Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Dinner Tonight!

My husband always tells me that he can tell when I cook with love and enjoy the process, and when I am making dinner just to get it done and not loving it so much.

Which makes perfect sense.

When  I make food, I want people to eat it and go, 'wow'-and for a moment, forget all their problems and be immersed in the moment.

Some nights, If I know the meal I have planned takes a lot of steps, or there are some things that I can make ahead of time I'll prep here and there a little at a time throughout the day...this makes the actual dinner making process a heck of a lot easier and more enjoyable. It also helps if the baby takes her nap like she's supposed to during that time.

I've never understood why people DON'T enjoy cooking...It makes me so sad! But, to each their own, I suppose! There are days where I simply just have no imagination and therefore, don't want anything to do with my kitchen...but I find that the part that makes it fun and worthwhile is when we sit down after a long day, catch up on things and enjoy the food I made...To me, there is nothing better! It's not about following a recipe and getting the measurements right, or freaking out about not having the right ingredients- It's about  imagination, improvising, a lot of tasting as you go, and a lot of love.

With that being said...I want to share with you the dinner I made last night. It wasn't anything fancy or crazy, but the flavors and the simplicity of it were out of this world! Mr. Husband was a very happy man with a very full tummy.

I'll start off by sharing the salad:

Romaine Heart Casar Salad
serves 3-4

2 Romaine Lettuce Heads
1/4-1/2 cup Parmesan Cheese (whatever you desire)
1 Recipe homemade dressing
Homemade croutons

Start off by getting out the biggest bowl in your kitchen.
Tear off the outter leaves of your Romaine heads, so you are down to the nice, crisp hearts.
Chop off the end of the hearts, and give them a good rinse. Dry well.
Leave your lettuce leaves whole and put in the big bowl.

For the dressing:
(this makes a lot so if you halve it, i'm sure it will be fine, or you can just keep the extra in your fridge.)
6 Garlic Cloves
1 Tbsp. Dijon Mustard
1 Tbsp. White Vinegar
2 Tbsp. Mayonnaise
1/2 Cup Olive oil
Lemon Juice

In a Magic Bullet, food processor or even blender, combine garlic, mustard, vinegar and a pinch of salt.
Blend very well to form your base.
Slowly pour in your olive oil while blending.
Scrape sides down to make sure it's all combined and add salt, pepper and lemon juice to taste.

Pout desired amount of dressing all over your lettuce leaves and toss to completely coat.
Add in Parmesan cheese.

For the croutons:
3-4 Slices of thickly cut bread (Italian is best!)
3 Tbsp. Butter
1 Tsp. Garlic Powder
1 Tsp. Paprika ( If you don't have this, don't worry about it.)
1 Tsp. Pepper

Cut Bread into 1/2 inch cubes.
Melt butter. In a bowl, toss cubes with butter and spices. Be sure to coat bread very well.
With oven on 425, toast cubes on a well greased pan for 10-15 minutes, til golden brown.

I waited to put the croutons on the salad til the last minute. Warm, fresh croutons on a crispy, cold salad are out of this world!!!
Eat with your hands. No joke.

We also had a side of oven roasted mushrooms and asparagus in white wine and butter, but we ate those too fast for me to get a picture of. They were divine- Here's how it goes:

Mushrooms and Asparagus in White Wine and Butter:
serves 4
1 Bunch asparagus
1 Package Whole, not sliced,Mushrooms ( don't worry about exact size or anything, just whatever size you get will be perfect.)
2 Tbsp. Butter, melted
2 Tbsp. White wine
pepper to taste

Cut off 2-3 inches from bottom of asparagus.
Melt butter, mix with wine, pour all over veggies in pan, asparagus on bottom, mushrooms on top.
Sprinkle with pepper.
Bake at 425 in a round casserole dish, or a 8x8 deep pan, for 15 minutes. Poifect.

So, for the best part: these rolls have a lot of steps, but don't worry....they're actually super easy cause the steps are spread out over a few hours, so you can do laundry, clean, chase your children around or just read a book with some coffee and bon- bons in between.

South African Sausage Rolls:
Serves 4
For the Pastry:
1 1/2 Cups Flour
1 Tsp. Salt
1 Stick butter
1/2 Cup sour cream
1 Egg white
For the filling:
1/2 lb. ground pork
1/2 lb. ground beef
2 tsp. of your favorite meat seasoning
1 tsp. salt (if your seasoning has lots of sodium already, skip this.)

Start by mixing the flour and salt in a bowl.
Cut in butter with a pastry cutter until it resembles large peas.
Add sour cream and cut in with a butter knife.
When it starts to come together, with one hand knead the dough. Don't add more liquid to the dough even if it seems like it needs it. Just keep kneading.
So many knead's/ need's. So confusing.
When it comes together, wrap in plastic wrap that is lightly spray greased. Place in a ziplock bag, and allow it to rest in the fridge for an hour.

For the filling, add meat and seasoning to a bowl. Mix with one hand.
Tear 3 Large strips of plastic wrap and spray lightly with cooking spray.
Form 3 sausages with the meat mixture, each measuring about 12 inches long.
Roll in the plastic wrap and let rest until your dough is ready.

After your dough has rested for an hour, roll it out onto a lightly floured surface into a rectangle.
Fold the rectangle into thirds, so it forms a parcel.
Turn dough 90 degrees, and roll out again the long way to form another rectangle, folding it into thirds again...repeat 3 more times.
Place on a pan and refrigerate for another hour.

Pre-heat oven to 425.

Roll dough parcel into a rectangle, about 12" x 18" and cut into thirds the short way.
Roll thirds out individually a little more if needed so your sausage rolls can fit nicely.
Brush edges of dough with egg white, fold dough over and pinch to seal. Leave the ends open.
You can cut them to whatever size you want, or just leave them long.
Place seam side down on a lightly sprayed pan and brush with egg whites.
Do same thing to other 2 rolls.
Bake for 35 minutes.
Serve with marinara sauce, or chutney. I did both, and we LOVED them with the chutney. Here's the recipe I used for Mango chutney, but you can pretty much use any tropical kind of fruit to make it. I also added extra crushed red pepper for an extra kick. Wicked good!!!

It doesn't look fancy, but it tastes fancy.

I'll post the dessert we had, next:
Peanut Butter Chocolate Ice Box Cake!

Enjoy cooking!

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