RSS

Tag Archives: broccoli

A Sunday Marinated London Broil

It’s Sunday, when I usually make a more complex meal for the week because I have the time to do it. This week’s been a little crazy between illnesses, Michelle’s work schedule, planning and packing for our trip down to Charlotte, and such, so I am trying to keep things simple for dinner today. I saw a nice London broil in the store yesterday so I decided to make a simple London broil for dinner tonight. I am also going to make some pierogies to go along with it. Michelle and Sean love pierogies and I saw in a blog that I follow, The Ranting Chef, that he was making them in a meal and they were also on sale at the store yesterday, so I bought some to make as well.

London broil is one of those cuts of beef that cries out to be marinated in some way. It takes on the flavors you add nicely, so just about any combination you want of an oil and an acid will work well. I am using a marinade that I often use for London broil. It’s quick, easy, and tastes great.

Marinated London Broil

1/3 cup minced shallots
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1/2 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons fresh thyme
Big dash hot sauce
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 1/2 pounds London broil

Mix the shallots, soy sauce, olive oil, thyme, hot sauce and lemon juice together in a glass pie plate, glass bowl or broiling pan. Score the steak, place it in the pan and turn in the marinade. Marinate for at least 2 hours at room temperature or up to 24 hours refrigerated. If refrigerated, turn the steak in the marinade occasionally.

Drain off marinade and put it into a saucepan. Place the steak under the broiler at 1 inch from the heat for 3 to 4 minutes on each side for rare or for 4 to 5 minutes on each side for medium. Leave the broiler door slightly ajar, so the heat stays on and air circulates. Meanwhile, bring the marinade to a boil. Remove the marinade from heat. Carve the meat in thin diagonal slices across the grain. Arrange the slices on a warm platter. Pour the carving juices and the marinade over the meat.

It’s fast and easy and tastes wonderful. The pierogies are just as easy. I bought frozen pierogies, so you can simply follow the directions on the box. I typically boil the pierogies until they float, about 4 or 5 minutes, then remove them from the water and drain them. I then saute them in a skillet with some melted butter and sliced onions until the pierogies are browned and the onions begin to caramelize, about 5 or 6 minutes. You can then add sour cream to them when you serve them if you wish.

The last part of our meal tonight is a staple in our diet, broccoli. I get a little tired of steamed broccoli so tonight I am going to try pan roasting it. Broccoli doesn’t take to well to pan roasting if you don’t watch it carefully, it can easily burn and get too dry. Trying to keep it tender and bright green can be tricky, but if you trim the broccoli to uniform size and cook the stems and the florets at separate times, it seems to work out pretty well. I’ve tried using this recipe from America’s Test Kitchen and it has worked pretty well for me.

Pan-Roasted Broccoli

3 tablespoons water

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 pound broccoli , florets cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces, stems trimmed, peeled, and cut on bias into 1/4-inch-thick slices about 1 1/2 inches long (about 5 cups florets and 3/4 cup stems)

Stir the water, salt, and pepper together in a small bowl until the salt dissolves; set aside. In a large, nonstick skillet with a tight-fitting lid, heat the oil over medium-high heat until just beginning to smoke. Add broccoli stems in an even layer and cook, without stirring, until browned on the bottoms, about 2 minutes. Add the florets to the skillet and toss to combine; cook, without stirring, until the bottoms of the florets just begin to brown, 1 to 2 minutes longer.

Add the water mixture and cover the skillet; cook until the broccoli is bright green but still crisp, about 2 minutes. Uncover and continue to cook until the water has evaporated, the broccoli stems are tender, and the florets are tender-crisp, about 2 minutes more.

A simple meal in very little time with not a lot of effort – just what you need on a busy day. I am just cooking a simple meal of burgers tomorrow night since I didn’t do any food shopping since we are leaving for vacation, but I do plan to do some posting once we get to Charlotte of some ideas and recipes that I like to make. Maybe I’ll do some Easter ideas and some simple party recipes. We’ll see how it goes. Until then, have a great day and enjoy your meal!

Advertisements
 
1 Comment

Posted by on April 1, 2012 in Beef, Cooking, Dinner, Vegetables

 

Tags: , , , ,

A Kid’s Delight – Chicken Fingers & Tater Tots, Homemade

Tonight’s recipes are a kid’s delight (well, my kid’s anyway). Sean likes to get chicken fingers when we got out, and adding tater tots to the meal is just icing on the cake for him. Chicken fingers themselves are pretty easy to make. Some recipes call for frying them, but I have decided to go with one that bakes the chicken to make it a little healthier. It’;s a very simple recipe with not many ingredients.

Chicken Fingers

2 large eggs

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

Salt

2 cups breadcrumbs

3 skinless, boneless chicken breasts (about 1 1/2 pounds), cut into 1-inch-wide strips

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Set a rack on a baking sheet and mist with cooking spray. Whisk the eggs, mustard and 1 teaspoon of salt in a shallow bowl. Place the breadcrumbs in a second shallow bowl. Dip the chicken strips in the egg mixture, letting the excess drip off, then coat with the breadcrumbs. Place the chicken on the rack and bake until golden brown and cooked through, about 20 minutes.

A few notes about the chicken fingers. Placing them on a rack over the baking sheet is key, since it lets air circulate around the whole piece of chicken, allowing it to crisp up all over. You can buy chicken tenders pre-cut  already, but they seem to be more expensive than just buying boneless chicken and cutting it yourself. Lastly, you could use any breadcrumbs you choose for this recipe; I am using homemade breadcrumbs, but if I went for store-bought, I would use panko to give you a little extra crunch.

Now on to the tater tots. As I have said, I’ve never made these before. I looked at a bunch of recipes and each one seemed to have both good and bad results, so I wasn’t really sure which one to go for until I found this one from Cook’s Country. It seems simple, basic and looks like it will taste good, so let’s go for it!

Tater Tots

1 cup water

2 1/4 teaspoons salt

2 1/2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces

1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)

4 cups peanut oil or vegetable oil

 In a small bowl, whisk the water and salt together until the salt dissolves. Transfer the salt water and potatoes to the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade and process until coarsely ground, 10 to 12 pulses, stirring occasionally.

Drain the potato mixture in a fine-mesh strainer, pressing the potatoes with a spoon until dry (the liquid should measure about 1½ cups); discard liquid. Transfer the potatoes to a microwave safe bowl and microwave, uncovered, until dry and sticky, 8 to 10 minutes, stirring halfway through cooking.

Stir the flour, black pepper and cayenne pepper into the potatoes. Spread the potato mixture into a thin layer over a large sheet of aluminum foil and let it cool for 10 minutes. Push the potatoes to the center of the foil and place the foil and potatoes in an 8-inch square baking pan. Push the foil into the corners and up the sides of  the pan, smoothing it flush to the pan. Press the potato mixture tightly and evenly into the pan. Freeze, uncovered, until firm, about 45 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 200 degrees. Set a wire rack in a rimmed baking sheet; set aside. Heat the oil in a saucepan over high heat until 375 degrees. Using the foil overhang, lift potatoes from pan and cut into 1¼ by 1-inch pieces (6 cuts in 1 direction and 8 in other). Fry half of the potato tots, until golden brown and crisp, 5 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally once they begin to brown. Drain the prepared baking sheet, season to taste and place in oven. Bring the oil back to 375 degrees and repeat with the remaining potato tots. Serve warm.

You could take the easy way out and just make a frozen bag of tater tots, but showing off to your kids that you can make them at home is pretty cool on its own :). I am just making some simple steamed broccoli as a vegetable, since it is Sean’s favorite vegetable and this is his meal.

That’s it for tonight. Follow the recipes and you’ll be the hero of the day for the kids. Tomorrow I’ll be making Meatloaf for dinner, which is one of my all time favorites. I have made it before, but it’s a family favorite and turns up on here once in a while. I may vary the recipe a little tomorrow, so check back and see how what’s up. Until then, enjoy your evening and enjoy your meal!

 

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on March 27, 2012 in Cooking, Dinner, Potatoes, Poultry, Vegetables

 

Tags: , , , ,

(Stir) Frying Up Some Chicken

Since this is going to be the week of one pot meals, and since Sean picked the meals, it is going to be mostly stir fry dinners this week, with the exception of the soups we will be making. Stir fries are fun and easy to do. I like doing them because you can really put anything you want in a stir fry. It’s a great way to get rid of leftovers in any form, whether they are chicken, meat, fish or vegetables, and they only take about 20 minutes to make, which makes them ideal for weeknight dinners when things can get hectic.

I would just like to mention a few things about stir frying. I always have a few Asian ingredients on hand in case we feel like making a stir fry. I always have soy sauce, five-spice powder, fresh ginger, hoisin sauce, mirin, rice vinegar and oyster sauce. They can all be found in your local supermarket and if you have them around, you can do all kinds of Asian and stir fry cooking. Next, I have a wok, but I don’t use it for stir frying anymore. Wok’s aren’t designed to be used on a flat stove top and don’t really provide the high heat you need to do a good stir fry. A large, non-stick skillet works a lot better makes better use of a horizontal heat source. Lastly, if you want restaurant-style sauces for your stir fry, add a little cornstarch to your pan juices and you’ll get that glossy sauce that you get with your take-out. Today’s dinner is Stir-Fried Chicken and Vegetables with White Rice.

Stir-Fried Chicken and Vegetables

2 cups broccoli or cauliflower florets and stems, cut into bite size pieces

1 carrot, peeled and diced

1 pepper (any color), seeded and sliced into strips

1/4 cup vegetable oil

2 tablespoons minced garlic

1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger

1 medium onion, sliced

1/2 cup chopped scallions

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast, sliced into 1/2-inch wide strips

1 teaspoon sugar

2 tablespoons soy sauce 1/2 cup chicken stock, white wine or water (your choice, I am using stock)

Put a large, deep skillet over high heat. Add half the oil, swirl it around and immediately add half the garlic and ginger. Cook for 15 seconds, stirring, then add the onion and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add the broccoli, cauliflower, carrot and pepper and cook over high heat until the vegetables are tender but not at all mushy, about 5 minutes. Add the scallions and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes.

Turn the heat down to medium and remove the vegetables. Add the remaining oil to the pan, then the remaining garlic and ginger. Stir, then add the chicken. Raise the heat to high, stir the chicken once, then let it sit for 1 minute before stirring again. Cook stirring occasionally, until the chicken has lost its pink color, 3 to 5 minutes.

Return the vegetables to the pan and toss once or twice. Add the sugar, then the soy sauce; toss again. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, then add the liquid. Raise the heat to high and cook, stirring and scraping the bottom of the pan, until the liquid is reduced slightly and you’ve scraped up all the bits of chicken, about 30 seconds. Serve over rice.

There are so many other things you can add or change about this recipe. Throw in some mushrooms, bean sprouts, shallot, snow peas, baby corn or any other vegetable you might like to have. Toss the chicken chunks with the five-spice powder before cooking (1 tablespoon is plenty), add a tablespoon of hoisin, oyster or plum sauce to the soy sauce, use beef, pork, shrimp, scallops or any other fish instead of the chicken, the list can go on. You could even add some cashews or peanuts right at the add for some added crunch. Have fun with it and make it what you want.

I have done the white rice recipe a few times here, so you can see how I make it if you like. On Wednesday, when we have the next stir fry, we’ll be making fried rice, so I’ll post the recipe for that when we get to it. A simple, healthy meal with easy clean up, and Sean picked it out! It can’t get much better than that! Tomorrow, we will be making Rustic Vegetable and Polenta soup. It is our meat-free meal of the week, and Sean will help with this one too. He’s a little reluctant to try this one, but we’re going to give it a whirl anyway. It’s very basic as far as ingredients, so hopefully it will go over well. Check it out tomorrow to see the recipe. As always, if you have any questions, comments or anything at all to add, please feel free to leave a comment. I am more than happy to respond. Now it’s back to work for me. Have a great evening and see you tomorrow!

 

 
1 Comment

Posted by on February 6, 2012 in Cooking, Dinner, Poultry, Vegetables

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Gobble, Gobble (Up Some Turkey Meatballs!)

Okay, so the title isn’t so great today, but I was trying to come up with some way to introduce today’s meal. Sean picked this one, and to be honest, I was little surprised he wanted this, but he elected Turkey Meatballs in Gravy, Baked Potatoes, and Broccoli. Since we’ve already made broccoli on the meal plan three times I believe, I won’t bore you with the steamed broccoli that Sean has chosen. I am going to find some more broccoli recipes since I am getting a little bored with it myself (if anyone has any suggestions, please pass them along!)

Okay, so turkey meatballs are not tough to make and they can be quite tasty. I use ground turkey in my chili all the time instead of beef and I think it tastes better and it is better for you. The one thing about ground turkey that I have found is that it can be very dry and needs seasoning. Personally, I have found through some experimenting that the best seasoning to add to ground turkey has been McCormick’s Montreal Chicken blend seasoning. It has a nice mix of garlic, salt, pepper, onion, paprika and orange peel and adds a really nice flavor to the turkey. For a little bit of added moisture to the mix I also put a couple of dashes of Worcestershire sauce as well. Other than those additions, this is basically the same exact recipe I used for the meatballs last week for our spaghetti and meatballs dinner.

Turkey Meatballs

2 slices of white sandwich bread (I prefer Pepperidge Farm, it works well for me)

1/3 cup milk (whatever type you have will work here)

1 pound ground turkey

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1 1/2 tablespoons McCormick’s Montreal Chicken Blend Seasoning (use less or more, depending on if you like the flavor)

2-3 dashes Worcestershire sauce

2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley

1 egg yolk

1 garlic clove, minced

Salt and pepper

Vegetable oil

1 recipe All Purpose Gravy (recipe to follow)

Remove and discard the crusts from the bread then tear the bread into small pieces. Use a fork to mash the bread pieces and milk to a smooth paste in a large bowl. Add the ground turkey, Montreal Chicken seasoning, Worcestershire sauce, Parmesan, parsley, egg yolk, garlic, 3/4 teaspoon salt, a dash of pepper (or more if you like) to the mashed bread. Stir the mixture gently until combined and uniform (I always use my hands – it gets messy but it mixes better. Take your rings off before you do this). Form the mixture into 1 1/2 inch round meatballs (about 12 meatballs if you make them this big, if you want smaller, go for it and you’ll get more. I always make smaller for the turkey).

Pour the oil into a 12 inch skillet and heat over medium high heat until shimmering. Add the meatballs in a single layer and cook until nicely browned on all sides, about 10 minutes. Transfer the meatballs to a paper towel-lined plate and discard any oil left in the skillet.

Place the skillet back over medium heat and add the gravy, Bring to a simmer, reduce the heat to low, and add the meatballs. Continue to simmer, turning the meatballs occasionally, until heated through, about 5 minutes.

Very, very easy to make. As a matter of fact, I think I will have Sean help me with this one since he did such a good job last week with the dinner he helped make. The all-purpose gravy recipe really is an all-purpose gravy. You could use it for any type of meat or poultry or just for over mashed potatoes, and you don’t need any pan drippings to make this one. It relies solely on vegetables. chicken and beef broth.

All Purpose Gravy

3 tablespoons butter

1 carrot, peeled and chopped fine

1 rib celery, chopped fine

1 onion, minced

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

2 cups chicken broth (used canned, box or your own. I am using my own because I have it. otherwise, use low sodium)

2 cups beef broth (same as the chicken. i don’t have my own right now, so I am using Swanson’s low sodium)

1 bay leaf

1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme, or 1/4 teaspoon dried

5 whole black peppercorns

Salt and pepper

Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the vegetables and cook until softened and well browned, about 9 minutes. Stir in the flour and cook, stirring constantly, until thoroughly browned, about 5 minutes. Gradually whisk in the broths and bring to a boil. Add the bay leaf, thyme, and peppercorns and simmer, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 20-25 minutes, skimming off any foam that forms on the surface.

Pour the gravy through a fine-mesh strainer (or gravy separator) into a clean saucepan, pressing on the solids to extract as much liquid as possible. Discard the solids. Season the gravy with salt and pepper to taste.

You can make the gravy ahead of time and refrigerate it in an airtight container for up to 4 days, or freeze it for up to 2 months. Just re-heat it over low heat, stirring to recombine, until warm and smooth.

A nice, tasty, very versatile gravy recipe to use any time. Sean wanted baked potatoes tonight ( I personally would have gone for rice) so that’s what were making. You can make baked potatoes the traditional way in the oven at 350 degrees for about 1 hour to 1 hour, fifteen minutes, or you can do it this way, by using the microwave first and then baking them to finish them off. I have found that starting them in the microwave and then cooking them the rest of the way in the oven produces a nice fluffy potato with a crispy skin and takes half the time of just baking them.

Baked Potatoes

4 medium russet potatoes, scrubbed and dried

Butter (for serving)

Salt and pepper (for serving)

Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 450 degrees. Poke a few holes in each potato with the tines of a fork and microwave the potatoes on high until slightly soft to the touch, 6 to 12 minutes, turning them halfway through.

Carefully transfer the potatoes to the oven and cook directly on the hot oven rack until a knife blade glides easily through the flesh, about 20 minutes. Remove the potatoes from the oven and open them as soon as possible (the longer a potato sits after being removed from the oven, the more dense the flesh becomes. Opening immediately allows the steam to escape, resulting in a more airy potato). Serve immediately with butter, salt and pepper (or anything else you like to add – cheese, sour cream, chives, crumbled bacon, etc.)

Throw in the broccoli, and we are all done for the evening. I am getting to like these easy meals. Quick cooking, quick clean up and we can spend more time together instead of a long time in the kitchen. You could cut the meatball recipe in half if you want less meatballs and then use the leftovers to make some chili or some turkey sausage (which is what I am going to do. I’ll post the recipe for this on another day). Tomorrow is our meatless night, so we will be having Potato Soup tomorrow, which we made last night so it’s already done and just needs to be re-heated. We’ll be having a salad with it and some crunchy bread, but a nice sandwich would go along well with it also if you were looking to do that. I love a good sandwich! Any favorites out there? I plan to do a sandwich recipes day soon, so pass along you might know of and really like. Enjoy your dinner tonight!

 
3 Comments

Posted by on January 23, 2012 in Gravy, Potatoes, Poultry, Sauce, Vegetables

 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Planning Your Meals This Week (and Some School Lunches Too)

I didn’t cook today, but we did do our shopping for this week’s meal plan I really do find that the plan helps me in staying on budget as far as shopping. Sure, there are still impulse buys now and then (who can resist a treat now and then) and I do have to buy household items once in a while (garbage bags, storage bags, toothpaste, etc.), but for the most part we really do only buy what we need to make the meals for the week. We do a lot of our shopping at BJ’s Warehouse Club, so we do get essentials that last us for a while, but I have found we can also get good deals on things we use a lot of, like diced tomatoes, pasta and rice, but we also get good deals on meat and poultry and produce. I can buy ground beef or london broil and get enough to freeze for several more meals. The same can be said of poultry. I buy the larger packs of boneless chicken breasts and whole chickens there and we get many meals out of it and also use the chicken carcass to make stock later on for soups. I then supplement that with a short trip to the supermarket for things I can’t get at BJ’s (which isn’t too much) and a trip to Adam’s Farms in Newburgh, where I get our fish for the week and some local produce.

Anyway, for this coming week, this is the meal plan:

Monday – Turkey Meatball with sauce, baked potatoes, broccoli (this was Sean’s choice this week)

Tuesday – Baked Potato Soup (this was Michelle’s pick, and is our meatless meal of the week)

Wednesday – Fish. I didn’t get to the fish market today, but I will go Wednesday morning and pick something out after I see what looks good.

Thursday – Meat Loaf, Mashed Potatoes and corn (this one was my pick)

Friday – Warm Chicken Salad (Michelle picked this one)

Saturday – Peppered Steak, White Rice, Cauliflower and carrots (Michelle picked this one too)

None of the meals are difficult this week and all can be made in a short amount of time. As a matter of fact, we are making the potato soup tonight and refrigerating it for Tuesday. I didn’t have to buy anything out of the ordinary this week other than leeks that we are using in the soup and the peppers for the peppered steak. I bought meat loaf mix of beef, pork and veal that I buy either for meatloaf or meatballs. The London broil was 2 large steaks that I quartered and froze so I’ll only need one piece when I make the peppered steak on Saturday. The ground turkey I bought will be used for meatballs and a portion frozen to be used later on either for chili or turkey sausage (I do make my own for breakfast sausage; it tastes really good and I will be posting that recipe at some point when we make a “breakfast for dinner” one night). Other than that, the rest of the ingredients we will use this week are things we already have in the house, refrigerator or freezer.

Now that dinners are planned for the week, I thought I would spend a little bit of time writing about school lunches. School lunches can be a problem sometimes. Sean buys lunch from school about once a week or less often, mainly because the choices that they have for lunch are, well, less than desirable. It’s pretty rare that when I ask Sean if he wants to buy that he says yes, but I am sure he gets tired of eating either a cheese sandwich or peanut butter and jelly every day. We have thought about doing warm lunches for him in a thermos, but he eats lunch so late in the day that even the thermos wouldn’t keep it warm for him. For others of you, however, warm lunches may be a good option. There is a good blog out there right now called “The Mom With Moxie” by Bree Glenn and she has a good posting on some ideas for school lunch planning. Here is the blog if you want to check it out:http://www.themomwithmoxie.com/2011/11/04/8-resources-for-healthy-fun-school-lunch-box-planning/. She offers up a great list of sites here for some good school lunch ideas. I was able to pull a few ideas off of Good Housekeeping’s website from here also, but if you want to go to Good Housekeeping directly, here is their link:http://www.goodhousekeeping.com/recipes/healthy/ideas-kids-school-lunches. I thought the ideas of Turkey Meatball Pitas, Ham and Cheese Pitas, Chicken Noodle Soup and the Mozzarella and Tomato Sandwich were all good ideas for lunches. There are several other great links on Bree Glenn’s blog about the school lunches that I think will be very helpful in getting some ideas for things to pack for the kids. If anyone has any other great ideas for school lunches, please pass them along and comment here. I am always looking for something new to offer Sean and I am sure plenty of other Moms and Dads could use some ideas as well.

I think that covers everything for today. I hope to go into greater detail on school lunches and some good recipes of my own in a later blog. I want to do a little more research and try out some recipes with Sean first before I put anything up here for you to try. Tomorrow will be the recipes for Turkey Meatballs with sauce, Baked  Potatoes and broccoli. I know, we seem to eat a lot of broccoli, but Sean really likes it so he seems to pick that one all the time. I need to find a few more recipes to find some more interesting ways to cook it. If you have any thoughts on that, feel free to share! Enjoy what’s left of your weekend, and if you’re watching the Giants-49ers game, enjoy the game! (what will you be snacking on during the game? I already plan to post some things as we get closer to Super Bowl Sunday)

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on January 22, 2012 in Lunch, School Lunches

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Under the Sea (Scallops)

After a morning at the dentist, it’s time to get down to some writing. Today’s dinner is an easy recipe and a very tasty one. Today I am making pan-seared sea scallops with lemon and shallots, roasted broccoli and carrots, and white rice. It’s nothing difficult to make and the whole meal itself only takes about 35 minutes total, so it’s easy to do during the week,

In my opinion, there is really only one type of scallop worth buying, and that is sea scallops. Bay scallops or Calico scallops are much smaller and tend to be rubbery, so I opt for the sea scallops. They do cost more, and many of them are dipped in preservatives to help extend their shelf life. These are generally called wet scallops. If you can find dry scallops, or scallops labeled chemical-free, opt for those. You’ll be able to tell the difference even if they aren’t labeled, as wet scallops are bright white in color and, well, they’re wet with a milky liquid. Dry scallops range from an ivory color to a pale pinkish orange, and look dry. Most places will label them, and dry scallops in this area tend to be quite expensive, around $18 a pound. They do taste better and are worth the splurge. We only cook them about every 6 weeks or so and it is a seafood the whole family enjoys.

Now on to the recipe. This one is pretty easy and shouldn’t take long at all. i would recommend using the largest skillet you have for this, or do the scallops in batches so they aren’t bunched together and end up steaming instead of getting the nice pan sear on them. Also, you could add capers into this recipe if you like. Capers are basically unripened flower buds that are often pickled and are about the size of a small pea to a small olive. They can be rather salty, but also can add a nice flavor to meats, sauces, dressings and vegetables. My family doesn’t really like them, so I eliminate them, but if you like them, go for it.

Pan-Seared Scallops With Lemon and Shallots

1 1/2 pounds large sea scallops

Salt and pepper

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

3 tablespoons butter

1 shallot, minced

1 cup dry white wine or vermouth (or just use water if you don’t want the alcohol)

1 teaspoon grated lemon zest

2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon capers, rinsed and minced (optional)

Pat the scallops dry with paper towels, then season with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking. Gently lay the scallops in the pan and cook until well browned, about 2 1/2 minutes. Flip the scallops over and cook until the sides of the scallop are firm but the center remains very soft, about 30 seconds. Transfer the scallops to a plate and tent with foil.

Pour off all the fat left in the skillet. Add 1 tablespoon of butter and melt over medium-high heat. Add the shallots and cook until softened, about 2 minutes. Add the wine (or vermouth, or water) and lemon zest. Bring to a simmer and cook until the sauce has thickened and reduced, about 5 minutes. Off the heat, add the remaining butter, the parsley, lemon juice, capers (if using) and any accumulated scallop juice. Season the sauce with salt and pepper to taste. Add the scallops to the sauce and let warm through before serving, about 1 minute.

Pretty easy, huh? The thing with seafood and shellfish is that it generally doesn’t need a long time to cook, just minutes at the most, unless you’re steaming shellfish like lobster, crab or clams, or cooking thick flesh seafood steaks, and even then seafood steaks don’t take too long. A lot of people tend to overcook seafood, leaving it unflavored, tough and rubbery. Just a few minutes is all it takes for some really tasty seafood.

For tonight’s vegetable, I decided to roast broccoli and carrots. Broccoli and carrots are both favorites in our house (I can’t think of a vegetable we won’t eat actually, even Sean is really good about veggies). In this recipe, if you want a little bit of a spicy kick, add some crushed red pepper flakes towards the end. I love roasted vegetables; they tend to taste sweeter than steamed and the flavor is more concentrated.

Roasted Broccoli and Carrots

1 1/2 pound broccoli, cut into 1-inch florets

2 carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch slices

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon minced garlic

1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional)

Zest of 1 lemon (I use whatever I didn’t from the scallops recipe)

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese (optional, Michelle and Sean do like it on their portions)

Position 1 rack in the middle and 1 rack in the lower third of the oven. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F (you’re roasting, it should be very hot). Divide the broccoli and carrots evenly among 2 baking sheets. Drizzle each with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil a 1/2 teaspoon of the salt. Toss well, then spread the vegetables out in an even layer. Transfer to the oven and roast until the vegetables are crisp-tender, about 8 minutes.

Remove the pan from the oven and sprinkle the vegetables evenly with the garlic, red pepper flakes(if using), lemon zest and cheese (if using). Continue roasting for 2 minutes more. Transfer the vegetables to a serving bowl and serve.

Another easy side dish done. Lastly, for this meal is the rice. I personally prefer long-grain white rice, just a personal preference of mine. Use whatever rice you like the best. Cooking rice on the stovetop is very easy and pretty foolproof. I use a 2 to 1 ratio in cooking, so if I make 1 cup of rice, I use 2 cups of water. One cup is more than enough for the three of us and we generally have leftovers that can be used for other meals. Just bring the water up to a boil on the stove, add in the rice and a teaspoon or two of salt (or not, if you’re cutting back) and return the pot to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover and cook until the rice is tender, generally about 12 to 15 minutes for 1 cup of rice.

Brown rice and wild rice tend to take longer. Long grain brown rice takes about 25-30 minutes, while wild rice can take about 35-40 minutes, so if you want to use those, budget your time accordingly. I like both of those, but for a quick, weeknight meal the white rice fits better.

So that’s another day down in this week’s meal plan. If you have suggestions, questions, or any input at all, please feel free to leave a comment here. I am willing to respond, good, bad or indifferent. Tomorrow’s dinner is also my choice, and we will be having pork chops with butternut squash and apple stuffing, roasted potatoes,and Swiss chard with garlic and shallots. Until then, enjoy your day and your time in the kitchen!

 

 

 
3 Comments

Posted by on January 18, 2012 in Rice, Seafood, Vegetables

 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Enter The Meal Plan…

It’s Monday and it’s time to start off the week with a meal plan. My family meal plan started a while ago, and it worked well while we stuck to it, but then we kind of drifted away from it and things got a little out of hand again. By out of hand I mean we didn’t plan ahead on any meals. which led to a lot of meals thrown together at the last-minute or just getting take-out or eating out. In the long run, it wasn’t benefiting us as far as our health and being together as a family, so I decided we needed to get back to the meal plan.

Here is how our meal plan works. We, as a family, decide on the meals each week. While it sounds like a challenge right away by letting kids choose meals (who wants chicken nuggets or pizza every day?) I have tried to make it so that, since there are 3 of us, we each pick 2 meals for the week and the extra day we eat leftovers. Once a month we take the extra day and either go out or get take out. The stipulations on the meals are this: the week’s meals have to be one night of red meat, two nights of poultry, one night of seafood, one night of pasta/grain/vegetarian, and two nights using whatever we have as leftovers to make a meal. I also had to add in that we couldn’t pick the same meal on consecutive weeks, otherwise Sean would have us eating burgers and pizza every week. Each meal has to have some type of vegetable and some type of protein. The protein doesn’t have to be meat, but there has to be one there somewhere. Once the meals have been picked out, we go through and which one fits best on which day of the week for that week. Like any family, some weeks for us can get a little hectic and some nights are better suited to leftovers than others, so we try to work with that. Once that is done, I do the shopping list of the supplies we need for the week to make the meals, we outline the everyone’s duties for the week as far as the meals go and then we move ahead with the week. Here is the print out I use for our meal planning. I have found it a big help for planning and for shopping because I tend to stick closely to it and shop only for the things that we really need for the meals that week so we can stay on budget a little better:  family_meal_planner.

Now that the basics are laid out, we can talk about today’s dinner plan. Today is pretty simple. Sean picked today’s meal and since he is off from school today, he gets to help cook it too. It’s straightforward, spaghetti and meatballs. He chose broccoli as his vegetable for the day and we’re going to make some garlic bread as well. I don’t make my own bread, so we’ll cheat a little there and buy a loaf and make it garlic bread, but if you make your own, it will probably be very tasty.

The spaghetti itself is pretty easy and painless. I don’t eat pasta, I never have. I just don’t like the texture of the store-bought pasta. I think if I had the counter space to make my own pasta, I would probably eat it because I think the taste of fresh pasta would be much better. But hey, just because I don’t eat doesn’t mean I won’t cook it (and if you cook it and I am invited over, you can be sure I’ll eat it, no questions asked. My momma raised me right :)).Tonight, it’s just plain spaghetti (I am eating white rice) and I think most people can handle cooking it, so I am not going to spend time on it. Instead, I’ll focus on the sauce, meatballs and garlic bread.

There are lots of sauces available right out of the jar or can, and some of them taste good. They are quick and easy to use and make our lives simple, but personally, if I have the time to make sauce, I am going to make it. It doesn’t have to be labor intensive and take all day. As a matter of fact, I find that sauce cooked too long tends to lose some of its flavor (this is for a sauce with no meat in it). In a perfect world, I would use fresh tomatoes, but, as I discussed previously, the tomatoes available here in the stores are generally pretty flavorless and not ripe. I have found that using diced and crushed tomatoes for sauce works just fine for me. This is a simple sauce recipe. It’s quick, it’s easy, has few ingredients, and tastes good:

Simple Tomato Sauce

3 tablespoons olive oil

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes

1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes

3 tablespoons minced fresh basil (if you’re using dried basil, cut this in at least half)

1/4 teaspoon sugar

Salt

Cook the oil and garlic in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring often until fragrant but not browned, about 2 minutes (don’t scorch the garlic, it tastes pretty bad when you do. As soon as you can smell it, you’re ready for the next step). Stir in the crushed tomatoes and diced tomatoes with their juice. Bring to a simmer and cook until slightly thickened, 15 to 20 minutes. Stir in the basil and sugar. Season with salt to taste.

You can easily double this recipe to make more sauce, just add about another 10 minutes of cooking time. Freeze extra so you have it on hand at a moment’s notice for a quick meal.

On to the meatballs. There are several brands of frozen meatballs that are good, and we usually have some in the freezer to use for quick meals or as appetizers when people are over. Like the sauce, if I have the time, i want to make my own. Sean likes the frozen ones better, and since it’s his choice tonight, we’ll probably use them, but I am going to give my recipe for meatballs anyway. You don’t have to use the beef, pork, veal mix that I do (I use the same mix for meatloaf and you can find it in most supermarkets). Chicken or turkey works just as well if that’s what you prefer. You also don’t have to use your own bread, but I find it tastes and binds better with fresh bread instead of dried breadcrumbs. Just my personal choice.

Meatballs

2 slices of white sandwich bread (I prefer Pepperidge Farm, it works well for me)

1/3 cup milk (whatever type you have will work here)

1 pound beef, pork, veal mixture

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley

1 egg yolk

1 garlic clove, minced

Salt and pepper

Vegetable oil

Remove and discard the crusts from the bread then tear the bread into small pieces. Use a fork to mash the bread pieces and milk to a smooth paste in a large bowl. Add the beef, pork and veal mixture, Parmesan, parsley, egg yolk, garlic, 3/4 teaspoon salt, a dash of pepper (or more if you like) to the mashed bread. Stir the mixture gently until combined and uniform (I always use my hands – it gets messy but it mixes better. Take your rings off before you do this). Form the mixture into 1 1/2 inch round meatballs (about 12 meatballs if make them this big, if you want smaller, go for it and you’ll get more).

Pour the oil into a 12 inch skillet and heat over medium high heat until shimmering. Add the meatballs in a single layer and cook until nicely browned on all sides, about 10 minutes. Transfer the meatballs to a paper towel-lined plate and discard any oil left in the skillet.

Place the skillet back over medium heat and add the tomato sauce, Bring to a simmer, reduce the heat to low, and add the meatballs. Continue to simmer, turning the meatballs occasionally, until heated through, about 5 minutes.

Okay, now you have your pasta, your sauce, and your meatballs. Our vegetable of choice today is broccoli, although we’ll be having salad along with it too (which Sean won’t eat, hence the broccoli). There are lots of ways to cook broccoli (steaming, roasting, braising, sauteing) and Sean prefers simple steaming, so that’s how we’re going with it today. Later on in the week I’ll be roasting some and I have the recipe for that for you. I do use a steaming basket in my dutch oven to do this, Placing the basket in with water just to the bottom of it, bringing the water to a boil and then adding the vegetables. Steam the broccoli for about 4 to 6 minutes until bright green and tender. Add some more water if you find that the water is boiling away before the broccoli is done.

Garlic bread itself is a pretty simple endeavor:

1 loaf Italian bread

4 tablespoons butter, softened (use less if you like, I often do)

2 teaspoons olive oil

3 cloves garlic, crushed

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese (or other cheese of your liking, or no cheese at all, it’s optional)

Preheat the broiler. Cut the loaf of bread in half lengthwise. In a small bowl, mix the butter, oil, garlic and oregano. Spread the mixture evenly on the bread. On a baking sheet, place the bread under the broiler for 3-5 minutes, or until slightly browned. Check frequently to make sure it doesn’t burn. Remove from the broiler and serve, or, if using the cheese, sprinkle cheese over the bread and place under the broiler for another 2 minutes, or until cheese is melted and slightly brown.

That’s it, you have our first meal plan. We usually only do dessert about once a week, and usually on the weekends so you’ve done it! Clean up for this one should be relatively easy, and I try to clean up as I go along to make things easier. If you have any suggestions or variations for this meal, please feel free to add them. I am always looking to try something new. Have fun cooking tonight and I’ll see you tomorrow. Tomorrow night Sean and Michelle are out for the night at a fundraiser, so I’ll be cooking for one (which makes tomorrow a leftovers night this week), so I’ll have to come up for a topic for tomorrow. Any suggestions?

 
2 Comments

Posted by on January 16, 2012 in Beef, Cooking, Dinner, Pasta, Produce, Sauce, Vegetables

 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

 
Jennifer Probst

a little bit naughty a little bit nice

Laissez Faire

Letting Life Lead

simple cooking recipes

a blog to share with you the best

%d bloggers like this: