Panzanella

I got to Whole Foods at lunchtime today, so I picked up ingredients for this salad. YUM.  I left out the capers because I thought George might not like them, and I added a few extra basil leaves (I love basil), and it was delicious, even though the tomato wasn’t very ripe. I only made a third of the recipe, but it was easy to cut down, and I have lots of leftovers ingredients so I can make it again later in the week. George isn’t feeling so hot tonight, but even so, I think he liked it too – though maybe not as much as I did. As I’ve mentioned before, lettuce – especially if it’s been in my fridge for more than a couple of days and has gotten soft – isn’t my favorite. I’d much rather have a salad full of crunch – and this one fits the bill. I can’t wait to make it again this summer, when the veggies are really in season.

Bummer

You know when you work really hard to make dinner and then your husband calls and he has to run an errand on the way home, so the warm spinach salad that you made is going to be mush and the ravioli is going to be all stuck together?  Oh, and your kid takes one look at the food and says, “NO THANK YOU!” in a very demonstrative voice, multiple times? Yeah, that’s how it went for me with this week’s meal. I ate it, but it missed the mark for me too. Too much going on for me to get it right, I think – plus Safeway just doesn’t sell good ravioli. I really, really wish there was a Harris Teeter in my ‘hood. Thanks, Rachael Ray, but this one sounded more ‘yum-o’ than it ended up.

Carnitas

We love tacos at Casa Griffin – but we make run-of-the-mill, ground turkey tacos. Tomato sauce, chili powder, cumin, coriander, onion, oil, and turkey (if you’re still using those taco seasoning packets, STOP! They’re full of salt and you only need a few spices to make perfect tacos) and this family is happy.

But I’ve realized that when we eat tacos out, I almost always get carnitas. I love the tender, shredded pork with most anything mixed in. There’s a gas station near our Maryland office that does a spicy carnitas with little bits of pineapple in it – yum!  But I also like tacos filled with a more traditional version. So when I saw this recipe, I knew I had to try it.

We didn’t eat until about 9:30. The downside of this recipe is that it should be in the oven for about 2 hours, and there is a little (very little) prep before you can put it into the oven – and then there’s some more cooking after. So it’s not a great weeknight recipe, as I almost never get home before 6 p.m.  But the actual work involved is minimal, and most of the ingredients are stuff we generally have on hand.

George and I both thought this was a really nice change from our normal taco routine. I served these with shredded cheese, chunks of avocado, black beans, and sour cream – all good toppings, but next time I think I’ll do a little more. This would make a great weekend recipe with some homemade salsa and guacamole, lime slices, and maybe some crumbled queso fresco.

End result: success – we’re already talking about eating the leftovers later in the week!

Orange Peel Beef

Sorry for the lag – we were on spring break last week, and I was only cooking things that required very few ingredients in our ill-equipped rental house. This week, however, I got back to the recipe adventures with quick and easy chinese beef from one of my favorite food websites, Our Best Bites.

I’m just going to go ahead and say that this recipe was not a big hit at my house. I was actually really surprised at how much it resembled (a healthier version of the) orange peel beef we have ordered at Chinese restaurants in the past. But I think the husband was expecting it to be crispy (i.e., fried) – which it was not. And the kid is basically only a fan of chicken nuggets, Ritz crackers, yogurt, and bell peppers with dip these days (thank goodness something in that list is healthy) and would only have a couple of bites.

So too bad for me, since I liked it – but not enough to make it again just for myself. But I would recommend it if you like orange beef (and not just for the crunch!).