Saturday, February 25, 2012

A few of our favorite meals

As I was making dinner tonight and looking forward to eating it because it's one of our favorite meals, I decided that maybe I'd share them here because everyone needs some delicious and easy meal ideas!  And one thing all our favorite meals have in common is that they're pretty simple and easy to make.  Cliché perhaps, but sometimes it is the simple things that are the best.

First, tonight we had Escarole, Sausage and White Bean Stew from the giant yellow Gourmet cookbook.  I found the recipe online pretty much verbatim for you here, but I have a couple comments.  First of all, the recipe tells you to make this in a 12-inch skillet, but I think that's crazy. I use a dutch oven.  Much less chance of spilling things all over the stove when I'm stirring in the head of escarole. Also, I've used both sweet or hot Italian sausage in pork or chicken format but my favorite is the Garlic and Herb chicken sausage from Whole Foods (from their butcher counter).  And while I've certainly used grated parmesan, tonight I threw in a leftover rind I had when I added the broth and let that melt in. Mmmmm.  Make sure you have some chunks of crusty bread and you have your meal! (I used French bread from our bread machine. I love my bread machine).
(image from A Chow Life)

Another absolute favorite of ours -- so favorite that I made it on Valentine's Day and have made it as an anniversary meal -- is Eating Well's Lemon-Garlic Sardine Fettucine.  We just call it sardine pasta.  I know what you're probably thinking: "Sardines? With pasta? I'm not so sure about that!" I agree! That's what I thought! I have no idea what prompted me to actually go and make it.  And then we all loved it! You can use tuna instead of sardines, but I say go for the sardines. You may be surprised. And if you like sardines already, then you're going to love this. A few comments: I've used linguine or fettucine; there's not much of a difference in the end result. The quality of the sardine definitely makes a difference.  I use Trader Joe's boneless skinless in oil. I haven't been able to find the sardines in tomato that the recipe calls for -- if you don't use a version in tomato, do not forget to add the tomato paste (the directions for that is up in the little intro blurb to the recipe). That tomato flavor is a big component.  You can leave out the parsley (sometimes I don't have any on hand) but definitely do the toasted breadcrumb. It's worth dragging out the food processor to make the fresh breadcrumb. You can add a salad for some greenery to make it a meal, but sometimes we just split the whole recipe between the two of us (and Nate eats a small portion as well -- he loves it, too!)

(Image from Eating Well)

Two more to share!  Another Eating Well recipe, French Onion Beef Tenderloin, which I make with sirloin is really really satisfying.  I don't really have any comments about this one, it's pretty straightforward.  Add some green beans and serve with extra bread to eat up the extra onions and you're done.

(Image from Eating Well)

And the last one is perfect for a quick weeknight dinner.  It's not exactly a recipe because it uses a frozen Trader Joe's product for the bulk of the meal and essentially has only three main ingredients.  Get Trader Joe's Fire-roasted Vegetables with Balsamic Butter Sauce, usually with the other frozen veggies in their freezer cases, some chicken breasts or thighs (I'd guess about a pound) and some frozen pre-cooked brown rice (or make it from scratch or use white, whatever, just eat it with rice).  Brown the chicken on both sides in a large skillet until it's cooked through and then set it aside.  Cook the veggies according to the package directions and then when it's nearly ready and everything's almost thawed, add the chicken back in (and any accumulated juices) and flip once or twice so it's coated.  When the veggies are done, you're done!  Serve over rice.

So there you have it.  Some of my family's favorite meals.