Saag Paneer (Indian Spinach and Cheese)

Saag PaneerCrazy Cravings
Cravings are weird. Sometimes when I have a craving I am able to fake my way out of it by eating something similar or, strangely, just by drinking some water. Other times that craving hits and there is no denying it. When that happens, I can get a little psycho…

The most recent incident happened when I had some boneless chicken thighs that had to be used so I decided to marinate them in tandoori paste and throw them on the grill. This prompted the search for something that would complement the chicken as a side dish and thus my wicked craving for saag paneer was born.

As luck would have it, I had everything I would need to make the saag on hand but the paneer was a different story. Although making paneer is relatively easy, I did not have the whole milk needed nor, frankly, did I have the time. But, there was no way I could NOT have this side dish. Just thinking about it was making my mouth water. So I ventured to my local store (Alas, I do not live close to Piedmont Grocery) to see if, by chance, they had paneer cheese. No dice.

Panicking, I thought maybe I could cheat with something from the frozen section…but that was a non-starter as well. (Mainly because I am a food snob and just couldn’t bring myself to do it.) By now I’m hangry and frustrated. So, I took a chance and went with those small bite-sized balls of mozzarella. Sigh.

I’m not saying it was bad. It wasn’t. It wasn’t great either. But, it did satisfy my craving and cure me of my food-induced craving mania.

Below is my Saag recipe that also includes a recipe for making paneer. While this recipe may not be super authentic, it is quite tasty. And, can actually be made during the week for those who make dinner to relax. I would recommend playing with the level of spice. Some in my family found it too spicy and others said it wasn’t spicy enough…

Saag Paneer Recipe
Yields 4 Servings
This recipe for the classic Indian spinach and cheese dish uses frozen spinach which is much easier than fresh. If you have extra time and choose to use fresh, first steam it, chop it and squeeze out the excess water.  Read more…

Spicy Turkey Burgers

Spicy Turkey BurgerBird on a Bun
My family has a group chat so that we can check in during the day to discuss such important matters as When was the last time you showered?, Did you put the dishes in the dishwasher? and We’re out of cereal. My personal favorite is the afternoon ritual of What does everyone want for dinner? If I am lucky, I will get an actual text response, usually from my husband because, like the old people that we are, we text in complete sentences. My kids like to respond with emojis and more often than not, the response is the cheeseburger emoji.

I am an unapologetic burger lover and I have passed this love of meat and cheese on to my children. My husband also loves the sacred burger but, because he is a better person and more concerned about such things, he will oftentimes opt for a turkey burger to give his arteries a break. While I applaud his efforts, I have found it difficult to emulate them because I had yet to find a turkey burger that is worth it. They tend to be flavorless and dry. Sometimes I do come across a recipe that I have to try.

This recent find is what’s for dinner tonight since it is hot as Hades and there ain’t no way I am turning anything in the kitchen on when it is 95 degrees out. Plus, the kids have practice and burgers be fast and easy. Slice up a watermelon and you have a quick cool tasty hot summer dinner…

Spicy Turkey Burgers
Adapted from the Food Network
Yields 4 Burgers

I recommend first cooking up a small test burger to check that the degree of spiciness and seasoning is to taste. That way, if you are not too keen on spice, you can add the chili paste gradually.  Read more…

Pan-Fried Trout with Lemon Butter Sauce

Pan-Fried Trout with Lemon Butter SauceGone Fishin’
For whatever reason, I have always associated Father’s Day with camping or living in the mountains. I have no idea why. I guess dads and camping kinda go hand in hand? Growing up we didn’t do a lot of camping and the only mountain living we did was in a condo at Tahoe. Perhaps I have seen too many movies, read too many books or looked at too many L.L. Bean catalogs but the picture of frying fresh rainbow trout by the side of a river in a cast iron skillet over a campfire is what I see when I think of Father’s Day.

I have the perfect skillet for it too; My grandfather’s vintage 9-inch cast iron skillet that he would take with him on camping trips building trails in the early days of the Sierra Club. That skillet has seen a lot of miles. On a whim, I pulled it out not too long ago and pan-fried for dinner some of the excellent trout we have in our meat case. Trout is not usually something I make often—mainly because it just seems so much better eating it on the banks of the river you just pulled it from but that night it hit the spot.

We all over-ate.

Trout is best prepared simply. You can dredge it in a little flour or cornmeal to give it a little crunch or, like I did, heat a little butter and olive oil in the pan and fry it up as is. Squeeze a little lemon on it and it’s heaven on a plate.

We are hoping to get away and do a little camping as a family this summer though unfortunately, it won’t be for Father’s Day this year. If you find yourself with the time and the inclination, I encourage you to grab a tent and your fishing pole and find your own A River Runs Through it moment…just don’t forget the pan.

Pan-Fried Trout with Lemon Butter Sauce
Yields 4 servings 

Read more…

Graduation Feast

Graduation FeastMy sons are graduating from eighth grade this week and the whole concept is blowing my mind. I am not prepared, nor do I feel old enough, for two kids in high school. It feels like I was just holding them on my shoulder while they drooled and then I blinked and they were 14…

With all of the chaos that is the last week of school (never mind the graduation-specific stuff), it is safe to say that I haven’t been doing much cooking. So, in honor of two of my most favorite people, I have put together a list of their favorite dishes. These are the recipes that, if I had 10 more hours in the day and I could clone myself, I would serve to celebrate their accomplishments. These are also the recipes that I usually have to double if I want to actually get to taste them myself…unless they have friends over, then I’m out of luck.

To all of you who might have kids or relatives graduating from middle school, high school or college, I offer you a hearty congratulations not only to the graduates for their hard work and dedication to get to this milestone—but to the families that worked equally as hard to get them there!

Cherry Cola Ribs
You’ve gotta try these. They’re the bomb! They are also extremely addictive.

Feast or Famine Mac ‘n Cheese
I offer you two of my top recipes for a comfort food favorite, Mac & Cheese. True, the desperate can go the blue-box, plastic cheese route. But the real deal is easy to prepare, and you can make extra for the freezer.  Read more…

Vietnamese Steak Marinade

Vietnamese Steak MarinadeLighten up, Francis
It’s week two of the let’s lighten up menu. I’m not saying I have been totally good about it but I will say I have been doing better than usual. There may have been pizza for dinner one night ‘cause we had to do some laundry and straighten up the house as things had gotten way out of hand. There may also have been a hot dog at the softball game because I was hangry. (Youth sports is no place for hanger.) For the most part, we’ve been eating better.

Saturday’s fantastic weather prompted me to head outside and do some grilling. Per usual, we had a packed schedule. Thankfully, I was able to make a marinade out of stuff I had on hand. I poured it over some flat iron steaks that needed to be used, tossed them back in the fridge, and left for the afternoon. I threw the steaks on the grill when we returned for a quick dinner with some steamed rice and broccoli.

As it turned out, there were a lot of leftovers—which was a good thing if not unusual. For lunch on Monday I was able to slice up some of the meat and put it on a salad I tossed together with some spring mix, peppers, sliced red onions and whatever else I found in the crisper. What a light and tasty meal! Salad is not usually my first lunch choice but topped with the sliced meat it was the perfect meal.

Vietnamese Steak Marinade
Adapted from NY Times Cooking

This marinated and grilled Vietnamese flank steak is fantastic over a simple salad or steamed rice bowl with broccoli. It also is delicious with our recipe for Vietnamese Cucumber SaladRead more…