Rainy Day BBQ

Fall is my favorite season…warm but not hot, nice breezes, beautiful foliage…and, in my opinion, the best time to BBQ.

We had planned for a fun, Friday BBQ and had bought so much to prepare. Of course, charcoal, lighter fluid, matches etc. And the fun foods: burgers (beef for the guests, and some ground lamb for me to make lamb burgers for myself and the more adventurous guests), hot dogs, chicken drumsticks, corn on the cob….

I was so excited.

And then, it rained. Not a light drizzle, or a transient rainfall, but a torrential downpour. So we moved the BBQ to our apartment. Our small, cozy, barely tidy apartment. It was the first time we had guests.

I didn’t take pictures, as we were entertaining…but it is good to know a few things.

First, we actually can have people over to our small apartment and it’s not a total disaster.

Second, you can create a pretty good approximation of a BBQ in the kitchen.

I baked then broiled BBQ chicken drumsticks, I broiled hot dogs and buns, and I made my burgers on a scalding hot frying pan.

The results were amazing…and the upside was I could also make fresh baked coconut cup cakes while everyone was digesting dinner.

And, most importantly, we still got together with our friends.

Pistachio Pudding Cookies

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I should be more prepared for MTT’s random requests for dessert. I don’t make dessert everyday, and he doesn’t have a huge sweet tooth, but there are days he just feels like a sugary end to dinner (usually when dinner is especially good, I think)….

Today I made classic Indian keema (ground meat). I didn’t photograph it for a blog post, but I should have…it’s a favorite in this household so I know I will have another opportunity soon.

After dinner MTT said “I feel like dessert today”. Usually I love the opportunity to bake but sometimes I’m totally caught off guard with only basic ingredients on hand.

I decided to make a basic sugar cookie but flavor it with a pudding mix I had on hand.

The result was a soft cookie, crispy on the outside but soft and dough-y on the inside…when eaten warm from the oven they provided a sweet and filling end to a yummy traditional Indian dinner.

Flirting with Fresh Direct

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In a previous post, I blogged about how much I love the grocery store. However, the options around here aren’t always fresh or affordable. Also, in busy times I try to overshop on one occasion to try to spread out my trips to the store. So, at the recommendation of a colleague I tried Fresh Direct.

Convenient. Reliable. Quick. And a good selection of goods.

I decided to try the pre-seasoned chili marinated pork chops. They were good..a little generic in flavor…but on the whole good…I may not order this exact item again but I will order fresh direct again.

I loved the side of corn though!

MTT is at baseline not a fan of pork, and in general likes things made from scratch at home more…unclear if this is shameless flattery but I have to say it makes me more likely to cook from scratch at home!

Vegetarian Tuesdays

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I don’t eat meat on Tuesdays, and while it’s usually not a problem to come up with dinner ideas sometimes I really feel stuck.

This Tuesday, I had gorgeous portobello mushroom caps from the store. I decided to fill them with diced onions, tomatoes, and a bread crumb mixture, and to too them with a slice of Pepper Jack cheese for a stuffed mushroom entree.

Paired with a side of pesto penne, it made a hearty meal.

MTT actually said he liked these stuffed mushrooms better than the small, appetizer style ones I had made the other day. Which is funny because I liked the smaller ones better…but these big ones were waaaaay easier to make, and healthier. So, win-win!

My Try at American Classics

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I love going to the grocery store. Partly because it is the one store where I am fortunate enough to have the power to buy anything I want, no matter how frivolous or exotic. 7 dollar bottle of organic jam? Silly, sure, when I could probably get away with a 3 dollar bottle of Smucker’s. But, even if I wanted to be extravagant, I can buy that 7 dollar bottle of jam. This adds a certain enjoyment to strolling up and down the aisles of the store, looking at all the different products, knowing that if I really wanted to, I could buy any one of them.

The grocery store is probably the only store that I can pull this off in. I can’t walk into Macy’s and say, oh yeah I can buy any purse here.

So the other day, when I was in the grocery store, I saw a Leek Soup Mix. Now, I have never bought leek soup. I’m not even sure what a leek looks like. But I decided, for 2 dollars, that I would try it.

I came home and had the idea to make the soup and use it instead of cream of mushroom (which, actually, I really don’t like) for an attempt at green bean casserole. I use the term loosely because I don’t think the product was a casserole so much as green beans with a leek soup reduction for a sauce.

And I paired it with oven fried chicken drumsticks, which were so yummy. I don’t often cook drumsticks so every time I do I am always surprised by how good they taste.

My verdict: leek soup is actually quite good as a sauce. But Pyrex containers used in the oven for this little experiment are very hard to clean.

Italian Medley

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It has been a while….between the recent engagement and busy schedule things have been hectic….but today I got out of work on time and MTT was out at an interview until late so I knew I had some time to make up for lost cooking time…

I had no idea what to do….so I decided to make a little of everything. I love crab cakes…so why not try those? Some of the mix for crab cake can be used to stuff mushrooms…so why not one or two of those? And when the grocery store has opened clams…well why not use some of those breadcrumbs to make baked clams?

So clearly the side dishes were the star of this meal…and the baked garlic spiced chicken with tomato basil sauce on the side was really just…to fill the belly after a bunch of tasty appetizers made into side dishes…

It’s like when you go to a wedding and the best part is cocktail hour…why not do that at home once in a while?