Monday, April 18, 2011

Weeknight Dinner Diaries

Suggested ideas for weeknight dinners and a dessert, all made and enjoyed around these parts.

Monday: Tomato, cucumber and bacon salad. Slice up tomatoes and cucumbers and fry up some bacon.  Let the bacon cool, then add to the vegetables, along with some sliced onions, if you like. For the dressing, a bit of mayo and sour cream is good. Salt and pepper liberally.
Tuesday: I’m such a lobbyist for leftovers. Let’s say you have leftover pork loin (cooked in a crock pot with apple juice and soy sauce, surprisingly delish) and roasted potatoes from the weekend. Cut them up and sauté in a pan with some spinach. Add curry spices. Eat with dollops of sour cream.  

Wednesday: There’s more time to mess around in the kitchen mid-week, so make this zucchini-bacon-and-cheese goodness. Slice up 4-5 zucchini and sauté in olive oil for 10 minutes or so.

Place the vegetables in a foil-lined pan and grate some cheese over them—mozzarella and Parmesan are always good. Add some diced ham or bacon. Bake at 425 for 20-25 minutes, and broil last five minutes. Let cool a bit before eating.
Thursday: If you’re running low on groceries by the end of the week, look around the pantry. You may be pleasantly surprised by the delicious things you can make using frozen, canned or jarred ingredients. For example: this posh-looking pumpkin soup had an unsexy start: an onion, garlic, canned pumpkin puree and chicken stock in a box.
Method: Dice and sauté a big onion in some olive oil and butter. Add a few minced garlic cloves when the onions are almost done. Sprinkle on some spices—I used Penzey’s Southwestern mix, but you can get creative here. A bit of curry spice is always good. Add the pumpkin, stock (I used about 12 ounces) and ½ cup milk, and bring the soup to a boil. Turn heat to a simmer and cook on low heat for 10 minutes or so.
Adjust the flavor to taste--I added 2 tbs. fresh lemon juice, 1 tbs. brown sugar, and ¼ cup plain yogurt. Play around until it tastes right to you. Add more stock or milk, if you like. Some diced ham or bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces and sautéed, is really good in this.  Eat with crackers or croutons, and extra yogurt.
Friday: Have dinner out but make dessert! Slice up some strawberries, sprinkle with sugar and top with sour cream. Some cookies or chocolate wouldn’t be amiss here, either.

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