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Monday, July 27, 2015

Menu Plan: July 26 - August 1 (Plus a Recipe)

Our festivities last week took up much of my blogging time, so my menu plan is a bit late. I'm including the recipe for the Greek macaroni and cheese, though, as a bonus.

My birthday was a lot of fun! Rich and I went dancing at a regional jazz festival, they have a Latin jazz stage, and danced nearly every dance while we were there. We weren't sure if we would last until midnight, but we did, and even went to a dive to grab pizza slices afterward. However, since it takes about an hour and a half to get home from there, we weren't in bed until 2:00 a.m., and were so exhausted that we slept in until 9:15, which we haven't done since we've had children. We had a late brunch, which was nice, and Rich and I had another, mini, date at the farmers' market, where we grabbed Sonoran hot dogs (hot dogs with bacon, chopped onions, chopped tomatoes, salsa verde, sour cream and pickled jalapeños), and then grabbed great deals until the market shut down. They close at 1:00 and we got there at 12:15, so while the selection wasn't all that great, as it would have been had we gotten there early, people were literally giving produce away.

Not counting the pork we bought (there is an excellent, naturally raised, pork producer that sells freezer packs there) or the hot dogs, we spent $67 on: 15 pounds of fancy lady peaches, 15 pounds of apricots, 10 pounds of Rainier cherries (which taste like candy), 8 pounds of red potatoes, 4 pounds of French fingerlings, 3 pounds of eggplant, 3 pounds of shallots, a quarter flat of raspberries, 10 bell peppers in green, purple and red, 3 pints of strawberries, 3 pints of boysenberries, 2 big bunches of Italian parsley, and 1 pint of pear tomatoes. Not bad! So, we've been using a lot of lovely produce, and will be using it more this week. The berries have largely gone into desserts, with a little fresh eating, the eggplant was turned into a giant batch of baba ghanooj, the other fruit is being eaten with meals and as snacks, the parsley was used in tabbouleh and kofta, and the potatoes and peppers will be used later this week.

Our dear friends and the people who get all of our children should we die will be in our area later this week, and we are looking forward to having a great time with them. We're hoping they get to stay the night Thursday, so I have a grand meal planned with a nice dessert to use up the last of our raspberries. We only got to see one of them on our funeral trip, so it's going to be nice to see both of them this trip.

Remember that the Psalms are according to eastern numbering in our daily Bible reading, also I Kings is the original designation, it is I Samuel in western Bibles (II Kings is II Samuel in the west, III Kings is I Kings, and IV Kings is II Kings, I Ezra is also called I Esdras in other translations, II Ezra is often translated as Ezra or II Esdras).

What is on your menu this week? If you want a recipe, ask and I will provide it as soon as I can. If there are any starred recipes, I will follow up separately with a weekly recipe round up.

Greek Style Macaroni and Cheese

This is a big recipe, you can halve it pretty easily and make it in a smaller pan, but it is great the next day, too. I make this without meat for Wednesdays or Fridays, but chopped hard sausage or salami make a nice addition to it. Something else that would be nice to add would be some chopped Kalamata olives.

2 heads garlic
2 pounds pasta (I use small shells or penne or something about that size)
8 tablespoons butter, divided
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons olive oil
2 leeks, white and pale green parts, thinly sliced
1 sweet onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon crumbled, dried rosemary
1/2 cup flour
6 cups whole milk
1 cup sun dried tomatoes, finely chopped
1 pound feta cheese, crumbled (herbed or tomato and basil is fine)
1 pound Asiago cheese, shredded
5 cups fresh baby spinach, chopped
12 ounces marinated artichoke hearts, including marinade
1/2 pound salami or garlic sausage, finely chopped (optional)

Grease an 11" X 15" pan and set aside. Preheat the oven to 400 F. Cut the top 1/4 off of the heads of garlic, place on a large enough piece of foil that it can wrap them almost completely (save those garlic tips, too, and use them in another meal). Drizzle the tops of the garlic with the 2 teaspoons of olive oil, wrap them with the foil and bake for 30 minutes.

While the garlic is baking, cook the pasta according to package directions, subtracting a minute or two from the cooking time so it doesn't turn to mush in the oven.

As the pasta is cooking, heat butter and 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat with the leeks and onions. Add the oregano, pepper and rosemary and stir well to combine. Cook until the the allium are golden brown. Sprinkle with the flour and stir and cook to eliminate the raw flavor. Slowly pour in the milk, whisking well, and add the chopped sundried tomatoes to allow them to rehydrate a little. Cook a few minutes, until the mixture is thickened. Stir in feta and Asiago cheeses and stir to combine. Add the chopped spinach and stir to wilt slightly.

Cool the garlic heads slightly, then squeeze or pop the garlic cloves out of the papers. When the pasta is cooked, drain and toss in the prepared pan with the garlic, artichoke hearts and the optional sausage. Carefully pour in the cheese sauce and mix well with the pasta. Bake for 20 - 25 minutes, until the dish is bubbling and heated through. Serve with a salad, bread or breadsticks, and fruit.

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