Friday, September 24, 2010

Food in Review

Aside from Friday, this was an eat-in and eat foods I prepared kind of week.  I gained weight last week when I cheated with premade casseroles from my beloved Central Market.  Don’t get me wrong, I had no foolish notions that the casseroles were light, especially when the second ingredient in the Cowboy Casserole was butter!  No wonder it tasted so good!

Friday: Date night ensued.  We went to our usual date spot to celebrate yet another month of being together (you may recall that this was instituted by my husband to commemorate our first date and we’ve literally done it every month since we’ve been together) and split the Party for Two.  It’s a salad each, a medium pizza, and a pazookie for $19.95.  I went with the house; he the Caesar.  Our pizza was a fun creation of bacon, ham, onions, and jalapenos.  Totally delicious combo.  We also did something different with dessert.  We were informed that you can chose two flavors and have it half-n-half style.  We went with white chocolate macadamia for the hubby and peanut butter for me!  We WILL be having that combo again!  Such a fun night.  

Saturday: We hit the farmers market bright and early for our bounty then I hit the grocery store.  There would be fresh food in our house!  Saturday night’s dinner was Oktoberfest inspired!  We picked up smoked pork sausage from the market – Rehoboth Ranch makes insanely good sausages! – which I used for Saturday’s dinner.  I sliced one link (the package comes with two links) and pan-seared it all by its lonesome.  Once they were seared nicely, I removed them from the pan and put a whole mess of sauerkraut in the same pan with some spicy brown mustard mixed in.  The goal was to let the juices from the kraut pick up all the browned tasty bits from the sausage.  Worked like a charm too!  I always “grill” my sauerkraut.  I like it dry and hot.  I don’t like it straight from the jar, all wet and cold.  Some people do, but that’s not my style.  While all that loveliness was happening on the stovetop, I had sweet potato slices roasting away in the oven with olive oil, salt, and pepper.  Add a Shiner Oktoberfest (or really, and good German-style beer you like) and some brown mustard for the full effect.  Which we did, happily.

Sunday: Epic football it was!  I made cheese wantons and edamame for the first game.  Wontons are one of my husband’s favorites.  I decided to bake the wontons this time.  Yeah, this is not the place to skimp on calories because the baked wontons weren’t worth the effort and time I spent making them.  This is where I need to stick to actually frying something.

After Riley’s puppy graduation, we had my Colt game to enjoy!  I made my killer taco salad for the occasion.  I like layered taco salads.  I start with chopped romaine.  Crumbled tortilla chips go next.  Then seasoned ground beef and beans is piled on.  I used more Rehoboth ground beef for our taco meat.  It’s SO red when it’s raw.  You can just see the quality!  I browned the full pound then added dark red kidney beans.  For the taco effect, I mixed in onion powder, garlic powder, chili powder, cumin, cayenne, and salt.  You could use a season packet, but I find them too salty and not spicy enough.  The proportions are really up to you though.  I use a TON of chili powder and quite a bit of cayenne too because I like it hot.  Once you get it all in the pan, add enough water to cover and let it simmer until most of the water is gone.  It imparts a lovely flavor all through the meat and beans.  On top of the taco meat goes the cheese.  I used Kroger brand white Vermont sharp cheddar with chipotle, freshly grated.  Next, diced tomatoes and avocados get piled on along with salsa, which acts as the salad dressing.  The order of the layers is important.  One, it make it pretty.  Two, the chips keep the lettuce from wilting due to the hot meat, and the cheese goes on the hot meat so that it melts.  Smart, right?  Taco salad might be my absolute favorite salad ever.

Monday: I gave a new twist to two favorites: sausage topped polenta meets okra stew over cornbread.  Polenta and cornbread are so comforting, and essentially the same taste, really, since they’re both all about milled corn.  I made a quick sauce of fresh tomatoes, onion, okra and just a tiny nub of the smoked sausage for flavor with garlic and oregano then piled it on a base of creamy parmesan polenta.  Simple, filling, and really comforting for a Monday.  I actually meant to add black eyed peas to the stew, but I thawed too much okra!  Oops.

Tuesday: Okay, don’t ask me where I got this one. I really don’t have a clue.  I wanted to use gnocchi.  I am a fool for gnocchi and often crave it.  This was one of those times.  For some reason, I thought Irish Yeah, gnocchi isn’t Irish at all.  But it is potato, hence the Irish.  Well, Irish lead to cabbage.  I don’t have cabbage, but I always have frozen Brussels sprouts!  Add the rest of the smoked sausage, and the idea started to cement.  I seared the remaining sausage, cut in chunks until brown.  They came out of the pan and quartered Brussels sprouts and diced onion went in.  While those got brown and lovely, I put on water to boil for the gnocchi and made a sauce in my mini processor.  In went two cloves of garlic, two handfuls of arugula, a generous pinch of parm, a palmful of walnuts, one turn of olive oil, and enough veggie stock so that things would actually move around the processor.  (How is that for measurements?!)  Once the Brussels were nice and golden, the sausage and arugula pesto joined them in the skillet.  The whole thing simmered with extra veggie stock until the gnocchi floated gracefully to the top of the boiling water.  Once drained, they too joined the skillet party with some reserved gnocchi cooking water until everything was coated.  I dished this out into ramekins, dolloped ricotta on top and put them in the oven on broil for just a few minutes.  The result…..probably the best gnocchi I’ve made to date!  The potato + cabbage + sausage combo was out of this world, and the pesto brought all of the flavors together so beautifully.  The trick was to get every element in every bite.  We almost made a game of it!

Wednesday:  I was utterly exhausted.  Thank goodness for leftovers.  I simply warmed the taco meat, layered as above, and voila!  Taco salad night two.  And it was good.  The taco meat gets better with a little time to meld.  

Thursday: We have a friend in town hosting a dinner at Fox & Hound.  So, maybe out “eat in all week” thing really didn’t work.  Hey, we tried.  Beer and pub food was had.  Hey…..when in Rome.

Graduation dog says I can has diploma!  And you can has a Friday!

Hope it’s a great one!


  1. Awww, she's such a cute puppy!!!
    I wish I could learn to like gnocchi. Jonathan loves them, so I suck it up every now and then, but they're just not my cup of tea. :(

  2. Really?! I crave gnocchi. I order it almost every time I find it on a menu. Would good sauce help? Have you tried the whole wheat gnocchi made with sweet potato?