Totally random recipes for the day after Labor Day
Searching for ideas for today’s food story, I couldn’t find anything that said,”Yes, this is what you want.”
It’s after Labor Day, so we’re changing our focus from Farmers’ Market and garden-fresh vegetables. It’s too soon for squash or — gasp! — pumpkin, no matter what the coffee sellers say.
I’m running out of ideas for dinner, and I’m sure you’re up against the same thing. No more tomato sandwiches and corn on the cob — well, maybe a couple, if you’re lucky. We’ve done the zucchini noodles and all those salads.
So, here’s a random collection of things to try that might be a nice surprise on the table.
The first recipe that made me slow my frantic search is for Dill Pickle Chicken. Well, I love dill pickles. If I have a chicken sandwich, it has to have extra dill pickles. A burger must have dill pickles. A fried dill pickle is one of those guilty pleasures you only indulge in once in a while.
This recipe is easy, and you might have enough pickle brine on hand already to try it. We suspect the kids would like it, since they all seem to go through that sour-food stage.
Reviewers say this recipe works well with pork chops, too. Makes sense. Sauerkraut is a favorite side for pork. So save your pickle juice in the refrigerator or freezer and do this when you have 2 cups worth.
Dill Pickle Chicken
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs (4-6 thighs)
2 cups pickle brine (from a 32-oz. jar or larger)
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup diced pickles (optional)
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh dill (optional)
Place the chicken in a shallow dish or container and pour the brine over the top. If necessary, rearrange the chicken so each piece is completely submerged. Cover and refrigerate 2-8 hours.
Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat it to 425 degrees. Drain the chicken and pat dry with paper towels. Season the chicken with pepper and a little salt (brine is salty). Place the chicken thighs in a single layer in a baking dish.
Roast until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees, about 20 minutes. Cover with aluminum foil and let rest for 10 minutes. Serve garnished with the chopped pickles and dill.
Try it with buttered egg noodles to contrast with the tangy chicken or a baked sweet potato and a salad.
Another totally random recipe that struck me as tasty are these loaded biscuits. Now, just ignore the carbs and calories on these, if you can. You won’t make them all the time, but once in a while, and they’re handy for a commuter’s breakfast or on a hike. Take them to a picnic or camping. Go really crazy and make gravy to go over them, if you want.
Loaded Breakfast Biscuits
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. salt
4 Tbsp. butter, melted (divided)
1 pound bulk breakfast sausage
4 eggs, scrambled
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
2/3 cup milk
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a 12-inch cast iron skillet, crumble the sausage and sauté until cooked through. Drain well.
In a mixing bowl, add the flour, baking powder and salt. Add the sausage to the flour and stir until the sausage is coated with flour.
Drain excess fat from the pan and add the 4 beaten eggs. Cook to a soft scramble. Add the eggs to the flour and sausage and stir to combine.
Add the cheese and milk and use a spoon to mix well until all the flour is combined and a sticky dough forms. With a spoon and floured hands or with an ice cream scoop, drop biscuits into the skillet which has been greased with 2 Tbsp. of the melted butter.
Bake for 12-15 minutes or until the biscuits are golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Or use an instant read thermometer and bake until the interior reaches 190 degrees. Brush the tops with the remaining melted butter.
If you do not have a cast iron skillet, bake the biscuits on a sheet pan. Or use a mini muffin tin and bake for 10-12 minutes, or until done.
OK, here’s something healthy and packed with protein for the rest of us. If you haven’t been eating quinoa, please try it. It’s filling and full of protein, without any gluten. Use it in place of rice or orzo or to bulk up any salad. I’ve even had a sweet quinoa the included blueberries, strawberries and yogurt.
You can use this recipe as a main dish or to pack for lunch.
Summer Vegetable Grain Salad
1 1/2 cups quinoa, rinsed well
2 3/4 cup water
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
1 large English cucumber, chopped
2 small, red, orange or yellow bell peppers, cored, seeded, chopped
Freshly ground black pepper
For the dressing:
1 cup store-bought basil pesto
1 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
Combine quinoa, water and salt in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer until the quinoa is tender and the liquid is absorbed, about 15 minutes. Fluff with a fork and transfer the quinoa to a rimmed baking sheet, spread into an even layer, and refrigerate to cool completely, 10-15 minutes.
Make the dressing by placing the pesto and vinegar in a large bowl and stir to combine.
Add the cooked quinoa, cucumber, peppers and tomatoes to the dressing and toss evenly to coat. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed. Add fresh parsley, cilantro or dill, if desired.
For a side dish any night, try this spicy, high power califlower.
3 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
2 tbsp. sweet chili sauce
1 tbsp. sriracha
Juice of 1 lime
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium cauliflower, cut into florets
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp. chopped cilantro, for garnish
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, sweet chili sauce, sriracha, lime juice and garlic.
On a large baking sheet, toss cauliflower in sauce until fully coated. Season with salt and pepper. Roast until slightly charred and tender, 30-35 minutes. Garnish with cilantro and serve.
Finally, something sweet to finish out the day, with a hint of nutrition for you. You’ve seen this melon salad recipe before, but it remains one of the most refreshing things around, and it won’t weigh you down.
2 cups watermelon balls or chunks
2 cups cantaloupe balls or chunks
1 cup blueberries
1/4 lemon juice
1/4 cup honey
1/2 cup fresh chopped mint leaves
Using a melon baller, scoop out the watermelon and cantaloupe, or just cut into chunks. Add to a large serving bowl with the blueberries.
Whisk the honey and lemon together in a small bowl. Toss with fruit and garnish with mint.
For a variation, use grapes instead of blueberries, or simply add a cup of grapes to the mix.
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