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 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 aunt didn't, which surprised 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.