Weekly Menu June 29 -July 5

Wow! Only two more days of vacation left. I can’t believe how fast it went. I enjoyed spending time with my friends and making memories with my nieces and nephews. It almost made me cry when my 7 year old niece, Olivia, told her mom the best part of staying at Grandma and Grandpa’s was sleeping in the camper with me.

I am looking forward to getting back in the kitchen. Here is my menu for the week. Have a great Independence day.

Veggie Pot Pie

Tater Tot Hotdish
Corn on the cob

Homemade veggie burgers


Cranberry Stuffed Pork Loin
Braised Kale
Baked potatoes

Shrimp salad
Corn on the cob
Fruit salad


Cranberry Jam

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Cranberries are my favorite fruit. When the fresh cranberries hit the shelves for Thanksgiving and Christmas, I start stocking up for the lean times of January through October. This year I had 9 bags of cranberries in my freezer by the time the season was over.

What does a person do with 9 bags of cranberries? When I started looking for things to do with cranberries, I had no idea there would be so many cranberry recipes out there. I have made a two kinds of cranberry muffins, two kinds of cranberry cookies, cranapple cake, cranberry meringue pie, cranberry vinaigrette, cranberry chicken, cranberry pork, cranberry butter, cranberry sauce and, today, cranberry jam.

At first, I wasn’t sure if I liked this recipe or not. The berries disintegrated and the final product set up more like a jelly then a jam. However, the taste is good. The jam has a nice tart bite to it that I like. It makes 11-12 4 ounce jars so be sure to have a few friends in mind to share with.

If you haven’t hoarded…I mean stocked up on cranberries like I have, Dole makes a frozen cranberry that appears to be going to be available all year long in with the other frozen fruits.

Cranberry Jam

2 12oz bags fresh or unthawed frozen cranberries, rinsed and picked over
3 cups sugar
1 cup juice, cranberry, apple or orange
1 cup water
1 TBS cinnamon, optional

Combine all ingredients in a heavy, 3 quart saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to a simmer, stirring occasionally, until thick, about twenty minutes. The jam will continue to thicken as it cools. Pulse in a blender or food processor. If you don’t have a blender or food processor, use a fork or potato masher. The cranberries don’t have completely smooth. **New jarring method- Using your clean jars, fill each jar with the jam 1/4 inch from the top of the jar. Once filled, seal and turn each jar over with the sealed side down on your countertop. Let the jars sit there until they have cooled completely and then place in the fridge. You will hear the lids pop once the jars seal completely.

Tiny Caramel Rolls


This recipe was inspired by the title of a recipe I found on the internet. The recipe made caramel rolls that were tiny in size but made 4 dozen tiny rolls. I wanted a recipe that made tiny rolls in a tiny batch.

This makes 6 tiny caramel rolls which is enough for two. If I am totally honest, I generally eat all 6 rolls myself.

Tiny Caramel Rolls

¼ cup lukewarm water
½ tsp yeast
1/8 tsp salt
1 ½ tsp canola oil
½ cup plus 2 tablespoons all purpose flour

1 TBS plus 1 ½ teaspoons brown sugar
1 TBS butter
1 TBS honey
1¼ tsp milk
¾ tsp butter
2¼ tsp brown sugar
½ tsp cinnamon

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a small bowl, combine water and yeast; stir to dissolve. Let sit for 5 minutes. Add salt, oil and flour. Stir until a soft dough forms. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 5 minutes. Set aside while making filling ingredients. In another small bowl, combine 1 TBS plus 1 ½ teaspoons brown sugar, honey, and milk. Spread in the bottom of a 6 inch cake pan. Spread dough into a rectangle on a very lightly floured surface. In a small bowl, combine ¾ teaspoon butter, 2 ¼ teaspoons brown sugar and cinnamon. Sprinkle evenly over the dough. Starting with the shorter side roll up the dough and pinch edges to seal. Cut into 6 even slices and place cut side down on the brown sugar mixture in the pan. Cover with a damp towel and let rise 30 minutes. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the rolls are golden brown. Cool the rolls in the pan for 1 minute then carefully invert on a serving platter. 2 servings

Dough adapted from Mollie Katzen’s Still Life With Menu Filling adapted from About.com

Szechuan Green Beans

Sundays are usually the day I post my menu for the week but for the next two weeks I am on vacation. So I am not making any commitments except to watch as much of this as possible.

Dr. Who and Torchwood
Dr. Who and Torchwood

In the meantime try these green beans with your dinner tonight. You can use a neutral oil and vary your spices to get whatever taste you want. Experiment with the cooking times until you find the perfect time for the perfectly done bean. I prefer the beans on the soft side.
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Szechuan Green Beans

4 TBS dark sesame oil
2 lbs green beans, trimmed
8 cloves garlic, minced
½ tsp salt
crushed red pepper flakes, to taste

Place a heavy, deep skillet over medium-high heat. After a few minutes, add the oil and wait a minute or two before adding the green beans. Turn the heat to high and stir fry for about 5 minutes or until the beans are well seared. Add the garlic, salt and red pepper. Stir fry for several more minutes and then remove from the heat. 2-4 servings

Vegetable Broth

After the weather cooling down and getting an awesome new air conditioner, I have felt like being in the kitchen so I am starting to restock my homemade staples, like cooked beans and vegetable broth, even though my pantry cleanse isn’t over until Sunday.

There are many reasons I make a lot of my own pantry staples. The biggest reason is when I make staple ingredients, I can portion them in amounts that make sense for a solitary cook. So many ingredients come in portions that are just too much for a solitary cook, leading to a lot of food waste. Did you know, according to Wise Geek.com, the average person throws away a 1/3 of the food they buy in a year? This is roughly a loss of 400 dollars a year. I don’t know about you but I have better things to do with my money than throw it away.

Mark Bittman’s Fast and Flavorful Vegetable Broth from VB6 is my go to recipe when I want to make broth. In spite of a rather long ingredient list, it is quick to put together because you just wash everything, rough chop it and throw it into the pot. When it is cool, I pour one cup portions into snack size baggies, seal and freeze flat.

Fast and Flavorful Vegetable Stock

1 large onion, quartered
4 carrots, cut into chunks
2 celery stalks, roughly chopped
1 lb button mushrooms, trimmed but left whole
4 (or more) whole garlic cloves, unpeeled and crushed
1 bunch fresh parsley, stems and leaves
4 sprigs fresh thyme, or a big pinch of dried
1 tsp whole peppercorns
4 bay leaves
¼ cup tomato paste
¼ cup soy sauce
½ tsp salt, plus more to taste
black pepper, to taste

Combine everything in a big pot with 3 quarts of water. Bring to a boil and adjust the heat to about medium low so the mixture bubbles steadily but gently. Cook until the vegetables are tender, about 30 minutes. If you have the time, let it simmer for an hour, the flavor will deepen and improve. Yield: about 10 cups

Adapted from VB6