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Posts Tagged ‘quick dinner ideas’

My dear husband loves, loves, loves broccoli – I think he would happily eat it every day.  Because of this, I’m always trying to find interesting ways to cook it so we don’t have the same old roasted broccoli every day.  I never boil it as it was brought to the table in my childhood rendering it soggy and completely unappetizing.  

When last in San Francisco – in that other time when we could travel and visit far away places and eat anywhere that pleased us – we had a few wonderful meals at China Live (chinalivesf.com).  It is an amazing emporium and restaurant highlighting great Chinese products and foods.  We came home with some of their soy sauce, vinegar and chili oil – each one better than the other.  Once you try their soy sauce, it is very hard to go back to the supermarket choices.  The black vinegar is delicious and the chili oil incredible.  You can easily order all of these products online.

This is an easy and very tasty method of introducing broccoli into your menu IF you are not fond of it.  And, if you, like my husband, love it, this recipe will make you love it even more.  If you don’t have the China Live chili oil, use any Chinese chili oil you have on hand.

In case you don’t know this easy technique to mince garlic and ginger – just peel them and use a rasp grater to quickly grate.  Easy-peasy!  

Serves 4 to 6

1 head broccoli

½ cup plain yogurt

2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced

One ½-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and minced

1 tablespoon lite soy sauce

1 teaspoon China Live chili oil

¼ teaspoon red chili flakes

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Line a baking sheet with sides with parchment paper or nonstick aluminum foil.  Set aside.

Trim the broccoli, discarding the leaves and cut it into florets with some stem attached.  If the broccoli is older, check to make sure that the stems are not woody.  If they are, cut most of them off.

Combine the yogurt with the garlic, ginger, soy sauce, chili oil and chile flakes in a large mixing bowl, stirring to blend well.  Add the broccoli and toss to evenly coat.

Lay the seasoned broccoli out in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet.  Transfer to the preheated oven and roast, turning occasionally, for about 20 minutes or until the florets are lightly browned and the stems are tender.

Remove from the oven and serve.

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Kale Salad_DSC_3373

I know, I know everyone is getting tired of being bombarded by kale, but it is so good for you, filled with vitamins and minerals, inexpensive, and versatile that I just have to add my voice.  At the moment, kale is high on our list because of its cancer-fighting properties.  My son, Mickey, is fighting lung cancer (no he never smoked, was a runner in the best of health until now) and kale contains sulforaphane which offers strong anti-cancer qualities as well as indole-3-carbinal, a chemical which seems to help in blocking the growth of cancer cells.  I’m not crazy about it raw, but to retain its amazing strength I often just wilt it by adding something hot to it as I did in this salad.

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, peeled and diced
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 cup quinoa (plain or multi-colored)
2 cups vegetable broth or water
Salt
1 bunch kale, tough stems removed and finely chopped
1 cup toasted pumpkin seeds
Citrus Dressing (recipe follows)

Place the quinoa in a fine mesh sieve and rinse under cold running water until the water runs clear.  Set aside to drain well.
Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat.  Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes or until just beginning to color.  Stir in the quinoa and then add the broth and season with salt to taste.  Raise the heat and bring to a boil.  Cover, lower the heat, and cook for about 15 minutes or until the broth has been absorbed.  Remove from the heat and set aside to steam for about 5 minutes.
Place the kale in a large salad bowl.  Pour the hot quinoa over the kale and, using your hands (I use thick rubber gloves to keep my hands from burning) toss the quinoa along with the pumpkin seeds into the kale.  When just about totally combined, add just enough vinaigrette to season nicely and continue to toss and blend.  Taste and, if necessary, season with salt and pepper.
Serve at room temperature.

 

Citrus Dressing
Makes about 1 cup
5 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon fresh orange juice
1 tablespoon mirin
½ tablespoon tamari
1 teaspoon ginger juice
Grated zest of 1 orange
2 tablespoons white miso paste
6 tablespoons canola oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Combine the vinegar, orange juice, mirin, tamari, and ginger juice in a jar with a lid.  Cover and shake to blend.  Uncover, add the orange zest and miso and, again, shake to blend.  Open, add the canola oil, recover, and shake and shake to emulsify.  Taste and, if desired, season with salt and pepper.

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panzanella

 

I think almost every culture makes a tasty dish using its stale bread to keep from wasting it.  Once upon a time, this was for the economy of it, but eventually the recipes became part of the everyday menu.   Originally most breads staled very quickly – say by the end of the day – unlike modern commercial breads that seem to stay “fresh” for weeks. I believe that a piece of dry bread was the original “teether” for babies and maybe it still is in other parts of the world (I think most American moms simply buy a package of zwieback.).
The quickest and simplest way to use those stale slices is to turn them into crumbs for use in meatballs or meatloaf or toasted on simple pasta dishes.  My mom saved every type of old bread in a big bag – brown paper before resealable plastic  – to make stuffing for the Thanksgiving turkey or Sunday roast chicken or to create rich, buttery bread puddings.  Often the stale or dry bread is soaked to soften, as it is for French toast in milk and eggs or with a vinaigrette as for the Italian salad panzanella (using rustic loaves) or the Middle Eastern salad Fatoush (pita).
With the tomato season at its height right now, I turned some drying ciabatta into lightly toasted cubes to create a panzanella-style salad.  I made a vinaigrette of red wine vinegar, extra virgin olive oil, and fresh oregano.  I tossed the bread cubes in a bit of the vinaigrette to soften slightly; then, I added chunks of tomato and slivers of sweet onion and basil to the soften bread.  I drizzled with more vinaigrette and tossed the whole mess together.  This was dinner along with a couple of grilled garlic sausages.  Perfection.

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Meatballs_IMG_0345

 

March-April must be my meatball month. I just looked at past posts and found that I had talked about meatballs (and spaghetti) on March 11, 2011. Here I am talking about meatballs once again. You can find my recipe in that post, but thought it worth a reminder. Since that March I have been making meatballs in batches and freezing them. Since I always have my marinara sauce on hand (see July 13, 2010 for that recipe) at the end of a long day, I can reach into the freezer and in just a few minutes put together a pot of meatballs in sauce to toss into a bowl of spaghetti. Try it, you’ll like it.

Here are the links to the Meatball and Marinara recipes:

http://notesfromjudieskitchen.com/2011/03/11/who-doesn%E2%80%99t-love-spaghetti-and-meatballs/

http://notesfromjudieskitchen.com/2010/07/13/simple-marinara-sauce/

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