Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Grilled Rib Eyes with a Vegetable Medley

Well, it's Wednesday and I'm finally getting around to posting Sunday's dinner. It's been a busy week so far. We celebrated Alex's birthday on Monday and yesterday I worked for hours in the yard. The weekend was busy also, baseball season has started. Alex's team had games on Saturday and Sunday. Sunday's game was late in the afternoon. When the game was over, we had to come up with something quick for dinner that we could pick up at the grocery store on the way home.

We decided to fire up the grill and cook some steaks. I love rib eyes marinated in McCormick's Montreal Steak Marinade. It's easy to mix up and the meat only has to marinate for 15 minutes. In the mean time we chopped up some carrots, zucchini, yellow squash, and asparagus and tossed them in olive oil and seasoned with salt and pepper. Everything cooked on the grill at the same time. Sous Chef finally got to use this handy grilling basket that he got for Christmas to cook the veggies.

The boy's loved the steak. Alex had seconds! Dylan complained about the vegetables, but what else is new?

Monday, March 29, 2010

Friday, March 26, 2010

Spicy Garbanzo Bean and Turkey Sausage Soup

With the rising temperatures, soup season (for me at least) is coming to an end. One last pot was my goal last night. While searching soup recipes on Epicurious, I discovered that on the left side of the screen you can narrow your search so it just shows you the healthy recipes. That left me with 253 options!

I chose Spicy Garbanzo Bean and Turkey Sausage Soup. We fed the kids early, I knew jalapeños and spicy sausage would not be popular. The soup was very good. The only change to the recipe I made was to not use all of the liquid from the beans. It is loaded with sodium, and the soup was fine without it. The lemon juice added the perfect amount of acidity to balance all of the flavors and the texture and flavor of the avocado slices were a nice touch.

As I type, my stomach is growling for the left overs. Sadly, I have no more avocado, it will still be yummy without it.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Kid's Choice: "Fried" Chicken

Wednesday was a long, tough day full of whining, complaining, and back talk. When dinner time rolled around, I didn't feel like the kids deserved a choice this week and that I should feed them Liver and Onions. Fortunately for the boys, I didn't have any liver in the fridge.

My oldest son has been requesting Fried Chicken for a few weeks. I've resisted because making it at home leads to the house smelling like a deep fryer for days. I found this well reviewed recipe for Oven-Fried Chicken and decided to try it out. As written, this recipe would feed a small army, I adusted it and made only one chicken cut up into eight pieces. It could not have been easier, it took me about ten minutes to make the cornflake mixture, coat the chicken, and put it in the oven.

I was happy to get four thumbs up from the kids and two more when my husband had leftovers after class. The chicken was juicy on the inside and crunchy on the outside. The rest of our plates were filled with steamed baby carrots and broccoli. I'd like to think it was much healthier than chicken and all the fixings from KFC or Bojangles.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Grilled Rosemary Garlic Shrimp

Saturday was an absolutely beautiful day here in Charlotte. After an early morning baseball scrimmage, we spent most of the day, hard at work, in the back yard. My husband revved up the chain saw to clean up in preparation for a new fence. I continued to attack the weeds that had taken over my flower beds and grown in the cracks of my patio. My intention was to have this grilled shrimp Saturday night, but by the time I made it inside to double check the recipe it was close to 4:00pm. The shrimp is supposed to marinate for at least 4 hours and I hadn't even been to the grocery store yet. I decided, instead, to whip up some Nachos that we could eat while watching basketball and postponed the shrimp plans until Sunday.

Sunday was not as nice as Saturday. The rain started mid morning, I had the pleasure of sitting through a Tee Ball practice in it. The shrimp was marinating. Rain or shine, Sous Chef was going to have to go out and grill it!

It kept on raining, but we managed a delicious dinner anyway. I served the shrimp with a wild rice blend and asparagus. The kids liked this. Only rice was left on their plates. My youngest especially enjoyed squeezing lemon juice all over his plate.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

A Taste of Home

Earlier this week, I started reading James A. Michener's Chesapeake. I was born and raised on the Eastern Shore of Maryland and Michener's descriptions of the region, particularly the Choptank River, have made me quite homesick. I miss the water, the sounds of gaggles of geese, and the Blue Crabs. In the book, the Choptank Indians make "Cakes of Crab", crab, vegetables, herbs, and corn meal fried in bear fat. I didn't think I could get my hands on any bear fat, but I could handle the rest and have a nice reminder of home to tide me over until my summer visit.

I looked at several recipes and settled on the one on the side of my Old Bay can. In my opinion, when it comes to crab cakes, less is more.

Serves 4

2 slices bread, crusts removed
2 T. mayonnaise
2 t. Old Bay
2 t. parsley flakes
1/2 t. prepared yellow mustard
1 egg, beaten
1 lb. crab meat

Break bread into small pieces. Mix in mayonnaise, old Bay, parsley, mustard and egg. Stir in crab meat. Shape mixture into patties. Broil 10 min. or fry until golden brown.

This recipe is a good one and our crab cakes were fine. There are things I will do differently next time. First, I will only use pure lump crab meat going forward, I know I will pay more but it will be worth it. Harris Teeter didn't even have it available when I did my shopping, but I know they will during the summer. Secondly, in the future I will fry, fry fry! My husband thought it would be healthier to broil, hmmmph.

I served this lovely Cherry Tomato salad on the side. This salad tastes like sunshine and I imagine it could only be improved with tomatoes straight out of the garden.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Happy Saint Patrick's Day!

Due to busy mid-week schedules, we celebrated Saint Patrick's Day a few days early. This Irish Stew was a good project for a Sunday afternoon. My Sous Chef was on baseball practice duty so I was left with all the chopping, but he made it home in time to whip up the scones.

We made this stew (from Cuisine at Home, October 2008) back in the fall and really enjoyed it, a nice alternative to the traditional Corned Beef.

2 lb. lamb or beef stew meat, cut into 1 1/2" chunks, seasoned with salt and pepper
1/4 C. olive oil, divided
2 C. onion, diced
2 T. garlic, minced
2 T. Tomato paste (I recommend this)
1/4 C. all purpose flour
1/4 C. dark beer (such as Guinness)
2 C. beef broth
2 C. chicken broth
2 fresh thyme sprigs
2 lb. Yukon gold potatoes, peeled, cubed
1 C. carrot, chopped
1 C. frozen peas
1 C. savoy cabbage, sliced
Salt and pepper to taste

Brown stew meat in 2 T. oil in a large pot over meduim-high heat, 8 minutes. Transfer meat to a bowl and set aside; reduce heat to medium.
Add 2 T. oil and onion to the pot and sweat, covered, until soft, 5 minutes. Stir in garlic and tomato paste, and cook until paste darkens, 2 minutes. Add flour, stir to coat, and cook 1 minute.
Deglaze with beer, scraping any bits from the bottom of the pot, then add both broths, meat and it's juices, and thyme. Bring to a simmer, reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer 1 hour.
Stir in potatoes and carrot. Cook until potatoes are tender, 12 minutes, then add peas, cabbage, salt, and pepper; simmer 5 minutes.

Mini Cheddar Scones
Makes 32

2 3/4 C. all purpose flour
2 T. sugar
2 t. baking powder
1 t. table salt
1/4 t. baking soda
10 T. unsalted butter, cold, cubed
1 C. Cheddar, shredded
1/3 C. minced fresh chives
1 C. buttermilk
2 T. water
1 egg blended with 1 T. water

Preheat oven to 375°; line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl. Cut in butter with a pastry blender or fork until pea-sized.
Stir in Cheddar and chives, then add buttermilk and 2 T. water; knead gently just until blended. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and pat into an 8" square. Cut into 2' squares, then cut squares into triangles. Arrange scones on baking sheet, spacing 1" apart.
Brush tops with egg-water mixture and bake until golden, about 25 minutes.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Friday, March 12, 2010

Baked Chicken with Fennel and Apples

Yesterday, as I was scrolling through past posts, I came to realize that I cook with cheese a lot. Wednesday night in the quiche, Tuesday night in the mashed potatoes, last week in the get the picture. So, while choosing a recipe for last night's dinner I purposely set out to find something with no melted, cheesy goodness.

Another goal was to find something that didn't take much time to prepare because I also had to make Shortbread for my third grade son's class. They are finishing up their geography unit on Scotland. I was given a specific recipe, I hope they have nice cold cartons of milk to wash those cookies down!

I found this recipe in the November 2009 issue of Everyday Food. Yum, yum, yum, I thought this was delicious. The fennel, shallots, and sage leaves were amazing coated in all the juices from the chicken. The only change I would make is to cook the apples longer and cut them into smaller pieces.

My eldest loved the chicken and apples, the other stuff got pushed around on his plate. As for my youngest, not a great night for him. Let's just say his behavior at the dinner table was less than exemplary and leave it at that!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Kid's Choice: Quiche Lorraine

I had a leftover pie crust in the fridge so I used my subtle powers of persuasion on the boys to choose quiche for Kid's Choice night. They were excited, they love egg and cheese pie.

Coincidentally my sister made Quiche Lorraine this week also. Her's is a fancy French Culinary version. I am a complete klutz when it comes to pastry, so the store bought crust is more my style. I have made this recipe many times. For the cheese, I usually use Gruyère, this time I used Emmentaler. It was good, but I will go back to Gruyère next time.

refrigerated pie crust
8 bacon slices, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
4 green onions, chopped
2 cups (8 ounces) shredded Swiss cheese, divided
6 large eggs
1 cup whipping cream
1/2 t. salt
1/8 t. ground red pepper
1/8 t. ground white pepper
1/8 t. ground nutmeg

Fit pie crust into a 9-inch pie plate; fold edges under and crimp

Bake at 400° for 7 minutes; remove from oven.

Cook bacon pieces in a large skillet until crisp; drain on paper towels, and crumble. Sprinkle bacon, green onions, and 1 cup cheese into prepared crust.

Whisk together eggs and next 4 ingredients; pour mixture into crust, and sprinkle with remaining 1 cup of cheese and nutmeg.

Bake at 350° for 35-40 minutes or until set. Let stand 10 minutes.

Grilled Flank Steak with Sautéed Portabella and Cremini Mushrooms

Spring was in the air Tuesday. Here in Charlotte, it was sunny and 70°. Inspired by the warmth, I ventured out and tried to make a dent in the weeds that have taken over my flower beds. It cheered me to find some perennials starting to poke out of the ground, searching for the sun through all the weeds.

Nice warm days seem to make me crave grilled meat, so this recipe immediately popped into my mind. We have made this many times, more for the mushrooms than for the steak. Not that the steak isn't good, it's that the mushrooms are fabulous. I served this with Goat Cheese Mashed Potatoes and steamed zucchini and yellow squash.

This is not the most kid friendly dish in my house. My oldest son was recovering from a second bout with a stomach bug so I didn't have to worry about his aversion to balsamic vinegar, he had soup. My youngest did his best. He ate some steak, veggies, and potatoes, but wouldn't go near the mushrooms. More for me!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Scallops Provençale

Thyme was my inspiration ingredient yesterday. I had a bunch left over from the Salmon we made on Sunday. When you type thyme into the search field on Epicurious, 1391 recipes come up. I was short on time, I needed to narrow it down a bit more. Tomatoes Provençale came to mind, I've been wanting to make them for a long time. Amazingly, no recipe for Tomatoes Provençale appeared, but this recipe did.

The sous chef loves scallops. The kids, not so much. They were lucky our meal was not too complicated to prepare and that I was in a short order cook kind of mood. A truly rare occasion. When at the grocery store I grabbed them a can on Chicken Noodle-Os and planned on making them Cheese and Bacon Toasties.

I served the scallops over Parmesan Polenta. It was a really nice meal, light and clean flavors. It helped that I cooked the scallops perfectly. Yes, I am patting myself on the back.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Kid's Choice: Scrambled Eggs

With one son recovering from a stomach bug, the tacos we had planned for last night didn't seem like a smart idea. After a day of white toast with butter and sprinkles of cinnamon sugar, sick son instinctively knew he needed some protein and asked for eggs. Dad was at school taking a midterm, so I made enough eggs for three. Sicko expressly said no cheese in the eggs, so I only added a little ground pepper. The boys had their very plain eggs and a piece of toast with apricot jam.

My portion of the eggs needed to be jazzed up a bit, a perfect excuse to use the truffle salt again! I dressed some greens and attempted to turn my Parmesan and Gruyère crisp into a pirouette. I couldn't quite roll it tight enough, it still tasted good. My plate was finished with a slice of whole wheat toast.

Speaking of the plate, I picked it up at Crate and Barrel the other day. I got two large rectangle plates and two small. I love the amount of space on the plate and the price!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Beer-Braised Sausages with Warm Potato Salad

A perfect one pot meal to make on a night when big wet snowflakes, that melt as soon as they touch the ground, fall from the sky. Oh well, at least dinner was good. I love recipes that have you cook everything in one big pot, there are less dishes to do after dinner!

The flavors in this recipe scream Germany to me, so I was surprised it called for sweet Italian sausages and not bratwurst. It is noted that other sausages such as turkey or chicken work well also. I know the kids like Italian sausage so I stuck with that.

This recipe is from the March 2010 Everyday Food (not sure why it is not online yet.....)

2 T. extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 pounds sweet Italian sausages
1 meduim yellow onion, halved and thinly sliced
12 oz pale ale beer
1 1/2 pounds small red potatoes, halved
coarse salt and ground pepper
1 T. red-wine vinegar
2 T. chopped fresh parsley

In a large Dutch oven or heavy pot, heat 1 T. olive oil over medium high heat. Add sausages and cook until brown on all sides, about 8 minutes. Add onion and cook until softened, about 7 minutes. Add beer, potatoes, and 2 cups water; season with salt and pepper and press to submerge potatoes in cooking liquid. Bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat to medium, and cook until potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes.

Transfer sausages to serving platter and keep warm. In a large bowl, stir together 1 T. oil, vinegar, and parsley. With a slotted spoon transfer potato mixture to dressing (reserve cooking liquid) and toss to combine.

Return pot to high heat; boil cooking liquid until reduced to 1 cup, about 12 minutes. Return sausages to pot and cook until heated through, 2 minutes. Place sausages and dressed potatoes on serving platter; drizzle half the sauce over top. Serve with remaining sauce alongside.

I made two changes, one that was unintentional. First I had dill in my herb garden that needed to be harvested so we chopped it up and added it to the dressing for the potatoes, a great addition. My unintended change was the sauce. The picture in the magazine shows a brothy sauce around the food on the plate. I must of reduced it more than called for, because I got a deep brown, thick sauce, that was delicious.

Only my youngest joined us for dinner last night. He loved the sausage, but was not too crazy about the potatoes. The other was sick, poor thing is thankfully on the mend today!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Salmon in a Thyme, Shallot, and Lemon Marinade

I have been using this marinade for salmon since the recipe was published in Martha Stewart Living in July 2003. It is very easy and flavorful. The article says it works well with beef, chicken, lamb, and seafood. I served broccolini on the side. My older son cleaned his plate, made me so proud. My little one slept through dinner, woke up at 9:00 and had apple slices and peanut butter. Lucky kid.

Thyme, Shallot, and Lemon Marinade
Makes 2/3 Cup, enough for 2 pounds of meat or fish

3 T. freshly squeezed lemon juice
3 T. dry white wine
2 T. extra-virgin olive oil
1 bunch fresh thyme (12-15 sprigs)
2 shallots, thinly sliced
1 lemon, sliced into 1/4 inch rounds
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper

Whisk together juice, wine, and oil in a shallow nonreactive dish. Arrange meat or fish in a single layer in dish; turn to coat. Evenly scatter thyme, shallots, and lemon slices over meat or fish. Cover; refrigerate for length of time shown below for the protein you are using. Turn meat or fish occasionally.

Remove meat or fish from refrigerator, and let it come to a cool room temperature before cooking. Season with salt and pepper. Cook as desired. For salmon, I cook at 350° for 20-25 minutes.

Marinating Times

Shellfish: 20 minutes
Thin and Flaky Fish Fillets: 30 minutes
Thick and Fatty Fish Fillets: 1 hour
Beef, Chicken, and Lamb: 6-24 hours