Real Simple: Week Three

I’m back with another week of Real Simple delights. Yup, that’s sarcasm. If you don’t believe me, read Week One and Week Two. There were a few dishes worth eating, and one entire meal that I’d probably make again.

But, all in all, another dismal week… only one more to go! This week will also go down as the week of meat mess-ups.

Monday: Lamb Chops with Braised Escarole and Chickpeas

  • 4 T olive oil
  • 1 small head escarole, leaves torn (about 13 C)
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
  • ¼ C dry white wine
  • kosher salt and black pepper
  • 1 15.5-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed
  • 8 small rib or loin lamb chops (1 inch thick; about 2¾ lbs total)
  • ½ t dried oregano

Heat 2 T of the oil in a Dutch oven or large saucepan over medium heat. Add the escarole, garlic, wine, ½ t salt, and ¼ t pepper and cook, covered, tossing occasionally, until very tender, 8-10 minutes. Add the chickpeas and cook until warmed through, 1-2 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat the remaining 2 T of oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Season the lamb with the oregano and ¼ t each salt and pepper. In two batches, cook the lamb, 2-3 minutes per side for medium-rare. Serve with the escarole.

Results

Now, for the first meat mess-up: I asked for eight loin chops, and I received only four. (I was wondering why my package was so light.) But what they lacked in numbers, they made up for in taste. The lamb chops were fabulous. But, it’s not difficult when you’re dealing with meat that costs $17.99 a pound (on sale). High quality meat with a bit of oregano and olive oil is good no matter what you serve with it. But, the braised escarole was a nice accompaniment.

Lamb chops with escarole

So, not exactly what I usually serve on a Monday night, but easy enough. And, even though they run on the pricey side, lambs are small so their ribs and loins are tiny. This meal isn’t going to send your grocery bill over budget.

Tuesday: Pork Tenderloin with Red Cabbage and Applesauce

  • 2 T olive oil
  • 2 pork tenderloins (about 1½ lbs total)
  • kosher salt and black pepper
  • ½ small head red cabbage, thinly sliced (about 6 C)
  • 1 T red wine vinegar
  • ¼ C chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 C applesauce

Heat oven to 450°. Heat the oil in a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Season the pork with ¼ t each salt and pepper and cook, turning occasionally, until browned, 8-10 minutes.

Add the cabbage and ½ t salt to the skillet with the pork and toss to coat. Transfer to oven and cook until the pork is cooked through, 10-12 minutes. Remove the pork and let rest for 5 minutes before slicing.

Add the vinegar and parsley to the cabbage and toss to combine. Serve with the pork and applesauce.

Results

And, meat mess-up number two: This time it was completely my fault. Apparently, I have yet to learn to read. I bought two pork tenderloins at about a 1½ each. So, now I have a pork tenderloin in my freezer.

Pork loin with cabbage and apple sauce

The pork is just kind of eh. Take a look… white meat cooked with salt and pepper (not even a stray herb like Monday’s recipe). The cabbage is like raw cole slaw. It could have stood to marinate a bit. And, well, applesauce as a side is pretty much what I feed Mr. Moo at lunch. So, that made me feel like I was back in short pants. (I can talk like it’s 1910 if I want to… I’m cranky… I’m practically starving over here after three weeks of this crap.)

And, I’m officially over applesauce and pork. The end.

Wednesday: Spicy Orange Chicken with Cucumber Couscous

  • 1 C couscous
  • 4 T olive oil
  • 4 6-oz boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • kosher salt and black pepper
  • ½ English cucumber, chopped
  • ¼ C chopped dried cherries
  • ¼ C chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 T red wine vinegar
  • ¼ C orange marmalade
  • 2 T fresh orange juice
  • ¼ t crushed red pepper

Cook the couscous according to the package directions. Spread on a plate and let cool.

Meanwhile, heat 1 T of the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Season the chicken with ¼ t each salt and black pepper and cook until cooked through, 6-8 minutes per side.

Transfer the couscous to a medium bowl and gently toss with the cucumber, cherries, parsley, vinegar, 2 T of the remaining oil, and ¼ t each salt and black pepper.

In a small bowl, whisk together the marmalade, orange juice, crushed red pepper, the remaining tablespoon of oil, and ¼ t salt. Serve the chicken with the couscous salad and drizzle with the marmalade sauce.

Results

This shouldn’t be called spicy, but rather sweet… overly sweet. I’m not a fan of marmalade (thank the good Lord that now I have a jar of it in my fridge) so maybe that’s why I wasn’t a fan of this recipe. Mr. Moo loved it. After all, it had his favorite fruit (dried cherries) and his favorite carb (couscous).

Orange chicken with couscous

I’ll skip this one.

Thursday: Shrimp and Pineapple Tacos with Black Bean Salad

  • 1 15.5-ounce can black beans, rinsed
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1 T fresh lime juice
  • 4 T olive oil
  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • 1 lb frozen peeled and deveined large shrimp, thawed (The picture in the magazine had them with tails on… that’s silly… take the tails off for easier eating.)
  • ½ medium pineapple—peeled, cored, and cut into 1½-inch chunks (about 4 C… I just bought a pre-peeled and cored one… a bit more money, but a lot less stressful come dinnertime.)
  • ½ t ground cumin
  • ¼ t cayenne pepper
  • 8 6″ corn tortillas, warmed
  • Cut-up avocado, salsa verde, cilantro, and hot sauce, for serving

Soak 8 small wooden skewers in water for at least 10 minutes. (I have metal skewers. You need to use oven mitts to turn them, but they’re not as wasteful.) Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, combine the beans, scallions, lime juice, 2 T of the oil, and ¼ teaspoon each salt and black pepper.

Heat broiler. Thread the shrimp and pineapple onto the skewers and place on a foil-lined large broiler-proof baking sheet. Rub with the remaining 2 T of oil and season with the cumin, cayenne, ½ t salt, and ¼ t black pepper.

Broil the skewers until the shrimp are opaque throughout, 3-4 minutes per side. Serve with the tortillas, avocado, salsa verde (I only had salsa of the red variety so that’s what we used.), cilantro, and hot sauce and the bean salad.

Results

This was the winner of the week and is definitely on my list of recipes to make again. Corn tortillas are a must as they lend a nice texture to the taco. Fortunately, I live near a Chicago-famous tortilla manufacturer—El Milagro. I typically don’t like to recommend brands, but if you don’t make your own, these guys make a great “homemade” tortilla.

Shrimp and pineapple taco with bean salad

Anyway, the combo of cumin and cayenne with the sweetness of the pineapple under the broiler was pretty darn tasty. Mr. Moo approved of the bean salad, but picked all the scallions out before eating each bean individually.

Friday: Rigatoni with Roasted Cauliflower and Brussels Sprouts

  • ¾ lb rigatoni or some other short pasta
  • ½ medium head cauliflower (about 1 lb), cut into florets
  • 8 oz Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved (quartered if large)
  • 1 medium red onion, cut into ½” wedges
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 4 T olive oil
  • kosher salt and black pepper
  • 2 oz grated pecorino (about ½ C), plus more for serving

Heat oven to 450°. Cook the pasta according to the package directions. Reserve 1 C of the cooking water; drain the pasta and return it to the pot.

Meanwhile, on two large rimmed baking sheets (I was fine with just one half sheet pan.), toss the cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and onion with the thyme, 2 T of the oil, and ½ t each salt and pepper. Roast, tossing the vegetables once and rotating the sheets halfway through, until golden brown and tender, 15-20 minutes.

Add the vegetables, pecorino, ½ C of the reserved cooking water, and the remaining 2 T of oil to the pasta and toss to combine (add more cooking water if the pasta seems dry). Serve sprinkled with additional pecorino.

Results

And, we’re back to bland. Admittedly, I completely forgot the onion… but I’m not sure it would have mattered. There’s no sauce to speak of… just cooking water. Also, as previously noted, roasted cauliflower stinks up the joint. Not a great way to end the week, but I have such low expectations at this point.

Rigatoni with roasted vegetables

I also amended the recipe a bit. I wasn’t sure what two sprigs of thyme would do just hanging out in my roasted veggie mix, so I chopped a bit up AND threw in the two sprigs. Didn’t even really taste the thyme.

Yes, I’m a glutton for punishment. But, next week will be my final week on what has now become known as the Month Real Simple Tortured My Family. Read Week Four of my Real Simple challenge.

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  1. #1 by Katie on 10.23.2012 - 7:59 pm

    I really want to try those shrimp tacos! Also, I need to go to that tortilla factory by you!

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