Last week was an interesting one for us. We were in New Hampshire for most of Monday and then drove back in the evening. Moreover, my folks took the kids with them to Michigan early Thursday morning which meant they were only here with us for two dinners. This not only opened my wife and I up to a full week of the house to ourselves, but almost no restrictions when it came to choosing food! Better yet, we added a brand new 10-piece set of Calphalon Signature Series Stainless Steel pots and pans to our arsenal as well as a 6-quart InstantPot!
Grilled Steak & Sauteed Spinach
To be honest, I’m not the biggest fan of summer. I like the nice weather, but it’s usually too hot for me all around. I’m more of a spring/fall person, but the summer does allow me to get outside and cook on the grill! You can’t beat the simplicity of taking a piece of meat, rubbing it with some olive oil, sprinkling some salt on there and tossing it on the grill. On Tuesday, I did exactly that with a pair of beef loin strip steaks I got at Hannaford. Given better conditions — it stormed all day — I would have used the charcoal, but switched gears to the gas.
While the steaks rested, post-grilling, I whipped up a side of sauteed spinach using a pile of leafy greens pulled from the garden, some killer Italian olive oil my folks brought back from a recent trip, salt, garlic powder and about a quarter cup of chicken stock. The result was not even a cup of cooked spinach, but it was so tasty everyone wanted more, which I’m certain has never happened in this house with that particular veggie! The steak also turned out great, with a nice saltiness and medium insides! These meals are always a little finny because the kids and my wife raved over this thing that really didn’t take much time or energy whereas other, more time-consuming offerings can be met with mehs. Sometimes, simpler is just better.
A few weeks back I made a version of Katie Lee’s Grilled Chicken & Kale Greeks Salad that I saw on The Kitchen (my favorite food show). Her version uses kale (obviously) and a Food Network Greek vinaigrette dressing for the marinade as well as the actual salad dressing. We’ve had a solid crop of lettuce, spinach and kale in the garden this year, so I used a mix. I also couldn’t find the Food Network brand so I went with Ken’s Steak House Greek Dressing although I’ve just discovered there’s another version called Simply Vinaigrette that I would have gone with had I seen it. It turned out great, so I wanted to make it again.
This time, though, we had cucumbers ready in the garden and I remembered a rotisserie chicken in the deep freeze, so I didn’t marinate it, but still had a nice Greek salad for dinner that required zero cooking. As an added bonus, I had a pair of kiddos who wanted to help. After the harvest there wasn’t a lot for Jack to do because it was just chopping things up and putting them in bowls, but Lu was able to help cut up the cukes! The results were fantastic and I’m happy to say that you can put a full rotisserie chicken in the big freezer, pull it out and use it a few days later.
Panchetta, Sweet Corn & Burst Cherry Tomato Pasta
With the kids gone the latter part of this week, I decided to make my take on Anne Burrell’s Tagliatelle With Bacon, Sweet Corn, Burst Cherry Tomatoes & Arugala from her book Cook Like A Rock Star (page 125). After getting a stomach bug that coincided with the eating of corn, our daughter has been off the delightful summer vegetable for a while now. We can get by eating it off the cob, of course, but I love the combination of bacon or panchetta and corn mixed with tomatoes, so this was the first recipe I thought of when coming up with the week’s menu. She also doesn’t like bacon (maybe she’s an alien), but doesn’t mind panchetta so I’ve switched to that in a lot of recipes, including this one! I also went with a simple pint of cherry tomatoes I got from the store instead of the heirloom ones mentioned in the recipe or ones from the garden because they’re not in yet. I just realized I also forgot to include a green. Ah well, the results were still a delightful mix of salty and charred that made me want to eat it all night!
I tried a new boxed pasta for this as well because I didn’t feel like making my own. It’s called Dreamfields Healthy Carb Living Rotini. I’ve tried everything from full-on wheat pasta to the ones that have vegetables worked into the dough. I will say that this pasta, made of semolina flour. My wife and I were both impressed not only with the flavor of the pasta, but also with how well it held up, even when eating as leftovers. Sometimes these alternative pastas get mealy or weak, but not so with these. I think I’ve found a new go-to boxed pasta!
Stock-Boiled Brats & Onions
One of my go-to meals this summer has been sausages of any kind thrown on the grill. Sometimes, I boil them in a bottle or can of beer (and some chicken stock to cover if needed) along with a few tablespoons of butter and half an onion before putting them to the fire. I’ve been trying a variety of different options lately and this week I went with Old Neighborhood’s Kielbasa which I served with some Saverne Artisanal Organic Kraut and Gulden’s Stone Ground Dijon Mustard. My wife introduced this method of cooking to me years ago and I’ve been doing it ever since with great results. This time, I skipped the beer because I only had two left and also did everything inside because it rained all day, but the results were still super tasty and also easy!