BFD (Breakfast for Dinner). 6/3/19

Today we had a little outing to Sonoma County Wine Country which is about one and a half hours away. Our plan is to pick up our wine club selections and treat ourselves to a nice lunch. There are not very many restaurants in the area and we choose to go to Salt and Stone, a restaurant we have been to once before. I order bouillabaisse. It has salmon, mussels, scallops, shrimp, and calamari in it. Toast with roue tops the dish. It is pretty good although I don’t think I will order it again. I let John mop up the broth with the bread.

Bouillabaisse

So for dinner we are not planning on eating too much. An easy dinner is breakfast for dinner. I make myself a couple of scrambled eggs and put them on an English muffin. I also prepare a vegetarian sausage and split it horizontally so there is a half for each muffin. This is actually quite a filling dinner for less than 400 calories.

Scrambled eggs on an English muffin with a vegetarian sausage

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Weekly Menu. 6/2/19

Since our Sunday dinner was frozen eggplant Parmesan (again? They come in packs of two at Costco!), I am just offering up a menu for the week. Hopefully we will be able to stick to it. Since we are going up to Sonoma Wine Country on Monday and eating lunch out, Monday dinner will be BFD (breakfast for dinner.) On Wednesday I’ll be trying something new, Chana Dal. It is like lentil dal it made with split chickpeas. I think I will have to shop at an Indian grocery! And on Friday I’ll use my plan-ahead spaghetti sauce that is in the freezer.

Happy Week!

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Home grown. 6/1/19

Last night’s dinner was all leftovers, a veritable smorgasbord of American, Italian, and Mexican delights from this week.  Since I have nothing new to say about what I have cooked I thought I would show what is going on with our backyard produce.

First, here is an overall look at what we have to work with, almost no space and no sun to speak of.

No space and no sun for growing much

So we can only grow plants which are happy in the shade or spend the day moving plants around trying to find a patch of sun. I have an Early Girl tomato plant and a pot of basil and one of parsley that get the move-around treatment. I have another tomato plant which is planted in the ground. You can see the difference.

Tomato plant on wheels

Sad tomato plant that doesn’t get much sun (also bumper crop of oregano)

Some of my Early Girl tomatoes are beginning to ripen which is very exciting. Most of the tomatoes we will get this summer will come from our daughter’s plot in the Community Garden.

Ripening Early Girl tomato

Daughter’s Community Garden plot – tomato plants in the cages, fava beans along the left side, some peppers in the middle, and clumps of poppies, the California state flower

Another view of her garden – amazing what good soil and sun will do! All her plants were started from seeds.

Other things we grow in our little backyard are chives, thyme, mint, basil, parsley, and oranges.

Chives, mint, and thyme

Basil in a pot keeps the slugs away

Tiny oranges, the most we have ever had is two

Around the corner in the backyard I have a 25 year old rose bush which we cannot see from the house or when we are in the backyard, unfortunately. But it makes it easier to cut the flowers and bring them into the house.

Rose bush, Don Juan

So that is a tour of our little backyard, nice to sit in but hard to grow anything in. Our front yard is in the shade as well with just a little sun first thing in the morning. It is a joy, though, to go outside and pick fresh herbs and I cannot wait to taste my first tomato!

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Skirt steak fajitas. 5/31/19

John and I went back and forth over whether we would be making tacos (me) or fajitas (John).  In the end we decided on fajitas since we have not had them recently. We found a recipe for fajita seasoning (there are plenty on the internet) which tasted non-standard to me. I think it was because it had Worcestershire sauce in it. I am more a fan of the McCormack packet flavor.  As usual I cooked the vegetables (onions and bell peppers) and John cooked the meat and we served the fajitas with some cilantro, lime, and a dollop of sour cream.

Skirt steak fajitas

When serving it is important to remember to cut the skirt steak against the grain. Otherwise it will be tough. John cut the long strip of skirt steak into four pieces of about 5 inches and then  I cut them into strips against the grain after they were cooked.

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Sweet Italian sausage with polenta and salad. 5/30/19

I started out by cutting the onions and bell peppers for tonight’s dinner plus enough for use in the fajitas we are having tomorrow night – two birds with one stone! Next I prepared the vegetables for the salad. I have a small hand-held mandoline  that I have started using for these tasks which makes the prep easy and the slices consistent.

Oxo hand-held mandoline

So along with my salad greens I had tomatoes, scallions, cucumber, radishes, and mushrooms. Definitely a pretty salad makes it more appealing.

Green salad with garnish

John started the sausages in a little water and then when they were cooked through and the water had evaporated, he browned them. He was also in charge of the polenta which he makes with a ratio of 5 1/2 cups of water to 1 cup polenta, a little olive oil, and fresh oregano. The high ratio of water to polenta makes it super creamy.

Sweet Italian sausage, bell peppers, and onions on creamy polenta with crisp tossed salad

As usual, working together, John and I made a delicious dinner in almost no time at all!

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Instant Pot rice biryani with shrimp. 5/29/19

Before discussing our dinner, here is an update on our daughter’s plot in the community garden. With the exception of a few tiny strawberries this is the first harvest, fava beans! She and I shucked a bagful out of their large cottony pods which is the first step with fava beans.

Shucked fava beans

Next step is to blanch the beans so you can remove the outer shell.  You end up with a tender, bright green bean. We ate a bunch of them newly peeled with a little salt. They were delicious. She says I can use some of the remaining beans so maybe I will put them in a salad on Thursday.

Unpeeled fava beans on the left and bright green peeled ones on the right

For dinner we made shrimp biryani by making the rice with its tomatoes and seasonings in the Instant Pot set on the rice setting and cooking seasoned shrimp separately on the stove top. We have tried putting the shrimp in the Instant Pot with the rice but the pressure cooking is too much for them and they come out overcooked. It means we dirty an extra pan but the results are much better.

Shrimp biryani with basil garnish

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Vegan campanelle with zucchini and mushrooms. 5/28/19

Campanelle in Italian means bell flowers. These ruffled bell-shaped pasta are a nice departure from the usual strand or tube. I thought that they would pair well with zucchini since this time of year zucchini are setting bloom to their spectacular flowers and earthy cremini mushrooms.

In order not to end up with a watery dish with slimy zucchini, I salted the cut zucchini and let it sit in a colander for half an hour to rid itself of excess water. In the picture you can see how they have become much firmer.

Salted zucchini, draining

While this was going on I toasted some breadcrumbs and sautéed the mushrooms, onions, and garlic.

Cremini mushrooms, onions, and garlic

Shortly before the pasta was ready I added the zucchini and cooked the sauce components together. John added the al dente pasta to the vegetables and I used about 3/4 cup of reserved pasta water to make a sauce. The finished pasta and vegetables were garnished with toasted panko  breadcrumbs and some good finishing olive oil.

Campanelle with mushrooms and zucchini

I would definitely make this again as it was easy, delicious and filled the kitchen with wonderful aromas. I wonder which one of us will get to eat the leftovers for lunch on Wednesday!

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