Posts Tagged ‘weeknight meal’

20th August
written by Steph

Pineapple Chicken Curry

For those of us who love curries, the extensive range of premade jarred sauces and pastes makes cooking up flavorful, international dishes a breeze. When I first began cooking for myself in earnest about five years ago (note that this time coincides entirely with me moving to a different country from my mother, who I fully admit spoiled me with her cooking up until the age of 23…), I certainly relied extensively on these convenient sauces to provide my home cooked meals with authentic rich flavors that I craved but wasn’t confident or knowledgeable enough to achieve on my own. Lately, however, I’ve really been trying to up the ante when it comes to curries and the like, and have been branching out to include meals in my repartee that are done entirely from scratch. It may seem intimidating at first to mix and blend all the spices that Asian cooking is known for, but one of the benefits is that you get to tailor everything to your own palate. The more I experiment with blending spices from scratch, the more I find that it really is possible to achieve the flavors you know and love from your favorite Thai or Indian restaurant from the comfort (and relative frugality!) of your own home. The past week I was craving pineapple curry, and after searching high and low, I managed to find a recipe that did not simply call for one to use a store-bought paste or sauce as the curry base. Below is the version I slightly modified from that on Vazhayila. Ingredients (serves 4)
  • 1 lb chicken, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 3 tbsp oil or ghee
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 inch of fresh ginger, peeled and grated
  • 1 tbsp of lemongrass paste (can be found alongside most refrigerated herbs in your produce section)
  • 2 green chilies, chopped (remove seeds if you like less spicy food)
  • ½ tsp chili powder
  • ½ tsp dried coriander
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • ½ tsp garam masala
  • 1 can of coconut milk
  • salt
  • 5 tbsp fresh mint leaves, thinly sliced
  • 1.5 cups of fresh cubed pineapple + 1/8 cup of juice
28th July
written by Steph

steak tacos with a beet & apple slaw and blue cheese

Growing up, I was not a picky eater (still am not), and certainly wasn’t one of those kids who hated vegetables. My brother went through a phase where he hated carrots and hated peppers, but veggies never bothered me. That said, one vegetable I didn’t get much exposure to when young was the ruby red beet. I suspect my father doesn’t care for them and that’s why they never graced the dinner table, but I decided recently I was at a point in my life where I wanted to explore the less conventional vegetables in order to spruce up meals. After whipping up a beet & pear salad last week (with some kohlrabi tossed in just for kicks), I realized that raw beets are: a) really delicious, and b) actually quite sweet! I’d had pickled/jarred/canned varieties of beets before, and they are nowhere in the same league as fresh, raw beets.

With that in mind, I decided to use up our last beet in another slaw fashion, and suddenly this dish popped into mind. What could be better than steak tacos with beets & apple and some blue cheese? It sounded like a divine combination to me… and it was! Plus, it was a breeze to whip up! These will definitely be on the roster again soon… (more…)
8th June
written by Steph

Open face Shrimp Po' Boy

I am a big fan of sandwiches. On our honeymoon last year after eating out at a variety of fancy-schmancy restaurants for four days straight, my fondest wish was to just find somewhere where I could get a good sandwich to eat.  What can I say? Sometimes I'm a girl of simple tastes. I think I just love that there are so many different flavors and so many different combinations that can arise with the humble sandwich. You're never lost for choice when a sandwich is the meal in question. One sandwich I frequently have a hankering for (but find it rather hard to track down here in Nashville... could it be because we're a landlocked state?) is the Po' Boy. Now, I don't really care for much creole/cajun cooking - often it's too spicy for me - but I love me a good shrimp Po' Boy every now and then. I decided to give it a whirl in my own kitchen and see what I could come up with. The verdict? So long as I can get my hands on shrimp, I'll never have to do without Po' Boys in my life again! Ingredients
  • 1/2 pound of peeled and deveined shrimp
  • 1/2 cup of flour
  • 2 1/2 tbsp paprika
  • 2 tbsp salt
  • 2 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp black pepper
  • 1 tbsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano
  • 1 tbsp dried thyme
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 3/4 cup of Panko bread crumbs
  • oil for frying (about 4 tbsp)
  • crusty bread
  • thinly sliced tomato
1st June
written by Steph

Adobo Pork

Adobo pork with guacamole salad and corn tortillas

Since moving to Nashville, one of the food areas where my cooking has really expanded is without a doubt, Mexican. Before I came down here, my default cooking tended to be more Asian inspired (stir-frys and the like), but with the abundance of Mexican ingredients down here, I’ve definitely shifted toward foods that are South of the border. I’m sure the fact that Nashville really doesn’t have any good Chinese food (seriously!) is a contributing factor (whereas Toronto has a dearth of Mexican food… so weird!). There are plenty of Mexican places where Tony & I can eat out, but I’ve actually found it really rewarding to try my hand at creating Mexican dishes at home.

A couple of weeks ago we attended a celebratory party for a girl in my lab who had successfully defended her dissertation earlier that day. One of her advisors brought this amazing pork, that was both spicy and sweet, smoky and unctuous. Tony fell madly in love, and ever since then I’ve been trying to get my hands on the recipe. I finally got it last week and decided to try it myself. But here’s a fair warning: once you’ve had pork this way, you may never want to eat it any other way ever again… Ingredients
  • 1.5 - 2 lbs pork shoulder
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 large white onion, diced
  • 3-4 chipotle (canned, in adobo sauce)
  • 2 large ripe tomatoes; charred in the oven for about 30 minutes until skin is easy to remove
  • 3-4 garlic cloves, roasted peel on in a hot pan until blackened in spots, then peeled
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground pepper
  • 1/8 tsp ground clove
  • 1/2C raisins
  • 1/2C slivered or chopped almonds; toasted in a pan
  • oil
  • salt
9th January
written by Steph

The finished product

The finished product

I'm assuming that those of you who are smart enough to read this blog are also smart enough to assemble a pizza on your own (plus we've held your hand before), so this will be a bit of a departure from our normal recipe series in that I'm not going to walk you through the steps here one by one.  Instead, I'm going to tell you what toppings we put on this so-called "Supreme Pizza" and focus on one of the more important parts of this dish: the sauce.  You see, when it comes to pizza, I'm insanely picky - sure it's hard to screw up, but it's also hard to get REALLY good pizza - and more often than not I'm let down the sauce component.  Most pizzas are too saucy, or rely on sauces that are too thick and akin to tomato paste, both of which are sins that will have me turning up my nose.  My favorite kind of sauce is one that tastes like true tomatoes and that are light and liquid-y rather than goopy.  Turns out I'm in luck, because this type of sauce is actually really easy to make yourself (and will have you shunning all of that tinned/jarred sauce nonsense). (more…)
18th November
written by Steph

Thai Pork with Chiles & Basil and Coconut Rice

Here at Steph & Tony Investigate!  we’re pretty adventurous eaters and we just love trying global cuisines.  Of course, one of the tricky things about having a penchant for international food is that making it yourself is not always a winning proposition.  We love us some Vietnamese food, but that stuff takes ages to make on your own (though perhaps not now that we finally have a handy kitchen mandolin), and it never tastes quite like what we get at our favorite place (likely because we don’t have all the right spices).  Thai food is a little bit more successful for us, and while I don’t know exactly how authentic this recipe is, it definitely tasted really good!  For this dish, I followed yet another Martha Stewart recipe (can you tell that I’m obsessed?) to good results.  And even more shocking I pretty much followed the recipe as was to a T, with minimal changes on my part: (more…)
4th November
written by Steph

Bacon, Caramelized Onion, & Fig Pizza

Bacon, Caramelized Onion, & Fig Pizza

Ever since discovering the fresh pizza dough at Trader Joe’s, we’ve been into making pizza in a big way.  Prior to this, we were using the pre-rolled (and it would seem pre-baked) crusts from the deli section of Kroger that were kind of like chewy crackers, and were just not very good.  We could have made the dough from scratch, I realize, but as much as I love to cook, I don’t really do baking, and anything that involves dough and yeast… it makes me VERY uncomfortable.  Much better to just get the dough pre-done and worry only about rolling it out.  Of course, if you’re in the mood for thin crust, then you can always use a flour tortilla, which is something we’ve also done quite frequently in the past, and it works out quite well, provided you’re not using a lot of wet/soupy ingredients on your ‘za (as there’s nothing particularly wet about the ingredients used in this pizza, it would be a great candidate for the thin crust treatment).  And yes, in Nashville, homemade pizza is really the only way to go, as there is really a dearth of good pizza places here.  It is sad, and you can be sure that we will go overboard on correcting our lack of pizza in our life when we visit New York City next week! I admit that I came up with the idea of this pizza all on my own on one very hungry day, but as with most things, if you input them into Google, you find that others have thought of it before.  I offered up a potential recipe for you guys to follow in the Week 1 Mealplan post through such a search strategy, but pizza is so easy, I didn’t bother following one for this. (more…)

6th May
written by Steph
Chicken Enchilads served with a side of Mexican Rice

Chicken Enchiladas served with a side of Mexican Rice

Ok, we’re a day late so today is technically the seis de mayo rather than cinco de mayo, but let’s celebrate anyway with a Mexican recipe! Ai yai!  These chicken enchiladas are adapted from a recipe of a similar ilk over at Simply Recipes, but mine involve more cheese, because come on… everything is better with more cheese!  In the process, they are probably less authentic, but given the yum factor, I think all of you can deal with it.  These enchiladas take a little bit of prep time, but there’s no real reason why you couldn’t get the whole thing put together in 30 minutes if you really wanted to (you might just slightly singe your fingers if you don’t let the chicken cool sufficiently before shredding).  Let’s get to it! Ingredients (I made this for the two of us, but we had enough for one leftover lunch) •    1 jar of salsa verde (you could make the sauce from scratch if you can get your hands on fresh tomatillos, but it’s more work, and I think using the stuff in a jar is perfectly acceptable!) •    ½ cup of chopped white/yellow onion •    2 chicken quarters, cooked, skinned, and shredded (I believe a chicken quarter purchased from the supermarket gives you a drumstick attached to a thigh, perhaps with some back → read: plenty of chicken) •    1 clove of garlic, cut into quarters •    ¼ of a whole white/yellow onion •    1 tsp of salt •    1/3 cup of cream cheese •    1/3 cup of salsa fresca (tomato based salsa, made of fresh chopped tomatoes, onion, garlic, cilantro, and jalapenos… we buy ours in a big tub from Sam’s Club.  This isn’t the really soupy kind you get in a jar alongside tortilla chips.  You’ll find this in the refrigerated section of your supermarket (sometimes in the deli, sometimes by the produce)) •    6 flour tortillas (the little size) •    2 tbsp of sour cream •    1 bunch of cilantro, stems removed, coarsely chopped •    handful of shredded Mexican cheese (we use the pre-shredded Mexican blend), for garnish (more…)
22nd March
written by Steph
Pasta alla Vodka

Pasta alla Vodka

Warning!  The following recipe (which I adapted from one posted over at The Pioneer Woman Cooks) is SO good that I cannot be held accountable if you should find yourself eating three times your regular portion size, simply because you can’t bear to stop tasting it, luxuriating in the tangy, creamy, slightly sweet sauce.  This recipe is quick, easy and oh so delicious… but it is quite rich, so while moderation is the key, I defy you to resist going back for seconds… or thirds!  [Simona, I fully expect you to try this recipe.  If anyone can be guaranteed to have vodka on hand, I am betting it is you! 😉 ] Ingredients
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 2 – 3 cloves (or tablespoons!) of garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp of butter
  • olive oil
  • 1/2 cup of vodka
  • 1 can of tomato puree (or crushed tomatoes, or even tomato sauce)
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • salt & pepper
  • pinch of red pepper flakes  (they’re HOT, so add as many shakes as your mouth can take… we’re wusses, so I tend to just shake it 2 – 3 times over the pan, and call it a day)
  • ½ tsp of dried tarragon
  • ½ tsp of dried oregano
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan/Romano/Asiago (i.e., firm Italian cheese)
  • lots of pasta… probably the entire package/box (I finished off many boxes, using penne, rigatoni (or was it rotini?), and some spinach-stuffed ravioli)
4th March
written by Steph
Penne with Roasted Vegetables

Penne with Roasted Vegetables

Do you want to cook a meal that’s not only good tasting but good for you as well?  Give this roasted veggie pasta a whirl!  It’s pretty easy to bang together, is teeming with lovely, rich flavors (it tastes better than it photographs... something I probably didn't help with my excessively liberal cheese sprinkling), and is pretty darn healthy, too!  We’re pretty omnivorous over here at Steph & Tony Investigate, but every so often I’m able to come up with a dish that is sufficiently hearty and satisfying that Tony doesn’t notice (or at least complain about) the absence of meat.  The sauce here is kind of a quickie, less effortful version of ratatouille (a recipe I will one day share here, but not just yet), and is really very delicious.  It takes about 40 minutes to pull this dish together, but I’d still say it’s worthy of weeknight status, as it’s not at all stressful or difficult. Ingredients
  • 1 white onion, cut into coarse eighths
  • 1 zucchini, cut into chunks
  • 1 medium eggplant, cut into chunks
  • 1 red pepper, cut into chunks (not slivers)
  • 3  - 4 yellow summer squash, cut into chunks
  • 1 quart of cherry tomatoes, cut into halves
  • 2 – 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 head of garlic, peeled and separated into individual cloves
  • Italian seasoning (or combination of basil, thyme, oregano)
  • Salt and pepper
  • Penne pasta (or other “robust” pasta of your choice… probably something like a spiral pasta or a rigatoni, stay away from the tangly pastas here, I think)