Puttanesca and Irish silliness 

This week’s dinner awesomeness came in the form of pasta with puttanesca sauce (the kind without tuna) and a simple salad. The puttanesca recipe came from the Italian Classics book which Rose got Shane for Father’s Day at a yard sale. Aw.

We also had some fun on St. Patrick’s Day with green rice and some awfully good (and totally unrelated) lentils cooked like risotto. If you like lentils you should really try cooking them like risotto. Green rice is fine if you can get your head around it, or if you’re hungry enough.

Today is Shane’s birthday, so check back tomorrow for a post about everyone’s favorite topic… cake!

It’s all about that cauliflower 

 Seriously though. The best thing I ate this past week was a fantastic cauliflower dish from food52. My family won’t agree, but in this case, they’re wrong.

Last week, one of Rose’s classmates told me that cauliflower is good with salt and vinegar. I can’t say I was convinced, but it did inspire me to put cauliflower on my wunderlist.

I took some liberties with the recipe, halving the cauliflower but using the full amount of other stuff, because who doesn’t like their veggies with extra stuff? I also used a whole hell of a lot more salt than called for. A quarter teaspoon? Pshaw!

In addition to being delicious, this was quick and easy. A make again for sure. 

Lookin’ good at 50

The awesome thing that happened this week was that our good friend Drew turned 50. Being a chef and all, he invited the whole gang out to his family’s amazing home in the countryside for a weekend of eating well and relaxing with friends. Added bonus? Drew did almost all of the cooking.

We arrived on Saturday afternoon and wasted no time getting started on margaritas, oysters and the biggest and best batch of guacamole I’ve ever eaten.

The party really started when the young boys got naked and jumped off the furniture, and the young girls took up darts and pool. With the kids occupied, the parents were free to drink more margaritas. And eat more guacamole.

Dinner was fajitas of many kinds. It seemed like Drew was prepared for pretty much any fajita request. Chicken or beef? Yes. Pulled pork? Natch. Vegetarian? But of course. The homemade pickled jalapenos were a big hit too.

Dessert was a massive tray of tiramisu made by Drew, a gorgeous cake of unknown origin, and a whole pasta pot full of molasses chocolate chip cookies sprinkled with sea salt (by Shane who missed dessert because he was putting Sid to bed).

There were even more desserts but we didn’t have room, so we ate them in the morning.

Happy Birthday Drew, we thought you looked good already.

 

Risotto two ways

Risotto & AsparagusWhat’s more awesome than risotto with a side of asparagus cooked to perfection by your loving spouse? That same risotto the next day when it’s been mixed with cheese, breaded and deep fried. Crispy, golden patties of deliciousness. That’s what we’ve got for you this week. Hope you like it, we sure did. xoxo
Fried Risotto

• Leftover Risotto Arancini •
Take leftover risotto, mix it with shredded mozzarella, about 1 part cheese to 3 parts risotto. Form into patties about 3/4″ thick by 2″ in diameter. Refrigerate until the patties are somewhat firm, an hour or overnight. Dip each patty in flour, then egg, then breadcrumbs and set aside. Heat a half inch to an inch of neutral flavored oil (peanut, safflower etc) in a pan and fry the patties on one side until golden, flip and fry until the other side is golden. Drain on paper towels and enjoy.

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.