Well that’s some grommet sh…

Growing up whenever my mom would cook something really spectacular my dad would say, “That’s some real grommet shit, Donna.” Grommet = gourmet and this sentence = his way of saying, “good work!” The manfriend and I regularly refer to things we eat as grommet. It’s a regular shout out to my dad.

This weekend we had some friends over for dinner. On the menu was:

The ribs were unreal. The broccoli simple. The rice to die for. Altogether it was some “grommet shit!”

* When I mentioned to the manfriend that I was going to try the whole black rice thing, he was skeptical. “Man, what’s that stuff gonna cost?” I was worried, too. I thought it would be at least $8 a pound. I found it for $2.99 a pound at Whole Foods in the bulk aisle. We cooked it in a rice cooker and it came out perfect. It’s a bit heartier and chewier than our normal short-grain brown rice and the flavor is slightly sweet. All I know is that I’m going back to stock up! I highly encourage you to give it a shot.

New to the rotation

We’ve been in a serious dinner rut lately. So for the last couple of weeks we’ve been trying to use at least one new recipe a week to introduce new meals to the rotation.

I’m usually ambivalent about recipes. I see recipes (except when I’m baking and things need to be more precise) as a mere guideline. I feel like most recipes are written for the lowest-common denominator. They usually need more flavor – more salt, more spices, etc. The manfriend sees recipes as even more of a minor blueprint than I do and generally takes it to a whole new level. And thank god, because he comes up with some amazing stuff. The trouble is that he rarely writes down what he did, so it’s hard to duplicate things later.

But we both agree to that the first time we cook something to stick *mostly* to the recipe. Given what I just said above you can imagine how elated we are (shocked even) when a recipe delivers the first time out. This recipe knocked our socks off! This is a new fave in our house and will definitely be made many, many times this winter. We both agreed that this will be our new go-to chicken noodle soup when one of us is sick. The spiciness will be perfect for clearing out the sinuses.

Now, having said all that, I will say that we did make a couple of tweaks, which seems to negate the previous paragraph, I know. But, because the recipe only calls for 2.5 cups of shredded chicken and doesn’t tell you how to cook that chicken, I feel like what I’m about to say doesn’t degrade the beauty of this recipe.

To cook the chicken we placed it in a saute pan and sort of sauteed/boiled/steamed it with chicken broth, lime juice and fish sauce. This was the manfriend’s idea and it made the chicken taste amazing! We then carried that broth through the rest of the recipe and I guarantee it added a new layer of flavor.

Do yourself a favor – make this soup. It’s amazing! I’ll warn you, however, that it doesn’t make a great leftover.

Peaches, peaches everywhere!

I’m pretty much stuffing myself with as much summer fruit as I can before we’re back to citrus, bananas and apples flown in from God knows where.

Palisade, CO produces some of the best peaches ever. Currently their peaches are all over the state for insanely low prices. I’m buying them up with reckless abadon so I can peel them, slice them, freeze them and use them in this recipe throughout winter to remind me of warm days.

Peach & Basil Crumbles:

From Martha Steward Living

Filling:
4 ripe peaches, pitted, peeled (if desired), each sliced into 8 wedges*
1 Tbs. granulated sugar
1 Tbs. fresh basil (3-4 leaves torn if large)
1/2 tsp. grated lemon zest
1/2 tsp. coarse salt

Topping:
1/3 cup chopped almonds
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup plus 2 Tbs. flour*
1/4 tsp. coarse salt
3 Tbs. cold butter*

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Make the filling mixing all ingredients to combine.*
2. Make the topping: combine all ingredients rubbing in butter with your fingers until mixture is crumbly.
3. Divide filling among four 5 1/2-inch round baking dishes and sprinkle with topping. Transfer to a baking sheet. Bake until bubbling and golden brown (25-27 minutes). Let cool slightly.

Notes: I do a few things differently.

* I use at least 5-6 peaches depending on size and then adjust the topping accordingly.
* You can use any flour. I use rice so as to make this gluten-free.
* I use Earth’s Balance butter (dairy free) or you could use Spectrum Organic Shortening to make this a vegan or dairy free dessert.
* Before I the basil, lemon zest and salt, I saute the peaches in the sugar and a little bit of Triple Sec (any fruity alcohol will do, or just use water so they don’t burn). Not cooking them a bit beforehand results in peaches that are too crisp. I then let the peaches cool before I add the other ingredients.

I know the use of basil seems odd, but it really adds a nice flavor. It’s not overpowering and you just get a hint of it now and then. It seems to really brighten the dish.

A recipe to share

I’ve shared a few recipes in the past (here, here, and here) but it’s been many months sinced I’ve shared anything new. To be honest, we’ve been in a rut around my house and eating the same types of things over and over. I really shouldn’t complain as it’s partly my fault.

I don’t mind eating the same things over and over for breakfast and lunch. I’m not sure why this doesn’t bother me, but I did read recently that routinizing certain meals can help with healthy eating, which sounds good to me. But when it comes to dinner, I like a bit more variety and we’ve been falling short of that lately.

Once a week (usually on a Saturday) the manfriend and I will sit down and come up with a menu for the week and then a grocery list based off of that menu. We started doing this when we moved in together almost two years ago. Two years ago? My god, how time flies. Anyway, before we started the routine, this is how things would go:

(Annie comes home around 6 p.m.)
A: “Hey, what should we eat for dinner?”
M: “I dunno.”

(Back and forth ensues until at least 6:30 p.m. when finally something is chosen. Then a trip to the store happens wherein everything for the meal has to be purchased. Inevitably additional, unnecessary items, like bags of chips and juice are purchased, and we return home at 7:30 p.m.).

A: “How the hell did we just manage to spend $60 on tonight’s dinner?”
M: “I dunno.”

(Dinner is prepared by the manfriend, who is a wonderful cook but often painfully slow and messy when preparing a meal. Dinner is done at 9 p.m. and hefed down. Then I must do the kitchen clean-up. The whole ordeal is over at 10 p.m. and now it’s time to race off to bed.)

A: “This is craziness. We really need to come up with a better routine.”
M: “Yeah.”

With our new routine in place, we are better able to stick to a budget and end up eating dinner at a reasonable time. It’s really a brilliant way to do this, if I do say so myself. But the process of coming up with meals each week can be oh so painful. Half the time it’s like pulling teeth and we end up falling back on the meals we know we like over and over and over just to hurry through the process. Finally we reach a point where we’re just sick to death of our standbys. So recently we’ve been pulling out the cookbooks and looking online more trying to come up with some new ideas. This week I (yes, I do cook on occasion, sheesh) made the dish below. I doubled it so we’d have plenty of leftovers, which is a good way to stretch a buck. For the life of me I can’t remember where I came across this, but it’s really easy and yummy. The flavors are very simple and refreshing. Plus it doesn’t require turning on the stove, which is a no-no in our house during the summer.

Chicken Stewed with Artichokes and Tomatoes

Ingredients:
1 pound(s) uncooked boneless, skinless chicken breast, four 4-oz pieces, cut in half
1 medium onion(s), sliced
3 cup(s) canned crushed tomatoes, with Italian herbs
28 oz canned artichoke hearts, without oil, drained and quartered
2 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
2 medium garlic clove(s), minced
2 tsp lemon zest
1 tbsp parsley, chopped

Instructions:
Heat a large, nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray over high heat. Brown chicken; remove and set aside. Over medium heat, cook onion until softened. Return chicken to skillet and stir in tomatoes, their juice, lemon juice and artichokes. Cover partially and simmer for 25 minutes (I also salt and pepper things as I go along the process).

Stir together garlic, zest and parsley for topping.

Sprinkle each piece of chicken with some garlic topping and serve. I eat this straight up in a bowl, the manfriend puts it on rice.

The Best Sweet Potatoes Ever!

I remember exactly when I met my sister-in-law, Laura.  It was Thanksgiving probably about 15 years ago or so.  Is that right, Laura?  She seemed really nervous, and I can’t blame her.  Here it was, a fairly major holiday, and she’s meeting her new boyfriend’s family for the first time.  Her contribution was sweet potatoes.

We didn’t grow up eating sweet potatoes.  We were more of a tater tot or baked potato family.  So I was a little hesitant to try them.  All I ever knew of sweet potatoes for Thanksgiving was a oddly colored, marshmallow mess they we didn’t include along side green bean casserole, dressing, mashed potatoes, etc. But I was taught good manners and dolloped a small amount on my plate.  I pretty much ended up making a meal out of these potatoes. It was then and there that I started a long love affair with sweet potatoes and felt the first twinkle of love for Laura.

3 cups mashed yams or potatoes (approximately 4 large)
2 eggs beaten
1/3 cup milk (plain hemp or unsweetened almond milk would work fine here also)
1/3 cup butter (Spectrum Organic Shortening would do just fine)
1 tsp. vanilla

Topping:
1/3 cup butter, melted (Spectrum Organic Shortening would work great here)
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup flour (brown rice flour would be a good substitute)
1 cup chopped pecans

Peel, boil and mash potatoes.  Beat in eggs, milk, butter, and vanilla.  Beat on medium until mixture is light.  Spread in a 13″x9″ ungreased baking pan. Mix topping ingredients by hand in a bowl and sprinkle on top. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes.  Serves 10-12.

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