One of our new year's resolutions was to pay a lot closer attention to the amount of food we buy. We've never shown a lot of discipline in that area. Dual income, no kids ... so we bought what we wanted, cooked most of it up, ate as much of it as we could ... but we threw away quite a bit as well. Lots of fruit and veggies that we bought with good intentions but never got to, or huge dishes that made for leftovers to the point in which we were sick of it, and then it all went into the trash.
So conscientious consumption was a priority for 2010, and we kicked butt for the first half of the year. We made menu plans which turned into very specific shopping lists. And when we made big dishes, we froze half of it from the get-go, so we didn't have the Eight-Days-of-Lasagna syndrome.
Then along came the screaming bundle of joy.
Cooking mit kinder can be a challenge. There's no time for planning, let alone executing, so at first we were eating a lot of fried egg sammiches. But after the first month, we decided we needed to get back in gear and pay closer attention again.
But we just don't have the time to sort through recipes, so we've been counting on Providence to show us the way. And what works for me is, to toss a magazine in the air and see how it lands.
I randomly grabbed a mag from the shelf and opened it to some place in the middle, and landed on this from the July Bon Appétit. It was a feature on 80 different ways to serve up hot dogs. Hot dogs? Seriously? You need a recipe for hot dogs? But I looked as the recipe, and it called for things we happened to have on hand. And after a quick perusal through the fridge, it looked like the hot dog combo would go great on grilled chicken as well, with a potato salad we were planning on making anyway.
Result? Well, first of all, these were the best hot dogs I've ever had. And second, there was not one ounce of wasted food. What wasn't consumed the first time around made it into the second dish, so we never had the same thing twice and didn't throw away any of it.
So, here's the basic recipe from Bon Appetit:
(click the image of their hot dog on the right to see their original recipe)
Hot Dogs with Dal and Red-Onion Raita
½ cup lentils
2 ½ cups water
1 tsp cumin
¼ tsp turmeric (or play around with your own combo of curry powders)
kosher or sea salt to taste
½ red onion, thinly sliced
2 Tbs fresh mint, finely chopped
2 tsp minced chile pepper of any sort (seeded for a milder flavor, seeds in for hotter)
2 tsp lemon juice
2 Tbs plain yogurt
Hot dogs and buns, or grilled naan or pita bread
Dal: Rinse the lentils, then bring to a boil in a sauce pan with the water and spices. After it reaches a boil, simmer (covered) for about 30-35 minutes. Either scoop out the lentils or drain the pan, saving the water. Mash the lentils into a course paste, adding a bit of the water as necessary to make a topping that will spoon easily onto the dogs.
Raita: Mix everything into a non-reactive bowl and let stand for 30 minutes.
(As you can see, this is one of those efficient recipes, because it all takes about the same amount of time. Brings the lentils to a boil, mix the raita, and finish the dal while the raita sits and does its thing.)
Meal #1: To keep things simple, the first day we just served the dogs on hot dog buns, with a side salad.
Meal #2: Because dal and raita was already made and we didn't really need to make anything else, we used the free time to grill up a little naan to use instead of buns.
Meal #3 and #4: Instead of hot dogs, we used the left over dal and raita on top of grilled tandoori chicken.
Grilled Tandoori Chicken
3 chicken breasts
2 Tbs lemon juice
1 Tbs water
1 tsp salt
¼ tsp turmeric
½ cup plain yogurt
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 Tbs chopped fresh ginger or 1 tsp ginger powder
½ tsp ground coriander
½ tsp ground cumin
(or, your favorite combo of curry spices)
2 Tbs olive oil
Rinse the chicken breasts and pat them dry with a paper towel. Using a carving knife, score the chicken across the tops and bottoms, about an inch apart. Set aside.
In a glass pan about the same size as your chicken, mix the lemon juice, water, salt, and turmeric. Coat both sides of the chicken and let it stand for 5-10 minutes.
While it's marinating, mix all of the remaining ingredients. Coat the chicken again and let it marinate for another 10-15 minutes.
Generously oil the grates of your grill, and grill according to your grill's normal chicken time/temps.
Serve with the dal and raita from the day before. We served it alongside the green bean / potato salad from the other day (the lemony, herby dressing worked great with the curry-ish chicken) and a tomato/cuke salad (tomatoes, cucumbers, with a very light dressing of red wine vinegar, olive oil, and sugar, with a bit of feta on top), and a bit of grilled naan again.