Tag Archives: dinner

A Chard Day’s Night

In my pantry today:

  • 6 leaves rainbow chard, stems removed
  • adversity-busting cheese filling*
  • essentially from scratch tomato sauce*
  • 2 c cooked gluten-free pasta shells

I am still trying to reconstitute my internal routine/schedule after a day in the ER last week; apparently on the comprehensive wine list of mismatched symptoms held by MS, nerves at the bottom of your brain stem can misfire and make you think your innards have been set ablaze by Pol Pot himself. You’ll only be able to suspect Pot, however, because your eyeballs will be spasming too hard to see his face. Oh, the delights of an invisible illness! But I digress. It felt wonderful to get back into the kitchen today even if what came out was a nonsensical mess.

The rest of the CSA stock from this past week needs clearing out and I had some open boxes of lasagna noodles in the cupboard… so I gleefully set about making a version inspired by Om Nomalicious’s Spinach Lasagna Rolls. It was going to be so much fun! Oh, except I didn’t check the lasagna boxes until after making the filling and sauce. Those noodles were so very broken; my heart too became as such upon their viewing.

But I had all these big leaves of chard uncut in the drainer behind me. They were big. And in need of justification through consumption. Just like this delicious cheese filling and that from-(mostly)-scratch tomato sauce.

Adversity-Busting  Cheese Filling*:

  • 1 c ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 c mozzerella cheese
  • 1/4 c Parmesan cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tbsp ground golden flax
  • 1/4 tsp thyme
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 tsp olive oil

This was made with all the joy of one who believes they are making lasagna. Mince your garlic and cook on ML in 1 tsp of olive oil for 10-15m. Add thyme and oregano shortly before removing it from heat and adding it to a bowl with all of your other ingredients. Set aside via refrigeration.

Essentially from scratch tomato sauce*:

  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 3 ripe tomatoes
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 Vidalia onion, diced chunky
  • 1/4 c red wine
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp hot red chili powder

Cook your onions and garlic on L-ML for 20-30m before adding thyme and oregano. Mix everything, then fold in your now-diced tomatoes. Let that come to a boil then splash in your red wine and let it return on M to a slow bubbling place. Add the can of tomatoes, turmeric and hot red chili powder; mix and let return to a gentle boil until as much of the soupiness mists off as you’d like. I gave mine about 20 minutes before being too impatient to let it thicken further.

And about right here is where I turn this from a delicious, first-class meal into a terrible abomination of textures. Everything up until now is stellar… but when layered using raw chard leaves in place of lasagna noodles, this dish crashes and burns. I imagine it was fun enough to play scientist about all this… and it did still have a delicious flavor. Not gon’ lie, I ate two servings. But because I could not look it in the eye while eating it this only gets 2 spoons. Shame! [EDIT: I hear it deserves more than 2 spoons]

Chicken and Buckwheat and Salad, Oh My!

In my pantry today:

  • 2 c Colonel Cat’s Crock Pot Chicken* pulled meat
  • 2 c Colonel Cat’s Crock Pot Chicken* stock
  • 1 c buckwheat Kasha
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 tsp hot red chili powder
  • 3 c leftover salad mix
  • 1 shaved carrot
  • 2 tbsp fresh blueberries
  • 1 tbsp golden raisins
  • 2 tbsp feta cheese
  • 4 tsp olive oil
  • 4 tsp lemon juice
  • 2 tsp balsamic vinegar

Because I am a little overwhelmed with fatigue right now, yesterday my better half set the thawed whole fryer from the fridge to be ready for me to contend with on a level today which far surpasses that of general convenience foods. I separated the broth from the carcass and the meat from the bones. Then I fed the dogs a little of the super soggy crock pot chicken skin before tossing the bones. The chicken came out so tender and fragrant; it was a natural complement to whatever approached to shake its hands.

*Colonel Cat’s Crock Pot Chicken:

  • 1 2lb whole naked fryer
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2. tsp salt
  • 6 c water

Did someone call the colonel?

I picked up a box of Kasha at the store yesterday — I admit to never having heard of it before, though it appeared to be an answer to my consistent “make sure there’s protein without meat” dilemma. I took a chance and was rewarded handsomely. It cooks up like a cross between pearl couscous and steel cut oats, and because I substituted stock for water it came out with a fragrance and flavor that crooked a finger for the chicken to come hither. Toss the pulled meat, 1/2 tsp salt and 1 tsp red hot chili powder with the Kasha. Set aside.

Ring the inside of a large bowl with salad greens and top with raisins, blueberries and carrots. Scoop a dollop of the chicken and Kasha combo into the middle then top the bowl with feta cheese. Seal the deal with a little olive oil, lemon juice and balsamic vinegar. This was a surprisingly wonderful combination — I did not expect to like buckwheat at all, but that may have been largely due to the fact that I assumed Eddie Murphy would not be as delicious as he may have once been. Now, I know the true face of buckwheat. 5 stars!

Freshmaker for Two (or, “Not Every Salad Deserves a Post, but…”)

In my pantry today:

  • 3 c chopped fresh spinach
  • 2 c chopped fresh arugula
  • 1 c “zesty mix” microgreens
  • 1 sliced roma tomato
  • 1/2 sliced avocado
  • 2 tbsp Vidalia onion
  • 1 tbsp golden raisins
  • 2 tbsp dried cherries
  • 2 tbsp chopped walnuts
  • 1 tbsp feta cheese
  • 1/4 c homemade vinaigrette

Summer is near-upon us. I make a lot of salads in the summer. Now I will need to make a lot of salads with consciously varied creative interest for any and all who might Stumbleupon my blog. It seems like it would be hard to not get tired of salads, no? Right now I’ve got the CSA on my side with different weekly deliveries of glorious salad (and other!) potential. I am going to use it to my advantage tonight; it’s been a long day wherein I had to pay someone to tell me that I drank too much coffee. Instead of spending time in my kitchen I sat in waiting rooms without coffee. To be told that I drank too much coffee.

It’s true, it’s true; I just can’t believe I had to give what I saved yesterday on not needing new brakes instead to an Urgent Care. Who’s got two thumbs, one stomach fire and no health insurance? This dumb girl.

Seeing as how my afternoon was wasted, both in time and amount of coffee consumed, dinner had to be something easy… and salads, well, are pretty handy. If you do them right. If you don’t, you’ll be hungry an hour later and wishing you’d just ordered Chinese for the same payoff. The common misconception about salads is that they cannot be made a meal unless some manner of hot, delicious animal adorns their top. Not true. Just make sure you’re including ingredients that make up for the protein you might otherwise lack, and, hey guess what — vegetables have protein! There’ll be small quantities in the spinach and microgreens, a little more in the avocado and a good deal more in the feta and walnuts. There will be enough, via the combination of everything above, to make a hearty salad that rivals anything a “meat and three sides” plate could deliver. I always feel better about the choice I’d made for dinner after a good salad, and tonight’s was beyond the need for any exception: 4 spoons!

Moong Dal Curry (or, “So-diumb”)

In my pantry today:

  • 3 c cooked moong dal
  • 1/2 large Vidalia onion
  • 1 14.5 oz can Italian petite diced tomatoes
  • 1 c unsweetened almond milk
  • 2 tsp ghee
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp Shan® dal curry mix
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1.5 tsp hot red chili powder
  • 1 tsp hot curry powder
  • 1/2 tsp coriander
  • 1/4 tsp asafoetida

A seemingly healthy meal has hidden intentions this time around. At 1990mg of sodium per serving (I know, right!?) I could not in good conscience just “go with” that Shan® spice packet. The package comes with about 1/2 c powdered spice blend… I drew a compromise and used 1 tsp. The canned tomatoes are already salty enough. But I digress.

Mince your onion as well as you can — don’t focus on perfection, only on not lopping off a digit. Add to ghee that’s melted in a pot on ML. Let onion cook for 10m or so, then dial up the heat to full M. Add the undrained can of tomatoes, then all of your spices; mix that, then mix in your moong dal with strategically dolloped milk to guide the way. Let everything come to a slow boil on M, then reduce heat to L and simmer for, well, it’s gonna be several hours until dinnertime. Serve over Basmati rice with naan. 4 spoons!

Now back to inordinate amounts of sodium. I know better than to have prepackaged “spice mixes” at hand, but in my defense they fit both a food-stampaneer’s budget and the work output possibilities of MS. I am here, now, as my own living proof of the blatantly unhealthy eating habits for which every grocery around me rails. As someone who staunchly believes that convenience foods are not at all convenient for the human body, I publicly admit shame. Now I have to face the cupboard with the dilemma of wastefulness (ie; financial v. corporeal waste). What will probably come from this will be a shuffling of some things to the back then forgetting they’re in the pantry. It is yet to be determined whether my conscience will let me give this stuff away to friends and family (funny how strangers don’t want to take mysterious powder sacks from those they don’t know). /soapbox

Spicy Prime Rib on Arugula with Mini Microgreen Bread Bowls

In my pantry today:

  • 2 prime rib steaks
  • 1/2 c steak rub*
  • 1 c arugula
  • 2 tsp any vinaigrette you like*
  • 4 take-n-bake dinner rolls
  • 1/2 c delicious bread filling*

rub your meat with this:

  • 2 tsp hot red chili powder
  • 2 tsp garlic
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp asafoetida
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp coriander
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp Garam Masala

vinaigrette it on:

  • 1/4 c balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 c apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 c olive oil
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 Good Seasonings® dressing mix packet

and stuff them rolls:

  • 1/2 c cream cheese
  • 1 tbsp ground brown flax
  • 1 tsp garlic paste
  • 1 tsp some kind of hot chili sauce you got from the Chinese place yesterday that they use to cook with because you requested something to be more spicy but apparently no one ever does that for a #17 so they were confused and I got some of their special cooking stuff
  • 1 tsp “Fiesta” chili powder (I don’t know how the adjective fits in here, Earthfare.)
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 packet Chik-Fil-A® sunflower seeds

This was a lot of cupboard-rummaging for a seriously delicious outcome. The steaks came courtesy of mom and dad with their recent cooler full of meat and spent their thawed day with a massage and full-body spice scrub. It’s actually not hard to assemble all of this — the hardest part is waiting on the broiler to preheat. Because really broiler? Take your time.

After the meat gets felt up real good, go ahead and make your vinaigrette. That’s all you need to do right now, so go strip some old carpet off the stairs and get real filthy. You’ve got the time; have more coffee, too!

Eventually it will be time for the main attraction; preheat to 375° and bake rolls for 6-8m. Take them out and cut a hole in the top of each and scrape a reservoir of breadlessness. Put them back into the oven for another 3-4m. In that time you should have rightly been able to mix up the filling so that when they come out this time, you can tuck 1 tbsp or so into the bowl and top with microgreens. While you were doing that, preheat your broiler. Then meditate, because the broiler will probably be a haughty opera singer about this all and you do not have the time or energy for it.

Once preheated, put cold steaks 3″ under the element for 2m, flip them and continue cooking until they are at your desired level of done. My broiler takes just 3 minutes to take a steak from deep purple to sadsack white; don’t let overdone meat happen to you. Grilling would be preferable, but a broiler is preferable to a frying pan for my steak any day. Lay each cut of meat on a bed of arugula that’s been tossed with a tsp or two of vinaigrette. Stick your pretty buns beside that, then stick your other pretty buns in a seat and enjoy all 5 spoons of dinner!

1 Meat and 2 Sides (or, “One Cannot Tame Wild Rice”)

In my pantry today:

  • 5 chicken breast tenders
  • 3 c broccoli florets
  • 1 package Mahatma® long grain & wild rice
  • 2 tbsp garlic paste
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp butter
  • 4 tsp safflower oil
  • 1 tsp hot red chili powder
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 2/3 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 c water
  • 1/4 c Parmesan cheese

Take your thawed tenders out of the fridge and set them up to spend the morning with a rub of 1 tbsp lemon juice and 2 tbsp garlic paste. When it’s time to begin cooking, go ahead and start your rice, and when you hit the “reduce heat & cover” portion of things go ahead and start 2 tsp of safflower oil warming to MH. When full heat is in the house, invite the chicken over. Sear all sides of the tenders and let the garlic paste brown, but not burn. As they cook, cut each tender into 2-4 pieces and when they begin sticking, add 1/4 c water, toss and scrape up any brown bits. Sprinkle in 1/2 tsp red hot chili powder and 1 extra tsp of garlic powder (for good, garlicky measure) then add the other 1/4 c water turn the burner to L and cover.

Now address your broccoli. In a large bowl, drizzle on 2 tsp of safflower oil and sprinkle on your remaining seasonings; toss the florets by hand as your fingers better know what needs oilin’ than might a mere fork. Spread them out on a non-stick cookie sheet and bake at 400° for 7m. Then take them out of the oven, sprinkle 1/4 c Parmesan cheese on top and return to the oven for another 3-4m. For more good measure, uncover your chicken and sprinkle it, too with 1/4 c Parmesan cheese and re-cover until eating time.

Serve chicken and broccoli over (or beside — I’m not here to judge anybody by preposition) the rice mixture you bought on a whim but now reminds you why you do not like wild rice. This meal might’ve gotten 5 spoons were it served with some kind of flavorful pasta with a light sauce, but instead the swamp-butt flavor of wild rice takes it down to 3 spoons.

 

Palak Sweet Potatoes (or, “Literally Playing an Angle”)

In my pantry today:

  • 2 c cooked white beans
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 15 oz can Princella® Cut Sweet Potatoes
  • 1 c spinach (frozen from fresh)
  • 3 c unsweetened almond milk
  • 2 c vegetable broth
  • 2 tsp vegetable ghee
  • 2 tsp black mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp kala jeera
  • 1 tbsp ginger-garlic paste
  • 3 tsp hot curry powder
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp asafoetida
  • 1/2 tsp hot red chili powder
  • 1 tsp Greek seasoning

I have learned how to even more enormously enjoy Indian cooking over the last year or so, and now more often than not will choose rice as my default starch, not pasta. This knowledge does cause a gasp for me, but then I shake my head and continue eating whatever delicious food sits before me atop a pilaf.

This being said, I am untrained in most ways that might let me slide off the Cracker Train a stop or two before Racism City. Please keep in mind that I am fully aware of what a White American I am as you continue forth through my bastardization of a beautiful culture. And start your mustard seeds and onion warming in a cold pot to M.

After a minute or so of crackle-popping, mix the spinach and kala jeera in and once the spinach begins to wilt transfer the entire mess to the food processor with 1/2 c vegetable broth. Open the can of sweet potatoes and rinse them well (they’ll be sweet enough without any extra syrup) before tossing them, too, into the cut-em-up machine. Pulse until you’ve got a chunky paste then transfer back to the pot.

Over ML heat, add half the remainder of your seasonings and liquids. Stir. Add your cooked, drained beans, stir, then add in the remainder of the flavors. Let the sauce simmer on L for at least one hour (mine simmered on L for 5 hours before it was time to be ingested). When I asked my girlfriend how many spoons she’d give this, her answer was “4… maybe even 5.” I shook my head and staunchly thought, “3. The flavors were like a Showbiz Pizza ball-pen of shapes.

And then there was the follow up discussion about maybe letting people know that when I cook, it is by shapes. I figured that this blog had enough angles to it already (Food Stamps! Incurable Brain Disease! Lost 100 lbs! Sunday, Sunday, Sunday!) that throwing in the synaesthesia was a moot point. Synaesthesia… hold up, I’ll copy + paste from Wikipedia:

Recently, difficulties have been recognized in finding an adequate definition of synesthesia…

Crap, well. Here’s the meat of it for me: In terms of cooking, I generally go by the shape of things. I fancy each dish as a Kandinsky (also said to have had the -aesthesia) and the pieces and parts of it have to interact in perfect composition. Dr. Cytowic’s book “The Man Who Tasted Shapes” is an excellent study on this phenomenon, which I delight in as most synaesthetes present with the numbers and letters as colors thing.

Cytowic describes his chance encounter during a dinner party on February 10, 1980 with MW, the “Man Who Tasted Shapes.” Cytowic describes how his host reported that “There aren’t enough points on the chicken!”

Don’t feel bad if this makes absolutely no sense to you. I find that it does not to many people, whereas it it my only frame of reference. Has your sky always been blue? Mine has always been puce. Figuratively, I mean. I certainly suppose this is an important element to my cooking that isn’t well-publicized… but you can’t show that weird mole on your ass to every stranger, y’know? I’d rather be out and proud about my weight and discovering all the positive effects of food on health — there ain’t no food pyramid for spikes and circles and squares (“Oh, my!”).

Of course, I could make one… Hmm…

Leftover Soup: Springtime Edition

In my pantry today:

Whatever you didn’t eat off the hen the other day needs to go, bones ‘n all, into a large stock pot with enough water to barely cover and 1 tbsp salt. Bring to a boil on MH then reduce heat to ML and let cook all day… then you’ve got two main options: let it cool and pick out all the bones, or at the end of the night put it into the fridge because you’ve got no time to pick the carcass clean and also make sure the dishes are out of the sink but oh god first you’ve got to unload the dishwasher and its late so maybe tomorrow.  I chose the latter.

So today I warmed the pot a little, strained out the broth (set aside) and picked the carcass clean. Put picked meat (I had about 1c) with the previously-vegetarian lentil dish; bring 2-2.5 c of the broth (you should have about 4c left to freeze) to a boil on MH and, once rolling, turn heat to L and add the solids. Serve over room-temperature rice; since it’s fully cooked, don’t mix it in prior to serving or risk a bowl of swollen snooge — the broth will heat it. 5 spoons! I am just about drained of my own (spoons, that is), and this was a great way to make a delicious chilly weather meal that’s full of nutrients (phyto- and otherwise) and the Don’tYouWasteMe fridge gang. The only way this could’ve ended up more Smack Yo Mama good is with the addition of cayenne or hot red chili powder.

No Thanks to You, Parsley.

In my pantry today:

  • 1 tbsp reserved sausage grease
  • 1/4 large onion, chopped clumsily
  • 1.5 c cooked lima beans
  • 1.5 c chopped parsley
  • 1 10 oz can Hunt’s rosemary & oregano tomatoes
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 3/4 tsp red hot chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp asafoetida
  • cooked angel hair pasta
  • Parmesan cheese to taste

Ok, let me start out by being completely up front: parsley is unattractive to my palette. I’ve recently boarded the phytonutrient bandwagon and because of that am giving all manner of new-to-me vegetables a try. And parsley is losing the office pool. I do not recommend using parsley in this, and most other, dishes. The health benefits of parsley are well-known enough, and I do not deign to refuse it entrance to my kingdom on all counts… it did very well with the walnut pesto recipe, but when not ground by a food processor can be a little too prickly for the roofs of mouths.

Anyway, we’ve still gotta do this thing, don’t we? Start your sausage grease and onions in a cold pan heating to M. Once it reaches full heat and the bottom of your pan shows the slightest indication of browning, turn heat to L and gently fold in lima beans along with seasonings. Add the undrained can of tomatoes, mix gently enough not to puncture or smash your beans (that’s for later! with forks!). Cover and let simmer for as long as you’ve got, but enjoy at any point now with angel hair pasta and Parmesan cheese. Excepting the parsley (for which, you see, I did not allow room in these instructions) this gets 5 spoons.

Standing Ovation Vegetarianism*

In my pantry today:

  • 1 c cooked lentils
  • 2 c finely cubed butternut squash
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 14.5 oz can vegetable broth
  • 1/2 c unsweetened almond milk
  • 2 tbsp ground brown flax seeds
  • 1 tbsp garlic paste
  • 1 tsp garlic-ginger paste
  • 1 tbsp yellow curry powder
  • 1 tsp black mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 3/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp coriander
  • 1/2 tsp asafoetida
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1 c Basmati rice

This was one of those dishes where I felt like an orchestra conductor around all the separate in-progress sections of a single, delicious meal. And when that symphony — er, meal — comes out as well as this one did, it deserves a standing ovation.

Let mustard seeds and the chopped onion cook on M in butter until the snappling begins, then transfer pan contents to the food processor and add pastes. Process until it’s reached the consistency of soupy grits and leave it set aside for a moment.

Oh, be boiling your lentils in straight-up water until they’re ready, then, upon draining, set those aside.

In that pan where you were just onioning, put your butternut squash and broth in and bring to a boil on MH. Cover and let cook for about 10 minutes, then turn off the burner, uncover and selectively smash 50-80% of the pan. Add food processor contents with flax seeds and the remainder of your seasonings to this. Fold lentils in with milk backup and serve over Basmati rice. Or eat it alone from a mug. Or just take the whole dang pan upstairs with you. This is totally a 5 spoon dish.

*To make this a vegan meal, just substitute vegetable ghee for the butter!