Sunday, May 25, 2014

May 25 -- Tomato Salad

Quick and easy for the first weekend of 'summer' plus I am taking this weekend off from heavy cooking. There is no lunch needed on Monday, so that means only two days of lunches for the week. I'm going with Foreman grill burgers tomorrow, I may try stuffing them with cheese and spices. I will make two extra for lunch on Tuesday and Wednesday. I also bought potato rolls for the burgers. Tonight is spaghetti with jarred marinara sauce. I will look in the freezer to see what kind of protein can be thrown on top., quick and easy.

I still need to give you something to use though because you are counting on me. This week is tomato salad, my go to for a summer backyard affair that is versatile.

1 container (12 oz.) grape tomatoes
1 large bocconcini (mozzarella)
1 tbsp. olive oil
basil and pepper to taste

Cut the grape tomatoes in half. Slice up the bocconcini into pieces the same size as the grape tomatoes. Drizzle olive oil and throw on some basil and crushed black pepper. Put it in a container and shake so everything is drizzled. Takes about 15 minutes to cut everything.

This reminds me of my grandparents and their six tomato plants in the yard that were always planted around Memorial Day and would start producing tomatoes around July 4. You can't find that flavor anymore in the store-bought food.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

May 18 -- Chicken Spiedini

The 5th graders cook on Wednesday. This week is their final dinner and chicken spiedini is on the recipe. When I googled the recipe, it came up with a Paula Deen concoction with chicken, asiago, and breadcrumbs. This is rosemary and tons of olive oil.

The recipe is here and my changes are here: I cooked the chicken for six minutes each side instead of five. It was still tender, almost falling off the stick, but after 5 it didn't look done enough on the first turn. I added cilantro to the salsa. The parsley has to be real fine to make the traditional salsa, verde or rojo/tomate, but it is nice to put the chicken on your fork then stab at a bit of the seasoned leaves of parsley and cilantro.

I also did a full jalapeno for the hot salsa. I bought two for 49 cents. Is it worth buying a single jalapeno pepper?

This was also the first time I used the fresh herbs at Acme. They worked but man are those things expensive.

I made enough to share this one. A 2 1/2 pound bag of chicken gave me a dozen full skewers. I did a double batch of salsa. I think I will un-skewer the meat and put it in the container with a bit of salsa for the lunch portions. A skewer and a half should be enough for each day. I had three skewers for dinner.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

May 10 -- Minnesota Hot Dish

I like when my vegetables are hidden. This past week, I made ravioli and alfredo sauce but I hid a package of spinach in the alfredo sauce. You have to get your greens in somewhere.

I never heard of hot dish until I listened to A Prairie Home Companion on NPR. It's the 40th anniversary of PHC this year and here's a feel good recipe that is great on a cold, winter night even though I made it on a warm, humid, middle spring night.

There is not much to say about it, ground beef, onions, a bag of mixed vegetables, cream of mushroom soup, cheese, and tater tots, all layered and baked at 400 for 20 minutes. The hard part is browning the ground beef.

The yield was one large dinner and two lunches. What will I do for Wednesday?

Here's the recipe.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

May 4 -- Paella

I ask for ideas and one of the suggestions was paella. It is a lot of different meats which means a lot of prep if you don't plan it right, shrimp, chicken, and sausage is a lot of work. I used flash frozen shrimp. You can literally eat them out of fridge because they're cooked and frozen quickly. The jumbo are just a bit more than the small and actually less than the medium at my market so I went with big shrimp.

Here is the recipe: Easy Paella

It was about a 45 minutes from start to finish. Not a terrible amount of time. You are de-tailing shrimp while the chicken is cooking and the rice is simmering. The rice was very good and made an amazing amount of food. I was surprised how crispy it was when it was added to the stock but it sucked up the entire quart of chicken stock and made some nice fluffy rice.

I substituted a packet of sazon instead of saffron threads and kielbasa for chorizo. I would have been better served with Italian sausage than kielbasa. The Polish sausage was too sweet for the dish.

Overall it gave me a large dinner, another dinner, plus three lunches. Four pounds of meat, according to the recipe, I shortened the chicken, is a lot of food so cut the recipe if you're cooking for fewer than an army.