School starts next week! That means that we are spending this week doing whatever we need to do to be prepared. It also means Paul gets lunch every day because of meetings. Which means I'm grateful for the extra padding in our food budget.
Paul has a formal this week that I've been invited to. But I have no child care. I've decided to invite another mom in the same predicament to the mall for dinner and indoor playtime.
8 oz. (one medium) Zucchini, shredded (medium hole)
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil, divided
4 slices Fresh Mozzarella, 1/2 or less thick
2 Campari Tomatoes, sliced
4 or more Basil leaves
4 Ciabatta Bread squares
Salt, Pepper, and Balsamic Vinegar to taste
Slice ciabatta in half to open and make two sides for the sandwich. Warm if necessary.
In medium skillet on medium-high heat, cook zucchini in 1/2 tablespoon olive oil until zucchini is soft. Add salt and pepper to taste. Pull the zucchini into the middle of the pan and place mozzarella slices evenly apart on top of pile. Lower heat to medium or medium-low. The goal is for the mozzarella to melt and hold the zucchini pieces together to limit the messy-ness of the sandwich. The zucchini should brown nicely on the bottom, but not burn.
With a spatula, divide the zucchini into four parts and place on sandwich bread. Dress as desired with tomatoes, basil, balsamic vinegar, remaining olive oil, and more salt or pepper.
I'm posting this in lieu of a Menu Plan for this week because I'm still waffling on the menu. We're expecting visitors, and I have been negotiating menus with Paul, but even this morning, I was changing my mind. Anyway, I just can't wait to share this recipe.
Recipe for Ciabatta Bread (For Bread Machine)
Recipe from Ratio by Michael Ruhlman
20 oz. High-gluten Flour
12 oz. water
1 teaspoon yeast
2 teaspoons yeast
Put water in bottom of bread machine. Top with flour. In one corner of the machine, add salt. In opposite corner, add yeast.
Set machine on dough cycle, which should include the first rise. When the machine is done, knead dough again, let rest 10-15 minutes before shaping. Shape by pulling dough until it is about 12 inches long and 1 inch thick. Allow to rise, covered, for one more hour.
Bake at 450 degrees for 10 minutes. Turn oven down to 375 and bake another 30 minutes.
Mr. Ruhlman does a fabulous job of explaining the details for using a regular stand mixer instead.
When I was working full time, we'd spend $5 a week at Costco for the Rosemary Olive Oil Bread. I'd have all kinds of sandwiches with it. Well, I don't have the slightest idea why I didn't figure it out before, but last week when Paul trimmed up the rosemary bush, I decided to try my hand at a rosemary bread recipe.
Disclaimer: The bread in the photos has rye and flax seed in it. It makes two smaller loaves instead of the one big loaf discussed below. Unfortunately, I don't have a picture of the big basic loaf. And since I have no idea what my mother-in-law paid for the rye and flax seed, I'm waiting until I go to the store again to calculate that total.So, the story goes that we bought my mother a Cuisinart bread machine for Christmas a number of years back. She never used it. She couldn't get it to work like her old Dak, which they don't make any more.
Wheat Bread Recipe
This recipe has been passed down and around. Unfortunately, I don't know the original source. Please feel free to tell me if you know.
Put ingredients in bread machine in order. Put salt in one corner and yeast in opposite corner. Turn machine on mix only setting (My machine goes through the first rise.) or on full bake, but I've learned with this recipe the crust gets too hard in the machine. When first rise is finished, remove dough onto floured surface. Need dough for about 30 seconds. Roll into oval shape with ends under the loaf and pinched together. Place dough in pan. Cover and keep in warm place for 45 minutes-1 hour. Preheat oven to 350 about 20-30 minutes before rising is completed to ensure it is the correct temperature. Bake 35-40 minutes. Bread should be a nice brown color and should give a hollow sound when thumped on the bottom of the loaf. Remove to cooling rack, cooling loaf on its side.
My menu plan for Monday night required me to feed 20 for a church function. The only stipulation when serving is that it needs to be vegan-friendly because of allergies of some of the participants. I prepared the soup a day in advance because I didn't expect much time between work and the serving time. I was able to purchase the bread, lettuce, and cucumbers across the street and next door to my office, respectively.
There would be three reasons why we might fail to take a picture of a meal: 1. We're too hungry to wait. 2. It just doesn't look good. 3. We forgot. Ironically, I think this may be the first time that we fell into all three categories.
Last night's menu was cornbread from Cooking Green. The dilled red potatoes should have used a recipe from Cooking Green, but I ran out of time to be home long enough to run the slow cooker. And an old standby I know everyone loves, vegetarian baked beans.
If you're planning on going out and taking advantage of the BOGO for Toufayan Pita Bread Pockets at Publix this week, keep this in mind. The Oat Bran kind of pocket has 1 gram more fiber and at least 5 calories less per serving than the Multigrain or Whole Wheat kinds. Stunned? I was. Just one more way reading the label (occasionally) pays off!
When you have stale bread, this is just one of its many uses. When I made these, the oven was already on, which made this an even more frugal and tasty treat. Also, I love that you can season with any dried and powdered herbs and seasonings of your choice. Plus, unlike store bought croutons, you can limit the added salt.
It's also a good idea that you can have as large or as small sized croutons you like and the amount is easily adjustable.
Recipe for Homemade Croutons
1 loaf bread, diced into bite-sized squares (I had a leftover Italian loaf.)
Spread out bread on a jelly roll pan and sprinkle with a small stream of olive oil. Stir to coat.
Sprinkle seasoning choices over olive oil. Stir again.
Bake on 350 degrees on middle rack for about 20 minutes, depending on thickness; stirring once or twice.
Unless salad recipe specifies otherwise, cool before topping salad.
Seasoning Options: onion powder, garlic powder, dried basil, dried dill, seasoned salt, plain, salt and pepper, dried rosemary, and many more!
64 wonton wrappers [I used the large ones and cut them in quarters.]
3/4 stick butter
[2 medium cloves garlic]
Puree cooked peas [and garlic] in food processor. Stir in cheese, mint, 1/2 tsp. each salt and pepper.
Put a rounded tsp filling in center of a wrapper. Lightly brush edge of wrapper with water, then place a second wrapper on top and seal, pressing out any trapped air. Repeat with remaining wrappers and filling, keeping ravioli covered as you work.
Boil Ravioli in 2 batches in a pasta pot of salted boiling water until tender, 2-3 minutes per batch, removing with a slotted spoon. Drizzle with butter and sprinkle with more cheese and pepper.
The concierge at our hotel needed to direct us to a reasonably fast dinner location. Paul said Italian pizza sounded good, and she made a reservation for us at Salute! on Madison Ave. and then directed us on the best way to get a cab to Carnegie Hall for a beautiful, but long performance of Handel's Messiah. (In case you never knew, the Hallelujah Chorus is not the end of the program, only of Part 2.)
Here is the spinach pesto I made to serve on pizza with fresh tomatoes instead of a marinara sauce. The rosemary bread at $5 for two loaves from Costco makes the pizza easy and tasty because it adds lots of flavor leaving only a need for a little salt and pepper on the tomatoes.
This is an absolutely ingenious way of doing two things. Firstly, I traditionally do not like having more bread than sandwich, which is why I often don't purchase whole wheat buns because they are actually larger than hamburgers and sliced veggie-meat. Size here is perfect. Secondly, I love opportunities to reuse items. This round bread recycles cans.
The following is a copy of an email I sent to our most devoted house guest, Garrett Nudd, for which our "Gachett Suite" is named. (Those not in the know may not know how much fun I get out of calling Garrett this name. It originally came from Paul and Garrett's barber who has a hard time saying Garrett because of the language barrier. However, she's great at cutting hair, and that's most important.) Paul was reading over my shoulder and said I wrote a complete blog post to Garrett and was leaving out important information other readers may glean, too.
When I was little, we were a family of habits. Every Christmas Eve we had dinner at Don's Seafood in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, followed by presents with everyone under the tree at my grandparents. The next morning were presents at our own homes, and back to Mawmaw and Pawpaw's for dinner, football, and time around the billiard table. Now, Christmas's are celebrated in Florida. Sometimes at Disney, sometimes volunteering somewhere. We are no longer driven by our habits, but by our memories of the years we had together.
Don't let anyone ever tell you sandwiches are only for lunch and are not elegant. Sprouts and avocados can be quite elegant because they are "adult tastes". Sprouts are stringy and often odd to kids. Kids may eat guacamole, but without all the additional flavors, avocados can taste rough. When at peak season, with red tomatoes and fancy bread, such a meal can be very good. And let's face it, counselors on weight loss and proper digestion would recommend lighter compared to heavier dinners because people often get home late and generally have larger entree meals for lunch.