So naturally my favorite quick, week-night dinner is sausages on the grill served anyway I can think of. Just unwrap and throw them on to cook. No marinading, no nothing and yet full of flavor. The endless variety of flavors available keeps things interesting.
The only thing I do if I am feeling ambitious on a hot night in July is slice up some peppers and onions, but these days you can get even those already prepped for you at the grocery store!
I use an all-metal (no plastic handles!) skillet directly on my grill to cook the veggies. You could use a grill basket too if you have one. Make sure to have a pot-holder handy and don’t touch the pan and/or handle without it!
Toast some buns and assemble your sandwich when everything is ready.
I have written about quiche many times. See here, here, here,here,here and here. I just can’t help myself, quiche is the perfect vehicle for just about anything you want to put into it.
This week it was the Swiss Chard that was the instagator. I found a good looking bunch at the local farmer’s market and couldn’t resist bring them home. Into the quiche it went. Sautéed first with a little bit of onion and pancetta and of course a little tuyere cheese makes everything better!
cooks’ tip: When you use a refrigerated pie crust for quiche bottom, making a quiche is as easy as 1-2-3!
Sometimes you just have to use up the scraps of things you have hanging around your cabinets and fridge. And that is the very essence of “cabinet stew.” Using what you have on hand to create a meal.
For me that started waaaay back in my 20’s when after a late night out, you would come home starving – things weren’t as 24/7 back then – and pull stuff out of the cabinets to try to put together something delicious. “Cabinet Stew” was born! I can’t take credit for coining the phrase. It was the boyfriend of one of my friends, Karl, who invented the “Cabinet Stew” in the first place!
Other then a quiche, my favorite way to use up scraps is in a mac-n-cheese. I use up whatever random chunks of cheese I have on hand, of course there is always dried pasta in my cabinets and this time I threw in a small amount of fresh spinach, some diced Canadian ham and onion. It felt almost healthy. Almost.
sautéed ham, onion and spinach
add homemade cheese sauce
top it with breadcrumbs
bake till brown and bubbly
Cheese: this one was mostly Swiss cheese with a small amount of cheddar and some parmesan on top. It made a nice compliment with the salty ham.
Pasta: I used gluten free – make sure not to over boil!
Sauce: simply equal parts of your choice fat and flour whisked with warmed whole milk. I like to add the powdered spices in with the roux so they can toast a bit. In this case I used garlic powder, smoked paprika and ground nutmeg to compliment the spinach. In retrospect a little dijon mustard thrown into the cheese sauce would have been a nice compliment to classic flavors of ham, Swiss and spinach!
This is not a political statement, and maybe it’s all in my head, but I think American lamb is much less “lamb-y” then imported Australian/New Zealand lamb.
This can’t be a crazy concept since all naturally grown/cultivated things tend to pick up the influences of the local “terrior.” Maybe there is something about the Australian/New Zealand countryside that helps contribute to that strong “game” taste in the meat that I am not a fan of.
However with enough garlic and lemon any lamb is bound to taste great! Typically I cook my lamb with a heavy greek-style red sauce, with plenty of garlic and some cinnamon undertones. Recently I was inspired to lighten things up and keep it light with a flavorful marinade of lemon, garlic, rosemary and my-not-so- secret lamb seasoning blend.
I marinated a small (2lb) boneless leg portion of lamb overnight in this flavorful marinade. Patted it dry without scraping off too much of the seasoning and sprinkled it with fresh salt and pepper. After leaving it out for 30 mins or so to get the chill from the fridge off, it I roasted it at the usual 20 mins/lb in a preheated 400 degree oven. Use a thermometer and trust it. 145 degrees internal temperature is considered medium well* and if you pull it out and it’s reading 140 degrees – trust your self and keep it out, lightly covered with foil to finish while resting. It should continue and come up about another 10 degrees. DON”T put it back in the oven “for just a few extra minutes” like I am always tempted to do. And do.
The line between “medium-well” and overdone is a thin one. As is often the case and becuase I am such a worry-wort about the cooking temperature, I may have crossed over that line. Oops! The meat was still tasty and tender and my husband didn’t mind but I probably should have skipped those last few minutes in the oven and left well enough alone! ( or in this case left “medium” alone!)
I did serve it with spinach rice (“Spanakorizo”) and a simple, chunky red sauce made from canned tomatoes poured around the lamb in the beginning, mixing with the roasting juices in the pan.
*Author’s Note: I prefer my lamb medium to medium-well but if you like yours a little less done, 120-130 degrees internal temperature is where you want to be for “medium-rare.” However don’t go by me, as I am not official –go to the FDA website!
What’s a girl to do when she wants to make a quiche and needs a crust?
Get out the flour and mixer and make a homemade pie crust? I think not. Since I use store bought pie crust for my quiche, the thought of actually making my own crust seemed like way too much work. #sorrynotsorry
But I did have some store-bought “puff pastry” on hand. So I googled this to be sure and of course I found out that I was not the first person to wonder if puff pastry could be used for quiche.
I think my concerns were about the bottom crust – would it be soggy? And since I never put a top crust on my quiche what would I do with the second pastry sheet from he package? I decided today my crust would have a top.
So I sautéed some onions, peppers and Italian sausage for the filling while I blind baked the bottom crust. I do this with my pie crust too. I simply “dock” the bottom with a fork and bake for about 10 mins to set the bottom crust and avoid a soggy bottom.
I added some “Somerdale” sweet red cheddar cheese chunks, a dash of dried Italian seasoning and the standard eggs/whole milk mix and poured the whole thing in. Next I laid the top square on. It’s a little messy where I had to repair the seams from unfolding it roughly and of course those specks are just some Italian seasoning. I figured I was being clever by scoring the dough into serving squares. (plus I was worried the whole thing would puff up into the roof of the oven if I didn’t!)
Standard Baking protocol – 40 mins at 400 degrees and voilà!
I can not emphasis enough the virtues of labeling things when you put them in the freezer.
Not only for the obvious “eat/cook by date” but for the “what actually is this?”
Recently I pulled out some sort of hot-dog/sausage looking package out of my freezer and wished I had labeled it.
I am sure at the time I was all like “oh I will throw this in and will defiantly remember it because it’s special.”
2 months later… (let’s be honest it could have been 2 weeks later) and I can’t remember what sort of local sourced, handcrafted, all natural, no nitrates “hot dog or sausage” thing this was!
So after defrosting I had to start with the basic question of “is this a raw product or fully cooked?”
Taking no chances, I sliced and cooked one to be sure. After tasting it I still had no clue.
Here is the information for analysis: firm texture, not very salty, mild flavor – possibly an all beef product. It was not as “pink” as it appears in the photo – probably due to lack of Nitrites*. Hubby doesn’t get along with Nitrites so I often avoid them in sausage products anyway. If anybody has any ideas out there, by all means I am taking suggestions as I would like to remember so I can maybe get them again – they were tasty!
*Nitrates and nitrites are frequently added to processed meats like bacon, ham, sausages and hot dogs. They function as preservatives, helping to prevent the growth of harmful bacteria. They also add a salty flavour and improve the appearance of the meat products by giving them a red or pink color.
Info Credit: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/are-nitrates-and-nitrites-harmful