Friday, December 17, 2010

Food in Review

There was one theme this week: fast and easy!  Dance practices, dance performances, baby shower gift prep, and Christmas prep took over my free time.  So dinners had to be fast and super simple to throw together.

Friday: We had a friend in town who treated us and The Bringer of the Fun to dinner at Aubelo’s.  It’s possibly my favorite Mexican restaurant.  I love the decor.  I love the menu.  I love the food.  I stuffed myself with a pick-your-own enchilada platter with Mexican papas and espinaca casserole.  Delightful!  Gotta remember that I love this joint, because it tends to fall off my radar.  But the company really made the night.  

Saturday: We’d eaten out Thursday and Friday.  This is how I know my husband’s opinions about food and money might have changed a bit since we met.  Even HE said we needed to eat in after having two dinners out!  I was stoked.  I had chicken and dumplings planned since the weather had been cool enough for me to justify making it.  This was a staple growing up.  My grama made it regularly, and it holds a special place in my heart.  I started by sauteing a small onion and a few cloves of garlic in safflower oil.  I removed them and set them aside once translucent.  Then I added two bone-in, skin-on split organic chicken breasts to brown on all sides, seasoned with a little salt and pepper.  Once, browned, I added two cups of veggie stock and five cups of water.  The goal was just to get the chicken covered and that’s what it took.  I let the breasts simmer away until the meat fell away very easily from the bone, but didn’t actually wait for it to fall off on it’s own.  That’s just too much of a time investment on a Saturday night.  I removed the breasts and shredded one.  Then I realized that one breast was plenty so I put the other in the fridge.  I added a cup of whole, organic milk to the stock the chicken simmered in.  Surprisingly, there wasn’t any scum from the chicken to skim off!  Those were some lean breasts!  I’d expected that since it was skin on, there would be a lot of fatty residue to skim of.  Nope.  The onions and garlic were added back to the stock and milk mixture, then I took my immersion blender to it, just to make the finished product smoother and more uniform.  It’s totally not necessary though; so no immersion blender, no worries..  The shredded chicken and some dried thyme went back in the pot, and I dropped in dumplings a la Bisquick’s Hearth Smart dumpling recipe.  I just added a little dried parsley added in and cooked according to box directions.  I have to say it.  This was my best batch to date.  It was thick and velvety.  The dumplings were light and doughy (we like the kind that float, not the kind that sink).  The chicken was utterly tender and flavorful.  I can’t wait to make it again.  And again.  This might be the over-made dish of the winter for us.  I always have one for every season it seems.

Sunday: After seeing HEAB’s sweet potato fest last week, I just had to have some too.  We love shepherd’s pie. So, I thought, let’s do it up with sweet mashers instead of the traditional mash (i.e. HEAB’s cottage pie).  I made my standard filling: ground beef (this was part of my Rebohoth Ranch stash), sauteed onion, garlic, and thyme with pearl onions, peas, and carrots in a sauce made of whole wheat roux, stock, Worcestershire, salt, pepper, and a little Dijon mustard.  I steamed cut sweet potatoes then mashed with real butter.  It was good, but we both agreed we’d rather stick with the traditional route on this one.  That didn’t stop us from devouring it and declaring it delicious over and over.  Forgot to take a photo!  Been a while since I forgot. 

Monday: More sweet potato shepherd’s pie.  I had a two hour dance rehearsal that night, so Sunday’s meal was made with the intention of also being Monday’s meal.

Tuesday: The fate of the other chicken breast was decided.  It would be the inspiration for tortilla soup!  I love tortilla soup for the mix-ins, honestly, and mine is no where near traditional!  I start with a sauteed onion and garlic (looking at this post, I’m wondering if ALL my meals start that way), then added an entire organic zucchini and  about half a bag of frozen corn.  Once everything had a bit of char on it, I added the shredded breast, a can of Muir Glen fire roasted diced tomatoes with chipotle, organic black beans, a can of veggies stock (to get the remaining fire roasted tomatoes out of the can) and a can of water.  The spices included garlic powder, cumin, hot smoked paprika, and salt.  Then I simmered until we were ready to eat. Our bowls of piping hot soup were topped with shredded sharp cheddar, tortilla chips, and avocado.  This is a go-to soup and can be changed in a million ways.  I love forgiving recipes!  It was totally delicious, but the best part is that it not only made dinner but three additional lunch portions.

Wednesday: The husband’s favorite: RUEBENS!  These ruebens featured WF marbled rye, smoked uncured ham (from Target and utterly delicious), and gouda with brown mustard-spiked, grilled  sauerkraut and special sauce. Okay, so the sauce isn’t all that special.  Combine mayo, ketchup, garlic powder and any amount that tasted good to you.  Ta-da!  the secret is to “grill” everything.  I put the lunch meat in the pan to allow it to get warm and charred.  I saute the sauerkraut with spicy brown mustard until it’s completely dry.  Then I assemble the sandwich and grill it, grilled cheese-style.  Grilling everything makes this sandwich.  Heck, it’s got two of the husbands most hated things in it, yet it’s his favorite dinner.  You know that means it’s gotta be good!  Served with oven-fried okra, one of my favorite things.  

Thursday: I knew the performance would eat most of the night, so I picked up a frozen pizza during my weekend grocery outing.  It’s Archer Farms Italian capacolla with peppers, because that sounds right up my husband's alley.  He’s a fiend for Italian deli meats, and who can blame him.  We ate a very similar pizza at our favorite downtown Ft. Worth Italian spot about a month ago.  He stole the capacolla off uneaten pieces.  I realize a frozen pizza isn’t quite the same as a wood-fired pie from a downtown eatery, but it’s the best I could do under the circumstances. I did add some cheese to this pizza after seeing that it was quite skimpy.  It was a surprisingly good little dinner, for a frozen entree.  Exceeded my expectations and was super easy, obviously.

Riley says...have a peanut butter covered Friday!

No comments:

Post a Comment