Sunday, August 14, 2011

Cooking Spree

When we got back from the Outer Banks a few weeks ago, I was refreshed and motivated. On vacation, I thought about how little free time I seem to have on weeknights, and came up with an idea.  I was determined to ease my weeknight stress by prepping meals on the weekend.  So, that first Sunday back, I was on a roll.

I made a tower of pasta salad for us to take for lunch during the week...

I would share the recipe with you, but it came from the back of a pasta box, and I threw it away when we ended up not liking the salad so much.  The dressing used a cup of sugar, and was way too sweet. There was also a little too much of it, so I cut it with some vinegar and added it to some sliced cucumbers and dill to make a little cucumber salad...
This seemed like it would be a near-ethnically appropriate side (German) for Monday night's dinner of haluski (Eastern European).  Now, from what I can tell, though, there is more than one dish that is referred to as "haluski," but I only really know the cabbage and noodle version. I don't really use a recipe for it, but here is something close from Epicurious.  Here is the pile of cabbage and onions I chopped...

I didn't think to take a picture of the finished product, which I actually cooked up Monday night. 

The piece de resistance, though, were the green enchiladas.  The recipe came from the Simply in Season cookbook, which is organized season to season, based on commonly available produce.  I use this book a lot during CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) season, as we often end up with vegetables that I am not sure what to do with, or need a new idea.  For example, haluski is my go-to with cabbage, which is fine for the first time or third time we get cabbage for a season, but if we get cabbage five weeks in a row, everyone will get sick of haluski.  So, I can just go to the index and look up "cabbage," and it will have some alternatives.

With the green enchiladas, though, it was the other scenario - the "what in the world do I do with the vegetable?" one.  The vegetable?  Tomatillos.  We got tomatillos last summer, too, but they languished in the crisper until the only thing to do with them was add them to the compost pile.

Tomatillos are funny little things.  And they're sticky!

 The recipe called for poblano peppers, but I used cubanelle because they were $2 cheaper per pound at the grocery store.  When I googled "cubenelle" on my iPhone at the store, I found that they are commonly substituted for poblano in American cooking, so my hunch is that they are similar but not as hot?  I haven't dabbled in a lot of peppers or Latin cooking, for that matter, so I don't really know.  But the dish was yummy with the cubenelle peppers, which you first roast.  I did it on the grill.

For some reason, I just think roasting peppers is really cool.  You get them all black and crispy, then peel the skin off and they are sweet and delicious.  Like a pepper butterfly emerging a scorched cocoon.  :-P

You blend these along with roasted tomatillos, cilantro, some other stuff  and most surprisingly, peanuts!  Then, wrap grilled chicken in tortillas with cheese, put them in a baking dish, and cover with the sauce and more cheese.

I was a little nervous, but they turned out really good!

So, this all took pretty much all day, and I have to admit, I haven't been as productive since then.  :-/

What good intentions have you come back from vacation with that soon fell by the wayside?

Monday, August 1, 2011

Another Thing I Learned on Vacation

Is that, at a Food Lion in Virginia:

1.  You can buy a mini-keg of Coors Light.

2.  They price out the booze by quart, just like juice or milk, whether it is in a mini-keg or cans.

 3.  Surprisingly (to me), it was significantly cheaper per quart to buy a case of cans than the mini-keg.

Cans @ $1.97/quart of beer
Mini-keg ("home draft") @ $2.98/quart of beer
Maybe because the cans were on sale?

Since I've always lived in "blue law" states, it still feels a little illicit to be looking at beer in the grocery store!