Zucchini Love

An amazing thing happened at my house tonight. I cooked a vegetable that Charlie loved and George enjoyed as well!  I know what vegetables George prefers, and I know the ONE raw veggie Charlie will eat with regularity. But this is the first time in a long time that I’ve found a vegetable that they both wanted to eat!  Yes, it was crunchy and yes, it included some parmesan cheese, but it still counts to me!

I will definitely be making Smitten Kitchen’s Zucchini Parmesan Crisps again!  I only wish I’d found this recipe earlier in the summer when our neighbor was still leaving homegrown zucchini on our front stoop!

Gazpacho

I love gazpacho this time of year, which is a little odd since I’m not really a fan of hot tomato soup or tomato juice (unless it’s also got vodka, lots of horseradish, and celery or olives in it!). But something about the combination of cucumbers, tomatoes, celery salt, onions – mmmmm.  So a couple of weekends ago, I tried (and forgot to post about) this recipe from Barefoot Contessa.

I realized when preparing it that my red wine vinegar was really old. REALLY old. But I decided to give it a try anyway. Which was probably not the best idea, because the vinegar had gotten stronger over time, and it totally overpowered the other flavors in this soup.

I definitely plan to try this recipe again, because I liked the flavors a lot OTHER than the strong vinegar taste. Hopefully with fresher vinegar, it will be a hit!

Trying another new one today – Fauxtisserie Chicken from Our Best Bites.It took very little time to prepare – I slipped rosemary from our garden and some garlic slivers under the skin, and coated it liberally in Lowry’s Seasoned Salt. Now we just wait for 8 hours while it cooks in the slow cooker. It would be great to have a good rotisserie chicken option that I can make at home for chicken salads, quesadillas, etc – so i’m hoping it’ll turn out well!

Blood Orange Salad, minus the blood oranges

I’ve been wanting to try this Blood Orange Salad, but I missed blood orange season. But I decided it was worth a try with a regular orange. George is going to be home on the late side tonight, so I could get away with just a salad for dinner. The little guy just asked for a second helping of bell pepper slices, so apparently he was in need of some veggies too!

The salad is good. Great?  Maybe, with a more flavorful orange and crisper endive (bought the endive over the weekend, and it didn’t hold up as well as I would have liked).  I definitely will try it again with blood oranges, since I love the color combo – but until then, I’m not sure I’ll make this one again. I do love the fact that it makes dressing for one, though. I almost never buy salad dressing anymore, since homemade is SO much better – but homemade dressings just don’t endure in the fridge very long. I need to find more dressing recipes that I can easily cut in half or thirds! Suggestions, anyone?

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.

Cheating

So I said I was going to try a new recipe each week, and post about them. I certainly haven’t kept to the 1 recipe a week thing, but I’ve been remaking some of the things I posted about, which is a good sign!

Tonight, I’m making my mom’s tried and true Garlic Roasted Chicken recipe.  It is one of my favorites, because you cook the chicken and potatoes in a single pan, which means while the chicken roasts, I just have to toss a salad and warm some bread, and we have dinner. And to answer the question, “Is bread really necessary when you’re already having potatoes?”, I will say YES, with this recipe bread is mandatory, because you have to have something to spread your roasted cloves of garlic on. YUM.

Anyway, usually I just serve a green salad with it with my mom’s grandmother’s dressing or a quick tossed together oil and vinegar (anything is better than salad dressing out of a bottle, in my opinion), but a few months ago, I found 2 things that have turned me into a salad LOVER.  I like salads a lot when all of the ingredients are super fresh and interesting (add some blue cheese and/or nuts and/or crunchy raw veggies and I’m a fan) – but the problem with buying lettuce is that it just doesn’t stay fresh very long in my fridge. And once it’s even slightly dark on the edges or limp, I have no use for it. I just can’t get excited about a salad with wilted greens (unless they’re wilted under some warm bacon dressing, of course!).

But not too long ago, one of the food blogs I read mentioned broccoli slaw.  I wasn’t familiar with broccoli slaw, but the recipe was for an asian salad, and since I generally love asian flavors and it said it was an easy thing to toss together, I decided to give it a try. Well, since then, I am rarely without a bag of broccoli slaw in my crisper. Little shoestrings of carrots, broccoli, and red cabbage – healthy as can be, and CRUNCHY.  I like to add some combination of chow mein noodles, toasted almonds, fresh mint or basil (whatever I have in the garden at the time), and/or toasted sesame seeds. And what this post is all about, really, is this “recipe” I found for Asian Peanut Dressing. I use the term “recipe” loosely, because I don’t measure any of the ingredients and they vary depending on what I have on hand. But no matter what the combination, it is always SO good!  One thing I always do is add a little more canola oil after I mix all the other ingredients together – because while I love the flavor of sesame oil, I don’t like to use too much of it. And the recipe doesn’t really make enough to save if I don’t add a little more oil at the end. It makes the dressing a bit thinner than maybe intended, but I don’t mind a thin dressing, especially when that means I can get a few more servings out of it. I usually use maple syrup as my sweetener since I figure it’s a little healthier than white sugar, and adds another interesting flavor to the mix.

So there it is – my cheater post about a recipe I stumbled upon before I started this blog. I just didn’t think it would be fair to keep such a good thing under wraps. Enjoy!

Caramelized Brussels, Take Two

On a brighter note, I made the brussels sprouts from my first post again tonight, this time cutting the recipe in half (7 brussels sprouts is plenty for 1 person) but only using a fourth of the brown sugar. They were perfect!  Not too sweet, but nicely browned, and the salt and brown sugar makes for a great combo. Oh, and I love the crunch the pecans provide. Hooray for good, guilt-free food!

Starting fresh

One of my goals for 2013 is to try at least one new recipe a week. As a full-time working mom with an almost 5-year-old who prefers chicken nuggets to all other foods and a husband who has discerning tastes (I didn’t say picky!), I have fallen into a rut of cooking the same stuff week after week. Putting something new on the table only to have it panned or totally avoided (Charlie) is a bit discouraging, but I’m ready to start fresh and force the issue – at least once a week!

I’ve also been struggling to find a way to save the recipes I like.  I tried one of those pinning websites for about 5 minutes, but the social networking aspect was overly distracting. I just need a way to log what I’ve tried, whether it’s worth making again, and any changes I’d make.  A recipe blog seems like a good way to log my successes and failures, so here goes!

Recipe #1 – Caramelized Brussels Sprouts from Eat, Live, Run: http://www.eatliverun.com/caramelized-brussels-sprouts/

Last night, George was out and Charlie wanted leftover pasta – so I could try something just for me. I’m trying to up my vegetable intake and eat a little less meat, and this recipe seemed hearty enough that I could skip the main course.  A dinner of sides works for me!

Pros:

  • Chopped sprouts!  I realized I far prefer brussels sprouts chopped.  Sometimes the whole or halved ones can be a little mushy in the middle, even when roasted – but these were fresh, green and crisp.
  • They were hearty – they’d make a very filling side course, and were great on their own. The pecans added good protein and a nice crunch.

Cons: They were far too sweet for my taste.

Make again?  Yes, definitely.

Recipe variation?  Next time I will be cutting the sugar in half – and I expect to love the result.