Monday, September 19, 2011

Monday Meal Planning 9.19.11

Just a quick list this week - September is about to swallow me whole!

Monday: Chicken Fajitas and quick spicy rice
Tuesday: Pepperoncini Beef Sandwiches, fries, watermelon
Wednesday: Pasta with Roasted Tomatoes, Roasted Garlic, and Kale (except with swiss chard this time)
Thursday: Chicken Strips, green beans, watermelon
Friday: Homemade pizza - individual style (i.e. everyone gets to top their own) - I cannot believe that this is the first time I've posted this link here. I love this pizza dough and it makes a pizza that I think is better than any takeout or delivery we can get near our house. So yummy!
Saturday: Dinner w/Aaron's family - I'll probably take a dessert as usual. Peach pie sounds fantastic.
Sunday: ??? I've been leaving Sunday dinner up to Aaron lately, so who knows what we'll end up with this week. I'm fully expecting something grilled; he wants to use up the last of our propane before grilling season is over.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Pasta with Roasted Cherry Tomatoes, Roasted Garlic, and Kale

As usual, I am a horrible food blogger - I get so hungry making dinner that I dive in and am halfway through my meal before I realize I didn't take a picture of the food when it looked the most appealing. Then I figure, oh well, too late now, so I eat the rest. Afterwards, the regret sets in - this meal was so delicious, and now I don't feel like I can share it on my site because I don't have any pictures.

Well, this one was so simple, delicious, and comforting that you'll just have to use your imagination.

So! Imagine this: You look in your refrigerator and you have a large bowl of heirloom cherry tomatoes. Yellow, green, orange, red, purple jewels just begging to be eaten. And you know they taste even better roasted just until their skin starts to crack and their juices leak. You also have a head of monster-sized garlic, a rubber-banded together bunch of dark green kale, and a fresh block of parmesan just begging to be shaved into a pillowy cloud of deliciousness.

You can see why I was inspired, I'm sure. These ingredients, cooked just so, and served over pasta made one heck of a fantastic meal last night. Aaron and I usually exercise some self-control and save portions of dinner for lunch the next day, but last night all self control went out the window and we ate every single last bite. "It will be better freshly cooked," we told ourselves. I'm not sure that's true, but it was a good enough excuse for us.

Pasta with Roasted Cherry Tomatoes, Roasted Garlic, and Kale

3 cups cherry tomatoes
2 large cloves garlic, unpeeled
1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste

1 bunch kale (about 12 stalks)
1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp. butter
1 c. stock (I used vegetable, but chicken would work well too)
salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes, to taste

1/2 lb. rotini, or other short pasta, cooked in salted water per manufacturer's instructions
1/2 c. shredded parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. On a large roasting pan, toss cherry tomatoes and unpeeled garlic cloves with olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast for 15-20 minutes, or just until the skins on the tomatoes start to burst and the juices start to escape. Remove from the oven, and set aside.

Meanwhile, wash your kale well and remove the leaves from the tough stem. Chop the leaves into bite-sized pieces. Add olive oil and butter to a saute pan over medium heat. When butter has completely melted, add kale and saute until the leaves begin to wilt. Add in the stock, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes, and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat, cover partially, and simmer for 10 minutes, or until leaves are soft.

While kale is cooking, remove garlic from its skins and smash with a spoon in a small bowl. Add smashed, roasted garlic to the kale and stir. Add in tomatoes and accumulated juices. Serve kale and tomato mixture over pasta, and top with parmesan to taste.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Cinnamon Raisin Biscuits

When I was growing up, whenever it was a special day (like the first day of school, the last day of school, or when I was home from college, etc.) my mom made us cinnamon raisin biscuits for breakfast. To this day, whenever we're all home (a rarity, since one of us lives in Arizona, another in Virginia, and then little old me here in Michigan) one of us will request cinnamon raisin biscuits for breakfast. Usually my mom goes for it, because they're really easy to make, especially if you follow the one rule of biscuits: don't mess with the dough too much or you will end up with hockey pucks.

Go ahead and guess what happened the first time I made these by myself. It won't be too hard to guess, I promise.

These days I do for Gabbie what my mom used to have to do for me: I halve the dough before adding in the raisins, because Lord forbid if a raisin, or any type of fruit really, is in her baked good. She'll eat everything separately, but they MUST NOT BE MIXED FOR GOODNESS SAKE, MOM!

Anyway, make these for a breakfast this weekend, served with a big glass of milk, of course. Also, because these need to be even more decadent, we usually slice them in half, add a pat of butter, and stack them back up so the butter melts and OMG I'm drooling right now.

These biscuits are on my mind because a little person who lives in my house is starting preschool next Tuesday, and I will be starting the tradition in my house as well by serving her these biscuits for breakfast.

Cinnamon Raisin Biscuits
Adapted from My Mom (heh) and Fanny Farmer

2 c. flour
1/2 tsp. salt
4 tsp. baking powder
1 Tbsp. sugar
1/2 c. shortening (or butter, which is the route I usually take)
2/3 c. milk
1/4 to 1/3 c. sugar mixed with 1 tsp cinnamon (use more or less of each to taste)
a handful or two of raisins

2 c. powdered sugar
3 Tbsp. milk, plus more to reach desired consistency
1 tsp. vanilla

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees F.

Put your flour, salt, baking powder, and sugar into a bowl Cut the shortening into the flour mixture with a pastry blender (or, alternately, you could do this with a food processor) until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Add the milk and stir with a fork just until the dough forms a ball around the fork. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead 7 times. Pat flat, and top with the cinnamon and sugar mixture and raisins. Fold over and knead 7 more times. Pat until 1/2 inch thick. Cut into rounds with a 2-inch biscuit cutter (or a drinking glass). Place on a cookie sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes.

While still hot, place the biscuits on your serving dish and drizzle with the icing.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Bolognese Sauce

You know how, growing up, you'd go over to your Italian granny's house and she'd have a big pot of something simmering away on the stove? And the aroma would drive you nearly mad with hunger, making it hard to wait to dig in?

Yeah, me either. I'm as WASPy as they come, but when I'm making this bolognese sauce I can imagine what that must have been like, because it makes my house smell a-freaking-mazing. It's all I can do to not stand at the stove with a spoon and eat it all before any of it makes it to the table. But, I always exercise the proper restraint, even when it makes it to the table, so that I can freeze half of the sauce and have another meal on a night when I want something delicious and comforting but don't feel like standing in the kitchen for an hour or two.

In all actuality, this dish is not hard to make, but does take a little time to pull together. I cheat a little, using my food processor to chop all the vegetables, which makes quick work of the onion, celery, carrot, and garlic. Even when I cut them by hand, though, the time it takes to make this sauce is well worth it. It makes for an incredibly fantastic, meaty, filling, comforting meal.

Bolognese Sauce

4 slices of bacon, finely sliced
1 medium onion
3 cloves of garlic
2 carrots
2 stalks celery
olive oil
2 heaped tsp. dried oregano
1/2 lb. ground pork
3/4 lb. ground beef
28 oz. whole tomatoes (I like San Marzano best)
salt and pepper
a small bunch of fresh basil, leaves and stems separated.
3/4 c. parmesan cheese
1/4 c. whole milk or cream
1 lb. pasta (we like linguine), cooked according to the directions on the box

Peel and finely chop the onion, garlic, carrots, and celery (I usually peel and chunk up the vegetables and then throw them in my food processor, pulsing until they're finely chopped but not pureed). In a large pan over medium heat, add about a Tbsp. of the olive oil, the bacon, and oregano. Cook until the bacon is golden. Add the chopped vegetables to the pan and cook until soft and lightly golden, stirring regularly. Stir in the meat, breaking it up with your spoon. Add the tomatoes and break these up with your spoon as well. Add in 1/2 c. water, salt, and pepper. Chop up the basil stems and throw them in. Bring the sauce to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer and cover. Cook for about an hour, stirring occasionally.

After the hour, remove the pan from the heat and add a 1/2 c. of the parmesan (or more if you're like me),  the milk or cream, and the basil leaves. Stir until the cheese is incorporated. Serve over cooked pasta and top with additional parmesan and basil.


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