Cooking Club: Week 52

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AN ENTIRE YEAR!!!!

We did it! I will say thank you thank you thank you every week because I find it really humbling that you trust me to help with your dinner plans. I get some “oh that’s cute” looks when I tell people what I do for work, but I don’t care, I think this is a pretty awesome job. Building this program has been a really neat learning experience and there is so much potential in what we are doing here. We are excited to have a new site in the next few months and offer even more in this space.

On this weeks menu, I wrote out a very simple dinner plan, to encourage you to invite people over. It is nothing complicated, affordable, and I’m giving you all sorts of tips to make it easy on you. My primary hope with SKCC is to make dinners easier on you and your family, but the experience of gathering - old friends, new friends, neighbors, people who may think differently than you, a family you just met at school, your parents, whomever - that is where the good stuff is. You don’t have to make this meal in particular, pick a favorite from the archives, but a handful of you have asked for practical tips soooo let’s give this a rumble.

give aways

Tote Bundles

We’re giving away a few things throughout this next week. First up, we are giving away five tote bundles that have a reusable SK grocery bag, a few coupons, muesli and a handful of my favorite treats inside. I know some people cringe at the thought of posting pictures of food on their social media accounts (obviously I do not feel this way personally :) ) but think of it as helping spread the word about this wonderful meal planning site you’re using and maybe you’ll get something in the mail which makes anyones day. Share the photos of anything you have loved from this past year of Cooking Club and tag @sk_cookingclub and #skcookingclub to enter. We’ll select five of our favorites to receive totes.

SKCC Months

Each of us (Sara & Hugh) will then pick a favorite from those five to share on a Cooking Club Instagram story, and put to a vote. The winning photo gets 3 months free and 3 months to gift to a friend!!

If you’re looking for some inspo, don’t forget the photo tips (also available to you on the sidebar)!

So! Go back to week 50 for a cake recipe to celebrate, but happy one year anniversary to all of us! xo


1-hr. Prep

DO THIS

  1. Marinate chicken and make sauce for dinner with friends

  2. Prep the salsa

  3. Make the dressing for the salad

  4. Roast or grill vegetables for the orzo. Finish the orzo.

GET THIS

  1. Part way to hosting a dinner for friends!

  2. Homemade salsa

  3. An orzo salad to have ready in the fridge all week


groceries

I am assuming you have sea salt, pepper, extra virgin olive oil and a higher heat oil, such as avocado oil or coconut oil. Check your stock on these before you head to the market, and check off any other items you may already have. As you continue to use these recipes, you will see repetition of my favorite ingredients. For example, while real maple and pine nuts are pricey pantry staples, they won’t sit in the pantry, you’ll use them in upcoming weeks. Use bulk bins at your local health food store to buy in smaller quantities if you prefer.

Your List i

dinner for friends: grilled vegetables, bbq chicken & green rice grilled vegetable orzo summer salad of arugula, dried peaches, white beans & almonds restaurant salsa

Produce

Pantry

Meat & Dairy


recipe 01: dinner for friends: grilled vegetable platter w/ bbq chicken & green rice

serves 6

Heads up:

Plan for and overnight marinade.

A few of you mentioned on the FB page that the idea of entertaining is completely intimidating. I think of how many mistakes I have made in cooking for other people, and how much I have learned by trial and error, to get to the point where feeding a group doesn’t scare me anymore. I mean, a moderate sized group.

You know in food magazines, with Thanksgiving, how they pencil out a schedule for you so you can pull off making all that food? We are going to do a super simple dinner, and I am going to help you space things out below, so you can prep in pieces, and be more than halfway done by the time friends or family come over. 

I know it feels stressful to guess how much food you need. Make a little bit more than you think, and enjoy or send home leftovers. The answer to that question is to just make extra :) I am guessing this will feed six people, especially if you have an app and dessert, and it never hurts to have garlic bread on the table! Any leftover vegetables can roll over to go into the orzo in the next recipe.

I don’t want to overwhelm you by suggesting you make a sauce too, buttttt this would all be so good with a sauce. Any of the sauces we’ve made: lemony pesto, green harissa, a muhummara, green tahini, hummus, avo taco sauce…just something for dipping. Sauces are great to make ahead too! 

Friends like to be involved and just because you invited people, doesn’t mean you have to make 100% of the dinner - delegate to take something off your list. I usually offload dessert or an appetizer, and timeless dinner guest manners would suggest they’ll bring a bottle of wine or beer to contribute as well. Keep some in the fridge just in case. 


Night before:

Marinate the chicken
Make any sauce you like

Morning of:

Cut the vegetables
Rinse your rice, make the green broth
Set the table (it’s just nice to not think about this)
Chill any beverages

Hour before: 

Music!
Start the rice
Swipe some butter, herbs and garlic on a baguette, wrap it in foil
Preheat the grill + pull the chicken to room temp


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Tips of The Week

Make Ahead: Lots of tips up top! The chicken likes an overnight marinade, a sauce of choice can be made in advance, and the green rice can be made a day in advance and re-heated if preferred.

Use it Twice: Chop up any leftover chicken and vegetables and put them in a wrap or over dressed greens. I am a fan of leftover rice in my green salads too - makes them filling.

Kid Friendly: Cut the veg in tiny pieces and stir them into the rice. Also, if entertaining stresses you a bit, most kids like mac n’ cheese, so I will make a package of Banza mac, add some well chopped broccoli florets in the last minute of cooking, and stir in a bit of extra cheese to make it a little tastier.


Ingredients 

for the CHICKEN

3 lbs. bone in, skin on chicken (thighs, drumsticks, breasts etc.)
1 tsp. each sea salt and pepper
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup your favorite BBQ sauce
5 cloves garlic, grated
2 Tbsp. avocado oil
2 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar

for the GRILLED VEGETABLES

2 eggplant, sliced into 1/2” rounds
5 zucchini, sliced into quarters, lengthwise
3 bell peppers, cut in large pieces, away from the stem and core
16 oz. mushrooms, wiped clean and skewered
4 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp. smoked paprika
1 tsp. dried oregano
Sea salt, to taste
Lemon zest, for garnish
Fresh parsley or basil, for garnish

for the GREEN RICE

3 cups vegetable broth
1 clove garlic
1 bundle of cilantro
1 handful of parsley
1.5 cups jasmine rice, rinsed
Sea salt and pepper

for serving

Baguette
Sauce! Check the Index.

Instructions

Put the chicken in a large baking dish. Use your finger to separate the skin from the flesh and sprinkle it all over with salt and pepper and rub it into the meat. Pour on the buttermilk and BBQ sauce, grate in the garlic, add avo oil and cider vinegar and rub it all over the chicken. Cover the dish and let it sit overnight in the fridge. Bring it out to room temperature an hour before grilling. 

Cut up your vegetables, sprinkle the eggplant with salt and let them sit over a colander while you get the rice going. Dab off excess moisture. Set all the prepared veg on a large rimmed baking sheet and drizzle them all liberally with olive oil, sea salt, smoked paprika, oregano, pepper. Rub it all over to coat. We want everything to be generously coated or they’ll dry out. Preheat the grill to medium heat. 

In a blender (or in a dutch oven and using an immersion blender), whiz up the broth, garlic, cilantro and parsley - it will be a little chunky, don’t fret. Add in the rice, and bring the green broth and rice to a boil, turn it down to a gentle simmer, cover and cook until it is cooked through. Fluff it and leave the cover ajar to keep warm. 

Let the marinade drip off, and grill the chicken until cooked through - about 16-18 minutes. This takes longer with bone-in pieces, so check the temp if you can.

If you are warming your baguette, wrap it in foil and pop ‘er on the grill. Grill all your vegetables for about 5 minutes per side. Long enough to get grill marks and warm through. Pull them as they are done, and slather them in any extra seasoned olive oil that is left on the baking sheet. Transfer them to a serving platter and sprinkle some lemon zest fresh herbs on top. 

Put the chicken and vegetables on a platter, the rice in a bowl on the side and a bowl of sauce on the table. Family style is much more friendly!

Nutrition Information

per serving

  • calories
    993
  • fat i
    50 g
  • carbs i
    82 g
  • protein
    54 g

recipe 02: vegetable orzo

serves 4

If you made recipe one and have leftover vegetables, chop those up and use them here. Add baby tomatoes for a fresh crunch, but otherwise, the vegetables can all be repurposed. Because I know not everyone makes every recipe, I am going to write this as its own. 

If you pack lunch or like having leftovers for lunch the next day, this is a great, vegetarian meal for that. 

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Tips of The Week

Make Ahead: This is a great picnic salad, it saves for a few days. The vegetables can be roasted or grilled in advance, but at that point, you might as well just finish the whole recipe.

Gluten Free: Use a gf pasta or quinoa.

Dairy Free: Skip the cheese and add olives. I have also been told that Via life feta is worth a try.


Ingredients

1 small eggplant
1 red bell pepper
1 orange bell pepper
2 medium zucchini
1 red onion
2 tsp. dried oregano

1/2 lb. orzo
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more for roasting
zest and juice of one lemon (about 1/4 cup) 
Splash of white vinegar if you like it zippy
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/2 tsp. fresh ground pepper
1/4 tsp. cayenne

6 ounces feta cheese, largely crumbled
1/3 cup chopped parsley
1/2 cup chopped basil
1/3 cup chopped chives
1/3 cup toasted pine nuts

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 425'. Trim and dice the eggplant, bell peppers, zucchini and red onion into 1" cubes. Collect the vegetables on two, large rimmed baking sheets. Drizzle the vegetables with oil, oregano, a generous sprinkle of salt and pepper and toss everything to coat well. Spread them in a single layer and roast for 25-30 minutes, rotating the trays halfway through, until the edges are browned. Remove to cool.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Salt it generously. Cook the orzo according to instructions. Drain. Rinse. Transfer to a large mixing bowl and let it cool. Drizzle on the oil, lemon zest and juice, salt, pepper and cayenne. Stir. Add in the cooled vegetables and herbs. Stir again. Crumble in the feta cheese, season to taste (I like it zippy, so I added about 1 Tbsp. white wine vinegar).

At this point you can serve it at room temperature, or keep it chilled in the fridge for up to a week.

Nutrition Information

per serving

  • calories
    601
  • fat i
    32 g
  • carbs i
    64 g
  • protein
    19 g

recipe 03: summer salad of arugula, dried peaches, white beans & almonds

serves 4

I found dried white peaches at Trader Joes. Fresh peaches would also be great if you have some ripe and ready. It’s tough to find a big green salad that feels filling, and can stand in as en entree with some added protein, or be a delicious side, and this one does both. 

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Tips of The Week

Make Ahead: The dressing can be made up to a week in advance. The vegetables can be shaved in advance as well and leave them stored in the fridge in a bit of dressing.

Use it Twice: Once you have all of these ingredients on hands, it is nice to repeat again for lunch the next day.

Kid Friendly: Pull components out that you know they may like, and serve them a la cart.

Carnivore Addition: If you have leftover chicken from Recipe 1, shred it away from the bone and add it in here. Also great with some grilled or roasted salmon.


 Ingredients

for the DRESSING

1 tsp. Dijon mustard
2 tsp. maple syrup
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp. sea salt
Fresh ground pepper
A few pinches of a chopped fresh herb - thyme, parsley, basil, chives

1/4 of a red onion, shaved super thin
1 fennel bulb, ends trimmed and shaved thin
Handful of dried peaches, sliced thin
1 cup white (cannellini) beans, rinsed and drained
3 oz./ 3 cups arugula
3 oz. / 3 cups butter lettuce
1/2 cup marcona almonds, roughly chopped
1/2 cup grated Pecorino cheese

Instructions

Shake all of the dressing ingredients together in a jar or whisk them together at the bottom of a bowl. 

Put the shaved onions and fennel in a large mixing bowl with a bit of dressing and toss to coat - this helps soften them. Let it sit for a couple minutes. 

Add the peaches, white beans, greens, half of the cheese and almonds and toss everything to coat. Garnish the top with another sprinkle of cheese and almonds and some fresh ground pepper. 

Nutrition Information

per serving

  • calories
    569
  • fat i
    32 g
  • carbs i
    52 g
  • protein
    23 g

recipe 04: restaurant salsa

Serves 8

A fridge staple! If you have been making the SKCC recipes, you likely have most, if not all, of these ingredients. I keep my onions wrapped in beeswax or plastic wrap and put them in the front of the glass of the crisper drawer, so I am always reminded that I have onions in use and not cut into another one. 

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Tips of The Week

Make Ahead: Salsa can be made ahead 5 days in advance.


Ingredients

2 large cloves garlic
1/4 of a yellow onion
1/4 of a red onion
1 jalapeno
Juice of one lime
1 13.5 oz. can fire roasted tomatoes
1 cup baby tomatoes
1 small bundle of cilantro
1 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. ground cumin
Few grinds of fresh pepper


Instructions

Dump everything into a food processor or blender and pulse until you get the texture you like. 

The salsa will keep covered in the fridge for about 5 days. 

Nutrition Information

per serving

  • calories
    18
  • fat i
    0 g
  • carbs i
    4 g
  • protein
    1 g