Sunday, August 29, 2010

Pasta Sauce

The above photo isn't my delicious spaghetti sauce we enjoyed tonight, but it's certainly the most important ingredient.

I quickly learned growing tomatoes that you always end up with more than you could hope to eat fresh; certainly not the two of us. No matter as they lead to fabulous pasta sauce and salsa.

But I dreaded the skin removal process. Pulling tomatoes out of boiling hot water to remove their skins didn't sound like fun. In talking to someone I learned of a much easier method-throw them in the freezer. When they are completely frozen solid put them in hot water. The skin literally falls off. The one thing to remember to to cut out the stem part and any imperfections ahead of time before you stick the tomatoes in the freezer.

At that point the tomatoes were cooked down and when some of liquids had evaporated I added spices, mushrooms, garlic and onions. Tonight I added Italian sausage when I served it for dinner.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Fish Tacos

Food blogs and restaurants are all about fish tacos lately. I thought it sounded like something different.

My plan was to use tilapia as I had some in the freezer; flavored with lime and garlic. After not being able to find more to go with it I ended up with some frozen lemon-garlic grilled fish fillets.

Looking up sauces for fish tacos I found either Chipotle Mayo or some form of creamy chive sauce. I decided on the spicy Chipotle Mayo sauce to compete with "fishy" taste. I had been looking for an excuse to buy some Kraft Sandwich Shop Mayo-chipotle flavor. For vegetables I chopped up tomatoes, green onions, red pepper and added some cilantro.

I liked it a lot. It was very flavorful and a lower calorie choice for a main entree.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

My lunch

A garden tomato, fresh mozzarella cheese, a little olive oil, kosher salt and fresh ground pepper made a delicious light lunch today. The only time missing from the classic Italian Caprese Salad was fresh basil leaves and I had none.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Menu Planning

People tend to be surprised and usually impressed when I tell them that I plan our weekly menus. But I think they are imaging something fancier and more complicated than it really is. What it does not involve is fussy recipes every night of the week; and certainly not on busy work days.

What it does involve is having our meals figured out to save the stress of coming home at 5:30 PM, hoping to eat by six or shortly after and not having a clue what to make. I went through years of this and we were both sick of the stress.

So before we go grocery shopping every Sunday morning I plan our weekly menu. It starts with what sounds good, what have I been wanting to try or what is currently fresh and in-season. I usually look through our local grocery store's weekly ad and see what strikes me. I then look through my recipes and see what we haven't had for a while. Hopefully at the end I have something designated for each day of the week. I try to do a variety of main entrees and hopefully use up leftovers I may have lurking in the refrigerator in the process.

But make no mistake, it doesn't mean everything is a complicated or fancy dish. Some days might list "leftovers" or "go out to eat" It might also be something incredibly fast and easy like nachos using leftover taco meat. But the point is the plan is there and we can both go to our shared calendar to see what is for dinner.

The benefits are many. The weekly grocery shopping is far more efficient having a plan as opposed to wandering around seeing what looks good, but may not produce meals. I like to think we eat a more balanced diet. Not to mention I am much more likely to make meals, even if I am tired, when they are planned. To me half the battle of weeknight cooking is figuring out what you want to make.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

The Power of the first Garden Tomato

Sometimes one great ingredient can inspire an entire meal. I harvested the first tomato from my plant-in-a-pot yesterday and, of course, needed a worthy use of the gorgeous little guy. They do taste particularly good sliced over a grilled hamburger. Sweet corn is in full season now, so one side was decided. I also remembered I hadn't made creamy cucumber salad yet this year.
A classic summer dinner.

Creamy Cucumber Salad

1 cucumber-peeled and sliced
1/3 cup mayonnaise or salad dressing-I used a combination of the two
1/2 small onion sliced-white, yellow or red is fine
1/2 tsp dried dill-I am sure fresh would be fabulous
1/2 tsp coarse salt
1/4 tsp fresh ground pepper

Mix all and allow to set in refrigerator for a least one hour. I usually stir or shake the container at least once during the setting process to assure the flavors meld together.