how i eat: last week in dinners (6/15 – 6/20)

Sunday Dinner: Garlicky Chicken Thighs with Lemon Anchovy Sauce, Cauliflower Mash and Sauteed Mushrooms

Oh boy. I’m setting myself up for this one. This the third time I’ve made this and I haven’t yet told Bob what’s in it. I just keep asking him, “Did you like the chicken?” And when he says, “Yes, it was very good”, I smile to myself somewhat deviously. I’ve thought about telling him there’s anchovies in it, but my guess is that he would’ve never given it a chance. Well, he knows now so I’m telling you to give it a chance. Are you one of those people that’s really weird about anchovies? Because I think you should get over it. They’re a great source of protein, calcium and contain fatty acids that reduce the risk of heart disease. Plus, the sauce is just the right amount of salty, bright and pungent. It’s incredibly delicious! I tossed in a few extra cloves of garlic, but other than that, the recipe is perfect as is. Do. It.

The cauliflower mash was tasty too and the sheer volume of it allowed us to have leftovers (which we usually don’t have when I just roast it), so that was nice. Here’s what I did: Cut a large head of cauliflower into florets. Steamed/boiled it until it was fork-tender. Placed in the food processor with 1 tablespoon of herb cream cheese, 2 cloves of roughly chopped garlic (that were first sautéed in olive oil for 2 minutes) and some of the reserved cauliflower water to thin it out. Not sure how much of the reserved water I used, but I added it in a tablespoon at a time until the consistency was to my liking. 

Monday Dinner: Shrimp Scampi Pasta

angel hair

This one is tasty, quick and almost impossible to screw up. So it’s basically the makings of a perfect weeknight dinner. I added way more garlic because I’m a garlic-oholic. Also, I subbed the butter for ghee (basically butter with all the milk solids removed; clarified) and used half the amount that this recipe called for. I like ghee because it’s believed to have a higher nutritional value than butter and can be cooked at a higher heat without burning. It also keeps for a lot longer. But like butter, it’s best in moderation. To find out more about ghee, click here. My other sub was Angel hair pasta because I just don’t care for linguine.

Tuesday Dinner: Red Lentil Soup with Lemon.

Red lentil soup

Yet another Melissa Clark recipe. I’m a fan. I’m also a fan of red lentils. Not only are they the quickest cooking lentil, but they’re high in fiber, protein, iron and they stabilize blood sugar levels. I’ve made this one countless times but this time, I didn’t have onions or tomato paste, so I had to improvise. I also wanted to make it heartier so I added a potato (vitamin B-6 boost!) and some baby spinach (multiple vitamins boost!). Here’s my take:

Red Lentil Soup with Lemon, Spinach and Potato (adapted from The New York Times)

3-4 tablespoons olive oil
6 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons onion powder
2 handfuls of grape tomatoes, quartered
1-2 tablespoons ground cumin (I like a stronger cumin flavor so I always err on the side of more)
1 tablespoon paprika
1 1/2 teaspoons turmeric
3 handfuls of baby spinach, roughly chopped
1 medium russet potato, sliced into 1-inch pieces
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, more to taste
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
Pinch of  cayenne
4 cups chicken broth
1 cup red lentils, rinsed
Juice of 1 lemon
3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro, or to taste.

In a large pot, heat the oil over high heat until hot. Add garlic and sauté for about 3 minutes.
Stir in tomatoes, potatoes, cumin, turmeric, paprika, salt, black pepper, cayenne and sauté for 3-4 minutes.
Add broth and lentils. Bring to a simmer, then partially cover pot and turn heat to medium-low. Simmer until lentils and potatoes are soft, about 30 minutes. Taste and add salt if necessary.
Add the spinach until wilted into the soup, then turn off heat.
Using a regular or hand blender, purée half the soup then add it back to pot. If you’re using a hand blender, then there’s no need to remove half the soup. Just blend until it’s the right amount of chunky and smooth.
Reheat soup if necessary, then stir in lemon juice and cilantro.

You know what? It was just as delicious if not more than the original recipe. Though one thing I’d keep from the original is the tomato paste. I prefer a deeper, more concentrated tomato flavor for this soup than what the fresh tomatoes can provide. Also, keep tasting the soup to make sure the spices are to your liking. I always find myself adding more spice or even more water if the soup is getting too thick.

Wednesday Dinner: Tuna Steaks with Roasted Broccoli and Roasted Potatoes

wednesday dinner

Tuna steaks are a viable choice when you’re craving meatiness, but want a healthier option over steak or beef. It’s a controversial food, what with claims of potential mercury poisoning, but if eaten in moderation, you can reap the benefits. Tuna is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which are great for your heart, eyes, mood and blood pressure. For this dish in particular, you just marinate the steaks in about 3-5 tablespoons of olive oil, a generous sprinkling of garlic powder, salt, pepper and juice from a lemon for about 30 minutes and then sear at a medium-high heat for about 3 minutes on each side. This will leave it nice and rare in the middle. Otherwise, there’s no point in eating it because when it’s well done, it’s dry dry DRY. For my sides: roasted russet and sweet potatoes and broccoli tossed in olive oil, salt and nutritional yeast, then roasted until crispy. This was Bob’s favorite homemade meal of the week!

Thursday Dinner: English Muffin Pizzas and Sautéed Cabbage for me. Scrambled Eggs, Sautéed Cabbage and Spiced Chicken Breasts for him.

thursday dinner

This was what I call a “work with what you got” dinner. I only had a few random ingredients in the house, some of which included Sprouted Grain English muffins, cooked chicken breasts, green cabbage, eggs, tomato sauce and mozzarella. So I gave Bob the choice of a few options for dinner and he picked scrambled eggs, chicken and cabbage. YES! Because I wanted the English muffin pizzas all for myself. Fun fact: this was the first food I ever learned how to make. Like, ever…in life.

Sprouted Grain English Muffin Pizzas

Pre-toast the sliced English muffins until lightly golden.
Spoon ready-made pizza sauce (I use San Marzano tomato sauce, since it’s delicious all on its own) onto muffins. The amount is up to you.
Sprinkle mozzarella cheese over top. Again, you decide how much.
Drizzle with a tiny bit of olive oil.
Toast in toaster oven until cheese is melted.

Do I even call that a recipe?

Friday Dinner: At Union Square Cafe: Lasagna Bolognese + Banana Tart for me. New York Strip Steak and Marrow Mashed Potatoes + Chocolate Custard for him. Pork Belly Empanadas + Lotsa’ Cocktails for both of us.

friday dinner2friday dessert

Its funny. I chose to go to Union Square Cafe because it has an acclaimed reputation for healthier, seasonal foods. I’ve been wanting to try it for the longest time, but my decision to go there was partly because I wanted Bob to have something besides his usual steak and potatoes, just to get him used to ordering something a little better than a big hunk of red meat. I tried really hard to make the roast chicken and cippolini onions sound appealing (with words like, “crispy skin” “juicy” and “sweet pearl-like onions”) but the joke was on me because he ended up ordering…steak and potatoes. I should have known. There is always a steak and potatoes dish, no matter where you go, it seems. I had the lasagna bolognese which was just heaven. The lasagna sheets were paper thin which made for a really delicate texture and the peas added a nice color and  sweetness to the dish. The banana tart was…an experience. That is to say, very decadent and very yummy. It was a good reward to end a good week!

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