Mind, prepare to be blown:
Yes…it’s the solution to my weekly pleadings with my family to name something other than pizza (Jake) or meatloaf (Dave) when I ask what to cook for dinner. Stir Friday.
I love it for so many reasons: 1) it still allows room for creativity, because “stir-fry” is a huge, broad category…but it does give me somewhere to start with the meal planning; 2) it makes a beautiful peace treaty for the taste bud cold war Dave and I are waging…no more can he tell me that I never eat Asian food with him!; 3) it has an awesome name—always a bonus; and 4) it’s so easy to make large amounts of stir-fry, so easy to accommodate different dietary needs, that Stir Friday is the perfect way to kick off one of our major family goals: becoming better hosts.
So, friends who live in the greater DC area, consider this your open invitation.
It’s Stir Friday. Are you coming?
I can’t believe my beautiful girl is 4 weeks old! But it was a long road in getting there (and I’m not just talking about sleepless nights)…did you know she was a week overdue?
I spent a lot of time during the last few weeks of my pregnancy doing one “last” adventure with Jake, one “last” trip to the store, one “last” load of laundry/other heinous cleaning chore… I sure was ready to meet my girl and stop being pregnant! But she was pretty cozy and reluctant to make her entrance. Finally, I decided to try smoking her out.
This meal was one of many versions of what I called “Get-Out-Of-Me-Baby” food: simple, spicy dishes that I hoped would somehow convince Caitlin that the outside world would be a welcome change.
(In case you wondered…the spicy foods didn’t faze her. But this was still a delicious meal!)
One of the pitfalls of being a food blogger is that there aren’t really many family favorite meals in our house. I don’t mean to say we don’t have favorite meals—just that I don’t make repeats very often. Our “favorite” meals tend to roll around once every three years rather than once every three weeks.
There is much less room for food ruts when the chef is constantly looking for new dishes to blog about.
But this shakshuka is seriously going to grace our table several times every summer from now until Kingdom come, because wow is it delicious and it is so easy to make! I love laid back meals, don’t you?
Shakshuka is a North African dish typically comprised of eggs poached in a rich tomato sauce. This version is a little different because it adds brightly colored bell peppers for a little more heartiness and texture. It will make your house smell amazing. It will make your mouth water. It will basically be the best use of summer bell peppers you will ever find, and you will mourn when your farmer’s market shuts down in the fall!
On Sunday morning, it was so warm I didn’t even need a coat when I went outside.
By midnight, the roads were icy and buckets of snow were on their way.
Late winter is so confusing! I don’t know what to wear, I don’t know what to make for dinner… (Right? On blustery days all I can think about are steaming, hearty bowls full of warm spices, which is not exactly appealing when it’s 60 degrees outside.)
In these final days of freezing winter, I truly just want to make the most of earthy, spicy foods before I have to give them up for spring salads. So I made saag paneer.
Have you ever had that? It’s basically a phenomenally spiced spinach and cheese dish, which you can eat with a fork or by swirling a piece of garlicky naan bread through it. Classic wintery goodness.
Oh my gosh! So much squash.
The first week squash started rolling in from my CSA share, there were just 3, and I was disappointed.
Be careful what you wish for.
Over the last 2 weeks, I have received like 10 lbs. of squash: cucumbers, zucchini, yellow crooknecks, pattypan…
We have to use up some of this squash, or else it might stage a takeover inside the fridge. Yikes!
A few weeks ago, I stumbled across a recipe for spring veggie potstickers that immediately peaked my interest. So last week when I opened up my CSA box and found a bounty of late-spring produce, I immediately figured out how to adapt the recipe to the veggies in my box.
What I received for week 2 of my CSA share was: a huge bundle of kale, almost a pound of asparagus, several spring onions, a few large radishes, and a pint of cherries.
You can adapt this recipe to whatever veggies you have on hand! I thought that the radishes, kale, and asparagus went perfectly with a small handful of chopped mushrooms that I happened to have languishing in my fridge. The mushrooms upped the umami factor of the potstickers, which was a definite plus for my husband (who didn’t even complain that they were vegetarian!). This meal actually turned out so great that I made it twice!
These potstickers aren’t hard to make, unless you have an unhappy baby who doesn’t understand why you are spending 15 minutes pinching wonton wrapper seams together. In that event, you might want to give yourself some extra time and patience. I’m just saying.
I regularly find myself standing in front of the fridge trying to figure out what to do with all the little leftover odds and ends in my crisper. Halves of bell peppers, lonely carrots, three baby bellas that didn’t make it into a salad earlier in the week…
Inspiration finally struck as I was struggling to find a way to use up two cups of leftover jasmine rice pilaf. I am not really a rice person; I am not even the kind of person who thinks every meal should include a starch. So that Tupperware container of rice had been staring at me for almost two weeks.
And finally, as I was trying to plan a meal to make with my mom, who can’t have wheat or dairy, a light bulb clicked on over my head. Fried rice!
You can use any kind of cooked rice and any vegetables you want when you are making fried rice. So why not jasmine rice baked in veggie broth with a few shallots already tossed in? And all those veggies hiding in my refrigerator drawers were a perfect match.
This one-pot meal came out so delicious that my husband ate about four servings of it. I won’t stress about how much white rice he consumed in one sitting…I will just use brown rice next time and rejoice that I’ve finally found a simple Asian dish I can make at home for him!
Let’s make a meal out of all our leftovers!
So, my husband loves Asian food. That sounds like an over-generalization, but I can almost guarantee that if the cuisine originated from somewhere in the Far East, he would be perfectly happy eating it every day for every meal. Korean food, Chinese food, Thai food, Vietnamese food…you name it, he’s there.
I find it challenging to make most of these foods at home, because most of the dishes he truly loves require a lot of somewhat unusual ingredients and really are easier to make in huge portions. That’s why I was excited to be assigned A Scientist in the Kitchen for this month’s Secret Recipe Club swap. Here is a girl who is currently living in Thailand, making her own versions of classic Thai dishes at home!
I knew I had to try making Pad Thai, which is one of Dave’s new favorites. He is in love with this amazing Thai place near our house that makes an award-winning spicy Pad Thai (maybe you remember seeing Nong crush Bobby Flay on TV in a Pad Thai throwdown?), so I knew that if I were able to make a good Pad Thai at home, it would be a hit.
This month for the Secret Recipe Club, I was assigned the blog Samayalarai: Cooking is Divine.
What an interesting blog—and something of a challenge for me, an Indian food rookie! Looking through the pages and pages of recipes, mostly for things I had never previously heard of, was a real education for me. I mean, my Indian food experience is fairly limited to the most common of dishes: naan, various kinds of masala, jalfrezi…
Let’s just say I spent a lot of time looking up Indian food terms on Google as I browsed the blog.
I landed on a dish called Dhingri Mutter, which means mushrooms and peas. One of the things that drew me to this dish is that it seemed like something I could easily make at home without buying too many exotic ingredients that would later go to waste. It also looked really healthy, and reminded me of a favorite Indian dish that I’ve been meaning to make for a while, Navrattan Khorma. Both are made with a fresh tomato-onion paste and yogurt sauce; the main difference is in the vegetables included. Since I’m not a huge fan of peas, I decided to expand this dish to include a few other vegetables as well, making it even more similar to the khorma I enjoy so much. I hope I didn’t compromise the integrity of the meal too much by tinkering with the ingredients! All I know is that I sure enjoyed it.
Do you know the food talk show, The Chew? Five very different personalities joining together to share recipes and mock each other. Love it.
The Chew has become party of my daily lunchtime ritual. I rummage around in my fridge until I find something that takes about 1 minute to get ready, wander into the living room, and Hulu and I settle down to watch a week-old episode about spicy foods or breakfast all day.
So far my favorite episode has been the healthy foods episode from mid-January, on which Daphne Oz made this fabulous moo shu dish. Why am I so excited about moo shu, you wonder? Simply put, my husband should have been born in Asia. Pick a country, he can devour their traditional dishes with the hunger of three men. I also really love most Asian cuisines, but I have never been a huge fan of Chinese food…it usually tastes kind of like grease to me. But the one dish I always really enjoyed before becoming a vegetarian, coincidentally one of Dave’s all-time favorites, was moo shu pork.
How awesome is it that I now have a super-easy vegetarian version I can make whenever Dave needs a Chinese-food fix? And I can eat it, too!