Monday, November 29, 2010

What I Made for Dinner: November 29, 2010

Patty melts; salad of bibb lettuce, cucumbers, and pickled red onion.

Oh, Everyday Food.  Where would I be without you?  Sometime I am going to spend a week making only dinners suggested by you.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

What I Made for Dinner: November 23, 2010

Eggplant parmesan.

I made a discovery tonight! As part of the lead-up to Thanksgiving, I wanted eggplant parmesan (meatless, vegetable-based) without all the fat from the fried eggplant. (I also did not want to stand at the oven frying because certain people in my house need a lot of supervision right now.)

So instead of frying, I tried breading the eggplant slices and then roasting them in a very hot oven. It totally worked! The eggplant slices became soft but not mushy and they had a nice crisp, golden brown crust. Innovation!

(Incidentally, this recipe is a little time-consuming. I probably wouldn't have attempted it on a regular weeknight. Tonight it worked because I'm in the middle of grading papers right now and I knock off pretty early from that, otherwise I start seeing double and reading the same sentence seven times.)

Eggplant parmesan with tomato sauce

For the sauce:
Two 28-ounce cans of roma tomatoes
Two Tbsp olive oil
Two cloves of garlic, minced
One bunch fresh basil

In a food processor, puree the tomatoes, along with all the juice in the cans. Put the tomato puree and all the other ingredients in a pot and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until thickened, about 30 minutes.

For the eggplant parmesan:

One or two globe eggplants, about two pounds
2 tsp. kosher salt
Three eggs, beaten
One cup flour
One and a half cups plain dried bread crumbs
Half a cup grated parmesan cheese
One to two cups shredded mozzarella cheese, depending on how cheesy you like it.

Slice the eggplant crosswise into 3/4-inch slices. Sprinkle kosher salt over the slices and place them in a single layer on a cookie sheet lined with paper towels. Let them stand for about 30 minutes (for instance, while the sauce is cooking).

Preheat oven to 450. Bread the eggplant slices: dip each one first in flour, then egg, then breadcrumbs. After each dip, shake off the excess. Place the breaded eggplant slices in a single layer on a baking tray lined with aluminum foil. Roast for about 10 minutes, until the slices have turned golden.

Lower the oven to 350. Coat the bottom of a non-stick 9-by-13 pan with about one cup of tomato sauce. Top with a layer of eggplant. Top that with about a cup and a half of sauce, followed by 1/4 cup of parmesan cheese. Add a second layer of eggplant, followed by the rest of the sauce, 1/4 cup of parmesan cheese, and finally the mozzarella. Bake about 30 minutes, until the cheese is golden and the sauce bubbles.

Monday, November 22, 2010

What I Made for Dinner: November 22, 2010

Greek salad.

Eli and I spent the day gearing up for Thanksgiving!  First thing was to make some honey challah so it can get nice and stale for Thursday's bread pudding.  I had fun making bread with him but at a certain point he just became disgusted with the process.  "It's too messy, Mommy.  I'm going to wash my hands and then I can just watch you."

Sunday, November 21, 2010

What I Made for Dinner: November 21, 2010

Cream of cauliflower soup and garlic bread.

My goal this week leading up to Thanksgiving is to make easy, low-effort dinners. This is a new one for me but it was a big hit and really simple to put together, so it goes into the rotation.

Cream of cauliflower soup

One Tbsp. butter
One large head of cauliflower, roughly chopped
One medium onion, roughly chopped
Two garlic cloves, sliced
about 1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg
32 ounces (4 cups) chicken broth
12 ounces beer (I used Boulevard wheat; I think any kind of pale ale or lager would work fine, but dark beer would ruin the soup's color.)
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup fresh dill, minced
salt and pepper to taste

In a soup pot over medium heat, melt the butter along with 1/4 cup water. Add onions, garlic, and nutmeg; cover and cook until the onions are soft, about five to ten minutes. Do not allow the onions to brown or caramelize. Add the chicken broth, beer, and cauliflower and bring just to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, until the cauliflower is soft, about fifteen to twenty minutes (the time will depend on the size of the florets). Remove from heat and puree the mixture (I used my super-handy immersion blender, but a food processor would work just as well). Stir in the cream, dill, salt, and pepper. Serve hot. If necessary, re-warm the soup over low heat.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

What I Made for Dinner: November 18, 2010

Vegetarian three-bean chili.

This chili might be a contender at our synagogue's chili cook-off in February.  I have started testing some recipes and so far this is my favorite, not counting the pork-based chili con carne I made last week, which cannot participate in the cook-off for fairly obvious reasons.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

What I Made for Dinner: November 15, 2010

Roast chicken and vegetables.

I love Monday nights when no one has to be anywhere but home.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

What I Made for Dinner: November 14, 2010

Butternut squash baked risotto.

I really love getting Everyday Food magazine.  Sometimes it's just for ideas or reminders of things I already know how to make but have forgotten.  Sometimes, though, it prints a recipe that I've never heard of before and I think:  Oh where have you been all my life.

This recipe?  Is one of those.  It's in the November issue, which is well worth the newsstand price.  I love risotto but making it means standing at the stove stirring, so you can't do anything else such as making sure that an accident-prone three-year-old doesn't knock his own teeth out. 

Sigh.  Never mind.

Anyway, why have I never thought of baked risotto?  No stirring.  The most time-consuming part of this meal was breaking down a butternut squash into one-inch dice.

Then, I sauteed diced onion, added thyme, rice and garlic, added a little wine.  The standard risotto beginning.

I stirred in some chicken broth, some spinach, and the squash, covered the pot and popped it into the oven.

It baked for about half an hour, during which time no one lost any teeth at all

and when it was finished, I stirred in grated parmesan cheese and topped it with some crispy fried sage leaves. 

Everyone loved it.  It's going into the rotation.  Thanks, Everyday Food!

What We Made for Dinner: November 8-12, 2010

Some good things.

Because I was out of town last weekend, Chuck had to do the grocery shopping, and thus the menu planning for the week.  When I got home on Monday afternoon, I was so impressed!  We were all stocked up with ingredients for interesting, healthy meals.  Based on his meal planning and shopping, I made:

  • Monday:  Eggs in a nest and hash browns.
  • Tuesday:  Homemade pizzas, one with turkey pepperoni and one with caramelized sweet onions and goat cheese, served with mixed green salad and roast asparagus.
  • Wednesday:  Nothing.  On Wednesday, I had to work late and Chuck had to get Josh from Hebrew school, which is across town and doesn't let out until 6:15.  Chuck and Josh picked up sandwiches for everyone on the way home. 
  • Thursday:  Hamburgers, homemade Yukon gold potato chips, salad of field greens and spinach with apples and goat cheese.  For Veterans Day, we always celebrate with my in-laws, and my father-in-law gets to pick the meal.
  • Friday:  Stuffed artichokes and crab bisque.  The crab bisque in The Martha Stewart Cookbook is unbelievably easy and delicious.
I clearly need to go away more often.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

What I Made for Dinner: November 7, 2010

Strip steaks, roast potatoes and asparagus with grape tomatoes, sourdough toast with roasted garlic.

My mom and I are in upstate New York, visiting relatives.  My cousin Nina recently added an adorable new baby to go with the adorable old baby she already had.  My cousin Nora just got engaged and bought a house.  It's always nice to catch up with my aunt and uncle.  And my grandmother isn't going to be around forever, as hard as that is to contemplate.  So we try to get up here when we can.

I love seeing these folks but I always have such houseguest guilt:  Honestly, we invade their house, take over the bathroom, get out all the extra bedding, and drink all the liquor.  What's the upside for them, really? 

Well, at least I can cook for them.

Roast potatoes and asparagus with grape tomatoes (serves 4-6)

about one pound variety of potatoes, such as fingerling or yukon gold, sliced thin
2 pints grape tomatoes
one pound asparagus spears, trimmed
one tablespoon minced garlic, or more to taste
3 tablespoons olive oil
kosher salt and ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 400.  Line a baking tray with aluminum foil.
In a mixing bowl, toss together the potatoes, tomatoes, garlic, and two tablespoons of the olive oil.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper and distribute them in a single layer on the baking sheet.  Roast for about 20 minutes.  Meanwhile, toss the asparagus with the remaining olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Add the asparagus to the baking sheet and stir everything around.  Roast for another 15 minutes.

Friday, November 5, 2010

What I Made for Dinner: November 4, 2010

Chili con carne.

The weather has finally turned here on the Great Plains, and it's chili season again!

*happy chili dance*

The secret to terrific chili con carne is to stir a little bittersweet chocolate into the chili right before you serve it.  I learned that from Martha Stewart and once again, she is right right right.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

What I Made for Dinner: October 31, 2010

Deli sandwiches, roasted pumpkin seeds, pumpkin pie.

Of course I would never make a normal dinner on Halloween. The kids have candy to beg for!

Eli ate only pie. He's on soft foods for a while, having bashed his mouth in a nasty fall on Saturday afternoon. There was screaming and a visit to the ER (our first!!) for stitches to more or less reassemble his lower lip. His whole mouth is so swollen he can't close it to swallow his own spit. The photo above, mercifully, minimizes the damage; I can't even post a close-up, it looks so horrible.

It would have been great if he had wanted to dress up as a zombie, like his brothers did. Instead, he was Paul McCartney. With a fucked-up mouth.