Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Dressing up the Average Dinner Week


You look forward to it and loath it at the same time, especially if you or you and your spouse or significant other, both work full time!  What shall we make tonight?  What's easiest?  What's quickest?  Hey, Stop, Wait....how about, What's Yummiest???  Well Chez Jacqua is rockin' in the same boat, and is here to loan you some advice in the kitchen:)

Let's start with where you shop and what you stock in your kitchen!!!  Try places like Trader Joe's, Whole Foods, Safeway, Kroger, The Fresh Market, your locally owned and operated health food stores and the areas local farmers markets!!!  Avoid aisles that have sodas, boxed cake and cookie mixes, boxed noodle and rice mixes and candy in them and instead shop aisles that have All Natural food products in them:)  Your body will love you again!!! The trick here is to reduce your intake of sodium and preservative packed ingredients and instead making heart and body healthy meals that may take just a tiny bit longer but will make you feel a lot better!!!  Try to buy organic fresh fruit and vegetables whenever you can.  Grab meats from the All Natural section, check labels to make sure the meat your getting was fed an all vegetarian diet, they were raised cage-free and in a humane environment and never, ever given antibiotics and/or hormones!!!

My bi-weekly Shopping list:

Homestead Creamery 2% Milk, $2.99 (In the glass bottle, did you know that when you return the glass bottle, Kroger gives you $2:) Nice!  A dozen Egg Land's Best, cage-free, vegetarian fed, brown eggs, Arnold's Whole Grain Oatnut bread, Florida's Natural Orange Juice, a few packages of All Natural , Nature's Promise or Nature's Best Chicken Breasts, Private Selection Lamb Shanks, Mild Italian Sausage, Ground Beef and  Ground Lamb, Cornish Game Hens, Wild Sockeye Salmon, Raw Prawns, Duck Legs or Whole Duck, Whole Roaster Chicken, prosciutto.

 Colorful potatoes like red and purple skinned, Yukon and russet, sweet and yam, can even grab a bag of fingerling.  A large bag of Jasmine and Basmati rice.  A few of the following depending on the size of your household: Roma, on the vine, heirloom and cherry tomatoes, a bundle of kale, a head of butter lettuce, fresh basil, rosemary, tyme, oregano and cilantro, avocados, Mexican cucumbers, yellow squash, zucchini, yellow or red onions, carrots with the greens still attached, baby broccoli, broccoli rabe.  A variety of strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, a mixture of apples including pink lady, fugi, gala and honey crisp, navel oranges and clementines.

Fresh pasta if you don't make your own, heavy cream, beautiful jams like Bonne Maman strawberry, where available, make your own peanut butter from fresh peanuts or look for a good, organic, natural brand of spread instead of a brand full of sugar and other additives.  Try switching your morning cereal to brands available at Whole Foods or Trader Joe's, like their Cranberry Almond Clusters or Frosted Shredded Wheat, pick something with dried fruits and nuts and definitely whole grains and fiber.

If you like sweets, buy all natural ice creams like Vanilla Bean and pair it with heated Dark Chocolate or make your own cupcakes from scratch using easy recipes available online!  I've completely cut out boxed cake/cookie mixes, if I want those things, I make my own:)

Make sure to also pick up a variety of dried fruits and nuts like pistachios, their so good for you and they pair wonderfully with honey over cheese and crackers.  Cheeses like cream,goat, stilton and cheddar are always in the house along with Stacy's Pita Chips for snacking, but add in cheeses you haven't tried yet, I just picked up a German Soft Cheese called Mirabo with Walnuts in it!!!!  Yummmm!!!

Start your week off with an early Sunday dinner, something big and tasty so you can relax and veg out and watch movies for the evening!  For this meal, I paired Roast White Wine Chicken with boiled, red skinned potatoes and sauteed broccoli rabe.  I also included vanilla and chocolate macaroons, fresh strawberries and raspberries, Italian loaf and a floral tea.  Find any easy roast chicken recipe online and roast it in a dry white wine, like Sav Blanc and fresh herbs de provence.  Boil your quartered potatoes for roughly 20-25 min, and then toss them with a light sprinkle of salt, cracked pepper corns and a bit of butter.  Saute the broccoli rabe in a skillet with a bit of olive oil and a smiggin of water, toss it with salt and pepper for roughly 10 min.  You'll eat at the table and then migrate to the sofa with your tea, fruit and cookies, it's quite pleasant:) A nice Rose or the rest of the Sav Blanc wine goes excellent with this meal!!!       

Try your hand at Roast Duck like I did for the first time this past Fall, I roasted this duck with a recipe I found online which included dusting it with a Fall rub which included cinnamon and nutmeg, it was delicious, I paired it with roasted, colorful potatoes and a Kale, Pomegranate and Caramelized Parsnip Salad, I got from Aube Giroux of the Kitchen Vignettes Blog:)  It was perfect!!!  Serve your duck with a bright red wine, like Pinot Noir, something soft and light!

If you're in the mood for something really light and fresh, try slicing up some tomato, cucumber and avocado, drizzle it with a dressing made yourself with olive oil, a little balsamic vinaigrette, a little salt and cracked pepper corns, stir up and dress on top and Voila, you've got your starter!  Follow this with a main course of  Fresh Fettuccine with Salmon and Prawns:)  This recipe I got from my Pasta Bible!  It's quite simple, Pan cook your half a pound of salmon filet, skin-side up in olive oil, add prawns, pour a cup of dry white wine over it, add fresh sprigs of basil, salt and pepper, when the wine begins to boil, cover, simmer for about 5 min.  Let fish and prawns cool to the side.  Add 2/3 cup of heavy cream to the fish juices, chopped and peeled roma tomatoes (6), bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer for 15 min.  Cook your pasta, flake your fish, and then add fish and prawns back to the sauce, tossing evenly, season to taste!  Then in a serving bowl, combine your pasta with the sauce and serve, garnish with fresh basil and slices of parmagiano cheese:)  Dessert could include sweet cheeses, fruits and nuts!

If you like a heartier pasta, try this homemade Bolognese!!!!  A combination of ground lamb, beef and spicy Italian sausage browned in a skillet with olive oil, the addition of a chopped onion, 3 chopped carrots, a handful and a half of mushrooms, a pour of dry white wine, basil, oregano, 3 chopped garlic cloves and a can of whole, roma tomatoes make up this incredible sauce, cook roughly 45 minutes all together to let it simmer and mash up the whole tomatoes while stirring the sauce as it cooks!!!!!  Serve over freshly cooked fettuccine and you've got an incredible dish that's sure to please the pickiest of eaters!!! :)

If you're having people over and you want to do something easy, and sassy, go to the Fajita!!!!  I picked up some Spanish wines, both a white and a red to complete this meal!  I tossed chicken tenderloins into my large skillet with olive oil, I tossed until almost cooked through when I added chopped yellow onion, chopped garlic cloves, chopped orange and red bell pepper, I cooked until everything was cooked through, roughly another 10-15 min.  I tossed this with a good Southwestern Seasoning of Red Pepper Flakes, Garlic Powder, Salt and Ground Pepper.  I heated flour tortillas, chopped up fresh limes to squeeze on top, tomatoes and fresh cilantro.  I made a pot of Jasmine rice and added fresh cilantro and lime juice to it to pair with the fajitas, and I sat out a small bowl of sour cream and made guacamole served with white corn tortilla chips.  For the guac, I mashed avocados with chopped onion, diced tomato, squeezed in juice from half a lime, salt, pepper and garlic powder, and quickly sauteed fresh crab meat and corn from the store in a skillet to add on top for Roasted Corn and Crab Guac!!!!  My favorite way to do Guac:)  It was a hit!!! 

If you're in the mood for a rustic sandwich, salad and soup, try these on for size!!!!  First up, a grilled cheese....
With mozzarella, prosciutto and broccoli rabe or kale!!!  Pan fry the prosciutto until done, let dry on paper towels to the side, saute your broccoli rabe in a bit of olive oil and water and season with salt and pepper, brush one side of a crusted Italian loaf slice of bread with olive oil and place it oil side down on skillet, place on top, the broccoli rabe, then prosciutto, then mozzarella, ( I used mozzarella soaked in red pepper flakes, dried basil, oregano and olive oil ) then place other slice of bread, fry until both sides of bread are crisp and browned, slice in half to serve!!! :)  This pairs great with a simple butter lettuce salad with or without diced tomato, drizzle with olive oil, balsamic vinaigrette:)

Now try a ground lamb packed with fresh spinach and rosemary burger!!!  As easy as it sounds, add chopped up spinach leaves to ground lamb, spice up with dried oregano, rosemary and tyme and fry on a skillet until done, use the rest of your crusted bread from the week for the bun and add sliced avocado, butter lettuce and heirloom tomatoes to create one heck of a burger!!!!!  With mashed avocado and goat cheese spread onto the bun this burger needs no other condiment, let the flavors speak for themselves:)  I paired these burgers with all natural, sweet potato fries!  Finger licking good!!!!!!!!!

What to do with your left over ground lamb, put it together with some ground beef and spicy or mild Italian sausage to make this amazingly satisfying soup on a cold, winters night!!!!!  Brown your ground meat in a skillet with olive oil, Add roughly 16 oz of chicken broth and a quart of water to the pot.  Throw in 1/4" slices from 2 russet potatoes, a chopped large yellow onion and garlic from 2 cloves.  Cook about 45 min.  Salt and pepper to taste!  Simmer and add in roughly 2 cups chopped Kale and 1 cup heavy cream.  Heat through and serve hot with a crusted bread and you've got one happy tummy!!!!!  This recipe is a copy cat of Olive Gardens Zuppa Toscana that you can create right at home:)   

Did somebody say they wanted a baby chicken???  ;)  Try roasting a pair of Cornish Game Hens for dinner, wash them, lay them on top of chopped onion, garlic cloves, whole carrots and potatoes and season them with a half a lemon placed inside their body, and drizzle them with olive oil, salt and pepper, fresh rosemary, oregano and tyme, roast covered for roughly 45 min, remove cover and let crisp and brown for another 15-20 min for a couple of delectable birds:) 

If lamb is to your liking, try this lovely, rich, lamb shank!!!  Brown shank on all sides in olive oil in a skillet, then add quartered potatoes, chopped garlic cloves and about a cup of vegetable or chicken broth.  Season with salt, pepper and a pour of red wine, I used a Petite Sirah from Trader Joe's which was perfect, cover and let cook for about 45 minutes, tossing and turning throughout.  Add your left over kale from earlier in the week on top in the last 5-10min to steam and serve with a glass of the sirah!!!  Absolutely my favorite thing I've made so far:)

Ok, so we've gone slightly over a week with different recipes, but that's ok;)  I hope you enjoyed these easy to do meals that won't take over your busy life and you still get to eat right and feel full:)  I've also learned to not be as precise as recipes are, a little more or less of things can be just fine, and experiment with adding or subtracting things you like/dislike to create your own spin on things, that's where the real magic can happen!!!  I hope you've enjoyed this food post, I find it's nice to dabble in other things other than travel, sometimes, staying in is a treat as well;)


No comments:

Post a Comment

Thanks for leaving your comments!