Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Friday, August 27, 2010

thursday - chicken with peanut sauce, quinoa pilaf

Last night I grilled half a chicken breast that had been marinating in a peanut sauce made up of peanut butter, hoisin, rice vinegar, and chili garlic sauce, a recipe from Pressure Perfect by Lorna Sass (this was one of the foil packets I prepared and froze a few weeks ago). The chicken was so much better on the grill than in the pressure cooker (yay!), and actually took less time to cook. The peanut sauce got a little overly charred, but otherwise it had a great flavor. So far I like the pressure cooker for cooking grains and soups, but my experience with entrées has been a bit dicey.

I had lots of pesto quinoa left over from a couple of nights ago, plus various vegetables that I had been snacking on with the tzatziki I made earlier this week, so I decided to combine the two for a kitchen sink sort of side dish. I was very pleased with the results, which is good because I have tons left. In case you aren't familiar with quinoa, it's a quick-cooking, gluten-free whole grain that is higher in protein than most grains (and is a complete protein--meaning it has all of the essential amino acids--which is important if you follow a vegetarian diet). I love it and use it often. In particular, I think it's a great substitute for couscous because, while they both have a similar shape and texture, quinoa provides much more fiber, protein, and other nutrients.

Quinoa Pilaf

1 1/2 cups cooked quinoa, warm
1/4 cup pesto (I used garlic scape pesto, but any kind will do)
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 carrots, peeled and diced
1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
1 pint grape tomatoes
1/4 cup Monterey Jack cheese, diced
1 tablespoon chopped basil
Salt and pepper, to taste

In a large bowl, stir together the quinoa, pesto, and lemon juice. Set aside.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add carrots and peppers, and cook until soft, stirring often, about 6 to 8 minutes. Add tomatoes, and cook until beginning to break down, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat. Transfer vegetables to quinoa mixture, add cheese and basil, and stir to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Makes 6 servings.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

wednesday - crispy rosemary shrimp, arugula with white beans

This is a great meal that consists mainly of pantry/freezer staples and is ready in a jiffy. It's based on a recipe that I tore out of a Real Simple magazine a couple of years ago, and I always dig it out when I want something, well, simple. I use whole wheat Panko bread crumbs, which are crunchier than regular bread crumbs (with added fiber from the whole wheat). Ian's is a good brand that doesn't contain hydrogenated oils. Instead of arugula, I have also used spinach or beet greens--basically any green that I have on hand. The shrimp and arugula are both listed as one recipe in the magazine, but I'm breaking it into two because I often make the arugula with white beans as a side dish with other entrées. Last night I halved the original shrimp recipe and used a bit less oil than the recipe called for--you basically need just enough oil to moisten the bread crumbs. Also, I've found that the bread crumb mixture adheres better if you pat the shrimp dry with paper towels before combining them. I forgot this step last night; it still tasted good, but I had to sprinkle the cooked shrimp with the majority of the bread crumbs that were left on the pan.

Crispy Rosemary Shrimp

1/4 cup whole wheat Panko bread crumbs
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
1 tablespoon olive oil
Kosher salt and black pepper
1/2 pound peeled and deveined medium shrimp, patted dry

Heat oven to 400° F. In a large bowl, mix the breadcrumbs, rosemary, oil, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Add the shrimp and toss to coat.

Transfer the shrimp and any excess crumbs to a baking sheet. Bake until the shrimp are cooked through and the crumbs are crispy, 10 to 12 minutes.

Transfer shrimp to plates and sprinkle any remaining bread crumbs over the top.

Makes 2 servings.
Arugula with White Beans
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 15-ounce can cannellini beans, rinsed
1/4 cup water
Kosher salt and pepper
6 cups arugula, thick stems removed

Heat the oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds. Add the beans, water, and 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Cook until heated through, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat and toss with the arugula until slightly wilted.
Makes 4 servings.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

tuesday - lamb chops, tzatziki, quinoa with pesto, and salad

Last night I used Ellie Krieger's cookbook, The Food You Crave, to make grilled lamb chops and tzatziki. I followed both recipes exactly and they both turned out really well--this was a delicious meal. Fortunately, both recipes are available at foodnetwork.com. I used 2 bone-in lamb loin chops, about 4 ounces each, and marinated them in lemon juice, garlic, and oregano. This was my first time cooking lamb, and 4 to 5 minutes per side on the grill was the perfect amount of time for medium-rare. I had an abundance of plain yogurt in the refrigerator, so I decided to make tzatziki to top the lamb and to use as a veggie dip later in the week--this recipe was deliciously tangy and cool, perfect for summer. On the side I prepared quinoa (3/4 cup dry, which ended up making quite a bit so it will definitely show up again this week) and stirred in 1/4 cup of garlic scape pesto that had been in my freezer from a few weeks ago. Basil pesto (homemade or store bought) would be a great substitute if you don't have garlic scapes lying around. I also added about 1 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice to brighten up the flavor a bit.

I had about a tablespoon of extra pesto, so I whisked it with 1 tablespoon of red wine vinegar for a salad dressing, which I tossed with arugula, grape tomatoes, cucumber, and grated carrots.

monday - chicken with curried yogurt sauce, barley & wheat berry tabbouleh

I returned home from the airport in the early evening on Monday and was a bit concerned about my dinner plans--I hadn't made a meal plan yet and hadn't been to the store for produce, but I didn't want to eat out. I still had two foil packets of marinated chicken breast in the freezer, so I pulled out the one with a simple sauce of plain yogurt and curry paste. Since I was cooking the chicken in the pressure cooker, I thought it would be a good time to also use it to cook a partial bag of barley I had in my pantry. I found a recipe for tabbouleh in Lorna Sass's cookbook, Pressure Perfect, that called for rice instead of the usual bulgur--I modified it a bit and used barley and some cooked wheat berries that were in my freezer. I was able to piece together a decent meal without a trip to the store using herbs from my garden and some tomatoes that I canned a few weeks ago:

And, through the wonders of the pressure cooker, it was all ready in 20 minutes which was quite a treat after a day of travelling. The barley cooks in 18 minutes under 15 pounds of pressure (as opposed to 45 minutes normally), so after 6 minutes I did a quick-release of the pressure and popped in the foil packet of chicken, returning it to high pressure for another 12 minutes. The chicken was cooked through, although I'm really not a fan of this cooking method--I'm still not sure if the problem comes from freezing the sauce or steaming the packets under pressure, but the texture just isn't great. I have one packet remaining in the freezer, and I think I will defrost that chicken breast, remove it from the packet, and grill or broil it (stay tuned--that's coming up later this week). The barley tabbouleh, however, was delicious--I loved the chewy grains and the fresh flavors of the herbs and lemon, plus the leftovers were great for lunch the next day.

Barley & Wheat Berry Tabbouleh

1 1/2 cups cooked pearl barley
1/2 cup cooked wheat berries
1 pint of canned tomatoes (or 1 15-ounce can), drained and chopped, or 2 medium tomatoes, chopped
1 medium sweet onion, finely chopped
1 cup chopped parsley
1/4 cup chopped mint
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve at room temperature.

Makes 2 to 3 servings.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

meal plan

I just got home from an impromptu weekend getaway, so I'm a bit late with the meal plan. Plus, that means only 4 meals for the week instead of 5. Here we go:

Meal 1: chicken with curried yogurt sauce, barley & wheat berry tabbouleh
Meal 2: lamb chops, tzatziki, quinoa with pesto, arugula salad
Meal 3: rosemary shrimp, arugula with white beans
Meal 4: chicken with peanut sauce, arugula salad, leftover quinoa with pesto

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

tuesday - pizza with roasted eggplant, tomatoes, and peppers

I do love a good pizza. Since I have LOTS of garlic scape pesto in the freezer, I blended some with fresh basil from my herb garden for the pizza sauce. For the veggie toppings, I roasted eggplant and tomatoes and used jarred roasted red peppers (full disclosure--the eggplant only went on half of the pizza because not everyone in my family is a fan). I baked the pizza long enough to melt the fresh mozzarella and turn the crust a lovely golden brown. Overall, an easy, tasty, veggie-packed meal.

Pizza with Roasted Eggplant, Tomatoes, and Peppers

1/2 small eggplant, thinly sliced
2 Roma tomatoes, thinly sliced
Salt and pepper
1/3 cup garlic scape pesto
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup roasted red peppers, drained and sliced
1 package fresh pizza dough
6 ounces fresh mozzarella, roughly torn into pieces

Preheat the oven to 375° F. Put a pizza stone (or half sheet pan) in the bottom rack of oven as it preheats.

Spray both sides of sliced eggplant and tomatoes with cooking spray, and season with salt and pepper. Spread the slices onto a baking sheet, and roast until tender, turning once, about 30 minutes total. Set aside. Increase oven temperature to 450° F.

Pulse pesto and basil leaves in food processor until a coarse paste forms. (Alternatively, make basil pesto or use storebought pesto.)

Roll or stretch out pizza dough, and place on the hot pizza stone. Evenly spread pesto over dough; top with the eggplant, tomatoes, and roasted red peppers; and sprinkle with mozzarella. Bake until crust is golden brown, about 15 minutes. Cut into 8 slices.

Makes 4 servings.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

monday - grilled mahi mahi with chimichurri, collard greens with chorizo and peppers

I once again used a recipe from The Lee Bros. Simple Fresh Southern cookbook last night--this time I tried their collard greens with chorizo and peppers. Courtney didn't join me for dinner, so I used pork chorizo instead of soyrizo as I usually do. This was a tasty dish--spicy chorizo and strips of poblano peppers stirred into wilted collard greens. I liked it, and so far I've been pleased with all of the recipes I've tried from their cookbook. I had leftover collards and chorizo for breakfast with two poached eggs on top--delicious.

For the entrée, I grilled a mahi mahi fillet and topped it with leftover chimichurri from Sunday night. It was tasty, but a bit routine--the star was definitely the spicy collard greens.

Monday, August 16, 2010

sunday - grilled flank steak, fava beans, & roasted kale

What a delicious meal last night! I grilled flank steak (rubbed with olive oil and salt, grilled for 3 minutes per side, let rest for 5 minutes, then thinly sliced) and topped it with a parsley sauce from The Lee Bros. Simple Fresh Southern cookbook. They called it parsley sauce, but that's really just code for chimichurri--this is a great chimichurri recipe from epicurious.com. It's a great way to use up fresh herbs if you, like me, happen to have parsley taking over your herb garden.

On the side, I served fava beans tossed with mint and lemon zest, loosely based on this recipe, also from epicurious.com. Fava beans are a bit time consuming due to requiring double (yes, double!) peeling, but so worth it. Such great, fresh flavor.

Many thanks to my friend Leah for the kale recipe--the kale leaves were drizzled with coconut milk and then roasted in the oven for 20 minutes, and they became so tender with a delicious rich coconut aroma. Yum.

Fava Beans with Lemon & Mint

1 1/2 cups fresh fava beans, shelled
1/2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh mint leaves, chopped
1/2 tablespoon grated lemon zest
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Blanch beans in medium saucepan of boiling salted water for 2 minutes; transfer to bowl of ice water. Once cool, drain and peel beans.

Heat olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Place fava beans in skillet and cook until warmed through, stirring often, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat, and stir in mint and lemon zest. Season with salt and pepper.

Makes 2 servings.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

meal plan

This week is looking a bit complicated, with tentative plans coming up later in the week. Thus, I'm only planning meals for three nights and will add additional meals as time allows. I received some awesome new cookbooks for my birthday, so I'm using those for a lot of the recipes this week: The Lee Bros. Simple Fresh Southern by Matt Lee and Ted Lee and The Food You Crave by Ellie Krieger.

Meal 1: grilled flank steak with chimichurri, fava beans with mint, roasted kale
Meal 2: mahi mahi, collard greens with chorizo
Meal 3: pizza with roasted eggplant, tomatoes, and peppers

Thursday, August 12, 2010

thursday - chicken in peanut sauce, cucumber salad, and beet greens with brown rice

Well. This meal was not my best showing. I cooked chicken in another foil packet in the pressure cooker--this was half of a chicken breast (about 3 ounces) in a peanut sauce made up of peanut butter, hoisin, rice vinegar, and chili garlic sauce, also from Pressure Perfect by Lorna Sass. I prepared this packet and froze it on Monday when I prepared the first foil packet of chicken. I cooked last night's chicken for 11 minutes (from frozen) under 15 pounds of pressure, and it was slightly undercooked so I steamed it for an additional 2 minutes. It came out juicy and not overcooked, which was an improvement from Monday, but the peanut sauce got a bit gelatinous either during the freezing or steaming process. It tasted good, but the texture was off. I served it with a cucumber salad from eatingwell.com. I make this salad frequently because it is so light and flavorful--I follow the recipe exactly and it has the perfect amount of sweet and sour flavors. For the other rather unfortunate side dish, I sautéed beet greens with garlic and roasted red peppers, then stirred in cooked brown rice, ricotta cheese, basil, and lemon zest. Oh no. This turned into a bland, mushy mess--I could post the recipe, but really, why waste my time or yours? This was a disappointing dish and is exactly why I generally use recipes--even if I don't follow them exactly, I at least benefit from having them as a guide when constructing my meals.

Chicken in peanut sauce (note the weird texture of the sauce):

and the full meal (at least I had plenty of cucumber salad!):

wednesday - sirloin salad

I went off the meal plan a bit last night - gasp! - because I had a late lunch and wasn't very hungry for dinner. I tossed arugula and a tomato with a vinaigrette made up of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. I marinated a 3 ounce strip of sirloin in olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and rosemary for about 10 minutes, then grilled it for 1 to 2 minutes per side. Easy, light, and tasty. As for the missing elements from my original meal plan, I'll have the beet greens with tonight's chicken, the cooked wheat berries will remain in the freezer, and I may end up pickling the beets. No harm done.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

tuesday - south pacific shrimp with brown rice

Last night I made this recipe for South Pacific Shrimp from eatingwell.com. I followed the recipe almost exactly--the only exceptions were that I used 2 teaspoons of chili garlic sauce instead of the serrano chiles (use less if you don't want it too spicy) and arugula instead of spinach. The sauce is so, so delicious with the blend of coconut milk, lime juice, and ginger. I served it over brown rice that was left over from Sunday night.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

monday - indian chicken packet, steamed romano beans, and summer squash

Last night was my first attempt at cooking an entrée in my pressure cooker, with mixed results. I used a recipe from Pressure Perfect by Lorna Sass, which is a great cookbook specifically for pressure cooking. I used her recipe for steaming chicken in an aluminum foil packet. Incidentally, foil packets are a great way to cook foods to keep them moist and tender--I often wrap fish and/or veggies in foil and steam them in the oven or on the grill. The cookbook has several marinade options and recommends cooking the packets for 9 minutes under pressure, or freezing the packets and cooking them (without thawing first) for 15 minutes under pressure. I used the Indian-inspired marinade which is a blend of plain yogurt, curry paste, and cumin seeds, and it was so simple yet really, really delicious. However, 9 minutes under pressure unfortunately yielded painfully overcooked chicken. I did halve the chicken breasts (so I could make a total of 4 packets and stash the extras in the freezer), so the packet was a bit smaller than she recommended and I didn't adjust the cooking time. I'll see how it goes with the frozen packet later this week; I may try cooking it for 11 or 12 minutes and then checking for doneness. Overall, I've really been enjoying the cookbook--she offers seemingly countless modifications to each recipe, so it is packed with different options.

I paired the chicken with steamed Romano beans and patty pan squash from the farmers' market. Romano beans are similar to green beans but they're broad and flat.

I steamed the beans and tossed them with rosemary- and garlic-infused oil. I drizzled the sliced squash with olive oil, seasoned it with salt and pepper, and broiled the slices until lightly browned (about 3 minutes per side). I then tossed the squash with fresh basil and goat cheese. Delicious.

Steamed Romano Beans with Garlic and Rosemary

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 garlic clove, peeled and smashed
1 sprig fresh rosemary
1 pound Romano beans, trimmed
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

In a small skillet, heat the oil, garlic, and rosemary until the garlic is fragrant and sizzling but not brown. Remove from heat and let sit for at least 20 minutes (do this step first, then prepare the rest of the meal).

Using a steamer basket over boiling water, steam beans until crisp-tender, 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer beans to a large bowl. Remove garlic and rosemary from oil. Finely chop garlic; discard rosemary. Drizzle beans with enough oil to coat (you may not use all of the oil), add chopped garlic, and toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper.

Monday, August 9, 2010

sunday - summer squash and black bean sauté with zucchini salsa verde and brown rice

I had leftover zucchini salsa verde in my freezer from a couple of weeks ago, so I decided to stir it into sautéed summer squash and black beans. I also had leftover grilled sweet onions and green onions from Friday night's dinner, so I stirred those in, but you could just sauté the onions along with the squash rather than grilling them. I cooked the rice in my pressure cooker--what usually takes 40 minutes took only 15! Very exciting. I made everything up as I went along except the salsa, and the whole dish took 20 minutes to prepare. If you don't feel like making the zucchini salsa (you should though--it's really delicious), you could use store-bought salsa verde instead.

Summer Squash and Black Bean Sauté with Zucchini Salsa Verde and Brown Rice

1/2 tablespoon olive oil
2 patty pan squash or other summer squash, diced
1/4 cup diced onion
1/4 teaspoon salt
Black pepper, to taste
2 green onions, thinly sliced
1 15-ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 1/2 cups cooked brown rice
3/4 cup zucchini salsa verde
1/4 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
Cilantro, for garnish (optional)

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Sauté squash and onion until beginning to brown and soften, about 7 minutes. Cover skillet and continue cooking until squash is very soft, about 2 minutes more. Season with salt and pepper. Add green onions, beans, rice, and salsa, and stir until heated through, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in cheese. Garnish with cilantro, if desired.

Makes 4 servings.

meal plan

I got a pressure cooker for my birthday (thanks, Mom and Dad!), and I'm trying out different recipes in it this week. It's the 8-ounce Presto stainless steel pressure cooker, and, so far, it's very easy to use and cooks foods fast, fast, fast. Love it!

Here's the meal plan for the week:

Meal 1: Summer squash and black bean sauté with zucchini salsa verde and brown rice
Meal 2: Asian chicken packet, cucumber salad, brown rice, and arugula
Meal 3: South Pacific shrimp with brown rice
Meal 4: Indian chicken packet, steamed Romano beans, and grilled summer squash
Meal 5: Grilled sirloin, steamed beets, and sautéed beet greens with wheat berries

Saturday, August 7, 2010

friday - mahi mahi, potatoes with pesto, grilled onions, salad

Simple dinner last night--I rubbed a mahi mahi fillet with olive oil, salt, and pepper and grilled it for 3 to 4 minutes per side. I used the same preparation for sweet onion wedges (4 to 5 minutes per side) and green onions (1 to 2 minutes per side). I tossed together a salad of lettuce, tomato, cucumber, and goat cheese with a vinaigrette made up of red wine vinegar, olive oil, minced shallots, salt, and pepper. Finally, I roasted Yukon gold potatoes, adding a dollop of garlic scape pesto during the last few minutes to mellow the raw garlic flavor that was so prominent. Basil pesto would work just as well to liven up the potatoes.

Roasted Potatoes with Pesto

1 pound baby Yukon gold potatoes, quartered
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and pepper
1/4 cup garlic scape pesto (or basil pesto)

Preheat oven to 450° F.

On a large rimmed baking sheet, toss the potatoes with olive oil to coat. Season with salt and pepper. Roast until golden and tender, about 25 to 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the pesto, and continue roasting for another 4 to 5 minutes.

Makes 4 servings.

Friday, August 6, 2010

thursday - grilled sirloin with garlic scape pesto, roasted corn with basil-shallot vinaigrette, & salad

It's a bit late in the season, but I came across garlic scapes at the farmers' market last weekend and jumped at the chance to make more pesto. I followed this recipe from Dorie Greenspan's blog, but made a double batch and plan to freeze it and blend it with additional herbs in the coming nights. I rubbed a thin slice of sirloin (about 3 ounces) with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and grilled it for about 2 minutes per side, then topped it with the vibrant, garlicky pesto.

I also made this roasted corn recipe from eatingwell.com. This is a great recipe to showcase summery flavors like sweet corn and fresh basil. I followed the recipe exactly, so I won't repost it here. I tossed a green salad of lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, and goat cheese with a vinaigrette made up of red wine vinegar, olive oil, Dijon mustard, salt, and pepper. Everything came together quickly, and it was a flavorful summer meal.

tuesday - panzanella with shrimp, carrot-ginger soup

I had a partial loaf of bread left over from the shredded BBQ chicken from Monday night, so I toasted the bread cubes and tossed them with cucumbers, tomatoes, and olives for this panzanella salad from Vegetarian Times.

It's a great way to use up day-old bread, and the salad is very flavorful and perfect for summer. The flavors blend the longer it sits, but the bread does get soggy by the next day. To add protein to create an entrée salad, I topped the panzanella with broiled shrimp.

I also made carrot soup based on this recipe at epicurious.com. I followed the recipe almost exactly, except I omitted the butter and used olive oil instead. It was colorful and packed with fresh, bright flavors.

Panzanella with Shrimp

1 small loaf French bread, cut into 1-inch cubes (about 4 cups)
1/4 cup olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced (about 1 tablespoon)
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
1 1/2 pound tomatoes, diced (about 3 1/2 cups)
1 medium cucumber, peeled, seeded, and diced (about 1 cup)
1 small red onion, thinly sliced (about 1/2 cup)
1/4 cup green olives, pitted and coarsely chopped
1/4 cup basil, cut into thin ribbons
1 tablespoon capers, drained and coarsely chopped
1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined

Preheat oven to 350°F. Spread bread cubes on baking sheet. Bake 15 to 20 minutes, or until golden brown.

Heat oil in small saucepan over medium-low heat. Cook garlic 2 minutes, or until fragrant.

In a large bowl, whisk together the garlic-oil mixture, vinegar, sugar, and lemon zest. Add all remaining ingredients except shrimp to bowl, and toss to coat. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Let stand 20 minutes to allow flavors to develop.

Preheat broiler. Spread shrimp onto baking sheet and spray with cooking spray. Broil shrimp until pink and curled, 1 to 2 minutes per side. Top salad with shrimp. Adjust seasonings, if necessary.

Makes 4 servings.

Carrot-Ginger Soup

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
1 tablespoon finely chopped peeled fresh ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 1/4 pounds medium carrots, peeled, chopped (about 3 cups)
1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes, drained
1 1/2 teaspoons grated lemon peel
3 cups (or more) chicken stock
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
4 tablespoons sour cream
Chives, for garnish

Heat olive oil in heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Add onion; sauté 4 minutes. Add ginger and garlic; sauté 2 minutes. Add chopped carrots, tomatoes, and lemon peel; sauté 1 minute. Add 3 cups stock and bring to boil. Reduce heat, cover partially, and simmer until carrots are very tender, about 20 minutes. Cool slightly.

Puree soup in batches in blender. Return soup to pot. Mix in lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill.)

Bring soup to simmer, thinning with more stock, if desired. Ladle into bowls. Top each with sour cream and chopped chives.

Makes 4 servings.

monday - BBQ chicken, broccoli salad, & corn

I had this delicious, tangy cider vinegar barbecue sauce in my freezer that was left over from pulled pork sandwiches a while back, so I decided to stir it into the remaining shredded chicken from Sunday night. I served sliced French bread to soak up any extra sauce, and paired the chicken with corn on the cob and a broccoli apple salad based on this recipe at 101cookbooks.com. I liked that the broccoli was quickly cooked instead of raw, but I felt like the dressing was missing something--next time I may try peanut butter instead of almond butter and add a little more honey.

Broccoli Apple Salad

4 cups tiny broccoli florets
1 garlic clove, smashed and chopped
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 cup almond butter
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon honey
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons hot water
2 small crisp apples, cut into bite-sized pieces
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
1/2 cup toasted walnuts
Chives (optional)

Bring a medium pot of water to a boil and salt as you would pasta water. Boil the broccoli for 2 minutes until crisp-tender. Drain and rinse in cold water. Set aside.

Make the dressing by sprinkling the salt over the clove of garlic. Smash and chop the clove until it forms a paste with the salt. In a small bowl, whisk the garlic paste with the almond butter, lemon juice, honey, and olive oil. Add the hot water and whisk until light and creamy. Taste, make any adjustments, and set aside.

In a large bowl, gently toss the broccoli, apples, red onion, and walnuts with the dressing. Sprinkle with chives, if using.

Makes 4 servings.

Monday, August 2, 2010

sunday - barbecued chicken, roasted beets with wheat berries, & sautéed beet greens

I've heard a lot about beer can chicken, but I've never attempted it or even seen it in action, so I watched this video at foodnetwork.com to make sure I was doing it correctly. Easier than I anticipated! I used a dry rub based on this recipe at eatingwell.com, and the chicken turned out moist and flavorful due to both the steam from the beer and also from leaving the skin on while roasting. I removed the skin prior to serving to reduce the saturated fat content.



While the chicken was cooking, I wrapped the beets in foil and grilled them alongside the bird.

I made a double batch of wheat berries last week and stored the extra in the freezer, so I defrosted them to toss with the roasted beets along with some goat cheese and basil. To add some green to my plate, I quickly sautéed the beet greens just after I removed the chicken from the grill. One of the things I love about beets is that you get two vegetables in one--the beets and the leafy green tops. If you don't have fresh beet greens, spinach would work just as well.

Beer Can Chicken

1 tablespoon smoked paprika
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon ground chipotle chile
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 4-pound chicken, preferably organic
1 12-ounce can of beer
2 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed

Preheat a gas grill (with all burners lit) to 400° F or build a fire in a charcoal grill and let it burn down to medium heat (about 400° F).

Combine paprika, oregano, salt, brown sugar, cumin, garlic powder, chipotle chile, and pepper in a small bowl. Remove giblets from chicken (if included) and trim any excess skin. Loosen the skin over the breast and thigh meat. Rub the spice mixture under the skin onto the breast meat and leg meat, over the skin, and inside the cavity.

If using a gas grill, turn off one burner (leaving 1 to 2 burners lit, depending on your grill). If using a charcoal grill, move the coals to one side.

Pour out 1/4 of the beer, and add the garlic cloves to the can. Place the chicken over the open beer can and stand upright on grill. Grill, covered, over indirect medium heat until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh reads 165° F, about 1 hour and 15 minutes.

Transfer the chicken to a clean cutting board; let rest for 10 minutes before carving.

Makes 6 servings.

Roasted Beets with Wheat Berries

1 bunch beets, trimmed and quartered (greens reserved for another use)
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
Salt and pepper
2 cups cooked wheat berries*
2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 ounce goat cheese, crumbled

Preheat grill to medium heat.

Place beets on a double layer of aluminum foil. Drizzle with 1/2 tablespoon olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Tightly wrap edges of foil to form a packet. Place packet on grill over indirect heat. Grill beets for 30 minutes or until easily pierced with a knife. Let beets cool slightly, then peel (peels should slip off easily) and slice into bite-sized wedges.

Place beet wedges into a large bowl with wheat berries, basil, vinegar, and remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Toss to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and gently stir in crumbled goat cheese.

Makes 6 servings.

*To cook wheat berries, rinse dried wheat berries in a colander under running water. Place in a large stock pot and cover with several inches of cold water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, partially covered, until wheat berries are tender, about one hour. Drain well.

Sautéed Beet Greens

1 bunch beet greens
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 tablespoon lemon juice
Salt and pepper, to taste

Remove stems from beet greens and discard. Coarsely tear leaves into bite-sized pieces. Heat oil in a large sauce pan over medium-high heat. Add beet greens, and stir until wilted, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in lemon juice, and season with salt and pepper.

Makes 2 servings.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

meal plan

After a fairly hectic July, things have finally settled down and I returned to the Hollywood Farmers' Market yesterday. It seems like ages since I've been able to go, although it's actually only been a few weeks. Summer has officially arrived in the Pacific Northwest, as I found an abundance of tomatoes, corn, and peaches for the first time.

Here's the meal plan for the week:

Meal 1: Barbecued chicken, roasted beets with wheat berries, sautéed beet greens
Meal 2: Pulled chicken sandwiches with BBQ sauce, broccoli salad, corn on the cob
Meal 3: Grilled fish with garlic scape pesto, roasted corn with basil-shallot vinaigrette, salad
Meal 4: Grilled sirloin & mahi mahi, roasted potatoes with garlic scape pesto, salad
Meal 5: Panzanella with shrimp, carrot soup