Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Indian Summer's Over...Bring on the Fall Foods

These days, most of the meals J and I share are in restaurants. In fact, I've been eating in restaurants a lot more than usual ever since I moved back to Dayton. This past Friday, I met Brian & Lisa at Sidebar in the Oregon District ( http://sidebar410.com). J was supposed to join us, in fact left early so that she could. But, by the time she got snarled up in traffic from 3 accidents, she was so frazzled that she just wanted to head to the hotel and wind down. She missed a good meal, but I don't think the crowded & loud restaurant was the place for her that evening. I'll take her another time. The three of us started with a trio of appetizers to share. The octopus Gallego-style was tasty and came with hunks of bread for dipping into the paprika-sparked olive oil. The pork skewer with chimichurri was good, but the sauce was a good deal more delicate than I'd expected. The beef empanadas' powdered sugar dusting alarmed me momentarily, but turned out to be a nice counterpoint for the filling. For my main course, I chose beef tenderloin with a Cabrales sauce that I expected to be a bit more robust and a delicious side of cheddar risotto. I am not usually a fan of risotto, but this was definitely a hit. Lisa had the lamb shank, rich and sumptuous in its Malbec sauce, the velvet cloak of dinners. I wished I'd gotten it when I tasted hers and plan to have it when I go with the WHO group later this month. Brian went for the corvina, which was perfectly cooked and flavorful. I didn't get to taste his mashed potatoes, but Lisa sighed happily when she sampled them. I couldn't decide on a cocktail, confronted by a ridiculously large and intriguing drinks menu, so I settled on a glass of Moscato instead. Seeing the gorgeous cocktails around me firmed my resolve to try a cocktail there someday in the not-too-distant future. They specialize in speakeasy-style cocktails, using recipes from the 1920s with the sort of glasses you'd have seen then, too. Very stylish. I was tempted to indulge in their strawberry dacquoise, but was entirely too full to be foolish enough to order dessert.

Saturday, J and I browsed at the Planned Parenthood book fair straight through lunch, so ended up sitting down to an early dinner at the Bonefish Grill bar. I despise hightop tables, but I disliked the idea of making my hungry wife wait another 45 minutes for a real table when she'd been saying in the car that she could happily eat a dog. Our waiter was attentive but so far from charming and friendly that I only tipped 15%. He wasn't rude, exactly, just a smidge cold and a little arrogant. When my short little legs are dangling as I eat, I need someone pleasant waiting on me to make up for it. The food, however, was delicious. We started with the bang bang shrimp, crunchy and slathered in a fabulous spicy sauce, and an order of kobe beef & ginger dumplings, in another delicious spicy sauce and scattered with garlic. We both ordered from the specials menu. J, who is mad for lobster and for cream sauces, had the dorado lobster thermidor. I am a fan neither of lobster nor of cream sauces on anything from the sea and considered the dish a case of the ruination of a good piece of fish. J, however, loved it and my swordfish on pumpkin ravioli was magnificent. J's garlic mashed potatoes were the first garlic mashed potatoes I've had out that actually were garlicky enough for me. We were surprised that the seasonal veggie of the day turned out to be cinnamon-dusted spaghetti squash...and we both loved it. For dessert, I decided to give the chocolate creme brulee a try. J usually loves creme brulee, but this had way too much booze for her. It was rather strong, but I liked it. The only thing I was disappointed in, besides the unpersonable service was the white wine sangria, which I found to be practically tasteless and a waste of money.

Sunday's lunch was an attempt to satisfy my hunger for the particularly yummy frittata at Brio without veering too far off course from our appointed errand path. Figuring Bravo should have brunch since it's owned by the same people, I took us there. It was a mistake, the second time this fall that I have been sorry I chose to eat there. It won't happen a third time, although I might go in every so often just to have a bellini. Those are reliably good, much better, in fact, than the ones at Brio. Go figure. The frittata at Bravo didn't sound nearly so good as Brio's, so I ordered pasta al carbonara. J went for the chicken parmesan, which it's hard to mess up too badly. She didn't choose it for that reason, but I was glad she chose it because when my carbonara turned out to taste like dirt (that's not a metaphor, that's what it tasted like...soil, earth, ptooey), I was able to put some of her lunch on my bread plate and send my nasty choice back to the kitchen. I did enjoy the sauce for the calamari, but I much prefer the calamari at Carrabba's, if I'm going to do chain Italian & let my wife order her adored calamari. I was so thrilled to have a nice, juicy room service burger for dinner. We started with a chicken BLT salad, went on to the burger and finished with a very tasty rendition of Bananas Foster.

Today, we ignored our breakfast vouchers at the hotel in favor of sleeping in and having brunch at the Original Pancake House. J had been dreaming of it for several days and it did not disappoint. Our waiter was impeccable, the perfect blend of friendly and efficient, not rushing us at all but also never making us wait unnecessarily. I chose the Dutch Baby, which was perfectly eggy and arrived completely puffed and gorgeous. Sadly, my sausage was a little cool, but not terribly so. J had my favorite egg dish, the salami & scrambled eggs, which I often order there but never remember to make at home. She subbed a strawberry blintz crepe for the pancakes that come with it and that was good, too.

By the time dinner rolled around, I was beyond thrilled to cook! I love going out to eat, but I miss cooking when I've been eating out a lot. Plus, Indian Summer ended abruptly overnight Saturday and today was cool and grey, feeling much more like November than the rest of the month has been. I was happy tonight's dinner had a solidly autumnal feel to it. I baked some pork chops with a little salt and pepper. I'd wanted to do rosemary on them, as well, but I keep forgetting to stock my aunt's spice drawer with it. With the pork chops, I served green beans and roasted autumn veggies. In a preheated 375 degree oven, I baked an acorn squash (peeled and chopped), 3 parsnips (the same), 4 carrots (more of the same), 3 potatoes (skins on, but otherwise treated like the others), a couple onions (no skins, cut in wedges) that I had tossed with olive oil, salt, pepper and thyme on a large, rimmed baking sheet. I think they probably spent an hour, or close to it, in the oven and they emerged tender and sweet. For dessert, I made my apple crisp, which can be found in The Joy of Cooking, under "fruit paradise" if you have the modern edition, "apple crisp, or paradise" in my grandmom's battered 2nd edition, held together with a rubber band. It is probably somewhere on this blog, as well. You basically peel, core & slice 6 or 7 apples. I think it's wise to choose a few different varieties. Tonight, it was Honeycrisp, Granny Smith, Braeburn and Jonagold. Toss those in a baking dish (I like a 2 qt. casserole because that's what my mom used when I was growing up). Drizzle with lemon juice and, if you're less lazy about lemon zest than I, sprinkle with lemon zest. We never used it when I was a kid, so I consider it less than essential, which means it gets left out in favor of just the juice. Blend together (use a pastry blender or Foley fork, if you're lucky enough to have a good vintage one) a cup of flour, a cup of brown sugar, a stick of cold butter cut into smallish bits, and a smidge of cinnamon, if you want. You can also toss in a hint of salt if your butter's unsalted. You want it well-mixed but not oily, so be careful not to overmix. It should resemble coarse crumbs when you top the apples with this mixture. Pop it in a 350 degree oven and let it do its thing for about half an hour. It's luscious enough that you don't need vanilla bean ice cream, but that never hurt it, either.

Monday, November 08, 2010

'Tis the Season...for Pumpkin!

Well, it's also the season for silly Halloween food...or was, recently, and so I would be remiss if I didn't mention the cool mummy hot dogs I made for our Halloween dinner. I got the recipe online: www.pillsbury.com/recipes/crescent-mummy-dogs/d52a57d7-ab8a-4a1c-8dae-f9f90d03b912/

And last night, I adapted a Rachael Ray recipe for pasta with pumpkin & sausage. I had it with sourdough & salad...she recommends pumpernickel & spinach salad. This is my adaptation:
Penne with Sausage & Pumpkin Cream Sauce
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 lb. bulk Italian sausage (I used Bob Evans)
7 cloves garlic, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 bay leaf
2 sprigs of fresh sage, leaves removed from stem & cut into chiffonade
1 c. dry white wine
1 c. chicken stock
1 c. canned pumpkin
1/2 c. heavy cream
Scant 1/8 tsp. cinnamon
Scant 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
Salt & pepper
1 lb. penne, cooked al dente
Grated parmesan
Brown the sausage in a tbsp. of oil, breaking it up. Drain. Add 1 tbsp. oil and saute the onion & garlic until tender. Add bay leaf, sage and wine. Cook until reduced by half, about 2 minutes. Add chicken stock & pumpkin. Cook and stir until bubbly. Add sausage. Reduce heat and add cream. Season with spices, salt & pepper. Simmer 5-10 minutes to thicken. Remove bay leaf and toss sauce with pasta, cooking over low heat for a couple minutes to heat through. Garnish with cheese. Serves 4 and is very yummy!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Soup for a Cold

I woke up a week ago with a sore throat. It has since moved up into my head. Last night, I came home from work and went right to work making myself a pot of soup, since I have no one else to make it for me these days. Pout. A bowl of this with a couple of beer biscuits with honey has been my dinner the last two nights. You'll want to eat it two nights in a row, too. Delicious! The soup is adapted from the Gourmet Cookbook and serves 12.

Hearty Goulash Soup
5 slices bacon, chopped
3 pounds boneless chuck, cut into chunks (or just buy the stew beef your store probably sells already cut up if you're sick and want to make less work for yourself)
2 tbsp. oil
4 finely-chopped onions
3 minced cloves garlic
3 tbsp. paprika
1 & 1/2 tsp. caraway seeds
1/3 c. flour
1/4 c. red wine vinegar
1 small can tomato paste
4 cans beef consomme (about 42 oz.)
5 c. water
1/2 tsp. salt
2 chopped green peppers
2 & 1/2 lb. potatoes, chopped in half-inch cubes
Cook the bacon crisp in a large stock pot. Remove to a bowl with a slotted spoon. On high heat, brown the beef, in small batches, in the bacon fat, removing each batch to the bowl when browned. Reduce heat to medium and add oil. Cook the onions & garlic golden. Add paprika, caraway, flour. Cook & stir about a minute. Add vinegar & tomato paste. Mix well. Add consomme, water, salt, peppers, beef and bacon. Bring to a boil. Cover and simmer on medium heat 45 minutes. Add potatoes & simmer another 20 minutes. Adjust seasonings.
Beer Biscuits
4 c. Bisquick
1/4 c. sugar
12 oz. beer (I used Labatt's)
2 tbsp. melted butter
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Mix all the ingredients together. Put in well-greased muffin tins. Bake 15-20 minutes. Makes about 12 large muffins. Scrumptious with honey, really yummy even without anything.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Y.S. Eats

J has been signing us up for wild women weekends in my hometown, which often involves staying the night in houses in the village & eating at The Winds. The last time, we sampled several different restaurants. We stayed over Saturday & Sunday nights of Labor Day weekend, taking a sketching class and a jewelry-making class after worship on Sunday.

We started the "weekend" with a snack at Peach's Grill. Howard was our waiter so of course, the service was great. We had the pita chips & dip sampler. The pita chips there are perfection and they come with a yummy trio of dips, hummus, tzatziki and a roasted red pepper feta dip I usually don't like but which was good this time. www.peachsgrill.com

Dinner Saturday night was at The Winds, which was utterly slammed. While it's frustrating to have to wait a long time even with a reservation, it's wonderful to see them so busy. We were seated at last next to Steve Current & Karyn Stillwell-Current, whose Current Cuisine has yummy foods to go (we can't get enough of their amazing sundried tomato spread. www.currentcuisine.com), so I was eyeballing what was on their plates the whole time. Hee hee. Our waiter was nice, a new guy. It seems like they've recently had a big turnover in staff. Luckily, the new folks seem to be picking it up nicely. We shared two appetizers, a delicious tomato bruschetta and the cheese service. I think J has a new favorite cheese, Cypress Grove Lamb Chopper, and I got to revisit a couple of my favorites, d'Affinois (a lush triple creme) and Romao, a rosemary-encrusted hard cheese. We both chose the Pat la Frieda ribeye with Bulliet bourbon worcestershire butter for our entree (veggies & mashed potatoes on the side, if I recall correctly) and split the raspberry tiramisu for dessert. J loved the creaminess of the mascarpone filling while I snagged as many berries as I could. I'd forgotten how much better I like fruit without anything creamy touching it. If you love fruit & cream, it would be a splendid dessert. www.windscafe.com

Sunday after church, there wasn't much time for lunch, much less time to have brunch at The Winds, before our sketching class began. Luckily for us, the Corner Cone (which was Tastee Freeze when I was a kid) was right on the way from our lodging to the class site. We sat outside and noshed on delicious sandwiches while enjoying the newly lovely environment. The newest owners have gone to a lot of trouble to make it welcoming, with trellises, adirondack chairs, firepits, pergolas, flowers, art. J had a veggie melt, which looked heavenly, and I had a pulled pork sandwich. The fries were crinkle-cut, my favorite, and the Pepsi mix was the perfect (and hard to obtain) balance of syrup & soda. We returned this past weekend for ice cream. They offer soft serve in a wide variety of flavors...the butter pecan & peanut butter both hit the tastebuds nicely...and they even have vegan ice cream for the kids! Their waffle cones must be made on the premises because the sweet scent wafting out of the building just about persuaded us to skip our art class & order dessert right then & there. www.cornercone.com

I took J for her first dinner at Williams Eatery on Sunday night. It's in the old brick building on the corner of Corry & Dayton streets that has housed many great restaurants over the years. Williams Eatery is the newest incarnation. They serve American and Peruvian food. We started with a couple of dips, a crab dip J loved (I am not a fan of crab and it was definitely crabby) and a chorizo cheese dip we both dug. These were both served with grilled flatbread and fresh tortilla chips. Jeannene is a pasta nut, so she ordered the Southwest Chicken Pasta, while I went for the lomo saltado. It's kind of weird to have tomato-y, spicy beef tips on french fries, but it works. The bed of fries soaks up the superb sauce nicely. The greenhouse, added to the building when it was Carol's Kitchen, was a delightful place to spend a September evening. Jonas, another of our favorite former Winds waiters, was working that night and it was nice to see him again. If you go to the website, you can learn more about the menu, but you can also listen to some great Latin music, check out the local gracing the walls and read reviews. http://williamseatery.com

I'd been hearing about C.J.'s Southern Cooking, which opened not too long ago in the old KFC building, so we tried to go there for breakfast Monday. They didn't open until noon, however, and we were too hungry to wait. I wish we'd either waited or gone to Young's or Corner Cone. Sadly, we went to Sunrise Cafe. I admit that I am prejudiced against it because I want it to still be Dick & Tom's, the great little greasy spoon that used to be there. No pretensions at all, kind of gross, even, with flypaper strips hanging from the ceiling and tears in the booth seating. But terrific diner food, old-fashioned milkshakes served with the extra in the steel mixing cup and a selection of pie slices in spin displays on the counter (which also had spinny stools). However, J has really liked the pancakes at Sunrise in the past, so we put our name in.

An hour later (seriously? An hour wait?), we were finally seated in a dark, gloomy booth whose olive oil can lamp hung low enough that it practically obstructed our view of one another. The booths are not only unpleasant-looking, but uncomfortable, as well. The wildflowers at our table were lovely. That's perhaps the only really good thing I could say about our visit. Our server was unfriendly, even somewhat surly, as were all of the staff. Terminally hip, but not terribly nice. Perhaps they were just harried and understaffed? I'll extend the possibility. I ordered organic (and most likely fair trade) hot chocolate, which came in a darling little pot and was neither hot nor very chocolate-y at all, more akin to cocoa-tinted water. When I asked to have coffee instead, the server looked at me as if to say, "Are you freaking kidding me???" I quickly amended my request to, "Or maybe more powder?" as she stalked away. She did soften a bit when she came back to check on us after the results of adding chocolate powder to lukewarm water turned out to be disastrous, asking if I needed more hot water. By that time, I had given up. I really did try, but I just couldn't bring myself to drink it. She did, however, save her tip by asking. I almost always tip 20% if the service is decent. I was headed for 10% but bumped it to 15%, utterly shocking J, who thought I'd leave no tip at all.

The food, when it came after another interminable wait, was not that great. The chorizo in my Mexican omelet did, at least, have some flavor and the jam for the English muffin was pretty good., but I was not thrilled with my food. J liked her scrambled eggs just fine but the bacon was thoroughly overcooked. The chocolate bread French toast was misnamed, turning out to be chocolate chip bread "French toast." I don't use quotation marks lightly, but in this case, I feel justified. The dish was more akin to grilled hunks of chocolate chip bread than like any French toast I've ever had. It also had an unpleasant undertone of rotted fruit. I wasn't terribly surprised when I got sick a few hours later. I should have heeded my friend Aaron's warning to stay away. Sunrise Cafe, I shall never darken your doors again.

Monday, August 30, 2010

The Chicken or the Egg

In the flurry of activity that was the last couple of weeks, I actually managed to cook a couple of times. One night, I made a lovely spinach & parmesan frittata and some pasta salad with green beans & feta that could have been a meal on its own. Another night was my adaptation of Jane McDaniel's almond chicken from our church cookbook, served over rice with a salad on the side.

Almond Chicken
1/4 c. oil
3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut lengthwise in thin strips
1/2 tsp. salt
1 sliced onion
1 & 1/2 c. bias-cut celery slices
1 & 1/4 c. chicken broth
1 tsp. sugar
1 tbsp. cornstarch
1/4 c. soy sauce
2 tbsp. sherry
1 can bamboo shoots, drained
1 can sliced water chestnuts, sliced
1/2 c. slivered almonds
Heat oil in skillet. Add chicken & sprinkle with salt. Cook through and remove from pan. In same pan, cook onion, celery & 1/2 c. chicken broth 5 minutes. Mix sugar, cornstarch, soy sauce and sherry. Add remaining chicken broth. Pour over veggies in skillet and cook, stirring, until sauce thickens. Add chicken, bamboo shoots, water chestnuts and almonds. Heat through.
Spinach & Parmesan Frittata
7 eggs
1/2 c. parmesan
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
2 tbsp. olive oil
3 minced cloves garlic
10 oz. pkg frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
Beat first 4 together. Heat oil in 10" oven-safe skillet. Saute garlic until golden. Add spinach and cook a few minutes. Preheat broiler. Add egg to spinach and cook five minutes. Broil a few minutes, until just set. Serve in wedges.
Pasta Salad with Green Beans & Feta
1 lb. green beans, trimmed
1 lb. rotelle
2/3 c. olive oil
1/4 c. red wine vinegar
3 minced cloves garlic
1 tbsp. Dijon
Salt & pepper
8 oz. cherry tomatoes
1/3 c. halved black olives
Finely-chopped basil, oregano & chives
6 oz. crumbled feta
Cook beans in large pot of salted, boiling water for about 3 minutes. Remove to colander & add pasta to water. Cook al dente. Drain. Whisk oil, vinegar, garlic, mustard, salt & pepper into dressing. Add everything to the pasta, toss well & serve.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Corn Pie & Mac & Cheese Count as Veggies at a Meat & Three, Why Not in my House?

Tonight, my auntie and I ventured out to Graeter's for ice cream sundaes before dinner. She admits she is a bad influence on me, but the dinner I made was pretty decadent, too. When I lived in Nashville, I was always amazed at the things they counted as veggies. Tonight, I just needed some fried okra or white beans and my meal would've fit in at Swett's or Monell's. I made bbq pork chops (slathered with Sweet Baby Ray's and baked), corn pie and macaroni & cheese (my slap-dash version, chronicled in an earlier post). A green salad would probably have been a good idea, but it didn't happen.

Corn Pie
8 ears corn
3 eggs
1 & 1/2 c. milk (I used skim)
1 tbsp. sugar
Salt & pepper
1 tbsp. grated onion
1/2 c. heavy cream
1 & 1/2 tbsp. butter, cut into small pieces
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Slice corn off cob into well-buttered, deep-dish pie plate. Beat eggs well. Add milk, sugar, salt & pepper. Beat. Add onion. Stir into corn. Pour cream over the top & dot with butter. Sprinkle with paprika. Bake 40-45 minutes, until set. Allow to cool 5 minutes before cutting into wedges & serving.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Grandie Dinner

My grandmama's been gone 2 years now, my granddad almost a year longer. They were two of my best friends in the entire world. I miss them like crazy and plan to honor their memory every year in August with the dinner they ate most of August for dinner. They'd go to the farmstand down by the old stone house right by the river and get big, gorgeous, ripest red tomatoes and ears of sweet corn. My grandmom would then make Russian sandwiches (I'm not sure where the name came from or why they are particularly Russian) and corn on the cob. To make the sandwiches, you first toast some nice bread. Tonight, I used Brownberry's Oatnut bread. Then, you slice tomatoes and put a couple on each slice. Top that with crisp, fried bacon and slices of Vermont extra sharp cheddar. Broil until the cheese is melted & bubbly. Tonight, I picked up a strawberry pie from Frisch's Big Boy, one of the things I remember eating with my grandies when I was a little kid.

Grilling Galore!

Tuesday night, just as I was getting ready for bed, I realized that I'd intended to marinate some pork chops for broiling Wednesday night. So, I stayed up an extra 20 minutes to throw dinner together. I was feeling very pleased with myself when I got home, thinking I already had dinner partially made. When I walked in the door, my auntie told me she'd gotten all the fixings for shish kebabs! We decided just to go ahead and basically make (and eat) two dinners all at once. She seldom cooks, so it was quite a surprise, but it gave us a lot of variety. We ended up having chicken teriyaki shish kebabs (marinated in Trader Joe's teriyaki sauce and treated in my aunt's special vacuum marinater...she adores gadgets...my marinating was done in a gallon ziploc 'cause I'm all high-tech like that), various kebabed veggies (mushrooms, onions, peppers, summer squash), boiled potatoes with butter & dill, sweet corn, the pork chops and a plum & nectarine croustade. It was quite the spread! My cousin grilled everything for us while dessert baked.

Grilled Lemon Parsley Pork Chops
Mix together 1/2 c. olive oil, 7 tbsp. key lime juice, a bunch of chopped parsley (maybe 1/2 c.), 5 peeled & crushed cloves of garlic, a smattering of thyme (or rosemary, if you have it on hand...my aunt didn't, which surprised me...so I improvised), salt and pepper. Put 6 pork chops in a gallon ziploc and squish all around. Let marinate at least 6 hours but preferably overnight. Or, if you're one of those relentlessly perky morning people, do this in the morning before you go to work. Then, when you get home, all you have to do is broil or grill the pork chops until they're cooked through. Serves 3-6.
Plum & Nectarine Croustade
1 pie crust
4 nectarines, sliced
4 plums, sliced
1/4 c. plus 1 tsp. sugar
1 tbsp. key lime juice
1 1/2 tsp. flour
1 egg, lightly beaten
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Put the crust in a pie plate (deep dish is not recommended for this one). Mix the fruit with 1/4 c. sugar, juice, flour. Toss gently and put in crust. Fold edges over to partially cover the fruit all around the edges. Brush crust edges with egg and sprinkle with sugar. Bake 20 minutes. Lower oven temperature to 400 degrees. Bake another 20 minutes. Let cool before cutting.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

What I'm Cooking in August

I have been eating out entirely too much lately, and not usually anything worth documenting. I didn't cook the entire first week of August! I finally made dinner Sunday night, but due to scheduling, have ended up eating out again the last two nights. Last night, my women's spirituality group met and I grabbed McDonald's on the run. Just the perfect food to prepare for a spiritual experience. Oy. Tonight was rather better. I spoke to J on the phone and she had made herself chicken tikka masala with naan. I'd had board meetings back to back and didn't leave work until 9. Luckily, Ajanta India is open until 10. They are not as good as they were before our sojourn in Cleveland. The rice has lost the cumin and has a small pile of peas on top, rather than scattered throughout (which probably makes my friend, Andi, very happy), and the special tea just isn't quite as special. Nonetheless, it's still quite good. If my chicken tikka masala was a little bland, I can only blame my own gutlessness in ordering it at a level 1 spiciness. The bhatura was more fabulous than usual, so that more than made up for it. Anyway, I finally have August menus made up and am sharing them here:

-Cool Chick Salad, French bread, cantaloupe
-Lemon-parsley pork chops, boiled potatoes, parmesan corn on the cob, plum & nectarine croustade
-Russian sandwiches, corn on the cob, strawberry pie (this dinner in memory of my grandies)
-Rigatoni al pomodoro, garlic parmesan foccacia, romaine salad, oven-roasted fruit
-Chevre, avocado & turkey sandwiches on nut bread, lime thyme potato salad, green salad
-Artichoke quiche, ensalada olimpica, fruit salad
-Roasted pork tenderloin with fennel and garlic, Israeli couscous, sauteed radishes & sugar snap peas, grasshopper bars
-Roast chicken with potatoes, onions & carrots, zucchini ribbon salad, strawberry & poppyseed salad
-Steak Mirabeau, baked potatoes, wilted spinach, raspberries & cream
-Spinach parmesan frittata, feta & green bean pasta salad, fruit
-Almond chicken, rice, salad, fruit
-BBQ pork chops, macaroni & cheese, corn pie, salad
-Corn chowder, rolls, fruit
-Chicken & avocado sandwiches, arroz rojo, macque choux
-Lomo de orza, baked potatoes, salad
-Cajun chicken pasta, salad, fruit
-Cuban bowties, salad, fruit
-Banana nut bread
-Chocolate almond toffee bark
-Orange shortbread
-Lemon berry bread

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Cool Chick Salad

I spent the afternoon hanging out at a pool party for the youth, eating hot dogs, potato salad, calico beans, chips & dip and key lime pie. In other words, perfect picnic fare. The spread was put on by a very gracious couple who belong to my church. They welcomed the youth into their home & pool and offered to provide lunch, as well. This is so contrary to how a lot of churches treat their youth. They say they support the youth program, but if anyone is even in the slightest inconvenienced by the youth, you definitely hear about it! I am glad there are folks in my church who are truly dedicated to making the church a welcoming place for young folks! Enough soap boxing! The picnic made me feel like having a nice, summery dinner, too. I made an adaptation of a recipe from a cookbook called Looneyspoons. I love the name, "Cool Chick Salad." This is a lovely potluck dish, as well as perfect for a hot summer day. I served it with French bread and some really delicious home-grown canteloupe. A green salad would be a nice addition.

Cool Chick Salad, Daria's Way
3 skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cooked and cut into bite-size pieces
1 can black beans, drained
1 tomato, diced
1 can corn, drained
Half a red onion, diced
A handful of chopped parsley
4 tbsp. key lime juice (regular lime juice would be fine)
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
Mix the first six together. Mix the last six together. Combine & chill. Or, if you are ready to eat right now, it's pretty dang good without being allowed to blend. Serves 4-6.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Garlicking Up The House!

Tonight, I found some gorgeous locally-grown garlic at Dorothy Lane Market, so of course I couldn't resist picking it up, knowing I'd be making 2 garlic-heavy dishes for tonight's dinner. For the main course, I cooked up some plump, beautiful chicken breasts with artichokes, carrots and plenty of garlic. Then, I added a couple of twice-baked potatoes from DLM (they were kind of bland and dry, but I added some skordalia to them and they perked right up) and steamed green beans with skordalia, a fabulous Greek yogurt & potato sauce starring garlic. It's good on all kinds of things, from meats to steamed veggies. I suspect it would make a delish dip for crackers, as well. We enjoyed our dinner on the deck, then my cousin and I continued the conversation about religion and history in the ancient far east while my auntie got on a webinar.

Sauteed Chicken & Veggies
2 tbsp. olive oil
3 lb. chicken breasts (I opted for skinless, boneless and used slightly less, weight-wise)
Salt & pepper
14 oz. can artichoke hearts, drained & cut up
2 carrots, peeled & sliced
1 onion, chopped (oops, I forgot this!)
10 cloves garlic, sliced
A sprinkling of thyme
1 c. dry white wine
Juice of half a lemon
1/4 c. Italian parsley, chopped
Several halved kalamata olives (I think I tossed in about 10)
Heat oil in pot. Season chicken and brown on medium-high heat. Cook about 10 minutes, turning once. Set aside. Add a little more oil to the pot if you need it. Add veggies, garlic & thyme. Cook about 15 minutes. Add the liquids and bring to a boil. Cook until greatly reduced, about 10 minutes. Add chicken. Cover & cook on med-low about 15 minutes. Add parsley & olives & heat through. Serves 4-6.
1 lg. potato, peeled & diced
4 garlic cloves, peeled
6 oz. Greek yogurt
1 tbsp. chopped dill
3 chopped scallions, white and light green parts only
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
Cook potatoes and garlic until tender. Mash with yogurt until smooth. Add the rest and serve over veggies or meat. Yum!

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Lemony Fish for a 98 Degree Day

It's been so hot this week and I am so grateful that it was cool last week for our Habitat for Humanity mission trip! Tonight, I made lemon-crumbed halibut, parmesan rice (see recipe in a previous post) and Vancouver spinach salad, the recipe for which I got on a lesbian cooks list years ago from a woman named Brenda who lived in Vancouver. Dessert, in celebration of my auntie's first RDI presentation, is a beautiful mini fruit tart from Dorothy Lane Market.

For the halibut, I picked up a half-pound at the seafood counter, cut off the skin and cut it in half. I mixed some dry bread crumbs with lemon zest, garlic powder, salt & pepper. Then, I mixed some lemon juice with some dijon mustard. I dipped the fish in the mustard mixture, then dredged it in the breadcrumbs. I put it on a baking sheet that had been greased with cooking spray, sprayed the fish and popped it in a preheated 425 degree oven for about 10 minutes. Delicious!

For the salad, I put baby spinach in a couple of bowls. I sliced some strawberries and chopped some red onion and tossed them in, then sprinkled with sunflower seeds (I used dry-roasted, salted ones because that's what I found at the store...I imagine raw ones would be equally good). Then, I mixed up olive oil, white wine vinegar, balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper, a few tablespoons of maple syrup and a smidge of Dijon for the dressing.

What I'm Cooking in July

-Lemon-crumbed halibut, parmesan rice, spinach & strawberry salad with maple dressing
-Roast beef sandwiches, chips, salad
-Chicken ragout with potatoes & olives, salad, watermelon slush
-Steak, French baked potatoes, salad, fruit a la Suisse
-BLT wraps, zucchini ribbon salad, chips, raspberry with citrus sauce
-Artichoke chicken saute, steamed veggies with skordalia, boiled potatoes
-Super veggie sandwiches, chips, sandia ochumare
-Fish with salsa ajillo, rice, chevre salad
-Cumin-crusted pork soft tacos, black beans & rice, avocado salad
-Tagiolini al pesto amato, salad, bread, orange cornmeal cake with berries & whipped cream
-Cajun steak salad, fruit, bread
-Potato chip chicken, zucchini fritters, fried green tomatoes
-Salmon burgers, hummus, pita, sugar snaps, spinach salad w/grapefruit & mint vinaigrette
-Mexican rice, chips & guacamole, salad, fruit
-Goat cheese sandwiches, spicy orange broccoli, fresh corn salad
-Fritas, plantain chips, fruit
-Chicken & avocado sandwiches, homemade chips, salad
-BBQish chicken, rice, green beans

Friday, June 25, 2010

Quick Dinners for Visiting Cousins

Last night, my cousins Eric & Linda, who drive a big truck hauling motorcycles all over the country for shows, were in town for a show. Eric is particularly partial to our family's celebratory meal, shrimp in beer. On festive occasions when Lindstroms & Schaffnits gather, we have shrimp in beer. My grandmama always made it and my aunt made it for us last night. There's a cream cheese dip that is officially for the shrimp, but we always dip ruffled potato chips in it, as well. My auntie added a Caesar salad and, since we were going for special dishes, I made Nigella's chocolate pavlova with whipped cream and raspberries. It was my first attempt at any sort of baked meringue concoction, aside from lemon meringue pie, and I was pleased with how it turned out. It was lovely to look at and delicious to eat! Here's her recipe: http://www.nigella.com/recipe/recipe_detail.aspx?rid=283 Better yet, just pick up a copy of Nigella Summer. You'll use it again & again.

And my grandmom's for shrimp in beer:
2 lb. shrimp (uncooked, shells-on)
6 12-oz. cans of beer (light beer is not an option! My aunt always uses Labatt's or Molson, I think my grandmom used Budweiser)
1 heaping tsp. salt
2 heaping tbsp. onion powder
2 heaping tbsp. garlic powder
2 heaping tbsp. celery seed
2 heaping tbsp. mustard seed
2 heaping tbsp. dry mustard
2 tsp. peppercorns or allspice
Dash of Tabasco

Bring beer mixture to a boil. Boil 20 minutes. Add shrimp & cook just until pink. Don't overcook!

Potato Chip Dip (AKA Shrimp Dip):
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
2 tbsp. chopped onion
2 tbsp. prepared horseradish
Salt, to taste

Mix together.

This will serve 4 people.

Tonight, my cousin Andy & his best friend since preschool came down from Columbus for dinner. I was happy to have a quick & easy Rachael Ray meal to make. It's perfect for summertime. Watermelon's dessert.

Here's the link to the Rachael Ray recipe:

I couldn't find any chicken sausages when I went to the grocery. All of the Aidell's were sold-out. So, I subbed cheddar brats. I used regular orange sharp Cheddar, which I find more aesthetically pleasing with cauliflower. And I chose grill seasoning for burgers, since I couldn't find Montreal Steak Seasoning & had left my bottle of it in Cleveland for J to use until she moves down here.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Jan's Showstopper Calico Beans

When my friend Jan told me about her calico beans, I said, "What on earth are calico beans???" She gave me this recipe, noting that "These have been a showstopper at more than one barbecue that I've gone to." Our family loves them & tonight, I took them to a church picnic. Very little remained at the end.

Jan's Showstopper Calico Beans
1 lb. burger
1/2 lb. bacon (I used 12 oz. tonight because that's what I had & I figured I might as well)
1 can baby limas, drained
1 can dark kidney beans, drained
1 can Bush's baked beans (I use original)
1 can Great Northern beans, drained
1/2 c. dark brown sugar, well-packed
1 sm. onion, thinly-sliced
1 bottle bbq sauce (I use Sweet Baby Ray's)
1 tsp. dry mustard
Preheat oven to 225 degrees. Brown burger and bacon. Add to beans. Add the rest & mix well. Bake 3-4 hours in a 13 x 9 baking dish.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Summer Green

Tonight's dinner had a green theme. I made avocado sliders, Goddess potato salad and a spring mix salad with feta, sliced almonds and raspberry vinaigrette. It was all very tasty & summery.

Avocado Sliders
1 lb. burger
Garlic powder
Salt & pepper
1 avocado, cubed
American cheese
Dinner rolls
Mix the burger with the seasonings & form into about 12 balls. Press an avocado cube into each and seal. Make into patties & cook in a skillet greased with cooking spray. Serve on rolls with American cheese, half a slice per burger. Serves 4-6.
Goddess Potato Salad
1 and 1/2 lb. fingerling potatoes
8 oz. sugar snap peas, trimmed
1/4 lg. red onion, thinly sliced
Green Goddess dressing
Salt & pepper
Thickly slice the potatoes and cook in salted water until just tender. Drain and allow to cool. Toss with the sugar snaps and onion. Drizzle with dressing, sprinkle with salt & pepper. Serves 4-6.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Comfort Food, Summer-Style

The other night, we were talking about food we could serve at our church bazzar & sloppy joes came up. I've been really hungry for them & my auntie loves them, so I decided to try a variation on my standard Manwich on a bun. She asked if we could have tater tots with them, which is, in my opinion, the ideal starch to go with sloppy joes. As I headed to the grocery, she asked if we were having corn with them. But of course! Add a glass of limeade, some watermelon & ice cream sandwiches for dessert & you have a perfect dinner to eat while sitting on the deck watching fireflies on a June evening.

Sloppy Joe Bake
1 lb. burger (I used 94% lean), browned & drained
8 oz. tomato sauce
3/4 c. water
1 envelope sloppy joe seasoning
1 tsp. minced onion flakes
2 (8 oz.) tubes crescent rolls (I used the reduced-fat kind)
1 c. shredded sharp Cheddar
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Mix the burger with the tomato sauce, water, seasoning & onion. Bring to a boil. Simmer about 7 minutes. Roll 1 tube of crescents out flat in a lightly greased 13 x 9 baking pan. Add the burger, then evenly sprinkle the cheese on top. Roll out the other package of crescents on top to cover. (You can brush this layer with an egg wash or milk to make it look prettier) Bake 15 minutes. Serves 6.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Satisfying My Aunt's Greek Tooth

Last night, I wasn't sure how I felt about what I had planned for dinner and I was pretty sure it would be too out there for my auntie. However, she loved my Moroccish burgers & feta potato salad! I thought they turned out great, too! I based the burgers on a Rachael Ray recipe available here: http://www.rachaelraymag.com/Recipes/rachael-ray-magazine-recipes/rachael-ray-30-minute-meals/Casablanca-Burgers

Here's what I did:
1 & 1/2 lb. burger (85% lean)
1 tbsp. chili powder
4 finely-chopped cloves garlic
A couple tbsp. lemon juice
1/2 tsp coriander
1/2 tsp. cumin
A little sprinkling of cinnamon
Salt & pepper
A drizzle of olive oil
1 c. Greek yogurt
1/3 c. finely-chopped mint
2 sliced scallions
3 tbsp. olive oil
2 tbsp. white wine vinegar
10 oz. broccoli slaw mix
4 sandwich thins (Arnold's brand)

Mix burger with next 8 ingredients. Form into 4 patties. Grease skillet with cooking spray and heat. Add burgers and drizzle with olive oil. Cook through. (You can do these on the grill, too, but it was raining & I'm afraid of the grill...if J & I were living together at the moment, I could make her do it) Mix yogurt with mint, scallions & a little salt. Whisk oil & vinegar together & toss with slaw mix. Put a pile on one half of the bun, add a burger & top with yogurt sauce. Finish with the other half of the bun. Serve extra slaw on the side.

Feta Potato Salad
3 lb. potatoes, diced
2/3 c. olive oil
1/2 c. lemon juice (juice 2 lemons & use the rest in the burgers)
1 tsp. Dijon
1 tsp. salt
A good grinding of pepper
1 bunch scallions, sliced (I removed 2 for the burger sauce)
6 oz. crumbled red pepper & herb feta
Boil potatoes tender & drain well. Whisk oil with lemon juice, Dijon, salt & pepper. Add rest of ingredients & toss to coat. Cover & chill a couple hours (I did mine before starting the burgers & just let it chill while I finished the rest of dinner & it was fine). Serves 6.

Monday, June 07, 2010

Dusky Breakfast on the Deck

The air is remarkably cool for June in southwest Ohio, a lovely night for dinner al fresco with my auntie & the dachshunds! I did scrambled eggs, a hash brown casserole of sorts and fresh cherries.

Bacon Browns
About 4 c. cubed cooked potatoes (peels on, if you like 'em...I do)
12 oz. bacon, cooked & crumbled (wipe out the pan & use it for the eggs)
1/2 c. milk
The smaller half of an onion, chopped & dropped in the hot bacon grease for a minute or two
Garlic powder
A couple handsful of shredded cheese (I used cheddar-jack because that's what was handy)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix everything but cheese & paprika together in 13x9 pan. Scatter cheese over top evenly. Sprinkle with paprika. Bake 15-20 minutes.

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Tea, Dahling?

It's been too long since I baked for people and tomorrow's staff meeting seemed like as good an excuse as any, so I broke out a scone-ish recipe. Very simple & quick, perfect with a hot cup of Earl Grey.

Currant Tea Biscuits with Citrus Glaze
2 c. flour (I use unbleached, all-purpose flour unless otherwise specified)
1/4 c. sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
5 tbsp. cold butter, cut into small bits
1/2 c. dried currants
1/2 c. buttermilk
2 tbsp. orange juice
Juice of 1 lemon
3 tbsp. powdered sugar
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease a 12-cup muffin tin. Mix the first 4 ingredients together. Cut in the butter, mixing until it is incorporated but still a little chunky...you want little nubbins of butter throughout. Add currants and buttermilk, mixing until just blended. Divide mixture evenly into the muffin cups. Bake 12-15 minutes, until golden. Cool 5 minutes. Remove from pan and cool on a plate for another 5 minutes. While they are cooling, mix the juices together. Add the powdered sugar and mix with a fork until the sugar is completely dissolved. Brush the tops of the biscuits with the glaze. Allow to set a few minutes before serving.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Margaritas for Two

Okay, so it was actually chicken margarita, but it was good. The recipe originally came from my friend Kira & it's really easy to put together. I served this adaptation with parmesan rice and romaine-based salad. I've been making parmesan rice since I was a teenager & eating it most of my life. My mom got the recipe from "Diet for a Small Planet." I learned to make it from her and it was a major staple of regular dinners I made with my dear friend Lesley. We used to make ourselves parmesan rice and eat artichoke hearts with it.

Chicken Margarita
2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
1/4 tsp. cumin
1/8 tsp. salt
A good grinding of pepper
1 tbsp. lime juice
2 tsp. flour (cornstarch if you've got it...my aunt had none)
1/2 tsp. sugar
1/2 c. chicken broth
1/8 c. orange juice
1/4 c. lime juice
1 tbsp. tequila
Mix cumin, salt & pepper. Rub onto chicken. Spray skillet with cooking spray and heat. Cook chicken 4-5 min/side, until cooked through. Set aside. Mix 1 tbsp. lime juice with flour/starch and sugar. Carefully add broth, orange juice & 1/4 c. lime juice to hot skillet. Add lime mixture. Cook, stirring, until thickened & bubbly. Cook a minute or two ore. Add tequila & mix in. Return chicken to pan & heat through, spooning sauce over top. Serves 2.
Parmesan Rice
2/3 c. rice
1-2 tbsp. butter (I usually leave this out, actually)
1 egg, beaten
Juice of 1 lemon
1/4-1/2 c. shredded parmesan
Cook the rice as usual. Stir in the rest and cook on medium heat 5 minutes or so. Serves 2.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Last Week in Cleveland

It's been a phenomenally busy couple of months, with not much interesting cooking going on as I prepare to move to Dayton and even less time to blog about the food! In hopes of making great meals for J during this last week I'll be living in Cleveland, I took care to plan special dishes. Last night, I made a simple but sumptuous fish dinner, tonight is a Sicilian-style chicken and Thursday will be boeuf bourguignonne. I was torn between mahi mahi, orange roughy and tilapia at the fish counter yesterday, but ended up with a couple of lovely tilapia fillets. For Pie, I made baked tofu in the same manner I did the fish. On the side were Near East toasted almond rice pilaf (vegan if prepared with olive oil rather than butter) and orange & onion salad on a bed of romaine. The navel oranges were 2 for a dollar and they were so very perfectly ripe, sweet and juicy, with gorgeous color. J exclaimed over the dinner, saying it was perhaps the best thing she ever ate. I was quite pleased with it as well. Now, let's hope tonight's chicken wows her, as well!

Seared Mediterranean Tilapia
2 tilapia fillets
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. coriander
A good grinding of pepper
1 tomato, chopped
1 bunch scallions, white & light green parts only, sliced
3 lg. basil leaves, cut in chiffonade
2 tbsp. capers
1 tbsp. olive oil
2 tbsp. lemon juice
2 cloves garlic, minced
5 kalamata olives, sliced (I added these atop my portion...if everyone likes olives, you want to use more and just toss them in with the rest)
Heat skillet over medium-high heat. Mix salt, coriander & pepper and sprinkle on fish. Spray skillet with non-stick cooking spray. Add fish to pan and cook about 4 minutes per side. While the fish is cooking, mix the rest of the ingredients together. Serve over fish. Serves 2, with enough topping to put on your vegan's tofu, as well. I started with a Cooking Light recipe from the July 2005 issue-this is my adaptation. The original starred tuna and used parsley rather than basil.
Orange & Onion Salad
2 oranges, peeled and chopped into big chunks
1/4 c. sweet onion (preferably Vidalia), diced
1 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. dry mustard
Scant 1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. garlic salt
1/2 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. oregano
Juice of 1/2 lg. lemon
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 1/2 tbsp. water
A good grinding of pepper
Put oranges & onions in dish. Whirl rest in blender & toss with oranges & onions. Let marinate while you make the rest of dinner and set the table. Serve over greens, with marinade as dressing. Serves 3-4.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Planned March Dinners

- Spaghetti, salad, good bread
-Cheesy beer soup, rolls, salad
- Asparagus omelets with goat cheese, toast, fruit salad
- Potato onion soup, hearty bread, fruit
- Tacos, refried beans, corn, fruit
- Seared shrimp w/lemon & garlic, oven-roasted new potatoes, tarragon green beans
-Supper salad, crispy zucchini chips, fruit
- Veggie cheese pie, Caesar salad, roasted pears with almond crunch
- Salmon patties, new potatoes, asparagus
- Farfalle with asparagus, roasted shallots & blue cheese, salad, good bread
- Falafel in pitas, fattoush, hummus & pita chips
- Baked tofu, Asian noodles, broccoli
- Baked goat cheese with baguette toasts and tapenade, fingerling salad with sugar snaps, green salad
- Heavenly carrot soup, rolls/bread, salad w/lemon vinaigrette, carrot cookies
- Veggie burgers, rosemary fries, salad, fruit

Monday, January 25, 2010

Planned February Dinners

Tonight was boring old chicken noodle soup, Campbell's Chunky with a pinch of tandoori seasoning for me and Amy's No-Chicken Noodle Soup for Pie, with organic white bread from Trader Joe's on the side. Since I have nothing exciting to report from tonight, here are dinners I'm planning on making in February. J will be going vegetarian for Lent, so dinners after Mardi Gras will reflect that.

-Hobo stew, rolls, fruit
-Baked tofu (Veg Boy's choice for two nights, sides up to me)
-Carne con papas, rolls, fruit
-Philly cheese steaks, dill-artichoke potato salad, green salad, chocoholic smoothies
-Matzo ball soup, if I can figure out how to make the matzo balls vegan (another veg boy request)
-Goulash, corn, salad, chocolate mousse brownies
-Mardi Gras food (probably either jambalaya or etoufee with king cake)
-Broiled mahi-mahi, frituras de garbanzo, arroz amarillo, avocado salad, lemon cheesecake
-Hoisin lime veggie burgers, salad, fried edamame with garlic & chiles
-Cheese polenta, asparagus with romesco sauce, stuffed baby eggplants
-Peanut butter & jelly sandwiches (another Veg Boy special)
-Cajun-spiced catfish, macque choux, fried potatoes, lemon mousse
-Palak paneer, matar pulao, salad, bhatura, gulab jamun

Yes, Another Casserole!

Last night's dinner was quite simple and yummy. I made a sort of Italian cheeseburger casserole with corn, Italian bread and salad on the side. It's based on a recipe called "The" Casserole in the "Church Socials" cookbook Pie got me for Christmas. However, the cookbook version is considerably longer and the extra time and effort didn't make sense to me. J had to arise at 4 this morning to hit the road for Chicago, so we needed dinner on the table fairly early. So, I just played around and found that a significantly shorter cooking time with an upped oven temp turned out just fine. I also couldn't resist using three times the garlic recommended. This is my adaptation:

1 & 1/2 lb. burger
1 onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
32 oz. diced tomatoes, drained
12 oz. tomato paste
A good shaking of oregano
Garlic salt
16 oz. macaroni, cooked & drained
16 oz. American cheese (the sliced kind...I got the deli sort that isn't individually wrapped)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Brown burger with onion and garlic. Drain. Mix tomatoes, tomato paste, oregano and pepper into the macaroni. If you have a vegan dining with you, set aside a portion of the mixture and mix it with soy crumbles (I used Morningstar Farms), put in a small baking dish and top with soy cheese, if you have found a kind that melts well. I used some that seemed to melt well but quickly hardened into yuckiness. Add the burger to the macaroni mixture. Put half in the bottom of a 13x9 baking dish. Top with a layer of cheese slices. Repeat. Bake 15-20 minutes, until cheese is all melty and casserole is heated through. The vegan one can go in for the same amount of time.

Suppers for Eight, Part Une

At church, we are doing Suppers for Eight. Our first round took us to the home of church friends in Cleveland Heights for Boeuf en Daube from the Williams-Sonoma Foods of the World, Paris cookbook. We walked into the casually elegant house and were immediately enveloped in the sensuous scent of the stew. We started with the artichoke dip I couldn't help bringing even though we were assigned a side. We'd been talking with our hosts at church and artichoke dip came into the conversation. Both of them practically swooned, so I knew taking it along would be a move that would make them very happy. J adores it, too, and I don't make it all that often, so it was a nice treat for her, too. We served it by the fire with pita chips and white wine. Here's what I do for the dip:

2 14 oz. cans of quartered artichoke hearts, well-drained and chopped into small pieces
1 c. grated parmesan
1 c. mayonnaise
1/2 tsp. garlic salt

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Mix everything together in a loaf pan or small baking dish. Bake 25-30 minutes.

After some good conversation, our hosts announced that the main course was ready for us, so we moved to the table, which was laid with simple off-white plates and sumptuously intricate silver our hostess had picked up on a whim in the early years of their marriage. The boeuf en daube (which I suspect was made from the recipe I found at http://www.recipezaar.com/Boeuf-En-Daub-Classic-French-Beef-Burgundy-353712) went atop the garlic smashed potatoes I'd made between my art group's meeting and dashing off to dinner. The designated salad and bread pair had brought all kinds of lovely crisp vegetables to adorn a sturdy lettuce base dressed lightly in vinaigrette. Orange peppers, cucumbers, mmm! Our bread was French bread. After the delicious meal, we were presented with a choice of coffee or green tea to accompany the gorgeous 3-layer chocolate cake with cream cheese icing and chocolate curls the dessert designees had baked. It was a wonderful evening!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Burger Night with Teenage Boys

Okay, so one would assume that burger night would be hugely popular with teenage boys. With the teenage boys in our house, you would be wrong. Boot is visiting for the weekend. This happens to be a weekend when he "can't eat" because of wrestling. Apparently, he can drink anything at all, including chocolate banana peanut butter smoothies. He just can't eat. This whole wrestling ethos seems bizarre to me in the first place. But the not eating thing seems like a great way to make teenage boys either anorexic or bulimic. It makes more sense to me to tell the boys that they should be eating lots of lean proteins and fruits & veggies to drop weight. But what do I know? I am the crazy one who doesn't think the coaches should recommend steroids on the sly and hand-pick a group of boys to encourage into participating in Mixed Martial Arts (AKA cage fighting) as soon as they turn 18. Oh, boy, am I proud that my boy's gonna be a cage fighter! Enough ranting. Pie is easier. He was willing to eat a veggie burger with soy cheese, although he was much more excited about playing PS3 with his brother than about eating. I believe he left the special vegan-safe roasted potatoes I made on his plate, as he promptly fell asleep as soon as his brother & mom left for Liquid Planet or Robek's. Oh, well, J and I enjoyed our dinner. I made onion soup burgers, ranch roasted potatoes and cucumber & red onion salad. The salad was my favorite.

To make the burgers, mix 2 lb. of hamburger with an envelope of onion soup mix and 1/2 c. water. Form into patties (this will make 8) and cook (broil, grill or pan-fry) until cooked to desired doneness. We had ours with cheese.

To make the potatoes, preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cut up about 5 potatoes. Toss with an envelope of ranch dressing mix (I am partial to Hidden Valley) and 1/4 c. olive oil. Bake 30-35 minutes, until slightly browned. Serves 4-6.

To make the cucumber salad, wash 2 cucumbers well. Run the tines of a fork down the sides, piercing the skin (if you want the cucumber slices to look frilly and fancy...otherwise, just skip this step). Slice thinly. Mix 2/3 c. rice vinegar, salt & pepper, 1/3 c. olive oil, 1 tsp. dill, 1/2 tsp. salt, 1/2 tsp. sugar in a medium bowl. Cut a red onion into wedges. Add to vinegar dressing with cucumbers and toss until everything is thoroughly coated. Allow to marinate in fridge 1/2 hour to overnight, overnight being preferred. Toss before serving & serve with a slotted spoon. Serves 4-6.

Winter Night Stroganoff & Roast Chicken

After a few days of allowing J to handle dinner, letting me rest my aching back, I have made a couple of cozy winter dinners. Both of these require plenty of cook time, but neither is much prep at all. Last night, we had beef stroganoff with egg-style noodles (no actual egg, so our fledgling vegan could eat them), peas and Italian bread. The night before, it was roast chicken with veggies, salad and sourdough. The chicken was a departure from my usual olive oil & butter slather, instead using broth and orange juice. I didn't enjoy the chicken skin as much as I usually do, finding it soggy rather than deliciously crisp, but the meat was incredibly juicy & flavorful. This is my adaptation of a Swanson recipe:

Wednesday Night Chicken
3-4 lb. roaster
2 tbsp. butter, melted
4 potatoes, cut in eighths
1/2 package baby carrots
About 1 & 1/2 c. butternut squash chunks (I subbed this for celery in the original recipe...it's what I had around)
4 small onions, quartered
1 tsp. rosemary
Salt & pepper
1 c. chicken broth
1/2 c. orange juice

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Rub butter all over chicken. Put in roasting pan with vegetables. Sprinkle with rosemary, salt & pepper. Mix broth and orange juice and pour half over chicken. Roast 1 hour. Add rest of broth mixture. Roast 30 minutes, or until done. If a vegan is dining with you, simply put more of the veggies in a small baking dish & put it in to roast when you put the chicken on, with a mixture of veggie broth & orange juice. When you add more broth to the chicken, add a piece of tempeh, seasoned with salt, pepper and rosemary, to the veggies. Drizzle with veggie broth and bake 1/2 hour.

Slow Cooker Stroganoff
2 lb. round steak, cut in 1 inch cubes
2 minced cloves garlic
1/4 c. flour
Salt & pepper
1 small onion, chopped
4 oz. sliced baby bella mushrooms
3 tbsp. butter
1 tbsp. soy sauce
1/2 c. milk
2 beef bouillon cubes
8 oz. cream cheese, cut in chunks

Put steak in ziploc bag with flour, salt & pepper and shake to coat. Put beef in crockpot with everything but the cream cheese. Cook on low for 6 hours, stirring occasionally. Half an hour before serving, stir in cream cheese. Stir until melted and allow to finish cooking. You can halve this recipe & cook only 3 hours on low. If a vegan is dining with you, get a pack of faux beef strips from Trader Joe's (or wherever you like to buy vegan products). Chop half a small onion and a clove of garlic. Saute until softened in a skillet with a little preheated olive oil. Add 4 oz. sliced baby bellas.Season with salt & pepper. Add a drizzle of vegetable broth, a splash of soy milk, a dash of soy sauce and a sprinkle of flour. Cook until heated through, with a slightly thickened sauce. J & Pie both loved this treatment & he had it right on top of his noodles just like our stroganoff.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Dijon Dinner

As I type this, J is putting soy slices on veggie burgers for our darling boy, who has gone vegan this week, as she cooks blue cheese burgers for us. Tuesday night, she made goulash (what much of America calls Johnny Marzetti) and set aside a portion for Pie to which she added soy crumbles rather than the burger she put in our portion. Last night, he had miso soup and veggie eggrolls while we had chicken feta patties on buns. Monday night was his final non-vegan meal, unbeknownst to us. I made chicken with Dijon cream sauce, egg noodles with caraway butter and green bean salad with walnuts, fennel and goat cheese. It was a very good meal, although I found the sauce for the chicken to be just a tad too salty for me. J thought it was perfect. It's a fairly easy, elegant meal.

The chicken recipe came from a Rick Bayless cookbook, one he wrote with his daughter, Lanie. It can be found at the San Diego Union-Tribune website: http://legacy.signonsandiego.com/uniontrib/20050223/news_lz1f23bayless.html
I used whipping cream and the sauce was plenty thick. I think creme fraiche might have made it too thick.

The egg noodles, which turned out to be my favorite part of the meal, were from the February 2005 issue of Martha Stewart Living and can be found here: http://www.marthastewart.com/recipe/egg-noodles-in-caraway-butter
I used a package of broad egg noodles we picked up while visiting Amish Country and they were perfect.

The green bean salad was also phenomenal and could easily be vegan with the omission of the goat cheese...or the goat cheese could be served on the side. It's from the Novemeber 2004 issue of Real Simple and can be found here: http://www.realsimple.com/food-recipes/browse-all-recipes/green-bean-salad-walnuts-fennel-goat-cheese-10000001031592/index.html