I think the key to this dish is perfectly cooked shrimp and an array of toppings.
John did a stellar job on the shrimp and also toasted up the tortillas over the open flame on the stovetop. I prepared the spicy black beans by cooking up some onions and garlic and then adding the two cans of drained and rinsed beans, a can of Rotel, a bunch of cumin, some cilantro, and a couple of dollops of medium spicy salsa. And salt, always taste for salt.
For the taco fixings I made a crema from yogurt, cumin, and salt. We also had medium spicy salsa (there were no mangoes in the grocery store), packaged cabbage already shredded, and cilantro.
Our daughter has been joining us for most of the dinners this week. So far we have gotten a passing grade on everything and that is a high bar to pass. Everyone in our family cooks delicious food and there is always extra pressure to prepare things that they will think are a good idea and also cooked well.
Who does not love a big bowl of pasta especially when it is good for you! My Wednesdays are almost always pasta and vegan. I rotate through different vegetables. Today I chose kale. The sauce is basically pasta water and a little olive oil. In the time it takes to heat the salted water and cook the pasta, the vegetables that you have been sauteing are ready for the pasta, pasta water and oil to be mixed in. Easy, quick, delicious!
This chowder is the brothier cousin of the traditional creamy and thick New England clam chowder. We used to live in Massachusetts and spent several times a year traveling to New Jersey where my parents lived. One time we stopped in Mystic, Connecticut for lunch on the way. We ordered the clam chowder and were surprised by the thin soup we were served. It turns out that this brothier chowder is a southern New England staple. To be honest I have never made the classic New England chowder since this version fits right into my eating regimen these days.
Sometimes I make it with a couple of tablespoons of cream but tonight’s was just made with clam juice and milk. You can sail a slab of toasted bread in it for some more texture. I saved my toast for a schmear of mashed and salted avocado. It was yummy.
Tonight was one of the rare nights when we have red meat. John heavily seasoned the flank steak and then grilled it for six minutes. I microwaved the potato halves and then handed them off to him for a final charring on the grill. While he was outside taking care of that part of dinner I made what my family calls IYBS, Incredibly Yummy Brussels Sprouts.
My special sprouts are cut in half and put cut side down in a pan with a little water, a sprinkling of sugar, salt, and with butter dotting the top. Put the lid on and cook until almost tender. Uncover, and when the water is nearly evaporated, add a little dry sherry. Then the sherry evaporates and the Brussel sprouts caramelize on the cut side in the remaining essence of sherry, sugar, and butter.
Really tasty dinner tonight. It might have been enhanced by a good bottle of red wine but since we are in vacation recovery mode, we decide not to. This morning I am glad that we did not give in to the impulse.
Usually I make something more exotic with my Sunday BFD but these are lean times (as in I am in full dieting mode.) I am happy to report that I have lost almost 5 lbs of my vacation weight. Positive results make it easier to continue on. I know the next 5lbs will not be as easy and make take a few weeks. Soldier on! I say to myself.
I made 2 eggs, scrambled, for my egg portion. I like my eggs softly scrambled and am often disappointed by eggs you get at a restaurant. The veggie patty takes a minute in the microwave. I actually start the toast before anything else. It takes the longest!
You might ask how I can eat dry toast? Eating foods without added butter or mayo or sauces actually lets you taste the food itself. Plus if you eat a bite of toast and then a bite of egg or veg patty, it is kind of like having some sort of topping. At the end of the day shaving off these little bits of calories makes a difference.
I am trying a couple of new things this week, lentils diavolo and sesame salmon bowl. John and I have been sticking very close to our healthy eating plan and have each lost part of our vacation weight. I think that it will take a few more weeks to take care of all of it. Looking at the menu for the week ahead makes me feel like eating sanely will be no problem at all!
Our classic chicken dinner always contains chicken breast with gravy or some sort of sauce, a mashed starchy vegetable, and a green vegetable. For us it is homey, comforting, and easy to make.
We are cooking for three these days so John defrosted two large chicken breasts and sliced them longitudinally so we would have plenty of pieces. Since they were fairly thin they cooked up quickly in a large frying pan with just a little oil.
For the sauce he deglazed the pan with white wine and chicken stock, then added lemon juice and capers. This was reduced to a sauce-like consistency.
The other day we had butternut squash which I had spiced up with nutmeg and chipotle powder. We had some leftover but not enough for dinner. I found a small russet potato (5.5 oz.) that I peeled, chunked, and cooked in some boiling salted water and then added to the leftover butternut squash. The result still tasted like the original squash.
Is broccoli ever out of season?! I always have some in the crisper. I use the whole thing, florets and peeled, chopped stem. It was cooked in a splash of water, salt, and a teaspoon of butter.
How good do those veggies look?! I am happy that the weather is getting cooler and I can make soups and stews that seemed too heavy for hot summer days.
I like this recipe because you can change it up depending on what you have on hand. No spicy tomatoes? Use a can of regular tomatoes and a couple of shakes of red pepper flakes. Have some broccoli or green beans that need using? Chuck those in. Tonight I used zucchini, kale (cut up the stems and put them in earlier), a leek, and tarragon. Also if you are not vegan/vegetarian you can use chicken broth, or a parmesan rind, and a sprinkle of the parm on top. Be sure to season your items as you cook them. This dish definitely needs salt and pepper.
Really delicious dinner tonight! John roasted the Chilean sea bass in the oven at 400F for 15 minutes and it was perfect.
Earlier in the day he split the butternut squash longitudinally for me and I scored the flesh sides, sprayed it with some olive oil and dusted on some nutmeg and salt. I baked it at 425F for about 50 minutes until a knife pierced it easily. I scraped out the cooked flesh and mashed it with a bit of butter. Now it was ready to just be reheated at dinner time.
Finally I steamed the beans in the afternoon for 2 minutes to par-cook them. When the fish was almost ready the beans went into a sauté pan with a teaspoon of butter and some pine nuts to finish cooking.
Doing some prep early in the day works really well for me. It makes dinner time a snap.
So great to be cooking again! I thought I would be missing all the fancy dishes and drinks. But, no! This simple pasta dish was like a balm to my over-doing-it soul.
John and I make some sort of pasta and vegetables every Wednesday. It can be lots of different combinations. I like to include mushrooms because they are meaty. I always use onions, garlic, oregano, and a little red pepper flakes. And, of course, salt. But I have used regular broccoli, asparagus, tomatoes, kale, zucchini, or mixtures of what I have left in the fridge for the main veg. Sauté the vegetables while the water is heating up starting with the mushrooms and adding each veg according to how long it needs cooking. Then add the most delicate ones, in this case the broccolini flowers, right before you toss in the al dente pasta. About 1/2 cup of pasta water and a teaspoon or two of EVOO is all you need for the sauce.
Always, always salt your pasta water so it tastes like the sea! You cannot make corrections to the seasoning level of the pasta after it’s cooked. It just does not work. And taste your components as you are cooking them for doneness and seasoning.