Impromptu Panzanella and Other Stories

Now that we’ve caught up on the past menus, we can continue on they way we were. Last week was a comfort food sort of week: temperatures continue to drop and the schedule is starting to get heavy with holiday obligations on the horizon. Let’s tuck in to some tasty fuel, shall we?

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We unintentionally played along with Meatless Monday (is that still a thing?) by starting with a Rainbow Vegetarian Pad Thai–I just thought it looked tasty! It was, even though I left off the peanuts and subbed the remaining spinach spaghetti for the more traditional rice noodles (more veggies!). The crunch of the carrots next to the softer chew of the noodles and zoodles was a nice addition to the dish and the sauce was pretty spot-on for Pad Thai. If I were to do it again I’d probably double it to have enough for leftovers, there was the barest of 3rd servings there, but probably only due to my noodle substitution stretching it out farther.

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On Tuesday I made another batch of Cabbage Roll Soup and Beer Bread. I always forget how good this soup really is! Seriously, give it a try. I would normally make this in the Crock Pot but I really didn’t feel like fooling with it the night before or the morning of, so made it on the stove. It took about an hour but that was perfect as that’s how long the beer bread took to bake.

About the bread. I was, of course, making mine gluten free and used gf Bisquick. It required more liquid than the linked recipe called for (not surprising for converted items) but it occurred to me (after about 45 minutes) that, instead of adding more beer, it might have been a good idea to take a page from experience and add a couple of beaten eggs to the dough to give the whole thing a bit more stability. Like you do if you follow the GF Bisquick biscuit directions.

I’ll try that in the future, but it turned out okay enough without it. The bread was difficult to slice (the sugar makes for a nice, chewy crust) so we just tore hunks off the loaf. It was a little dense, but not unpleasantly so. And beer bread is a familiar taste/smell from my childhood–the only time Momma would buy beer is to make beer bread.

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On Wednesday night my plan was to give into a fried shrimp craving with corn on the cobb and a salad. The only hitch was, the salad greens I’d bought went over a little sooner than expected, and I was leafy vegetable-less. But I’d already shaved a couple of carrots and halved a pint of cherry tomatoes–what to do?!

I’d picked up some Pretzel rolls on Sunday at Target (never go shopping hungry or PMSing, right?) so I decided to make a bread salad. I cubed up on roll, make an oil and vinegar dressing with lots of herbs, and tossed it all together. Todd thought I was making something up when I explained the bread salad concept, but it’s actually a real thing and goes by the name panzanella. He called it crouton salad, and I can’t exactly disagree. But it was good, so that’s all that matters.

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Mmmm, Thursday. Who didn’t grow up eating Salisbury steak a few dozen times? This staple of frozen food sections and tv dinners is still damned tasty and the Salisbury Meatballs and Mashed Potatoes were definite nostalgia-fodder. Served with green beans, all it really needed was a little cube of molten apple “crisp” to complete the sensory memory. Except that the sauce, in this recipe, calls for adding a bit of barbecue sauce and I found that it overpowered the rest of the flavors. So if I were to make this again, I’d probably just skip that ingredient.

On Friday we drove down to Tallahassee for dinner out and then went and browsed the bookstore before heading home. It was a proper date night with an unexpected twist that I hope I can share more about soon.

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On Saturday we attended the annual fete at Bradley’s Country Store, with Duncan in tow. It was his biggest crowd to date and while I think he might have been a little overwhelmed at all the people and all the other dogs, he did very well and sat pretty (most of the time) for adults and kids to pet him. That night I made Mongolian Chicken with rice and stir-fry vegetables for supper. This was another instance of being too lazy to set up the slow cooker (I really don’t know what my issue is with it, lately) but, once again, it was no problem to pop the chicken into the oven with the sauce and let it cook while the rice did. Sure, it would have been slightly easier to shred if I’d done the low and slow method, but really it wasn’t an issue.

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We finished the week with Chicken Fried Steak Bites with Country Gravy and baked sweet potatoes. There really isn’t a lot to say about this meal–it was good, of course (hard to argue with breaded and fried cube steak, right?). It goes together pretty quickly and is super satisfying on a cold night.

Of course, it’s Thanksgiving week, now, and I hope you have your turkey all set to defrost. For anyone needing basic brining instructions, head over to our classic Todd’s Turkey post and check out our method. Hope you have a good one!

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