And my new favorite is…

Chicken and Gnocchi Soup!!  I recently met a group of friends for lunch at a popular chain restaurant where I sampled this soup for the first time.  (Okay, maybe I don’t get out much.) While the concept of the soup was intriguing, the presence of chicken and gnocchi was almost non-existent.  It was basically cream of chicken soup with a little bit of shredded carrot and a leaf or two of baby  spinach for decoration.  Needless to say, I was disappointed by that soup and felt challenged as a home cook to do better.  Although I may be blowing my own horn, I do think my version more than met that challenge.  I did cut back on the amount of cream in my recipe to let the chicken flavor come through as well as to reduce the amount of saturated fat, but one could certainly add as much cream as they liked. (Do you think the restaurant uses real cream anyway?)  At any rate, you won’t have to look hard to find the chicken or gnocchi here, and I think plenty of creaminess remains. As a bonus, a generous two cup serving is only 370 calories by my computer’s calculation.  I did leave out a bit of the broth in the bowl for this photo.

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In all my excitement over that silly soup I’ve jumped ahead of myself here. Let me back up to the beginning of the week with Sunday’s supper of Stuffed Cabbage Rolls. I hadn’t made those in quite some time and had forgotten how satisfying they are. Cabbage rolls do take a little bit of work since you have to craft each portion individually, but the softened cabbage leaves are very forgiving and the assembly really takes very little time. The flavor of the cabbage seems to sweeten as it bakes, encasing little individual meatloaves. Of course, a second pan of cabbage rolls went into the freezer for another night.

As one meal went into the freezer another came out. (Gosh, I wish I could keep the dishes rotating like that. My freezers wouldn’t be so darned full!)  Meatless Monday’s made ahead meal was Ricotta Stuffed Zucchini. I did have to add some extra Marinara, also from the freezer, as the pasta seemed to have soaked up all available moisture in the freezing process.

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When you make Stuffed Cabbage Rolls, only the large outer leaves of the cabbage are required, and the larger the leaves the better. This leaves quite a bit of extra cabbage. Now you have two choices: you can serve extra cabbage on the side or save it for another day. This time I chose the later and on Tuesday we had Corned Beef and Cabbage. We don’t usually have corned beef until St. Patrick’s Day, but why not? I sometimes find myself trapped by tradition. How dumb is that? And besides, I love corned beef sandwiches.

I think I have mentioned before that our dogs may be just a little bit spoiled, haven’t I? Well, Bella has been battling food allergies, but one of the things she can eat is pork. Boneless pork loins go on sale often and are easy to cut into strips to dehydrate into dog treats (keep refrigerated). We have been eating a lot of pork lately! Thursday’s dinner was Pork Carnitas, courtesy of Bella. Carnitas have just a hint of citrus flavor and a melt in you mouth texture. the recipe is a two stage process, so after I have completed the first stage I split the pork into batches and freeze some for later. There I go filling that freezer again!

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Friday was an exercise in flexibility. My intention was to fix Bay Scallop Po’Boys, but a trip to the seafood counter came up empty handed. Frozen scallops weren’t an option either, as I wasn’t willing to invest $27.00 in the bag that was available! Nothing else in the seafood counter looked particularly appealing, so I decided to just forgo “Fishy Friday” for the week. So now what? Back to that pork loin. I had ground the end pieces and meaty chunks that didn’t lend themselves to being cut into lean strips. Waste not want not! I’ve been mulling a new recipe over in my head and decided to try it out. Pork Stuffed Acorn Squash attempt number one was the result. Let me just call it a work in progress. The recipe shows promise, but this first effort came out dry and the spice blend was definitely off. Next pork loin I’ll try again, but until I get it right I won’t post a recipe.

If you follow this blog, or at least read it on a regular basis, you may realize that I’m a week behind, AGAIN. This current week the menu has been rather boring and uneventful, so I may just forgo it all together and try to get a jump on the next week. I do need to be more prompt. The only excuse I can offer is that we old retired folks get kind of busy sometimes. (WINK)
Be thankful for what life gives you.

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