Other accomplishments

Sometimes the bigger accomplishment is not the meal you planned for and executed so well, but the dinner you somehow pulled off when at 6:30 you realize neither of the adults has thought about dinner and there’s seemingly nothing in the fridge.

That was Wednesday this week. I had my head in the fridge and was on the verge of giving up and starting the long and painful conversation that is ordering takeout, when I realized we had everything for Penne with Cherry Tomatoes, Anchovies & Garlic. Plus salad, and grape juice in a mason jar for the hipness factor.

30 minutes later, dinner was on the table. Killed it!

 

 

 

Simple meal, major feat

Ravioli & avocado saladOn Tuesday I made cheese ravioli with the simplest of sauce and an avocado & tomato salad. Easy as it was, this was by far the biggest dinner achievement of the week because the kitchen floor looked like this:kitchen floorIt was a what’s-in-the-fridge kind of meal, cheese ravioli is a freezer staple for us. The sauce was just the juice from a can of plum tomatoes simmered with half a stick of butter. That’s right.

The ravioli and, um, butter, paired surprisingly well with a salad of diced avocado, halved grape tomatoes and finely chopped arugula dressed with lemon juice, olive oil and sea salt.

Another ad-hoc success this week was tortilla soup. You can read all about it here, or just look at the picture below. Wishing you a less-snowy week ahead, unless you like that kind of thing. xoxotortilla soup

Dinner disruptors

 

DinnerDisruptorsWhat I learned this week is that if you want to have a food blog, you should really try to get good shots of the food.

This poses a challenge when there’s all kinds of craziness going on at dinnertime, and your tiny, dark, basement apartment has horrible lighting and only fits a small table. Usually, I manage to shove the juice boxes, homework and washable markers aside and get a salvageable shot of something we ate, but not this week.

So I leave you with this slice-of-life shot. And the assurance that the Chicken Piccata was very well received (and quick!) and the Fennel Baked in Cream was as over-the-top decadent and delicious as ever.

Roast chicken with garbanzo beans, tomatoes & paprika

This week’s dinner-winner was Roast Chicken Breast with Garbanzo Beans, Tomatoes & Paprika. This is one of those bung-it-all-in-one-pan dishes. While it bakes you throw together some sides (broccoli & rice are quick and work well).

Here’s why we loved it:
1. It’s a new (to us) recipe.
2. It works four ways.
3. It takes only 30-ish minutes start to finish.
4. Smoked paprika!

And here’s how it works four ways:
1. If you’re a not-too-picky vegetarian, ignore the chicken and eat the beans and tomatoes with the smoked paprika yogurt sauce over rice with a side of broccoli.
2. If you’re Shane, eat everything.
3. If you’re a not-too-picky 9 year old, opt for chicken with just a hint of tomatoes & beans, broccoli and rice.
4. If you’re a picky vegetarian preschooler, please your parents by eating at least one bite each of broccoli & rice.

• Roast Chicken Breast with Garbanzo Beans, Tomatoes & Paprika •
from epicurious – serves 4

Ingredients
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
4 garlic cloves, pressed
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
1/2 cup plain yogurt or Greek yogurt
4 chicken breast halves with bones
1 15-ounce can garbanzo beans (chickpeas), drained
1 12-ounce container cherry tomatoes
1 cup chopped fresh cilantro, divided

Preheat oven to 450°. Mix first 5 ingredients in medium bowl. Pour 1 teaspoon spiced oil mixture into small bowl; whisk in yogurt and set aside for sauce. Place chicken on large rimmed baking sheet. Rub 2 tablespoons spiced oil mixture over chicken. Add beans, tomatoes, and 1/2 cup cilantro to remaining spiced oil mixture; toss to coat. Pour bean mixture around chicken. Sprinkle everything generously with salt and pepper.

Place in oven and make your sides.

Roast until chicken is cooked through, about 20 minutes. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup cilantro. Transfer chicken to plates. Spoon bean mixture over. Serve with yogurt sauce.

 

 

 

Brie quesadillas

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This week we accidentally stumbled upon brie quesadillas (top left) when we ran out of cheddar. Shane and I devoured them and wondered why brie quesadillas are not a thing. The kids were happy with cheddar, and for once we didn’t suggest they try something new because that would have meant fewer for us.

If you take one thing away from this week’s post, it’s brie quesadillas. They add a little pizzaz to a quick last minute meal (that may or may not have been given any forethought). Go ahead and make some while you still can—before a certain someone bans brie and tortillas for being un-American.

In other dinner news (clockwise from top right) 1. Linguine with Arugula, Pecorino and Pepper is something that kids are often uncharacteristically willing to eat despite all the green. 2. More brie for me on the night I fed them chicken. 3. Arugula salad with chili-lime roasted sweet potatoes, balsamic dressing and feta. And not to be left out, probably our all-time favorite dinner: Shane’s pizza (below).

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Viruses & easy sauce

Oof! This week was a tough one. Everyone but me had the stomach bug. Somehow, I got off easy with only a day or two of iffy stomach, shivery moments, lightheadedness and a clammy disposition.

The takeaway:
1. Why on earth has someone not invented the equivalent of a roach bomb for stomach viruses?
2. It may or may not be true that: using a combination of constant hand washing, sterilization via heat, bleach and hydrogen peroxide, drinking copious amounts of 100% grape juice and taking grapefruit seed extract can prevent contraction of the stomach virus.
3. Marcella’s famous sauce over pasta, with a side of broccoli never fails to please once folks start feeling better. It is so easy to make that it will not contribute to your pre-existing weariness.

This week’s takeaways

Jan 1-7 takeawayI’ve realized that posting nightly is just not doable at this stage in my life, family and work-wise. So this month, we’re testing a weekly takeaway-style format.

Without further ado, this week we learned that (clockwise from top left):
1. Navy Bean & Escarole Soup with Olives and Feta is excellent – even if you don’t have olives or escarole, and can only manage beans from a can.
2. This guy isn’t as mean as he looks, but he still makes the meanest pizza pie around, even while recovering from pneumonia.
3. When all else fails, feed the toddler ramen noodles – it’s got more nutrition than air…
4. Make extra pizza. Shane’s pie is one of the few leftovers my family (me excluded) is willing to take for lunch and/or re-heat for dinner.

New Year’s Eve

For one reason and another, it’s been a good long while since we had a proper New Year’s Eve celebration with lots of friends and family.

We almost didn’t make it to this one. It’s been a not-so-awesome week off with illness, daylight deprivation, and some disappointing news on the new home construction front. I just barely persuaded Shane—who has bronchitis at the least, and more likely pneumonia—to make a brief appearance with some of his Gratin Dauphinois.

Shane’s poor health excepted, it was a perfect evening. Warm, cozy and relaxed, with favorite people and excellent food… and only one significant temper tantrum from Sid.

On the menu: prime rib roast from Adams FarmGratin Dauphinois (aka potato gratin), roasted carrots and beets from an organic farm in western Mass, Jenya’s mom Carole’s popovers, my grandma Lillian’s Company Carrots, delicious green salad, and New Year’s Eve Cake (aka Baked Alaska) for dessert.

Highlights included Chris’ idea to fill his popover with potato gratin (an idea akin in it’s brilliance to the cake ‘n cone). The baked Alaska wasn’t as good as usual, maybe due to hectic circumstances at home, or maybe because we forgot the penguins, but if you follow this recipe, it usually works every time.

I can’t imagine a nicer way to end 2016 and since I’m a post-apocalyptic fiction junkie, I’m completely prepared for 2017.

Happy New Year!

Christmas Eve weird

img_5902For as long as I can remember (except for the year Sid was born) we’ve celebrated Christmas Eve at my parent’s house. It’s a warm bustle of activity. Lots of folks coming in and out, the decorating of a huge tree, some kind of craft, food, warmth, good friends, love. Lots of preparing for the huge dinner for 30 or so people that my parents host every year. Here‘s a link.

My sister reads a falling-apart copy of The Night Before Christmas (from the 1940s) to whomever is a kid that particular year, before they go to bed. Then there is a wrapping frenzy. Honestly, I’m not sure my mom even goes to sleep at all.

This year is not like that. This year is totally weird.

First of all, we don’t have the house. I mean, we do, but it looks more or less like this:img_1100

My parents ate out tonight. The house is cold, and unfinished. We’re living in a crappy basement apartment. Tomorrow, we’re eating dinner at a Chinese restaurant with only 16 people because 14 had to cancel for some reason or another.

I sat down with Shane and told him we had to find the joy. He’s got some kind of horrible respiratory thing, I’ve had a stomach bug for a week and half and Rose puked last night.

But we HAVE to find the joy, if for no other reason than for our kids, and my mom who is also taking this break from tradition pretty hard.

Tonight, we found our joy right here:img_5916Shane and the kids had Parmesan Chicken Goujons aka “chicken noogits” and I had the mildest of mild butternut squash soups. And then Sid told us he wanted to leave Santa “chicken noogits, and ketchup, and rice, and seltzer, and milk and a juice box and a cookie” And isn’t that the kind of magic that Christmas is all about for us agnostics (and christians alike)?

Also joyful was reading an ancient copy of The Night Before Christmas (twice) while fielding questions about why it’s broken and who broke it.img_5911

As Santa says: Merry Christmas To All And To All A Good Night!

 

A regular old weeknight post

Vegetarian optionIt’s been so, so long since I did a regular, non-special occasion, weeknight post. This kind of breaks my heart because the whole point of this blog was dinner, every night. We still eat together, I just don’t have time to post. I feel like I’ve said that before.

Tonight was inspiring. Everyone was sitting down at the table (sort of). Everyone (except Sid) was eating. It was (almost) perfect. It was delicious, because it was Better Miso Glazed Salmon (which I don’t eat).

Vegetarians do not despair! It was also baked tofu (recipe below) with some of the butter-miso sauce put aside before it went on the salmon. Add to that roasted carrots, roasted little potatoes, salad and I’m hooked.

• Baked Tofu •

Ingredients:
1 package extra firm tofu

a few glugs of peanut oil
salt

Press tofu between several layers of paper (or clean cloth) towels, weigh down with a cast iron skillet or something else heavy for 1/2 hour or so until a lot of the water has been squeezed out. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Cut tofu into 1″ squares and toss with olive oil and salt, be generous!

Lay tofu squares out on a foil or parchment lined baking sheet – separate them so they’re not touching. Bake for about 20 minutes or until starting to become golden but not firm (they firm up after the come out of the oven). Remove from oven and let sit for a moment or two. Serve with your favorite tasty sauce (such as butter-miso sauce)

Oh, and here’s that salmon:

Salmon