Last minute salmon

Miso_Salmon_IMG_9854The chaos of Halloween, and the parade’s close proximity, made it too complicated for us to have our usual, Lazy Thursday dinner at the coffee shop.

By the time we got home, it was after 7:00. We’d been parading and trick-or-treating for 2.5 hours, my entire lower half was aching, and I hadn’t even thought about dinner. Fortunately, there were a couple of nice, fresh pieces of salmon in the fridge.

Salmon with Miso Butter Glaze, rice, and a salad of CSA carrots, peppers & cilantro, was on the table by 7:30. Nice!

After dinner, I took a much-needed seat on the couch, and stayed there till bedtime. Happy Halloween!

Halloween_IMG_9750

Polar opposites

Franks_Beans_HealthySalad_IMG_9840Tonight’s dinner was a funny, ironic, kind of combination. For them, beans & franks, the quintessential, ready-to-eat canned meal. For me, an uber-earthy brown rice , sweet potato and kale salad with miso-ginger dressing.

But you know me, I wouldn’t serve my family franks and beans from a can. Oh no. What we had were what Jenny from Dinner A Love Story calls Highbrow Franks & Beans. You know, the kind where you start with dried beans. The kind with organic all-beef Franks. The kind that takes over 6 hours to make. Oh yes I did.

And I’ll do it again. Phrases like “What’s your favorite food? This (pointing to franks & beans) is mine” and “I want this for lunch every day” were thrown around. Yes, a big success. And also absolutely perfect for the nights, like tonight, when we don’t get home until 8:00.

A lot of people have been trying to persuade me to get a slow cooker. If anything is going to convince me to clutter-up my tiny New York City kitchen with another big appliance, this is the dish that will do it. Presuming, of course, that this is a dish that could be made in a slow cooker.

As for the polar opposite on the table, I had a tweaked version of Smitten Kitchen’s Miso Sweet Potato and Broccoli Bowl. My version used kale, skipped the sesame seeds and left the garlic out of the dressing. It was utterly delicious, as the recipe promised. The kind of meal that makes you feel like your body owes you a big old thank you.

• Franks & Beans •
from Dinner A Love Story

1 pound dried navy or great northern beans
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons spicy brown mustard
2 tablespoons molasses
1/4 cup ketchup
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
2 thick strips bacon
3 hot dogs, sliced into rounds as shown

In a large pan, cover the beans with water. Bring to a boil and simmer until tender, about 1 hour. Drain.

Preheat oven to 300°F. In a bowl, combine everything else except the bacon and hot dogs. Stir in the beans.

Place 1 bacon strip at the bottom of a large ovenproof dish or Dutch oven. Pour the bean mixture over it, then push the other strip in.

Add just enough boiling water to the pot to cover everything. Cover the pot with aluminum foil, then a lid. Bake for 5 hours, checking hourly to make sure the beans aren’t drying out. (Add more water as necessary to keep them submerged.) Uncover for the last half hour to brown the top, if desired. During the last 10 minutes of cooking, stir in hot dog slices until warmed through. If serving later, stir in the hot dogs right before you re-heat the beans.

• Miso, Sweet Potato and Kale Bowl •
altered slightly from Smitten Kitchen’s recipe

For the bowl
1/2 cup dried brown rice
2 large sweet potatoes
1 bag or bunch of baby kale
2 tablespoons olive oil
Coarse or kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

For the miso-sesame dressing
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
2 tablespoons white miso
2 tablespoons tahini
1 tablespoon honey
1/4 cup rice vinegar
2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
2 tablespoons olive oil

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Cook rice according to package directions and set aside.

Peel sweet potatoes and cut into 1-inch cubes. Toss with 1 tablespoon olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Lay potatoes out on a baking tray. Roast for 20 minutes, until browning underneath. Toss and continue cooking until browned on most of the sides and cooked through. Remove from baking tray to a medium or large bowl.

Toss the kale with 1 tablespoon olive oil and salt, lay out on the baking tray you just used for the potatoes and cook until wilted and even a little bit crispy in areas. Add cooked kale and rice to the bowl with the sweet potatoes. Toss to combine and set aside until ready to serve.

To make the sesame-miso dressing: Combine everything in tall container and blend with a stick blender until smooth.

Toss salad with some of the dressing, and serve with additional dressing on the side.

Soup & salad

Soup&Salad_IMG_9816Shane’s been a bit under the weather, so I decided to make soup tonight. Soup is also an excellent choice for our crazy-schedule Mondays.

According to this blog, Egg-lemon soup was well-received the last time I made it. It’s a quick and simple soup that also provides some protein, thanks to the eggs.

To make the soup more substantial, I cooked up a nice organic chicken breast, weekday style, and then shredded, and used it as a garnish.

For salad, we had a much simpler version of this elaborate and delicious escarole salad. The simple version was great, the recipe is below. You can find the Egg-lemon soup recipe here.

• Escarole & Cheddar Salad with Creamy Mustard Dressing •

for the salad:
1 medium head escarole lettuce
1 cup freshly grated cheddar (or gruyere) cheese

for the dressing:
2 tablespoons plain greek yogurt
1 1/2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 cup olive oil

Wash the escarole lettuce well, then spin it dry and tear it into bite size pieces. To make the dressing, combine all ingredients except the olive oil in an 8oz-ish jar and mix well. Add the olive oil, lid the jar, and shake vigorously to combine. When ready to serve, toss the lettuce with the dressing. You may not need all of the dressing, depending on how big your head of escarole is, so start with half and go from there. When salad is well dressed, top with grated cheese. Toss again at the table, to distribute the cheese.

 

 

Hello guy lon!

GuyLon_IMG_9812I wasn’t too excited to receive weird broccoli rabe, with extra-thick stems, in my CSA box this week. When I gave it a closer look this evening, I realized it might not be broccoli rabe.

Upon checking my CSA web site, I discovered that it was Guy Lon (or Chinese broccoli), and that those extra-thick stems could be eaten with minimal effort.

I now have a new favorite broccoli. Guy Lon is really flavorful, even a little bit sweet. It doesn’t have even the remotest amount of  the bitterness of broccoli rabe. So don’t be fooled by it’s similar appearance.

With it we had cheese ravioli with a very simple fresh tomato sauce made with 1/2 a stick of butter, a teaspoon of fresh, slivered, sage leaves, and two fresh, chopped, plum tomatoes.

I thought that maybe a third night of pasta in a row was too much, but Shane said it would be okay if we pretended to be Italian. I’m half Italian, so it wasn’t much of a stretch.

• Easy Guy Lon (or Chinese Broccoli)
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and smashed with the flat side of a knife
a pinch of red pepper flakes
1 large bunch Guy Lon

Wash the broccoli well, and trim off the bottom most part of the stems (only about 1/2 an inch). Cut each stem, or the whole bunch, in half crosswise so that half of the bunch is mostly thick stems and the other half is leaves, tops and florets. Halve the thick stems lengthwise, and set aside. Heat about 3 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet. Add two smashed cloves of garlic and a pinch of red pepper flakes and cook over medium-high heat until the garlic begins to color, just a minute or two. Add the broccoli stems and cook for 3-4 minutes. Add the tops, leaves and florets, and cover. After a minute, uncover and stir to coat all of the broccoli with oil. Cook for another 3 minutes or until the broccoli is tender to the bite, but still bright green. Season with salt and serve immediately.

Another birthday celebration

My folks came to town this weekend to celebrate with me. My birthday is exactly a week after Rose’s, which means that by the time it comes along, I’m tired of celebrating and don’t really want to do anything.

But really, it’s hard to say no when my mom offers to come down and cook for us. We had my folks, sister, aunt, uncle and cousin over for a delicious dinner of vegetable lasagna, two salads, sausages and birthday macaroons. To add to the celebratory-ness of it all, my aunt and uncle also share a birthday month with Rose and me.

The lasagna was the wonderful Vegetable Garden recipe from the New Basics Cookbook. It’s a labor of love kind of dish, it literally takes hours to make. You have to prep each vegetable separately. But it’s worth the time if you can find it. Thanks mom!

I don’t know what my mom did with the salads (aside from use up a lot of my CSA veggies—thank you) but they were spectacular, as always. She says I’m a close second, but she really is the salad queen.

The macaroons were a delightful departure from cake. Not that I don’t love cake, but we’ve been eating Rose’s all week. They were chocolate chip macaroons stuffed with dark chocolate ganache. They didn’t last.

Thanks family, for celebrating with me.

Dinner, supplemented

TakeoutSupplemented_IMG_9736Honestly, I don’t know what exactly happened with dinner tonight. I made Penne alla Vodka and a CSA salad (topped with roasted corn). My mom added rotisserie chicken, pita and roasted potatoes from the chicken place around the corner. It was a little bit weird, but no one went hungry, that’s for sure.

We caught up with family and friends, wine and much rum was consumed, princesses were paraded, and all was well.

Princesses_IMG_9737

Lazy Thursday, with friends!

LazyThurs2_IMG_2120We met some friends at the coffee shop for dinner tonight. What a wonderful idea! Why did I not think of it before?

The kids had a grand old time, eating, wrestling and who knows what else. And the moms got to chat over a glass of wine… or mineral water (sigh).

As if wrestling, tickling and running all around wasn’t enough. Rose felt compelled to work out on her new gymnastics bar, from the moment we got home, until we peeled her off of it, at 10 minutes past bedtime.

 

Aged chicken

Parmesan_Chicken_IMG_9731The chicken was not really aged, Rose and Shane just decided to have some fun with their ketchup, and their ages. For the record, neither of them has seen Breaking Bad, this was purely honest ketchup creativity.

It’s the same Parmesan Chicken Goujon recipe that we had last week. Now that I’ve remembered it, and Rose has decided it’s her favorite meal, I think we’re going to have it a lot.

Note: People with kids, or kid-like food preferences, you should really try this recipe.

Of course it’s an easy make-ahead dish as well. You can prepare the chicken all the way up to the baking part, and then just let it hang out (covered, if you have pets) until 12-18 minutes before you plan to eat dinner. Which is what we did tonight.

Fortunately, and unfortunately, Shane was home to pre-heat the oven, which is what made this meal possible.

He was home because the tightwad bastards at Cigna cut off his physical therapy coverage. This means that he’s now available to do some dinner prep on our crazy-schedule nights. Delightful as that may be, I think I’d prefer for him to recover fully from his surgeries.

With our chicken—or without it, in my case—we had roasted CSA peppers and the rest of last night’s kale & potatoes.
VeggieSides_IMG_9732

Six!

Six!2_IMG_9719Our Rose Lilliana turned 6 today. Being someone who loathes the passage of time, I’m always a bit of an emotional wreck on her birthday. Fortunately, I was able to snag a chaperone spot on her school field trip today. This kept me from sitting at my desk all day, mourning the loss of the baby, toddler and little kid that she once was.

Rose had a couple of requests for her birthday dinner. One was steak, the other, a purchased cake. It kind of breaks my heart that she wanted a store-bought cake instead of a homemade one, but I don’t want her to grow up feeling all deprived because she never got a cake from a store. Also, I let her have Doritos today, for the first time in her life.

We got a nice Local Harvest shell steak from Fresh Direct, which I seasoned with the leftover steak seasoning from our chili, and grilled in the grilling pan. Shane and Rose approved of the seasoning, Rose saying that it was spicy in a good way, like Doritos.

For starch, we had potato and celery root mash, from this recipe, again, except without any measuring. It seems like any reasonable combination of potatoes, celery root, butter and sour cream with a squirt of dijon, is delicious.

We kept up the Kale Challenge tonight too. A friend (who is an actual food writer) recommended preparing kale Greek Style to really get through a lot of it. What this means is that you blanch your greens (baby kale in our case), squeeze out the water and dress liberally with olive oil and lemon juice.

I decided to add crumbled feta, because cheese is my solution to all problems. The blanched baby kale (two varieties) came out tasting a lot like lightly-cooked spinach, and only benefitted from the addition of lemon, olive oil and feta.

For lack of a better way to describe it’s pre-cooked volume, I’d say the recipe used up approximately 1 cubic foot of baby kale. Our kale supply is now fully depleted… until we get more on Thursday.

We ordered a birthday cake from Billy’s Bakery in Chelsea which is our go-to bakery for purchased cakes. They make a classic cake that looks very much like homemade, but is just perfect enough to give itself away as bakery-made. Rose approved, so all was well.

Happy Birthday baby girl. We love you.