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What's For Dinner? No. 202 - The Week Before Easter Edition [OLD]

So, next Sunday is Easter...it's time for all kinds of fresh spring vegetables to be in (most) markets and many of us are looking forward to lighter, fresher meals....though, depending on your location, you may still be buried in snow and warming yourselves with heartier fare. Here, in Northeastern NC, we're up and down, in the 60's for a day or two then plunge into the 40's...last weekend, I pulled out the grill and now I'm thinking about a pot of chili this weekend. What say you? What's gracing your tables for dinner?

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  1. I've got part of a baked chicken I made last week frozen so I pulled it out to thaw for chicken & pastry for Friday's dinner. I'm thinking of picking the last collards from my garden to cook with bacon. Maybe a salad to go with....

    6 Replies
      1. re: LindaWhit

        Unfortunately, like chicken & dumplings except the dumplings are rolled and not dropped from a spoon like I'm used to...here where I live they actually call the dish chicken pot pie, don't ask me why cause I have no answer that makes sense (lol!) I guess it's cause they cook the chicken in a pot but I still don't get the pot pie part. I call it chicken & pastry; I make it this way cause the bf grew up on it and don't like it the other way nor does he like it in a crust like I do. One of these days Imma make it like Swanson's....

      2. re: Cherylptw

        Any tips on the collards? I've been craving good old fashioned collards cooked with hamhocks and fatback.

        1. re: fldhkybnva

          Pretty much I just simmer the ham hocks in a pot of water until nearly tender then add the greens. If I'm adding fat back or bacon, I cook it first then crumble or chop it and add to the greens while they're cooking and with the bacon, I'll add some of the rendered fat. I also use other piggy parts like smoked neck bones or even smoked turkey neck if it's what I have. Then I'll season with s & p, a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes and sometimes chop an onion & mince some garlic to add in while cooking. You really don't need much more than maybe some hot sauce when you're ready to eat....oh, and a hunk of cornbread won't hurt either

          1. re: Cherylptw

            How long do you simmer? All I remember is that my grandmother seemed to have them on the stove all day.

            1. re: fldhkybnva

              Truthfully, I never time them; I just simmer until just about fork tender and I'll say it takes at least 3 hours, if not a little longer. They'll cook faster in a pressure cooker but I never think to drag mine out before starting. And if you want to warm up the house, put them in a covered roasting pan full of water and just let them cook in the oven.

      3. Thanks for starting a new thread, Cheryl. (I flagged the other one asking the Mods to add an [OLD] to the subject line.)

        I'm craving a CHEEBOIGAH CHEEBOIGAH, so that's WFD tonight. Actually, it'll be a bacon cheeseburger on a toasted English muffin. A small salad with vinaigrette alongside.

        1 Reply
        1. re: LindaWhit

          Yum Linda! Speaking of Cheeboigah Cheeboigah, we couldn't resist visiting the Billy Goat Tavern on one of our earlier visits to Chicago. Though the burgers left a lot to be desired, it sure was fun listing to the cheesy chants!! Felt just like a SNL sketch!

        2. Much as I'm ready for spring veggies, and heaven knows, SPRING...we just keep getting snowed on here. Granted, no real accumulation to speak of but it's still freezing cold and I for one am just fed up w it!!

          Now that I've got that off my chest, WFD? Well, given the continued cold weather, we'll uphold our winter tradition of spaghetti Friday's here at cucina bc.

          Arancini (from an Italian bakery's hot table) with my home made marinara to start.

          Spaghetti with the last of my meat sauce (unearthed from the chest freezer) and a baby kale and spinach salad w a balsamic vinaigrette.

          Curious to see if anyone has any special dinner plans for earth hour tomorrow...any candlelight dinners planned?

          7 Replies
          1. re: Breadcrumbs

            Thanks for the reminder on Earth Hour tomorrow.

            Candles and headlamp at the ready! Nothing romantic unfortunately, sigh.

            1. re: Breadcrumbs

              you just reminded me - the BF had TJ's arancini (called Risotto Bites) the other night - i had a bite when i got home. terrible. of course, he made no sauce for them, but still. an Italian bakery's hot table sounds like a good source.

              1. re: mariacarmen

                Like you mc, we hadn't been thrilled w frozen arancini we found here (no TJ's in Cda though). By chance we'd stopped at an Italian bakery to pick up bread one day and they'd reduced the price on all their hot table items so I figured I had little to lose by trying them. Well, as luck would have it, they were terrific and now we make a point of picking them up whenever we see a hot table. We've had a few misses along the way but far more hits. I do freeze them btw and then let them defrost before re-heating. I'm not a fan of risotto so this is something I'd likely never make since I understand most folks make them using leftover risotto. If you do pick some up, let us know what you think.

                1. re: Breadcrumbs

                  i've made them before from scratch, having the risotto on hand, and homemade is best, but if i had a place nearby that had them made for easy pick-up, i'd be right there too! never again frozen tho.

                2. re: mariacarmen

                  I don't think I've ever had arancini with sauce! And I've had the TJ's ones, which are just OK, but my son likes them when he comes home from school famished.

                  1. re: roxlet

                    when i first made them, i was in Italy, at a friend's home, in a very small town north of Milan and Turin, and he served them with a little marinara on the side for dipping. but they were just as good without the sauce , so you can do either. the bakery take-out places i saw there sold them without sauce.

                    1. re: mariacarmen

                      They've been sold without sauce here too mc, though the bakery usually asks if you want some poured on top. I serve mine in a puddle of marinara..just enough that there's a little zip w each bite.

              2. I'm still on the fence for tonight - Zuni roasted chicken or Thai Basil chicken. I picked up a nice supply of goodies from H Mart last night and am very excited to test out the new basil and fish sauce.

                30 Replies
                1. re: fldhkybnva

                  Did you start preparing for Zuni a couple days ago? <<grin>>

                  I have been craving Thai food as my cold ridden body needs the spicy! Do you have a Thai Basil Chicken recipe you love or are you trying something new? I have to admit that Thai (along with Vietnamese) is one of those cuisines I usually leave for take out. My attempts are never as good as I can get out and find the cost per serving is actually cheaper than what I can make at home….

                  1. re: foodieX2

                    I love Thai Basil Chicken and only wish I was heading to fidhkybnva's for dinner tonight if this ends up on the menu! I used to make a version from the Rasa Malaysia website but then discovered another recipe on Serious Eats that we really enjoy. I always spritz the dish w some fresh lime before serving to add a final brightness. Here's that recipe in case anyone is interested:

                    http://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/20...

                    1. re: Breadcrumbs

                      That looks good Breadcrumbs- thank you! I bookmarked it.

                      1. re: Breadcrumbs

                        Thanks, do you prefer ground meat? I was going to dice the chicken or pulse it in the food processor for a bite between ground and diced.

                        1. re: fldhkybnva

                          I prefer ground chicken as I find it provides a better textural contrast w the basil. I have used diced chicken and find it becomes slippery so its texture is similar to that of the wilted basil and the fried egg.

                          1. re: Breadcrumbs

                            Good to know - I was thinking of diced chicken instead myself, but will take your texture advice to heart.

                        2. re: Breadcrumbs

                          Thanks for the recipe Breadcrumbs - that looks good!

                          1. re: Breadcrumbs

                            Just a quick question: do you use the full quantity of fish sauce? I'm a newbie to it so afraid to overdo it the fist time. I'll probably use a lb of meat so that's 4 T which seems like a lot to me from what I've read.

                            1. re: fldhkybnva

                              I do difhkybnva however if you're not accustomed to the flavour of fish sauce (and don't be put off by the aroma as it is a little overwhelming but it does blend into the dish) I would suggest using 2 tbsp fish sauce and 2 tbsp soy sauce. That way you're still getting the saltiness but some of your unami flavour will come from soy which will be more familiar.

                              Have fun and let us know how you enjoy it!

                          2. re: foodieX2

                            I started brining last night so if not tonight then sometime over the weekend, but probably will wait until Saturday or Sunday.

                            I love it too and figured it'd be easy to make at home. I don't have a recipe but found a few online that I'll probably wing it from - chicken thighs, truck load of Thai chilies, few tbsps fish sauce, 1 or so tbsps soy sauce, ginger, garlic, and a boat load of Thai basil. I'd love to hear if anyone has any good recipes.

                            Uh oh, I hope it works out, I might just eat the Thai basil it smells so good. Also, I agree it might be cheaper to takeout.

                            Do you have any favorite ways to eat Thai without rice? I was planning a salad or served on a bed of sauteed spinach or cabbage.

                            1. re: fldhkybnva

                              I once served it for a friend who was trying to minimize carbs so instead of making rice, I shredded some iceberg lettuce (inspired by lettuce cups but wanting a bed of something to serve the chx atop). The lettuce worked really nicely and added a nice fresh crunch.

                              1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                lettuce cups would be a great addition!

                              2. re: fldhkybnva

                                Thai basil is the best! I made thai basil ice cream last summer. OMG- I could have eaten it all by myself!

                                Are you avoiding rice or avoiding carbs all together? I usually don't eat my thai with rice just to save the calories. I ask for extra veggies instead so I think a bed of sautéed spinach could be good. Or how about sautéed green beans?

                                1. re: foodieX2

                                  I don't eat many carbs other than veggies mostly because I'm just not a big starch fan (never been a sweets or sugar person, usually ask for no rice or pasta and am always on the lookout for the line on the menu "extra meat $") so I always load up on extra veggies. I was actually planning to throw in some bell peppers and mushrooms or now that you mention it I have some green beans which need to be used.

                                  1. re: fldhkybnva

                                    I've never made pad krapow using chicken thighs, but assuming yours are boneless and sliced, I'd say start your stirfry by sprinkling the chicken with a bit of sugar and white pepper before giving them a go in the hot pan. Caramelize the outside before adding your garlic, chilies and sliced onions, add a glug of fish sauce, a bit of water and cook the chicken through. Finish by wilting the basil in the pan.

                                    I usually add bell peppers and an egg or two to pad krapow, which adds a little extra if I'm not eating it with noodles.

                                    1. re: JungMann

                                      Do you generally use chicken breast?

                                      1. re: fldhkybnva

                                        I generally use ground chicken either from the store or from thigh meat I grind in the food processor.

                                2. re: fldhkybnva

                                  This dish is a very good choice for just winging it. I've made it many times as it was a favorite of a student I hosted from Thailand. As long as you have chicken, the basil, chili, fish sauce, minced garlic and oil, you can just play around until it looks, smells and tastes right to you.
                                  The serious eats recipe above looks really nice, and I agree that a spritz of lime goes so well with it.
                                  I've also served in in lettuce cups and it's very nice that way.

                                  1. re: alliegator

                                    Since lettuce wraps work well I'm sure I can just pile it on top of lettuce as well? We actually have some shrimp leftover picked up today so I think that might be a nice addition.

                                3. re: foodieX2

                                  Zuni chicken seems too easy to be true. It's just hanging out in the fridge and I think it'll be Sunday brunch/lunner.

                                4. re: fldhkybnva

                                  Do you have a recipe for this Thai Basil Chicken? I have Thai basil in my fridge that needs to get used up tonight....

                                  1. re: gingershelley

                                    Have you had good luck with basil in the fridge?

                                    1. re: fldhkybnva

                                      I'm not ginger but on the rare occasion I don't use it all up right away I can keep basil in my fridge door, in a glass of water, but never more than a couple of days before it wilts/turns black.

                                      In the summer it stays on my counter in a glass of water. Almost like a lovely bouquet of flowers!

                                      1. re: foodieX2

                                        'what foodiex2 said"; concur with the same. Basil in the fridge (for me in crisper drawer, in bag with a paper towel), will keep for 2-3 days, then goes all black.

                                        I do the vases of herbs in summer also, with both flat leaf parsley and basil.

                                        1. re: gingershelley

                                          I am trying out a few methods since I bought enough basil for a small country - counter in vase with water, fridge in bag, fridge wrapped in wet papertowel in bag. I guess we'll see. There was also a 4th experiment - counter with no water but it wilted and shriveled already so I gave it some water.

                                            1. re: gingershelley

                                              I think us animals fall into that equation as well :)

                                  2. re: fldhkybnva

                                    Thanks for all of the suggestions, the Thai basil turkey (formerly known as chicken since the chicken had an odd smell so I tossed it) is delicious!

                                    1. Ups and downs in the Nebraska weather as well. Snow on ground this morning, but should be dry by evening, so still planning to have the hubby grill T-Bone steaks tonight. We usually rub some salt and lemon pepper on them, and pour over a can of beer and let them "marinate" for a half hour before. Also will put some potatoes in the oven, which I finally learned to bake: no tin foil, just rub some canola oil and salt on, and make a couple slits in the skin, and bake directly on middle oven rack for about an hour (depending on potato size) at 350.

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: 262nineX

                                        Those steaks sound great! Welcome to WFD 262nineX!

                                        1. re: 262nineX

                                          That's interesting. I've never heard of a beer marinade for steaks. Do you taste it in the final product?