Wednesday, May 28, 2014

June 2014 Dinner Plans

In June, I will try to be much better about posting recipes more promptly after making them. However, this may give you some ideas. These are the meals or individual dishes I plan to make in June.

-Fish cakes, asparagus with dill sauce, wedge salad

-Tomato, basil, & broccoli chicken casserole, veggies with dill dip, fruit

-Chile verde, tortillas, Mexican-style grilled corn, avocado salad

-Curried beef skewers, jasmine rice, Asian cucumber salad

-Salmon cake salad, rosemary & ham scones, fruit

-Meatloaf, mashed potatoes, corn

-Sambusa, dilled rice salad, tossed spicy veggies

-Truffled filet of beef sandwiches, kettle chips, carrot salad

-Grilled bourbon chicken, red beans, squash salad

-Thai-style lettuce wraps, jasmine rice, fruit

-Vegetable soup, salad with hard-cooked eggs, freshly baked bread, fruit

-Bucatini with zucchini & tomato sauce, green salad, bread

-Mediterranean roast chicken, kidney & green bean salad, fruit

-Black beans & rice, avocado salad, fruit

-Herbed tomato tart & strawberry salad with balsamic cardamom dressing (for a potluck)

-Tortilla chips & guacamole with Blue Lagoon cocktails

-Hummus & pita triangles with Juice of a Few Flowers cocktails

-Country ham & asparagus tartlets with peach riesling sangria

-Chocolate raspberry pavlova

-Baked chocolate pudding

-Orange cardamom thins

-Chocolate s'mores pie

Cocktail Hour: Pecan-Stuffed Dates & Various Drinks

Since I will be on the road for this week's Friday Cocktail Hour, I surprised Jeannene with a Wednesday Cocktail Hour. She hadn't eaten lunch and I was especially pleased to have the surprise of a tasty little hors d'oeuvre waiting for her. These dates are a southern classic and have a very old-fashioned feel. I even served them on my great-grandma Sadie's Haviland platter. I cheated on the drinks and used those funny Daily's pouches that you stick in the freezer and then smash to get a slushy drink. I had a margarita and gave Jeannene her favorite, a piƱa colada.

Anyway, to make the dates, all you have to do is pit some Medjool dates, tuck a pecan half in each one, wrap with a third of a slice of bacon, secure with a toothpick, and bake 12-15 minutes in a preheated 400 degree oven. I am a stickler for really good dates and prefer, if at all possible, to pick my own out of the bin in the produce section at the grocery. I find they are much more flavorful and infinitely better in texture than the boxed sort. It's also better to use really great bacon, like Nueske's, but I just used store brand center cut bacon and they were yummy, indeed.

This is the first time I've managed to pull off a fancy nibble, although last night, we had chips, salsa, & bean dip. Jeannene usually prefers beer, but I made a delicious cocktail with a splash of pomegranate Monin syrup, a shot of 3 Olives cake vodka, and club soda to fill, over ice, stirred, all in a highball glass.

Neither of us much liked the copycat of a Red Robin Strawberry Ecstasy I made earlier this month. It sounded good, but just wasn't. Maybe a shot of rum would have helped? It was entirely too sweet for both of us. To make one, if you want to try it:
1/2 c. orange juice                                                1 c. ice
1/3 c. pineapple juice                                           1/3 c. frozen, sweetened, sliced
1/2 oz. grenadine                                                      strawberries, thawed

Blend everything but strawberries with a couple-few pulses. The ice should not be completely crushed. Put in a highball glass and add strawberries, with any accumulated syrup. Garnish, if desired, with an orange slice and a maraschino cherry.

On the other hand, I truly loved the vodka rickey I made last week. Jeannene doesn't like anything tart & stuck to her Coors Light. For my drink:
1 shot vodka
Juice of 1 lime
Juice of 1 lemon
Fill with Sprite and club soda.
Over ice, stirred, in a highball glass.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Teriyaki Chicken with Zucchini Salad

Juice in the batter, juice in the batter, we bake pie and nothing's the matter! When I was a kid, one of my very favorite books was Maurice Sendak's "In The Night Kitchen," a magical story about Mickey, who falls out of his bed & his pajamas into the night kitchen, where the bakers are busy making cake for the morning. His adventures in dough (and milk) are marvelous and I always loved chanting, along with my mama, the rhythmic words of the bakers in the night kitchen: "Milk in the batter! Milk in the batter! We bake cake and nothing's the matter!" If you've not seen this book and you'd like to know more, you can learn a bit here and also hear James Gandolfini reading it aloud:

Anyway, I've been up in my own night kitchen baking half a dozen key lime pies for my sweetheart's "job well done" reward picnic at her plant tomorrow. What fun! 2 dozen eggs later, the pies are chilling in the fridge now, the Crimson Cup ( coffee's all revved up and ready for Jeannene's 3:30 wake-up call, and yet, I am not quite sleepy enough for bed. So, on to tonight's dinner for you! Tonight, we had a dinner that was simple in the extreme. It's also a great one for the grilling season, which is upon us. Today, we welcomed our new grill into the household, a beaut of a Brinkman that can handle 40 burgers, I believe, at one time. Had we the forethought to pick up a canister of propane, we could have initiated it tonight, as this dinner lends itself well to grilling.

I cut a couple skinless, boneless chicken breasts into strips and marinated them in a little more than a quarter cup of teriyaki sauce. My favorite is Soy Vay Veri Veri Teriyaki. I only marinated them about half an hour, but you could soak them much longer for deeper flavor. Then, I put them on a broiler pan I'd coated lightly with cooking spray and broiled them until they were cooked through, about 7 or 8 minutes. This is where the grill could have come in handy. While they were doing their thing, I cooked up a pot of jasmine rice, cooking water seasoned with a little salt and a splash of sesame oil. I also made a deliciously fresh-tasting salad by slicing 4 zucchini into thin ribbons lengthwise (had I a mandoline, they'd've been lots thinner---and probably a great deal more even!), then tossing it with the juice of a lemon, a tablespoon of sesame oil, and a sprinkle of sea salt. Before serving the chicken, I sprinkled it with some toasted sesame seeds. Easy peasy and quick to pull together, if you remember to throw the chicken in to marinate ahead of time.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Curried Turkey Salad

It's finally starting to warm up and get green here in the Great Northland and I am so happy! The view out my kitchen window has gone from a stark landscape of white yard and brown woods beyond to a bright, happy lushness! I am still jealous of my friends to the south, with their earlier spring, but I am starting to feel as though I have, perhaps, survived my first Michigan winter.

With temperatures soaring all the way up to 70 degrees earlier today (does it give any other new Michigan residents a start to hear that it's going to dip down to 7 degrees, only to realize it's a Canadian radio station?), it was a great night for a big ol' salad as our main course. I made a curried turkey salad, with garlic naan and gorgeous, fat, red grapes to accompany it. It was splendid! I loved the freshness, after a winter of stews and roasts. If I were serving company & wanted dessert to fancy it up a bit, I would simply serve scoops of mango sorbet with, perhaps, a lemon cooler cookie or two.

Curried Turkey Salad
1/3 head broccoli, cut into florets
2 c. cubed, cooked turkey (I got the deli just to cut me a couple very thick slabs of roast turkey lunchmeat)
1 can garbanzos, drained & rinsed (to reduce sodium content)
1 English cucumber, quartered and thickly sliced
2 carrots, quartered and thickly sliced
4 or 5 scallions, sliced
About 1/4 c. ranch dressing (low-fat will work great)
About 1 tbsp. curry powder
Salt & pepper, to taste
Salad greens (I used butter lettuce & red leaf lettuce, but spinach or arugula would make a nice addition)

Steam the broccoli for just a couple minutes to soften it a little. Cool. Mix together everything but the salad greens. Serve turkey salad on a bed of salad greens. Serves 4-6. 

Tuesday, May 06, 2014

May 2014 Menus

Corn & ham chowder, sourdough bread, fruit

Broiled lamb chops, baked potatoes, lemon, mint, & spinach salad, pecan-stuffed dates

Broiled citrus chicken, avocado salad, lemon vinaigrette asparagus with goat cheese, spiced chocolate bread pudding

Dilly scrambled eggs, bacon, toast, fruit

Quesadillas, guacamole & chips, bbq corn on the cob, fruit

Fish with Chesapeake tartar sauce, green beans & arugula, veggie kebabs with saffron butter

Chicken & rice squares, cucumber salad, fruit

Bacon & egg club sandwiches, goat cheese salad, fruit, toasted almond shakes

Turkey spinach sliders, braised fennel & white beans, spinach & grilled corn salad

Mustard-roasted fish, Greek potato salad, parmesan-roasted broccoli, hummus with toasted pita triangles

Indian turkey salad, naan, fruit

Corn dogs, home fries, salad

Laquered chicken sate, rice, zucchini salad, chocolate chip cookie & mint ice cream sandwiches

American chop suey, salad, homemade bread

Broiled grouper, Tuscan kale & white bean ragout, caramelized endive

Wine-glazed steak, steak fries, broccoli & carrots

Spaghetti, salad, garlic bread

Tuscan rice salad, roasted green beans, berries with champagne & herbs

Saffron potato omelet, 2-bean salad with hearts of palm & blue cheese, blanched chard

We are also instituting a new tradition of cocktails & snacks on Friday nights when Jeannene gets home from work. Here are my plans for Cocktail Hour in May:
Asiago-ham pinwheels & Strawberry Swirls
Veggies with herb dip & Strawberry Ecstasies

Deviled eggs & Vodka Rickeys

Cheddar walnut crisps & Italian mojitos
In addition, a few other things I want to make, either for lunch or for other people:
Tea cakes
Black bean dip & chips
Feta & olive salad
Strawberry pretzel dessert
Butter toffee