quick

All hail the hot dog

Hot DogsLook, I don’t eat hot dogs, I don’t even like them, but give me some dogs on a busy weeknight and I’m one happy mother. Why? Because while my family is happily eating their meat, I can have a lentil salad with roasted beets and goat cheese all to myself.

Lentil SaladI’ve been making lentils cooked like risotto lately and they’re really good. You can eat them on their own or combine them with salad stuff (like roasted beets, goat cheese and arugula) and a simple vinaigrette for a complete meal.

• Risotto-style Lentils •
Serves 4 as a side dish

2 tablespoons butter
1 small or 1/2 an onion chopped fine
1 cup small green lentils
1/4 cup white wine
2 cups vegetable broth or water mixed with 2 teaspoons vegetable Better Than Bouillon

Sauté your onion in the butter on medium low heat until soft and translucent. While that’s happening, heat your broth to a simmer and leave it simmering. When onion is soft, reduce the heat to low, add the lentils and stir until they’re coated with the butter. Add the wine and stir until evaporated. Add the broth one ladle-full at a time, cooking the lentils slowly stirring occasionally until the broth is nearly absorbed. Add more broth as the broth in your lentils gets absorbed.

Cook for about 25 minutes at which time the broth will probably be all gone. Test lentils for doneness and add a bit of water if they are not tender enough yet. Cover and cook until they reach desired tenderness – keep them moist with more water as needed to keep them from getting dry. Serve as part of a salad or however you like.

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!

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.

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

 

Vegetarian chicken cacciatore (and regular chicken cacciatore)

veggie_chicken_cacciatoreOh hey there! It’s been a long, long while hasn’t it? We don’t have room for The Light in our tiny temporary basement apartment, but we added a new lamp in the kitchen so now I can take semi-decent pictures of dinner that don’t look all gross and flourescenty.

Shane and I recently became weary of our months-long, and very steady rotation of beans & quesadillas, penne alla vodka and pasta with Marcella’s famous sauce for dinner. He mixed things up when he had a week off of work, bringing recipes out of retirement and adding some new things to the mix from a cookbook Rose got him at a yard sale.

I was inspired to do the same with dinner tonight. There were a lot of mushrooms in the fridge so I resurrected easy chicken cacciatore, and while I was at it made vegetarian chicken cacciatore—aka white beans with garlic, rosemary and tomatoes—for myself. Rose said the chicken was amazing, especially the “soup.”

The chicken seemed like it would have been nice with some crusty bread or rice or pasta. The beans were just right with a side of roasted eggplant. chicken_cacciatore