Hello Spring!

This weekend was absolutely gorgeous!   I’ve been in western NY for two weeks where it basically snowed everyday and even when the sun was out it was still cold.  Since the weather was so nice, I had a laundry list of “spring cleaning” things I wanted to do, but like I said, the weather was nice so let’s just say nothing on the list got done.  There is always next weekend…

During the week I usually grab a bagel or granola bar for breakfast, not exciting, but fast and convenient for work days.  I love the weekends because even if I get up late,  I can still make a delicious breakfast to start off the day.  This weekend I felt like making a Quiche.  I’m not a huge egg fan, in fact, I hate scrambled eggs or anything really eggy, the texture just grosses me out, however, I love Quiche.  I think it’s because Quiche is basically a savory pie, and who doesn’t love pie?   My Quiche came out amazing, even Eric loved it (he ate half of it himself).

There are so many different Quiche recipes out there and all are different.  I looked at about 5 different ones and came up with my own.  Next time you have people over for brunch, be sure to make this, I promise everyone will love it.

Quiche Lorraine

Ingredients

1 prepared pie crust (or make your own)
6 slices of bacon, cut in pieces
2 leeks, sliced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 cup egg substitute (I use Egg Beaters, this equals out to 4 eggs)
1 cup half and half
1 cup milk (I used Lactaid)
a dash of nutmeg
1 cup Gruyère cheese, grated
salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Preheat oven to 375.  Roll out dough and press into a 10 in. tart pan.  Be sure to press the dough into the corners of the pan and cut off the excess dough.   Poke holes in the bottom of the crust and bake for 15 mins.

While the crust bakes, sauté the bacon until crisp.  Remove bacon from the pan and set aside.  Add leeks to the pan and cook until tender, about 2-3 minutes.  Add garlic, cook for 1 minute.  Remove leek and garlic mixture, set aside with bacon.

In a medium bowl whisk together eggs, half and half, milk, nutmeg, cheese, salt and pepper.  Set aside.

Arrange the bacon-leek mixture in the bottom of the pie crust and pour the egg mixture on top.

Bake for 30-40 minutes.   I prefer a golden top, so I let it cook for about an hour.   Cool on a wire rack, serve warm or room temp.  This goes perfect with a mixed green salad (which I didn’t make, but wished I did)

QuicheVerdict: Eric couldn’t get enough of this and he doesn’t really like Quiche.  I loved it, I wish I had a salad with it, but even alone it was the perfect start to the day.

This week we have a full menu planned with lots of new recipes so I’ll try to post them.  I’m hoping next weekend we’ll be able to get our balcony set up for the nice weather.  We’re planning to expand our herb garden and add some fun plants.  Here’s to hoping I’ve inherited my dad’s green thumb…so far it’s hit or miss.

 

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Chicken, Again?

If you ask my mom what she thinks Eric and I eat every night for dinner, I would bet you $100 that she would say chicken.  We do eat a lot of chicken, but we don’t eat it everyday…for the most part.  There was a time in my life when I had chicken and a salad every night, those were my single days when I was lazy and didn’t feel like making copious amounts of food.  Oh how the times have changed.  Granted chicken is a main staple in our house, we buy it in bulk and for good reason, its easy, versatile and delicious.

The other night I found a recipe for avocado orzo and garlicky shrimp.   I thought it sounded interesting, especially since I’m obsessed with anything avocado.  I wasn’t quite sure how Eric would like the orzo, he’s more of a red sauce on pasta kind of guy and doesn’t really like any “salad” that’s cold or room temp, well except tuna salad, but he’s even picky about that.   Surprisingly he said that we should try the recipe, I think it was the shrimp that sold him.   In addition to always having chicken in the freezer, I also always keep a bag of frozen raw shrimp.  For some reason  I feel like I’ve been eating a lot of shrimp lately, so I convinced Eric that we should use the marinade in the recipe and just swap in chicken.  I’m so glad I did!  The chicken came out amazing and I’ll definitely be making it again, maybe over a salad.  As for the avocado orzo, I think I’ll pass on it next time.  It tasted really good if you ate with the chicken, not so much when it was eaten alone.  Eric pretended it was guacamole and ate it with chips, can we say carb-overload?

Avocado Orzo with Garlicky Shrimp (or Chicken)-(Heather Christo Cooks blog)

Ingredients

Garlicky Grilled Prawns
6 large prawns in shell
2-3 cloves garlic
¼ tsp red pepper flakes
¼ tsp chipotle pepper powder
1 Tbsp fresh cilantro, minced
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
Kosher salt

Avocado Orzo
1lb orzo (I used 1/2 lb.)
2 avocados, spilt, pitted and peeled ( I used one avocado)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 Lime, zest and juice
2 tsp vegetable oil
Kosher salt to taste
Extra lime wedge for serving

Directions

Slice the prawns up the front and pull the prawn apart, leaving the shell on the back and the belly open and exposed. If you are going to skewer them, shove the skewer in the back to keep the prawns flat- this makes grilling evenly easy. In a dish, combine the garlic, red pepper, chipotle, cilantro and vegetable oil and sprinkle with Kosher salt. Let the prawns (or chicken) marinate (on both sides) in this combination. I let it go for like 1.5 hours.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the orzo and cook it to al dente according to the manufacturers directions.  While the pasta is cooking, prepare the avocado.

In a large bowl, combine the flesh of the avocados, the garlic, lime juice and zest and vegetable oil.  Mix it really well until the mixture is fairly smooth, season with kosher salt.

Drain the pasta and rinse. When the pasta is drained add it to the avocado mixture.  Mix together well and season one more time with Kosher salt if needed.

Prepare the grill to medium-high. Grill the prawns, shell side down for about 1 minute. Flip and repeat until the flesh is barely opaque in the center.  Gently peel the shell off of the prawns and discard. If you don’t have a grill, you can use a grill pan or a frying pan (that’s what I did)  I cooked the chicken about 2-3 minutes per side (I butterflied them so they were pretty thin)

Dish up the avocado orzo and serve with one or two prawns draped over the top.  Serve with a lime wedge to squeeze over the top before eating

Chicken and AvocadoVerdict:  We loved the chicken.  The marinade give a wonderful flavor, I’m sure it would have been awesome with shrimp.  I can take or leave the orzo, not too flavorful and basically tasted like bland guacamole and pasta.  However, if you put parmesan cheese on it, it wasn’t so bad…duh, cheese can make anything good.

Tonight we’re not doing anything fancy, probably leftover lasagna.  I’m making Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes tonight so I’ll need all the kitchen space I can get.  This is a new recipe, I’ll let you know how they turn out..I’m thinking AWESOME!

Oh Momma Mia!

I know it’s Tuesday, but I’m going to go back a few days to this last weekend, I’m not sure what was going on, but the weather this weekend was awesome!  It really felt like Spring was right around the corner.   We took full advantage of the nice weather on Sunday afternoon, spending most of the day walking around Old Town.    We weren’t alone, whenever the weather is nice it seems like people come out of the woodwork, great for all the local businesses.

Sunday was not only a great day for exploring through town but also a great night to make lasagna.  I feel like the weekends are the perfect time to make those meals that may be a bit too time consuming during the week, not that lasagna takes 5 hours to make, but it does take some time, especially if you like to make your sauce from scratch.    I love lasagna, I probably could eat it all the time, especially if it were carb-free, calorie-free and fat-free…no such luck.  Eric on the other hand isn’t a fan of lasagna, well I should say he wasn’t a fan, I think he’s jumped on the bandwagon after this new recipe.   Lasagna can be made all kinds of ways, my mom always makes it meatless with just cheeses and sauce….so good and probably the best cheese lasagna out there.  My friend Emily makes the best meaty lasagna, it’s definitely a treat when she makes it and you have to fast the whole day because you can’t just eat one piece.    I don’t ever make lasagna….until now, my speciality is Pork and Fennel Lasagna.  I know, we’re pretty fennel obsessed lately, but it’s just so delicious I want to put it in everything.    I found this recipe on Pinterest…shocking I know.  I’ve made a few adjustments as per usual.

Pork and Fennel Lasagna (original recipe from Daily Unadventures in Cooking)

Ingredients
2 teaspoons olive oil, divided
1 lb ground pork
salt and freshly ground pepper
1 heaping tablespoon fennel seeds
1 tablespoon red pepper flakes (less or more is up to you)
1/4 cup finely diced onion
2-3 cloves of garlic (I love garlic so I use a lot, or you can use 1-2)
1/4 cup red wine
1 large  can whole tomatoes
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 bulb fennel
1 package lasagna noodles
2 cups ricotta
2 eggs
1 Tbsp. parsley
1 Tbsp. basil
250g fresh mozzarella
Directions

Heat a large frying pan to medium heat. Add one teaspoon of the olive oil and then the ground pork. Start browning the pork, breaking it apart with a wooden spoon as it cooks. While this is cooking place the fennel seeds and pepper flakes in a mortar and pestle. Grind until all the seeds are broken, but not as fine as dust. Sprinkle over the meat as it cooks along with a 1/2 teaspoon of salt and freshly ground pepper. When the meat has started to brown, you likely have a significant amount of fat in the pan. Pour it off and discard. Now stir in the onion and garlic. Continue cooking until onion is soft. Now add the red wine, and allow to cook down for 2 minutes, then add the tomato paste and tomatoes. Stir well to combine and use a spoon to gently break apart the tomatoes (I use a potato masher). Allow to simmer gently for 15 minutes (or more, I simmered mine for almost 2 hours, but I always tend to let sauce simmer a long time) to blend. If your lasagna noodles need cooking, start boiling a pot of water (I used Barilla no cook noodles, worked awesome)

In the meanwhile you want to gently cook the fennel. First off remove any of the fronds of the fennel and discard. Cut the bulb in half and remove the core. Now slice very thin.

For the ricotta, add both eggs, parsley and basil.  Mix to combine.  I like to do this because it adds more flavor and lightens up the ricotta, which can be a little dense and heavy.

Heat a dutch oven to medium with the remaining olive oil. Wash the sliced fennel throughly and add to the pot along with a big pinch of salt. Stir and cover. Checking every 5 minutes and stirring as needed to wilt the fennel.  Softening the fennel should only take 10 minutes. Turn on your oven to 350F.

If your lasagna noodles require cooking, cook them now. Slice the mozzarella thinly or grate it. Prepare a 12″ square dish by placing a few tablespoons of red sauce on the bottom and distributing evenly. Build the lasagna as follows: a layer of noodles, a layer of ricotta, a layer of red sauce, a layer of fennel and then a layer of mozzarella.   Repeat layers until lasagna is complete. Transfer to oven and bake for 35 minutes. Since I used the no boil noodles, I followed the box instructions and cooked it for about 50 minutes.  Allow to cool outside of the oven for 15 minutes before serving.

sausageLasagnaVerdict: Awesome!  I think Eric had like five pieces.  I enjoyed my one hearty piece.  Best thing is we have leftover for the week and you know, lasagna always tastes better the second day.

This truly was a delicious meal to end a great weekend and to start the week off right.  I just hope the weather cooperates, it rained all morning here and I hear we may get snow next week!

Sloppy Joe Saturday

I feel like I haven’t posted in ages, but to be honest, you really don’t want to know what I’ve been up to, nor hear about the food I’ve sort of made or have eaten in the last two weeks.  Let’s just say I was shocked when I got on the scale and saw that I’ve lost 5 lbs…not that I’m complaining.

Today was the first time in two weeks I’ve been grocery shopping.  We planned a whole week of new recipes, most of which I found on Pinterest.  So far the first recipe we chose came out awesome.  Tonight we had one of my favorite comfort foods, Sloppy Joes.  I’ve tried many different recipes, none of which included Manwich, and I have to say this recipe is the best I’ve found.  If you like a combination of smokey, sweet and spicy, you’ll totally dig this.  Just a heads up, you’ll need to find a spice shop to buy some of the spices, unless you can find them in the supermarket, but I had no luck with that.  If you don’t live by a spice shop, you can order them online, I suggest Penzeys , we have a store near us and I just love it!  Be sure to sign up for their catalog, they include tons of recipes that always look amazing.

Sloppy Joes ( from twirlandtaste.com-Libby Murphy)

Ingredients
1 pound ground brisket (or ground beef)
1 large yellow onion, chopped (or less if you prefer)
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 tablespoon yellow mustard
1/8 teaspoon chipotle powder
1 tablespoon jalapeno, chopped
1 cup ketchup
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1-1/2 tablespoons flour
3 tablespoons dark brown sugar
Dash cayenne pepper
Salt and pepper to taste
4 hamburger buns, lightly buttered and toasted on inside
Directions
 In a large skillet over high heat, sauté the beef, onions, and garlic until the beef is cooked and browning, and all the liquid has boiled off (around 10 minutes). Turn the heat down to low; then add the spices and cook, stirring, for a few seconds. Stir in the remaining ingredients, then partially cover and simmer over low heat for 30 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent scorching. If mixture is still not thick enough to your liking, add a bit more flour until it is. Divide the mixture among the buns and serve.
SloppyJoe2
Verdict:  Like I said, this is probably our favorite Sloppy Joe recipe (I may have said that about another recipe in a previous post, but oh well, this one wins)  Eric loved it, as usual.  I served this with green beans and Lays Sriracha potato chips (if you haven’t tried these, go do it now, so good).  There is only a little of the meat mixture left, I’m sure Eric will eat it before he does the dishes, he tends to graze on leftovers so we never really have leftovers.
I’m not sure this is a kid friendly meal, unless your kids have sophisticated taste buds, but hey, you never know, they may just love it as much as the adults.
Tomorrow we’re making lasagna, YAY!!! I love lasagna but never make it since Eric isn’t a huge fan.  This recipe has fennel in it so I know that’s why he agreed to try it.  I’ll let you know how it comes out.

Back on Track…Sort Of

Now, when I travel I have the mindset that calories don’t count.  Unfortunately this is not true, but wouldn’t it be wonderful if it was?  I also noticed that I used to buy magazines like Cosmopolitan to flip through while waiting for my flights, nowadays I gravitate towards magazines like Food Network, Southern Living and Food and Wine…oh how the times have changed.

On my most recent trip I picked up the new Food Network Magazine.  This months issue is probably one the best, full of delicious looking recipes, lots of pictures which will make you hungry and the main feature is cheese, you can never go wrong with cheese.

As soon as I got home from my trip I handed Eric the magazine and within 2 minutes he marked a bunch of recipes.  We narrowed it down to two for this week, as we are traveling to NY tomorrow.  Both recipes were so good and the best part, pretty healthy which is nice considering I’ve eaten out for the last week.

I don’t usually like to post more than one recipe, but today is your lucky day, you get two fantastic recipes.

Recipe #1

Greek Shrimp and Couscous (courtesy of Food Network Magazine)

Ingredients

1 cup whole-wheat couscous (I used regular couscous but added onions for more flavor)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
Pinch of red pepper flakes
2 medium plum tomatoes, diced
1 small bulb fennel, halved, cored and sliced
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/3 cup dry white wine
1 15-ounce can no-salt-added chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 scallions, sliced (I forgot to add these..oops)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese (about 2 ounces) (I’m not a fan of Feta, but I found tomato and basil feta, OMG, I think it made the dish better)

Directions

Prepare the couscous as the label directs. Cover and keep warm until ready to serve.

Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Add the shrimp and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring occasionally, until the shrimp are pink, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a plate using a slotted spoon.

Preheat the broiler. Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil in the skillet. Add the tomatoes, fennel and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender, about 4 minutes. Add the wine and bring to a simmer, then add the chickpeas and 1/3 cup water; cook, stirring occasionally, until the chickpeas are slightly softened, about 3 minutes. Return the shrimp to the skillet and add the scallions and 1 tablespoon dill. Top with the feta, transfer to the broiler and broil until golden, about 2 minutes. Sprinkle with the remaining 1 tablespoon dill. Fluff the couscous with a fork and serve with the shrimp mixture.

ShrimpandFeta

Verdict:  We both loved this.  There weren’t any leftovers, which was pretty sad because I would have loved to have it for lunch.  Best part of the recipe is that you don’t even need to add the shrimp, I think it would be great as a vegetarian meal.  I would suggest using the tomato-basil feta, it really added more flavor.

Recipe #2

Chicken Fajitas (Food Network Magazine)

Ingredients

1 teaspoon chili powder
3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breasts (I used chicken tenders)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 bell peppers (any color), sliced
1 red onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon grated lime zest, plus wedges for serving
8 corn tortillas (I like to use whole wheat and corn blend tortillas….delish)
1/2 cup prepared pico de gallo or fresh salsa
1/3 cup crumbled cotija cheese (about 1 1/2 ounces)

Directions

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Mix the chili powder, 1/2 teaspoon cumin, and 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper and rub on the chicken breasts.

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and cook, turning, until golden, 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a baking sheet, reserving the skillet, and bake until just cooked through, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board to rest, 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil in the reserved skillet over medium heat. Add the bell peppers, onion, garlic and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon cumin and cook, stirring, until the vegetables are lightly browned, 8 minutes. Stir in the lime zest and 2 tablespoons water. Season with salt.

Wrap the tortillas in aluminum foil and warm in the oven, 5 minutes, then divide among plates. Slice the chicken. Top the tortillas with the chicken, bell pepper mixture, pico de gallo and cheese. Serve with lime wedges.

Fajitas

Verdict:  Probably going to add this to the list of recurring recipes.  I added avocado (big surprise, right?)  The cheese took it over the top and added an extra layer of texture and flavor.  Eric loved it.  I feel we have tacos a lot, but they’re easy, can be made healthy and are pretty quick for a weeknight meal.

Tonight we have a hockey game, so we’ll be eating out.  This week will be another culinary adventure, destination western NY.  I’ll keep you posted on the many delicious food finds.  I’m really looking forward to Tim Horton’s breakfast sandwich and probably a cheeseburger from Bill Gray’s.  I’m pretty sure my diet re-starts next week.

Glitter, Glitz and Lots of Food

I recently got back from a work trip in Los Angeles and though I didn’t get to really experience Hollywood at its finest, I did manage to eat my weight in food.  Now, whether I’m traveling or not, I’m not a huge fan of chain restaurants, there isn’t anything special about chain restaurants, they’re all the same…unoriginal and mass-produced, but that’s just my opinion.  Now, having said that, I’m not opposed to local chains, I support local businesses.   Unfortunately, I stayed in the L.A. Live area of Los Angeles, which is surrounded by chain restaurants, so there were numerous occasions that I had no other options.    The only bad meal I had was at Rosa Mexicana, but is that really surprising?  The only great thing about Rosa Mexicana is the guacamole and pomegranate margaritas, everyone knows that.

The two best meals were at Perch and Cucina Rustica .  Perch’s ambiance was amazing, we dined al fresco in 40 degree weather with a slight wind, but the view was amazing and heaters that were placed around the table helped a bit.  We found that the more wine you drank, the warmer you got, so we stuck to that plan.   I tried my co-workers buffalo frog legs, which were amazing, and I shared my mini baked brie with apple and fennel.  My main meal was seared scallops with saffron-artichoke risotto, I’m a sucker for risotto and this did not disappoint, I just wish I had more of it.   Our party ordered a lot of the very limited menu, most of which was good, however, if you’re a caesar salad lover, I would not recommend ordering it here unless you’re a fan of raw, shredded kale…not tasty.

Now, if you’re in the mood for Italian, Cucina Rustica can fulfill your craving.  We ordered a variety of appetizers, including calamari fritti (I loved this because they included the tentacles, which is hard to find sometimes and they’re my favorite), bruschetta, one with goat cheese (this was good, from what I hear but I don’t like goat cheese so I took their word for it), plus we all ordered salads.  I’ve been telling everyone about the Insalata Tricolore that I ordered, it was so good, I could eat it every day.  The salad consisted of a row of sliced tomatoes, mozzarella, and sliced avocado with a balsamic glaze.  I’m sure I could recreate this, I’ll try soon, but though it sounds simple enough I’m sure it won’t be as good as the one I had at the restaurant.    The entrees were also delicious, lots of food that I don’t think anyone at the table finished, which was sad because I would have loved to take home the leftovers of my roasted chicken risotto (I told you I love risotto).

So, if you’re in the downtown LA area and want to try out some new places, try Perch for sure, even if it’s just for a cocktail on the roof it’s totally worth it, and Cucina Rustica for Italian comfort food.  Before I forget, there is one other place I would recommend for a cocktail, the Hotel Figueroa.   It may look like a run down, sketchy hotel, but don’t judge a book by its cover. Once you enter the hotel and take in the architecture of the building, make your way down the long corridor towards the pool.  Here is where you will find a very cool, hip, moroccan inspired bar.  Even if you just stay for a drink or two, it’s worth it, trust me.

Next time I’m in LA I’m making it a priority to stop at an In & Out.  I feel like my trip wasn’t complete because I didn’t get a chance to eat at this iconic burger joint…next time, hopefully soon, for a real vacation, not a work related trip.

Happy Mardi Gras!

It’s Mardi Gras today or Fat Tuesday, which is what I call it since I want to indulge in all the yummy food I love before I give it up for Lent.  I haven’t figured out what to give up, but I still have a few more hours before I have to make that decision.   I would love to say it would be desserts, treats, chocolate and the like, but I’ve tried that for the last twelve years but haven’t been able to last the full 40 days.

This weekend when I was planning the weekly menu I forgot that Mardi Gras was this week so I didn’t really plan on anything special, in fact tonight was going to be some sort of leftover pasta recipe, which would have been a sad way to celebrate Mardi Gras.  So, on the way home we picked up some sausage and a box of Zatarain’s…don’t judge, I was limited on time.   Now I try not to buy boxed foods, especially if I know I can make a homemade version better, but Zatarain’s has a new lower sodium mix that is pretty good, especially  when I add a few extra ingredients to make it more delicious.

Jambalaya

Ingredients

1 chicken breast, cubed
1 package of Turkey Kielbasa, cut into bite sized pieces
1 onion, diced
1 garlic, minced
2 1/2 cups of beef broth
1 pkg. Jambalaya Mix (I used Zatarain’s)

Directions

Heat a 3 quart sauce pan over medium-high with 1 tbsp of olive oil.  Add onions, garlic, chicken and sausage and cook until chicken browned and onions are translucent. Add beef broth.  Bring to a boil.  Add Jambalaya mix, stir.  Return to a boil then reduce to low.  Cover pot and simmer for 25 minutes or until rice is tender. Let stand 5 minutes before serving…it will be piping hot, just FYI.

Jambalaya

Verdict:  Eric really liked it, especially since it’s way less salty than the regular mix.  I agree, it was pretty tasty and low sodium is always good.  I don’t usually cook with salt so when there is a little more sodium than what we’re used to we tend to notice it.   I’d make this again, especially on  weeknight.

Again, we had a huge salad, with avocado’s since I’m still obsessed with them.  I really wish I had some King Cake, that would top off the night.  Instead, I think I’ll make a quick pear tart, Jacques Pepin style.

Hope you had a festive Mardi Gras! Laissez les bons temps rouler!

“Oh, that’s okay. I make lamb.”

The movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding is probably one of the only movies that Eric will watch with me, well besides Legally Blonde, but let’s keep that a secret.   The big Greek family reminds me of my own crazy kin.  It doesn’t look like there is a lot of us, but our loud voices, over dramatized hand gestures and just overall demeanor will make you think there are hundreds of us in the room.  Another similarity is the fact that whenever there is a get together you can be sure there is a ton of food, usually enough to feed an entire army.  We just don’t want anyone to go hungry and we will force you to eat until you’re bursting at the seams.

My favorite character in MBFGW is Aunt Voula.  This character reminds me so much of my Aunt Theresa, especially the scene where Ian says he doesn’t eat meat and she proceeds to announce she’ll make lamb for him.   Every time I see lamb on a menu or in the store I think of this movie.   I don’t even like lamb.  I like the idea of lamb, I just can’t get over the fact that I think it tastes like the meadow.  Eric on the other hand loves lamb, so since he chose the menu for the week he included lamb chops, I had a huge salad.

Lamb Chops Marinade (for 8-10 chops,or three, whatever)

 Ingredients
4oz. Olive Oil
2oz. lemon juice
1 medium onion, chopped
1/2 c. parsley, chopped or 3 Tbsp. dried
2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
2 tsp. marjoram
2 tsp. thyme (dried)
2 tsp. caraway seeds
2 garlic cloves, pressed or finely minced
Directions
Combine ingredients in resealable bag.  Put chops in bag and squish to evenly coat.  Refrigerate overnight, tuning occasionally.  Scrape off onion bits and grill for 4-5 mins on each side.  If you don’t have a grill pan sear them for 3 mins a side and finish to desired doneness in the oven, 350-375 degrees,about 10-12 minutes for medium rare.
LambChops
Verdict:  Considering Eric wants me to make this every day, I’d say he loves this meal.  I love couscous and when I’ve had the lamb it’s good, you know, for lamb.
Here’s how I make couscous.
Couscous
Ingredients
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 small onion (or half of a medium one)
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4-1/2 tsp red pepper flakes, depending on how hot you like it
1/4 tsp of Marrakesh Za’atar seasoning ( I eye-ball it, this stuff is awesome)
1 cup uncooked couscous
1 1/4 cup of chicken broth or water
1 small tomato, seeded and chopped (optional)
Directions
Heat olive oil in sauce pan on medium high heat.  Add onion and garlic, saute until translucent, be careful not to burn garlic (turn down heat if too high).  Add pepper flake and Marrakesh Za’atar seasoning, cook for 30 seconds.  Add couscous, cook for 1 minute (I like the toasted flavor this brings out).  Add broth and bring up to a boil, stir, take off heat and let stand for 5 minutes.  Fluff with a fork, add in tomatoes if you want.  Enjoy!
I swear we do eat veggies, just not as much as I would like.  But I’m trying to change that, it’s a process.
We’re off to a hockey game.  I hope we don’t lose….again.  GO CAPS!

Chinese Stay In

Night 3 of Eric’s menu included two Chinese classics, chicken lo mein and veggie pot stickers.   I tend to find Asian recipes tedious as there is usually a ton of chopping and prep work.  Knowing this I left work a tad bit early so I wouldn’t be cooking until midnight.  I was pretty proud of myself, I made record time prepping for both the lo mein and pot stickers.  I figured I would assemble the pot stickers a head of time so they would be ready to go when Eric got home from work, tonight is his late day so I had ample time, however when I went to the fridge for the won ton wrappers, they were nowhere to be found.   I must have taken the whole fridge apart twice and even looked in the cabinets (why they would be there I have no idea), then I remembered Eric put them away and I found them in the freezer, needless to say, we’re not having pot stickers tonight, they’ll be appetizers for tomorrow.

The lo mein however, we did have tonight and it was really delicious.  I found a basic recipe and added my own veggies to it, most of them were left overs from the weekend which I was glad to get rid of and not throw away.  I hate wasting food.

Chicken Lo Mein

Ingredients

1 1/2 lbs. skinless, boneless chicken breasts

10 oz. dried Chinese egg noodles or angel hair pasta (Wegmans has lo mein noodles, so I used those, they’re in the freezer case if you’re wondering were to find them)

1/4 cup oyster sauce

1/4 cup soy sauce-reduced sodium

2 Tbsp. rice wine or dry sherry

1 Tbsp. oil (I used olive oil)

1 Tbsp. sesame oil

2 tsp. ginger, finely chopped

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1 medium onion, sliced

1/2 head of broccoli (or as much as you want)

1/2 head of Napa cabbage, shredded

Directions

Cut chicken into bite-size chunks; set aside.  Cook noodles according to package directions.  Drain noodles, rinse with cold water and set aside.

In a small bowl mix oyster sauce, soy sauce and rice wine.  Set aside.

Pour oil and sesame oil in skillet or wok.  Heat over medium heat.  Add ginger and garlic, cook and stir for 30 seconds.  Add onion; cook 2 minutes. add broccoli and cabbage, cook 3 minutes.  Remove veggies from pan, set aside.

Add chicken to skillet and cook 3-4 minutes.  Add noodles, veggies and sauce to the chicken.  Lightly toss and cook 3 minutes until heated through.

LoMein

 

Verdict:  Eric loved it.  It’s a good thing I ate before he got home because he finished the whole thing, no leftovers…again.  I love lo mein, it’s probably one of my favorite dishes to order.  This was nothing like Hong Wah’s lo mein, but it passed the tasty test.  I’ll definitely be making this again (confession, it’s not the first time I’ve made this)  I just need to get more noodles from Wegmans.

I can’t wait for this week of doing dishes is over.  I can’t believe how much of a mess I make when I cook.  Plus, since I’ve been cooking and cleaning I haven’t had time to sit down and do any of my needlepoint.

Tomorrow is lamb, well Eric is having lamb, I’m not sure what I’m having yet.  I’ve already made the marinade and the chops are getting infused with deliciousness as we speak.

A Chop Above The Rest

Today is day 2 of Eric’s dinner menu.  Last night when we went to the store to shop for the week, the meat selection in the case was a little on the sparse side.  I have no idea about anything when it comes to meat, well besides the basic chicken, pork, turkey and veal, ok, I guess that just means I’m not a beef aficionado.  What all this comes down to is that anything meat related I leave to Eric.  It’s probably a good thing because he found two amazing pork chops for tonight’s dinner.

For dinner tonight Eric found a recipe from Giada De Laurentiis, Pork Chops with Fennel and Caper Sauce.  The only problem was there is just two of us and this makes a lot of sauce, but I figure I’ll save the leftover sauce, add some chicken and pasta and BOOM! round two dinner for another night.

Pork Chops with Fennel and Caper Sauce (from Giada De Laurentiis)

Ingredients

1/4 cup olive oil
4 boneless (2-inch-thick) pork chops (I had two huge ones)
3/4 teaspoon salt, plus more for seasoning meat
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more for seasoning meat
2 fennel bulbs with fronds, thinly sliced (about 8 ounces or 2 cups)
2 large shallots, thinly sliced
1/3 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, plus 1/3 cup
1/2 cup white wine
1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes, with their juices
1/2 lemon, zested
2 tablespoons capers

Directions

In a large, heavy skillet heat the olive oil over high heat. Season the pork chops with salt and pepper. Add the pork to the pan and brown on both sides, about 4 minutes each side. Remove the pork from the pan, cover loosely with foil, and set aside.

Add the fennel, shallots, and 1/3 cup parsley to the pan and cook over medium heat until beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Add the wine. Using a wooden spoon, scrape the brown bits off the bottom of the pan. Add the tomatoes and stir. Add the pork back into the pan, nestling the chops between the fennel and tomatoes so they are mostly submerged in the pan juices. Cook until the fennel is tender and the pork is done, about 12 to 15 minutes.

Place the pork on a serving dish. To finish the sauce, add the lemon zest, remaining 1/3 cup parsley, capers, and 3/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Stir to combine. Spoon over the pork chops and serve immediately.

PorkChopwFennel

 

Verdict:  Eric loved it.  He really has been on a fennel kick lately so anything with fennel is good in his book.  I thought it was pretty good as well.  Sometimes I think Giada’s recipe’s are a little bland, but this one was bursting with flavor.   I’m looking forward to the round two recipe, I’m hoping this freezes well because my week is jammed pack with other delicious recipes.  Oh and you might want to have a veggie with this,  I had a huge salad but green beans might be tasty too.

Tomorrow’s menu may be a little complex, I’m making pot stickers and chicken lo mein.  I love pot stickers, I just hope it doesn’t take all night to make…