Happy Valentine’s Day!

I hope everyone had a nice time with their loved ones. Huz, Claire and I spent the whole weekend together since Huz submitted his dissertation last week and, for now, isn’t holed up in the library all day on Saturdays.

I hope you got to eat something sweet.

Claire did, obviously, and so did the adults as you’ll see at the end of this menu list. Good thing I hoop-walked 5 miles (!!) on Saturday in order to work off all the chocolate.

I hope you got to spin and twirl and giggle as my two favorite people did while I prepared a Valentine’s dinner.

And I hope you acted a little crazy.

Now, to what we ate this week:

Monday: (leftover jambalaya from Superbowl Sunday)

Tuesday: Huz made bacon, leek, spinach and cheddar quiche. Easy and good.

Wednesday: (leftovers)

Thursday: I made asparagus, potato and goat cheese pizza. Even though some may be taken aback by potatoes on a pizza, don’t fret. They were really good. Next time I’d serve a salad on the side, but it was a very easy and delicious weekday recipe.

Friday: Huz made smothered turkey burritos (using leftover frozen turkey and mole sauce).

Saturday: We enjoyed breakfast together at our local deli, eating french toast, bacon, sausage, grits…the works. We enjoyed burgers for dinner at Five Guys. (Not too healthy, I know, but like I said…5 miles….hula hoop walking….)

Sunday: I had a mean craving for some Pho for lunch, but the place that serves it was closed. Watanabe’s Udon pork soup was a fine substitute though. In celebration of Valentine’s day, I made Zinfandel-braised short ribs with rosemary-parsnip mashed potatoes for dinner and Huz made some lovely milk chocolate souffles with nougat whip. Suffice to say, it was a glorious meal.

I admit that I cringed when I had to pour an entire bottle of wine into the pot. Sunday in TN is a bad time to realize you don’t have anymore wine in the house, but thanks to a friend who loaned us another bottle, we actually had some to drink with our meal.

It was totally worth that bottle of wine though.

I’m afraid I didn’t get a photo of our dessert, since I was too eager to devour it. It looked something like this (especially the empty bowl part).

Today: Since the roads were so icy this morning (I got stuck and spun out a few times while trying to take myself to work and Claire to daycare), I turned back home and declared a snow day. The only way to have a proper snow day is to make homemade hot cocoa and homemade marshmallows. Yum!

What did you eat this week?

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Sunday: Pork Stew with Hard Cider, Pearl Onions and Apples (I loved this so much I dedicated an entire post to it already) and Apple and Maple Bread Pudding (delicious and satisfying!)

Monday: (leftovers)

Tuesday: Ham, Artichoke and Potato Gratin (another hearty, satisfying winter meal full of bold flavors thanks to the ham and smoked gruyere cheese)

Wednesday: (leftovers)

Thursday: Lasagna (that I had made and frozen a few weeks ago), spinach salad with an orange vinaigrette, and some amazingly good chocolate olive oil blood orange cupcakes. I couldn’t find blood oranges at my lame Kroger, so I substituted with minneolas instead. These are so moist and chocolaty with a bit of citrus thrown in – even better, they are safe for Claire to eat as they are egg and dairy-free! These trump any of the vegan cupcakes I have made from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World. Try them. Really. I know mine aren’t as pretty as Love and Olive Oil, but they taste great.

Friday: Oven-Roasted Yogurt-Marinated Chicken with cauliflower and rice from 1,000 Indian Recipes We decided to order pizza from our local pizzeria instead of cooking tonight.  It’s our little way of celebrating Huz who just submitted the final version of his 290 page (!!) dissertation today (that and I bought him a special little time-waster too).

Saturday: Oven-Roasted Yogurt-Marinated Chicken with cauliflower and rice from 1,000 Indian Recipes

Sunday: We’re having friends over to watch the Superbowl with us and we’re going with a New Orleans inspired dinner. Huz is making Jamablaya, I’ll be making bacon-wrapped jalepeno poppers, and our friends are bringing the ingredients to make this fine Southern cocktail. Sounds like a party to me!

What did you eat?

Ohmygawdyouguys. Huz made the best freaking dinner last night which was perfect, perfect I say!, for an icy wintery night. I neglected to take any pictures, as I was too busy slurping down the hot, slightly sweet, oniony, porky goodness of the stew, so here’s the stock photo from epicurious for you to drool over.

As I ate this I pinned for a bacon old-fashioned, but we don’t have any bacon-infused bourbon. Just my luck, when I arrived at some friend’s for gamenight I was offered a bacon old-fashioned when I walked in their door! Talk about a perfect piggy-infused evening. Anthony Bourdain would have been proud (and jealous).

Speaking of piggy, I’m reading Julie Powell’s (of “Julie and Julia” book and movie fame) new book “Cleaving” and it has to be one of the most difficult, yet can’t-stop-reading books I’ve met. She’s an apprentice butcher and talks at length about the not-so-niceties of animal guts, bones, fat, sinew, etc. as well as the not-so-niceties of a failing marriage and extramarital affairs (including anonymous sex – what happened to the girl I identified with so well with* in the last book?!).

*Not that I loved the last book, because I didn’t, but I identified with Julie’s love of food, disdain for her 9-5, and her marriage because, like Huz and I, she got married young and survived it – or at least I thought she did.

Anyway, back to the goodness of my pork dinner. Note to Tennesseans: apparently there are more perverse liquor laws here than I knew. Not only can you not buy wine in the grocery store (and then you have to buy wine and beer at separate liquor stores due to alcohol content), but you also can’t buy beer (or hard cider, as the recipe calls for) before noon on a Sunday. Because God wouldn’t have that. Oh, no. So, Huz subbed beer we had at home for the cider and some bourbon for the brandy.

Go forth and enjoy you some piggy!

Pork Stew with Hard Cider, Pearl Onions, and Potatoes

(From Bon Appetit, February 2010)

  • 30 1-inch-diameter pearl onions (from two 10-ounce bags)
  • 5 slices thick-cut bacon (preferably applewood-smoked), cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick strips
  • 3 1/2 pounds boneless pork shoulder (Boston butt) or boneless country ribs, external fat trimmed, cut into 2-inch cubes
  • Coarse kosher salt
  • 1 cup chopped shallots (about 4 large)
  • 1 cup finely chopped parsnips
  • 6 teaspoons chopped fresh sage, divided
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon Calvados (apple brandy; optional)
  • 2 cups low-salt chicken broth
  • 1 12-ounce bottle hard apple cider*
  • 1 1/2 pounds unpeeled baby red potatoes (about 2 inches in diameter), scrubbed, halved
  • 2 large Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, cut into 1-inch cubes (about 3 cups)
  • 2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter, room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon whole grain Dijon mustard

Cook onions in large saucepan of boiling salted water 2 minutes; transfer to bowl of ice water to cool. Peel onions; set aside.

Cook bacon in heavy large pot over medium heat until lightly browned. Using slotted spoon, transfer bacon to paper towels to drain. Sprinkle pork shoulder with coarse salt and pepper. Increase heat to medium-high. Working in 2 batches, add pork to same pot and cook until browned, about 7 minutes per batch. Using slotted spoon, transfer pork to large bowl. Reduce heat to medium; add shallots and parsnips. Cover pot and cook until beginning to soften, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Stir in 3 teaspoons sage; stir 1 minute. Add 1/2 cup Calvados, if using; cook until almost evaporated, about 3 minutes. Add broth, cider, reserved bacon, and pork with any accumulated juices. Bring to boil, scraping up any browned bits with wooden spoon. Reduce heat to medium-low; cover and simmer until pork is tender, about 1 hour 15 minutes.

Add potatoes and pearl onions to stew; cover and cook until vegetables are almost tender, about 30 minutes. Add apples; cover and cook until potatoes are tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Spoon fat from surface of juices, if necessary. Stir butter and flour in small bowl to form paste; add to pot and whisk to blend. Stir in mustard, 2 teaspoons sage, and 1 tablespoon Calvados, if using. Bring to boil; reduce heat to medium and simmer until thickened, stirring often, 2 to 3 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. DO AHEAD: Stew can be made 1 day ahead. Cool slightly. Refrigerate uncovered until cold, then cover and keep chilled. Simmer stew over medium heat to rewarm before serving.

Divide stew among bowls, sprinkle with remaining 1 teaspoon sage, and serve.

* Alcoholic apple cider; available in the liquor department of most supermarkets and at liquor stores.