Weeknight Bolognese

I often get asked what I cook on weeknights.  Weeknight cooking is always a dilemma for me, because mostly everything I like to make requires ample time in the kitchen, which I no longer have.  I do have a few "somewhat" quick weeknight go to meals though. Spaghetti night is one of my favorites.  But, not just any spaghetti sauce will do in my house.  I tweaked my spaghetti sauce recipe to perfection, and I find that it's very doable after the work day, even with an 11 month old trailing me around the kitchen while grabbing at my legs :)  The sauce is insanely delish and I always make enough to freeze.  I do a mix of lean ground beef and Italian sausage.  But, you can go for ground turkey, chicken, and even soy.  It's the base of the sauce that really makes it.  I like my tomato sauce recipes to have a base of celery, carrot, and onion, better known as Mirepoix in French cuisine.  Every good sauce begins with a good foundation.  If you're in the mood to experiment, try sauteed fennel as one of your bases.  It adds a great twist to the flavor profile and will compliment the sausage.  Anyways, this is not your typical spaghetti night!  If it's too much for you to take on after work, make it on a Sunday and freeze.  


Malai Kofta

I don't cook Indian food very often...mainly because our parents are always making us loads of delicious food. Another reason is that if I ask my mom for a recipe, she'll be sure to leave out the main ingredient, or give measurements that make absolutely no sense! I find the same with a lot of Indian cookbooks. There's just always a key piece missing. But, my sis in law who also cooks fabulous Indian food, recently made us some of the most delicious, mouth watering dishes using recipes by chef, Tarla Dalal. Her recipes are so precise (which is very difficult w/ Indian food), and leave little room for failure. I bought a few of her recipe books, and so far everything I've tried has been a success. As with any recipe, you might have to tweak some (i.e., a little more spice here and there, etc), but the base of her recipes are very solid.

So, I'm obsessed with "themed" dinners. If I do Turkish food, I go all out by making kebabs, fresh pita, spreads, taziki, zucchini fritters, grilled veggies, etc. If I do Italian, I have to have the fresh foccacia, pasta, antipasti, meats, cheeses etc. If I do mexican....you get the idea.  A themed meal should be complete with all the apps, mains, accompaniments, and condiments. Neil finds this very annoying at times, b/c we can rarely have a "simple" meal. What's fun in simple food, I ask ???  For me, food is meant for celebration and enjoyment, and variety is key. When I did an "Indian night" using Tarla Dalal's recipes, I made Paneer Tikkis, Malai Kofta, Palak Paneer, Mushroom/Corn Curry, Chicken Tikka Masala, and of course we had all the fixings (chutneys, naan, raitha, rice). It was quite a feast for two peeps! But, Indian food makes for great leftovers :)

Today, I'm posting the Malai Kofta dish. Every time I go to an Indian restaurant, this dish is a must have for me. I even prefer it over any of the meat dishes. If made right, the Kofta (dumpling) should be fluffy, soft, moist and just melt in your mouth. The gravy it simmers in should be rich, creamy, a little sweet, and spicy. This recipe meets all of these requirements. Some of the ingredients will be hard to come by in a regular grocery store, but a good Indian store will carry it all. Try Indian food for your next themed dinner!



Corn & Black Bean Salad

Ring in Spring with this colorful, refreshing salad!  What makes this one different from other black bean salads is the addition of Cassava, AKA Yuca root.  The bite that it adds to this salad really brings it all together.  Cassava is highly underrated and probably the most overlooked root vegetable.  I'm trying to change that by using it every opportunity I get.  It's even sold at your local Safeway (at least it is at mine).  Sometimes, I simply steam the root, dice it and serve it seasoned with cumin, cayenne, salt/pepper, lemon, and olive oil.  It is addictive!  Of course, you can also fry it to make yuca fries which you may have tried at the Peruvian chicken joints.  If you do fry it, be sure to steam/cook it first, and then fry.  It is not like potatoes which can be fried from raw.  Experiment and make a mashed yuca for your next "meat/potatoes" meal, or a yuca hash topped with a runny egg.  Lots of possibilities  Potatoes, please step aside!

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Jalapeno Cheddar Bread



I've resorted to the fact that my updates to this blog are going to be extremely slow coming. While I've still been dabbling in new cooking experiments, I cherish any free time with my already 6 1/2 month old too much to be spending time posting. At the moment, she's taking a nap, so I'm sneaking in this recipe. I made this delicious, jalapeno cheddar bread during maternity leave and used it for festive sandwiches. These are filled with homemade jalapeno pesto, roasted peppers, avocado, tomato, and monterey jack cheese. No more description needed. Weekend lunch doesn't get any better than that! Till next time.....

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