Leftover day. 9/11/20

One of the great things about making a double recipe of something you really like is that there is plenty left for another dinner. Of course you run the risk of overeating which I managed to do on both nights we had Chana dal. The great thing about Chana dal is that while it is great the first night, it is even better when it has spent some time in the refrigerator getting to know itself better. We also made extra rice so this was a real hands-off kind of dinner. From humble dried split chickpeas we managed to get two dinners and two lunches!

Chana dal leftovers with rice, spinach, and cherry tomatoes

While I was busy not cooking I decided to make some Vegan vegetable soup to have for lunches during the weekend. I had quite a few tired vegetables in the refrigerator so it was everybody into the pool! Onions, carrots, parsley, celery, potatoes, canned tomatoes with chiles, snow peas, white beans, and kale all contributed to the soup. I herbed it up with fresh thyme, dried oregano, and a bay leaf. I used water, vegan broth, and the liquid from the tomatoes for the soup broth. It actually turned out more like a vegetable stew than a soup. It tasted good yesterday but even better today! I have three quarts in the refrigerator.

Vegetable soup cooking on the stove

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Creamy corn orecchiette. (Vegan) 9/10/20

Creamy, vegan corn orecchiette

This creamy pasta dish has no dairy in it  at all as long as you exchange the butter for oil and omit the parmesan cheese.  The creaminess is basically due to some water or vegetable stock puréed in the blender with corn kernels. The recipe comes from Melissa Clark at NYTimes Cooking. You can open it if you have a subscription to the site.

I used fresh corn but I think you could probably use defrosted frozen kernels with much less mess. I also puréed a Fresno chile along with the corn instead of using pepper flakes which gave the sauce an orange-y look, kind of like lobster sauce. I also feel like you could use regular onion and save the scallions for garnish.

I have to admit that it was a little sweet for my taste although the Fresno chile toned it down somewhat. Would I make it again? Hmmm…having creaminess was nice and John liked it, so maybe I’ll try it again with the alterations I mention above.

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Rhode Island clam chowder. 9/9/20

Rhode Island clam chowder

Usually when you think of New England clam chowder it is a creamy, thick broth with celery, clams, and potatoes. There is a lot of cream and butter in the recipe. Rhode Island clam chowder is a much lighter version, more like a seafood stew of clams and potatoes in a seafood rather than cream broth. My clam chowder is sort of between both extremes, the best of both worlds.

I am also going for ease of preparation here. I use jarred bottles of clam juice and canned chopped clams. The only sort of time consuming chore is cleaning and cutting up the leeks, everything else is pretty straight-forward.

CLAM CHOWDER WITH CROUTON. Serves 3-4
Adapted from a recipe by Gabrielle Hamilton

2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, minced
2 ribs of celery, minced
2 leeks, dark green parts removed, 1/4” half-rounds
10 ounces golden new potatoes, 1/2” dice
2 sprigs thyme, picked
2 sprigs tarragon
6 ounces dry white wine
2 bottles/16 ounces clam juice
Juice from 2 cans chopped clams (~8 oz.)
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons heavy cream
12 ounces chopped clams (2 cans, reserved liquid, see above)
3-4 slices hearty bread, toasted

Step 1
In a Dutch oven, heat the olive oil, and add onion, celery, leeks, potatoes, tarragon, and thyme, stirring to coat. Season with salt, and cook over low heat until the vegetables have just started to soften, taking care not to brown, about 5 minutes. Deglaze with white wine and then add the clam juice and reserved clam liquid. Simmer until potatoes are al dente.
Step 2
Stir in the cream, and simmer until vegetables are cooked through, taking care not to boil. Add the chopped clams, and season to taste with salt and ground black pepper. Remove from heat.
Step 3
Toast the bread until golden, and place each piece in a bowl. Add a ladleful of chowder around the toast. Add another ladleful partially covering toast.

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Vegan Instant Pot Chana dal (split chickpeas stew) 9/8/20

Chana dal over rice with zucchini, mushrooms, and onions

John and I really love this easy recipe for Chana dal. We made a double batch so that we would have it left over for lunches. The base recipe for Chana dal comes from pipingpotcurry.com but of course we have changed a few things. We use a can of diced tomatoes with chiles and decrease the water a little. Our cooking time is 15 minutes under pressure and then 10 minute cool down before releasing the remaining pressure. Also we do not have Asafoetida in our pantry so we skip that. We served it over rice or, in my case, a mix of some rice and cauliflower rice.

I made a side of zucchini from our daughter’s garden. It was a sauté of mushrooms, onions, garlic, ripe jalapeño, and zucchini. It was seasoned with plenty of salt, oregano, and a pinch of sugar. I used some vegetable broth to steam it a bit. I staggered introducing the vegetables to the pan. First I cooked the mushrooms, then the onion and chile, next the garlic, and lastly the zucchini. It got two thumbs up from John.

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Grilling time! 9/7/20

Grilled flank steak, grilled sweet potato, and IYBS (incredibly yummy Brussel sprouts)

It is Labor Day! We have managed to get through almost the whole summer without seeing anyone except our immediate family and the checkers at the grocery store. Luckily I Zoom with my sisters in Florida once a week and Facetime with my best friend in South Carolina every Thursday. So there is no celebration with our clan on this Labor Day. However, what says end of the summer more than grilling!?

John does a masterful job at our new grill. The flank steak which is seasoned simply with salt, pepper, and garlic powder comes out a rosy pink. I have given him a head start on the sweet potato by microwaving it until a knife meets no resistance when I stick it in. Then I cut it in half and doctor the cut sides with butter spray, salt, and nutmeg. He puts a nice char on it. Lastly I make my Incredibly Yummy Brussel Sprouts, so named by my kids. After cooking the seasoned sprouts cut side down until they are almost done and the water in the pan has mostly evaporated, I add dry sherry and butter. The sherry cooks off leaving a complex nutty flavor behind and the butter helps the sprouts get some browning. Yum!

Happy distanced Labor Day!!

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Weekly Menu – September 7 – 13, 2020

This week we are starting off with the flank steak that we failed to get to last week. In addition I am planning on making a new recipe which is a creamy corn pasta with basil that has no dairy products in it, so it is totally vegan!  In addition to the pasta we will make John’s special request vegan Chana dal. He loves this and always asks for a double batch so he can eat it for lunches too! Finishing off the menu are a chicken dinner, a clam soup, and good-enough-for-company sea bass. As usual we will complete our week with vegetarian Breakfast For Dinner.

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Breakfast for Dinner, Omelet 9/6/20

Normally for BFD I just make some sort of scrambled eggs. Last night I tried to be a little more creative and it turned out really well. The omelet I made consisted of two eggs, a slice of ultra thin Swiss cheese, spinach, and mushrooms. In addition on my plate is a veggie patty, a slice of our daughter’s homemade sourdough bread, and some of her garden cherry tomatoes.

Two-egg, Swiss cheese, mushroom, spinach omelet with veggie patty, toast, and cherry tomatoes

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Seared scallops, new potatoes, and broccoli. 9/4/20

Seared scallops, new potatoes, broccoli, tartar sauce

Look at the sear on these scallops! What a great job John did cooking these scallops. He got our cast iron pan ripping hot and cooked the scallops in a teaspoon of oil for about 2 minutes on each side. I steamed the potatoes before he started the scallops cooking and I cooked the broccoli while he was searing them. I added some more light mayo, non fat Greek yogurt, and mustard to the tartar sauce we ate earlier in the week.

Such a delicious dinner!

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Whole grain penne with mushrooms, asparagus, and pine nuts (vegan). 9/3/20

This pasta is fast to make and delicious to eat! While your water is heating up and the pasta is cooking you can complete the sauce. I did the sauté-ing in steps but you can totally do it all at once if you want. First I cooked the mushrooms, then the leeks (or onions) and garlic, then I added back in the mushrooms and added the asparagus stems. I reserved the bud ends until the very end to keep them from getting overcooked.

High sided sauté pan with mushrooms, asparagus stems, leeks, and garlic

While John was standing around waiting for the water to boil, I had him toast some pine nuts. They need special attention since they burn easily. They give the whole dish a buttery flavor when you sprinkle them on at the end.

Right before the pasta is ready add the bud ends of the asparagus to the mushrooms and asparagus stems and then add the drained pasta on top. Be sure to reserve a cup of your starchy, salty pasta water to add as well in little increments until it has made a little sauce with your vegetables. Garnish with the pine nuts, your best olive oil, and Parmesan (if you are not eating this as a vegan dish.)

Completed penne with asparagus, mushrooms, and pine nuts

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Pan-seared salmon with tartar/parsley sauce, rice, and snow peas. 9/2/20

Seared salmon with a parsley tartar sauce, rice and cauliflower rice mix, and snow peas

Tonight’s dinner of salmon, rice, and snow peas is really easy and really tasty. John cooked the salmon to perfection. I doubt that it took more than five minutes in the pan. To accompany it I made a tartar and parsley sauce that I know John really likes. I started by making a basic tartar sauce, added some parsley, half a teaspoon of curry powder, and some water to thin it out. The rice was left over from yesterday and I added some cauliflower rice to my portion so I could feel like I had a lot! Our vegetable, snow peas, are super simple. I string them and then they cook for a couple of minutes. I think I could probably serve this dinner to company and they would think, wow, what a nice dinner, and I would be congratulating myself on making a lovely dinner with very little work.

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