1111 Snack dinner with seasonal veg

I’m starting to think that snack dinner is our equivalent of leftover casserole – you know, a bit of this, a bit of that, finishing off a few things that are in the fridge or that looked appealing during the last minute run to the store. (I’d link you to the episode of Malcolm in the Middle that talks about leftover casserole, but in my memory, it’s a just a throwaway laugh, not worth any further mention. We’ll see if I’m wrong.)

I wasn’t feeling up to making, much less eating, the risotto we’d planned on having for dinner tonight, so Shane ran up to Plum to get a baguette and a few other things to have with a tin of tuna and whatever veg side I could throw together during his shopping trip.  I came up with two: spinach sauteed with butter and garlic (and a bit too much salt, which is something you’ll almost never hear me say) and a wee butternut squash, cubed and roasted with ras el hanout.  And I’m not ashamed to say that we finished all of it – baguette, tuna, veg, and a bottle of wine – over the course of the evening.

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1006 Routine

On a normal day, I get home between 4-4:30.  I feed the cats, check the mail, chill out for a bit, and then start dinner so that we can eat around 5:30.  On a similarly regimented note, I generally plan meals Friday night or Saturday morning in advance of our weekend errands – farmers’ market, grocery store, garden.  If something happens to disrupt this schedule, we often end up with an unplanned snack dinners or some sort of unfortunate take out.

With no planned meals this week, it’s not surprising that tonight featured a round of Oh God What Do We Want To Eat, especially since neither of us were hungry after work. We came home, kicked around the house for an hour or so, and then found ourselves suddenly and ferociously hungry. Fortunately Shane was quick on the draw: pizza! And double fortunately, we stocked up at Trader Joe’s earlier in the week, and so could pop a Tarte d’Alsace in the toaster oven while quickly sauteing spinach and garlic for an iron-rich side.  In under 20 minutes, we had a great little meal on the table.  Sometimes a break with routine can be a good thing.

0606 Race-Day Swamp Monster Soup

I ran my second 5K of the year this morning: the annual Dexter-Ann Arbor Run.  I had intended to run the 10K, but an injury a few weeks ago has kept me sidelined, and this was the longest run I’ve managed in a few weeks.  As always, the best part of running a race is the post-race food – in this case, loads of fruit, pizza (weird, right?), and piles and piles of thick slices of bread from Zingerman’s.  Suffice to say that after a banana and a few (ahem) slices of dense chocolate-y bread with dried fruit and chocolate chunks, I didn’t need to eat much for the rest of the day.

The aftermath of last night’s storm left today pretty gray and dismal, so soup seemed like a good fit, what with my morning indulgence and my drawer full of produce.  This soup from Orangette looked easy and refreshing – the sort of thing I could make while doing laundry, knitting, and watching Law & Order, which was all I could really muster after two days of non-stop activity.

Alas, I’m not sure it was worth even that little effort.  It’s not like the soup was bad – it was just very green and kind of thin – like a good spinach dip that had been significantly watered down.  Part of the problem was likely related to the fact that I used an immersion blender – too many kitchen explosions or soupy messes on record with soup in the food processor – which resulted in a weird, kind of slimy consistency.  There were good flavors, and I’ll do my best to finish the leftovers, but I won’t be making this again.

Spinach and Green Garlic Soup from Orangette

0520 Spinach Frittata

We’re on the cusp of summer right now, halfway between the austerity of winter vegetables and the abundance right around the corner.  Around this time of year, my thinking about food gets all muddled up.  In the colder months, we fall into a routine of planning meals, then going to the grocery store with our carefully composed list.  There are almost always impulse buys, but we come home with the fixings for a week’s worth of meals and maybe a little extra to throw in the freezer.  Come summer, though, our crisper overflows with whatever’s available at the market – which isn’t to say that we don’t plan in advance, but we’re definitely more prone to improvisation.

Over the last couple of years, frittatas have become key to getting through excess market produce.  If we participated in a CSA, I can only imagine that our frittata consumption would be exponentially higher.  Tonight’s frittata was made with the mysterious spinach-like greens from our garden and enriched with a handful of shredded cheddar cheese.  Many of the recipes you’ll find online call for 5-8 eggs, but I’ve found that 4-5 are plenty for the two of us for a quick dinner.  If we’re entertaining or want to have leftovers for lunch, I’ll use more eggs and veg, and will serve with bread and/or a salad.

My rough frittata recipe for two is as follows:

1 tablespoon butter, plus more for sauteeing if necessary
4-5 large eggs, whisked together
1 medium onion
1-2 cups of whatever vegetables you have on hand, chopped (spinach, asparagus, more onions, garlic, kale, chard, broccoli, tomatoes, zucchini, summer squash, peppers, etc – you get the idea)
1/2 cup shredded or crumbled cheese (cheddar, mozzarella, swiss, gruyere, goat, feta – anything that melts well)

Special equipment: oven and stovetop-safe pan

Preheat the broiler.  Melt the butter in your pan, swirling around to coat the bottom and sides.  Sautee your veg until tender, then pour the whisked eggs over the top.  When the eggs are just set, top with your cheese, then transfer to the broiler and broil until golden.

Serve from the pan or, if you’re fancy and careful, flip out onto a plate and serve at the table.

0516 Sausages and polenta again

With any good party comes the not-so-good day after – you know, waking up late, drinking coffee slowly, maybe eating a bit of greasy breakfast to counteract the previous night’s excess.  We had a little of that this morning – but we also had the most beautiful Sunday we’ve seen in a while, so felt like we couldn’t possibly stay inside all day.  So, after a morning of chores and Shane working on the ‘ped, we headed out to Pinckney for a hike.

After 5 miles of rolling hills, lots of trees, and minimal wildlife, we were both hungry and impatient – no time to make the batter for the galettes we’d intended to eat.  Instead, dinner was a re-run of Friday’s sausages and polenta, with a couple of handfuls of spinach added to the sauce to bulk it out since we had fewer sausages on hand than expected.  It was a warm and satisfying end to a happy but tiring weekend.

Even better, though, was tuning in to learn of the birth of Octavia, Jason and Sonya’s daughter, who arrived this evening.  We are beyond happy for the Wadsgreens, and can’t wait to meet her!

0505 Linguini with Spinach and Goat Cheese

Dinner was simple and delicious.  I made a tomato sauce last night to save time for tonight’s prep – so making dinner was as simple as warming up the sauce and boiling the pasta, then tossing a few handfuls of fresh spinach into the sauce at the last minute.  When combined and then dotted with soft goat cheese, it made for a creamy and savory bowl of happiness.  It also very effectively cleared out the last of the spinach, goat cheese, and Al Dente pasta – and to some extent redeemed spontaneous pastas from Monday’s disappointment.  With random spinach-y greens growing in our garden, I suspect you’ll see many more meals like this in the future.

Garden Greens

Recipe:
Tagliatelle, Spinach and Goats Cheese from Jamie’s Dinners

0405 Shrimp and Grits

I’ve been stalling on posting this because Shane took a couple of really lovely photos of this delicious dinner that I wanted to include in the post.  So blame the tardiness on him.  It’s definitely his fault.  And definitely not the fault of the post-vacation sleepies.  Nooooo, never that.

0405 Shrimp and Grits

Seriously, though, this was a recipe worth doing battle with the post-vacation sleepies.  The grits are made with milk, making them richer and creamier than your standard breakfast variety grits.  The bacon is fried then set aside (for snacking) while everything else is sauteed in the rendered fat.  Prepping everything did require some manic whisking and a lot of what’s going on in this pan? what’s going on in that pan? what’s happening over here? – but it only lasts a few minutes, and then you have a totally comforting and delicious plate of food in front of you and all is forgotten.

My friend Paul, a lifetime Southerner, was blown away by the concept of shrimp AND grits, together at last!  I was blown away that he’d lived all his years in the South without ever bumping into them.  This is one combination I hope to revisit again, and soon, especially since it’s rumored that we can get LOCAL shrimp here in the Mitten.

Recipe:
Shrimp and Grits with Spinach from Bon Appetit