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Napa Cabbage Stir Fry

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Tonight’s dinner was easy to make, and it was a hit all around.  As much as I love sesame oil and ginger, every once in a while I need a change from those flavors in a stir fry.  This was even more true today when lunch was Sweet and Sour Pork leftovers.  I even had plenty of cooked brown jasmine rice leftover from lunch, so there was no need to cook more.  Without having to cook  the rice, this meal took less than thirty minutes to prepare.

Napa Cabbage Stir Fry
While you could use white button or crimini mushrooms in this dish, I like to splurge on the shitake variety every once in a while.

Napa Cabbage Stir Fry

3 Tbsp safflower oil
1 white onion, thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb ground turkey
1 pkg sliced shitake mushrooms
1 medium head of Napa cabbage, sliced in ribbons
3-4 Tbsp coconut aminos, to taste
salt to taste

Heat the oil a wok heated over medium-high.  Add the onions and garlic with a generous pinch of salt.  Stir fry until the onions become translucent.  If they get a little caramelized around the edges, it’s even better.  Turn the heat down to medium if the onions seem to brown too quickly.

Add the ground turkey and continue to stir fry for another 2-3 minutes until about half of the meat is cooked.  Then add the mushrooms.  If the heat hasn’t been reduced to medium yet, do so now.

Once the meat is cooked through, toss the cabbage into the mix.  When well combined, put the lid on the wok and allow to steam for 3-5 minutes.  Stir every two minutes or so to ensure the even cooking of the cabbage.  Steaming the cabbage this way will create a lovely broth at the bottom of the pan that is wonderful drizzled over the rice.

Once the cabbage is cooked to your desired texture, add in the coconut aminos.  We like ours soft, but stop cooking a bit earlier if you prefer yours with a little crunch.  Adjust salt to taste and serve over warm rice.

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February 16 – Weekly Menu

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Last weekend and this week have run away with me.  We’ve had outings with family, fence repairs, doctors visits, and cooking for this week’s pastoral conference hosted at our church.  To simplify things, I made extra hummus and acorn squash soup to feed my family with the same dishes I’m sending to the conference this week.

I also got an Asian produce pack add on with my Bountiful Basket this week, so I have even more produce options than usual.  I still had some pears, garlic, onions, and carrots from last week, but we needed a few extra things from the store than in previous weeks to make enough food to share and eat this week.  We traded most of our tomatoes for avocados with a family who had a severe allergy to the avocado.  We saved a couple of tomatoes for John, though.

Then I found some clearance roses at Kroger for two dollars a dozen, so I made a little impulse purchase.  I picked pink for Snuggle Bunny.

Roses

Fruit for snacks: apples, bananas, and tangerines with some pears left over from last week’s shopping trip

Meals ideas from this week’s basket:
Avocado, red potatoes, and spinach – Burgers and fries with green beans one day and sauteed spinach with the leftovers
Lettuce, avocado, and tomato – Chef salad with shredded chicken and plenty of veggies
Acorn squash with celery and basil from the Asian pack – Acorn squash-White Bean soup with some onions, garlic, carrots, and the last of the frozen swiss chard from last year’s garden
Avocado (I had lots of them this week) – Tamales from the freezer

Meal ideas from the Asian produce pack:
Celery – White Bean-Olive Hummus with plenty of veggies
Snow peas, ginger, celery, and a pineapple from the regular basket – Sweet and Sour Pork
Napa cabbage, green onion, and ginger – Stir fry with ground turkey and shitake mushrooms
Bok Choy – I don’t know yet.  I’ve got plenty of food for the week and this is the odd vegetable out.  Sunday is Meatfare, so I don’t want to make something that won’t be fast worthy for next week if there are too many leftovers.  I’ll wait until later in the week to decide.  It may just turn up in something for Sunday’s potluck lunch after church.

For those of you who haven’t heard of Meatfare Sunday, you can read about it here.  It is the last day we will eat meat before Pascha.  This year Pascha falls on April 20th which is the same as Western Easter.  Last year the two were over a month apart, but occasionally they fall on the same date.

Carnitas

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Carnitas are the pulled pork of Latin food.  They are very easy to make.  You can dress them like your favorite tacos or burritos.  They’re perfect for a Sunday dinner or a busy day.

Carnitas
Most of the members of our family can’t eat tomatoes with pleasant results, so we like avocado, cilantro, lettuce, and refried beans on our carnitas.  You’re also welcome to add a little chile or cayenne to your spices if your family prefers, but we like ours just fine this way.

I doubled the recipe today so I would have enough meat and broth for a soup later this week.  The roast I used is from tamale meat I found on sale near Christmas.

This time I also tossed in three cubes of frozen recaito from when I made pasteles.  It added nice flavors to the meat, but the recipe below is how I’ve been making carnitas for years.  It will be great with or without recaito.

Carnitas

Brown Rice Tortillas
lettuce, avocado, cilantro, tomato, and/or salsa
Refried Beans (I made ours today with pink beans.  You can most likely find them in the Latin food section of your grocery store either canned or dry, but a Latin grocery store would be an even better source.)

2-pounds pork roast (Bones are okay; they are easy to remove after cooking.)
3-4 tsp salt
2 teaspoons ground cumin
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried oregano, crushed
3 bay leaves or 1/4 cup recaito
3 cups chicken broth (I used leftover frozen broth from making tamales and pasteles)

Trim fat from meat. Cut meat into 2” pieces. Sprinkle meat generously with salt. Place meat in a slow cooker.

Add herbs and spices to the slow cooker and pour broth over mixture.

Cover and cook on low-heat setting for 8-10 hours.

Using a slotted spoon, remove meat from slow cooker. Save broth for soup later this week. When cool enough to handle, coarsely shred meat by pulling two forks through it in opposite directions; discard any fat.

Serve with tortillas and top with your choice of vegetables and salsa.

February 9 – Weekly Menu

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I realized this weekend that Meatfare Sunday is only two weeks away.  That means Lent is coming soon.  I don’t know if I’m ready for it yet, but it’s almost here nonetheless. I’ve been having lots of conversations about Lenten meal planning strategies, but I’ll share my plan another week.

This whole week is a fast free week, so there don’t have to be any vegan meals in the plan unless I just decide I want them.  However, I managed to come up with plenty of meaty meals very easily.

At the end of last week I had celery, onions, cabbage, avocados, and potatoes left in the fridge, so they are the first to be planned into meals this week.  Then there was the new basket of produce from our co-op yesterday.

This week most of the fruit will be for snacks.  We got a bag of granny smith apples, oranges, bananas, blackberries, and strawberries.  I think the strawberries may get added into this tried and true muffin recipe for a Valentine’s treat.  I’ve subbed pear sauce for the applesauce and coconut flour for the almond flour with good results.

As for the vegetables, the ones in bold are from the new produce basket.

Romaine lettuce – Carnitas and side salads throughout the week
Leeks, onion, and celery – Cock-a-Leekie Soup – only this time with chicken and omitting the potatoes.
Zucchini, potatoes, cabbage, and onions – Caldo de Puerco using the broth and leftover meat from cooking the Carnitas
Broccoli and onion – Brown rice penne with garlic olive oil and cooked turkey from the freezer
Cucumber and avocado – California Rolls
Asparagus, cabbage, and potatoes – Steak and potatoes with roasted asparagus, sauteed cabbage, and mashed potatoes

This week’s grocery store run necessitated about thirteen items and none of which were clothing this time.  That was more of an average week for me.  I did buy a five pound bag of carrots, so hopefully I’ll make it to Lent before I need more of those.  I almost regret not getting the twenty pound bag of carrots offered through our co-op, but I think twenty pounds might still be pushing it for my family’s Bugs Bunny like habits.

Spaghetti Squash with Pesto

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My neighbor and I occasionally swap produce from our Bountiful Baskets.  She mostly gets peppers and other members of the nightshade family that we won’t use.  We get wonderful things in return.  Most recently we received some spaghetti squash.  Have I mentioned how we love winter squashes?  With the seeds inside you get dinner and a snack.

SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA

I wish I’d remembered to take a picture when I first cooked this meal.  It got a little mushy after being in the slow cooker during church on Sunday.  Then most of the texture was gone when we reheated the leftovers.   That and it normally has a bit more bright green from the pesto, but I put the mushrooms in at the wrong spot and the color faded with the extended cooking.  Despite that, it tasted great, and several people at church asked for the recipe.  So here you go…

Oh, you can substitute cooked cannellini or cranberry beans in the place of the meat to make this vegan.  That is if you leave the cheese out of your pesto sauce like I do.

Spaghetti Squash with Pesto

1 large spaghetti squash, halved lengthwise and seeded
3-4 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 onion, diced
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb ground pork
4 oz mushrooms, sliced
1 cup vegan pesto sauce
salt to taste

Brush the cut side of the squash with olive oil.  Place the squash cut side down on a baking sheet and bake at 375 degrees for 45-60 minutes (varies by size).  You should be able to pierce the flesh with a fork easily without the spaghetti-like texture of the squash becoming mushy.  It should be easy to scoop from the skin.  Remove the squash from the oven and cool for ten minutes (or grab it with a pot holder like I do).  Scoop the insides into a large bowl.

In a skillet heat the olive oil over medium heat.  Add the onion, garlic, and a pinch of salt.  Saute until the onions are translucent.

Brown the ground pork with the onions.  When it is almost cooked through, add in the mushrooms.  Saute until everything is completely cooked.  Stir in the pesto sauce and warm it slightly.

Toss the meat sauce with the cooked spaghetti squash.  Serve with a side salad.

Broccoli Cashew Stir Fry

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Earlier this week I planned to make a beef-broccoli stir fry, and I did make it for dinner tonight.  However it was so similar to my green bean-beef stir fry that I decided to type up a backlogged vegan stir fry from back during the Nativity Fast.  The kids liked this one so much that we’ve had it twice since then.  It does make a nice diversion from the beans that we normally use for protein during the fasting seasons.  Instead we used plenty of cashews.

Broccoli Cashew Stir Fry

Broccoli Cashew Stir Fry

3 cups dry brown jasmine rice, cooked

3 Tbsp sesame oil
1/2 onion, thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 inch knob ginger, minced
3 carrots, thinly sliced
2 stalks celery, thinly sliced
4 oz mushrooms, sliced
1-2 lbs broccoli crowns (to taste), cut into small florets
1 1/2 cup cashews, toasted
3-4 Tbsp coconut aminos
salt to taste

Put the rice on to cook.

Heat a dry wok over medium heat.  Lightly toast the cashews for 3-4 minutes with constant attention, so you don’t burn them.  Set aside for later.

Heat the sesame oil in the hot wok and add the onions, garlic, and ginger.  Sprinkle with a pinch of salt.  Stir fry until they are just beginning to be translucent at the edges.

Add the carrots and celery.  Continue to stir fry for another 4-5 minutes while mixing thouroughly.

Mix in the broccoli and mushrooms.   Make sure you mix enough that the broccoli and mushrooms make contact with the bottom of the wok.  Stir fry for another 5-7 minutes until the mushrooms are tender and the broccoli is tender-crisp.  If you’d rather have softer broccoli, cover with a lid and steam for 2-3 minutes.

Toss in the cashews and drizzle with coconut aminos.  Adjust salt to taste.  Serve over rice.

February 2 – Weekly Menu

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When I started this blog, I truly had no idea how many different recipes I make.  It was a lot of work typing them all along with all of my other daily tasks.  I overtaxed myself during the Advent season and couldn’t keep up the pace.

After almost a month’s break, I’ve decided to take a slower approach.  I’m going to post my weekly menu and then maybe one or two recipes from that menu.  It’s the only way that I can keep up with everything without getting overwhelmed.  I’d love to post recipes by request.  If I put something on my menu that peaks your interest, make a request in the comments.

I am often asked how I can keep my family on a budget with food allergies.  I hope this new format will help give a practical picture of my process.

First, I have a well stocked pantry and freezer.  My pantry is filled with bulk grains, dried beans, GF pasta and noodles, home canned jams, oils, various sweeteners, and herbs.   The deep freezer is full of meat that I found on sale or bought in bulk.  I freeze homemade broth and cooked beans in old yogurt containers. I only keep a few frozen vegetables, but I have plenty of frozen fruit and nuts that I got on sale in season to use in porridge, smoothies, and ice cream.  I also keep all my GF flours in the freezer as well.   Some of my favorite sources for these items are local grocery sales, Azure Standard, Bountiful Baskets, and Zaycon.  Always read product information carefully before you buy to make sure you are comfortable with each item’s potential allergen content.  Some products are safe, others aren’t.  Do your homework based on your specific needs.  It took me about two years to build my pantry to the quality and quantity of staple items that help me cut costs in my overall budget.  Don’t try to change your whole pantry system in one month; do it one bulk item at a time based on your family’s needs.

Second, most weeks I get a basket from Bountiful Baskets on Saturday morning.   Once I know what I am going to get, I plan my menu.  Here is what I planned for from this week’s basket and some other produce that was left from last week.

Fruit for snacks: apples, Asian pears, bananas, and blackberries

Meal ideas from this week’s basket:
Tomatoes (for John) and Romaine – Mediterranean Beef Salad
Asparagus – Grilled or Baked Chicken with asparagus and brown rice couscous (with cranberry sauce at Buster’s Request)
Broccoli – Stir fry something like this one subbing out the green beans for the broccoli
Zucchini – maybe I’ll serve it with the chicken and asparagus above
Celery (with carrots & onions) – simple bean soup, not sure what kind yet
Lots of Cabbage (traded my bell peppers for an extra cabbage) – maybe sauerkraut for the future, maybe for next week

Meals ideas from Produce I already had in the house:
Potatoes – Oven potatoes roasted with fresh turmeric and a Sunday Roast, but no rice pudding with tonight’s version (a great dinner for a feast day… The Meeting of the Lord in the Temple)
Spaghetti Squash – Something like this, only with ground pork, mushrooms, and pesto sauce
Butternut Squash – Adzuki Beans with Butternut Squash Carrots & Onions (celery, too) – Lamb and Rice Pilaf

This week was a great week where I only ended up at the store for about five items.  One was three dollars worth of socks for Little Man, so I don’t know if I should count it in the tally.  Not every week turns out so kind to the pocket book, but it’s weeks like this that allow me to set aside money for the next twenty-five pound bag of rice, millet, or buckwheat.

Now all I have left to do for this week’s food is decide what little something extra I’m throwing together for Snuggle Bunny’s name day tomorrow.  I forgot to freeze some of her birthday cupcakes from last week, so I’m going to have to wing it tomorrow.