Thursday, September 22, 2016

Stir-Fry with Flank Steak, Green Beans, & Water Chestnuts, September 21, 2016

My wife and I often think of similar things to cook. Such was the case this last week with stir-fry. She made a wonderfully sesame-y chicken version. I think mine last night was the best version I've ever made. I served it with brown Jasmine rice and pineapple.

Stir-Fry with Flank Steak, Green Beans, and Water Chestnuts
1 1/2 lb. flank steak, trimmed of fat
1/3 c. tamari or soy sauce
1/3 c. beef broth
1 tbsp. cornstarch
1 tbsp. rice vinegar
A pinch of red pepper flakes
1 1/2- 2 tbsp. vegetable oil 
1 lb. green beans, broken into smaller pieces
8 oz. sliced water chestnuts 
4-6 cloves garlic, minced
1-2 tbsp. ginger, minced

Cut flank steak into 3 or 4 pieces, lengthwise. Slice thinly crosswise. Whisk tamari, broth, cornstarch, rice vinegar, and red pepper flakes together. Heat 2 tsp. oil in wok or large, deep, nonstick skillet, on medium-high heat, until just smoking. Brown steak, in 2 batches (adding 2 tsp. more oil between), about a minute per side. Reserve on a plate. Heat remaining oil. Add veggies and cook about 4 minutes, covered, but stirring occasionally. Push veggies to sides and place garlic & ginger in center, cooking just until fragrant, about half a minute. Return steak, along with any accumulated juices, to skillet and heat through, stirring well. Add sauce and stir to coat the ingredients well. Serves 4-6.

Herbes de Provence Baked Chicken, September 20, 2016

I'd planned to make fried chicken with baked lima beans, broccoli, and spoonbread on Tuesday. We decided baked chicken sounded better, so I sprinkled boneless, skinless breasts with salt, pepper, and Herbes de Provence and baked them right along with my spoonbread. Unfortunately, I soaked the lima beans two nights, since I'd intended to make them Monday. By the time I got ready to mix up the baked beanish sauce in which they were to cook, the limas had begun to smell a smidge yeasty. Not wanting to take any chances, I dumped them in the trash. I haven't unpacked my steamer, so I boiled the broccoli too long. Even removing mine earlier, the tops were overdone for me. The limp version suited the rest of the family just fine, though.

My favorite parts of the meal were the spoonbread and the peach jello with cherries in it. Jeannene's mom went to Berea College in Kentucky and helped pay her way through by working at their well-regarded Boone Tavern as a waitress. My wife loves their spoonbread, which became her mom's spoonbread. I think she liked this version quite a bit.

1/2 c. cornmeal 
1 c. boiling water
2 tbsp. butter (subs like Smart Balance work, too)
1/2 tsp. salt
2 eggs, well-beaten
1/2 c. milk (2% or skim is fine)
Extra butter to go on top, if you're so inclined

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Slowly whisk cornmeal into pan with boiling water, making sure it's nice and smooth. Stir in butter and salt. Cool until it's warm, rather than hot. Add eggs & milk, whisking a couple minutes. Pour into a greased casserole & bake about 40 minutes, until lightly browned on top. Serves 4-6.

River Bottom, September 19, 2016

On Monday night, the kitchen was still a mess from Sunday dinner. My wife needed to get to bed early, too. So, we decided to try River Bottom. It's close and the online menu looked pretty good. We'd tried to go for brunch a couple weeks ago, but were thwarted by the crammed parking lot---filled with very cool old cars! We really like car shows, but did not stay that day.

Upon our return, I found myself questioning the wisdom of eating there. When we pulled up, it looked dimly lit, the only spots of brightness being beer signs. I wondered if we were foolish to eat there with a wee one. However, once inside, we realized the windows are tinted and it actually looks like a regular, no-frills family restaurant---the kind Detroiters call coney islands.

Our waitress was very warm and friendly, as well as being prompt. When I asked if they had sweet tea, she said they do, she makes it herself. She warned that it's quite sweet. She didn't have a Southern accent, but when she brought that tea, it tastes just like my Nashville friend, Teresa's. When I first met Teresa, I'd just moved to Tennessee and had to cut her tea, half and half, with water. Then, I got used to it. Now, I'd just as soon drink unsweet tea as sort of sweet tea. This was the real deal, the kind I drink very rarely and love when I do.

We each had the salad bar, although Jeannene was sorry the only greens were spring mix, with not a leaf of iceberg in sight. Not me! The cukes were a little peaked-looking, but most everything else was good. The cantaloupe was just about perfect. 

For our mains, Jeannene went healthy, with citrus-glazed salmon and corn on the cob. I had the corn, too, since the waitress had assured us it was especially good. That was a pity because it was incredibly overcooked. My grandmom would have been appalled. She was always a bit persnickety about the corn not being cooked too long---and she was quite right! My Philly cheesesteak, however, was really good. We had the strawberry shortcake for dessert. The biscuits were lovely, but I wasn't thrilled with the limp, syrupy strawberries. Ah, well, the end of September isn't exactly prime strawberry time. I should have known better. Despite those couple of shortcomings, we'll definitely go back.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Burgers, September 18, 2016

After spending the whole day at the zoo, my feet were begging me to go out to eat. However, I was ready to make cheeseburgers---& ready to eat them! So, my feet had to suck it up while I cooked. I made tater tots and an asparagus-Canadian bacon sauté based on a green bean dish from Jan Karon's Mitford cookbook to go with our burgers. I also did a dipping sauce from her cookbook, altering it slightly and using it on the burgers, as well for dipping the tots. Good stuff!

Asparagus-Canadian Bacon Sauté 
1 bunch asparagus, broken into pieces
4 pieces Canadian bacon, chopped
1 bunch scallions, sliced
Salt & pepper

Cook asparagus in boiling, salted water until crisp-tender, 3-5 minutes. Meanwhile, sauté Canadian bacon and scallions in a skillet coated with cooking spray until bacon is crispy. Remove asparagus from pot with a spider (or drain in colander) & add to skillet. Cook a few minutes. Season with salt & pepper. 

Dipping Sauce
1/4 c. light Miracle Whip (can use regular or mayo)
1/8 c. ketchup 
1/8 c. chili sauce
1/4 onion, chopped
Splash of key lime juice (can sub lemon)
1 clove garlic
A pinch each paprika,salt, pepper, & dry mustard
A dash of Worcestershire sauce

Whiz everything in a food processor until well-blended.

Friday's, September 17, 2016

I'd intended to make burgers Saturday night, but forgot to thaw the bison. As we left the bookstore, we decided we'd rather just go out than swing by the store to get burger-making supplies. We'd seen a Friday's on our way to drool over books, so we decided to stop there.

Jeannene really liked her Mediterranean mahimahi sandwich, served on flatbread with a side salad. I was less thrilled with the California Club I ordered. It was okay, but I felt like the smokiness of the Gouda overwhelmed the more delicate turkey and avocado flavors. It was also a pretty dry sandwich. I was glad I'd gotten mashed potatoes with it so I had something I did like.

Stir-Fry, September 16, 2016

Friday night, my wife came home from work, wished her aprons were unpacked so she could put on one, and made us a delicious stir-fry of chicken, asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower, and water chestnuts. We had it with brown Jasmine rice (which, until Friday, I did not know existed---it's quite good!), and pineapple. 

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Provençal Tuna Salad...Erm, Boca Burgers, September 15, 2016

I wasn't very sure my wife would like the unusual tuna salad I had planned, but I knew I would. After all, I'd already made a version with garbanzo beans and basil in place of the tuna and dill I used tonight and loved it. However, when it came time for dinner, my wife gamely tried her sandwich and I eagerly bit into mine. Neither of us liked it enough to finish, try though we might. It was too fishy for me and too olive-y and caper-y and lemon-y for my wife. I'd set out carrots & hummus to go on the side and Jeannene thought she might just have that, but I decided a Boca veggie burger sounded pretty good, so we had those, on English muffins, instead. We also had grapes and green salads to eat. By the way, if you've not tried Maple Grove Farms cranberry balsamic vinaigrette, you should! Very wonderful!

In case you like all the elements we felt funky about, here's what I did:

Mix 18 oz. well-drained canned tuna with a cup of halved grape tomatoes, a half-cup of halved, pitted olives (I used a blend from the olive bar), a bunch of capers, a handful of chopped onion, and a pinch of chopped dill. Stir in a glug of olive oil, juice of 1 lemon, salt, & pepper. Serve as a salad, on a bed of greens, iron sandwiches. Serves 4-6.

Spaghetti, September 14, 2016

My sweet wife decided to try some Gardein meatballs in Newman's Own Sockarooni sauce for our dinner last night. However, by the time she got home from work, she was wiped out, so I stepped in and made supper. We had our sauce and meatballs (which were discernibly vegetarian, but quite acceptable) over bucatini, with a bagged Caesar salad on the side.

Cuban Pork Chops, September 13, 2016

Tuesday night, I rubbed some pork chops with a paste of garlic, salt, and pepper, then marinated them in a combo of equal parts orange juice, lime juice, and olive oil, along with a small amount of oregano and cumin. I patted them dry, seared them, then baked them. To go with them, we had black beans (recipe here:, rice, and avocado salad. 

Tacos, September 12, 2016

When we were at the King Soopers the other day, we saw taco-seasoned ground turkey for sale. I remarked on how odd it was to see it pre-seasoned. Jeannene decided to make tacos the next night. She ended up adding a packet of taco seasoning and a can of Ro-tel and cooking it down. It was spicy and good. We also had refried beans and corn. 

Garbanzo Salad and Sandwiches, September 11, 2013

I'm a huge fan of grilled cheese sandwiches and I made myself a beaut for dinner Sunday night! Tillamook extra-sharp cheddar on 15-grain bread---Heaven! My wife opted for a turkey sandwich. I also made a beautiful garbanzo salad to go with our sandwiches. Cut-up watermelon made a perfect summer dessert.

To make the salad, just throw together a well-drained can of garbanzos, some chopped basil and parsley, juice of 1 lemon, a splash of olive oil, a few minced cloves of garlic, a handful of grated Parmesan cheese, and a pinch each of salt (I used fleur de sel) and pepper (freshly ground is best). This is even better the next day. This serves 2-4.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Corn Chowder, September 10, 2016

It's not exactly soup weather in Colorado yet, but with my wife recovering from surgery, it seemed like a good, nurturing thing to have for supper. I made a pot of corn chowder, with some rolls from the grocery's bakery and raspberry-flavored peaches Pie and Bubbles left behind when they moved out of our house. I'd always avoided the flavored peaches at the store, but they weren't bad. The corn chowder wasn't the best corn chowder I've made, but it was pretty good.

Corn Chowder 
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 large stalk celery, finely diced
1/4 green pepper, finely diced
32 oz. chicken broth (I used fat-free, lower sodium)
2 c. milk (I used 1%)
1 bay leaf
1 can corn (do not drain)
Chopped scallions & crisp bacon crumbles (veggie bacon strips work nicely) to garnish

Sauté the vegetables in the oil until softened. Add broth, milk, bay leaf, & corn. Simmer about half an hour. Garnish with scallions & bacon. Serves 6-8.

Pigs in Blankets, September 9, 2016

Friday night, we stayed in and I made breakfast for dinner: scrambled eggs (Eggbeaters, actually, and I was pleased that they were actually pretty decent), pigs in blankets, and applesauce. 

When I was growing up, my mom and I made pigs in blankets using hot dogs and dough we made from scratch. This is a quick and easy breakfast version. I just took whomp biscuits (the canned sort you whomp on the counter to open---thanks for the term goes to Sweet Potato Queen Jill Conner Browne), pulled each one apart to make two, wrapped a Brown & Serve turkey sausage in each one and sealed them. Then, I baked them in a preheated 400 degree oven for 5 minutes (on a baking sheet), turned them, and baked another 5 minutes. Yummy!