Sunday, June 28, 2009

Menu Week 92

Busy, busy, busy. What a crazy couple of weeks! I'm hoping now that our schedule is not so full, that I'll be able to do more cooking. Our weather is supposed to be beautiful this week, so bring on the grill!

- Spaghetti & Meatballs and Rustic Pan Bread
Tuesday - Hawaiian Beef Teriyaki, grilled pineapple & rice
Wednesday - Paninis of some kind...maybe with chicken and Pesto?
Thursday - Spanish Spice Rubbed Chicken, fruit salad
Friday - eat out
Saturday - Happy 4th of July! Bring on the BBQ
Sunday - BBQ Chicken Pizza

This week's treat: Fireworks cupcakes for Saturday

Need more menu ideas? Check out Menu Plan Monday

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

I Need Your Help

Would you mind taking a quick poll for me please?

I'm trying to get an idea of how people decide what to make for dinner each night. Do you use any type of menu? Weekly? Monthly? Other? Or are you a weekend chef only?

If you just have a minute, please take the poll. If you have more time, I'd love it if you'd leave me a quick comment and tell me how - and if- you meal plan and why it works for you.

Thank You!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Chickpea Salad

I love summer salads, and this one does not disappoint. We've eaten it two ways; As a salad (exactly following the recipe) and also as a pita filling, by mixing it with lettuce and grilled chicken. Both were great.

The original recipe is from one of my favorite Food Network Chefs, Guy Fieri. I used not quite all of the same ingredients, and changed the amounts of everything. My version is below

Click here for printable version of recipe

Chickpea Salad

serves 4

1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 of a jalapeno, minced (remove seeds and ribs for less spicy)
1/4 cup minced red onion
1/2 lemon, juiced
2 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3/4 cup canned chickpeas - drain and reserve 1 Tbsp of liquid
1/2 cup (mounded) cherry tomatoes, cut in half
2 Tablespoons minced fresh mint
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
salt and pepper to taste

butter lettuce, romaine or other lettuce, chopped

In a medium sized bowl, combine garlic, jalapeno, red onion, lemon juice, red wine vinegar, and olive oil. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add chickpeas and 1 Tbsp liquid, cherry tomatoes, mint and cilantro. Taste again and add any additional salt and pepper if needed.

You can either toss this mixture with the lettuce now, or serve them separately. I prefer to add the lettuce to my plate and then spoon the chickpea salad over the top. The benefit to doing it this way, is if you have leftovers they will keep longer. If the two are mixed, the vinaigrette can make the greens soggy over time.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Sweet Corn Puree

We eat out about once each week. We have our favorite places, but we also like to try new ones. Occasionally I'll order something that is so memorable I either HAVE to go back to order it again, or I figure out a way to make it for myself. Back in April we went out for my birthday and that night my first course was a Roasted Corn Puree. Oh my. If it would have been socially acceptable, I would have been licking the bowl clean.

Days later, I was still thinking about that Roasted Corn Puree. It just tasted like summer to me. At the time our local weather was still quite winter-like and it was getting depressing. A taste of summer was just what the doctor ordered. I did a quick search and found a few corn puree recipes that I could work with and then created my own to make what I thought was a close version of the one I tasted weeks ago. Mr. DoM agreed that it was pretty darn close - close enough! Who needs a $5 cup of soup when you can make a whole pot for the same price. Hm. Now that I think about it, I bet this recipe would freeze nicely too.

A few tips.... Because this recipe is so simple, you have to use great corn. I have a brand of frozen corn that we love (huge Costco bag) but once wonderfully fresh corn is available later this Summer, that's what I'll be using. You just can't beat it.

One more important tip: If you do use your blender to puree the soup (which I recommend), be very careful. Whenever I blend hot liquids, I remove the center portion of the lid and then cover the lid with a clean dishtowel. This allows steam and pressure to escape without making a mess of your kitchen!

Click here for printable version of recipe

Sweet Corn Puree
(serves 4 as side dish/appetizer)

2 Tablespoons butter
2 shallots, diced
2/3 cup to 3/4 cup diced potato
3 cups chicken broth, divided
1 bay leaf
2 1/2 cups frozen corn (good quality)
4-5 drops Tabasco
1 tsp kosher salt
freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup heavy cream

In a medium to large pot, melt butter over low heat. Add shallots and cook over low heat for 10 minutes until softened. Keep heat low so that butter and shallots do not brown.

Increase heat, add potato, 2 cups broth, bay leaf and corn. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes or until potatoes are nice and soft. Remove bay leaf.

Using a blender (my traditional blender worked better than my immersion blender) puree soup until very smooth. *Be careful when blending hot liquids.* Return soup to original pot and place over medium-low heat. Add 1/4 cup heavy cream and any additional chicken broth until soup reaches the consistency you would like. Add Tabasco sauce and any additional salt and pepper to taste. Heat until warmed through, and serve.