Back to college…with beef short ribs sticking to his ribs!

Today my son returned to college – amid a lot of drama! Cleveland Airport had a power outage and all flights were cancelled…we had to re-route him through Pittsburg and arrange a car service to take him the remainder of the way to school. But it appears all is back on track and taken care of. The visit seemed so short! I know he is happy to get back to his independence and friends and snow, but he will be missed. I prepared one of his favorite meals last night: Beef Short Ribs braised in porter and finished with a maple-horseradish glaze. It is a recipe from Molly Steven’s ‘Braising’ cookbook. As usual, it turned out delicious! I served creamy mashed potatoes on the side and left it at that…no healthy green vegetables to take away from all that guilty pleasure! 🙂 For the final send-off I served homemade pancakes with maple syrup and sausage for breakfast. He may not miss us, but I bet he will miss the good food!

Tonight we will be eating leftovers. There are tidbits from several meals stored in the fridge, so this will be more of a ‘clean-out-the-fridge’ night. It’s a wonderful way to reward myself after a week of heavy cooking!

Update: the college boy has safely arrived!!

Birthday Dinner (long over-due…)

Tonight I am preparing a birthday dinner for my husband….whose birthday was in December. Yes, I am a little behind the times, but in my defense he was traveling during his birthday, and we left town a few short days after he returned (meeting other pre-planned obligations during the time he was home). So rather than rush to have a birthday dinner at the appropriate time, I suggested we hold off and have one when we returned from our holiday travels. And this brings us to today…

First of all, it is frigid here in TX, perhaps the coldest I have seen it here in my 19+ years. I rather enjoy this weather as it results in a wood fire, sending the aroma of mesquite wafting throughout the house. It’s rather festive if I do say so myself! Here I sit, blogging away, in front of this hypnotic wood fire while drinking my Manhattan (a must if you are sitting by a cozy hearth)…we have finished the pre-meal appetizers, consisting of a smoked trout spread on endive leaves with a tropical salsa on the side. Oh, yes, and a cheese and cracker platter. I have prepped for dinner, so I can sit for a time before I commence cooking the birthday meal.

For the main meal I am preparing linguine tossed with seared scallops and crabmeat. I will mix in sauteed mushrooms and a creamy white wine sauce to finish. With dinner I am serving a salad of arugula, sliced apple, red onion and dried cherries. This will have a mustard vinegrette folded into it, topped with goat cheese. I have some breads from Thanksgiving which were saved in the freezer. I thawed them and will re-heat them to serve with the pasta. And to top it all off, I have a lovely champagne to pair nicely with all of it.

So here’s to birthdays, whether celebrated on time or a bit delayed!! Cheers!!!

Shrimp and Pasta!!!

Today finishes up my freezer ‘clean-out’. I used up the remainder of my shrimp, which I cooked in a sauce of diced tomatoes, white wine, lemon juice (and zest), sliced kalamata olives, and sauteed onions. I tossed that mixture with whole wheat penne pasta and topped it off with a grating of parmesano-reggiano. Delightful!!! I had enough whole wheat penne pasta left to make a healthy lunch for tomorrow: pasta, broccoli, raisins, and walnuts – all of which I drizzled with olive oil and lemon juice (the other half of the one I used for the shrimp pasta), with a sprinkling of red pepper flakes to finish. I will be a very happy gal at lunchtime tomorrow!!!


Cleaning out the freezer…

For this week’s menu I decided that I would use food I have on hand, supplemented with a few items from the grocery store, to find creative ways to use up any food stored in my freezer and pantry. Last night I made lamb, and the night before that: pumpkin soup. Tonight I am thawing some brats, which I will then gently simmer with beer (usually Guinness) and onion. In warmer weather I finish them off with a quick sear on the grill, but it is freezing out, and since I want to wash as few dishes as possible I will leave it at the beer bath tonight. I will serve them in a wheat bun with some mustard and maybe a bit of horseradish, leftover mashed potatoes on the side. Tomorrow I plan to use up some shrimp I have stored in the freezer. I will saute them with diced tomatoes and olives and perhaps spinach, then toss all of that with some whole-wheat penne pasta. It is so much easier to prepare healthy meals when you have a menu planned. For me, much of the battle is deciding what to make, which is harder due to the fact I have such a variety of food preferences under one roof.

Burgundy Pasture Beef

I have placed my first order with Burgundy Pasture Beef, a North Texas meat company whose cattle are 100% grass-fed. They are one of very few companies in the US who both raise and process their cattle, and they also offer selections of pork, poultry and lamb (also processed onsite but brought in from other farms). I learned of them about 2-3 years ago, but I am just now getting around to trying out their products. I am not sure what has taken me so long, especially given how much my neighbor has raved about them. My first delivery will be this coming Saturday…I will keep you posted on my thoughts…

Tonight I am roasting a rack of lamb…I will serve it surrounded by a sour cherry/red wine reduction, with creamy mashed potatoes and glazed carrots on the side. There is a wonderful glass of champagne sitting next to me as I prepare tonight’s meal. Believe it or not, it is Costco’s Kirkland brand, and I’ll admit I am surprised at how wonderful it tastes.

Alas, it is time to enjoy the remaining minutes I have by the fire before the lamb is ready and the last minute dinner frenzy ensues….