Sunday, January 30, 2011

menu for two

{the menu}
monday : gyro, pita, tzatziki, and greek salad
wednesday: sweet spicy BBQ ribs and coleslaw (recipe halved)
thursday: grilled cheese
friday: honey mustard chicken and salad
saturday: fireplace meat with all the greek fixin's
sunday: taco salad

what really happened

{monday} This is probably the closest we've come to having gyro at home. It's a really easy recipe and I especially like that there are enough leftovers to get at least three more gyro meals out of it. Monday was a busy cooking day for me as I had to make pitas, I had to mix all the meats for the gyro and precook it, plus I had to make tzatziki. Usually it's not so haggard because I'll have the pita and tzatziki on hand before I decide to make gyro, then all I really have to do is the meat part which is fine cuz I can make it ahead of time and pop them in the oven for a few minutes before dinner. It was entirely my fault for scheduling it when I didn't have the other important sides, but I did it so it would force me to finally turn the strained yogurt (that had been in my fridge for almost a week) into tzatziki. Next time we have this it'll be simpler.
{tuesday} I started making this as directed, honest, but as soon as the tomatoes went in the skillet, I didn't think there'd be any way the rest of the ingredients would fit. So I changed it to a vegetable lasagna (in a baking pan) by slicing the leftover acorn squash and sweet potato really thinly on a mandolin and adding them as layers to the lasagna noodles. On hindsight, I should have put the sweet potato slices on the bottom of the dish and the squash on the top so their juice would soak down and help cook the potatos. After an hour, the potatoes were still a touch crunchy and they were (oddly) the only thing Idle Husband complained about. I thought he'd notice the squash right away but that didn't phase him at all.
{wednesday} So I was literally doing nothing, hanging this stupid garland, and somehow I pinched a nerve in my back, almost blacked out, and then spent the rest of the day in bed (I think my sink was full of water with the dishes I was washing pre-accident until Thursday evening). So Idle Husband picked up some french fries and he made store-bought chicken fingers (er, store-free. I just happened to spend over the specified amount the last time I went grocery shopping, so they gave me a family-sized box of them for free -- I would never buy these premade, mine are better; and honestly, I was just a little annoyed I even had to stop what I was doing and go back through the store to find them, free or not) and we ate dinner in bed. Good times.
{thursday} Because of Wednesday, I deleted grilled cheese day and the ribs took its place. I'd much rather have ribs. Besides, Idle Husband stayed home from work to take care of me, so I had him make them instead (everybody together now, awwww!). I don't make this recipe as directed anymore. The full cup of brown sugar is highly unnecessary and creates a huge smokey fire hazard (I also don't have a clue as to what ribs I'm buying or how closely matching the amount is to what the recipe calls for. That could be why the sugar was burning all to hell the first time I made it). Instead I use about a 1/4 cup or less and use my own judgement for the spices. I also only cook it at the high temperature for 30 minutes, flipping them over after 15 minutes instead. Then I carry on as instructed, although sometimes they're done before the second hour is completely up. I also think ribs taste better when they're with something cool and creamy so I'll usually do a one potato salad, but I still had almost a full head of cabbage so I decided to do slaw instead. I cut the slaw recipe in half and then I halve the miracle whip and the sugar again. I don't like it that creamy and I almost never have the motivation to measure out chopped cabbage anyway.
{friday} This was an easy recipe to put together but it didn't taste like honey or mustard, it tasted mosty like tomato. I also cooked it in the toaster oven instead of on a grill. It was nice to do something different with chicken breasts, though. We also had plain rice as I anticipated having more sauce from the chicken, but there wasn't much to be used for that. It always annoys me when recipes call for a measly tablespoon of tomato paste for some inane reason. We don't have tomato paste in a tube. I might have seen it once and swooned over it, but I couldn't justify the cost in comparison to the tiny cans. Normally, I'll just avoid recipes like this, but I decided to freeze teaspoon sized dollups of the leftover paste on a cookie sheet so I'd have it all ready to use in other recipes later. Another handy hint, if you are opening a can of tomato paste, open both ends then push the lid into the can from one end, pushing the tomato paste out the other. It's a lot cleaner and I can usually get almost all the paste out at one time.
{saturday} Fireplace meat is so easy and so delicious. I could easily get away with making double this amount and we would be able to eat all of it. But I try to keep portions down as much as possible otherwise we'd definitely end up stuffing ourselves silly, and I'd rather be a little empty than too full.
{sunday} I promised Idle Husband I would never try to trick him into eating beans and if beans were supposed to be in the dish, I'd omit them and put them in a seperate bowl just for me. Since then, he'll actually eat anything I make that sounds even vaguely mexican. He lived in the states for a while so any mexican sounding dishes are immediately associated with beans. When I think of tacos, I think of spicy ground beef, maybe some onion and garlic, and that's it. I'm not a huge fan of beans on their own and I'm especially not a fan of refried beans. So my tacos only consist of ground beef, sauted onion and garlic, and some spice (yes, the packaged type. We also don't eat mexican food all that often, so I don't keep any of the proper spices stocked). I don't usually bother with a shell or wrap and just pile it all on top of a salad, but sometimes I crave a flour tortilla. I've made my own tortillas before, but I just didn't find it worth the effort. IH doesn't like them and when I'm the only one eating them, and very occasionally at that, I don't feel like bothering myself with it. I shouldn't be eating tortillas anyway, so when I do want them, I'll just buy the small ones for myself as a treat (I think I get a craving for these exactly once a year). I'm also making the meat even spicier than I would for myself as Idle Husband has really developed a taste for extreme heat. To make it more enjoyable for me, I cool mine off with some plain yogurt. I know most people would probably think sour cream for this, and that's fine and all, but if I purchased a tub of sour cream, I'd use a few dollups of it and it would just sit in the fridge and rot if I didn't go searching for recipes that specifically called for it. In my opinion, plain yogurt's just more versatile than sour cream. I can get a bigger bang for my buck if I keep yogurt stocked in my fridge instead since it can be used for more dishes either sweet -- if you have a baking recipe that calls for sour cream, you can substitute yogurt -- or savoury. I think they both basically taste the same anyway.

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