Archive for October, 2009
October 31st, 2009 Posted 9:19 pm
Bacon was on sale…good, center cut bacon. What can I say…I had to take advantage. Instead of having an insane amount of bacon in one meal, we broke it up into a couple co-starring roles. The first was an accompaniment to a really interesting concoction.
We had (still have) a ton of lentil tomato soup in the freezer. A really hearty, yummy soup that we happened to make four thousand gallons of the first time around. Instead of just eating as soup again, I rubbed down a couple chicken thighs with a spice rub and let it sit while we were at work, then tossed it in a casserole with the soup. It looked like a big dish full of…well…nothing good.
I baked it at 350 or 400 degrees along with some roasting root vegetables, using my wonderful meat thermometer to know when to pull the chicken for maximum moistness. When it came out of the oven, it looked…well…like a big dish full of baked nothing good.
Where’s the bacon!?! That is what you may be asking. Well…here it comes!
Chopped onion gets sautéed in a thin layer of bacon grease, and then frozen peas (a little too frozen apparently) get added with a little chicken broth and cooked down. I usually make this dish with a little bit of cream or half and half at the end (and usually with Brussels Sprouts), but I had some plain yogurt on hand, so that went in. Not quite as creamy, but added a little tang and a lighter feel to the side dish.
Bacon made another appearance at breakfast. This was a huge success. Take note.
Repeat the bacon cooking and onion sautéing above. Fry some tiny diced potatoes in with the onions and toss in a chopped tomato. Take this all out of the pan and lightly scramble eggs to your preference. For a soft scramble, just before the eggs are completely cooked, fold in the veggies and some shredded cheddar cheese. AMAZING breakfast. Thinking about it to write this post makes me want it again!
October 29th, 2009 Posted 7:05 pm
Matt has been craving a good steak dinner for a while. We went to Gordon Biersch in Seattle before seeing Wicked at the beginning of October—a really tasty dinner for an extremely spectacular show. Very satisfying night all around. But the steak we ordered was not the steak we received (we didn’t realize until halfway into eating, because we were so hungry), and it didn’t really quench Matt’s craving…he kept bringing it up.
To resolve this, we visited a butcher in the Crown Hill neighborhood. With lots of seafood options and only a few types of steak to choose from, we went with a rib eye. A huge rib eye. We only got one, but look how big and beautiful it is.
It was a little over a pound of meat, and there was no doubt in my mind that it would be more than enough for the two of us. To cook the steak, I started with a brown sugar spicy rub. I can’t remember everything that went into this, but it included (along with brown sugar) cumin, coriander, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, red pepper, ground thyme…and probably some other things. I tend to pull things out of the spice cupboard without remembering after the fact what it was so that I can replicate it.
I let the rub sit on the steak while I prepped the vegetables and other parts of dinner, which included three veggies.
First up, glazed carrots. I have made these before and really messed them up, but this time around they were absolutely perfect. Matt’s response was “please write down how you made these so you can do it again!” With just a little bit of spice and a slightly sweet glaze, the carrots worked perfectly with the meal.
Perfection in Carrot Form
- 3 large carrots, washed, peeled and cut into thick-ish slices on a bias
- 1/4 cup water (plus more as necessary)
- Pinch of salt
- 1 Tb honey
- 1/2 Tb brown sugar
- dash of red pepper
- Add carrots and water to a sauté pan with a lid. Bring this to a boil over medium heat, covered.
- Allow it to boil for a couple minutes and then remove lid and lower heat to a low low simmer.
- Mix in salt, honey, brown sugar and red pepper, stirring to combine and dissolve.
- Simmer, adding more water is necessary. Keep an eye on it and add a thin layer of water anytime the pan dries up.
- Once the carrots are starting to get soft (still less tender than you want the final product to be, but getting past the crazy crunch stage), up the heat to medium/medium-high to bring it back to a boil and boil off any remaining liquid.
- The goal is to get the liquid completely boiled away, leaving the sweet glaze on the carrots, right when the carrots hit the point when they are cooked through and tender with a slightly crunchy bite. This is obviously not your goal if you like your carrots on the mushier side…or the crunchier side. It’s all in the amount of water you use and how long you simmer after adding the glaze.
The other two veggies are potato and parsnip. Parsnips have a very sweet, carrot scent to them. I’m not a huge fan of parsnips on their own…the flavor and texture are a little too much for me, but cut with some potato, they make a stand out side dish that still satisfies the comfort food cravings. Just a tiny bit of parsnip will go a long way. We had probably half as many parsnips as potatoes in this dish, just based on the amount we had in our CSA box, but the parsnip flavor was really prominent.
Potato Parsnip Mash
- Peeled, chopped potatoes
- Peeled, chopped parsnips
- Half & Half
- Salt & Pepper
- Boil the potatoes and parsnips together until fork tender.
- Drain and mash! You can puree these with a stick blender—we’ve done this before—but I think the parsnips create a gummy texture that is not so pleasant when pureed. The parsnips also don’t mash as nicely as potatoes…they’re a bit more stringy, so the textures don’t meld completely. Matt was really diligent about hand mashing as much as possible, and then went through with the stick blender to add a little bit of smoothness and avoid any huge parsnip chunks.
- Mix in half & half, butter, seasoning to desired taste and texture.
To cook the steak, I pan-seared over medium high heat with cooking spray, turning after 8 minutes a side, then continuing turn until my handy dandy instant read thermometer told me we hit medium. Then sat on a plate, covered with foil to rest while everything else finished up. I used the pan juices, the juice from resting and some beef broth to whip up a pan sauce. YUM!
We split the steak into two good, clean pieces and one not-so-pretty chunk. The leftover steak turned into an off-the-cuff hash with toast and eggs the next morning. Yum.
October 28th, 2009 Posted 11:08 am
One of our favorites this year has been Major Grey’s Chicken. I posted about this earlier…maybe? I can’t seem to find the post now. I will link to it if I find it.
It is a delicious, creamy, mango-filled pile of deliciousness. The recipe we use is stolen from one of Matt’s co-workers, and I usually add some fresh mango to the mix because we have some on hand. It’s actually usually the mango that inspires us to make this dish, since it’s a failsafe use for the fruit.
We also stole another recipe from a coworker of mine…Kale Pesto! We’re both wary of dark greens in general, and have had some bad luck with them in the past. Kale is no exception, and I’ve consistently avoided adding it to my salad in our cafeteria at work. But I heard rave reviews about this kale pesto—the bitterness is cut with a few handfuls of basil, but the healthy kick of kale is still blended in.
We used a huge package of basil (the kitchen smelled AMAZING!) and a whole bunch of Kale that came in our CSA box. Matt was in charge of adding everything to the bowl, so I’m not sure of the exact amounts, but garlic, salt and olive oil all went into the mix.
Then….we realized we really need to invest in a food processor soon. Where will we put it? No idea. Maybe in our imaginary cupboard with the stand mixer, pressure cooker, waffle iron and rotisserie cooker (this one’s just for Matt).
Anyway, we got it blended in tiny batches and then mixed all together. Tossed with some tri-color pasta. Yum yum yum.
These two seemed a little mismatched, but I figured the bitter of the kale would pair well with the sweet and creamy of the chicken dish. What kind of side could make this even more strange?? Some frozen corn, of course! The only other option in our freezer was cheesy broccoli, which I thought was way too out there.
It was a little all-over-the-place, but still delicious, and Matt has been eating leftovers this week while I’m on the road
In the spirit of fun fall stuff, here’s our decorated mantle for the season! Very exciting—notice the real life candlesticks…I’m pretty pleased with how grown up these beeswax taper candles make me feel. Plus, the adorable mini-loaf pan that I turned into a candle holder.
We used that loaf pan a couple weeks ago to make some amazing banana nut bread for a party, and now it’s clean and full of pumpkin spice scented candles! Spectacular!
Also, this is how Santana sits while I cook. She’s so dainty and genteel, huh?
October 14th, 2009 Posted 3:57 pm
I am on the road. Insanely on the road. Next week I actually get to be in the office for the whole week, but other than that I’m spending most of my time out of town until Thanksgiving. Fun and new places, but exhausting!
Even though I have a bit more time while I’m on the road to write, the preparation for the travel has made blog food scarce. We’ve been relying on a lot of old standby meals, leftovers from the freezer, and way too much restaurant food. We’ve also done some crazy travelling as we’ve moved from summer into fall….including our trip to North Carolina, during which Santana stayed at PetSmart. The very next weekend we zoomed down to Berkeley for a wedding, which Santana can also fill you in on. Both were a bit quick and chaotic, but really fun and relaxing. I loved being able to have a couple trips with Matt to just relax and enjoy our time together without work craziness getting in the way.
In better food news, since fall has definitely set in, it is crock pot weather for sure! We actually used the Crockpot a decent amount during the summer, but fall means lots of soups, stews and chili…plus lots of leftovers to restock our freezer!
We said goodbye to the summer with a light meal that lasted us through two dinners and 1 lunch for me. Tomato bacon quiche (which we had frozen from a couple months ago) with a spinach honey mustard salad and some lightly salted Kettle chips. We were both huge huge fans of this meal, which is why it was repeated twice…usually we make some changes, switch up the side dishes, etc. This time the same meal found its way to our plates two nights in a row. So delicious and satisfying. And a nice light end to the summer. Bonus: homemade garlic croutons!
To welcome in the fall, we made a vegetarian chili cornbread casserole that completely outdid itself as a shared dish at a potluck, dinner for us at home, and is lasting Matt through this week while I’m out of town. To make the chili, I mixed 4 or 5 cans of black and pinto beans (1 can of beans got mashed up) in the Crockpot with sautéed onion, green bell pepper and garlic. I also added some spices, hot sauce and a can of green chilies. Two cans of diced tomatoes rounded out the liquid in the pot and it cooked all day on high, bubbling away.
I poured the cooked chili into two casserole dishes and topped each one with the batter for this cornbread with the addition of some shredded cheese to the mix. They baked for about 40 minutes or so and then one went to the potluck, while the other chilled in the fridge, waiting for us the next day.
For our leftovers, we covered the 2nd casserole and popped it back in the oven to reheat. While that was cooking a tossed some fresh broccoli with a tiny bit of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper and garlic powder. Into the oven it went to roast away. It got crazy crispy and had a tiny zing from the balsamic. Really wonderful.
The other star of the potluck and our leftovers was a fruit cobbler with fresh plums, pluots and nectarines, frozen blackberries, and a whole wheat cobbler crust. Served with vanilla ice cream, obviously.
Meanwhile, Santana’s meals have remained pretty steady. Because of her allergies and anxiety, she gets Benadryl and Pepcid before dinner. Since she is so fussy, she gets the wonderful treat of having her meds wrapped in peanut butter (freshly ground peanuts from Whole Foods….Matt and I don’t even get this fancy for ourselves!). She follows this up with some dry food which must be amazing because she gobbles it down like a fiend. What a gourmand.