I’ve got an ambitious plan to make up for lost time with my menu this week, including trying to use veggies that have been languishing in the crisper for several weeks now. (Looking at you, cabbage!)
Some old favorites:
And some new ideas:
- Plum cake (I’ll probably freeze this for later)
I’m also going to see if the cayennes ripen to red on the counter, then dehydrate and crush them to make homemade red pepper flakes!
This wasn’t a super impressive cooking week since I’m still playing catch up with most of my ingredients, but the variety of different flavors in these dishes was definitely one aspect I appreciated.
Sweet corn brightens up this very brown plate. The potatoes are from the grocery store but the no-recipe recipe is probably my favorite way to make them: toss with olive oil and any seasoning (I like garlic, salt, and pepper), spread on a baking sheet and roast at 425 for 45 minutes or until browned, flipping every 15 minutes to make sure each side gets its turn in contact with the baking sheet.
This Asian noodle bowl with cabbage and carrots is infinitely customizable. I used konjac noodles for the first time ever. They smelled terrible coming out of the package but cooked up very much like rice noodles. I liked the instructions to drain the noodles over the cabbage and carrots, just softening them slightly. Of course the spicy scallion sauce from this recipe would taste good on a brick, but I wish I had let the noodles and veggies cool a little so they didn’t add quite so much water to the sauce. I topped the bowl with some of my go to pan fried tofu.
The award for prettiest meal of the week goes to these crab cakes with German bean salad. The beans are blanched, then tossed with a mustard shallot sauce and topped with basil, hard boiled eggs, and cherry tomatoes. Even though I got cherry tomatoes in my basket this week, the ones in this picture actually came from my very own garden! Meanwhile, the crab cakes came from the freezer section…
I bulked up this recipe for carrot and beet salad with curry dressing by putting it on a bed of mixed greens and adding some goat cheese. The recipe didn’t call for cooking the beets, but I did anyway since I prefer that texture. The curry flavor of the dressing was pretty subtle when mixed with the salad greens. I think I would have preferred feta instead of the goat cheese, though.
If the crab cakes and bean salad were this week’s eyecatching Miss America of dinners, the rosemary peach chicken in a white wine pan sauce is Miss Congeniality. The salty bacon! The melt cheese! The creamy wine sauce! All wrapped around tender chicken and sweet peaches. I even left out the lemon zest and honey, and this one pan(!) dish still became a new favorite.
We’re at the point in the summer where I’m not only trying to use what I got in my basket this week, but also from the last week (or two)! There’s nothing too exciting on the menu this week since I can eat many of the fruits and veggies on their own – think cucumbers and watermelon – without making them part of a larger meal.
I’m also going to try to pickle the jalapeños, maybe turn the cherry tomatoes into ‘sun-dried’ tomatoes in the dehydrator, and hopefully do something with the yellow squash, maybe those cheddar biscuits again?
I crammed two weeks of veggies into one week of cooking!
This is an easy Caprese salad. I quartered the cherry tomatoes, sliced little mozzarella balls in half, and topped with shredded basil, olive oil, and a generous amount of salad and pepper. A perfect lunch for when it’s 98F but feels like a scorching 112F outside.
Stewed zucchini pasta. I subbed in orzo for the penne and added several sprigs of oregano and thyme while the onions were cooking. This could have used a big squeeze of lemon at the end to amp up that tangy flavor, too.
Blueberry Belgian waffle deliciousness. To make sure that blueberries are evenly distributed among the waffles, we follow the linked recipe for plain Belgian waffles and just sprinkle a handful of blueberries on top of the batter before closing the waffle iron rather than stirring them all in at the beginning.
I didn’t notice how blurry this photo was until too late, but the zucchini lasagna tasted delicious all the same. This recipe is a go-to during zucchini seasons.
This Greek Bulgur Salad was a great fridge-clearing dish, featuring cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, and even the pickled banana peppers I made a few weeks back. I prepared it a few hours ahead of meal time so all the flavors would have time to combine. I added vinegar and salt to my taste instead of following the recipe exactly, but it was also surprisingly tasty, dare I say reminiscent of a certain Mediterranean restaurant.
Zucchini chocolate cake is perhaps one of the few reasons to run the oven for an hour on the hottest day of the summer. It’s dense and fudgy with a nice crunch from the walnuts sprinkled on top.
Peperonata with a pan-fried rainbow trout was good, but not my favorite meal this week. I wish I had left off the olives and parsley, both of which overwhelmed the sweet flavor of the peppers and the tangy flavor of the vinegar.
Thai steak with noodles and green beans (with elk instead of the steak of course) was also a first-time recipe that really delivered. I made this in my wok, first by blistering the green beans in some coconut oil, then adding the peppers. Instead of grilling steak, I very thinly sliced the elk and marinated it in some vegetable oil and about 2 tablespoons of the red curry paste. I scraped the finished veggies out of the wok, then cooked the elk, then dumped the beans, peppers, cooked noodles and sauce all back in together, tossing to combine.
I made this roasted carrot salad with spinach and goat cheese even simpler to prepare by buying a 50/50 baby spinach/spring mix lettuce blend. I left off the almond because I was too lazy to buy them. It would also be good with grilled chicken added.
The recipe for this blueberry peach cobbler said the dough was supposed to be “poured over” the fruit, but as you might be able to tell from the photo, no pouring was possible. I spooned it out like it was a biscuit topping, and even though the dough rose okay, it certainly isn’t going to win any prizes for looks. The Demerara sugar sprinkled over the topping was a nice crunch on an otherwise squishy dessert.
Rather than post each recipe step by step this time around, I thought I would make a summary list of all the dishes I’m planning to make this week and which veggies they’ll use. It will help me think and shop ahead for meals for the week and will be much faster for me to write than the longer posts I used to make (hopefully helping me keep up with the blog, ahem). I’ll link to the recipes online, where possible, and will follow up with a full blog post if I love the recipe or make substantial changes – or if you send me your requests!
Here goes, roughly in order from Sunday to Friday:
Even though this sounds like a lot, I expect at the end of this week we will still have red scallions to use, even after I put them on the tofu and noodles and the poke bowl. We might have some lettuce left over and maybe even some kale since that bag was pretty stuffed. I know we will have green garlic still to use because I’ll be using what we got last week in the recipe this week! And to think, this is only the start of the season – I have my work cut out for me.
We’re very much in what I like to call “salad season these days. A sure way to know summer is fast approaching is that the garlic is looking less green and more like the adult bulb we typically know it as.
Clockwise from left: Green Garlic, Spinach, Green Kale (busting out of its plastic bag!), two heads of Red Leaf Lettuce, two bunches of Red Scallions, Cremini Mushrooms, Mixed Cherry Tomatoes, and Shunkyo Radishes (with greens still attached)
I’m not very skilled at bread baking. While I’ve got no problems with cake-like breads, like banana or zucchini breads, I sometimes struggle with making yeast breads. I’ve had more than a few sets or rolls turn out tough. This week’s focaccia recipe may be the first step towards conquering my fears.
The first step of course, is combining the warm water and the yeast. After the yeast has dissolved, whole wheat flour, olive oil, sugar and salt are added. Then, flour is added until the dough reaches a stiff consistency. I should note: the original recipe suggests using bread flour, but I was waaaaay too cheap to buy flour I wasn’t going to use that often. Instead, I used regular whole wheat flour in place of whole wheat bread flour and all purpose flour instead of bread flour. The dough is then kneaded and left to rise until is doubles in size, about 45 minutes.
Waiting is always the hardest part.
After the dough has risen, thin basil slices are incorporated. The dough rests for 10 minutes, then gets rolled out into a pan and rests 10 more minutes. Finally, the tomatoes, garlic, and cheese are pressed into the top of the loaf. The tomatoes should be cut side up so they cook down nicely under the heat of the broiler. 15-ish minutes at 450 (plus additional cheese melty/tomato toasty time under the broiler) is all it takes to turn out a great-tasting and impressive looking loaf of focaccia!
Sorry the photo is a bit blurry, but it was hard to see through all the smoke.
The original recipe suggests using a 10″ x 15″ jelly roll pan to bake the bread, but more important than the dimensions is that the pan have a bit of a lip so the olive oil doesn’t run off and burn in the bottom of your oven. Not that I’m speaking from experience or anything, but let’s just say my neighbors probably didn’t appreciate hearing my smoke alarm as frequently as they did while I was baking this.