knife more for the panzanella, which was hearty and full of flavor. The organic tomatoes were sweet and juice, a lovely paring with the beef.

I didn't see any type of mushroom on my plate, let alone a king eryngii mushroom, which was a bit of a disappointment as I love mushrooms.

Our final course of the evening was our dessert, a roasted Niagara Peach with spruce and balsamic bacon cracker, blueberry infused white chocolate mousse (though funnily spelt mouse on the menu), crumbled oats and basil syrup.

I love bacon but did not understand the bacon for this dish. Nor did I "get" the basil syrup. I enjoyed my "mouse", bites of which I always tried to have with a piece of peach and some crumbled oats. Those flavors worked well together, a bit of a crunch along with the freshness of the peach and the softness of the mousse.

Our little corner agreed, however, that the dessert was not the highlight of the evening we expected it would be. After so wonderful a meal, dessert should wow you, and while we all enjoyed it, this one left us all feeling something was missing.

Chef/owner Ben Baird, and sous-chef Mark Currier, along with all the staff, did a wonderful job hosting us. The service was friendly and fabulous, the setting was lovely, and the food was very good. I'd go back for more beef tenderloin and for more of that fabulous soup.

Thanks to Ron and Mike for hosting (and I hope you get better very soon Mike!) a great evening out!

Menu Plan Monday: And a little news

I'm giving myself alot of leeway this week when it comes to following my menu plan. Chances are at least once I am going to be picking something up for dinner, but it is for a good cause: my sanity!

Last week, I accepted a job offer and began working at IKEA in Ottawa. No, they did not hire me as their head chef, but I am working with food. And while I am supposed to be 3/4 time, for the next 5 days at least, I am working full time. I will have time in the morning to get the boys off to school, but it will be their dad meeting them off the bus and possibly starting dinner.

So taking advantage of the Sweedish Food Shop for a few things on the menu this week, here we go!

Sunday: Roast beef with roasted potatoes and gravy. Joint effort by the hubby and I.

Monday: Sausages with IKEA's scalloped potatoes.

Tuesday: Pasta with tomato sauce and garlic toast.

Wednesday: I'm out for the Omnivore Ottawa Supper Club with Beans and Caviar so the hubby will figure out dinner for himself and the boys!

Thursday: Hamburgers with chips and salad.

Friday: Bacon and eggs. I think. Maybe. Oh who knows, by then I might be ready to collapse!

Don't forget to add your own menu plan to Menu Plan Monday!

And forgive me if I'm really quiet for the next little while, either here at my blog, or leaving a comment on yours (I worked all weekend too, so have not yet had the chance to do my usual read/comments of fellow Tyler Florence Friday posts, sorry about that!) There will still be eating and cooking happening, just likely without a camera.

Tyler Florence Fridays: Breakfast really is the most important meal of the day!

This is going to be short but sweet this week (kinda like this breakfast was!)

Caramel apple croissant French toast.

Do I really need to explain more?

No, I didn't think so.

Wow! It was divine. I loved it, my kids loved it. My poor hubby, he didn't get any.

I made half the caramel and apples, mostly because I only had a few apples on hand. And they were Gala, not Granny Smith. Which was fine with us. And half was plenty as well.

I made one or two more croissants than the recipe called for, but that's because the kids asked for seconds and I had some egg/milk mixture left.

This beautiful, tasty breakfast is my submission to this week's Tyler Florence Fridays, and I'd tell you which book it came from but I can't remember right now.

Menu Plan Monday: Happy Labor Day

Labor Day weekend, usually the weekend before school starts. Not this year. This year it is the first long weekend of the school year. For me, it is a day of laundry and to get some baking done for lunches this week.

And maybe get a nap in.

Fortunately we have lots of left overs from yesterday, so I don't need to worry about a lunch for everyone today, though now that school is in, my boys are eating peanut butter for every lunch outside of school.

On to this week's plan....

Sunday: Chinese food feast. Yummy stuff. Having left overs for lunch today.

Monday: Roast chicken with Parmesan broccoli and mashed potatoes. I'm making extra chicken for later in the week.

Tuesday: Taco's.

Wednesday: Mac and Cheese. Will figure out something for the hubby to have later, since he won't eat mac and cheese with the rest of us.

Or I will pick up bread and veggies and we will have a make your own sub sandwich night.

Thursday: Enchiladas with salad.

Friday: Thai chicken soup. Probably without the Kafir lime leaves, though, as I've never seen any anywhere.

I'm leaving you with a picture that will hopefully today be loaded up on my Flicker site, along with many more. It is from an early morning walk when we went camping a few weeks ago, and I just like it.

Don't forget to head over to Menu Plan Monday for more plans and inspiration.

Tyler Florence Fridays: A new twist on an old favorite

You aren't going to get a picture of the final product of this recipe, Roasted Corn with Parmesan, my choice for this week's Tyler Florence Fridays. The finished result does not end in something that is picture-worthy, and trust me, I tried. Not too hard, mind you. I really wanted to eat my corn, not just take pictures of it.

This might not sound so appealing to everyone, but here is how this works: Bake your corn in the oven, still in the husk (this is a technique I am going to use again and again and again...), then peel back the husk and grill the corn. Give it some good color. When it is to your liking, smear it with mayonnaise. Yes, mayo. I used store bought this time, but you could make homemade. Then sprinkle on Parmesan cheese.

That's it. Eat it. Trust me. Eat it. It really is good.

You will find the "recipe" for this on page 156 of Tyler's book, Eat This Book. I skipped the cayenne and the lime. It didn't need it.

Product Review: PC Butter Chicken Sauce

If you've read my blog for awhile, you know a few things about my family and I. We like Butter Chicken is one of them. I've even posted a recipe for Butter Chicken before.

You also know that I prefer to make things from scratch. In the past I've posted of homemade jams, ketchup, breads and baked goods. Making from scratch is not always the least expensive way to do things, but it tends to be the healthiest.

That said, sometimes it is easier to go with a premade product and not all premade products are bad. In fact, some of them are quite good.

I include the President's Choice Indian Butter Chicken sauce in that list of items that are quite good and worth the value of what comes in the jar (plus it is a good, solid jar that can be reused.) The sauce is thick and flavorful and my kids love it. It is a good choice when you are pressed for time but still want a healthful meal on the table - just throw some chunks of chicken in a pot to brown, pour on a jar of sauce, let is bubble for a few minutes and then serve on rice with a side of veggies. Naan bread rounds it out (and PC makes a decent Naan bread as well, for when you don't have time to make your own.)

Is this the most healthy way I could sever butter chicken to my family? No, it isn't. There is too much sodium and fat in this sauce for my comfort level (though PC does make a Blue Menu version, which is lower in fat, sodium and calories, we don't like it quite as much - it looses something in flavor along with all the fat and sodium.) But when my alternatives for a quick dinner that everyone will eat all involve much worse choices, I'll stick with grabbing a jar (or two, we like to dip Naan in the sauce) of PC Butter chicken sauce.