Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Channeling the Mediterranean

As you may or may not know the Mid Atlantic states are experiencing a very early spring warm up this week. With average highs in the low 70s all week and daylight savings time giving us an extra hour of light in the evening, you can be sure that Barry (the happy husband) and I will be cranking out some yard work and cranking up the grill. In fact, last night we decided to tempt fate and sow in the radishes, carrots, turnips and beets in to our back yard garden. We also put our sugar snap peas, kale and collards in. Hopefully, by mid next week we will have happy little sprouts that are working hard to get big and strong so that they can make their fabulous debut in the Happy Husband Diner.

I have to say that grilling is by far my favorite way to cook. We have a gas and a charcoal grill but I only use the charcoal grill for special occaisons or for Barry's favorite, grilled chicken wings. I don't have any pots or pans to worry about washing and the marinating vessel is usually a ziploc baggie (Thanks Mom!). Any of you that know me are aware of the fact that I'm not the most enthusiastic person in the dish washing department. I grew up eating dinner on paper plates with those wicker charger type things for support. It was a special day when we got to eat on the Corelle set. Clearly mom wasn't much of a fan of dishes either. But anyway.... back to the food and more importantly the grilling!!

Last night I decided we would take a culinary trip to the Mediterranean. I didn't have any lamb on hand but I did have a beef rump roast in the freezer and didn't have any plans of taking the time to cook the roast whole. I thought to myself... Self, how can we make this cook fast since we have a lot of work to do in the gardent tonight?? The answer I came up with was kebabs or kabobs depending on where you are from. After it was thawed out I cut the meat into 1 inch cubes and put it in a zip loc bag with some store bought Italian dressing. I'm telling you, if you have never tried using Italian dressing (Wishbone brand is my favorite) as a quick and effective marinade, you are missing out! I also prepped the greek inspired Tzatziki sauce before the garden work as it has to sit for an hour to two or over night so that the flavors can meld. The sauce is super healthy, I mean like 35 calories per 3 tablespoons healthy, and its super yummy and creamy. It basically consists of fat free greek style plain yourt, grated cucumber, fresh lemon juice, grated garlic and some dill weed.

Ok so the marinating is done and its time to grill!!!! I skewered the meat, a zucchini, cut into rounds, and an onion, cut into petals. I spread a little olive oil on the veggies so that they would get some good caramelization. That's grill marks for any of you non-Food Nework addicts out there. In the Happy Husband Diner, all meat is cooked to medium rare or so. If we go past med rare we end up with a not so happy husband... but by all means cook the meat and veggies to the doneness you prefer.

So now the protien and veggies are dealt with for the most part. Next step is the starch because I have yet to meet a man who doesn't like to have a little or a lot of carbs with his meat and veggies. As I had decided to go on a culinary journey to the mediterranean (and because I had a ton of cooked pasta left over from the weekend), I went with a oil and vinegar based pasta salad.

The salad is super easy to prepare. Its basically a mix of any pantry and fresh ingredients on hand. For this one, I went with the other half of the english cucumber from earlier, a can of non marinated quartered artichoke hearts, a handful of chopped kalamata olives, a little bit of chopped sweet onion and some diced tomatoes. I like to call this method of quick and delicious salad making "Pasta Salad a la Jovita", Jovita being my fabulous mother in law. She has really taught me a thing or two about throwing together what you have on hand to make a delicious and healthful dish. As far as the dressing is concerned, this is another option that is left up to what is around. If you have some prepared Italian dressing, by all means throw it in. If not, consider some dried Italian herb mix, extra virgin olive oil and red wine vinegar. My only caution would be to avoid the balsalmic vinegar on any pasta that isn't tri-color... Trust me, not many people want to eat a big pile of brown noodles!!

In closing, I wanted to make a few thing clear concerning this and future posts. First off, in no way should two people be eating the amount of meat shown in the first photo in one sitting. That amount made enough for our two dinners and two sets of lunch leftovers. So, you could very easily feed four adults dinner with those three skewers. The other thing I wanted to mention is about the portions shown in my plated photos. The photos you are seeing are the plates for my 6' 4" husband. He is a contractor and works hard every day, so he can eat a plate of food that size. My dinner plates are much smaller in diameter which helps with portion control. My small plate is still full of food, which plays to eating with my eyes, but there is much less volume of food on my plate. Remember, even balanced meals when over consumed can be hell on your waistline.


  1. Have you had to hold Barry down yet, while you try to get "the perfect shot" of the final dish??

  2. Oh it is pretty awful for him! On this one he took the plate two times before I was done haha