Category Archives: Dinner

Simple Tomato Sauce

So, I’ve been a bit busy lately and have been woefully neglecting my blog (my apologies TJ).  Trying to buy a house (the house above) will do that to you.  After months and months searching for the right house, after one unsuccessful contract and then a couple more months of looking we found the perfect house.  The house we have lived in for almost exactly 4 years!  So no moving for us on closing day!  The house itself is great.  Lots of character, needs some (a lot) work but we’ve lived here for 4 years, so we know everything about it.  No surprises here.

No surprises until the appraiser came into the picture.  We had everything lined up – down payment ready, locked in a great interest rate, found the perfect house, all ready to go.  Then the appraiser comes (queue the dramatic music) and she seems nice and friendly – no reason to worry, right??  She looks around for quite awhile, measuring the house, opening cabinets, turning on heaters and then she goes.  A week goes by and we get a call from the bank and they tell us we need some repairs before we can close.  What?!  an appraiser calling for repairs?  this makes no sense!  Some of the exterior paint is chipping and lord knows that the bank won’t close on a house that has some chipping paint on the garage door.  The chipping paint could cause the house to fall down at any moment – how could we have missed this?!  In case you are  misunderstanding this – these repairs should have no reasonable impact if a bank will loan you money or not, very trivial repairs – but they MUST be completed prior to closing.  Oh and the awning over the back door has some dry rot and a bank will not close on any house with dry rot – hell no.  And the list goes on….  I guess every house that a bank loans money for must be in perfect shape – fixer uppers are no more!

So instead of basking in the pride of my new found homeowner-ship, I am basking in the glow of my own sweat, using power tools, scraping paint and having nervous breakdowns (yes plural) that this process will never end.  Oh and don’t forget, my amazing interest rate expires.  The fun is endless.

When you have a day where you go to work for 8 hours, come home and do manual labor for another 3 or so hours – the last thing you want to do is cook a big elaborate meal. But you still want that yummy satisfaction.  And that is where this tomato sauce comes into the picture.  It’s simple, easy and there are only 3 ingredients (4 including pasta).

This tomato sauce is mysteriously full of flavor even though there are so few ingredients.  The butter makes it really rich adding some depth of flavor.  It seems to make the sauce a bit on the sweeter side.  And the onions add just the right amount of flavor to make this sauce far from boring.

So the next time you are trying to scrape, sand and paint your garage door (it did not always look like this picture) and you are already stressed out and then it starts to rain – you might want to try this dish.  The simplicity will remind you that things do come together in unexpected ways.

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Sag Paneer (Spinach and Cheese)

I love Indian food.  It is always so savory, warm, saucy and delicious.  And even better, I live right around the corner from the best Indian restaurant in Santa Fe!  I never really thought about making Indian food, it seemed too complicated and exotic.  But man, I was wrong.  I have made this Sag Paneer twice now and it is a super simple dish – who would have thought?!

The ingredients list is short – most of it common.  The only thing I had a hard time finding was the Paneer – but I found it at Whole Foods.  Also the recipe says you can use halloumi instead which tends to be a bit easier to find.

You do need to use a food processor or blender, so there are a couple extra dishes to clean up – but this is seriously worth it.  The left overs are great too.  I nuked some leftovers the next day at work and everyone commented on how yummy it smelled.

I served it with rice and some delish homemade bread – more on that to come!

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No Knead Pizza Dough

Pizza is great.  Now I don’t mean the greasy cardboard that most chains sells as pizza, I mean real pizza.  Homemade dough, fresh toppings, maybe even some homemade pizza sauce.  It is a great way to use up stray vegetables and it can be a quick and extremely satisfying dinner.  But I have been having a hard time finding the perfect dough.  So this week, I tried something new – no knead pizza dough.

There has been a lot of buzz about no knead bread.  This was my first time trying it.  I always just kind of thought of it as a hassle.  Yeah, you don’t need to knead the dough, but you need to wait up to 24 hours to actually bake the bread.  And kneading bread really isn’t such a big deal.  It might get a bit messy, but its also a bit therapeutic.  But I started to read about it and I learned that by not kneading you are really allowing the yeast to work and add flavor.  So I thought I’d give it a try.

It started last night.  I mixed together the ingredients and it made a gloppy mess.

But I just followed the instructions and let it sit until I got home from work today.  And then it looked like this….

Still pretty much a gloppy mess.  I was beginning to lose hope.  But I continued to follow directions.  When I rolled it out, I did need to add quite a bit of flour to make it less sticky.  But man oh man, this is definitely the best crust I have made.  It has more flavor and it is just the right thickness.  This is definitely a keeper.  And another great thing about this is that the recipe makes enough dough for about 6 small pizzas!  So we made 2 tonight (1 veggie, 1 meat for Dan) and we wrapped up the other dough and stuck it in the freezer.  So now we have 4 individually wrapped pizza dough balls!  Now I won’t have to think so far in advance if we want to make pizza!

And for my brother…

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Mushroom Bourguignon

I have been a vegetarian for 17 years.  Most of the time I don’t really miss meat, primarily because I don’t remember when I did eat meat!  But come winter I do lust after pot roast and stews.  I remember my mom’s pot roast – I might have only been 10 when I ate it, but it left a lasting impression.  And stew has been one thing that I have not been able to recreate.  But this recipe – this recipe! is the recipe I have been waiting 17 years for.  17 long years.    Now I just need large vats of this stuff so that I can eat it at every meal.  It is thick, it looks meaty and the smell is amazing.  It almost makes me wish I could turn back the clock a couple of months so that I could make this all winter long.  But alas it is almost spring.  And I have a feeling this will stay in my mind until next winter.

The sauce is rich, the portobellos are meaty, the pearl onions are slightly crunchy and the sour cream makes it just a bit creamy.  This is the kind of dish you want to eat when its snowing out and you have a fire roaring.  It would be perfect for after a long day of skiing.

This dish makes me happy to be a vegetarian.  Who knows what recipe I could find on my 18th year of being a veggie?!  Perhaps I can solve the mystery of vegetarian chicken noodle soup?!  But for now I am content with my new favorite winter meal.  I don’t think I will be yearning for my mom’s pot roast any more.

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Spinach and Goat Cheese Quiche

Quiche.  It’s not as scary as it sounds.  At least the version that I make – its easy, there is no crust, and its endlessly adaptable.  It’s one of those recipes where you can use up whatever you have in the fridge.  And you may think that quiche is not something you can eat for dinner.  But I disagree – although I do love having breakfast for dinner.  But eggs are a great source of protein and you can add all sorts of veggies which really adds up to dinner in my books.

I try to eat seasonally, but I am cheating tonight.  Spinach, definitely not in season here in NM.  But I just had a hankering for something green – and not just green, but tender and green.  So although I could have eaten chard, I just really wanted something different.  I am just itching for spring to come, then I can eat all of those tender greens and  not feel guilty about it!

I definitely kept it simple with this quiche.  Just spinach and goat cheese.  Simple, but still satisfyingly delicious.  And who doesn’t want to have leftover quiche ready to go in the morning??

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Butternut Squash and Carmelized Onion Tart

My mom came to visit last weekend!   My good friends had never met my mom so I decided to have everyone over for dinner on Saturday night to meet her and eat some good food.  And eat good food we did.

Mom got in on Saturday morning and we immediately went to the Farmer’s Market.  The Santa Fe Farmer’s Market is a wonderful place – there is always an abundance of beautiful, fresh and locally grown produce.  In the winter, it gets a bit smaller – but we were able to find 2 of the most perfect onions you can imagine, eggs, and carrots this time around.  The farmer’s market is always a festive outing, everyone is so jovial and you can always count on at least 1 band playing, usually involving a banjo.  Starting your day with fresh produce, banjo music, and lots of friendly faces is a pretty nice way to welcome the weekend.

So with my mom here, I wanted to make something special.  And I had just the thing in mind – a butternut squash tart with caramelized onions.  I made this one other time in the fall and it was so good.  So. Good.  I was a bit worried about the time it would take to prepare because we spent all day walking around Santa Fe and didn’t start cooking until 4.  And then I remembered that the tart dough had to rest for an hour!  But we had plenty of wine and cheese to hold us over!

Butternut squash can be a pain to prepare.  The slicing, the dicing, the pealing – blech.  It’s not fun.  But I found a shortcut that really works well.  Before cutting the squash at all, peal it with a sharp vegetable peeler.  You have to go over it twice, but it really seems to cut down on the prep time.  Which is a good thing when you are rushing (ahem)!

I love the small of onions cooking in butter.  You really can’t get much better.  The smell is so homey and comforting.  And then add roasted squash?!  Yes please.  And this crust!  It turned out so flaky and delicate.  Much better than the first time I made it.  Instead of sour cream as the recipe calls for, I used some homemade yogurt.  I don’t know if that is what made the crust so super flaky – but I am not complaining!

Dinner turned out delicious and I had such a great time with my mom.  Hopefully she’ll come back and visit again soon (and this time we’ll invite Dad as well)!

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Pasta with cauliflower, onion and feta

I have a confession to make.  I don’t like walnuts.  I don’t know what it is about them, but I tend to avoid them when they are in food.  Now dot get me wrong, I don’t hate them, I would just prefer not to eat them.  I just came to this realization when I made this dish – just a week ago.  There must be something wrong with me.  Everyone loves walnuts!  Everyone except me I guess.

Its been snowing a lot here.  Not like the east coast got this past weekend, but a lot.

And all of this snow makes me want to make something easy but warm and comforting at the same time.  So when I was looking through some recipes I came across this one.  I was a bit hesitant at first.  It seemed like it might be a bit bland – especially since I was going to not include the walnuts.  But I was definitely mistaken – and happily so.  I haven’t had cauliflower in awhile and I have forgotten how yummy it can be when cooked well.  This recipe leaves the cauliflower still slightly crunch and well seasoned with red pepper flakes, garlic, salt and pepper.  Seriously yummy.

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