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My friend and fellow blogger, The Blissful Wife, has presented the world with a challenge: Tell the people you love that you love them! Revolutionary, right? After reading her article and of course posting my comment, I got to thinking about love and the constraints of time in our way-too-busy lives. We are all guilty of bypassing our primary relationships to fulfill the needs of others (like our bosses or co-workers) that can really wait until the next day.
The more I thought about it, the more I thought about the dinner table. At my house, we all wake up at different times and we return home at different times. The only quality time we have together as a family is during dinner. Can you hear your parents’ words as you read this? Dinner time was a big deal in my childhood home. I couldn't understand it then, but now that I have a family of my own, I realize that mom was right and I need to uphold the tradition of sharing at least one meal together because a family that eats together, stays together...(Who originally said that?)
So like The Blissful Wife who challenges us to take the time and say what we really feel, I have decided to add food into the mix. This week, along with eating at the dinner table as a cohesive family unit, I plan on honoring each of us by preparing our favorite recipes. Love takes on many shapes and one of them is feeding your loved ones the dishes they can't live without. Some of this week's food superstars will be: Chicken Parmesan (for my son who loves chicken and pizza), a hearty Red Bean Stew (for my husband who loves all things Cuban), Creole Meatballs (for my daughter who takes after her Daddy), and a Roasted Vegetable Frittata (for Mamma Bear).
Here’s a quick guide to how I'll put it all together:
Dip chicken cutlets in beaten eggs and bread with seasoned Panko breadcrumbs.
Pan fry in a bit of olive oil and set on a paper towel so that the excess fat can drain out.
Set the chicken on a lined baking sheet and top each piece with a bit of sauce and a slice of mozzarella cheese.
Bake until cheese is melted and serve while the chicken is still crispy and the cheese is melted.
Serve with pasta and marinara sauce. If you're not keen on making your own sauce, I recommend these jarred brands: Barilla Tomato & Basil Basilico Sauce or Kirkland Marinara (available at Costco).
Red Bean Stew (Potaje de Frijoles Colorados)
Use heavy stock pot for this stew.
Take about 3 slices of bacon and cut them into small pieces. Cook the bacon until it renders its fat. Reserve the bacon bits for later and use the grease to cook your veggies.
Chop one onion, one green bell pepper, and 3 cloves of garlic and sweat them in the bacon fat.
Once the veggies are softened, add one bay leaf, salt, pepper, powdered cumin, one chicken bouillon cube (broken down into pieces), one small can of tomato sauce, 2 large cans of rinsed red beans, 2 large peeled and quartered potatoes, the bacon bits, and enough water to cover the contents of the pot.
Bring it all to a boil and reduce the heat to low and let it cook for at least 25 minutes.
The stew will begin to thicken but I like to take two ladles of beans from the pot, mush them, and return them to the stew. The starch from the potatoes and the crushed beans will act as a thickening agent.
If at any time in the cooking process, the bean mixture starts to dry out, add more water or chicken stock.
Serve with a piece of crusty bread or over a bowl of rice.
Season your beef with salt, pepper, a giant squirt of ketchup, several shakes of Worcestershire sauce, and one of those wonderful all-in-one condiment mixes like Badia Complete Seasoning.
Add two whole eggs and about a cup of bread crumbs to help keep everything together.
Shape the beef into 1 inch meatballs and set aside.
In a pan, create your Sofrito-- onion, green pepper, 3 garlic cloves (all finely chopped), salt, pepper, and cumin powder.
Sweat the veggies and add a bit of beer or white wine to the pot.
Once the veggies are translucent, add 3 small cans of tomato sauce, stir, and let it sit over low a flame for a bit to allow the flavors to marry.
Add the meatballs into the pot, spoon a bit of the sauce over each ball, and let them cook on med-low until they are done.
Serve with white rice or as a Cuban style sub sandwich.
Roasted Veggie Frittata
Cut all of the following into one inch pieces: green bell pepper, red onion, 3-4 mushrooms, 1/2 zucchini...basically anything you have on hand that and be roasted.
Coat all veggies with olive oil, salt, and pepper.
Place on a lined baking sheet and place in a 425 oven for 10-15 minutes.
Add a few cloves of science garlic and return to the oven for another 10 minutes.
Whisk 12 eggs and add salt, pepper, 3/4 half and half.
Generously butter an oven safe dish and pour in the veggies and the egg mixture.
Bake the frittata in the oven (still at 425 degrees) for about 30-35 minutes.
You'll know it's done when a toothpick comes out clean when inserted in the center.
Sprinkle with a little Feta or Parmesan cheese and enjoy with a glass of wine.
Sharing a meal you love with the people you love is what life is about. If this isn't true for you, then change it starting tonight. After a solid week of bonding over bread, you will undoubtedly find that leaving the extra stack of documents at work, turning off the TV, and taking the extra steps to make a meal worth sharing makes coming home to those you love what it was always meant to be.
Thanks to The Blissful Wife for starting a love revolution!