Monday Night Lasagna Party

Catching up a little bit here as we time travel back to Monday night’s dinner.

Our friends Ed & Carolyn were in town with their son Patrick, so we had them over for a little dinner party. Dinner was delicious if I may say so myself, but I think the highlight of the night for both Kelley and I was getting to meet little Patrick for the first time. He’s a pretty darn cute kid!

Our Dinner Menu

Mike and Jackie also brought over a tasty polenta dish with a ranch/bacon sauce. Ed & Carolyn added a bottle of wine and we all had a great time.

We couldn’t have pulled off the dinner on time if we didn’t make the bread and assemble the lasagna on Sunday night. That left us with the perfect amount of prep and oven time for the two of us to make the croutons, salad and dessert on Monday and bake everything, including the lasagna.

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Chipotle Bean Burritos – from Cooking Light magazine

On Tuesday night, we dined at Chipotle. It was ok, but it doesn’t match the flavors of a homemade dinner. Wednesday was bowling night, so I ate a big lunch and Kelley made a grilled cheese dinner that she hasn’t blogged about yet for some reason.

That takes us to Thursday, where we went vegetarian with homemade bean burritos.

The Menu: Chipotle Bean Burritos served with Guacamole and Chips, from Cooking Light Jan/Feb 2010 – also available at myRecipes.com

The Pictures:

The Verdict:

  • Overall, a really simple, relatively inexpensive meal that only took about a half hour to prepare
  • It’s the easiest part of this meal, and not exactly a ground-breaking recipe, but the guacamole was really good
  • The recipe called for 10-inch tortillas, which I’m pretty sure I bought, but I don’t think I really over-stuffed these, so if you want to match the pictures at myRecipes/Cooking Light, I’d suggest getting a bigger tortilla.

Packer Playoff Loss Dinner: from Cooking Light magazine

Quick weekend-closing post.

During halftime of a fairly exciting, but ultimately somewhat heartbreaking, Packer playoff loss, we whipped together a recipe from this month’s Cooking Light magazine.

The Menu (as suggested in the magazine – follow that link for a great picture)

Seared Lamb with Balsamic Sauce

Cracked Wheat–Currant Pilaf: Sauté 1½ cups quick-cooking bulgur in 2 teaspoons butter over medium-high heat for 1 minute. Add 1½ cups water and ½ teaspoon kosher salt. Bring to a boil; cook 2 minutes. Cover, remove from heat, and let stand 25 minutes. Fluff with a fork. Stir in 3 tablespoons dried currants and 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley.

Spicy Chard: Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper and 2 minced garlic cloves; sauté 30 seconds. Add 8 cups chopped Swiss chard and ¼ cup chicken broth; cover and cook 8 minutes.

The Verdict

This is probably only the third or fourth time that I’ve even cooked lamb chops, but given their ease of cooking and their great flavor (even without the sauce), I won’t hesitate to make them again. I will, however, wait until they’re on sale since this is not a cheap meat.

As for the side dishes, the cracked wheat-currant pilaf had a nice flavor, but it was definitely the base in this meal. The spicy chard, on the other hand, had a really nice kick to it.

Cranberry Pancakes

I’m guessing this was caused by our currently over-stuffed refrigerator and the half bag of cranberries sitting in it, but I woke up this morning wondering how cranberry pancakes would taste. I did a quick iPhone google (apologies to Molly for my use of those terms as adjective and verb) and found a tasty sounding recipe on the Too Many Chefs website.

They turned out great, albeit a little more tart than the usual fruity pancake.

Like the author of the post, I never really did get around to actually taking a picture.

Saturday Night Calzone

What we ate: Spinach & Cheese Calzone from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day: The Discovery That Revolutionizes Home Baking

How it looked:

This is the calzone right out of the oven. It was huge! A look inside.

Thoughts:

  • This recipe was EASY! Assuming you have some dough in the refrigerator, you can have this on the table in under an hour (roughly 15 minutes to prep, 25 minutes to cook, 10 minutes to cool)
  • While mixing the filling, I kept thinking, “There’s no way this is going to be enough to serve 2-4 people” – mainly because it only called for 1/2 cup of spinach
  • On the other hand, when it came out of the oven, I was stunned at how large it was. My first fear was that it was going to be too “bready,” and while the edges were maybe a little thicker than they needed to be, it certainly wasn’t the case flavor wise.
  • Our main comment after dinner: “It would be interesting to make this with some other ingredients.”

Links:

The companion website for the book has this post from almost two years ago featuring a discussion about packing slices of these calzones in school lunches.

Would we make it again? Absolutely!

Il Mito – Trattoria e Enoteca

We went on a date tonight. Like, to a real restaurant and everything.

We had originally planned to head to La Merenda, but discovered that they were on winter break at the moment. After a throwing a few options around, we decided to head to Il Mito, which is roughly 30 blocks from our house. We had both dined at Il Mito years ago when it was closer to downtown, but neither of has been to their new Wauwatosa location before.

A quick recap of our meals (and boy, the iPhone camera does not do these dishes justice at all)

I had the Filet di Maiale alla Tuscana, basically pork medallions with a white bean/sun-dried tomato sauce, accompanied by a sage and spinach gnocchi. Everything about this was delicious, from the tender sage-ey gnocchi to the moist bean-coverd pork. This plate ended up completely clean by the end of dinner.

Kelley went with one of tonight’s specials, basically a salad-stuffed ravioli served with shrimp and chicken sausage. There were no complaints from her side of the table either. The ravioli was perfect, and had Kelley itching for another crack at making some homemade ravioli. This plate was akready pretty clean when it made it’s way back to be washed.

And, to wash everything down, we split a bottle of Chianti.

Overall, we had a great time. The food was great, the wine was really nice, the service was perfect, the atmosphere was very comfortable, and Chef Feker even stopped by our table to joke with our server at one point.

We’ll be back.

Snowy Dinner – Cauliflower, Bacon & Parmesan Frittata

It’s been snowing all day in Milwaukee, so it seemed silly to make a trip to the grocery store for the final ingredients for the Cauliflower Soup we’ve been meaning to try. But, it also meant coming up with a dinner from random stuff in our refrigerator. The cauliflower was still there, and we had some eggs. Time for a frittata.

Based on our on-hand ingredients, I adjusted the recipe I found on MyRecipes.com. The key substitutions: turkey bacon for the bacon (beware, you won’t get much fat to cook the rest of the frittata in this way) and fat-free milk for the light cream.

It was a surprisingly tasty dinner. The cauliflower was nice and soft, more chewy than crunchy, and a slice of homemade bread made a fine side item.

Cauliflour, Bacon and Parmesan Frittata

Adapted from Food & Wine (via myRecipes.com)

Serves: 2

Ingredients

2.5 oz turkey bacon
5 large eggs
1/4 cup fat-free milk
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
pinch freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/2 small head cauliflower, chopped into small pieces
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 cloves garlic, minced

Instructions

  1. Cook bacon in a 10- or 12-inch ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat, until cooked. Remove from pan and place on paper towels to cool. Pour off any grease in the pan (with turkey bacon, there may not be any grease to pour off, normal bacon would definitely be fattier)
  2. In a medium bowl, stir the eggs, milk, Parmesan, parsley and pepper with a whisk. Add the cooled bacon.
  3. In the same skillet, heat the oil and butter over medium high heat.
  4. Add the cauliflower and salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 10-12 minutes, until cauliflower is golden and softened.
  5. Add the garlic and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute longer.
  6. Spread the cauliflower evenly across the pan and pour the egg mixture over the top. Tilt the pan to spread the egg mixture to all sides.
  7. Reduce heat to low. Cover and cook for 10-12 minutes, until bottom of frittata is golden brown and top is almost set.
  8. Heat broiler. Broil the frittata 6 inches from the heat, if possible, until eggs are set and beginning to brown, about 3 minutes.
  9. Lift up the edge of the frittata with a spatula and slide onto a plate. Cut into wedges and serve immediately.