There's no telling what I'll be eating for dinner tonight.
Don't even try and take a guess.
For someone who thinks, and dreams, and wonders about food all day long, I have a surprising knack for not knowing what will end up on my dinner plate until about 5:48 PM Central Time. Here's the usual routine. 5:45 PM: exit subway. 5:46 PM: call boyfriend and ask what he's doing for dinner. Now, at 5:48 PM, one of two scenarios will take place: Scenario A. My boyfriend tells me he's making dinner tonight and that I should come partake in it's deliciousness, or Scenario B. My boyfriend tells me he's re-heating pasta tonight in order to cram in 20 more minutes of med-school studying. Scenario B, of course, means that I'm on my own to experiment with whatever ingredients I please in the pursuit of the evening meal.
This is a tale of two dinners.
Hamburger Pie, Hamburger Pie,
If I don't get some I think I'm gonna die!
My boyfriend makes a mean Hamburger Pie. When he informed me yesterday that I should sit back and relax, because he had dinner under control, I knew another brilliant Illinois-grown concoction was on its way. Apparently Hamburger Pie is a family recipe, something he's eagerly anticipated and wolfed down at lightening speed since he was just a wee little thing. I was careful to photo document the event so that you too could bake up this culinary celebration of all things american. After all, what could possibly be more patriotic that Pie + Hamburger + the Pillsbury Doughboy (don't worry, I'll get there).
1 tube Pillsbury Crescent Rolls
1 package ground beef
1 small can tomato paste
1/2 medium onion, diced
1/2 green bell pepper, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
Several dashes of Worcestershire sauce
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
Step One: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Pop open Crescent Rolls and lay out over a 9-inch pie pan in order to make a crust.
Step Two: Over medium heat, brown ground beef. When the beef has cooked, add in the tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, salt, pepper, garlic, and onion, and cook for one minute longer. Remove from heat, and add the bell pepper.
Step Three: Dump ingredients into prepared "pie shell". Even out with spoon. Top entire pie generously with shredded cheddar cheese, and pop into the oven. Bake for 30 minutes, and let cool for 10 minutes before serving.
Red Quinoa Salad with Mango and Curried Yogurt
Sometimes I just take one look at a recipe's ingredients list and decide two things: 1) there's absolutely no way all those flavors will go together, and 2) there's absolutely no way I'm going one more minute without trying it for myself. Thus, when the med student couldn't pry his eyes away from the text book for some dinner, I chose to give this one a whirl. I made several revisions to the original recipe, and, after 20 minutes of easy effort, I found myself sitting down to a bowl of this absolutely delectable, complicated, and surprisingly delicious grain salad. If you're in the mood for something light on the tummy but challenging to the palate, this may very well be the dinner for you.
1/3 cup plain yogurt
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice + 1/4 teaspoon zest
2 teaspoons curry powder
1 teaspoon finely grated peeled fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon vegetable or peanut oil
1 1/3 cups uncooked quinoa - I used red, but any color would do just fine
1 pound firm-ripe mango, peeled, pitted, and cut into 1/2-inch chunks (2 cups)
1 red bell pepper, cut into 1/4-inch dice
1 fresh jalapeño chile, seeded (if desired for less heat) and minced
1/3 cup chopped fresh mint
1/2 cup salted roasted peanuts (2 1/2 ounces), chopped
Step One: Prepare your quinoa according to the instructions on the package. For me, that mean rinsing the quinoa with water before putting it in a saucepan with 3 cups water. Then I brought the water to a boil, covered the pan, reduced the heat and let it simmer until the water had evaporated (about 15 minutes). The done quinoa should have loose little tales, and be chewy with a tiny bit of crunch. You don't want soggy grains here.
Step Two: Make the sauce. Whisk together the yogurt, lime, zest, curry, ginger, salt, pepper, and oil until thoroughly blended.
Step Three: Mix it all up. Add the prepared bell pepper, jalapeno, mint and peanuts to the quinoa and pour the yogurt mixture on top, before stirring to coat evenly. Garnish with a sprinkling of chopped peanuts and a mint leaf. Enjoy!