Monday, May 07, 2018

May 2018 Meal Planning

-Spaghetti, salad, garlic toast
-Italian pot roast, egg noodles, asparagus, chocolate icebox cake
-Ham quiche, salad, fruit
-Caesar snapper, parmesan rice, salad
-Broiled brie and pear sandwiches, fried potatoes, buttered radishes, salad
-Steak with spring garlic and rosemary, green beans, curried rice salad, spiced fruit salad
-Stuffed burgers on garlic buns, chips, radicchio and endive salad with goat cheese and walnuts
-Muffuletta, mashed potato salad, veggies & dip
-Chicken salad with raspberry vinaigrette, rolls, fruit
-Smothered chicken, mashed potatoes, corn, Shaker sugar pie
-Beef stroganoff, eggs noodles, salad
-Pork chops with sauce chien, baked potatoes, green beans
-Stacked grilled cheese, chips, succotash
-Sloppy joes, tater tots, corn
-Aloo gobi masala, basmati rice, cucumber salad, naan
-Chicken with wine & herbs, potato casserole, broccoli au gratin
-Pork loin with green peppercorns, herbed new potatoes, endive, pear, and roquefort salad, meringues with berries
-Shakshuka, good bread, salad

-Affogato punch
-Dipsy devil with crackers
-Pimiento cheese with crackers
-Fish Eyes
-Toffee mocha dessert
-Ginger fizzes
-Olive cheddar puffs
-Veggies with peanut dip
-Amaretto slush
-Butter mints
-Mexican omelets
-Fried egg sandwiches with pepper jack
-Double chocolate scones
-Dark & Stormys
-Enchilada bean dip with tortilla chips
-Salad with caper dressing

Italian Pot Roast, May 6, 2018

Yesterday, I wanted to make my wonderful wife something homey and delicious before she had to travel this week. As much fun as eating in restaurants can be, with the right company, it's not her favorite thing to do when traveling for work. She often just goes to whatever restaurant is closest to the hotel. So, cozy food it is, for the Sunday of a travel week! I also wanted to have the afternoon free to do something with the family, instead of being tied to home with something in the oven. So, I spent a little time in the morning getting an Italian-accented roast in the slow cooker and a chocolate cake in the icebox.

That cake was a bit of a disaster. I was using a modern recipe, from a modern magazine like Real Simple, so it never occurred to me that there would be eggs in a no-bake recipe. If I hadn't been feeding it to my toddler, I wouldn't have worried so much about it, but given a two-year-old salmonella poisoning isn't on my bucket list. So, I had a dilemma. Toss it all out (because, of course, I mixed everything up before reading the recipe) or bake it like I do my key lime pie? I decided that I might as well bake it, since it might turn out okay. If it turned out badly, well, I was just going to toss it, anyway. I burned the tips of the ladyfingers a bit, but not much. Most of them collapsed into the filling, though, and the filling was flat as could be, so it looked a fright. I chilled it, though, and gave it a try. Wee Boy wasn't interested in dessert at all (could be the ice cream I put in his before dinner "milk cocktail") and the wife took one bite and pushed it away. I thought it was a hot mess, but a pretty tasty one, so I saved the rest of it. If you want the original recipe, you can find it here. In the future, I will be using the tips on this page to help me stay safe while using raw eggs in uncooked desserts.

While the cake was a bit of a flop, the roast was a roaring success! I couldn't believe how much Wee Boy devoured. I served it with egg noodles and lush, silky asparagus from the farmers market.

Italian Pot Roast
2 1/2-3 lb chuck roast (We happened to have a London broil in the freezer, so that's what I used)
Salt & pepper
14 oz. diced tomatoes, with juice
1 white onion, sliced into thin half moons
8 oz. cremini mushrooms (or whatever sort you like), halved
4 cloves garlic, crushed
A couple teaspoons Italian seasoning
1 tsp. basil
1 tsp. oregano
A pinch of fennel seeds
A sprinkling of garlic powder
A couple teaspoons cornstarch, dissolved in cold water

Sprinkle both sides of the roast with salt and pepper. Place in slow cooker. Top with everything but the cornstarch. Cook on low 8 hours. Remove roast and mushrooms to a platter and tent with foil. Place remaining juices in a pan and heat, with cornstarch, until thickened. Next time I make this, I'm going to tip some wine into the sauce, too. Serve with roast. Serves 4-6. 

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Black-Eyed Pea, April 7, 2018

On April 7, 2001, my wife and I went on our first official date, at The Winds Cafe in Yellow Springs, Ohio. We indulged in brie and steak and all sorts of other wonderful things. We talked and talked. On April 7, 2018, we had a considerably less fancy dinner to celebrate our anniversary. We took our wee boy with us. At nearly 2 1/2 years old, he is not currently fit for fancy restaurants. I'd been curious about Black-Eyed Pea and had just gotten a gift card in my Easter basket, so it seemed like a logical choice. I was a little nervous it wouldn't be that great, but figured if it wasn't, it wouldn't be the end of the world. Luckily, though, it was yummy, indeed.

We shared the fried green tomatoes and the Buffalo chicken tenders for appetizers, although most of it came home with us. The tenders were, in fact, very tender inside and perfectly crisp outside. The sauce was a bit sweeter than I prefer my Buffalo sauce, but still good. The fried green tomatoes were stunningly good, just the right thickness and cooked just right. I was a bit surprised that they were served with ranch instead of a remoulade sauce or something like that, but it was good.

For my main course, I chose the chicken-fried chicken with cream sauce, mashed potatoes with gravy, and fried corn. I'd been planning to order fried okra, but was convinced by the waitress to get the corn because I "can get fried okra anywhere." I was a bit puzzled by that statement, since we're in Colorado, not Tennessee, but figured, "Yeah, fried corn isn't that common out, either." My wife had ordered it and I was worried I would have dinner plate envy, if it was as amazing as the waitress suggested. Well, it wasn't much my cup of tea. I was actually a bit shocked when it arrived at the table, to be perfectly honest. My wife and wee boy loved it, but I was somewhat appalled. Somebody had decided it was a good idea to batter an entire ear of corn and fry it! I mean, the batter was good batter, but it was way over the top for me! I ended up peeling it off and leaving it behind on my plate. The corn underneath was pretty good for restaurant chain corn on the cob and for this time of year, but I wouldn't order it again. My chicken, though, was delicious and the mashed potatoes were very flavorful, all lumpy and earthy.

My wife's ribeye was very, very juicy and full of goodness. She had a broccoli rice casserole, along with the fried corn. It seemed a bit loose, for lack of a better word, to me. Wee boy wanted fish and chips, with a side of mac and cheese. He was the most excited about the big fries, dipping one after the other in tartar sauce.

We were happy to see that they offer their desserts in either cup or bowl size, so we were able to get smaller versions of two different desserts. I was deeply disappointed in the cherry cobbler, in which the cherries had turned into a weirdly congealed, chewy mess. However, the banana pudding was smooth and yummy, if a bit short on the Nilla Wafers.

Blintz Casserole with Strawberry Orange Mango Sauce, Brunch, April 7, 2018

I don't actually love blintzes, but it seemed like it would be fun to try my hand at a blintz-like breakfast casserole, anyway. My poor wife was expecting it to be like the scalloped pineapple I made for Easter, so she was a bit disappointed with it. I liked it pretty well, although if I'm going to indulge in a sweet brunch, I want it to be outstanding. Our wee boy ate it with great gusto. I'm happy to have some leftover strawberry orange mango sauce. I think I'll have to pick up some good vanilla ice cream to finish it off. It would be easy to make with any kind of berries or frozen fruit. I'm thinking I'll try it with straight-up mangoes next, perhaps over some big, fat waffles.

Blintz Casserole
4 oz. cream cheese, room temperature (neufch√Ętel would work nicely here, too)
8 oz. ricotta
4 eggs
1/2 tbsp. sugar + 1/8 c. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 stick butter, melted
1/2 c. flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 c. orange mango juice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Beat the cream cheese, ricotta, 1 egg, 1/2 tbsp. sugar, and vanilla together until well-mixed to make filling. For batter, beat butter with 1/8 c. sugar and 3 eggs. Add flour, baking powder, baking soda, and juice. Beat well. Pour half the batter into a greased 8x8 baking dish. Top with filling, spreading as evenly as you can. Cover that layer with the remaining batter. Bake until firm and golden on top, about 45-50 minutes. Cut into squares and serve with sauce. Serves 4-6.

Strawberry Orange Mango Sauce
16 oz. frozen strawberries (sub any fruit you like), thawed
2 tbsp. sugar
1 tbsp. cornstarch
1/4 c. orange mango juice

Place all ingredients in a saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, mashing berries with a wooden spoon as they cook. Simmer, whisking, until thickened (about 5 minutes). Cool before serving. 

Long Ziti with Meat Sauce, April 6, 2018

My wife loves making pasta for dinner. Recently, I can't recall where, she found long ziti. Friday night, she made it with doctored Classico red sauce. She added onions, peppers, garlic, Italian seasoning, sweet Italian sausage, and shredded parmesan. It was heavenly, although the thick noodles were a bit unwieldy. She served it with a bagged Caesar salad and some grocery store ciabatta which she slathered with garlic butter and parmesan before baking. Delish!

Tuna Melts, April 5, 2018

I'd intended to have brisket and all kinds of yummy sides like tzimmes on Thursday, but we realized while we were out and about that we had forgotten to thaw the meat. The good news was that we were both more in the mood for tuna melts, anyway, and our wee boy eats those like a champ. He's not terribly picky in general, but he loves tuna melts! I was tired and it was wonderful to realize I could change gears from a big, somewhat labor-intensive feast to this simplest of meals--tuna melts, chips, and wedges of a glorious Cara Cara orange. Had I been feeling more ambitious, I would have dumped a salad out of a bag. Ha ha! I decided to try making the tuna salad with half mayo and half Miracle Whip, to very good effect. I liked the extra tanginess it added quite a bit. I always use chopped celery, sweet pickle relish, salt, pepper, and not much else. That night's tuna melts were either Wonder bread with American cheese or 17-grain bread with marble cheese. Me, I like mine with toasted Wonder bread and American cheese.

Fajitas, April 4, 2018

I had book group on Wednesday, so my dear wife made supper while I was away. At book group, we discussed Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel, ate cheese, salami, and other yummies, and drank wine. I wasn't starving when I got home, but walking in to the yummy smell of my wife's chicken fajitas was terrific! She used a Frontera Grill sauce as the base, but she always does a lot of doctoring and this time was no exception. She also served us Goya refried pinto beans, which we'd never had before but enjoyed, and apple slices.