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Bored - need some suggestions/ideas for dinners.

My girl and I have been terribly uninspired as far dinner goes lately. It's been that situation where you walk to the fridge and sigh. Open the cabinet and sigh. Sigh.

We have chicken and fish regularly. No grill - live in an apartment. I have an extensive spice collection but am tired of all my spices. I'm a hot & spicy junkie but she's not. Neither of us are particularly picky eaters nor are we vegetarians but fruit and vegetables are preferable during August in Texas. We are well stocked with good rice, couscous, bulgar, and pasta.

The closest market is a good Mediterranean market, the second closest is your standard fare grocery store, the expensive and very tasty grocery is a couple of blocks away.

So...yeah. What do you guys suggest? Have any ideas for something to kick start the old palette? What do you do when you get in a food funk?

Thanks for the help.

EDIT: Forgot to add that she can't eat eggs in their egg form (i.e. scrambled, poached, boiled, fried, launched from a cannon) but can have them is they are involved in some other way (used to bread stuff).

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  1. Shrimp salad; poach the shrimp and chill or saute it and serve hot over everything, tear up some greens, hearts of palm, artichokes, boil some eggs, throw in tomates, green onion, orange slices, anything you like in a salad. Make a spicy sauce for you and a mild one for your girl.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Janet

      Okay, what are hearts of palm? I've seen them in the store but have no idea what to do with them.

      Good suggestion by the by. We don't eat enough shrimp - usually it's a special event.

      1. re: hooliganyouth

        Palm hearts are the centers of peach palms (Bactris gasipaes). These are cut and canned. You can use them in salads and where you would use asparagus. Palm hearts are produced in Brazil, here in Colombia, Ecuador, and parts of Central America. The French are the biggest consumers of palm hearts.

    2. Go see if your library has Andrea Nguyen's Into the Vietnamese Kitchen. It is a great new book, and if not any other Vietnamese book. It is perfect hot weather food. Condisder the climate there. Indiana is hot and sticky. We have Viet food several times aweek and the flavors are so fresh and so different that meals kind of become exciting. I am makaing Vietnamese Chicken Salad for dinner on Sunday (I think it will be 96 F) the salad is sort of a cole slaw dressed with lime, fish sauce, chilis a little water. I use bagged slaw mix and poach some boneless skinless chicken breasts to shred and mix in. You might even pick up some frozen sprong rolls (Cha Gio) to have along side of the salad.

      I have several Viet cook books I have bought in the past few years after discovering how yummy in hot weather the food is. I like Andrea's book because it is very thorough even with a pronouncing gazeeter so you can ask if you can't find what you need. I also like Corinne Trang's books and Mai Pham's. The cooking and prep are not really labor intensive they just require a little planning.

      1. Peruvian ceviche is great for hot weather and can be made with half really hot and the other half not. Serve with boiled sweet potato, boiled cassava (yuca), over lettuce, and with chicha morada.

        1. Mark Bittman had a good piece in the NYT a couple weeks ago on 101 simple meals in 10 minutes or less: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/07/18/din...

          1 Reply
          1. re: madametart

            I too sigh a lot in the kitchen. These are some of the meals I have enjoyed making and eating in the past few months:

            Lettuce Wraps-so easy to make. We do shrimp, with water chestnuts, green onion, garlic, a little ginger, muchrooms, cabbage, whatever. Add a dash of oyster sauce or soy or hoisin sauce. The thing that makes this dish exciting is the sauce. I mix up different concoctions depending on what is on hand. One of my favs is a little rice vinegar, soy sauce, chile sauce mixed with chopped cilantro.

            Spaghetti or Linguine with clam sauce. I used a good marinara-Pomi is good. Add some clam juice, a can of whole baby clams and cook together until flavors are balanced. Sometimes I use crushed tomatoes, veg stock, clam juice, thrown over some sauteed garlic and thyme, red chile flakes and a bit of red or white wine. Cook for half anf hour or so, finish with a dash of olive oil and plenty of chopped parsley. Really good.

            Thai Curry-Garlic, Onion, your fav chile paste, fish sauce, lime juice, coconut milk, vegetable stock and cilantro, and whatever vegetables you like. We make it with shrimp, green beans or snap peas. I have also added pre-cooked diced sweet potato to it and it is fabulous. We eat it over steamed basmati rice. Incredibly good. Wakes up your palate and you can vary the heat with the amount of chile paste you use.

          2. We just made something simple, but elegant...

            boneless chicken breast seasoned with salt and pepper, pounded flat ( i have a mallet, but a wine bottle on its side will do), line the flat breast with a piece of proscuitto, a slice of fontina cheese, and a sage leaf or two, then roll up. put the rolled side down in a baking dish, and a splash of white wine in the dish, and bake in a moderate oven (350 degrees or so) for about 15 minutes. great with a side salad. good cold the next day, and they can be frozen.

            peace, jill

            1. Spaghetti Squash tossed w/ butter and parmesan, topped with blackened, broiled halibut or mahi mahi

              Quesadillas w/ whole wheat tortillas and cheddar and jack cheeses, chicken, green chiles, served w/ whatever you like

              Lentil stew served over brown rice

              Coucous Lasagna w/ Chicken Sausage

              Eggplant Parmesan or Eggplant Lasagna

              Panzanella
              http://find.myrecipes.com/recipes/rec...

              Breakfast for Dinner
              ie Apple Cinnamon Swirl Pancakes, Pumpkin Waffles

              Mezze Platter
              ---falafel, hummus, baba ghanoush, schwarma

              Cioppino or Bouillabaise

              4 Replies
                  1. re: Emme

                    I read that thread and thought it sounded good, but you threw me this time when you called it couscous lasagna! I'll have to try it...

                    1. re: valerie

                      ugh i'm a moron... POLENTA not couscous... gosh where is my brain!?!

                      BUT, that said, this might be interesting if you made couscous, mixed with butter and parm, and subbed it in my other recipe for the polenta... perhaps add in some feta and kalamata olives!

              1. Here's a few ideas:

                salmon cobb salad: smoked salmon or simple baked salmon, bacon, hard-cooked egg, lots of veggies and lettuce, and blue cheese dressing (leave out egg for GF, it'll still be good)

                cous-cous salad with eggplant and/or sliced portobello mushrooms seared in cast iron skillet over high heat, raisins, toasted pine nuts, red pepper, green onion, any other veggies that seem good, mixed with either a curry dressing or lemon vinaigrette

                greek salad with green &/or red peppers, kalamata olives, feta, red onion, cucumber, olive oil and red wine vinaigrette. You can serve this with broiled fish, or make into a pasta or grain-based salad.