Menu Plan – April 15 – 19

We’re back from a long weekend in Spain, taking in some much needed Vitamin D (via the sun!)  We ate wonderful Spanish food and drank great wine, and spent three days on the beach of the Mediterranean Sea.  More on our trip later this week, but for now, below is the abbreviated menu plan for this week, since I’m already behind:

In the box this week:  None. We cancelled our vegetable delivery this week because we were out of town.

Meatless Monday – Frittata with potatoes and onion, and topped with goat cheese I bought at a local farmer’s market last week.  Served with a bag of spring salad mix.

Tuesday – Roasted chicken with potatoes and broccoli.  I use Ina Garten’s recipe as a basic starting point for roasted chicken. Depending on if I have time, I might make an onion galette, from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone.   Roasted chicken was on the menu last week, but we decided to make polenta-crusted fried chicken instead. It.was.awesome.  It’s a good thing we don’t make fried chicken often!

Wednesday – Shepherd’s pie (made last week and frozen), along with leftover chicken and vegetables.  I have a meeting Wednesday evening, and will conveniently miss shepherd’s pie, round 2. Darn.

Thursday – ‘Friday night pasta’.  We found this recipe when we were living in Dallas, and we’ve always called it ‘Friday night pasta’, I think because the article it was attached to was similarly titled.  If I can find decent Italian sausage (which is fairly difficult to find in Dublin), I’ll put it in this dish.  If not, I’ll just substitute more olives and tomatoes, and maybe some fresh spinach.  This dish is also good with a side of steamed mussels.

Friday – Homemade pizza.  We traditionally make homemade pizza on Fridays, and top it with some of the veggies that come in the delivery Friday morning.  I make my own pizza sauce in bulk and freeze it in Bonne Maman jam jars.  One jar = one pizza.

Next week, we’ll be back into a regular schedule, and I’ll post a more detailed plan.

Menu Plan – April 5 -10

I have had several inquiries about my menu plans each week, so starting today, I’ll endeavor to put my menu plan online.  Hopefully, it will be useful for my Irish friends, and give my American friends an idea of the variety (or lack thereof) of food in Ireland.

Two quick notes:

1. We usually eat meat 1-2X per week, sometimes more, sometimes less.  We got in the habit of eating less meat in Austin, and continued the trend once we moved here.  Meat in general is quite expensive over here, but seafood is reasonably priced.

2.  We get a weekly delivery of fruits and vegetables from an organic delivery service.  Ireland doesn’t have many CSA-type groups.  Each week we get a box of vegetables, and like a CSA, you just never know exactly what is going to appear in the box each week.  (Well, except potatoes.  We always get potatoes…this is Ireland after all.)

In the box this week: potatoes (2kg or 4 lbs), 1 butternut squash, celery, red pepper, broccoli, leeks, and parsnips (sigh).

Menu Plan

Friday: Soft tacos with black beans, Spanish rice, and queso with chips.  For those that are curious, I make my own taco seasoning because the kind available here is bland.  I also make my own Spanish rice.  I can find canned black beans occasionally in the organic section, or at the Dublin Food Co-op.  We made queso with Velveeta that my brother brought on his last trip, and the Rotel that I found at another specialty store: Avoca.

Saturday: Quesadillas with leftover rice and beans, and raw veggies and dip.

Sunday: Roasted chicken with maple-roasted butternut squash and parsnips.

Meatless Monday: Potato leek soup.  (This week, it’s only quasi-Meatless Monday because I’ll make stock from the chicken bones from Sunday.  Making stock also uses the celery, which is great because I don’t like celery.)  Getting into a Meatless Monday routine is a great way to add a meat-free meal to your week.

Tuesday: Shepherd’s Pie. Full disclosure here: Gag!  I hate Shepherd’s Pie.  I am not a huge fan of ground beef (or lamb) unless it is in hamburgers.  Moreover, stewy-meaty casseroles are not on my favorite list either.  But…Isaac really likes Shepherd’s Pie, and we have all the ingredients except the ground lamb. He specifically requested it, so Shepherd’s Pie it is!

Wednesday: Leftover night.  The only vegetable without a specific use this week is the broccoli, but the kids love broccoli, so I’m sure we will have eaten it by Wednesday.

Thursday: We’re off to Spain for a long weekend!  ¡Vámonos!


Mexican food!

Thank you to everyone who sent their congratulations on our last post.  In my effort to write posts more often, here is another adventure in food challenges in Dublin.

Tortillas, salsa, and Mexican food (or Tex-Mex) are not widely available in Dublin.  (Shocking, I know!)  Technically you can get salsa and tortillas in some grocery stores.  The only brand available is Old El Paso.  However, it isn’t the same packaging as Old El Paso in the US, which makes me think that the brand has just licensed its name overseas.  The salsa looks suspiciously like jarred ketchup, and everything is labeled “Family Friendly” or “Extra Mild”.  The tortillas usually come in a package of 6 – they already look stale.  Moreover, a package of 6 tortillas costs between 4 and 5 €.  Right now, that’s about $5-6 dollars per package!  One dollar per stale tortilla – yikes!  So…I decided to make my own tortillas.  (I have also decided to make my own salsa, but haven’t yet done this.)

I used this recipe from Homesick Texan.  (This blogger is particular about other bloggers reposting her recipes, so I just linked to the page.)  The recipe worked out very well.  It was also beneficial that all of the ingredients were widely available here in Ireland.  Some tortilla recipes call for lard, which is not commonly available here.  Also – I have no other need for lard.

The process was fairly simple:

1.  Make the dough, allow it to rest for 30 minutes (or, you know, 2 hours while you forget about it, which is what happened to me)

2.  Split dough into small balls – approximately golf ball size.  These individual pieces of dough become the tortillas.  Allow to rest for 10 minutes or so.

Tortilla dough ball

3.  Roll out dough into 8-inch disc.  This is by far the most time consuming step.  Also – a tortilla press would be exceptionally handy here, but I don’t have one.

Rolled-out dough

4.  Place in dry, hot skillet.  Cook for appx 30 seconds to 1 minute on each side.  (Note the lovely blue tile in our kitchen.  We just can’t seem to escape brightly colored tile!  In our kitchen in Austin, the tile was green.  Someday, I will have a nice, neutral modern kitchen.)

Almost there!

5.  Finished product!  These tortillas were almost as good as the ones from Central Market in Austin.  They were incredibly tasty.  Soft, pliable, the kind of tortillas you want to just put a little honey on.

Homemade Tortillas!
Stack of tortillas

I also tried to make whole-wheat tortillas, but the whole-wheat version was tougher.  I think that was mainly due to the fact that the whole wheat flour here is very rough.  It is not ground as fine as whole-wheat flour available in the US.

As long as we are on the topic of Mexican food, we did try a “Mexican” food restaurant here in Dublin.  Cafe Aztec came highly recommended on Yelp, and several of our Irish friends had heard of it.  I was having a major Tex-Mex craving (side effect of the pregnancy I guess), so we went one Saturday.  It was a total disappointment.  The chips were good, but the salsa and guacamole were bland and the enchiladas had no flavor at all.  I suppose we get what we deserve, but it was worth a shot!