Wednesday, April 30, 2008

"Go To" Dishes

My new job sometimes requires me to pull some late nights. Since Nathan can rarely fend for himself, I often find myself searching out recipes that are quick and easy enough to prepare while half asleep. One pot/skillet meals are the best, because that also affords me a quick clean up (and who doesn't appreciate that?). The cherry on top - most of these meals are prepared without having to defrost the protein!

Sausage Bow Tie Pasta is one meal that I keep filed away in the back of my head because it takes about 15 minutes, start to finish, and is super tasty. Chicken and Wild Rice Almondine is another. Both fall into my ultimate "Comfort Food" category as well.


1 box long grain and wild rice, with seasoning packet (I use Uncle Ben's)
3-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into narrow strips
2 1/2 cups water
1 bag frozen green beans, any cut - I like the whole beans
2 large carrots, peeled and shredded
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup slivered almonds
1 cup sour cream
salt and pepper, to taste

Season chicken strips with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Saute chicken until browned. Add rice, seasoning packet and water and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to simmer and cook for 15 minutes. Add green beans and carrots and cook (covered) for another 5-7 minutes, until rice is completely done. Remove from heat. Gently stir in sour cream.

Meanwhile, in a small dry skillet, toast the almonds for approximately 2 minutes - watching them to make sure they do not burn. Garnish dish with toasted almonds. Taste for seasoning. Serve!

This meal is a winner every time. It has great texture from the rice and the almonds...and the green beans and carrots provide wonderful color and crunch, making it the perfectly pretty end-of-day-weekend meal. The sour cream holds everything together, lending a tangy and creamy consistency that is fork-licking good.

I always tell myself that I should double the recipe so that we have leftovers (Nate helps himself to seconds and thirds!) - but I have yet to do it...and I kick myself each and every time.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Weekly menu planning

Last night, I went through a couple of my favorite cookbooks, marking recipes that I wanted to try. For the life of me, I can not remember a single recipe that I book-marked - I was just so tired! I've picked my weekly menu based off of what I have available in my pantry and freezer, in hopes that I will spend my time at home doing things I enjoy and not in the market waiting in line at the register.

I'm also packing up my knives at some point this week and sending them to Shun for either a replacement or a grind down. Both my shantoku and pairing knives have chipped. The warranty department told me that the turn around time is approximately 2 weeks. I have no idea how I am going to function without them!

Monday - Wonton and Bok Choy Soup
Tuesday - Chicken with Mushroom Sauce
Wednesday - Potato tart with a side salad
Thursday - Country Fried Steak
Friday - Chicken and White Bean Chili
Saturday - Shrimp and Sweet Potato Cakes with Slaw

I also plan on making a special batch of brownies for dessert at some point during the week.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

200th Post! Let's celebrate with meat on a stick!

I never thought when I started this blog over a year ago that I would be celebrating my 200th post! Yippee!

I've always wanted to prepare beef (or chicken) satay, but I thought that I would need a lot of time set aside for the actual preparation...and that I would need to buy an expensive piece of meat...and that I would have to wait until our grill was up and running...and...

Yep. I had a lot of excuses. Fact of the matter is, I was lazy. You don't need a whole of time, because the marinating liquid is crazy flavorful - so the actual marinating part of the recipe can be done in about a half an hour - with cooking only taking about 8 minutes, tops. You can prepare the marinade in a bag so there's no extra dishes to do. Make broiler is your friend! I'm a believer now.


3 pounds beef flank steak, all fat removed, sliced at an angle across the grain
bamboo skewers, soaked in water

1/2 cup oyster sauce
1/2 cup soy sauce
8 garlic cloves, finely minced
1 1/2 tbsp grated fresh ginger
1 tsp red pepper flakes
2 tbsp honey
1 1/2 tbsp curry powder

dipping sauce:
1/4 cup peanut butter
2 tsp peanut oil
1/4 cup coconut milk
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1 1/2 tsp garlic, finely minced
1/4 cup water

In a large kitchen bag, combine all marinade ingredients. Place sliced meat in bag, and seal. Set aside for 1/2 hour so that meat can marinade.

In a small saucepan over low heat, combine all sauce ingredients. Bring to a simmer. Let simmer for about 4-5 minutes, or until sauce begins to thicken. Remove from heat and bring to room temperature. If sauce is too thick for your liking, thin it out with a couple extra tablespoons of water.

Meanwhile, preheat broiler. Thread skewers with meat and discard marinade. Broil meat for approximately 4 minutes on each side. Let meat rest 5 minutes before service. Serve with dipping sauce.

Meat on a stick is a fun way to eat dinner! I used a flank steak, which has a tendency to be tough - but with the help of the marinade...and the way that I sliced the meat, it actually was extremely tender and so full of flavor. Eat bite had a little hot, a little sweet and just a touch of spice. I've tried peanut butter dishes before with unsavory results - peanut butter is such a strong flavor that it gets old quick - but this dish definitely ranked high up in my book.

If flank steak isn't in the cards, go with your favorite cut of beef and either thinly slice it, or cube it - just adjust the cooking times for thicker pieces.

I served the beef satay with steamed brown rice and some grilled zucchini spears.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Weekly menu planning

This is the plan for this week:

Sunday - BBQ ribs with a pear, walnut and goat cheese salad
Monday - Satay of beef
Tuesday - Chicken Picatta
Wednesday - Marinated Tofu with red curry, peas and scallions
Thursday - Chicken Lasagna roll-ups
Friday - Pizza
Saturday - Grilled Salmon with lime-butter sauce

Alternate: Sausage and Pepper Bowties