Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Days 7-14: Everyday dinners

Yes, I am a waste of a blogger. I promised you two weeks of whatever we eat for dinner, and you got 6 days. Pathetic.

In case you're agreeing with me, I'd like to defend myself. I don't really blog for the same reason other people blog, I think. I mean, really, that I don't know why other bloggers blog, but I blog mainly to keep track of my recipes and share them with you when I have something worth sharing. And by "you" I mean the few readers I have plus the bizillions of googlers that find my site when I have something relevant like canned salsa or M&M cake. Seriously my biggest draws. Followed frequently (it varies) by carne asada, cinnamon cookies (for my non-chocolate loving son), and Puerto Rican flan.

But that's beside the point. Back to the argument. I did say I would tell you what we were having for dinner for a slightly different-than-usual purpose. For the most part, I don't cook intense, 6-hour meals on a daily basis, but I do try to cook from whole foods. Not only does food taste better when it starts from good quality whole foods, it's better for you in so many ways. So I thought I'd run down the list a little farther and see if I can fill in the rest of the two weeks.

My daily meals are often but not always quick and easy, ranging in preparation time from 20 minutes to 2 or 2 1/2 hours, depending on the interruptions.

These next three meals are fast.

Nice plate, huh?

First,  it was bread making day, so I made some whole wheat bread when I had time earlier. As it grew closer to dinner, I threw a butternut squash in the oven. When it was done, I removed all the squash from the exterior and mixed it with butter and salt. Then I added some sliced apples and called it good. And, the big test, it had at least two things every child at my table would eat. Kate prefers meat above all other things, but toast and apples will do. And she'll always venture a bite of squash if I ask.

Second, I made a bulgur salad and some quick yogurt naan. In fairness, I had to think about the naan an hour before I wanted to bake it, but it mixes up quickly. The yogurt naan is like a creamy pita, and it gets nice and toasty baking on a very hot stone.

The bulgur salad was new and a great discovery for me. First, I hydrated the bulgur. To do this, place the amount of bulgur you want to use in a bowl. Then top the bulgur with very hot water until it is covered to a half inch above the surface. Once all the water is absorbed, taste it to see if it needs a bit more (if it's too firm). It will have some texture to it even fully hydrated.

While the bulgur was hydrating, I chopped up and prepared some various items I had in the refrigerator and pantry, then added them: red onions, cucumbers, slivered almonds, lemon zest, basil, olive oil, salt, and pepper.

To complete the meal, I served it with some sliced cheese. Another winner in the kid category, though they ate the bulgur salad very well.

My third really fast meal was less than 30 minutes. Sliced fresh tomatoes, homemade biscuits (amazingly fast to make!), and cole slaw.

If you have cabbage and carrots, you can throw cole slaw together in the time it takes for your biscuits to bake. First, follow the recipe in the link above and make the biscuits. (As a side note on them, these days I double the recipe and roll them out twice as thick. We like the biscuits tall.)

While your biscuits are in the oven, core the cabbage, cut in quarters, and thinly slice half of it. Shred a carrot or two and toss together. If you're interested in having onion in there (totally optional), finely dice a small, fresh white onion (nothing too pungent) and add it to the mix. In a small bowl, stir together 1/2 c. mayonnaise, 1 T. white wine vinegar, and 2-3 T. white sugar. And about 1/2 -1 t. Kosher salt and some fresh black pepper if you want it. Add most of the dressing to the cabbage mixture. If it needs more dressing, add the rest.

Slice the tomatoes, pull the biscuits from the oven, and serve. Seriously fast, especially if, like me, you don't need to have meat and potatoes every night.

Slightly longer to make, but not by much, are enchiladas. It usually involves leftover chicken, pork, or beef. I make a quick enchilada sauce helped out by smoked almonds. It gives the sauce body and flavor that would take hours to get normally.

Here's the quick sauce:

Enchilada Sauce
1 large onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 c. smoked almonds
2 serrano chiles or more, if you're looking for some spice (jalapeños will work), sliced in half
1 15-oz. can diced tomatoes
2 c. chicken broth
olive oil

In a large saucepan or pot (to avoid splatter down the road), heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Add the onion and sauté for about 5 minutes, until translucent and starting to brown. Add the chiles and garlic for just a minute more of cooking. Add the onion, garlic, almonds, chiles, and tomatoes to a blender. Purée until smooth.

Add a bit more olive oil to the saucepan. Once it has heated, add the purée all at once and start stirring. It will sizzle and pop. Keep stirring until nicely thickened. Add the chicken broth and simmer for 20-30 minutes, until the consistency of spaghetti sauce.

To prepare the enchiladas, mix together the leftover meat, some of the enchilada sauce, and some sour cream. Warm some corn tortillas wrapped in a towel in the microwave for 1-2 minutes, depending on how large a stack you have. Assemble the enchiladas at the table (so you don't have that soggy casserole mess) by placing some meat filling inside a warm tortilla, then topping it with more sauce and a sprinkling of grated cheese.

So I've made it to day 10. Not bad for one post, but here are a list of some more random items I've served for dinner recently:

Rotisserie chicken, roasted red potatoes, roast pie pumpkin with butter and salt, salad



Pot Roast

Adobo-Basted Pork Roast (I'll definitely post about this another time)

Seriously. Cereal.

1 comment:

michele said...

The nice plate with the squash on it... It looks like it says "POOP" on the plate. So, yes, nice plate!