Saturday, August 29, 2009

Same Ingredients, Different Dish

To manage our food spending and stretch out our dollars, I've been trying hard to use up food items and waste as little as possible. Instead of buying for only one meal, I try to think of multiple meals incorporating the same ingredients (without repeating anything).

At our little dinner party this past weekend we started with a cheese plate and fresh crusty french bread (I can't take credit for the bread). We had some leftover Crystal Brook Farm's goat cheese from the farmers' market. It's marinated in olive oil and Mediterranean spices. You can't just have one cheese on a cheese plate - you need at least two (preferably 3). To go along with the goat cheese, we had a nice nutty manchego and fig jam. The perfect start to a meal (with my two favorite foods - bread and cheese!). No picture, we ate it too quickly!

The next night we were still recovering from our busy weekend and didn't feel like putting a lot of effort into dinner. A quick scan of the kitchen turned up some pizza crusts, the leftover manchego and fig spread, and some local apples. I spread some of the fig spread on the crust, topped that with thin apple slices, then put thin slices of the cheese on the top. I baked it at 450 degrees for about 10 minutes. Here's how it looked out of the oven:

I think next time I'll bake the apples and fig spread for about 5 minutes and then add cheese for the last 5 minutes, as it got a little rubbery.

I scrambled up a few eggs on the side to add some protein to the meal. This was very tasty. It would be great with a variety of seasonal fruits and different combinations of fruit jams. This would also be a great brunch dish for company (or just for yourself!).

I think my next adventure will be to try to make my own fig jam.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

One Sauce - Two Dishes

In one of my many trips to Whole Foods to enjoy free samples, I came across a brand of barbecue sauce that is a now staple in our house (Angus Sauces). They are a Massachusetts company and their founder was at the store sampling. I picked up one bottle of their traditional sauce and have buying ever since! This trip I picked up a bottle of the Tumbleweed Thai cooking sauce and figured I could find a way to use it for whatever I was making.

We had come home from our weekend trip and had plans to make dinner for a few guests (and about 3 hours to get ready). Instead of coming up with a fancy, complicated menu, I decided to stick with something easy and quick. The menu was chicken breasts marinated in the Tumbleweed Thai sauce served with veggie couscous. Served with a little extra sauce on top, this was a great summer meal. With no AC in the kitchen I am always looking for summer menus that require very little oven or stove time.

This is a couscous dish that I make a lot in the summer. I dice up all the leftover veggies in the fridge, saute them until they are just softened, and then toss them with the warm couscous. You can serve it warm or cool - it's a great make-ahead dish. This version included zucchini and purple and orange bell pepper.

The next night we were still tired from our busy weekend away and didn't feel like cooking. We eat out very rarely on weeknights, so I scanned the pantry and put on my thinking cap. Since I had I only used about half the bottle of sauce on the chicken I decided to incorporate that in dinner. We also had plenty of pasta, some frozen edamame, and some ground turkey breast. I decided to throw it all together for a quick version of a noodle dish that I made last month. The meal required no chopping, just cooking and assembling. It was great and reheated well for lunch the next day. You could easily use leftover chicken or tofu in place of the ground turkey breast. Here's the photo and recipe:

Quick Tumbleweed Thai Noodles
Note: I made about 3-4 servings adjust your quantities as necessary

1/2 package of spaghetti
1/2 pound ground turkey breast
1/2 cup (appx.) frozen edamame (already shelled)
Handful of peanuts
1/2 bottle of Thai Tumbleweed cooking sauce

Spread the peanuts in a single layer on a foil covered toaster pan
Toast for 2-3 minutes, making sure not to burn them
Set aside until later

Boil water for the pasta
Add pasta and edamame to the water and return to a boil
Cook until desired texture (approximately 10 minutes) and drain

While the pasta and edamame are cooking, brown the turkey in a non-stick skillet over medium heat
Drain any excess fat if necessary

In a large bowl, combine the noodles, turkey and edamame
Pour the sauce over the top and toss well
Top each serving with the toasted peanuts

Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes
Skillet, pasta pot, serving plates and utensils

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Gambling on a Good Lunch

In my family, road trip routes are planned with dining destinations in mind. We do our research and pull out our 'if we're ever in such-and such' lists and create a plan. It's fun to stop at unique local places or spots that we don't have in our neighborhoods.

Our trip home from Rye, NY this past weekend presented us with quite a few travel routes. I started thinking about the cities we'd pass through and some good lunch options. It seems like all the cooking shows recently have been featuring burger challenges - guess it's a sign of the times. Burgers are affordable (except for that $5k burger from Hubert Keller) and definitely embraced by many different cuisines.

We opted for a route up through Connecticut casino country and pulled off the highway into Mohegan Sun to visit Bobby's Burger Palace. Bobby Flay is on a lot of TV and magazines - so it's hard to miss that he has a new burger place. We placed our orders for some geographically diverse burgers and found a spot to do some great people watching. The gambling crowd is pretty interesting at 2 p.m. on a Sunday.

We went for three very different burgers plus some shakes and two types of fries. The Philly burger - peppers, onions and cheese. The Dallas burger - spice crusted with BBQ sauce, pickles, and slaw. The L.A. burger with avocado relish, jack cheese, watercress and tomato. The shakes (mango and a black&white) were tasty and the sauce with the sweet potato fries was great. It was a nice tangy horseradish mustard. I took home a take-out menu to use as inspiration for creating some new burger dishes at home. I'll have to create my own signature burger to sell for thousands!

Happy eating from Good Cook Doris, her brother (of the Indy BBQ fare fame, on the left), and the hubby (of "When He Fends for Himself", on the right).

Bobby's Burger Palace on Urbanspoon


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