Monday, May 23, 2011

what's for dinner?

about a year ago i decided that i was tired of the usual recipe pool. with so many kids, my life sometimes feels like i'm a hamster running on a wheel. the days are all full of activity and there is never a dull moment but it can sometimes seem like i'm just moving through the routine of it all. i needed something new and in came rachael ray.

i somehow landed on the food network on our tv. it is pretty close to nick jr. so i'm sure the kids just stepped on the remote at some point and i came upon the happy accident. there was peppy, little rachael convincing me i could prepare a fabulous meal for my family in 30 minutes. i was inspired and dug through my collection of cookbooks that sit like a shrine to good food in my kitchen. there it was, a cookbook i purchased at some point three years before that i had yet to crack open. this was it. it was time to open the book and venture into the world of new and exciting food choices.

i took an evening to read through a ton of the recipies and chose a few beginners and i was off. i soon discovered that:
1) i'm not as fast as rachael and what takes her 30 minutes will take me 45 minutes.
2) i don't have her ingredients conveniently stocked in my refrigerator so i actually have to go shopping and find new things (which proved to be a bit more expensive)
3) i could alter the recipies slightly to make them friendlier to my family
4) my family actually loves these new food adventures. it helps that i tell then in advance that they love it and then compare it all to meals they have already eaten. anything pasta and it's "just like maceroni and cheese" or "spaghetti." anything that in anyway resembles a hamburger is compared to mcdonalds. you get the picture.

so, now i have a recipe book that is full of notes and the dates i first cooked them. i've spread the word and my friends who have been guinea pigs to my rachael cooking have purchased the book too and copied all my notes for themselves. so here you go world. here's the book you can purchase and the first of my favorites for your own enjoyment. if you're up for an adventure, buy the book for yourself and try these things out. you won't be disappointed.

saltimboca burgers (abreviated and with nellie's tips)

1 and 1/2 pounds of ground veal or chicken (i always use chicken)

3-4 large garlic cloves, grated or finely chopped (i use jarred minced garlic)

15-16 fresh sage leaves, thinly sliced (plant a little herb garden for sage...saves you a ton!)

4 tablespoons evoo (extra-virgin olive oil - don't you just love her?)

2 cups baby romaine leaves or 6 to 8 leaves from the center of a romaine heart, chopped

juice of 1/2 lemon (i buy the lemon juice from the store)

8 1-inch-thick slices good-quality semolina bread cut on an angle (this is delicious but my kids couldn't get their mouths around the bread and the burger so we just did whole wheat hamburger buns. it's not as flavorful but it is a lot easier to eat for the kiddos.)

8 slices prosciutto di parma (if you get the deli counter to cut this, you'll save money)

8 thin slices italian fontina cheese (easy to find, harder to cut thinly...but what's a little extra cheese?)

•preheat the broiler

•in a bowl, mix the ground meat with the garlic, sage, salt and pepper. form into patties. pour 2 tablespoons of evoo in an ovenproof skillet or indoor grill pan. (if your skillet does not have an ovenproof handle, cover it with two layers of aluminum foil) heat over medium-high heat. cook the patties for about 5 minutes on each side. leave the burgers in the skillet.

•while the burgers cook, dress the romaine with lemon juice, 2 tablespoons evoo and salt and pepper. if you are using the semolina bread, toast it.

•top each burger with a couple slices of prosciutto and fontina cheese. slide the pan under the broiler to melt the cheese.

•serve the burgers on the buns or bread with the dressed romaine. i usually serve it with chips and some fresh fruit. enjoy!

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