Friday, October 8, 2010

Food in Review

This week was an odd mix of dining out with friends and cooking things that could be stuffed!  

Friday: We met our Galveston gamer friend at Texas Roadhouse for early dinner and huge mugs o' beer!  I had the mushroom chicken jack sandwich with a side salad instead of fries.  I am obsessed with their side salads.  They’re so simple and yet so delicious.  I have no idea what makes them so special, but I get one every time we go.  Add to that one lovely dinner roll with cinnamon butter and countless peanuts in the shell.  I love restaurants that have peanut shells on the floor.  I realize it’s as country as it gets, but I just feel at home in them.  

Saturday: Thank goodness I made breakfast (homemade 7 grain Bob’s Red Mill waffles) and lunch (pulled pork nachos with black beans, onions, tomato, and smoked cheddar) because we ate dinner out again, this time with one of our groomsmen.  He wanted alfredo, and I love me some pasta!  So, we hit up Carino’s.  They have a seasonal butternut squash ravioli with gorgonzola cream on a bed of spinach.  Wow.  Totally delicious.  I highly recommend you go order this….or heck, make it!  

Sunday: I was inspired by Emily’s completely homemade green curry, but I wasn’t quite so ambitious.  I had a jar of Thai green curry paste in the fridge, so I went the easy pre-made route.  My curry contained stir-fried red onions, brocco-flower, baby bellas, and tempeh.  Once everything was browned to my liking, I added an entire can of light coconut milk and half a jar of paste.  It says to add less, but I like it REALLY potent.  I also added a little extra coriander, ground ginger, cayenne, salt, and pepper to taste.  It simmered away while the rice finished.  I used Texmati brown rice for this meal.  The coconut curry sauce and veggies were absolutely wonderful.  I love the aroma of Thai curry!  The only disappointing part was the tempeh.  I’d never eaten it before……and I never will again. The rest of the block will be discarded.  It tasted like death.  I love tofu, so I thought I would love tempeh.  Um.  No.  

Monday: For some reason I was craving vodka sauce… in penne alla vodka.  I couldn’t make penne alla vodka though, since my husband really doesn’t dig plain pasta with plain sauce.  He had to eat that far too many years in a row.  He did, however, say that he wished he’d gotten the lasagna when we went to Carino’s, so I decided to mix my craving with his.  I made my vodka sauce, starting with a sautéed shallot and four small cloves of garlic with a dash of crushed red pepper in olive oil.  Then I added a large can of Muir Glen organic ground tomatoes, ¼ cup vodka (straight from the freezer) and an ounce of Neufchatel cheese.  This simmered and bubbled while whole wheat lasagna noodles boiled away.  After about 15 minutes of simmering, I took my immersion blender to the sauce to make it a little smoother and help the cheese incorporate.  Most vodka sauces call for heavy cream…..around half a cup of it!  I can’t go there, but I found that a single ounce of the Neufchatel worked beautifully.  I layered the boiled noodles with a mixture of ricotta blended with basil leaves, turkey pepperoni, and thinly sliced baby bellas.  After a quick roll up, they went into our pretty individual casseroles they went with the vodka sauce on mozzarella for melting in the over at 400.   The vodka sauce was too good to be this simple to make!  The pasta was still a little too al dente though. I should have baked it longer.  Darn…guess that means I get to make another batch to try again, right??

Tuesday: This may be a repeat because I love it so much.  We decided to take Riley to the dog park, so before we left, I cut an acorn squash in half, cleaned out the seeds, rubbed the halves with olive oil and roasted it at 325 the entire time we were gone.  A bit over an hour later, they were almost perfectly roasted.  I cranked it up to 400 while making the rest of the meal.  I cooked a small batch of quinoa in veggie stock in one pan while browning chicken apple gouda sausage and onions in another pan.  Once they were both done, I combined the quinoa and sausage with some pecans and cranberries and spooned it inside the squash bowls.  Edible bowls are something I just love.  I have no idea why!  The acorn squash pairs so well with grains and sausage.  It’s a go-to meal….and a darn affordable one!  And yes, my husband loves it too.

Wednesday: I made this meal for myself over and over when I was living alone because it made four very easy meals for me while working full-time and going to school full-time.  So, every once in a while, it’s nice to make it just because it’s tasty instead of because it can feed me for a week.  This requires pizza dough, and this is one of the few times that I don’t bother to make dough.  I can roll it out perfectly enough to make this work!  I use the kind from the dough boy, stretched into as neat a rectangle as possible then layered with deli ham, turkey pepperoni, provolone slices, tomato and roasted red bell peppers.  Then you simple roll the whole thing into a log and back for 10-12 minutes at 400.  Cut and serve with Caesar salad and marinara….or in this case, left over vodka sauce.  Now this is a meal that can truly be on the table in 30 minutes or less.

Thursday: I made a little gumbo/succatash inspired dish out of the left over chicken sausages.  I added a can of black eyed peas, roasted tomatoes, and frozen okra.  Pair it with a little made-from-scratch cornbread, and you've got a great pantry meal!

And with that, I wish you all a very happy Friday.

And Riley just wishes for a new rawhide.....that little nub is the remains of her last one.

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