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Weekly Menu. October 5 – 11, 2020

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This week’s menu definitely has a Fall feel to it. There are two stew-like Instant Pot meals, oven roasted sea bass, and we will be using a big pot of boiling water for our pasta meal. I hope the weather cooperates and we stop having days in the 90’s!

On Monday we will be celebrating the Jewish holiday of Sukkot in keeping with our plan to celebrate everything this year. It is a harvest festival where you eat outdoors and have Fall sorts of dishes like my sweet and sour stuffed cabbage.

Also in a departure from my previous menus I am leaving Saturdays open from now on for something easy or leftovers. I find that by the end of the week I tend to be cooked out so it will be soup and a sandwich or some leftovers from the week’s cooking. There is no point in kidding myself that I am going to want to make another elaborate meal.

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Vegan/vegetarian chili. 10/2-3/20

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Mushroom, white and black bean chili

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Unfortunately this chili looks better than it tastes. I tried a new recipe and the spices turned out gritty. The instructions had me putting them in too late in the cooking. They needed to be added with the oil towards the beginning. I know that. Why didn’t I just follow my instincts instead of the recipe! Dumb.

We got it tasting pretty good by adding more oil, more soy sauce, lime juice, and hot sauce. And the second day it was better. I made a half recipe but used all the mushrooms and onion called for in the total recipe. Also omitted the corn and added a chopped bell pepper and a jalapeño, chopped.

Vegetarian chili with mushrooms and beans

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 bell peppers diced (any color)
1 large yellow onion diced
1 bell pepper, chopped
1 jalapeño, chopped
4 cloves garlic chopped
16 oz. mushrooms roughly chopped
6 cups cooked beans such as kidney, black, and/or pinto beans, washed and drained (four 15-oz cans)
28 oz. canned crushed tomatoes preferably fire roasted
2 cups corn frozen or fresh
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon kosher salt plus more if needed
2 cups vegetable stock or water
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro optional

Sauté peppers and onion in olive oil (2 tablespoons) until softened and starting to brown over medium-high heat in a large pot (approximately 5 minutes).

Add garlic; sauté for 30 seconds, or until fragrant.

(I think here is where you should add the spices and a little more oil. Cook for a minute or two.)

Add chopped mushrooms and a pinch of kosher salt; sauté until softened and liquid has evaporated, stirring only occasionally.

Add remaining ingredients except cilantro; stir to combine. Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer for at least 20 minutes and up to 1 hour.

Add cilantro during last five minutes of cooking.

Taste and adjust seasonings, acid, and lipid levels.

Note: My picture shows a garnish of yogurt. Omit for vegan preparation.

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Chilean sea bass, glazed carrots, rice. 10/1/20

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Chilean sea bass with a parsley tartar sauce, glazed carrots, and rice/caulirice mixture

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Wow, was this delicious! John cooked these thick chunks of fish for fourteen minutes in a 400F oven topped with a little olive oil, salt, garlic powder, paprika, and bay leaf. They came out perfectly! To accompany the fish I made the parsley tartar sauce which is basically my usual tartar sauce with the addition of parsley, Greek yogurt, jalapeño, and water to thin it out.

The carrots, not quite submerged in water, were cooked with a few thyme sprigs for about 12 minutes When the water boiled away (you may need to add more during the cook time) I added a teaspoon of sugar, a teaspoon of olive oil, and 2 tablespoons of finely chopped onion. A couple of minutes rolling them around in the pan and they were glazed. The rice was my usual lower carb side of rice and cauliflower rice combined.

This dish is worthy of company and only takes about one half hour to make!

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Posted in American, Easy, Fish, pescatarian, Recipes, rice, Vegetables | Tagged | 3 Comments
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Tuna and white bean gratin. 9/30/20

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Tuna and white bean gratin with a tossed green salad

Another new dinner entree tonight. This is a mixture of canned tuna, white beans, refried beans, garlic, Gruyere, and panko breadcrumbs. The original recipe calls for cream and milk and for purée-ing the beans. We were able to get by with a little liquid from the beans and melting the refried beans into the dish for a creamy consistency. We also added mushrooms to help with umami. It worked pretty well but we felt it was still missing that low note you want in a dish. Maybe more cheese or olive oil would have helped. I think we will make this again but keep experimenting with the dish.

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A hamburger. 9/29/20

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A hamburger on rye with sliced red onion and basil

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On Tuesday night while I was watching the debacle that was the “Presidential” “Debate” I lost my will to cook and threw my diet out the window. John is always a willing co-conspirator in these rare moments. He quickly defrosted a couple of hamburgers and opened a bottle of wine. So instead of the vegan chili that we had planned on we sat in front of the TV trying to be comforted by a hamburger on rye bread with red onion and basil washed down by red wine. Seriously a person can only take so much stress.

So I am eliminating the curried lentils and shaking up the order of our menu for the rest of the week. Hopefully I will get back on track.

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New dish! Spiced ginger shrimp. 9/28/20

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Spiced ginger shrimp over cauliflower rice with broccoli

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The shrimp we made was spiced with curry powder and ginger in this dish from Melissa Clark. The recipe as written gives you options for the main spice, garam masala, Baharat, five-spice, chili powder, etc. We were in a curry mood. You cook your spices, garlic, and fresh ginger in a little oil and then add cherry tomatoes which will burst giving you a sauce that you enhance with some butter after you cook the shrimp. We found that there wasn’t enough sauce so we added a little stock.

As usual we cut down on the fat which surely impacts the dish. I would buy some clam juice to use next time to help with the lack of sauce. Also we ended up putting on some sriracha to give it some bite. Spiced does not mean spicy! With some tweaks we will make this again. The recipe can be found in the original at the NYTimes Cooking site.

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Weekly Menu. September 28 – October 4, 2020

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Anybody else tired of cooking? I would love to get back to going out to dinner occasionally. To keep things fresh we are trying a couple of new recipes this week and dusting off a meal we have not made in quite a while. In the new category are Monday’s meal of spiced ginger shrimp and Friday’s tuna-white bean gratin. A recipe that is ready for a replay is shredded tofu and mushrooms. As usual I will be posting daily with the details.

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Middle Eastern Delight (vegan). 9/26/20

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Garlic hummus, Lebanese tabbouleh, and pita

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Although the parsley-forward Lebanese tabbouleh is quite a lot of work, the hummus, salad mix, olives, and pepperoncini are all ready-made. I got my recipe from NY Times Cooking which is behind a paywall but it easy to find other recipes  via Google. Of course I modified the recipe I used by cutting back on the oil and adding some cucumber at the end. My tabbouleh is quite tart which I really like but I did see John sneaking some additional olive oil.

In addition get some ready made salad greens, a brand of hummus that you like, some jarred olives (I like Castelveltranos), and sliced pepperoncini. Spread the hummus on the pita (my favorite is Toufayan whole wheat), add a dab of the tabbouleh, a ring of pepperoncini, a bit of salad greenery and you will be happy.

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Chickpeas with ditalini and greens (vegan). 9/25/20

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Chickpeas with ditalini and greens

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This stew/soup is a lot like the vegan vegetable soup I had for dinner a few days ago. Instead of kale I used a pre-washed combo of spinach and arugula and rather than potatoes the starch in this dish was ditalini pasta. Otherwise they are pretty much the same. I am including the recipe for this chickpea rendition but please feel free to substitute different beans, starch, and greens plus use what vegetables you have. I had a leek and a part of a fennel bulb so I used them this time instead of an onion and celery. You will still get a good result and each time it will taste a little differently.

Chickpeas with ditalini and greens (adapted from a NY Times Cooking recipe)

2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
2 sprigs thyme
1 ½ cups vegetable broth
2 cups water
1 can petite diced tomatoes with liquid
1 can of chickpeas, rinsed and drained
½ cup ditalini
5 or 6 ounces of any type greens (spinach, kale, etc.)
Salt and black pepper
Garnish with a drizzle of olive oil

In a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the carrots, celery, and onion. Cook until tender and the onion is translucent.

Add the garlic, red pepper flakes, and thyme and cook until the garlic is fragrant. Pour in the broth, water, and can of petite diced tomatoes with their liquid.

Once the mixture is boiling, add the chickpeas and ditalini. Reduce to a simmer and cover with a lid. Simmer 10 minutes, or until the ditalini is tender. Uncover and stir in the greens, letting them simmer until incorporated.

Your mixture will be quite stew-like. If you want the mixture to be more soupy, add some additional water. Season with salt and pepper. Garnish the bowls with a drizzle of olive oil.

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Costco chicken classic dinner. 9/24/20

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Costco chicken breast in gravy with root vegetables mash and broccoli

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This is our second dinner made with the rotisserie chicken we bought at Costco on Tuesday. We warmed the meat up slowly and kept it under a simmer so the meat would not dry out. The root vegetable mash is a combination of butternut squash and rutabaga. I saved the unused bits and pieces from the Autumn Soup I made last week. I already had them peeled and cut up. What a time saver! I also simply prepared some broccoli which never seems to go out of season!

And I still have half of a breast left!! I think I will use it for lunch on Friday in a pita pocket sandwich with mayo and crisp lettuce. Yum!

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