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This is an old post, but I took some new photos to add to it.

Thursdays are my day; they are my Fridays, and I’m in charge of dinner for Ben and myself. This week I went to Central Market.  As I drove into the parking lot, my car started making a funny noise, so, being who I am, I decided to ignore it until after my afternoon gelato and coffee.  Instead of investigating the problem, I parked the car and smiled as I walked past a woman with purple flowers and a long loaf of bread sticking out from her shopping bag.  How very French and fallish and wonderful, I thought.  Another man stood sipping coffee and looking at the large display of bright orange pumpkins and yellow gourds.  It seemed that fall had arrived in Texas.

When I finished my shopping and spending entirely too much money, I walked out to my car, put the groceries away, and crawled on the ground in my nice work pants for a bit while inspecting underneath the car.  I saw nothing, so I started to drive.  My car started to make that noise again, but I was not going to let this get in the way of my Thursday, despite the kind looking elderly gentleman I could see in my review mirror who was watching me drive away and looking as though he really wanted to tell me something.  The car can walk it off, I thought, thinking of the wonderful pre-prepared dinner I was going to make for Ben.  But then, another kind gentleman waved me down and saved me from worse damage than I had already done.

“You have a really bad flat tire,” he said after I found the automatic window button.

“Oh,” I said.  I hadn’t even looked at the tires!

“Yeah, I wouldn’t have even noticed except I heard it from over there,” he said and pointed to a distant point in the parking lot.

“Oh, dear,” was all I could manage.

“Do you need help?”

“No, no,” I said getting my voice back and letting my purple flowered, lovely fall Thursday move to the back of my priorities.  “I’ll call my husband.”  The nice man, who was an employee of Central Market and they are lucky to have him (!), made sure I was okay and walked back toward that distant point in the parking lot.

I called Ben and he gave me the Allstate number (Allstate has been wonderful to us this year.  They are like my new best friends.  I ran over something and ripped half the underside of my car off early this summer.  We only paid $100.00.  Yeah, I really like them lately).  Allstate sent a man who changed my tire for free and also led me to a Discount Tire because, apparently, my tires were so bad that I was sending off sparks when I drove.  Well, Ben had mentioned that I needed to have them checked out, but, like everyone else, I feel like I have such little spare time, and when I do have spare time, I would much rather eat gelato and write blogs.  Anyway,  tire problem is now solved and my car feels like I am driving a new car.  Ben and I still had our Thursday night dinner, and it was lovely.  But thank goodness the rest of the week Ben is in charge of dinner.

During the week, there are some nights that I don’t get home until nine o’clock, but I usually have a nice meal waiting for me.  This week Ben made two recipes.  One is a simpler recipe that takes about forty-five minutes and is one of our old stand bys.  I love it not only because it is really good, but also because it is good for me.  The second recipe requires a little more time and effort but is worth it.

One of Ben’s favorite cookbooks is How to Cook Everything: Simple Recipes for Great Food by Mark Bittman (http://www.amazon.com/How-Cook-Everything-Simple-Recipes). That is where Ben found this wonderful lentils and rice recipe that I love so much.

First Recipe: Lentils and Rice with Asparagus

 I.  Lentils and Rice with Caramelized Onion

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped, and two medium or large onions, halved and sliced
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 cups lentils
  • 1 cup rice
  • 6 cups chicken, beef, or vegetable stock
  • Minced parsley for garnish

Pour 1 tablespoon olive oil in a deep saucepan and cook on medium heat for one minute.  Add  chopped onion and cook until tender (about 4 minutes).  Add garlic, cumin, salt and pepper and cook for about 3 three minutes.  Add lentils and stir, add four cups of water or stock.

Cook for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add enough stock or water so that there the lentils are covered with an inch of liquid.  Stir in rice.  Cover and turn the heat to low.

Pour two tablespoons in a skillet and turn heat to medium high.  Add the onion slices and stir them occasionally.  Cook until they are brown (about 10 to 15 minutes).  Remove from heat.

II. Asparagus

I really like asparagus and had never had it this way before I met Ben.  Maybe it is more common than I know, but regardless, it’s fast and tastes so good.

  • 1 bunch asparagus
  • garlic
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Lay asparagus on cooking sheet with tinfoil. Pour two tablespoons olive oil over asparagus. Evenly distribute one tablespoon minced garlic over asparagus. Cook for 10 to 15 minutes, until asparagus is tender. Remove from oven and salt and pepper to taste.

Second Recipe: A rather Fancy Spaghetti and a Salad with Oranges, Red Onions, and Blue Cheese

Ben gets a quite a few food magazines each month, and even though, I don’t usually cook, I love to read them.  This recipe was inspired by a recipe in the 2011 October issue of Cuisine at Home.  Ben made it on Tuesday, and so I was home in time to take some photos of the prep.  It’s a great date dinner.  We changed the recipe a bit from the magazine.  I like it with quite a bit less vinaigrette than the magazine suggests and with a bit of blue cheese.  The almonds are great, so add plenty to your salad.

I. Salad with Oranges, Red Onion, and Blue Cheese

  • 1 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp. honey
  • 1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • Juice from half an orange
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 navel orange sliced into rounds
  • 1/4 cup sliced red onion
  • 1 tsp. unsalted butter
  • 2 tsp. sugar
  • Cayenne pepper to taste
  • 2 cups spinach lettuce
  • Minced chives
  • Crumbled Blue Cheese

Whisk together the vinegar, honey, Dijon, oil, and orange juice.  Season with salt and black pepper.

Toast almonds in butter over  medium heat.  Add sugar,  salt, and cayenne pepper. Continue cooking and stirring until almonds are brown.  Put spinach lettuce onto plates  and add oranges, onions, and vinaigrette (it needs only a bit of the vinaigrette or it will overpower the salad).  Top with generous amount of almonds and a very small amount of crumbled blue cheese.

II. Spaghetti

Garlic Bread Crumbs for Spaghetti

  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 cup bread crumbs
  • 1 tsp. olive oil
  • Salt

Mince garlic in a food processor.  Add bread and process until coarse.  Heat oil over medium.  Add bread crumbs and toast until golden (about 3 minutes).  Season with salt and pepper.

III. Spaghetti

  • 3 strips bacon, chopped
  • 2 cups halved grape tomatoes
  • 1/2 tsp. sugar
  • 1/2 cup sliced leeks
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 1 tsp. red wine vinegar
  • 4 oz. dry spaghetti
  • 1 cup fresh spinach leaves

Bring pot of water to boil for the pasta.  Cook bacon over medium heat. Save 2 Tbsp. of drippings. Remove from heat and put aside.  Cook tomatoes and sugar in drippings in a skillet over medium heat for about five minutes.  Add leeks: cook for about 4 minutes, until wilted.  Pour wine into skillet with tomatoes. Simmer until liquid is almost evaporated.  Add broth and vinegar.  Simmer for about five minutes. Cook pasta in boiling water.  Add spinach and cooked bacon to the tomato mixture. Move cooked pasta into skillet with tomato mixture. Stir and season to salt.  Serve and add bread crumbs.

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