Tuesday, June 19, 2012

My Mediterranean Meal

In a pinch last week, I ended up creating the best Mediterranean chicken meal ever: spiced chicken thighs, brown rice and sauteed zucchini with chickpeas.

How did I imagine this meal?  Through utilizing these ideas (all thoroughly covered in my book, Cooking Without Measuring):

1. Read cookbooks and browse cooking sites vociferously so you have different combinations and recipe ideas top of mind, and

2. Be willing to take risks and experiment

Here is the chicken non-recipe:

Spiced Mediterranean Chicken

Bone-in chicken (I used chicken thighs but you could use breasts, legs or a whole chicken cut into 8ths)
Olive oil
Garlic powder

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Place chicken in a pan.  Drizzle olive oil lightly over each chicken piece.  Then generously shake paprika and cumin all over the chicken.  Lightly shake garlic powder and tumeric over the chicken.  Drizzle more olive oil over the chicken and then, using your fingers, massage the oil and the spices under the chicken skin and into the flesh.  Really get down and dirty with the chicken as you run the olive oil and spices deep into the chicken.  Replace the skin and wash your hands well, then place the pan in the oven.  Roast for one and a half to two hours or until chicken is nicely done and juices run clear

Monday, May 7, 2012

My book is FREE today! Plus a recipe for veggie enchiladas...

For today and tomorrow only, you can get my book, Cooking Without Measuring: Taste and Approximate Yourself to a Great Dish, for free right here!

If you miss the free promo days, you can always get it the next day for 99 cents, so I wouldn't worry too much.  The real worry is that I'll get rich and famous and start raising my prices in a few months :).

Since you're such an awesome reader, here's a special enchilada recipe for you.  It's actually what I'm making for dinner tonight.

Easy Veggie Enchiladas

Salsa, mild
Corn tortillas
Mozzarella cheese
Toppings/fillings: chopped green onion, fresh herbs, sour cream, guacamole, etc.

In the bottom of a large sauce pan, spoon a medium-thick layer of salsa.  Lay the tortillas flat on a counter and sprinkle some cheese and desired fillings in each one.  Roll up tortillas and nestle in the salsa on the outside circle of the pan - try to avoid the middle.  You will probably need to make a second layer of rolled-up tortillas; this is fine.  Just avoid placing them in the middle as they will burn.  Sprinkle the rolled tortillas lightly with more salsa and cheese and cover the pan with a lid.  Turn up the heat to very low and cook gently until cheese is melted and salsa is bubbling slightly.  Serve warm with desired toppings. 

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Organizing Weekly Meals

Proponents of meal planning tout the cost savings, ease of prep and peace of mind that a weekly meal plan provides.

But a no-measure gal such as myself just cannot be tied down to a meal plan!  What if I'm not in the mood for something I planned for?  What if I spied a dish that I absolutely must make right now!  Ugh, gotta stick to the meal plan.

So I don't meal plan, I daydream for a few months and make what I like.  Then after three months or so, I evaluate which meals keep popping up, meaning I like making them and my family likes eating them.  Then I consciously begin buying the ingredients for those meals, swapping in new ideas whenever I come across them, and usually start making a dinner the morning of.

I have tried making meals in advance, but it doesn't get me very far.  If I pack up four meals on a Sunday into the freezer, that's all we'll eat the whole week.  (As you can see, I don't have so much self-control - if dinner's somewhere near to be found, I sure as heck aren't making it!)

So here are our five meal faves:

Spaghetti Bolognaise with whole wheat spaghetti and green salad
Salmon patties or pan-fried tilapia with brown rice and green salad
One-pot mac n' cheese with green salad
Lentil soup with garlicky toast and, you guessed it, green salad.
Peanut butter chicken with brown rice and, yacks!  It's green salad again!

Yes, we do eat a lot of green salad. I've tried to rotate in different vegetables, like roasted cauliflower, ratatouille, or green beans, but to no avail.  Kids and hubby just won't eat them.  So I don't go insane, I vary the green salad with different vegetables, but yeah, it's basically the same thing.

How do you avoid meal-planning sameness?

Monday, March 26, 2012

Crunchy Mustard Chicken Fingers (no eggs!)

Try this for a quick dinner your husband and kids will love:

Boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Bread crumbs or matza meal (if making your own bread crumbs, make sure they are toasted)
Spices (oregano, paprika, garlic and onion powder, cumin, basil, etc. etc.)
Sesame seeds (optional)
Canola oil

Set out two bowls.  In one, scoop a nice amount of mustard.  Pour some water in and stir well with a spoon until you have liquidy mustard.  In the other bowl, pour the bread crumbs or matzah meal and season well with desired spices and sesame seeds.

Heat several spoonfuls of oil in a pan over medium heat.  Cut chicken breasts into "fingers," or strips.   Coat the chicken strips first in the mustard, then in the bread crumbs.  Pan fry, about 3-4 minutes per side, until chicken is cooked through and outside is golden brown.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Simple Salad and Spaghetti Dinner

Lettuce from our local CSA turns the simplest supper into farm-fresh goodness.

Simple Salad

Garnish - tonight it's sunflower seeds; often I use toasted almonds or frozen corn, defrosted

Chop veggies and tear lettuce and place in a bowl.  Drizzle olive oil over and toss.  Add some sprinkles of lemon juice, some shakes of black pepper and a light sprinkling of salt.  If you like, add a good shake of garlic powder.  Toss well.

As for the spaghetti, you can't mess up Trader Joe's whole wheat spaghetti with marinara sauce and mozzarella.