A tale of two dinners

May 31, 2009

It was the best of summer dinners, it was the worst of summer dinners.

Actually, both dinners were delicious. One was just a poor choice for summer. Again.

Smart for summer:

summer of my Greek salad

I see a summer staple

I plan to make this at least every other week. Or every other day. Whichever.

It’s a pretty traditional Greek Salad, but I got the idea of tossing the pita chips in from Clean Eating. They recommended baking them first, but I was very anti-oven on a 95 degree day, and there were too many pieces to fit in the toaster oven, so I just ripped them up and threw them in.

This still took a pretty decent amount of prep time, what with all of the chopping. If you find chopping soothing, as I do, then it’s the summer salad for you. It’s also very colorful and makes for a nice presentation, so I’d call it a good choice for a summer potluck. I would have tossed a little paprika on it to make it even prettier, but some idiot put the paprika in a sealed plastic box with some incredibly pungent cloves during the Great Mouseproofing of ’08, so the paprika is paprika no more. And, yes, that idiot was me.

I love how many times I just got to type “paprika.” But I didn’t love having to buy a whole new container today at the store

Today was also about 95 degrees, but I was already cooking a giant pot of beans, so I threw caution to the wind and make this incredibly time-intensive and oven-requiring dinner.

Not-so-smart choice for summer:

polenta lasagna with roasted red pepper sauce and spinach

polenta lasagna with roasted red pepper sauce and spinach

I used the same roasted red pepper sauce I used a few weeks ago, Bittman’s Polenta I (basically boil 4 cups of water, slowly whisk in a cup of polenta, stir a lot until it’s your desired consistency, add cheese/butter as needed; and p.s. that guy really does know how to cook everything), ricotta, some Italian cheese blend, and some spinach that was washed, torn, and thrown in a hot pan with olive oil until it was just a little wilted.

mid-layering

mid-layering

There was altogether too much liquid in this meal, which meant that it never firmed up quite the way I wanted it to. I cooked it for almost an hour, and then let it sit for 10 minutes, but it was still on the soupy side. Cheesy polenta soup. Which is good with me, if not exactly what I wanted. Next time I’ll cook the polenta more or use that kind you can buy in the store and slice it up. And by next time, I mean, in the winter, when it will actually feel great to have the kitchen be 9,080 degrees.

polenta lasagna soup

polenta lasagna soup

Still, it was good, even if I had to eat it with a spoon. Kind of like the lasagna I used to get at the Ram’s Head Rathskellar in Chapel Hill, which was basically a bowl of cheese and some meat. It was second only to Hector’s cheeseburger on a pita during freshman year of college, when I apparently ate a lot of meat and cheese.

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Master See Food.

November 13, 2008

So, that medication has basically taken over my life. I haven’t slept for more than a couple of hours in the past three nights, so I’m tired and fairly out of it and, really, overall, just in a fine mood.

One highlight of the last few hazy days has been watching Kung Fu Panda. It. Was. Awesome. I especially loved the cute little kung fu master, Master Shifu. I’ve asked Matt to call me Master See Food from now on, in homage.

Last night I was so busy watching that and icing my knee and having a headache that I didn’t post our dinner. Here’s what it looked like

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It was a super-hearty potato/mushroom/spinach/gruyere frittata. With some toast and a little salad on the side. It was so good and so fast that we may be having another one tomorrow, as we’re going to be pressed for time in between work and a basketball game. Sorry for the lame picture. Have I mentioned that I’m not really sleeping?

Tonight was a spur-of-the-moment meal, kind of a variation on pasta/white bean/tomato dishes I’ve made before, but much faster.

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That’s polenta with sun-dried tomatoes, spinach, cannellini beans, and parm. That’s basically the recipe. Cook the polenta. Throw in the spinach about a minute before it’s done. Add some (rehydrated) chopped sun-dried tomatoes, a can of cannellini beans (rinsed and drained). Add cheese. I didn’t measure. Let’s say a lot. Cook over low until heated through. Add salt, pepper, some lemon juice, and some roasted garlic. Serve with more cheese.

The next three days are going to be a little insane, with a busy day at work tomorrow followed by a busy weekend of shopping and eating and an out of town 5k. If I don’t get a chance to post tomorrow, I’ll be back on Sunday with all of the gory details, hopefully including pictures of me simultaneously freezing and sweating to death during the 5k. I got this hat that has some kind of body heat reactive technology that’s supposed to hold in your heat to keep you warm and, let’s just say, it works a little too well.


Shrimp and grits

July 8, 2008

I don’t have much time because I am catching up on old episodes of that Legally Blonde reality show my reading. But this dinner was really good, so I’m posting it.

It’s baked shrimp with tomatoes and feta, from my new Ellie Krieger cookbook (THANKS, MATT!). She recommends serving it over rice or orzo, but I was in the mood for polenta. And, with all due respect to Ellie, I’m the boss around here.

My toe is slightly better today, though still a lot of colors I don’t feel entirely comfortable with. I also forgot to mention that I found “evidence” (use your imagination) of a mouse in my filing cabinet at work yesterday. Today they set traps in my office! SO MUCH EXCITEMENT.

Here’s what’s going to happen, I can almost guarantee: my toe will heal and I’ll be able to wear open-toed shoes again. And then I’ll step on a mousetrap. The end.

Okay there’s a lot of crying on this show right now, so I’m going to go enjoy it.


Catching up

June 23, 2008

I’m going to dispense with my usual witty commentary because I’m a little stressed and a lot tired and I’ve got to be up early for my lung tests. I’m also going to a conference later this week and I have about eleventy million things to do before I leave for sunny Southern California.

Saturday night, after a movie marathon, I used the rest of the bean salad to make a polenta casserole that turned out really well. I also made a salad, which I spun in our new salad spinner. We used our new dishes from Donna:

I also had cake.

Sunday, I went to a crazy hard class at the gym and came home starving for fajitas. And so:

Grilled chicken (in a Tapatio, honey, garlic, and paprika marinade), peppers, onions, and tomatoes. And some cheese. Mozzarella, which is not necessarily appropriate, but did not smell bad like the other cheese.

And I also had cake.

Tonight, after kickboxing, I made my first frittata in our brand new wedding skillet. Half of it got a little crispy on top. Crispy, not burned (I’M LOOKING AT YOU, MATT).

I had more than this but I started small because I was nervous:

See the crispy? It was good. It had potatoes, tomatoes, spinach, mushrooms, and feta. I made some Ezekiel 4:9 toast to round it out.

Oh, and I also had cake. And finally, I remembered to take a picture:

You can see the peanut butter and jelly layers! We still have a lot of cake left, which is not a problem for me. We may get to freeze even more of it to enjoy on our first anniversary. Oh, and that’s a little bit of Stephen Colbert’s Americone Dream on the side. If you were wondering.

Posting may be sporadic for the next week (sorry, Mom). Matt’s taking me out for an early birthday dinner tomorrow, if I’m still standing after my tests. Wednesday I should be making some food, so I’ll try to post it.


Fancy grits

April 8, 2008

I keep seeing polenta everywhere – on the Food Network, in cooking magazines, on blogs, in cookbooks – but I’d never had it before. Matt’s had it plenty, but I’ve never really even thought of it. It was okay. I mean. It’s grits. Just, yellow. I guess it was kind of thicker and creamier, too.

Here it is in a Skinny Bitch in the Kitch-inspired recipe, with sauteed peppers and onions and chicken-apple sausage:

I picked up this sausage because we like this pizza at Ingredient called the “Applewood,” which has smoked chicken-apple sausage and cheese and other good pizza things. As Matt so graciously pointed out, this sausage is not nearly as good as that kind, but I still thought it was pretty good.

Does this dish look greasy? It wasn’t. But it was shiny. Maybe that’s why the picture looks funny.

For dessert, I had one of the little pear crisplets that I made last night with a little bit of vanilla yogurt and some ground flaxseed. I picked these little teeny baking dishes up at Target on Sunday, and I had to do something with them immediately. This little crisplet has about 1/3 of a pear, 1 or 2 strawberries, and some crispy oat topping.

Sorry for the bad photo. But, hey, if you look really closely at the top right corner, you can judge us based on our DVD collection. So, that’s something.

Okay, time to clean the kitchen and do some ironing. I hate ironing, so I got some fancy “ironing spray” to make the experience more appealing. Let’s see if that works.