Family · Food

Menu Monday 8/14/17

Summer break is officially over.  The girls return to school today.  Ahh, the peace and quiet!  I can finally, as they say, “hear myself think.”  But don’t you go thinking that now that I have time to think that the menus are going to get fancy or extravagant.  Remember that with the start of school, we also return to piano/voice lessons, choir, and both girls are playing soccer this fall, so maybe my weeks are getting MORE hectic.  We’ll just have to wait and see.  Since returning from the beach (where we pigged out on seafood all week) the family has been craving veggies and salads in particular.  I’m planning at least two salads this week, probably on days when we have afternoon commitments.  That way I can prep dinner before the girls get home from school and still have time to get them where they need to go AND provide a home “cooked” meal.

Monday:  Black and blue salads with blue cheese toasts.  I used to work just down the road from a sandwich chain that served a salad topped with steak and blue cheese.  I no longer work or live near one of those restaurants so I recreated this one from memory (and if memory serves me right, I think mine is even tastier).  Chopped romaine and kale topped with cucumbers, radishes, mushrooms, carrots, red onion, avocado, grilled steak, and blue cheese.  We use our favorite vinaigrette (3 tbsp olive oil, 2 tbsp white wine vinegar, ½ tsp Dijon mustard, 1 clove minced garlic, ½ tsp each salt & pepper) which blends nicely with the blue cheese.  Slice thick slabs of Italian bread and butter both sides, then grill til toasted, sprinkle with garlic powder and blue cheese, and broil until bubbly.  

Tuesday:  Chorizo/Veggie Pasta with Dave’s garlic bread.  You could serve a salad with this pasta, but there’s really no need with all the vegetables chopped up in the sauce.  Dice up whatever vegetables that your garden is providing.  I used 1 medium onion, 1 large Japanese eggplant, and 2-3 cups tomatoes from my garden.  I added 2 grated carrots, 2 cloves minced garlic, and a package of mushrooms (diced) from my refrigerator.  Sauté these with a tube of fresh chorizo for instant pasta sauce.  Toss with pasta of your choice and some reserved pasta water.  Top with freshly grated Parmesan cheese and serve with garlic bread.  This recipe is a lot like the Sausage Rigatoni that we love.

Wednesday:  Yellow squash taco bowls.  Peyton found this recipe on Pinterest where they served taco toppings in steamed yellow squash “boats.”  I think the ratio of squash in this recipe would be too high for my family’s taste but the idea is a good one.  I’m going to roast yellow squash, onion, peppers, and tomatoes seasoned with chili powder, salt, pepper, and cumin at 385 degrees for 20-30 minutes.  Meanwhile I’ll prepare ground beef with taco seasoning.  To serve, place roasted veggies in a shallow bowl and top with taco meat, cheese, and your favorite taco toppings (onion, tomatoes, avocado, salsa, sour cream, etc).  I think they’ll be delicious!  Thanks to LowCarbYum for the great idea.

Thursday:  Grilled chicken salad.  We’ll use the same ingredients as Monday’s salad minus the steak, blue cheese, and avocado.  We’ll add juicy grilled chicken and black olives.  Peyton and I prefer our vinaigrette dressing on this, while Dave uses blue cheese dressing, and Presley wants Ranch dressing.  Hopefully by this point in the week we’ll be feeling back on track with our vegetable consumption.  

Friday:  Red beans and rice with Conecuh sausage.  Our favorite Gulf coast seafood chain serves this as one of their specialties.  Conecuh sausage is a smoked sausage produced in Conecuh county Alabama (just north of Gulf Shores).  When I found the sausage in a local supermarket, I just knew I had to try to recreate the dish.  The easy way would be buying a box of red beans and rice mix then adding sautéed rounds so Conecuh sausage before serving.  I’m toying with the idea of making red beans and rice from scratch.  I’ll let you know how it goes.  I may use the recipe that Katie provided a few weeks ago for Blue Runners and Rice.  It sounded easy and delicious.

Family · Food · garden

Stuffed Summer Vegetables

When my husband and I first met, he wooed me with food. I know that sentence sounds strange, but prior to him, none of my boyfriends could even boil water (NO! That is not an exaggeration!). I think I was a goner the first time he cooked me dinner: chicken Parmigiana with roasted broccoli and his now famous (at least in our house) garlic bread. I had never been a broccoli fan, but how could I be when my mom’s idea of cooking it consisted of putting it in a bowl with a little water and zapping it in the microwave. Yuck! The oven-roasted broccoli was a revelation, still crisp but with slightly browned crunchy little edges. Delicious!
But I think he completely won my heart (or was it my stomach?) with his stuffed mushrooms. A simple recipe of chopped mushroom stems, garlic, bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, and seasoning sautéed, stuffed into mushroom caps, and baked.
Once we had kids (and a garden) we discovered that tomatoes are even better prepared this way. The girls actually prefer the tomatoes to the mushrooms and request them frequently in the summer. This time we decided to try to stuff some eggplant too. So here’s what you do:

Slice tomatoes and Japanese eggplant in half (quarter larger veggies) and remove the insides to create a “boat” for your stuffing.

Brush both sides with olive oil and lightly season with salt and pepper.

Brown ½-1 pound of bulk sausage (depending on how many vegetables you’re stuffing) and drain on paper towels. We don’t always add the sausage but this way it makes a complete meal.

Dice up the unused ends of the eggplant and tomatoes along with some onion and garlic. Sauté until liquid cooks off and veggies are cooked through.

Then stir in sausage, dried bread crumbs, and grated Parmesan cheese. Season with salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning to taste.

Use enough bread crumbs to make stuffing the consistency of a loose cookie dough.

Fill veggie boats with stuffing, sprinkle on a little extra Parmesan cheese. Grill or bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes (until tomatoes are soft).