Archives

On the Menu This Week

Finally, a post about food! It’s been too long, hasn’t it? I know I should be rounding up all the tasty things we’ve consumed since whenever the last time was I mentioned something on here, but the truth is the idea of doing that is overwhelming enough to incapacitate me.

So, as I attempt to get back in the swing of meal planning (yeah, we have not been so good these last few busy months. We have had a lot of food delivered, and a lot of last-minute trips to the store.) – I thought I’d maybe try to resurrect that thing where I share my menu for the week with you. Here goes.

In case you’ve forgotten, we try to eat one red meat, one poultry, two fish, and three vegetarian meals each week. Designated below as (M), (P), & (V), respectively.

(V) Pasta (our default I-don’t-feel-like-cooking meal: angel hair with marinara)
(F) Crispy Fish with Tomato & Leek Saute
(M) Tacos
(V) Sweet Potato with Beets, Greens, & Almonds
(F) Maple Glazed Salmon with Pineapple
(P) Chicken, Squash, & Chickpea Salad with Tahini Dressing
(V) Ricotta Gnocchi with Leeks & Fava Beans (!!! It’s fava bean season again! Finally! Are you as excited about that as I am? You should be.)

I also bought beets for roasting (and they had golden beets today – score! I saw them and immediately thought of the golden beet borscht we had at Sprout. Anybody have a good borscht recipe?) and tossing into salad greens for any meal which feels like it wants more veggies. We’ll probably have this with the salmon and on pasta night.

This week, Julia is in tech for a show, and consequently not home until Thursday, so I get to eat the things I usually skip because of her preferences/restrictions. For example, tacos! Which I would happily eat on a weekly basis, but she would prefer to have only once every other month or so. Also? Goat cheese. Which I LOVE but she cannot stomach, so I don’t eat it as frequently as I’d like. And that salmon dish with the pineapple? I could eat it all week long; Julia finds it a bit too sweet.

What are YOU eating this week? (If it’s vegetarian and delicious, please share your recipes because I never seem to have enough of those!)

Things We Have Eaten Lately

I’m trying to come back friends. Really hard. I’m finding myself at a loss for words (shocking, I know) when it comes to these posts, and maybe it’s just because I’m busy and burnt out, or maybe I’m not sure where this blog is going, but I’m gonna try to just write and see what happens. As always, your comments are appreciated! I can take constructive criticism, for real. Tell me what you most enjoy reading about. (You’re only here for the food, aren’t you? That’s ok.)

So, because it’s been a while since any food was featured, here’s a roundup of some of the things we’ve consumed recently:

Three-Bean Salad with Gouda (vegetarian) – I LOVED this dish. Julia was not a huge fan, but I think that was mostly because I bought smoked gouda and she does not enjoy smoked cheeses as a rule. Too bad for her. I love them.

Ghetto dinner. Ok, this is no high-class meal, but sometimes? You just have to pick up whatever you can eat as soon as you get it home. So. Salad. Chicken. Forks. Wine. DONE.

Oh – you may remember me mentioning how awesome my wife is? And that on my vacation, she totally pampered me food-wise, even though she was NOT on vacation? She made a whole menu of really nice meals, mostly from a Spanish cookbook we have, and let me pretend like I was in a fancy restaurant, where I didn’t have to cook or clean up! And she was all sweet about it, like it was no big deal for her to spend several hours cooking every night for me while I sat on my butt and did nothing. I love her. (Duh.) Here are some of the things she made for me:

Grilled Basa with Chickpea Salad – Julia says she put too much garlic in it (as you do, because the amount of garlic in every recipe should always be doubled. You do that, right?), but I thought it was awesomely garlicky. Then she made this lovely little bean salad with chickpeas, tomato, cilantro, and red onion. I wasn’t expecting it to be a cold salad, and it was really refreshing. Also just as good warmed up the next day.

Potato, Spinach, and Pine Nut Gratin – I’m sure you can guess that this was delicious. I don’t think I need to say anything more about it. By the way, that little salad? Mixed greens with tomatoes, nothing fancy, but the trick is that instead of our usual dressing, she drizzled it with olive oil and cracked a bit of fresh pepper on it. So simple, so good.

And then? Then there was the night she took a couple sea basses, wrapped them in Serrano ham, and stuffed them with more of the ham and garlic. Crisp, salty ham around tender bites of flaky fish? Holy crap, that was yummy. And I haven’t even told you about the vegetables. They were stir-fried with a sesame sauce and amazing on their own. Five star meal.

Oh, and I almost forgot – it was followed by dessert. To be fair, I actually made it, because, you know, I am the dessert-maker. I know what’s what when it comes to custard. (Ask Keely about those Napoleons I made her that one time. Or anyone who ate the top layer of our wedding cake.) Anyway, I digress as usual, I made Crema Fritta. Literally it translates to fried cream. But essentially, it’s custard (think flan or crème bruleé, minus the bruleé), and then it’s battered and fried. And drowned in blackberry sauce, and topped with whole berries. It was SO. GOOD. Not the prettiest thing I’ve ever made, but really really tasty.

And I’ll leave you with that to drool over.

On the Menu This Week

Photo by Jonny Valiant/Real Simple

I thought it might be fun to put our weekly menus up on the blog. Maybe it will give you some ideas for your own meal planning, or maybe you’ll just pester me for pictures and then I’ll actually remember to take them. [For example, on Friday night, I made this Balsamic-glazed Lamb Meatloaf with Cannelini Bean Salad, but since we didn’t get around to dinner until 10pm, by which time we were starving, no photo was taken. And last night I made Chili-Glazed Pork with Sweet Potato Hash, but I was home alone and remembered my camera after I was halfway done eating, which is not so pretty… so I swiped these pictures from the internet, and I am happy to report that both our meals looked and tasted as good as them.]

Photo by Con Poulos/Real Simple

In any case, here’s what we’re planning to eat in the near future. As I mentioned (I think?), we try to eat vegetarian at least 3 nights a week. To fill out the week, we do 2 fish meals (usually salmon and basa fillets), 1 poultry night (chicken, unless there’s a holiday), and 1 meat (lamb, pork, or beef). Rather than breaking this down by day, I’ll divide by type of meal. Recipes are linked where possible. (You’ll notice a lot of them come from Real Simple. They have great, interesting, easy recipes which include side dishes, so we look there a lot.)

Vegetarian
Three-Bean Chili with Spring Pesto
Southwestern Sweet Potato & Quinoa Salad
Chickpeas with Chard and Pan-Roasted Tomatoes

Fish
Salmon with Lemon-Cilantro Vinaigrette (a favorite that takes less than 20 minutes!)
Crispy Fish with Tomato & Leek Saute; Mixed Greens

Poultry/Meat
Lasagna or Tacos, depending on what I’m in the mood for
Cayenne Chicken with Avocado Salsa; Mashed Plantains with Leeks & Fresh Herbs

A little meal-planning analysis: chickpeas, leeks, tomatoes, avocados, and cilantro are all used in more than one recipe. I always try to use cilantro in more than one thing because the bunches at our grocery stores are HUGE. See my post from the other day here.

What are you cooking up this week?

Craft night redux.

If you were reading last week, you remember how our craft night became an eating and drinking night, and we kinda promised that this week we’d do some actual crafting. Well – let’s just say we crafted pizza and ice cream, and call that a promise kept. And another failure (success?) was that we devoured it before grabbing a camera. So, you’ll have to live with a description instead.

Prior to turning the night into a food free-for-all, we had discussed just having some ice cream, and Jenni tossed out the idea of peach and bacon for the flavor. You may also recall that in not making the initial shrimp dish last week, we consequently did not consume the peaches we’d bought for it. So – this was a perfect idea. Jenni volunteered to candy some bacon and we decided to mince some ginger and add it to the peaches. Wait, I’m getting ahead of myself. What about dinner, you ask?

Right, so early in the day on Tuesday, after finding out Greta couldn’t make it, we decided to invite Jenni and Rebecca to head over early and join us for dinner. I had been wanting to put homemade pizza on the menu sometime during the week, and this seemed like a perfect opportunity. We asked Jenni and Rebecca to bring toppings for one pizza (they brought mushrooms and Mexican cheese; we used some garlic and onion pasta sauce as well) and we had some “like gruyere” cheese and herb sausage from the farmers market, shallots, and pomegranate balsamic vinegar for the second pizza, which was a “white’ (a.k.a. no red sauce) pizza. They were both delicious.

Then we made the ice cream. In order to keep it edible for everyone (Rebecca is a vegetarian) we kept the candied bacon out of it, and just sprinkled it on top. It turned out a bit more gingery than I was expecting, but not in a bad way. Everyone agreed it was yummy (though secretly Julia and I were both thinking that the strawberry basil was better.)

Next week, we’re really going to craft. I swear!

Week in Review: Lots of food, not a lot of pictures.

So. We were pretty good about planning our menu and sticking to it. However, we didn’t do so well with remembering to take pictures. Here’s a little summary of how the week turned out, food-wise.

Thursday: The Zucchini Tagliatelle was a tasty, light, crisp salad.

Zucchini Tagliatelle with Mint, Cucumber, and Lemon (click for recipe)

Fresh, well-seasoned, and a perfect thing to eat on a hot summer night, especially as it requires no hot oven. A little bit more time-consuming than we had anticipated, but worth it.

Friday: We were going to make a Roasted Shrimp and Peach salad, but I ended up having to work until about 8:30pm, so I ordered some Thai food and Julia ate pasta. Not a day for culinary masterpieces, at least in our house.

Saturday: We were back in the game with another favorite recipe from Real Simple, Lemon-Oregano Lamb Chops with Orzo. This is an easy recipe to make, but tastes very indulgent – I think because lamb kinda always tastes indulgent, doesn’t it?


Lemon-Oregano Lamb Chops with Orzo (click for recipe)

The orzo and tomato is a really nice complement to the lamb. Also – this was the first time we made it with fresh (rather than dried) oregano, and it was really, really good.

Sunday: I hit the farmers’ market early in the morning hoping to score some fresh strawberries and basil for my first ice cream experiment, and hopefully something for dinner. I came out with some red rubin basil and a pint of cherry tomatoes, but no strawberries were there to be had. So I picked some up from the grocery store and headed home.

We made a Greek Salad with Orzo and Black-Eyed Peas, from this recipe. I cheated a little bit and used the leftover orzo from the lamb chops in this salad, since both recipes had it paired with tomatoes, lemon juice, and pepper. It turned out really well. One thing about this recipe is that we had to hit up a chain store (Jewel/Dominicks) to get the canned (i.e. already cooked) black-eyed peas, as our favorite neighborhood markets only carried the bags of beans that need overnight soaking and cooking and we are far too lazy for that. I personally thought this salad was delicious – another easy, light summer meal. We ate it for lunch and then again for dinner. Julia was not too keen on the black-eyed peas, so we may use a different kind of bean if we make it again, but I personally loved them. I think it was the first time for both of us tasting black-eyed peas.

Enough about healthy food though – we need to talk about ice cream. On Friday, the ice cream maker attachment for my beloved Kitchen Aid mixer arrived, and we used this recipe from Scott over at The Improvised Chef [which if you aren’t reading and you enjoy food, you should be. go on, I’ll wait.] It was easy to do, and I’d bet even if you never made ice cream before you’d have no trouble churning this out.

Very, very yummy finished product:

Which brings us to Monday. Now if you’ll remember on Friday we didn’t make the shrimp. So we had that, and some leftover orzo. (Seriously, one pound is a *lot* of orzo. This is, in fact the *third* meal we’ve used that one batch in.) We also had some Belgian endives that we bought for a recipe which looked like it would be yummy but probably not enough food for a whole dinner. Which led to Julia making up this delightful dish, which paired the shrimp, endives, and orzo with pine nuts, dijon mustard, and a little bit of red wine vinegar.

And that wraps up the week.

farmers’ market inspiration

On Sunday afternoon, we made our first trip ever to the Glenwood Sunday Market, the weekly farmers’ market here in Rogers Park. Yes, we’ve lived here for two years already, and never been. Bad us. But, give us a little credit for finally getting our butts in gear.

We headed over intending to buy some produce for a nice, meatless dinner. However, as we arrived fairly late in the day, most of the veggies and all of the fruits had already been purchased. Which was sad. But – we did get a nice little bunch of garlic scapes. And we discovered a few different vendors selling local, grass-fed meat. We have some ideas in the works for later this week with that stuff, but tonight we bring you our inspired, veggie dish:


Seasoning and Grilling the Tomatoes


Dinner is served: Pan-Grilled Tomato and Feta Salad with Lemon-Parsley-Garlic Scape Dressing and Green Beans… (Click for recipe)

…accompanied by Fried Chickpea Patties – which, for the record, were much tastier than they appear. (Cindy’s creation)

We also plotted a quick and delicious dessert – some fresh strawberries and homemade whipped cream!

Whipped Cream  – Cindy’s recipe, everything is approximate/to taste: Whip 2 cups heavy cream, 2 tablespoons sugar (your choice granulated or powdered; I prefer granulated), and 1-2 teaspoons vanilla in a standing mixer with whisk attachment until soft peaks form. Swipe a fingerful and make sure it’s good before feeding to others!


(How to eat fresh strawberries and whipped cream – straight from the bowl.)