"What's for Dinner?!" I'm always thinking about it, thought I'd share.

"What's for Dinner?!" I'm always thinking about it, thought I'd share.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Weekly Menu Oct. 30th - Nov. 5th

Lentil Stew with Smoked Turkey
Romaine Lettuce with Gorgonzola and Toasted Walnuts

Monday- "Halloween Night"
Hand Tossed Pizzas
Chopped Italian Salad

Pan Seared Salmon
Spaghetti Squash, Sun-Dried Tomatoes, and Pesto

Chicken and White Bean Chili
Baby Greens Salad with Lime Vinaigrette

Roasted Vegetable, Bean, and Cheese Burritos
Mexican Rice

"Left-over Night"

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Mocha-Cream Cheese Brownies

Chocolate Layer
9 oz. Dark Chocolate (58%-62% cacao), chopped into 1" pieces
10 Tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
1 C. granulated sugar
3 large eggs
3/4 C. unbleached flour
large pinch Kosher salt

Coffee-Cream Cheese Layer
16 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/2 C. granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 tsp. instant coffee granules
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Grease a 9" square pan.
For the chocolate layer; In a heatproof bowl set over simmering water, melt chocolate and butter.  Stir and scrape bowl occasionally until chocolate is smooth.  Let cool to room temperature.
In a separate bowl, whisk the sugar and 3 eggs until smooth.  Stir in melted chocolate, then the flour and salt.  Mix until well blended.  Turn the batter into the prepared greased pan and spread evenly with a spatula.

For the coffee-cream cheese layer, mix the cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Blend in 2 eggs, then the instant coffee and vanilla.
spread the cream cheese mixture over the chocolate layer.  Use a table knife to swirl large white ribbons through the brown batter, keeping the swirls distinct.
Bake 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Cool to room temperature.  Cut into squares, serve and enjoy!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Weekly Menu Oct 15th - Oct 21st

We're starting the second week of our total kitchen renovation.  Although, construction is coming along nicely, preparing meals for the family is a challenge to say the least.  We're making the best of it.  Trader Joe's has been a great source for prepared meals that are fairly healthy.  This week the slow cooker is coming off the bench for the Red Lentil Stew and Carnitas.

Dinner out - Uptown Grille Sports Bar watching the Tigers!

Indian Spiced Red Lentil Stew with Turkey
Warm Naan
Chopped Salad with Honey-Lemon Vinaigrette

Shredded Carnitas with Black Bean and Corn Salsa
Multigrain Rice with Cilantro

Falafel on warm Pita with Hummus
Cucumber and Tomato Salad with Red Onions

"Soup and Salad Night"
Creamy Tomato Soup and Cuban Black Bean Soup
French Baguette
Baby Greens Salad with a Grainy Mustard Vinaigrette

Butter Chicken with Basmati Rice
Curried Eggplant
Channa Masala

"Smorgasbord Night"

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Weekly Menu Oct 11th - Oct 15th

Cavatappi Pasta Bake with Fontina Cheese
Romaine Salad with Italian Style Vinaigrette

Chicago Style Hot Dogs
Potato Salad with Chopped Eggs and Tarragon

Grilled Shrimp tossed in Pesto
Risotto with Sweet Peas
Steamed Broccoli with Shallots

Roasted Chicken with Root Vegetables
Yukon Gold Mashed Potatoes
Green Beans with Red Pepper Julienne

Dinner out with Friends

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Eggplant and Piedmontese Beef Bolognese

I like to make my own pasta sauce over buying a jar at the store.  For one, the taste of fresh made sauce can't be beat, no matter what the jar says.  Second, it so much healthier, I know exactly what went into it.  I usually make a big batch and freeze the extra so I have it on hand when needed.  The secret is letting your sauce cook slow for a long time.  I say a minimum of an hour and a half but, if you have the time watch what happens if you let this slowly work for 4 or 5 hours.  The flavors and color will deepen and you will be rewarded with a luxuriously complex finished sauce with a taste that will make them cry Prego! 

4 Tbsp. olive oil
1# ground Piedmontese beef
1 large eggplant, medium dice
2 large onions, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 C. red wine (Sangiovese or Chianti)
1 C. beef stock
2 Tbsp. tomato paste
(2) 28 oz. cans crushed tomatoes
2 Tbsp. sugar
2 Tbsp. fresh basil, minced
2 Tbsp. fresh parsley, minced
kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper, to taste

In a large heavy bottomed pot, heat 2 tbsp. olive oil over medium high heat until shimmering.  Add beef and start to brown.  Add onions and eggplant, stir mixture well.  Cook until eggplant is soft, about 15 minutes.  Add tomato paste and garlic mix well.  Cook, stirring often, for about 5 minutes.  Add wine, reduce liquid by half.  Add stock, crushed tomatoes, basil, parsley and sugar.  Reduce heat to low and cook, loosely cover, stir often for minimum of 1 1/2 hrs.  Finsh sauce by stirring in the remainder of the olive oil, correct seasoning with salt and fresh cracked black pepper.  Serve over pasta or however you like your sauce (called "gravy" in New Jersey) and enjoy!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Grilled Tunisian Leg of Lamb

Wow this was a tremendous find in Bon Appetit.  The spice blend and yogurt marinade makes for such a wonderful flavor on the gently charred lamb.  Serve with warm flat bread and a cucumber, tomato, and feta salad.  Add a couple of ouzo's and you'll swear you can feel the warm breeze off the Mediterranean.
2 cups whole-milk yogurt, divided
1 tsp. plus 3 1/2 tablespoons Tabil Spice Blend* (see below)
5 large garlic cloves, minced, divided
1 tsp. kosher salt plus more for seasoning
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper plus more for seasoning
1/4 c. extra-virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1 4–5# butterflied leg of lamb, opened like a book
4 lemons, halved

* Tabil Spice Blend- Finely grind 3 Tbsp. coriander seeds, 1 1/2 Tbsp. cumin seeds, 1 Tbsp. caraway seeds, and 1/2Tbsp. crushed red pepper flakes in a spice mill.  Can be made up to 1 month in advance.
Mix 1 cup yogurt, 1 teaspoon Tabil Spice Blend, and 1 minced garlic clove in a small bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover and chill. Whisk remaining 1 cup yogurt, remaining 3 1/2 tablespoons Tabil Spice Blend, 4 minced garlic cloves, 1 tsp. salt, 1 teaspoon pepper, oil, and lemon juice in a large bowl. Add lamb; turn to coat. Cover and chill overnight, turning occasionally.

Prepare grill to medium-high heat. Season lamb with salt and pepper. Grill until meat is cooked to desired doneness, 10–15 minutes per side for medium-rare. Let rest 10 minutes. Meanwhile, grill lemon halves, cut side down, until charred, about 5 minutes. Thinly slice lamb against the grain and arrange on a platter; garnish with lemons. Serve with reserved yogurt sauce.

Cucumber, Tomato and Feta Salad

6 c. coarsely chopped English hothouse or Persian cucumbers (about 2 pounds total)
2 large tomatoes (about 1 pound total), coarsely chopped
1 bunch scallions, chopped
1 c. assorted pitted olives (such as Kalamata or Gaeta), halved
(1) 7-ounce package feta, crumbled, divided
1/2 c. coarsely chopped fresh mint
6 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 c. fresh lemon juice
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Combine cucumbers, tomatoes, scallions, olives, half of feta, and mint in a large bowl. Whisk oil and lemon juice in a small bowl; season dressing with salt and pepper. Pour dressing over salad; toss to coat. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Sprinkle remaining half of feta over and serve.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Lentil Soup

1# Lentils, picked over
1 ham hock
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 large onion, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
1 large carrot, diced
2 large cloves garlic, minced
2 qts. chicken stock
2 bay leaves
1 large handful fresh thyme
4 Tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped
salt and pepper, to taste

Place a large stock pot over medium high heat.  Add oil and heat until shimmering. Add onions, celery, and carrots.  Mix well and cook until vegetables start to soften. Add ham hock and garlic, mix and cook for 1-2 minutes.  Add lentils, bay leaves, thyme, and stock.  Bring to a boil and immediately reduce heat to a simmer.  Cook until lentils are soft, about 1 hour.  Remove ham hock, thyme stems, and bay leaves.  Discard leaves and stems, dice all meat off of hock, reserve.  Remove half of the solids from pot and reserve.  Using a hand wand puree the remaining soup in the pot.  Return ham and solids back to the soup, add parsley and correct seasoning with salt and pepper.  Serve and enjoy!

Spinach, Bacon, and Green Onion Frittata

6 eggs, beaten
1/2 C. spinach, cut in thin strips (chiffonade)
1/2 shallot, minced
1 green onion, thinly sliced
1/4 C. Monterrey jack cheese
4 strips bacon, diced
1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
salt and pepper, to taste

Heat a saute pan over medium high heat.  Add oil and heat to shimmering.  Add bacon and cook to golden brown.  Remove bacon and reserve.  To oil add shallots, onions, and spinach.  Cook until shallots turn translucent.  Add eggs and using rubber spatula mix continuously.  Just as eggs are finished add cheese and bacon, mix well.  Correct seasoning with salt and pepper.  Serve and enjoy!

Weekly Menu Oct 1st - Oct 6th

Dinner Out

Spinach, Bacon, and Green Onion Frittata
Hash Browns
Toasted Challah with Honey Butter

Falafel with Humus on Warm Pita with Tahini sauce
Cucumber, Tomato, and Onion salad
Quinoa Tabbouleh Salad

Bean, Barley, and Chicken Stew
Romaine Salad with Yellow Tomatoes and Red Onion, Herb Vinaigrette

"Italian Style Family Dinner"
Eggplant and Piedmontese Beef Bolognese over Fresh Pasta

Roasted Yellow Tomato, Basil and Fresh Mozzarella on Garlic Crostini

Pan Seared Salmon with a Shallot-Vermouth Butter
Long Grain Rice with Vegetables and Sweet Peas


Oven Roasted Free-Range Chicken with Roasted Garlic and Herb Crust
Asparagus with Red Bell Pepper 
Smashed Yukon Gold Potatoes with Chives

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Caramelized Cippolini Onions in a Balsamic Glaze

This is a fabulous side for any beef, lamb or pork chop.  I found it also goes well with chicken and even salmon.  If really cooked down, so onions are very soft, this can be slightly pureed and makes a terrific jam to be served with soft cheeses.

1 # Cippolini onions, peeled and halved
6-8 Garlic cloves, peeled and left whole
2 Tbsp. Olive oil
2 Tbsp. Butter
2 Tbsp. Balsamic Vinegar
1 Tbsp. Brown sugar
Salt and Pepper, to taste

In heavy bottomed saute pan heat oil over medium heat.  Add butter and melt.  Add onions and garlic, cook until all is slightly browned, about 5-7 minutes.  Lower heat to low and cook onions until they are tender, stirring often.  This should take about 20-25 minutes.   In the last 10 minutes add vinegar and brown sugar.  Stir.  Liquids will reduce and form a syrupy glaze.  Correct seasoning with salt and pepper, serve and enjoy!