Too tired, too late

I wrote this post at 12:15pm on Saturday afternoon, not just before midnight as the post will be marked. It is because this is the Friday post, written on Saturday. We had a long week, so long in fact my wife pointed out to me that I couldn’t stay awake after dinner at least two nights this week. But Friday night was good for us because we were looking forward to having a good friend over for dinner.

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Pork loin, stuffed with apples, wrapped in prosciutto, rolled into a puff pastry. Yeah, it’s good.

We invited our friend Jared over for dinner and a few drinks, and we were looking forward to it. We love to host people in our home, but we have not been able to do so often. In fact, I took the opportunity to make something that I have not had any excuse to make, Alton Brown’s Pork Wellington. I love trying new things, but that is not a regular weeknight dinner for two.

The dinner was great. we served out favorite brussel sprouts dish and garlic cheese mashed potatoes. Then we had Lindsey’s killer Guinness brownies. It was an amazing dinner, and we had an even better time talking to and catching up with Jared.

When the evening was over Lindsey and I got into bed, I pulled out the laptop to blog. She was asleep in 30 seconds, and I was only about a minute behind.

We’re still learning how to balance the early mornings, jobs, and time together in the evening. Honestly, I’ve been getting less sleep because I am trying to do too much in a day. Lindsey has to get her sleep and she has been forgoing some things she needs to get done because she needs the sleep. It’s been a great and crazy year, but just so full.

We’re getting better at it. This school year is better than last, and next year will be even better. I think it just takes time.

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Dinner

IMG_0840One of my favorite meals is a Jamie Oliver recipe from his old TV show. It’s a great meal, and it was the first meal I cooked for Lindsey. That’s it over there on the right. It may look like a mess in the skillet, but it’s fantastic on the plate. The recipe’s below and I highly encourage you to give it a try.

We had another night of a good dinner, time together and a good rest. I can’t get tired of nights like these.

Pan Cooked Chicken with Asparagus, Bacon and Olives

Ingredients

  • 2 chicken breasts
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Olive oil
  • 6 slices smoked pancetta (we substitute 4 strips of bacon)
  • 16 medium-sized spears asparagus, woody ends trimmed off
  • 16 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 10 kalamata olives, stones left in (we use pitted)
  • Handful basil leaves
  • Small knob unsalted butter
  • Splash white wine

Directions
Slice the chicken into 3 finger size pieces, but ensure that you keep it as 1 piece (fan it out). This will help to cook the chicken much faster. Season with salt and pepper.

Heat a medium-sized frying pan, add some oil, and brown the chicken on all sides. Place the pancetta on top of the chicken and the asparagus around it, let it char a little, then put the pancetta on the bottom of the pan to crisp up and turn the chicken over. Turn up the heat, throw in the tomatoes, olives, basil, and a good knob of butter. Take off the heat once the butter has melted and add a splash of wine to make a sauce, squishing in a few of the tomatoes to finish it off.

An easy dinner

We’ve had mixed results with our plan to eat less processed foods. We really do a good job when we cook at home, not so much away from the house. I thought it would be fun to share the really quick, but very good dinner we had tonight.

We had grilled chicken, lemon sesame glazed kale, and patty pan squash. The chicken was simple, just HEB Natural chicken breasts lightly seasoned with the HEB chicken fajita seasoning (which may be our one somewhat-processed part of the dinner). I know it’s called a fajita seasoning, but we’ve found it’s just a good all-around chicken seasoning. I cooked them on the grill pan and it only takes about 10 minutes on medium to medium-high to cook them perfectly.

Removing the stems, key to a good texture

The greens recipe is one of our favorites and comes from Alton Brown. If you want to try greens but don’t know what to do, or think you won’t like them, try this recipe. It’s olive oil, garlic, lemon zest, lemon juice, salt and pepper combined in a skillet. Cook the greens (we like kale) for 4 minutes, add in sesame seeds and red pepper flakes and cook for one more minute. Serve right away. It si so good, it’s our favorite way to eat greens. Oh, and a tip for greens rookies: most recipes tell you to remove the stems. Do this, but remove almost all of it, cut the leaves in half and remove as much of the stems as you can. This definitely helps with the texture.

Patty pan squash

Finally we bought some good patty pan squash at the farmer’s market yesterday. It’s an interesting squash and I am still learning to cook it, so almost every time it’s an experiment. Tonight I went very simple. A good bit of olive oil in a skillet, along with a small (very small) pat of butter. Once the butter is melted and combined I added salt, pepper, thyme, and allspice (I just guessed on amounts, probably a half tablespoon or so). To this I added the sliced squash and cooked over medium heat for 10-12 minutes. You want them soft, but not mushy. Even slices and a watchful eye help.

Everything in motion…

That’s it, and its a great meal. With prep time it took me maybe 30 minutes, not bad at all for a meal from scratch.

Grilled Salmon, Roasted Potatoes and Carrot Salad

Tonight we had an amazing, quick dinner that we want to share with you.

Grilled Salmon, with a surprise
This salmon is really easy to do and has a surprising flavor twist. We use the Coffee Rub from Fire & Flavor for the salmon. They don’t even really label it for seasoning fish, but on a whim we tried a few months ago and have been sold.

So here is what we do for the salmon:

  1. Heat a grill pan (or grill, but the grill pan is quick and easy) over medium heat for a few minutes. Spray lightly in Pam or some other spray oil
  2. Take two salmon fillets, brush the flesh (not skin) side of the fillet lightly with olive oil
  3. Season the salmon fillet with a small sprinkle of kosher salt. Take a generous amount Coffee Rub and rub it onto the flesh side of each fillet. Rub on a thin, but full coverage, layer of the rub
  4. Put on the grill pan flesh side down for 3-5 minutes
  5. When the surface of the rub is dark, but not burnt, turn them over. Pay attention, this can happen quickly
  6. Cook on the skin side until desired done. You can increase the heat a little bit for faster cooking– at your own risk

Roasted New Potatoes
This is a staple in the Lundin house, and it is super simple. Our friend Lesley’s blog posted a similar recipe today that you should check out too.

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. Get a pound or so of new potatoes. Clean, dry and quarter them, putting them in a large bowl. Add a small amount of olive oil (this is an estimation recipe) and toss to coat. You are looking for a thin, even coat of oil on the potatoes. Add more if you need to.

Then, take a balsamic vinegar and add a small amount it to the bowl, around a half to 3/4 of the amount of olive oil, and toss to coat again. You don’t have to use really good balsamic, but don’t use the really cheap stuff. Add a few pinches of kosher salt and fresh ground pepper. You can add fresh herbs, spices or we even use those really bad dried onion flakes from the spice aisle. Get creative, if it sounds good it probably is.

Put the potatoes on a lined baking sheet (parchment paper or foil) and place on a middle to upper-middle rack in the oven. Switch from bake to the broiler on high. Cook for about 20 minutes or until the potatoes are done.

Carrot Salad

This was outside of our wheelhouse, it was a brand new recipe, but we loved it. I found it via Rod Dreher’s great blog and just had to try it. Totally worth it and not hard at all.

You can find the carrot salad recipe at Dorie Greenspan’s blog, but to intrigue you, here are the ingredients:

  • 1 pound carrots, peeled and trimmed
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/4 cup cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup canola, grapeseed or other flavorless oil
  • Moist, plump currants or raisins, optional
  • Coarsely chopped walnuts, optional
  • Chopped parsley, optional
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

If you are skeptical, try it. It is a really great summer salad.

So there it is folks, a home cooked dinner we both tackled in less than 30 minutes. We’re starting to get the hang of this.

Dinner tonight

Lindsey, making a killer risotto

We got up this morning and went to the farmer’s market. The selection of veggies is getting more diverse every week through the spring. We found some great stuff, including a never-before-seen (to us, at least) purple bell pepper. We also got some really nice scallops fresh from the Gulf from our new fish guy.

Yep, we have a fish guy. His name is Scott.

After an afternoon hanging out at the house (me) and shopping (guess who) we went to HEB to get our groceries for the week. As we always do now we spent about an hour studying ingredient lists and joking about anything and everything. This is also a surprisingly good thing for me. I used to hate the grocery store, but honestly I enjoy going with my wife. She makes everything we do better. It’s awesome.

Mmmm, who doesn’t love cheese, olives and cured meats?

We came home, made up a plate of fantastic snacks, opened a bottle of wine and started cooking together. Lindsey is really good in the kitchen and I love to cook so it works out well. We’re still learning some of our little habits, but we work together well and have a good time cooking.

As nice as it was to be cooking together, it was even better to sit down, talk and just get to spend some time together. Today was most certainly a blessing.

There is something important in the rhythms of life. By trying to spend our Saturdays together like this we are trying to be in sync and experience them together and fully. Today we had a day for us, where we go through our days together, knowing when to do our own thing but also sharing meals, time and laughter together.  I appreciate our time together on these days more than I could have imagined before getting married.

Scallops, risotto and some really great, local squash