Monday, April 9, 2012

A menu and what's really important

After a week of long days at work (which culminated in me getting to shake hands with Supreme Court Justice Sotomayor), I looked forward to a quiet weekend at home with the family. Then I got the devastating news that a law school friend and former work colleague had lost his 35-year-old wife tragically and suddenly. They have two little boys under the age of 4. I was devastated for him and it also made me think about my own mortality and what would happen if one of us was gone from Charlie's life. I tried to distract myself with a grain-free baking experiment, but that failed miserably. I realized I needed to worry about perfecting it later and just spend the evening watching my little guy toddle around and babble to me. That's what was really important. As much as I value the quality of food that I feed my family, what is most important to me is the time I have with them.

This morning, we awoke to the news that a five alarm fire was ripping through an abandoned warehouse just a few blocks from where we live. Community members have been begging the city to do something about the property for months, but no action was taken. As a result two firefighters have died. I'm channeling my anger into productivity, attempting to get a collection together to provide coffee and pastry to the local ladder company for a few days.

Here is this week's menu. I'm trying to keep it simple this week to accommodate a busy schedule and leave time for plenty of baby-hugging and tickling.

Monday - Sausages with braised kale & leeks

Tuesday - Roasted chicken breasts

Wednesday - Leftovers

Thursday - Crockpot pork dish of some sort

Friday - Chuck roast

This post is part of Menu Plan Monday.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Making an oopsie into a yummy...

I tend to be very hard on myself about everything, including my cooking. When a dish I've been imagining and planning for days ends up being a dud, I always get pretty pissed at myself about it. Last night's dish was one I've been wanting to make for weeks. One of our favorite neighborhood restaurants put a picture up on their FB page, about a month ago, for a new special they were introducing: Philly cheesesteak tater tots. It was tots topped with sliced sandwich steak and cheese whiz. I knew I could make both a healthier version and one that was grain-free. I researched and planned and purchased ingredients and just waited for a Saturday when I'd have adequate time to dedicate to a meal that had a few steps.

This recipe was the guide for the grain-free, paleo "tots" made guessed it...cauliflower. I broiled a small piece of flank steak. And then created a cheese sauce (see recipe below) to go on top.

So what was the problem? The tots mixture was too wet, so I couldn't get any tots to form or brown easily. Luckily, it made a delicious mash, so we layered the steak and sauce on top of a pile of the mash and enjoyed it just the same. I cooked broccoli to go on the side and right after the photo up there was taken, the broccoli got a good ladle of cheese sauce too!

This recipe makes a LOT of sauce, so cut it in half or be prepared to store some if you are just making one meal for a few people. We ended up putting it on omelets the next morning and still have more left to eat.

Cheese Sauce
1 onion, diced
4 TBSP coconut oil
3/4 cup almond flour
3 cup milk
8 oz shredded cheddar
8 oz goat cheese
1 tsp salt plus more to taste
pepper to taste

- Melt the coconut oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cool until translucent.
- Mix in the almond flour, then stir in the milk, salt, and pepper. Keep stirring and adjust heat so as not to burn any of the mixture.
- When the mixture is relatively thick and warm, stir in the cheddar cheese. Break the goat cheese up into hunks and stir it in.
- Stir slowly until thick and creamy. Serve warm.