The best things I made this week
Smoky chipotle baba ganoush and blue cheese hummus. What should have been the most autopilot meal turned into my most inspired cooking of the week. I set out to make regular baba ganoush with (all together now) my new grill using a combination of David Liebowitz and The Pioneer Woman’s recipes. But when DL said to sprinkle chili powder on top for a pop of color, I seized the opportunity to dust it up with chipotle chili powder, a great complement to the richness of the smoky grilled eggplants.
But then the plain, boring, can-of-chickpeas-and-seasonings-in-the-food-processor hummus was too plain and too boring. I was out of feta but found the end of a Maytag blue cheese wedge in the cheese drawer. For the first taste, I put a teensy crumble of cheese on my hummus on my celery. For the second taste, I was mashing the rest of the cheese into my hummus and pushing a spoonful toward KK. No longer plain or boring — pretty tasty, really, and a great pair with the chipotle baba ganoush.
Served with: raw veggies for dipping, pita chips for KK, olives, and smug satisfaction.
Grilled veggie lasagna. The ricotta from Aldi was surprisingly thick and flavorful, and grilling the veggies concentrated their flavors tons better than sauteeing them ever has. Made a quick sauce with a big can of crushed tomatoes, then decided to dice and add a few fresh tomatoes that were getting old, which made for a good texture. I also used about half as many lasagna noodles, and that sat well with our evolved less-bready tastes.
Served with: generous compliments.
Sausage lentil stew (aka failed mujadarra). The sausage was a last minute addition suggested by KK that redeemed this from being one-meatless-meal-in-a-row too many. The sausage was also a pleasant surprise, because it was a brand I don’t usually buy AND 50% lower fat than usual. I added a can of diced tomatoes, a tablespoon of soy sauce, and a few splashes of balsamic vinegar.
Served over: basmati rice (the house favorite) with caramelized onions and a dollop of plain greek yogurt.
Pumpkin spice syrup. The syrup was a little more viscous and much darker than the inspiration pic, but the 8oz jar disappeared in about four days because we found so many ways to use it. KK, ever one to gild a lily, added it to her chai tea, and I added it to our oatmeal in the mornings. I even put it in a vanilla protein shake before heading to the gym on Wednesday, and it was delicious.
The lazy version: 1/3 cup canned pumpkin, 1.5 cups sugar, 1.5 cups water, and 2 tablespoons pumpkin pie spice. Mix, simmer, cool. Makes enough for four 8-ounce jars (giving size).
Served with: everything!
Baked eggs with tomato sauce and goat cheese. This is a recipe I bookmarked over a year and a half ago and never got around to making. I’m glad we finally did! I saved a cup of tomato sauce back from the lasagna, so it came together in a snap. A welcome change from scrambled, scrambled, and more scrambled. If we ever entertained, this would also be great for a crowd, because nearly all of it can be done ahead AND they’ll all finish baking at the same time!
Served with: gluten-free orange ricotta pancakes and sliced orange.
And the worst things?
Unfortunately, both Worst Things this week coincided at the same meal.
Beer can chicken on the new grill. We walked the dog with about 20 minutes left on the timer, but ended up talking with neighbor for about 15 extra minutes. Chicken shards! I felt like Clark carving the turkey in the National Lampoon Christmas Vacation movie.
Verdict: Will repeat, but with a different beer — Stella wasn’t stellar — and with increased supervision.
Broccoli rice casserole. Dullsville. Maybe it needed more cheese, but I’m not convinced even that would have helped. The gluten-free cheese crackers I found at Big Lots and crushed on top, while not terrible, were not as good as the store-brand Cheez-its I remembered.
Verdict: Will not repeat. Back to basic broccoli casserole — no rice, no crackers, more cheese.
I’m about to make the menu for the week ahead and need ideas. What’s the best thing you made, or ate, this week?