I made myself a legit dinner.
There was no cereal. No avocado egg sandwich. No popcorn. No cookie dough or brownies. No ‘big salad’ (can they bring Seinfeld back?) No frozen soup from the depths of my freezer. Multiple popsicles? Nah.
You see, on most evenings, I don’t make dinner. Nor do I want to, unless it is cookie dough, then I am totally there! Rarely is there meat and potatoes. Or a side dish alongside an entree. I don’t even do take-out or take advantage of the pizza delivery system. Nope. I pour a bowl of cereal with a splash of almond milk or toast a pita round, slather it with smashed up avocado, and top with an egg. …it is the easy way out and leaves me with no leftovers. Total win win. Wives and mothers out there…how do you serve a meal each and every night? Dear future husband…Please don’t expect a full blown meal each night…you will be extremely disappointed when cereal is on the menu. Just a heads up. Dessert though, that will always happen…
Now don’t fret, there are some nights when I actually get my game together and whip up an actual complete meal. It is never planned and generally follows an overly ambitious grocery trip. Like when I find myself putting groceries away (worst part, right?) and wonder who put all this actual food in my cart…chicken thighs? Shrimp? You really bought ground beef? Who were you in the grocery? It is like I don’t even know you/me! Did you even buy more cereal? We need more cereal not a whole freakin’ chicken! Yeah, this happens.
And this is how I came upon making and then thoroughly enjoying a shrimp curry over basmati rice. Months ago I bought curry paste and it has been sitting in my cupboard staring at me and finding its way to the front, no matter how many times I hide it behind cans of broth and tuna. See, my off the wall grocery excursions taunt me months after they occur. But that curry paste… had I just waited to purchase it until when I randomly bought a pound of shrimp, this whole meal would have looked like it was planned. Ha! Someday. Can we pretend?
- 1 lb raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
- 2 Tablespoons Red Curry Paste
- 8 oz. Clam Juice
- 1 Can Unsweetened Coconut Milk
- 1 Red Bell Pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
- 1 Large Handful Cilantro, rough chop
- Salt and pepper to taste.
- Basmati Rice for serving
- Place curry paste in a large skillet and place over medium heat. Begin to cook until paste becomes fragrant, several minutes.
- Add coconut milk and clam juice and whisk until paste is dissolved. Bring sauce to a boil and cook until sauce thickens, stirring frequently. It should be thick enough to coat the back of a spoon without dripping off. This should take 10 to 15 minutes.
- Add slices of red bell pepper and cook for an additional 3 minutes, until bell peppers are softened.
- Add shrimp to sauce and cook until shrimp turn pink, an additional 3 to 5 minutes.
- Stir in cilantro and season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Serve over rice and enjoy!
I was standing in the middle of a parking lot, shoulder to shoulder with strangers on one side and gossiping/people watching with Mel on the other, just rows from the stage, preparing for what would be one of the best concerts I have ever been to, when my mind wandered to my hydrator and its contents within. And what would be added to it come Wednesday, when yet another load of CSA goodies would be picked up. Ideas have a tendency to pop into my head at the most random times. Moments away from Mumford and Sons walking onto the stage and I am thinking about summer squash and typing a few quick notes into my Droid.
Stuffed summer squash with sausage and cheese and oh, mushrooms. Totally mushrooms. Chicken, pork, or turkey sausage? I wonder what is in the freezer? Oh, that needs cleaned out….before September, make that a goal in life. There is a loaf of frozen soda bread that needs to become baked french toast or bread pudding…write that down and don’t throw the bread away. I could add tomatoes to the stuffed squash…I think I remember zucchini boats with tomato sauce somewhere at some point in time. The boats could kinda float. Man those nachos earlier were scrumptious and I can’t believe parking was only 5 bucks…unheard of! I really hope when Mumford and Sons come out that the crowd doesn’t lunge forward…I would hate to be trampled. Mozzarella cheese on the boats…and a lot of it. I love the twinkle lights strung across the stage…twinkle lights make the world better. I need twinkle lights on my patio. Next summer. I should write that down too. And on it went…
And this was my train of thought. Somewhere in there, I started a recipe or at least the beginning of one. And this is how ideas pop into my head. They’re generally among other arbitrary thoughts and if I am listening, I can pluck them out and if I am being diligent, I will jot a quick note down. Between my phone, a small notebook, scrap paper, and the back of random receipts…I am able to keep track of ideas. Is it organized in any way? No. However, I wouldn’t exactly consider myself an organized person. I mean, I have a months worth of mail sitting on my deep freezer in the garage. And while I try to keep cooking utensils in one drawer and baking materials in another, at a glance you would think there was no rhyme or reason. I am not one to situate my closet according to season. It is just not in my design to be organized…so why would note taking be any different?
- 2 Medium Summer Squash
- 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
- ½ Yellow Onion, small dice
- 1 Cubanelle Pepper, halved and sliced into rounds
- 1 Cup Sliced Mushrooms ( I used Baby Portabella)
- 4 to 6 ounces Sausage ( I used precooked Jalapeño Chicken Sausages)
- 1 Cup Cherry Tomatoes, halved
- 1 + ½ to 2 Cups Marinara Sauce
- ½ Teaspoon Dry Oregano
- Salt and Pepper to Taste
- 2 Cups Mozzarella Cheese, shredded
- Preheat oven to 375F
- In a skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onions, mushrooms, and cubanelle pepper and cook until they are softened, about 5 to 7 minutes.
- Add sausage and cook until sausage is cooked through ( if using precooked sausage, then just cook until heated through).
- Stir in cherry tomatoes, dried oregano, and ½ cup of marinara sauce and cook for about 2 to 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat and prepare squashes.
- Cut squash in half, lengthwise, and scoop out seeds leaving about inch border around the edges.
- Pour remaining amount of marinara sauce ( about 1 cup) into the bottom of a 9 x 13 inch pan. Place squash halves in pan and generously fill each squash half with prepared filling. Top with shredded cheese and place in preheated oven for 30 to 40 minutes until cheese is bubbly and squash is fork tender.
- Remove from oven and let cool for about 5 minutes before serving.
Happy Monday y’all! I hope your weekend was rejuvenating or successful or so jam-packed full of crazy going-ons that going back to work is a sort of relief. That is a sign of an awesome weekend! Mine was great. Thanks for asking I worked, and ran, and listened to baseball, and mowed, and trimmed, and baked, and ….well I never did get to that laundry. OK, now that we are over the pleasantries…can we talk noodles? Yes, noodles.
I like, no scratch that, I LOVE a good noodle.
I grew up on chicken and noodles. Beef and noodles. Homemade noodles at church functions, with grandma always bringing home the leftovers in a Cool-Whip container – because once you reach the age of 60, you begin to save every plastic container with a lid and store leftovers in them. It is normal, we recycle, our parents reduce, grandmas reuse…and eat a lot of Cool-Whip.
Before children, my mom made noodles from scratch. We are a noodle eatin’ family. Minus my younger brother, something happened to him in the womb. He hates noodles. And my older brother hates syrup…Sometimes I feel like I don’t even know them…
The noodles were/are always egg noodles. Wide or thin, it didn’t matter. But soba noodles, those were never served in Cairo (like the syrup not the Egyptian city). Mainly, because we didn’t eat a lot of Japanese themed dishes. Also, I don’t think small town Ohio was/is known for its Japanese cuisine.
Soba noodles are a buckwheat noodle (for those of you not in the know…). Actually, are you ready for this fun fact? Soba means buckwheat in Japanese. So…we are talking Japanese spaghetti like noodles. With me on this? Good.
This recipe came to me from the motivating pages of Runner’s World. I had a package of soba noodles staring at me from the depths of my cupboard and a knob of ginger, just waiting to be grated. This dish was meant to be made in my kitchen. After a long run. The great thing about this dish? It is a cinch to whip up and takes approximately 15 minutes from start to finish. Which is a good thing, because after my looooooonnnngggg run last weekend, the last thing my knees and hamstrings wanted was to be standing in front of the stove. So, before I knew it, I was resting comfortably on the couch, with a plateful of carbs…and my knees and hamstrings, they were as happy as my stomach!
Soba Noodles with Chicken + Peanut Ginger Sauce
Serves 2 (smallish portions) or 1 (largish portion)
adapted from Runners World
2 Tablespoons Soy Sauce
2 teaspoons Sesame Oil
1 Tablespoon Nut Butter, I used almond
4 teaspoons White Wine Vinegar
1 teaspoon Freshly Grated Ginger
1 Garlic Clove, minced
3 Ounces Soba Noodles, dry (if bundled, one bundle)
1 Cup Frozen Peas
1/2 Cup Cooked Chicken, shredded. Warm or room temperature ( rotisserie chicken from grocery to the rescue)
2 Tablespoons Sesame Seeds
2 Tablespoons Peanuts, roughly chopped
salt and pepper to taste
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. While waiting for water to boil, whisk together sauce. In a small bowl, whisk together soy sauce, sesame oil, nut butter, white wine vinegar, grated ginger, and garlic. Set aside.
Once water is boiling, add soba noodles and cook according to package directions, which is to boil for about 5 minutes. (they cook faster than regular pasta) During the last minute or two of cooking, add peas. Drain soba noodles and peas and rinse with hot water until the water runs clear. Do not skip this because your noodles will become a clump if left unrinsed. Drain again.
In a serving dish, combine noodles, peas, shredded chicken, and sauce. Toss to combine. Garnish with chopped peanuts and sesame seeds.
This is excellent warm or cold the next day, once the flavors have really had time to settle in.Read More
There is a pound of spaghetti sitting in the depths of my stomach…making me all happy and cozy and little sleepy. The sleepy bit might be because I have been up since 5am. Or it’s the carbs. It’s a toss-up. Either way, I am overly content…as my dad would say, ‘if I were any better, I would be two people’.
What is aiding in my contentment might be the roaring fire and endless amounts of Grey’s Anatomy on Netflix. Did I mention pjs and a cat sleeping on my feet? Cozy comfort town … that is where I am livin’ it up. On a Saturday night. Maybe I should lie and say it is Tuesday night, but I am not a good liar (or poker player). I love simple Saturday nights (see previous post).
I had my Saturday night out on Thursday. I met up with 2 friends (who happen to be married) for a dinner date. Mel and Todd are pretty terrific and time spent with them always leaves me giggling, which leads to a good belly laugh, and all out cackling. OK the cackling is all me…I can’t help it. Sapore was our destination of choice, a tiny restaurant that we have been meaning to visit for many months. It is owned/ran by Loretta Paganini. Attending her cooking classes is one of our favorite girl’s night out events. She is possibly the cutest little Italian women ever to exist. She is full of knowledge and ready to share…we are total groupies.
The restaurant is tiny…maybe thirty seats in all and is only open Thursday – Saturday. Reservations only. The menu changes with the seasons (as all should but don’t) and your food is cooked to order (i.e. fresh). The menu is teeming with Italian dishes that literally made me swoon, out loud. While I went with the focaccia- crusted chicken smothered in tomato sauce, fontina cheese, and olives…I haven’t been able to stop thinking about the pastas. Fresh pastas. Mama mia!
I can’t wait to try her Fettuccine Alla Carbonara….which they top off with a poached egg. Genius! I LOVE a good poached/fried egg atop of anything, ranging from hamburgers to pizza…I hope it’s not a phase. And that brings us to my Saturday night. Check out that full circle. Carbonara = bacon and eggs Italian style. And instead of toast as the carb, we have pasta people. Pasta!! Seriously!?! Seriously?!? ( in my best Meredith Grey’s voice…not a word).
This dish comes together quickly…which means that all ingredients must be prepared and prepped before the stove is turned on. Thankfully there aren’t a ton of ingredients. We are talking pasta, olive oil, garlic, cheese, eggs, bacon, and bit of white wine. Simple ingredients. Nothing scary. Totally doable.
OK a little bit of scary…raw eggs are stirred into hot pasta, but I swear it cooks the eggs. And if you choose to top the dish off with a poached egg, well you will have to poach an egg, which is super simple…pinky swear! Just watch this video - total proof (and her laugh is great!). And trust me, the end result doesn’t have to look pretty. We are home cooks not Wolfgang Puck…plus, I have watched Julia Child make poached eggs on PBS and some of her eggs were ugly. Just make the poached egg, you will be happy you did.
Spaghetti alla Carbonara w/ Poached Egg (totally optional but not optional at all)
1 Lb. Dry Spaghetti ( I like whole wheat pasta)
1 Cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
2 Large Eggs, plus extra eggs to poach (one per serving)
2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
3 Garlic cloves, peeled and slightly crushed
1/2 Lb. Bacon, diced
1/4 Cup Dry White Wine
Salt and Pepper to taste
Poach eggs first. (this is how I do it, but there are umpteen million ways in which to perform this task…just google it.)
Crack egg into a separate bowl or small tea-cup. Bring a large saucepan of water (a few inches in-depth) to a boil. Add salt to boiling water (about 1/2 to 1 teaspoon). Once the water is boiling, take a slotted spoon, and stir the water in a circle creating a whirlpool like effect. Gently pour egg into the center of the whirlpool. Cover saucepan with a lid (or a cookie sheet, I have used both) and remove saucepan from heat. Let sit, covered, for about 3 minutes (very runny) to 5 minutes (less runny). Gently remove poached egg from water with a slotted spoon and drain excess water. Place egg on a plate, cover loosely with tinfoil (to keep warm) and set aside.
Whisk together 2 eggs and parmesan cheese. Set aside. But keep it close.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add salt (1/2 to 1 teaspoon). Place dry spaghetti into boiling water and cook for 8 minutes until al dente. Reserve 1 cup of pasta water. Drain pasta.
While the water is coming to a boil and the pasta is cooking, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat in a dutch-oven or large saucepan with high sides. Add smashed garlic and saute garlic until golden brown. Once browned, remove garlic and discard. Add diced bacon to pan and cook until bacon begins to crisp around the edges ( 5-7 minutes). Stirring occasionally. Add white wine to pan and let it cook for about 2 minutes. Remove the pan from heat.
Add cooked spaghetti to pan and toss to coat with bacon wine sauce. Pour in the egg/cheese mixture and stir vigorously until the egg is incorporated and the cheese has melted. Adding a bit of pasta water if a little thinning agent is needed. Make sure to stir quickly, you do not want scrambled eggs. The final dish will be thick and creamy and cheesy.
Top each serving with a poached egg and a pinch of freshly ground pepper.
Your poached egg can be rewarmed by placing it back into a bowl/pan of warm water for a few moments and then removing it and draining excess water before serving. Doesn’t take much.
Serve immediately with a side of toast…because whats one carb without another?
At the beginning of a week, I enjoy making a large one (or sometimes two) pot meal that will take me through the entire week. Nothing overly fancy or complicated, just wholesome, healthy, and filling. Flavors that get richer and more intense as the week goes by, leaving me just as content on Thursday or Friday as it did on Monday or Tuesday.
One pot dishes that don’t require a side are the best to have in your repertoire. Sides, while they have their place in the kitchen, just complicate a dinner. Complicate it enough to make the actual preparation of a meal stressful and unfun. At least in my books, but then again I am not a planner. And you have to be a planner to get two sides completed at the same time as the entrée…all of it cooked correctly and hot. That is just not me…maybe some day. But I don’t like planning anything really – I don’t like planning parties, I don’t like planning nights out, and the thought of planning, say a wedding, makes me nauseas. Not joking. So side dishes are just out of the question, plus on a week night…beyond a side salad, are sides actually necessary? Not in my house.
My new favorite one pot dish? Cassoulet. Cassoulet. Sorry, I really like the sound of the word. It sounds (even in my head) fancy and French and ooh la la. It sounds fancier and more difficult than it truly is, trust me. This dish is rustic and comfort food from start to finish. Truly enjoyed with close friends and bold red wine or singularly with a cold beer and an inquisitive cat.
The only downside to this dish is the amount of time it takes to prepare the beans (about 2 hours :/). I don’t recommend substituting canned beans because they will turn straight to mush and no one likes mush. To cut down on the time prep the day of making, consider soaking the beans overnight…or if you have a free evening, be like me and do the quick soak (see, not a planner a-header). Also, you will need a large dutch oven - something that can go from stove top to oven. This is kinda sorta critical.
Adapted from Bon Apetit
Serves at least 5
3 Cups Dried small Great Northern Beans
2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
5 Chorizo Sausage Links ( a little over a pound)
1 Leek , sliced in half and cut thinly into half-moon slices (use only white and light green parts)
1 Yellow Onion, finely diced
6 Garlic Cloves, thinly sliced
3 Anchovy Fillets (optional, but they don’t add a fishy taste, so I recommend them)
1 Tablespoon Tomato Paste
1+1/2 Teaspoons Sweet Paprika
1 Cup Dry White Wine
1 Can (15 ounce) Chicken Broth
1 Can (28 ounce) Whole tomatoes, drained and crushed.
6 Fresh Thyme Sprigs
3 Medium Bay Leaves
1 Rosemary Sprig
Salt and Pepper to taste
3 Tablespoons Butter
2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 Cups Panko Breadcrumbs
Salt and Pepper to taste
Preparing the beans.
Place beans in a large pot and cover with about 8 cups of cold water. Bring to a boil and boil for 2 minutes. Remove from heat, cover, and let sit for 1 hour.
Drain beans. Add fresh cold water (about 8 to 10 cups) and bring to boil. Reduce temperature to maintain a simmer (medium heat) and cook, uncovered, for an additional 45 minutes until beans are tender – not mushy. Reserve 1 cup of bean broth, drain remaining liquid. Set beans aside.
Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large dutch oven over medium high heat. Add chorizo sausage and cook until all sides are golden brown (about 7-10 minutes). Transfer sausage to a plate and set aside. Add sliced leeks and diced onions. Cook until vegetables are tender (about 5-7 minutes), stirring occasionally. If they start to brown too quickly, reduce temperature. Add salt and pepper to taste. Stir in sliced garlic and anchovy filets. Stir until the anchovies break down. Add tomato paste and paprika. Stir constantly until the tomato paste begins to brown - about 2-3 minutes. Stir in 1 cup bean broth, wine, chicken broth, crushed tomatoes, thyme, bay leaves, and rosemary, and the beans. Bring everything to a boil.
While you are bringing everything to a boil, preheat oven to 450°F. Once boiling, cover dutch oven and place in oven and bake for about 30 minutes. Remove from oven, stir, and add sausage and drippings to pot – completely submerge sausages. Taste and add salt and pepper if needed. Return to oven and bake for an additional 35-40 minutes until the liquid is reduced and thickened and the beans are tender. If the dish begins to dry out, feel free to add extra water or broth as needed – a little bit at a time.
When you have about 15 minutes remaining in cooking time begin preparing the breadcrumb topping. In a medium skillet, melt 3 tablespoons of butter over medium heat. Once melted, add panko breadcrumbs, salt, and pepper. Toss to combine and cook until crumbs begin to turn golden brown – stir often.
When the beans are done baking, remove from oven and sprinkle with the breadcrumbs. Drizzle breadcrumbs with about 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Return to oven for an additional 10-15 minutes until the breadcrumbs are golden brown. Remove and let sit for several minutes before serving. Serve with chopped chives.
Remember to remove thyme and rosemary sprigs, and the bay leaves. They will be easy to spot and can be pulled out at any time once the leaves have fallen off the sprigs.Read More