Friday, October 22, 2010

Food in Review

It’s so frustrating to me when my taste buds have moved onto another season, yet the Texas weather has other plans.  I’ve really been craving fall foods, but it’s still in the 80’s!  So…..fake it till you make it, right?

Friday: Well, we’re craving chili like nobody’s business, but I refuse to make it until there are no 80-degree days in the forecast!  So, we sufficed ourselves with chili nachos at BJs for dinner Friday.  And happy 2 years, 8 months, thankyouverymuch!

Saturday: I’d planned to make tuna melts, but after the phenomenal bagel sandwich success at lunch, the so-so tuna melts no longer sounded appealing.  We opted for delivery.  Thai delivery that is.  Two curries please!  Red tofu and veggies for me.  Penang beef for him.  Plus jasmine rice.  It was so intensely flavorful.  If you’re in the Denton area, try Andaman Thai.  Extremely good curry, delivered right to your door!

Sunday: Enough with the eating out already.  Though, we have a dinner date with my sweet, sweet Grampa this week.  So….perhaps enough till Thursday.  Sunday night’s dinner was inspired by Diana of The Chic Life’s Golden Autumn Salad.  I love warm elements on spinach salads.  The husband asked for a big dinner salad.  I saw that she did roasted veggies on her salad, voila!  I roasted a baby eggplant, a delicata squash, and brussel sprouts coated with olive oil, salt, and pepper for almost an hour at 325.  I turned them a lot (my oven has hot spots).  Meanwhile, I boiled three eggs and crisped four slices of real bacon from Central Market’s meat counter.  WOW.  I forgot how good real bacon is.  I usually eat the turkey variety.  The spinach was dressed with my favorite go-to vinaigrette (olive oil, balsamic, Dijon, salt, and pepper) then I layered on the egg, roasted veg and bacon, cobb salad style!  I served it up with a piece of garlic toast which was simply a left over bun with a smear of butter, garlic powder, salt, pepper, and parm broiled till melty.  This one inspired ohs and ahs.  I’ve never had delicata squash, and I loved it.  The creaminess was unlike any squash I’ve ever had.  Delish!  


Monday: I’m not a huge fan of Italian sausage.  It has fennel seeds in it.  I hate fennel, even the tiniest hint of it turns me off.  But my husband is a huge fan of Italian sausage.  So, occasionally, I try to use it as an accent to a dish just to make him happy.  I find that if it’s crumbed and browned outside of the casing, the fennel flavor is nearly unnoticeable.  So, I picked up a little less than a half pound for Monday’s dish from Central Market.  I paired the crumbled sausage with a tiny bit of bell pepper, onion, garlic, and a can of crushed fire roasted Muir Glen tomatoes.  I added fresh thyme at the end.  Meanwhile. I boiled some arugula and cheese raviolis.  Mix together, add parm and garlic bread, and devour.  There were a lot of “yum” noises going on from this meal.  Totally delicious and comforting.


Tuesday: I picked up a kabocah squash over a week ago and hadn’t used it.  Thank goodness winter squashes are hearty!  I decided, with the hubby’s input, to make it into risotto.  I roasted the squash on Sunday while roasting the fall veggies for our salad.  I think in total the four sections roasted for an hour at 325.  I started my risotto off with the remaining bacon, also from Sunday’s meal, cut into bits and cooked until crispy.  To the rendered fat (I know!  I used the bacon fat.  WHO AM I?!), I added two huge cloves of garlic and two small shallots, all finely diced.  Once the veggies were soft, I added about a cup of brown short grain rice.  As a tip, the brown variety takes about double the time of the regular white – aka arborrio – rice.  This is NOT a quick meal.  The rice cooked with the shallot and garlic for about two minutes before I added a cup of white wine.  Stir, stir, stir!  When the wine was cooked out, I started adding veggie stock (heated in a separate pot) in half cup portions.  I used an entire carton of veggie stock for this dish.  You simply add half a cup and stir often until all the moisture is absorbed and the rice is tender.  It took an hour for this process.  During that time, I took out the mini processor and blended half the roasted squash with a little of the stock in order to get a stir-able texture.  I added the squash to the rice with the last of the stock along with about 10 julienned sage leaves and a handful of parm.  Each serving was topped with a little parm and bacon for texture and, well, lovely bacony goodness.  There ended up being little chunks of squash that didn’t get blended smooth.  That was so fortunate, as you’d get an extra squash-y bite!  The texture and flavor of this squash is quite a bit more delicate, creamy, and sweet than acorn squash.  I totally loved it.  


Wednesday: Apparently there was an inadvertent Italian theme this week.  This meal contains pasta.  The night before was risotto, and the night before ravioli.  That was completely unintentional!  Thankfully, all of the dishes are different enough that it didn’t seem to matter to either of us!  Wednesday’s dish was my version of tuna mac.  I used medium-sized whole wheat shells for the pasta.  The sauce consisted of a shallot sautéed in olive oil.  I turned the olive oil into a roux with flour and added milk a little at a time until I got a thickness I was happy with.  I find that when making gravy of any kind – be it for cheese sauce, béchamel, or old fashioned gravy – adding the milk a little at a time and allowing it to completely incorporate and thicken before adding more milk is key!  I’ve never ruined gravy with this method through lumps or the inability to thicken.   I have ruined it by dumping all the liquid in at once, on the other hand.  So, slower is better.  It’s basically the same method as with the risotto.  Once I had a nice gravy, I added three quarters of a block of extra sharp Vermont white cheddar and stirred until it was completely melted.  The last step was to season as needed and add a little buttermilk for tang!  A big dollop of sour cream would work just as well as buttermilk.  I threw some Italian blend frozen veggie in with the pasta for the last minute of boil time.  I prefer peas, but for some completely unknown reason, I had no peas in my freezer!  Totally unacceptable!  Once drained, the pasta and veggies were tossed with the cheese sauce along with a package of Hickory Smoked Starkist chunk light tuna.  This hit all the old-school comfort food notes that I was craving, except without powdered cheese anywhere in the mix.

Thursday: A little late, but no less appreciated, my grampa took me out to our usual spot for my birthday dinner.  I was divorced six days prior to my 27th birthday the first time around.  I was happy to close that chapter of my life, but I was a little bummed out when my birthday rolled around.  My grampa noticed this, and offered to be my date for dinner.  We went to Texas Roadhouse because I wanted a steak.  He LOVED the place.  Anywhere that gives you buckets and buckets of unshelled peanuts is on his A-ok list.  The next year, I had a test on my birthday.  Again, he offered to take me out to dinner whenever my test ended.  This was going to be way later than he usually eats, because class didn’t start till 6:30pm.  He didn’t care.  He was going to take me to dinner than night no matter what.  Totally brightened my day, and it officially turned into a birthday tradition.  It’s a little less urgent now that he knows I have my wonderful husband to celebrate me, but he still takes me out at some point in October to celebrate our birthday dinner tradition.  He even reminds me, and that’s a big feat for an 83 year old man!  I love my grampa so much, and I love that we have this tradition.  

Hope you're Friday is as laid back as she is! 

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