Weekday meals have become a bit uncivilized these days. Blame it on the two working parents, the baseball games, or just plain lack of inspiration. Whatever the cause there have been a lot of simple salad/ taco/ kitchen sink meals pumping out of my kitchen, except of course for this meal. Enter my new go-to “I-need-a-super-quick-meal-that-actually-feels -and-tastes-like-a-meal-worthy-of-my-family-sitting-around-the-table-for.”
Oven Roasted Chicken Thighs with Potatoes and Brussels Sprouts could not be easier. Make a quick paste of garlic, oil, salt, and herbs to rub over the chicken. Toss the potatoes and vegetables with oil, salt and pepper, then slide the whole thing in the oven and walk away. Plenty of time to help the kids with homework, referee the driveway soccer game, coax the children out of the highest branches of the tree, or if your life is a bit more relaxing than mine, enjoy a glass of wine and a chapter of your favorite book. The chicken roasts up tender with the crispiest of skin. The potatoes and vegetables cook perfectly in the rendered chicken fat. Next time I will make this with thighs and drumsticks to appease the little man of the family. The dish is not only a great weeknight treat, but would be a fantastic dish to serve for company since all the work is done in advance.
November 15, 2012
With Halloween behind us, we are officially hurtling towards the Thanksgiving. For me that means it is time to get serious about meal planning. While Thanksgiving is a time to enjoy time-honored dishes, each year I like to try something new as well. Here a a collection of special occasion-worthy recipes from My Pantry Shelf that my family loves. What is your favorite dish to make for Thanksgiving? Tell us in the comments below. Feel free to add a link to your recipes.
sides and salads
November 11, 2012
Thanksgiving is never at our home. Each year we alternate between my and my husband’s parents’ homes. This holiday is decidedly my favorite. I love the cool weather, the rustling of leaves, the family crammed into the kitchen to gossip, stir, and sip. And of course the food. Each of the homes we visit have special dishes that we love, but since each year we miss one of the homes, I like to make our favorites ahead of time so we do not miss out.
Stuffed Winter Squash with Rice and Sausage recipe is a take on my family’s traditional Thanksgiving stuffing. My parents have hosted Thanksgiving every year for my entire life (and longer). Each year they put on an impressive spread with many mouth-watering dishes, but my favorite is by far the rice stuffing. Inspired by their once neighbors and long-time friends, my parents early on shunned the bread stuffings they were raised on and adopted a rice version of the dish. Wild rice baked along with flavorful Italian sausage, fresh vegetables and herbs to make a tasty, toothsome (not to mention gluten-free) side dish. This stuffing is delicious baked in the bird or baked in a greased casserole dish, but love the look and taste of baking it in delicata squash halves. It also makes for very tidy serving. The stuffing can be made ahead a day or two and kept covered in the refrigerator or a couple of weeks ahead and kept in the freezer. Wait to stuff the squash halves until the day of baking. One of the squash boats is a generous serving, perfect if it is your main side dish. If you are serving it with many side dishes, such as on Thanksgiving, they neatly cut in half.
November 4, 2012
If any week is screaming for comfort food, it is this one. In my life, I am facing a grading deadline (I teach high school science when I’m not cooking), parent conferences crammed into any and every spare hour, and a nail-biter of an election. Yes, the presidential election has my nerves on end, but honestly the biggest concern on my mind is California’s Proposition 30.
As an educator and parent of children in public schools, I know first hand the drastic cuts that California schools have made over the last five years. The passage of Proposition 30 does not make things much better, but it prevents further cuts to the already ravaged district budgets. The other day, a few students approached me about the upcoming elections. They had engaged in spirited mock democracy in their history classes, their faces aglow with hope and pride in our civic opportunities. We discussed that our district, backed against the wall, may be forced to end the school year three weeks early (among other extreme measures) if Prop 30 does not pass. No, these kids did not dance and dream at the thought of a longer vacation, they went gray with the realization they may not be able to finish the year. They want to attend school. They know they engage in valuable learning and skill-building at school and that 15 days out of each of their classes puts them at a huge disadvantage. Every district in California is facing some similar extreme measure. This is the heartbreak of the school funding crisis. Yes, economies and tax codes are complex, but when funding is denied to schools, it is the students who lose every time. School children cannot vote. It is our responsibility to represent their interests! So Tuesday, get out to vote. And if you can read this, thank your parents’ generation who approved taxes to fund the public schools that gave you and your peers the opportunity to learn.
Saucy Sausage and Eggplant over Polenta is a simple, comforting dish with fresh, rich flavors from the Roasted Tomato Sauce with Fennel. Having a batch of the sauce in the freezer makes this dinner come together in no time. You could certainly make this dish with your own favorite marinara sauce. To save time, cook the polenta slow on the stove top, while you put together the sausage and eggplant. Then sit back, pour a glass of wine, and wait for the election results to roll in…
Please share this post with other voters and lovers of comfort food!
October 8, 2012
Our garden grew wild this year. Between the overload of responsibilities and excursions that spring demanded, not to mention an uncooperative back, it is actually surprising we even found time to thrust some plants in the ground. But somehow, despite our lackluster efforts, the garden is producing heartily. The other afternoon on a saunter through our beds I was shocked to find piles of peppers. We planted a variety of sweet and hot that we found at our favorite plant sale. Each plant boasts a different flavor, color and shape. The other night their abundance begged to be honored with a starring role in this dish. Read the rest of this entry »
July 2, 2012
At least once a week we opt for a dinner salad. Tired from a long day of work or summertime adventures as it may be, dinner can be on the table in minutes with just a bit of forethought. Our secret… grill enough meat on the weekend to have hearty leftovers. Perhaps it is a breast of chicken spared from our ravenous tots or a generous morsel of salmon craftily hidden from my husband’s lunch, or as the case was last weekend, a nice piece of hanger steak. Steak salad takes on endless incarnations, but this is one of our favorites from Sunset magazine years ago.
Thai-Style Steak Salad bursts with flavor from a mixture of fresh herbs, crunchy vegetables, salty peanuts, and a tangy dressing. Using leftover grilled meat makes it a cinch to pull together, but you could certainly grill up a steak for the occasion. The dressing is super light and oil free helping this dinner balance out the indulgences of the weekend. The chili garlic sauce is spicy so adjust the amount to your own taste.
June 5, 2012
Spring may not be the typical season for stews, but they are comforting and sometimes we need a little comfort even when the sun is shining and the nights are warm. On one such pleasant evening, my family gathered around our garden table to enjoy this stew. The recipe comes from 660 Curries, by Raghavan Iyer, that a friend generously gave to me as a thank you gift. Choosing from over 600 curries is a bit of a challenge. This one stood out because it is composed of ingredients I generally have in stock (and perhaps you do too): potatoes, apples, carrots. I also happened to have a leftover grilled pork tenderloin on hand, but the recipe below calls for uncooked pork. Either works well.
Since it was a glorious spring evening, I served Indian Pork, Potato, and Apple Stew with a shredded cabbage and carrot slaw to lighten the meal. It also paired beautifully with a jar of Curried Cauliflower Pickles (which I need to make a double batch of next season, because one pint is NOT enough for our dinner table). The stew was a tasty blend of rich flavors mingling with the sweet apple and heat from the spices. This is quite a tasty stew for any season.