As always, Thursday is the day I plan my menus for the week to come. It has been suggested that I am inflexible; I prefer to believe that I’m organized. I only hyperventilate a little bit if it gets to be bedtime on Thursday and I have not made a shopping list and outlined each day’s dinners.
Next week is different for us because Rob will be on a business trip all week, and my stepdaughter has just moved into her own apartment. That leaves just Sam and me, which means we don’t have to have particularly hearty meals, but it also means there’s not much point in really adventurous cooking. If Rob is here and Sam hates the Thai stir fry, he gets rice with butter and Parmesan, and we eat the “real” food. If Rob’s gone and Sam doesn’t like what we have for dinner, I gain 20 pounds or throw away ridiculous amounts of food. I’m shooting for light, summer-y meals that are kid friendly but not repulsive to the adult foodie palate. We’ll see how it goes:
Skillet Souffle and Salad
This recipe comes from the January 2007 issue of “Real Simple.”
- 1 bag tortilla chips (baked are fine)
- 2 cans vegetarian re-fried beans
- 1 12 ounce bag shredded Monterey Jack or Mexican-Blend Cheese
- 1 can sliced black olives
- 2 avocados
- 1 jar medium or hot salsa
- 1 head iceberg lettuce, shredded
- 2 tomatoes, diced
- Sour cream (optional)
Make “faux guacamole:”peel, pit and dice avocados, and place in bowl. Add half jar of salsa and mash with fork until chunky, but blended. Add more salsa if “guacamole” seems dry. Its not authentic, but its delicious and easy.
Turn on broiler. Cook re-fried beans in microwave or in a small saucepan on top of the stove. Drain olives. Pour bag of chips onto an oven-safe platter. Spoon re-fried beans evenly over chips, and top with shredded cheese. Place under broiler until cheese melts, watching carefully to be sure it doesn’t burn. Remove from oven and top with guacamole, olives, lettuce, tomatoes and sour cream.
Pasta Carbonara; Fruit Salad
There are lots of good recipes for Pasta Carbonara, but here’s one I like, adapted from the January 2007 issue of “Real Simple:”
- 1 pound dry linguine
- 8 ounces bacon, diced (before cooking)
- 1 small yellow onion, diced
- 3 large egg yolks
- 1 cup grated Parmesan
- black pepper, to taste
Cook the linguine according to package directions, reserving 1 1/2 cups of cooking water. While the pasta is cooking, cook the bacon in a large skillet. Put bacon on a paper towel, and drain pan of all but 2 tablespoons of fat. Return skillet to medium heat, add the onion and cook until tender (3-4 minutes).
Put the cooked pasta back in the pot, add the pasta water, bacon and onion. Quickly stir in the yolks, one at a time (this will cook them). Add the Parmesan and pepper and stir. Serve with more Parmesan to sprinkle on top.
Smoked Mozzarella Pizza; Green Salad
This pizza recipe comes from a magazine called “Woman’s World,” which I don’t recall ever reading in my life. Maybe someone gave it to me? Looks good, though.
- 1 (16 ounce) pre-baked 12″ pizza crust, like Boboli
- 2/3 cup pizza sauce
- 4 oz. smoked mozzarella, cut into 1/4″ slices
- 2 oz. pepperoni slices (I’ll use turkey pepperoni)
- 1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
- 1 green pepper, cut into 1/4″-thick rings
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Place crust on pizza pan or baking sheet. Spread crust with sauce, leaving a 1″ border around the edge. Top with half of cheese. Arrange pepperoni, onion and pepper over cheese (I’ll let Sam do this), then top with remaining cheese. Bake until cheese is melted and crust is heated through, about 15 minutes.
Grilled Cheese Sandwiches and Cream of Tomato Soup
Need I say more? Homemade bread, sharp Vermont cheddar, and good old Campbells’ from the can.
Cheese Ravioli “Wheats;” Sliced Melon
For some unknown reason, my brother and I have called pasta with butter and Parmesan cheese (no sauce) “wheats.” I tend to use extra-virgin olive oil instead of butter these days, but wheats are wheats. For this dinner, I’ll boil a bag of frozen, cheese ravioli, and toss them with olive oil and Parmesan.
Tomato, Turkey, Provolone & Basil Panini; Bagged Kettle Chips; Strawberries in Balsamic Vinegar
My No-Panini-Maker Panini:
- 1 loaf good-quality bread (probably home made, for me)
- 1 pound sliced deli turkey
- 1/2 pound sliced Provolone
- 1 bunch fresh basil
- Extra virgin olive oil
Make sandwiches with turkey, Provolone and basil; how much of each depends on the personal preferences of your family. Heat a small amount of olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Lightly butter the outsides of sandwiches, and put as many of the sandwiches as you can fit in a pan. Use cooking spray on the bottom of a second frying pan (I use a cast iron skillet) on top of the sandwiches, and press down, hard. Cook until outsides of sandwiches are crisp, and cheese oozes out of the sandwiches when you press on the skillet. Can you tell I made this up all by myself?