Thursday, April 2, 2009

Dinner Diva Menu Week of 4/5

One more week until Easter! I'm including our Easter menu, as well as links to other Easter menus, in this week's post. We will be having my brother and his family over for a small celebration. My brother's been deployed for 3 months, so it will be nice to have him back for such a special holiday.

Sunday 4/5: A family favorite: grilled boneless skinless pork chops, homemade roasted applesauce, steamed edamame (look for the thick cut BLSL chops for the best flavor off the grill. The thin ones tend to dry out too quickly.) The applesauce is easier to make than it sounds, and super tasty and, bonus! HEALTHY!

Monday (Meal Swap night, my turn to cook): Sweet Orange Salmon, fresh orange slices, spinach salad, garlic mashed potatoes (try this with fat-free raspberry vinaigrette instead of the red wine vinaigrette)

Tuesday: Grilled Chicken Kabobs, steamed brown rice, buttermilk biscuits (try from scratch, or buy frozen)

Chicken Kabobs:

1/4 cup balsamic vinaigrette
1 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoon honey (If you first measure the olive oil with the measuring spoon, then use the same spoon to measure the honey, the honey will slide right off the spoon.)
1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 cloves garlic, minced (or 4 teaspoons bottled minced garlic)
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, each cut into 1 1/2 inch chunks (hint, it's easier to cut chicken if it is partially frozen)
1 red bell pepper, cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces
1 zucchini, sliced 1/2 inch thick
1 purple onion, in wedges
whole mushrooms, either cremini, baby bella, or regular

Mix first 6 ingredients (vinegar through garlic) in a bowl. Add cut up chicken and vegetables and refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight.

When done marinating, thread chicken and vegetables on skewers in attractive pattern (discard remaining marinade) and grill on medium heat 10 minutes or until done, turning frequently.

Note: The first 6 ingredients make a gorgeous balsamic vinaigrette--use it to marinate vegetables, meats (really good with steak), or use it to flavor a salad. YUM!

Wednesday: Grilled marinated steak, steamed asparagus, baked potatoes OR baked sweet potatoes

Budget minded: marinate an inexpensive, lean sirloin steak in a bottled italian dressing, fat free or light is ok, for several hours or overnight. Grill to desired doneness, then slice thinly against the grain for an elegant presentation. It looks so pretty on a platter with the bright green asparagus and the bright white (or orange, depending on your preference) of the potato.

Thursday: Meal Swap Night, Jen's turn to cook. (Serve leftovers tonight, or, hey, go out! if you're not in a meal swap.)

Friday: Chicken with Orzo and Asiago, commercial bagged salad, commercial garlic bread (try pepperidge farm if your grocery store doesn't have ready-to-bake garlic bread)

Saturday: take a night off tonight and order pizza, or, serve leftovers. Tomorrow is a big cooking day!

Easter Sunday: We're having grilled cornish game hens, steamed green beans, egg bread braid, and, of course, deviled eggs! For dessert, Cherry-Almond Angel Roll from Pampered Chef.

To grill the hens, rinse and pat dry. Place in a foil roasting pan coated with cooking spray. Lightly sprinkle inside and out with kosher salt and black pepper. Place, uncovered, on preheated grill over med-low heat (indirect heat works best, so if you have a three burner grill, turn the outer two on to medium low, and leave the middle one off.) Close the grill. These take about 15 minutes per pound. Check on them occasionally. The skin will turn golden brown and crisp, while the inner meat will be flavorful, tender, and juicy. This is a very simple way to have an elegant meal without a lot of effort.

Here is the recipe I'll be using for the bread (I'll make the dough in the breadmaker and braid it and bake it in the oven):

3/4 cup water
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon honey
3 tablespoons vegetabel oil

3 cups bread flour
1 tablespoon vital wheat gluten
1 1/2 teaspoons salt

2 1/4 bread machine yeast

1 egg white beaten with 1 tablespoon water
1 tablespoon sesame or poppy seeds for sprinkling

Place all ingredients (except egg white glaze and seeds) in machine according to the manufacturer's instructions. Set for dough. Press start.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. When machine finishes its cycle, turn dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Divide dough into 3 equal portions. Roll each portion into a fat cylinder, 12 inches long, tapered at each end. Braid the ropes together, beginning in the center for a more even shape.

Cover dough shape loosely with plastic wrap. Let rise at room temperature 45 min or until almost doubled in bulk. twenty min before baking, preheat the oven to 350.

beat egg white and water with fork until foamy. Using a pastry brush, brush the top of the loaf and sprinkle with the seeds of your choice.

Bake 35-45 minutes, or until loaf is deep golden brown and loaf sounds hollow when tapped. Cool to room temp before slicing.


Other Easter Menu ideas: