Archive for August, 2009

Menu Planning

As I am on a limited budget, I am attempting to meal plan.

I attempted OAMC (Once a Month Cooking), but I found that I actually enjoy cooking, so I never used the stuff that was in the freezer. Now that I am in Brooklyn, and thus almost 45 minutes away from my school, I can see the practicality of having food available at home. If I know I can nuke something, it makes it less likely to get food to go in the city before coming home. So, I think my current strategy is to have smaller meals in the freezer, rather than large items, and to make plan overs rather than full freezer meals.

So, the meal plan for this week looks like this:

Monday (last night): Chinese takeout (finally found a decent one in the neighborhood).

Tuesday: Chicken Marsala. Will pick up Marsala wine on the way home, and mushrooms are being delivered.

Wednesday. Will put chicken thighs into the crock pot during the day, to have chicken meat available for Green Chicken Enchiladas. Will post recipe later this week. Will also post procedure for chicken meat and stock. (Very easy) :)

Thursday. Italian Sausage Spaghetti (with planned overs for lasagna.)

Friday. Leftovers :) Or fried rice. Or something, I havent decided yet.

Saturday. BBQ at a friends place :)

Sunday. Perhaps Tikka Masala

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Chocolate Chip Muffins

Yum. Tasty Kitchen is a new site from The Pioneer Woman. It is full of yummy recipes. But, the best thing is that the number of servings is adjustable, so you can change it to suit how much you are making! You can also switch between US and Metric measurements.

I tried Chocolate Chip Muffins. There is something about an entire stick of butter makes me wary (even if it is only 1/2 a cup). But, half a stick isnt quite as bad, so I made 6 muffins. I also took the suggestion and used 1/3rd whole wheat flour. I think I want to get white whole wheat flour to use, as the Whole Foods 365 brand of whole wheat is both extra wheaty tasting, and ultra high protein (which I think is also why my whole wheat bread experiments failed).

I think I need an oven thermometer. My oven takes a lot longer to cook things than the recipes say. Perhaps I am not preheating it long enough, or it does run cold. It is a smaller oven than I am used to, so that may be it as well. (I have half sheet pans, and I use them in place of the grates, as they fit into the side of the oven.) I had to cook the muffins for about 25 minutes.

I use Silicone Baking Cups. I would like to get a real metal muffin tin eventually, but for small kitchens, this is actually really nice to have. I can store my muffin tins in a 2 inch by 2 inch square in the pantry. :)

Very nice!

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Monkey Bread

I am fascinated by the idea of Monkey Bread. In case you dont know, this is bread made of smaller chunks, so that you can pull the bread apart to eat it.

I am also fascinated by the concept of Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day.

Zoe put the recipe for Brioche dough on her website. Now, I had never heard of brioche before, so I had no concept of how hard it was. I am thankful that there is an easy way to do it!

I wondered how the dough would work for monkey bread. So this is my attempt.

I made the dough, but halved the recipe. I dont think I melted the butter all the way, as there were some small solid chunks when I mixed everything else. I did let the butter cool quite a bit, so it would not kill the yeast. Mixed everything together, and it looked good, if a little dry. I let it rise on the counter for two hours, then put it in the fridge.

The next day, it did not look like it had risen very much. After my first attempt at the whole wheat bread from the book, I was worried that it would not turn out. But, I figured that the dough was rich enough, that even if it did not rise, it would work fine.

I melted four tablespoons of butter in a small sauce pan. I mixed four tablespoons of brown sugar into it, and let it cook for just a few minutes. I put this in the bottom of my new Bundt Pan. I took the cold dough, rolled it into small balls (about golf ball size), rolled those in a cinnamon sugar mixture, then put them into the pan. All of the dough fit into about half of the bundt pan. I then put the pan back into the fridge, covered with foil.

The next morning, it had risen, and now filled the pan. Yay for yeast! I let it sit on the counter for about 40 minutes, then put it in a 400 degree oven. (Which was too high, the top was starting to burn when the middle wasnt done.)

I took it out of the oven, let it sit for a few minutes, then turned it out onto a sheet pan.

And it was burnt. See what I get for not following the instructions? However, the insides, without the burnt parts, tasted pretty yummy. I will definitely make the brioche dough again, but I will try other things with it. Maybe monkey bread without the topping syrup? Or a lower temperature? Or donut holes! :)

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