Now, I have to preface this by saying that it took me 4 grocery stores and several days to find the smoked shoulder picnic I was looking for. And it’s March, not the least Irish month of the year, and these cuts should have been more readily available…but no. Instead, I got to listen to my grandmother’s extremely low opinion of me, considering that I couldn’t even make a boiled dinner correctly. To quote the woman herself: “You just throw it in a damn pot and boil it!” Ah, familial bonding.
The history: I grew up eating this several times a year. As a child, I would pick all the cabbage bits out and feast happily on the ham, potatoes and carrots…smothering my ham with French’s yellow mustard and mashing my potatoes with a fork and buttering, salting and peppering the heck out of them. And we ate leftovers for days. It was wonderful. Something magical happens to those vegetables when they cook in the same water that the smoked shoulder boils in. Eating this meal, more than any other, was like pulling up a chair and tucking into a plate of my childhood, in all the best ways, warm and sustaining.
Fast forward many years, I attempted to make this and screwed up mightily by buying the wrong cut. I bought a pork shoulder picnic. I thought I had the right one. No. It was gross. It was boiled pork, not the tender ham I so fondly remembered. Blech. So it threw me off making this for a long time because suitNtie was so horrified.
Now, a few years later, I’m attempting it again. I’m just egotistical enough to need to perfect it. Turns out I simply bought the wrong cut. So, over the course of three days and four different grocery stores, and many frantic cell phone calls from the pork/ham sections of the refrigerated meat area…I proudly sent a photo to my grandmother of the two SMOKED BONELESS SHOULDER PICNICS (note: it does not say pork anywhere and is found with the hams) and received confirmation from the source that I had it right.
One of the awesome things about this recipe is that it makes a lot; you can adjust it to the size of your family. For the Kitchen’s purposes (three good eaters and one super picky one), I’m doing the following:
2 3 lb. smoked boneless shoulder picnics (see instructions above to make sure you have the right darned hunk of ham, please), boiled in a large pot for two hours. Keep it covered with water (adding if necessary)
*1 head cabbage
*1 bag carrots, peeled
*6 russet potatoes, peeled and cut into thirds or fourths, depending on size
*Add your cabbage (chopped up, please) and carrots together into the pot after you’ve removed your smoked shoulder to a plate (and covered it with foil). Let them cook for about 10 minutes and then add your potatoes. You may need to gauge the timing- the carrots and cabbage take longer than the potatoes. Once done, you’ll need to strain the veggies. I like to let them sit about 5 minutes prior to serving just to steam off any excess water that might be hiding in the cabbage.
Any leftovers will reheat beautifully. Have some vinegar ready for your cabbage, should you so desire. Personally, I break out the yellow mustard, butter (or butter substitute), salt and pepper and just dig in.
A little late (but hey, it’s really Monday this time, so yay). I hate when the first of the month falls on an awkward day of the week. Typing this quickly before I head out to the hospital for an observation….yikes!
4. Spaghetti & Meatballs
5. Ye Olde Boiled Dinner (NEW! …but old. Like from my childhood.)
6. FFY Buffet. Beginning the 10 day brining process for St. Patrick’s Day’s corned beef dinner!
7. italian baked eggs (NEW!)
8. suitNtie and I are out to dinner with friends.
9. pizza night: plain cheese.
10. Sunday Dinner: chicken croquettes
11. School Night: BFD: eggs, sausage, homefries, toast.
13. lower fat chicken & dumplings
14. School Night: grilled cheeses
15. crockpot beef stroganoff
Getting this one done early to make sure I am on time.
I’d like to thank my copy of Family Circle magazine on this one. I don’t know that I’ve ever torn out so many recipes in one publication. There are four on this meal plan alone and a few others that I’m looking forward to trying!
Beginning to settle in to this semester’s schedule. Of course, there are always interesting little things thrown in (Blizzard of ’13, for example), but I am getting through it… at least enough so that I’m willing to try a few new things in the schedule.
The meal plan:
16. FFY: suitNtie and I are out for a post-Valentine’s Day dinner
17. Sunday Dinner: glazed salmon (NEW!)
18. School Night: grilled cheese sammies
19. pork cutlets with apples
20. chicken milanese
21. School Night (Exam Night): FFY buffet
22. BFD: bacon, eggs, homefries, toast
23. (overnight steel cut oats in the crockpot for breakfast), Spaghetti Carbonara (NEW!)
24. Sunday Dinner: Crockpot BBQ Short Ribs (NEW!)
25. School Night: FFY buffet
26. Kids have a birthday party, so pizza while we are there.
27. crunchy parmesan chicken tenders
28. School Night: rigatoni & meatballs
Yes, I know.
The meal plan for the second half of January didn’t get posted. Let’s just say I was a bit of a hot mess. And it was WAY more stressful to be flying by the seat of my pants than it would have been to sit the heck down and plan, but I couldn’t get my act together. It was horrible.
But now I’m back. Without further ado, the meal plan. Such joy.
3. Sunday Dinner: The Kitchen’s Perfect Chili
4. School Night (Exam Night, even): FFY buffet
5. chef salads
6. hot dogs and oven fries
7. School Night: crockpot beef stroganoff
8. chicken tacos
9. Pizza Night: margherita
10. Sunday Dinner: peanut butter pork tenderloin
11. School Night: FFY buffet
12. grilled turkey melts
13. roast beef with slow cooked tomatoes and garlic
14. Happy Valentine’s Day! School Night: french dip sandwiches
15. BFD: pancakes and bacon
So my husband told me he doesn’t like chicken salad. I was appalled. To me, it’s kind of like saying, “I kick puppies” or “I hate America.” One does not simply dislike chicken salad. It just means you haven’t met the right one yet.
So, I took it as a challenge, American Gladiator style (I get to be Nitro, because he was my favorite). Break out the giant q-tips and your forks (what a combo) because it is ON.
attempt 1: a really nice Asian take on chicken salad, lightened up with only a little mayo in the sauce, and the addition of roasted cashews, mandarin oranges and scallions.
We’re having this tonight in a whole wheat wrap for dinner. I have my fingers crossed, but there’s more in the arsenal where this came from.
Your play, suitNtie.
Full disclosure: he said it was too scallion-y. That’s ok. We are one step closer to perfection.
Inspired by the Kitchn.
3 cups shredded cooked chicken (I ran 4 chicken breasts through my vitamix because I’m too lazy to hand shred. I also found this made for extremely even distribution of sauce)
1/4 cup mayonnaise
2 teaspoons rice vinegar
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/4 cup roughly chopped cashews or peanuts
sliced white sections of 1 bunch of scallions
1/2 cup sliced mandarin oranges or clementines, divided
2-3 tablespoons finely chopped red cabbage
Kosher salt and pepper, to taste
Fried Lo Mein noodles, for serving
Cedar’s whole wheat wraps
hoisin sauce to taste, 1 tbsp per wrap
In a large bowl, combine the chicken, mayonnaise, rice vinegar, sugar, sesame oil, and Dijon mustard until combined. Season generously with salt and pepper, to taste. Fold in the cashews, green onions, half of the mandarin oranges (the citrus will crush; you want this to happen), and the chopped red cabbage. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to allow flavors to marry. Taste and adjust ingredient amounts to personal preference. Spread a wrap with the hoisin sauce and dollop of chicken salad. Generously garnish with a mandarin oranges and fried noodles and roll up. I found the oranges to really help with the overall flavor of the chicken salad.
Where’s the meal plan, you ask? I know. I failed this month. It hurts me greatly and believe me we are suffering for it. My stress level is super high right now. Needless to say, Feb 1 will have a meal plan ready… Until then, I have some apologetic posts for you with a few new recipes that I have tried! Here’s the first one.
Got a random issue of Family Circle in the mail and I was intrigued by this recipe: quick, simple and yummy looking. So we tried it! It was excellent. We will definitely do this one again! It was a lovely, quick weeknight meal in this cold winter season and the tortellini really added some bulk to the soup and made it filling. Also, it reheated very well.
5 c. reduced sodium fat free chicken broth
1 20 oz. package refridgerated herbed chicken tortellini
1 lb. plum tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1 c. frozen peas, thawed
6 oz baby spinach
shredded basil and grated Parmesan cheese
Boil broth and 1 cup of water and then add tortellini and tomatoes. Simmer 7-9 minutes or until tortellini are tender.
Stir in peas and then add spinach gradually. Sprinkle basil and Parmesan over top and serve immediately.
16. Sunday Dinner: broiled haddock
17. Rigatoni & Meatballs
18. low fat Kentucky Hot Browns
19. chicken, black bean and tomato quinoa (adapted from here)
20. kielbasa, caramelized onions & yellow rice
21. FFY buffet
22. BFD: omelettes and toast
23. Sunday Dinner: early Christmas celebration… I’m making strawberry cheesecakes and garlic bread to the feast!
24. Happy Christmas Eve! Our contribution to the feast of Seven Fishes tonight: Christmas Eve Haddock and strawberry Grand Marnier cheesecakes.
25. Merry Christmas! Beef Wellington (from my Gourmet cookbook, a good link is here), the Captain’s Caprese Salad, potatoes grandmere and some veggies TBD.
26. Recovery. FFY Buffet.
27. BFD: waffles, sausage and eggs
28. sloppy joes & French fries
29. pizza night: margherita
30. Sunday Dinner: pasta e fagioli
31. Taking the kiddos out to a restaurant for their kids’ NYE celebration. I’m treating myself to a little Chinese later on!
I don’t even know where to begin. Let’s just say that the Thanksgiving bounty was such that it blew away my last meal plan. Honestly, we worked and reworked leftovers like it was our job…for about a week. Gah.
Which is great, really, because it reduces my budget for this period, although it means y’all have to suffer through some repeats. Sorry about that! However, it’s a great time of year for being a little fiscally conservative, so I’ll take it.
So, Moo, our littlest member of the Kitchen, is having a birthday. Sadly, the way the calendar falls this year, she’s sharing the week with Thanksgiving. Between Thanksgiving prep and my normal work flow with classes and housework, it’s a hectic time for party planning.
I chose to have it outside the home, at Moo’s ballet studio. A nice, mid-afternoon party, so I didn’t have to worry about serving anything substantial and I’ve been having a lot of fun coming up with ideas to fit the theme: a Nutcracker “Sweet” birthday.
I served up:
The Mouse King’s Favorite Cheese and Crackers
Clara’s Carrots, Cucumbers & Dip
Pirouettes (deli turkey and herbed cream cheese spread on a wrap, rolled up, and then sliced into 1-inch disks)
“Sweet” and Sour Kielbasa (recipes for this abound across the internet, but mine is simply three rings of turkey kielbasa, 1 32 oz. jar grape jelly, and 3 jars of chili sauce)
Melted Snowflakes (bottled water)
Sugar Plum Fairy Punch (Fruitables Fruit Punch)
…and of course a few sugary delights for the Land of Sweets. We had cupcakes (in lieu of a cake), “snowballs” (powdered-sugar dusted rice krispy treat balls), candy canes, chocolate dipped Oreo cookies and pretzel rods.
I sent the children home with little bags that they filled with goodies and a small Nutcracker ornament. Not bad for the time I had to devote to it, and the most important part: the kids had a great time. Success!
Late. Don’t hate. It’s been a heck of a week.
The second half of the month is full of crazy, too! Moo’s birthday, Thanksgiving…yikes. I’m trying to keep this very budget friendly because of the extra strain (including Black Friday, hello) on the pocket this month. Without further ado, the menu plan:
16. Chicken quesadillas (or, as Moo and Boo call them, “Mexican Grilled Cheese”)
17. Crockpot Chicken & Wild Rice
18. Leftovers from Moo’s birthday party/FFY
19. School Night: Grilled Turkey Melts
20. BFD: Omelettes, homefries, toast
21. Happy Birthday, Moo!!! Moo’s choice. I’m going to go out on a limb and guess “Pizza and salad.”
22. Happy Thanksgiving! Roasted turkey, stuffing, butternut squash, mashed potatoes, roasted pearl onions, green beans, waffle cut carrots by Boo’s request, homemade rolls, hot mulled cider. Birthday cake and other desserts provided by family!
23. The most obvious FFY Buffet day of the year.
24. Roasted Butternut Squash and Corn Chowder
25. Sunday Dinner: Crockpot Pot Roast
26. School Night: Chicken with black bean and tomato quinoa (NEW!)
27. Rigatoni & Meatballs
28. School Night: FFY Buffet
29. Pizza Night: English Muffin
30. Hot dogs and baked beans
MGCK started as a New Year's resolution for 2009. I wanted to start trying menu planning, a concept that I had stumbled across while looking for dinner ideas online. I dove into it with energy and unlike most diets, saw success immediately. The success only made me more interested in how I could improve, what new recipes I could find, etc. I started using my family blog for menu planning posts and it kind of started to take over. So, I decided to give my culinary fumblings their own home- and mygrandcentralkitchen.com was born.
Why "my grand central kitchen?" Well, I have two young children (one in preschool and one in Kindergarten). I am a nursing student as well as a stay at home mom. Cooking is a hobby for me. So you could say that aside from the playroom, the kitchen is the busiest room in my house and usually looks it. ;) It feels a bit like Grand Central Station, especially between 4 and 7 pm. I'm attempting to balance making nutritious, tasty meals with making meals that make as many people at our table happy. My oldest child makes that the most difficult: he's got some sensory issues with food that we are slowly but surely working through.
I hope that this blog gives me even more inspiration for my own home and the ability to inspire others in the kitchen, as well. I'll be posting not just menu planning and recipe links, but also interesting things I find online, things on my wishlist and recommendations, when I have the time. And who knows where it might go from there. :)
I certainly hope you enjoy the read.