What’s For Dinner: February 26 – March 4

Hey there Plate and Plant!  Long time no see. :-/

Well let’s just jump right back in shall we?

So when last you saw our heroes Kevin was Flying Solo in the kitchen, last spring break.  This Spring Break we’re heading to (hopefully) sunny Florida for a 4 city extravaganza of fun.  More on that in a later post.  But since that event is about a month away still the most important thing on everyone’s mind this week here in the Overhill household is “What’s for dinner?” right?  Ummm…no.

Actually the most important thing on 3/4 of the family’s mind is “OMG!  E’s birthday bash is in 3 days!”  Our littlest darling will be turning 9 with a whole bunch of fanfare and unicorns and cake and unicorns and friends over for a sleepover and did I mention unicorns? Again, more on that in another post.

Today I’m going to discuss dinner because if I do anything else birthday unicorn related I might just start hurling rainbows (not the vomitous sort of hurling, think more like Lord of Thunder but rainbows instead of lightening bolts).

So what IS for dinner this week?

This past Monday we had beef and broccoli lo mein.  I used a flat iron steak since that was about the only cut on sale at Kroger this week.  I just made sure to cut it against the grain and very very thin.

Note: this is the time to get out that funny cylinder thingy that you never use that came with your knife block set.  Hold your knife (I used the 7″ chef’s knife) at about a 30 degree angle and swipe it down and across the cylinder.  I usually start drawing the knife away from me then swap it over and draw it towards me at the same 30 degree angle to get the other side of the blade.  This won’t sharpen the knife but it will refine or hone the surface of the blade and make it cut a little easier.  Like Budder.

So the lo mein.  Beef sliced thin, check.  Par cooked lo mein noodles (cook for about 3 minutes then remove with a spider mesh strainer), check.  Don’t pour out the noodle water just go ahead and blanch the broccoli in the same pot.  I had to do two loads because I foolishly used a really small pot.  Use a bigger one.  Par cooked bright green broccoli, check.  While the broccoli is cooking get out soy sauce, hoisin sauce, sesame oil (if you feel inclined to sing “se-sa-me, se-sa-me mucho” I won’t judge) brown sugar, garlic and ginger.  Go ahead and put about 1/8 cup soy, 1/4 cup hoisin, 1 tbsp oil, 1 tbsp sugar, and 2 cloves of garlic and 1 inch of grated ginger into a bowl and give it a whisk to dissolve the sugar.  Once you have everything assembled heat up a wok or a really big frying pan and some oil.  Cook your meat in batches till it’s browned all over, then add the broccoli, noodles and sauce and stir fry together until nicely glazed.

The nice thing about the lo mein, you don’t even need to forget to make the rice.  If you’re looking for a Paleo version then skip the noodles, sub coconut aminos and coconut sugar for the soy based items and the sugar.  But Paleo has not been working for me at this time this year, so noodles soy and sugar it is.  I’m sure I’ll cringe about that last statement in April…did I mention we’re heading to Florida?

Tuesday was swim night which is always hectic so a crock pot of red chicken chili saved the day.   If I called it chicken tortilla soup E wouldn’t eat it as she has recently decided not to like soup…stews apparently are a-ok.  But really whether you call it tortilla soup or chicken chili its still pretty darn easy.  At 9 am I threw into the crock pot 2 cans of black beans, 1 can of diced tomatoes with chilies, 1 can of petite diced tomatoes, 1 can of crushed tomatoes, 2 cups of chicken broth, 2 tbsp chili powder, 1 tbsp cumin, 1 tbsp cilantro flakes, 1 tsp oregano, 1 chopped onion and 5 chicken thighs.  Give it a stir and set the slow cooker to low.  At about 3 pm I took the chicken out and roughly chopped it then added it back in.  At 6 pm when E and I returned from swim lessons I took the lid off while I prepared sides.  Diced avocado, shredded cheese, green onions, sour cream and chips (could use tortilla strips but I went with chips cause I like crunchy)

Tonight’s dinner was a copycat version of Carabba’s chicken Bryan and a zucchini risotto with orzo…an orzotto? I started with the orzotto.  Sweat two finely chopped onions (mine were huge I went with 1.5) over low heat with 1 tbsp butter.  While the onions are sweating down (we were sweating to the oldies tonight…specifically Fleetwood Mac), grate two zucchini, and then thinly slice the third.  Add the grated zucchini to the pan along with salt, pepper and a spoonful of dried basil.  Once the onions are translucent add the orzo and fry for a bit until just golden in some spots.  Then add about a half a glass of wine, 2 cups of chicken broth and 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese.  Then arrange the sliced squash rings on the top and sprinkle on another 1/4 cup Parmesan.  Then pop the whole thing into the oven.  Oh, wait, didn’t you start the oven?  Oh well, neither did I.  So turn on the oven to 350 and stick the casserole in right away to cook while it pre-heats.  This is NOT professional cookery people.

For the chicken, start by butterflying butchering madly 2 enormous chicken breasts.  Its okay if you end up mangling them, kids don’t care about such things.  And as E kindly pointed out “it makes it easier to cut!”  Perhaps I should mangle the chicken more often.  Sprinkle liberally with salt, pepper and onion powder.  Then saute over medium heat until dark golden brown then flip.  You will need to do two batches even if you did mangle the breasts (doesn’t that sound horrid and violent…apologies).  Then remove the chicken to a baking dish or tray.

And deglaze the pan with the other half of your glass of wine you poured at the beginning of making dinner because it’s been that kind of day and unicorn rainbow sleepover birthday party in T-minus 3 days and counting!  Sorry, side tracked.

Deglaze with a bit of white whine, chicken broth, sauteed garlic and a pack of julienned sun dried tomatoes.  When the tomatoes have softened a bit, scoop them out of the liquid with a slotted spoon and put them on top of the chicken.  Then add a bit of goats cheese to the chicken and pop the tray into the oven while you finish the sauce.  Boil down the remaining liquid.  When reduced by half, have your faithful kitchen helper whisk while you add dots of butter until thick and glossy.  Take everything to the table and get Old Faithful (Kevin: Hey!) to pour you a second glass of wine.

Oh and by no means should you attempt to have your husband salt encrust tomorrow’s roast pork and then both make strawberry rhubarb jam (without sterilized jars and proper lids) whilst making the dinner described above.  It will render you both completely useless for the rest of the evening.  Isn’t it nice to have additional kitchen slaves children to help clean up?

Tomorrow, were having roast pork, mashed potatoes, and green beans…I’ll attempt another entry tomorrow with the details.  Friday, since it’s Lent we’re attending the church Fish Fry.  I do love fried fish.  Especially when someone else is doing the frying.  And Saturday is going to be a Chick-Fil-A nugget tray, rainbow veggie tray and tater tots for my little tot and 8 of her closest friends.  Yikes.  So hopefully you’ll get that next entry, but I’m not making any promises.  At least until Unicorns and Rainbows stop stomping through my brain.

I leave you with this:

Smiles and Hugs Forever!!!

BTW: the featured image is the Space Unicorn from the video, by Parry Gripp and Animation by Brianne Drouhard

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