Thursday, May 29, 2008

Eating locally some more!

Tonight's Menu

  • grilled spicy pork tenderloin
  • skillet squash with bacon & onions
  • green salad bar
Our CSA share this week was HUGE, y'all! I could barely lift the box! My garden is just sucking so bad this year, which makes me doubly glad we decided to sign up for the CSA.

First the pork tenderloin, which did NOT come from the CSA. I made this recipe, which we all love (except the kids are refusing to eat it all of a sudden -- WHAT IS WRONG WITH THEM?!).

The squash dish was 100% local! And I LOVE this dish, y'all. My dad always grew squash and zucchini in his garden and the smell of it frying up with bacon and onions takes me right back to my childhood.

What I did was cut up a couple of thick slices of bacon (this was local, and my new favorite, bacon -- Pederson's Apple Smoked, from Hamilton, TX -- you could use whatever, even turkey or soy bacon, though you might have to add some olive oil with those) and brown it in a skillet until it was not QUITE crisp. Then I added a small chopped red onion (from the CSA), a small thinly sliced zucchini (ditto), and a yellow crookneck squash (tritto) that had the neck sliced thinly and the body sliced into thin half-moons. I stirred that all around in the skillet, covering it for a few minutes at a time to let the veggies steam through. After several minutes when the veggies were nice and tender, I stirred in some sliced onion tops (from the CSA red onion above -- I'm talking about the green bits here), salt, freshly ground pepper, and assorted minced herbs from my herb garden (flat-leaf parsley, "pesto" basil, thyme, dill and fennel tops).

Oh, it was soooo good. This is seriously one of my favorite things in the world to eat. Even DH tried some and pronounced it "not bad", which is high praise from him where veggies (especially squash) are concerned.

Tonight's salad bar was supermarket mixed lettuce, chopped supermarket baby carrots (we got some carrots in our CSA share but I couldn't be bothered to peel and chop them tonight), sliced cucumber from the CSA, sliced sweet banana peppers from the CSA, and some little pear and cherry tomatoes from my veggie garden. Yum!

Hot damn, I love summer!

Speaking of summer, tomorrow is the Badger children's last day of school! I hope to have much more time/energy to post our dinners over the summer. Also, Operation Make Your Own Damn Dinner is officially two years old! Wow! I hope to bring y0u a few updates on the original "mission" and what the kids are eating these days, as well.

Stay tuned!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Dinner with the folks

Tonight's Menu

  • grilled chicken thighs & drumsticks
  • grilled potato-onion packets
  • grilled zucchini
  • green salad bar
Yes, you read that right. Every single element of tonight's dinner was grilled, except the salad. My parents came over for dinner and I was in full-on cookout mode. The 90-degree temperatures helped with that a bit, I think.

Grilling chicken is SO much easier on my new grill than it was on my old one. The old one only had two burners and didn't do indirect heat well AT ALL. But the new one has THREE burners and works a treat for stuff like this!

Sooo, here is how dinner came together:

First I cut some small red potatoes into quarter-inch slices, then did the same with a small sweet yellow onion. I alternated layers of potato and onion on a big sheet of heavy-duty foil, adding little dabs of butter along with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, then folded the whole thing into a big foil packet.

I lit TWO of the grill burners, leaving the third burner unlit, and put the foil packet on the bread shelf of the grill over the unlit side. I left it there while the other stuff was cooking and it came out perfect -- nice tender potatoes and sweet, soft onions. Yum!

While the grill was heating up (with the foil packet of potatoes and onions already on it), I rinsed the chicken thighs and drumsticks, dried them on paper towels, then sprinkled them with Jane's Krazy Salt and garlic pepper. I stuck them skin-side down on the lit burners of the grill over medium-high heat for maybe 4-5 minutes just to crisp up the skins, then flipped them to skin-side up and moved them over to the unlit burner. Then I turned the other two burners to low and let the chicken cook, undisturbed, for about 30 minutes (I was making a LOT of chicken).

About 10 minutes before the chicken was done, I sliced a couple of zucchinis (from the CSA share) lengthwise, brushed them with EVOO, sprinkled with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, then cranked one of the lit grill burners up to medium-high and grilled them for just a couple of minutes per side (same way I made them the other night). Yum!

Tonight's salad bar was just mixed lettuces (from the grocery store, because my garden lettuces suck right now), sliced cucumber (ditto), sliced baby carrots (tritto), quartered tomatoes (er, quitto?), and rings of green bell and yellow banana peppers, both from the CSA share.

A perfect summer dinner, and actually pretty easy once the small amount of prep was done.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Shrimps on sticks! Again!

Tonight's Menu

  • grilled marinated shrimp
  • multi-grain tortilla chips
  • sliced beefsteak tomatoes
Yes! More grilling! Yay!

I think I have confessed in the past my inability to grill a decent steak. I can do it fine indoors, on my IKEA grill pan, but steaks + me + outdoor grills do not mix. Sadly, I have the same handicap when it comes to grilling shrimp. I DO it, but I have never done it WELL. The shrimp always end up dried out and kind of flavorless.

Until tonight.

I finally bought a clue and googled for recipes and settled on this one. I only made a couple of changes: I cut the hot pepper sauce in half (because I live with spice wimps) and substituted ketchup for the tomato paste. Also, I used sea salt and forgot to reduce the amount -- sea salt is a bit "saltier" than table salt, so you don't need as much. So, it was just a TAD too salty for my taste. But other than that, it was STUPENDOUS. Even the kids loved it, and the girl has demanded that I never use another recipe but this one when grilling shrimp. Okay by me!

The chips were our favorite Tostitos Multi-Grain Tortilla Chips. These taste SO much better than regular tortilla chips, even the blue corn ones! (They aren't paying me to say that, by the way -- we just really love these chips.)

The tomato was from the CSA, as was the garlic for the shrimp marinade (and the parsley was from my own herb garden, woo!).

This was a totally lazy dinner -- no effort involved at all, beyond mixing up the marinade and threading the shrimps on skewers. SO easy!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Slow-cooked comfort food

Tonight's Menu

  • beef short ribs in the slow-cooker
  • mashed potatoes
  • sauteed cabbage
We had some wicked thunder and hail storms roll through here last night, leaving us with mostly overcast skies and slightly cooler temperatures today. As luck would have it, I had bought some beef short ribs this week and decided to fire up the ol' crockpot for some comfort food!

We love our usual short rib recipe (found here) so much that I couldn't bring myself to deviate from it. Except I sort of did anyway. I didn't bother to dredge the ribs in seasoned flour before browning -- I just sprinkled both sides with salt and pepper and browned 'em off naked. And I was out of chili sauce, so I substituted ketchup. I also laid the sliced onions on top of the ribs and poured the rest of the mixed-together sauce ingredients on top, instead of adding the onions to the sauce. But other than that, it was the same as usual, and every bit as delicious!

The mashed potatoes were frozen Ore-Ida, doctored up with some butter, salt and pepper. Shut up.

For the cabbage, all I did was take half a head of plain old green cabbage, core it, chop it into chunks, then saute in a mixture of EVOO and butter until it was tender. I let it get a bit of caramelization for extra flavor. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and dump into a serving bowl. Easy!

Tomorrow it's back to grilling. Oh yes, best beloveds.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

More grilling! I know!

Tonight's Menu

  • grilled garlicky pork tenderloin
  • grilled zucchini
  • leftover coleslaw
  • leftover fruit salad
I know. I KNOW. We had pork two nights in a row, and it wasn't even leftovers. I don't usually do that, but ... well, there is a long, involved story behind why this happened. It basically boiled down to the fact that it rained/stormed off and on all day, so I had to plan something that could be cooked in the oven if need be, and ALL of the beef in our freezer was the "grill or slow-cook ONLY" variety. And it was a busy day, so slow-cooking in the oven was out. I don't know what to tell you, dudes. WE HAD PORK TWICE, OKAY?


What I did was take my huge mortar and pestle, smash up some garlic cloves (about four) with some kosher salt, add some olive oil, freshly ground pepper, and the juice of one lemon, then smear that all over the tenderloin and stick it in a plastic zipper bag in the fridge for about 4 hours. I grilled it over medium-high heat for a total of about 25 minutes, turning it maybe four times (to get all the sides). Then I let it rest for about five minutes before slicing diagonally into medallions. It was delicious and perfectly cooked.

The zucchini was from this week's CSA share. I'm the only one who likes it, so I only did ONE zucchini, but you could do as much as you want. All I did with that was cut the stem end off the zucchini, slice it lengthwise (the long way) into maybe quarter-inch slices, brush both sides with EVOO, then sprinkle with salt and pepper. Then I grilled them for a total of about 5-6 minutes, turning halfway through. They were tender and delicious, and I am perfectly happy with being the only one who will eat them because MORE FOR ME.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Breaking in the new grill!

Tonight's Menu

  • grilled boneless pork chops w/mango salsa
  • whole-grain tortilla chips
  • coleslaw
  • fruit salad
Oh, dudes. I keep meaning to post, I SWEAR I do, but lately by the time I've dealt with all the end-of-school frenzy, the homework, the making/eating/cleaning up of dinner, and the NIGHTLY COCKTAIL, HELLO, I am just too darn pooped.

HOWEVER. We have been eating some swell stuff lately, including lots of CSA goodies, and for Mother's Day DH and the kids gifted me with a new gas grill! So I will try REALLY HARD to start posting more from now on. Swearsies!

Anyhoo, tonight I broke in the new grill with some boneless pork chops. I just sprinkled them on both sides with Jane's Krazy Salt and garlic pepper, then whomped them on the grill for about 4-5 minutes per side. The new grill leaves MUCH sexier grill marks on meat than the old one, and it has about twice the surface area. LOVE! The chops were excellent.

I have previously discussed mango salsa, coleslaw and fruit salad.

Oh, and the girl child TOTALLY eats coleslaw now! I KNOW! It only took TWO YEARS of having to Make (Her) Own Damn Dinner for her to start eating the food I cook. I thought it would never happen. Look for an update on the original purpose of this blog soon, along with tips for using up all that CSA produce!