Saturday night – 02/27/2016

I struggled to nail down a menu for this week’s gathering. My brain kept going to some type of stew however everyone was really just a rehash of one of the chilies we enjoyed last week. In the end I used a couple go-to preparations and winged it.

Menu
Slow-cooker Pork Loin with Bacony Gravy
Wild and Brown Rice with Sauteed Onions and Red Pepper
Braised Kale and Small White Beans

Gingerbread

Notes under the cut

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Weeknight Green Beans

Healthy living (and my dietitian) suggest that the dinner plate should be half filled with non-starchy vegetables. I’ve never been great with this on the best of days and weeknight meals I often struggle to make a main and starch. So I’ve been poking through my brain to figure out vegetables we like that I can look with a minimum of fuss on a weeknight.

Weeknight Green Beans
Servings: 2
Prep time: 5 minutes
Total time: 10 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 lb. fresh green beans
  • 1/2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp. low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tsp. toasted sesame oil

Directions:

  1. Trim the stem ends off of the green beans and cut into 2″ pieces. Transfer to a microwave-safe bowl, add a splash (call it a tablespoon) of water and cover with plastic wrap. Heat at full-power for 5 minutes. Drain water and set aside.
  2. While the green beans cook combine the remaining ingredients in a small bowl and mix until combined.
  3. Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium high heat until shimmering. Add green beans and distribute into a single layer in the pan. Good for 2 minutes without disturbing to develop a bit of browning.
  4. Toss and stir to redistribute the beans. Cook for 2 more minutes. Check a green bean. If done to your liking go on to the next step, otherwise toss, stir and repeat until your happy with the doneness.
  5. Drizzle the mustard mixture over the green beans. Toss green beans so that the sauce coats as many of the beans as possible.
  6. Taste a green bean, add salt and pepper as desired, and serve.

Notes:
No reason this couldn’t be doubled except maybe your skillet size. If you can’t get a single layer of beans when doubling then bump the heat up to high and redistribute every minute.

Saturday night – 02/20/2016

This week the Saturday night gathering took a road trip to visit friends for a potluck. The theme was chili so I brought the thing I’ve called chili since the mid-80s. Ground beef, ground pork, kidney beans, dice tomatoes, chili powder, peppers and onions. Oh, and bacon. I’m happy to say the youngest among us at the gathering heartily two bowls of my chili and the bacon was the clincher for the second bowl.

As with any potluck there were an assortment of contributions. In no particular order we also enjoyed a chicken and hominy chili, a vegetarian chili, a kielbasa and pork chili, a big green salad, cornbread and assorted cheese.

A fun time was had by everyone as far as I can tell. Thanks to our hosts for the invite.

Turkey Tacos

Tacos in our house usually means fish tacos however some of our friends can’t do seafood so we try to provide an alternative. I was able to make this an hour or so before dinner and keep it warm in the slow cooker while I worked on other parts of the menu.

Turkey Tacos
Servings: 4-6
Prep time: 10 minutes
Total time: 30 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 2 tsp. vegetable oil
  • 1 small onion, 1/4″ dice
  • 1 pkg. ground turkey (that equals 20 oz. at my mega-mart)
  • kosher salt and black pepper
  • 3 cloves garlic, pressed or minced fine
  • 2 Tbsp. chili powder
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp. dried Mexican oregano
  • 1/4 tsp. ground chipotle
  • 3/4 cup tomato sauce
  • 3/4 cup no salt added chicken broth
  • 2 tsp. brown sugar
  • 3 tsp. cider vinegar

Directions:

  1. Place the garlic and spices in a bowl; set aside. Combine the tomato sauce, broth, brown sugar and vinegar in a measuring cup; set aside.
  2. Heat the oil in a non-skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add the onion, stir to coat with oil and cook for about 4 minutes until softened.
  3. Add the garlic and spices to the skillet. Stir to incorporate with the onions and cook until aromatic, about a minute.
  4. Add the ground turkey, break into pieces, sprinkle with salt and pepper and cover. Cook for a minute, break into smaller pieces and cover. Cook for another 2 minutes, break up large pieces again and cook uncovered for a final couple of minutes until the turkey is no longer pink.
  5. Reduce heat to medium-low, add the liquid ingredients and cook uncovered for about 10 minutes. Stir every minute or so and continue to break up any larger pieces of turkey.
  6. Serve up with your favorite taco fixin’s.

Notes:
This recipe is based on a recipe for Beef Tacos from a May 2002 issue of Cook’s Illustrated.