Keep On Cookin’
I bet you feel like that’s all you do. More ideas for what to cook below, as well as one routine change that’s helping me stay sane right now. You guys have maybe heard me talk about “come and take it” night. Every Friday, I clean out the fridge and let everyone dig in to leftovers. If we don’t have much to work with, I may throw some sausages on the grill, but other than that Friday is a “no pan” rule. Everything must be pre-made or grilled outside. I can NOT look at another dish or pot or pan by Friday and need a mental kitchen break. Happy Easter, friends. I hope you have a sweet and simple celebration with the ones you love.
Christos Anesti! One of my favorite memories of Easter is celebrating Greek Easter on the island of Chios with some friends during a semester in Athens. We stayed with cousins of one of my study abroad friends, and they lived on a sprawling olive orchard. I was in heaven. Old stone walls, acres of olive trees and a sweet family willing to deal with a group of crazy Americans. We stayed up until midnight to go to Orthodox mass in what felt like an ancient island church. Everything was lit by candlelight and during the service the men and women were separated by an intricate wood and metal partition down the middle aisle of the tiny chapel. At midnight we all poured into the courtyard to the sound of bells and everyone gladly greeted each other with “Christos Anesti.” Sparklers were lit and helped us find our way back home where we had a late night feast. All that to say, I linked a great recipe for Greek lamb in my Easter Brunch Menu this year. If you don’t make it for Easter, you should definitely put it on your menu this spring. If you make a spiral ham but you’re only feeding a few, portion out and freeze leftover cooked ham to use in a ton of different recipes.
It’s my son’s 14th birthday. He’s requested marinated grilled chicken breasts, mashed potatoes and roasted shishitos. We’re making a simple Miss Jones Baking vanilla cake with easy homemade chocolate frosting. To marinate the chicken for grilling, in a glass or ceramic container combine about 2 heaping tablespoons fresh chopped oregano, basil and parsley (or sub 2 teaspoons dried Italian seasoning for the fresh herbs), 4 cloves minced garlic, 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar (or champagne, apple cider, sherry or balsamic), 1/4 cup olive oil, 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt and pepper. Stir to combine the marinade ingredients and add the chicken breasts or thighs; marinate at room temperature for 1-2 hours (flipping the chicken every once in a while) or up to 12 hours in the refrigerator. Fyi, the chicken can be boneless or bone-in. Grill over medium heat.
Chicken enchilada casserole is happening. We have loads of leftover chicken to use up. Did you see my photos of the monster hen, aka “panic chicken” we roasted last week? We have chicken tortilla-less soup in the works to freeze, as well as curried chicken salad.
Slow-roasted Copper River Salmon from Alaska. I’ll add a little white white to the pan to help poach the salmon while it bakes, and if you don’t have dill, top the salmon with any fresh herbs before baking. Serve with a green sauce such as chermoula or my favorite creamy jalapeño sauce that happens to be dairy-free. Roast some sweet potatoes while the salmon bakes and mix up a red cabbage salad.
We need a vegetarian dinner tonight — I’m starting to get meat weary. Feel free to omit any of these ingredients and email me with questions (or watch Instagram stories).
Spaghetti Puttanesca with Anchovies
- 2 chiles de arbol (or sub a teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes)
- 4 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced on a mandolin
- 7 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 2 oil-packed anchovy fillets, drained and chopped, or 2 heaping teaspoons anchovy paste
- 1 tablespoon fresh oregano leaves (or 1 teaspoon dried)
- 1½ cups hand-crushed whole tomatoes (from 1 28-ounce can of whole peeled plum tomatoes, drained)
- ¾ cup green Spanish olives, pitted and coarsely chopped
- 2 tablespoons drained capers
- 12 ounces uncooked spaghetti, preferably bronze cut
- ½ cup chopped fresh basil
- In a large skillet, heat the chiles, sliced garlic, and 5 tablespoons of the olive oil over medium-low heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the garlic is lightly golden and tender, about 5 minutes.
- Add the anchovy and oregano. While cooking, break up the anchovies with the back of a spoon. Cook until the garlic is golden, and the mixture is fragrant, about 1 minute.
- Add tomatoes and increase heat to medium. Bring the mixture to a simmer and stir until the sauce thickens, about 10 minutes. Once thickened, remove and discard the chiles (if using red pepper flakes, just leave them in). Then, stir in the olives and capers.
- While the sauce is simmering, cook the pasta in well-salted water. Cook al dente, about 3 minutes less than the package instructions.
- Using tongs, transfer the pasta into the sauce in the skillet. Reserve the cooking liquid in the pot. Increase the heat of the skillet to high. Stir and shake the skillet constantly, adding about ¾ cup of cooking water to the skillet ¼ cup at a time. Cook until the pasta is tender, and the sauce is creamy and coats the pasta, about 3 to 4 minutes.
- Remove from heat. Add basil and remaining olive oil to coat.
Recipe adapted from Food & Wine.
“Come and take it night.” This is a new tradition we’ve developed during “stay at home” days. By the end of the week we have odds and ends of leftovers that need to be used up. I get everything out and put it on the counter and everyone heats their own dinner. If they don’t like what’s available they can make a bowl of cereal or PB&J. If you are the one in charge of cooking in your house, try a “come and take it” night. You could also suggest that everyone in the family pick one night of the week to plan and cook dinner, just a thought!
This is our weekly takeout night. Support your local restaurants wherever you are. Here’s a guide with some takeout tips during COVID-19 that I found helpful. And just a reminder to donate or help serve your local charities that are making a difference: Feeding Texas, Houston Food Bank, Second Servings, Kids Meals are doing great work to feed our food-insecure community right now.