This whole menu planning thing is turning out quite well. On Sunday, I came up with six (!!!) recipes to make throughout the week. The reason I’m surprised I came up with six is because I normally do five. That gives us some wiggle room if we’re invited out to dinner one night because otherwise I would be wasting food. Fresh veggies and herbs only last so long in the fridge. The sixth recipe came about because Kurt desperately wanted something Mexican to go with his “roqueamole” — the guacamole mixed with Roquefort cheese. So I made the now-infamous pork tacos with caramelized onions that I mentioned in a previous entry on Sunday.
The list was made, and a commissary run was completed, and now we have food for this week’s menu. Behold!!
Ta daaaaaaaa! Now doesn’t that look good? I had to pick the recipes and then decide when we were going to make them. I didn’t want to make chicken back-to-back, since we had three chicken recipes on the board. That’s our main form of protein, though.
I also managed to stick to my list when we went to the commissary on Sunday. The problem was, Sunday is a horrible day for a commissary run. They’re out of so many things. I guess they don’t understand how to order food because they’re out of an item far more often than they have it. I’ve just never had that experience with a civilian grocery store. I had to go back to the commissary later in the week to get the turkey sausage for tonight’s Baked Pasta with Sausage, Tomatoes, and Cheese because there was none on Sunday. And some of it I had to get at the local grocery store instead.
The funny thing about sticking to my list is somehow I managed to leave a key ingredient off my list. How do you make Flank Steak with Shiitake Mushroom Sauce when you forget to buy the flank steak?? It’s not like you can fake it with something else as a substitute! I also wrote down two containers of mushrooms on my list, which I dutifully picked up — only to realize I only need one container. I still haven’t figured out what made me think I needed two containers. We’re talking generic mushrooms; I had to go to the civilian grocery for the shiitake mushrooms; the commissary would never carry something so exotic.
I take that back. They do carry a fair amount of exotic items because there are so many foreign-born spouses. We always have fresh ginger in the produce department, and the commissary is the only place I know of on the island where I can buy kim chee. Of course, if I were cool like my best friend, I would make my own — but my coolness doesn’t extend quite that far. The commissary also tries to alleviate the homesickness of folks who have lived in Europe by carrying a decent selection of European products. German mustard, British tea, Italian tomatoes — it’s all there.
So let’s do a run-down of this week’s meals. The Jamaican Chicken with Mango Salsa — ohhhhhhhhh YUM. Perfectly delicious. It calls for chicken to be sprinkled with Jamaican jerk seasoning and then pan-fried till done, and served with a salsa of sliced mangos, cilantro, and some other things. The thing is, I think I used too much Jamaican jerk. That, and it’s rather spicy, so while Kurt and I thoroughly enjoyed the zing of the chicken, Grace was not a fan. Next time I think I will make her chicken plain and keep ours well-coated with the seasoning. She loved the mango salsa, though.
The Flank Steak with Shiitake Mushroom Sauce was very good, although I am not sure how often I will make it. I love flank steak, but this one was broiled instead of marinated and then grilled, so I think it lost some of its tenderness. When I make my Perfect Steak Dinner, the flank steak is marinated in a mixture of soy sauce, red wine, and smashed garlic (and fresh parsley when I remember — which isn’t often since the commissary doesn’t sell flat parsley and I always forget to buy it at the grocery store). The last time I made my Perfect Steak Dinner, I marinated the flank steak for over 24 hours, and it turned out amazingly juicy after being grilled. I don’t know if it was the broiler or the lack of marinating, but this flank steak turned out a lot tougher. Plus it shrank up a lot. The rest of it was good, though. The mushrooms had a wonderfully meaty flavor and texture. I also roasted some asparagus in the oven as a side. It’s so easy to do — just coat a baking sheet with cooking spray, add your asparagus in a single layer, coat with more cooking spray, sprinkle salt and pepper on top, and roast at 400º for ten minutes. The asparagus looked a wee bit lonely on the baking sheet, so I threw on some grape tomatoes as well because really, what is more delicious than roasted tomatoes?? Not a whole lot, let me tell you.
Next was Greek Chicken with Capers and Raisins in Feta Sauce. We’ve had this one before, and it’s another quick and easy recipe. The salty capers with the sweet raisins, paired with pan-fried chicken, is a really awesome combination. The only thing is, I can’t really taste the feta cheese in the sauce. It’s such a shame, as I am a huge fan of feta.
And that brings us to tonight, which featured Baked Pasta with Sausage, Tomatoes, and Cheese. This was a really yummy dinner, especially once Kurt contributed his delicious garlic bread. If one is a vegetarian, this is a recipe that is so easily adaptable by leaving out the turkey sausage altogether, or substituting some kind of meat-replacement product if you really feel the need for it. I would think it wouldn’t need any meat-replacement product, but that’s just me. What I liked about this meal the most was it wasn’t a few pieces of ziti swimming in a huge vat of marinara sauce like so many other baked pastas I’ve had. Instead, most of the liquid was absorbed during baking by the pasta, even though the pasta is pre-boiled, and it turned out to be a lot more dry than most baked pastas. To me, this is a very good thing — although the next time I make it, I may add some of the pasta water to the sauce before tossing everything together so that it doesn’t turn into a brick of pasta in the fridge.
What’s even funnier about tonight’s dinner was completely unbeknownst to me and without any kind of input from me, my best friend made the same meal for her family! We were on the phone this afternoon, just before it was time to start cooking dinner, when we made that discovery. I guess there’s a good reason we’re best friends — we’re totally in tune with one another!!