Monday, August 27, 2012

Meal Planning Mondays: Fruits of his labor.

While my brother Daniel and his family are toiling away in medical school rounds down in Vegas for a few months, we've been given special charge of his prized garden.

And by special charge I really mean we have the arduous

painfully taxing

weighty responsibility

of harvesting 
a ginormous variety of the best ever produce
magically flourishing through the wonders
of an automated watering system.

It's a tough job.

But somebody's got to do it.

This only reinforces my conviction of the importance of ones family and friends.

After all, you don't need a garden.
Or a boat.
Or a lakehouse.
Or any of those elements that make life especially exotic and wonderful.

You just need friends (or family who can't shake obligatory ties to you) who do.


The meals we've had recently are all about simplicity and utilizing garden produce or what's in season and on sale at the store!

1. My picture doesn't do this justice, but we LOVE this dish. You can roast just about any veggie that you have on hand and toss it in. Roasting the whole head of garlic is what gives this pasta some real MMMMMMM quality. 

  • Roasted Ratatouille Pasta

  • Extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO), for drizzling
  • 1 head garlic
  • 1 medium eggplant, ends removed, peeled and cut into small chunks
  • 2 to 3 medium zucchini, ends removed, quartered and into small chunks
  • 2 red bell peppers, cored, seeds removed and cut into small chunks
  • 1 large onion, cut into small chunks
  • 4 sprigs thyme, leaves removed
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes
  • 1 pound whole wheat penne or pasta of your liking
  • 1/2 cup Italian parsley, chopped
  • 1/2 cup (a large handful) grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, plus more to pass at the table

Preheat oven to 450ºF. Place a large pot of salted water over high heat and bring to a boil.
Cut a sliver off the top of the garlic head just large enough to expose the cloves. Tear off a large square of aluminum foil and place the garlic in the center. Drizzle a small amount of EVOO over the head and wrap the foil up around it. Place in the oven and roast until golden brown and tender, about 45 minutes.
While the garlic is roasting, cut up the veggies and place everything except the tomatoes on one or two large baking sheets, along with the thyme leaves.
Once the garlic has been roasting for about 15 minutes, drizzle the veggies with EVOO and season them with some salt and freshly ground black pepper. Roast them in the oven until tender and caramelized, about 30 minutes.
Once the veggies have been in the oven about 10 minutes, place the tomatoes onto another baking sheet, drizzle them with EVOO and hit them with some salt and freshly ground black pepper. Toss them into the oven with the other veggies and roast until they've burst and shriveled up slightly, 15-20 minutes.
Once the veggies have about 10 minutes left to go, drop the pasta into the boiling water and cook to al denteaccording to package directions. Before draining the pasta, ladle about 3/4 cup or so of the pasta cooking liquid into a large serving bowl. Drain the pasta and reserve.
Once the garlic is done roasting, allow it to cool enough to handle, then hold the head in your hand over the bowl with the pasta water and squeeze out all of the roasted cloves into the bowl. Add the tomatoes and mash everything together.
Add the roasted veggies, drained pasta, parsley and grated Parmigiano to the bowl and toss it all to combine. Pass some additional Parmigiano-Reggiano at the table along with the bowl of pasta.

Recipe adapted from Rachael Ray.


2. The ten minute start-to-finish summer taco. 
Psssss, the cream is a healthy spin on sour cream!

Chicken Mango Avocado Tacos

Package of handmade style corn tortillas (We LOVE this brand)
1 roasted rotisserie chicken, shredded
shredded cheese
one ripe mango, diced
one ripe avocado, diced
(any other toppings of your preference)

Top tortillas with chicken and cheese and heat
in microwave until cheese is melted.
Top with mango, avocado, and chipotle cream!

Chipotle Cream

1 package reduced sodium taco seasoning
3/4 cup plain Greek yogurt

Blend together and top your taco!


3. And just in case you need a treat.....

Do you like the classic glory of a plain peanut butter cookie, or the wonder of that same peanut butter taste enhanced with a little melted chocolate in each bite... before drowning it all in a cold swig of milk?

I can't decide either. 

Chewy Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies.

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup peanut butter
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar

2 eggs
2 tlbsp corn syrup 
2 tblsp water
2 tsp vanilla

2 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
chocolate chips 

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Cream together butter, peanut butter, brown sugar, white sugar. Add next four ingredients and beat until well blended. Add flour, baking soda. Mix well until dough forms. Reserve half dough and put to side if you wish to have half plain/half chocolate chip cookies. Stir in chocolate chips to remaining dough.

Roll by teaspoons full and bake for 10-12 minutes.


Karrasch Clique said...

Wait...what? Which bro is doing Medical School...UNR? I had no hubs went there and we are in 2nd year of a 5 year residency in Orthopedic surgery....I remember all too well the long time Chris spent in Vegas for rotations! Boo...that must mean...3rd year? Anyhow...I love your brunette are maybe the most stylish mama of 4 ever and I like your recipes...I tried one last week and we loved it! Thanks for sharing and letting me blog stalk you! The Chicken Mango tacos look delish!


Karrasch Clique said...

so said it was Danny....ha!

Joan said...

Emersons bald head and perplexed expression are perfect! :) I love her.
Your Monday meal planning dissertations complete with labeled photos never cease to amaze me. You are incredible, Rae. Now send me an email dangit! ;) haha.