Today begins the first week of my cookbook challenge. The recipes look delicious and I’m really looking forward to it. When I went grocery shopping this weekend I was worried that my grocery bill would be astronomical. Luckily, it was actually down about $50EC from a normal trip! That probably had something to do with the fact that I had ground beef, pork chops, and tilapia already in the freezer, but could also be partially attributed to the fact that a lot of the recipes include fresh fruit and veggies, many of which are grown here on the island and are therefore less expensive. Additionally, I was glad to find that many of the recipes include pantry/freezer staples, meaning that I don’t have to buy every single required ingredient every week. So here’s what’s on deck this week:

04.07.13 menu plan

I discovered that many (if not all) of the recipes in the cookbook are available online on the Food Network website. While I highly recommend picking up a copy of the cookbook, I will link to the recipes for those that would rather use an online version.

Today we’ll be having soup and cornbread, fancied up a bit. For the Beef and Cannellini Bean Soup, I have decided to add in a couple of tablespoons of chopped fresh basil while it cooks, as well as throwing in a couple of cups of fusilli ten minutes before it finishes. I made fresh dock stock this weekend, so I’ll be using a 50/50 mix of duck stock and beef stock. I’ll be halving the recipe for the Scallion and Mozzarella Cornbread, and will be leaving out the olives.

We’ll be sticking with the Meatless Monday theme (well, somewhat. It will have animal byproducts, but no real meat) with the Whole-Grain Spaghetti with Brussels Sprouts and Mushrooms. Nick and I have recently fallen in love with brussels sprouts after my mom introduced us to her amazing recipe (which I will post at some point). In fact, I recently made a brussels sprout pasta combining her sprouts with a balsamic butter sauce that was amazing (I may have spent the entire evening talking about what a genius I am). It’s actually kind of similar to this recipe, now that I think about it, but I promise I hadn’t read it yet. So anyway, I’m excited to try this recipe. I’m making a few swaps with it as well: I’m using penne rigate instead of spaghetti, using duck stock in place of vegetable, using duck fat as a substitute for the olive oil, using balsamic vinegar instead of lemon juice (there weren’t any lemons at the store, and I didn’t take the time to go to the fruit stand), and will be making my own creme fraiche.

I’ll be making Tuesday’s Chicken Adobo pretty close to the original recipe. I’m going to swap out the arrowroot for cornstarch, and will be doing a slightly different cooking method; after marinating the chicken I’m going to brown it in a skillet before  adding in the stock and marinade, and then bake it in the oven at 400F for 25-30 minutes (or until done), turning once. Once it’s finished, I’ll make the gravy in the recommended way. I’ll be serving it with yellow rice to help soak up some of that gravy.

The name of the Pork Chops with Sweet and Sour Glaze for Wednesday is a little misleading. We’re not talking Panda Express style sweet and sour; this is agrodolce, an Italian version. I’ll be making these as is. The Carrot and Yam Puree, however, I will be altering drastically. To begin with, instead of yams, I’ll be using red potatoes. Instead of olive oil, I’m going to use duck fat. Finally, I’m going to cut the stock down to 1/2 cup of duck stock, because I will not be pureeing them anything. We’ll see how it turns out.

The Caramelized Onion, Chicken, and Grapefruit Salad (recipe online differs as it does not include chicken) utilizes a lot of fresh, local ingredients. I’ll be cutting the recipe in half, and will likely use lime juice instead of lemon if I can’t find lemons by Thursday. Since Nick hates cucumber, I’ll be using christophine instead, which is actually a member of the squash family and adds a nice crunch, especially when eaten raw.

On Friday we’re having Broiled Tilapia with Mustard Chive Sauce (again, a half recipe), which will feature dill instead of chive, mostly because that is what I could find at the store. I’m going to replace the Greek yoghurt with sour cream, because we have it and like it better. To make it easy, I’m serving it with rice pilaf prepared from a boxed mix.

Saturday will be our brunch day, for which I’ll be serving the Breakfast Tart with Pancetta and Green Onions. I’ll be making my own pie crust for this one rather than using the recommended prepared crust. I’m going to use a mixture of mozzarella and cheddar cheese, because that’s what I have on hand. Finally, I remembered the recipe wrong and bought prosciutto instead of pancetta, but I think it will still be tasty.

The last thing I’ll be making this week will be dessert: Peanut Butter Cookies with Blackberry Jam. As the store has been out of butter for the last little while, I’m going to experiment with swapping coconut oil in for butter, which apparently can be done. I’ve got homemade (by a coworker) mango jelly on hand, so I will likely swap that in for the blackberry jam, and may leave out the cocoa powder because of that.

So that’s what will be hitting our table this week. I’ll keep you posted on how everything turns out. What will you  be cooking?

much love, Cayley

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