Monthly Archives: April 2010

Happy cow, cranky boys

This week’s meals were a mash-up of simplicity and duplicity with mixed results, to no surprise.

We started out easy with salmon burgers on Monday.  No problem there.  By Tuesday fish sauce worked its way into the ingredient list.  It was noticed. Kale showed up on Wednesday and was largely ignored by the boys. Then, adding injury to insult, I substituted veggie “protein crumbles” for ground beef in the tacos on Thursday.  We nearly had an all-out revolt. Fortunately I had fish sticks as a back-up (I know what you’re thinking, but they do fit into taco shells quite nicely).

So what was I thinking? Truth is that I started the week with little time or energy to think about a meal plan.  Menus were scribbled on a card, scratched out and revised daily.  We did end up with a couple of winners but largely, meals were spontaneously created from ingredents on hand.  Here’s how it shook out:

Monday: Salmon burgers on Orowheat Sandwich Thins; spicy roasted broccoli; french fries; arugula and fennel salad with balsamic vinaigrette.

Tuesday: Thai pork chops with spicy vegetable salad*; rice.  *Excellent recipe from Sheila Lukins’ cookbook “Ten” – featuring her top 10 recipes in several food categories.

Wednesday: Chicken with carrots and olives; rice; sauteed kale with garlic

Thursday (a new low in culinary depravity): Tacos with veggie crumbles or fish sticks, cheese and salsa; corn; “margarita” cole slaw (a spontaneous concoction of shredded savoy cabbage, diced carrots and a dressing of mayonnaise and Trader Joe’s margarita mix) and … margaritas, of course!

Friday: Sole with orange brown butter; polenta with goat cheese and rosemary; caesar salad.

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Super foodie blog at the NYT

Wow … check this out: The New York Times combines its eating, drinking and cooking blogs into one: The Diner’s Journal. The blog features posts from Mark Bittman’s Bitten, The Pour and Diner’s Journal into “one free-range superblog.” Noted:

“Contributors include Eric Asimov, Mark Bittman, Glenn Collins, Florence Fabricant, Nick Fox, Julia Moskin, Sam Sifton, Kim Severson, Samantha Storey, Emily Weinstein, Pete Wells and others, Diner’s Journal embraces news and opinion about cooking, wine, restaurants and other matters culinary.”

Yet another distraction for foodies.  Ok, back to work now …

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King of Fish – Salmon in the Oven

Marinating Salmon

As a native Easterner, I love the fact that Seattle is passionate about salmon.

Watching spawning salmon in wild streams is a special weekend outing in autumn. On a hot day in summer you can see these magnificent fish leap at the Ballard locks. Native tribal lore and conservationists’ efforts keep salmon top of mind year-round in the Pacific Northwest.

I particularly love the fact we have five species to appreciate. Soon after moving to Seattle I put King, or Chinook, right at the top of my list.  So I was happy to see that Mark Bittman finally got with the program, as my husband would say, and recently declared troll-caught Alaskan king salmon as the king of fish. He offers a simple recipe with few flavors to compete with the richness of the King fillet.

Mark Bittman's Salmon c/o NY Times

I’ll save Mark’s recipe “Gently Cooked Salmon with Mashed Potatoes” for another day. I perused scores of fish recipes last Friday before settling on a selection from Whole Foods recipes: Saffron-roasted salmon with tomato fennel compote. The salmon in this case was Sockeye salmon, flash frozen at sea.  Sockeye is a bit drier and not as rich as King, thus my interest in the compote.  Anything with fennel and leeks and capers had to be good.  And it was doubly good.

YouAteThat photo
Saffron-roasted salmon with tomato fennel compote; quinoa pilaf and asparagus

In the future I might  dissect this recipe and use the marinade for fish or chicken and prep the compote to accompany risotto, polenta or other fish. This time, the recipe was intact.  And with toasted quinoa pilaf and steamed asparagus, the salmon made our meal worthy of a date night at home.

Fish on Friday, I like it.

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Friday night fish – 396 options and more

It’s Friday afternoon and I’m pondering dinner plans.  Fresh fish feels right. Just discovered our local fishmonger has 396 recipes listed on his website. And then I have a few new apps on the iPhone that are begging for attention: Whole Foods recipes; Big Oven; Epicurious.

Decisions, decisions. Stay tuned for results!

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Mac ‘n mess, thanks to Madonna

A scapegoat comes in handy when dinner flops. Tonight I had a couple – Madonna and a conniving character named Sue Sylvester.

http://www.fox.com/watch/glee

Glee's homage to Madonna = dinner disaster

I had decided to catch up on “Glee” while making dinner. The whole episode was devoted to Madonna songs – much to this material girl’s delight – and the highlight was a highly-styled black and white video of the evil Sue doing “Vogue.” It was a  major distraction that turned my effort at homemade macaroni and cheese with ham into a curdled mess.  “Is this soup?” Son #1 asked innocently.

I confess, I should have read the directions more carefully.  A reviewer mentioned stirring the cream sauce constantly to avoid curdles. It’s hard to do that and keep a beat. And I was reading the recipe on my iPhone — my first effort to use the Epicurious app. Another excuse. Waah! Diligent and focused cooks could give the recipe a spin.  I, however, will return to Annie’s boxes next time.

This week hasn’t been a stellar experience in the kitchen.  Last night I was crashing on a deadline so my husband wrestled together hot dogs and beans. God love him! Monday night’s highlight was round two on a yummy salad found on Epicurious:  Roasted Red Peppers and Cauliflower with Caper Vinaigrette.  However, the online recipe is missing the first couple of steps. A kind reviewer retrieved her print copy of Gourmet and provided the missing info, but it’s buried deep in the reviews. The recipe is worth the effort to patch together the steps so here are the missing details:

Preheat broiler. Quarter bell peppers lengthwise and discard stems, seeds, and ribs. Broil peppers, skin sides up, on a broiler pan about 2 incehse from heat until skins are blistered, 8 to 12 minutes. (Alternatively, roast whole peppers on their sides on racks of gas burners on high, turning with tongs, until skins are blackened, 5 to 8 minutes.) Transfer to a bowl and let stand, covered, 10 minutes. While peppers stand, preheat oven to 450 degrees with racks in upper and lower thirds. Peel peppers and cut each quarter lengthwise into 2 or 3 strips.  (see rest of recipe here)

The cauliflower was a nice side to pan-grilled Aidell’s Chicken Sausages with Roasted Garlic and Gruyere.  We added an iceberg salad with grapefruit, avocado, blue cheese and pecans plus baked potatoes. At least the week started off decently!

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Recycling menus on the meal plan

Now that we’ve passed the 12-week mark on my commitment to maintain a weekly meal-plan for a year, it’s inevitable that some meals would begin to reappear.

For Tuesday’s dinner I was eager to recycle one recipe in particular from Week One: Sausage and White Bean Casserole. The combination of cannellini beans and swiss chard, baked with Italian sausages to flavor the pot, is fabulous.  A time-saving stand-out from Real Simple’s easy recipe collection.

The guys “enjoyed” leftovers Wednesday while I headed to my monthly business dinner (creme brulee for dessert – my little secret now revealed).  I ignored the meal plan on Thursday and dove into the freezer instead for a Costco lasagna. I was ready to hit the kitchen again by Friday.

Salsa Couscous Chicken

For an easy end-of week meal I retrieved the recipe often known as “Million-Dollar Chicken” because a Seattle woman won just that amount for her grand-prize winner in the 1998 Pillsbury Bake-off. (I’m still puzzled why a couscous recipe qualifies for a contest sponsored by a company known for baking products.)  In any case Salsa Couscous Chicken is easy and kid-friendly.  Not a drop left on the boys’ plates.  It’s about time – I struck out with a few meals earlier this week :-/

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Filed under Favorites, Quick

Lesson learned: Rethink the “kid-friendly” rating

I had no idea ground chicken could be so sticky. Could it be the first time EVER I had used it in a recipe? Selective memory could have led to me forgetting what a pain the stuff is to work with.

While making chicken burgers Monday night, I fussed about the goo of the ground bird between my fingers and wondered if the seemingly tiny burgers would amount to a substantial meal worth repeating.

As it turns out, the burgers were filling and delish. Clipped out of this month’s Sunset magazine, the recipe for Chicken Burgers with Caramelized Shallots and Blue Cheese was a hit with the adults. It was the topping that got a definite thumbs-down from the boys, despite an icon indicating the recipe was “kid-friendly.” Son #1 was skeptical. “So, did kids tell them that or was it some adult deciding kids would like this?” My husband noted that blue cheese isn’t a kid food. I confess that thought crossed my mind but my adult tastebuds took over.

After last night’s tofu incident, I’m two for two with the boys. Let’s see if I can redeem myself the rest of the week.

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