Weekly Menu: July 29 – August 5, 2012
Sunday: Suz still in Boston, Christian veggie pasta (DIY)
Monday: Suz still in Boston, Christian grilled chicken and veggies (DIY)
Tuesday: Leftovers: veggie pasta (Suz still in Boston)
Wednesday: Easy take-out
Thursday: DIY grilled shrimp tacos with peach salsa and smashed avocado
Friday: Grilled whole grain bread topped with sauteed zucchini, tomatoes, onions and a poached egg (DIY) 
Saturday: Leftovers: grilled shrimp tacos with peach salsa and smashed avocado
I’m returning from vacation this week, but not until Wednesday so for the early part of the week Christian is on his own. He’s a great cook, but neither one of us really enjoy cooking (and cleaning) for one so he’ll likely keep it simple with things like omelets, grilled chicken or maybe a quick and easy pasta. Since I get in a bit late on Wednesday and Christian is picking me up, we’ll do a rare middle of the week take-out. Probably Pacific Catch…the Poke Wasabi Bowl, to be exact.

The rest of the week will also be pretty simple since it’s always a bit hectic readjusting to the real life after being away for a while. Our DIY grilled shrimp tacos with peach salsa and avocado were so successful the week before we left for vacation that we’re actually just going to do a repeat of that...super simple, healthy and delicious. We’ll try a new DIY creation on Friday and grill some whole grain bread, top with a mixture of grilled, chopped zucchini, tomatoes and onions and a poached egg. Nice easy way to use up summer veggies and have a quick healthy dinner.

I know it's a heavy DIY week...back to experimenting with fun new recipes next week!
Postcards: Sweet Passion Fruit in Peru

One of my favorite things about traveling is exploring the food markets of the region and discovering new fruits and vegetables. It’s nice to know that in our U.S. land of plenty, where we import just about anything, there are still foods that you can only find locally. Now I’m not saying you can’t find sweet passion fruit anywhere in the U.S., but it’s not super prevalent. Even when we do import exotic fruits they always taste so much better when you eat them where they are native, fresh and in season. I guess that means I’ll just need to keep traveling!

At the San Pedro Market in Cusco, Peru the produce was plentiful…rows and rows of brightly colored fruits, vegetables and herbs tempting you with every step. One of the fruits we decided to try out was the sweet passion fruit…I was sure I had eaten one before, but as soon as the local stall vendor began showing us how to eat it I knew I was wrong.
Weekly Menu: July 22-28, 2012
Sunday: Smoky Pea & Artichoke Pasta
Monday: Shrimp & Balsamic-Orange Onions
Tuesday: Beef Bulgar Bean Burger & Baked Sweet Potato Fries
Wednesday: Leftovers: Smoky Pea & Artichoke Pasta
Thursday: Leftovers:Shrimp & Balsamic
Friday: Leftovers:Beef Bulgar Burgers
Saturday: Eat Out
I’m in Cape Cod this week for a long overdue family reunion, so in reality I’m not sticking to a menu.  Instead I’ll be going with the flow of the group when it comes to dinner, which probably means a lot of grilling, definitely some New England fried clams, and if we’re ambitious maybe even a clam bake!  Good times.

That being said, just because I’m on vacation this week doesn’t mean you don’t still need to figure out your dinner plans!  So the menu I’ve provided above is one from around this time last year...enjoy!
A Few Days in Boston…

This is pathetic.  I grew up in Massachusetts and went to college 20 minutes outside of Boston, yet as I'm about to leave for a trip back home I feel like I have no idea where to eat these days.  To be fair it's been 10+ years since I've spent any real time in Boston, so I'm a bit rusty to say the least.  I don't have much time in the city proper since the purpose of my trip is to go to Cape Cod for a week for a family reunion, but I do have almost 3 days.  Plenty of time to do some good foodie damage...and catch a Sox game of course!

I've done some research to supplement to my old favorites and what I've come up with is below. I've focused on things close to downtown where I'll be staying and also made sure they were open either Friday, Sunday or Monday, the days I'll be in town.  Since I don't get back to Boston often I'm also keeping it a bit more traditional vs. exploring the fringe foodie trends that the city may be experiencing (next time!).  I want a reminder of the Boston that I know and love!

So take a look and let me know what I'm missing...especially you underground Boston foodies who really have your finger on the pulse!

Weekly Menu: July 15-21, 2012
Sunday: Grilled Salmon with Grilled Corn, Roasted Red Pepper Salad (DIY)
Monday: Ground Turkey & Veggie Pasta (DIY)
Tuesday: Shrimp Tacos with Peach Salsa and Grilled Zucchini (DIY)
Wednesday: Leftovers: Pasta
Friday: In Boston/Cape Cod
This is a short week for us, so it's 100% DIY and mostly designed to use up everything in the fridge before I head out to the East Coast for a week and a half. It's also a week that is focused on all of the great summer produce that is in season so you should be able to find all of the fruits and veggies for this week's menu at your local farmer's market.  Since it's an all DIY week I've provided some insight as to how we'll pull everything together in the SavoryGirl household:

For the corn salad on Sunday, we'll grill whole ears of corn (still in the husk, but peel it back to take all of the silk out first and then re-wrap it) until the husks get black and crispy and the corn on the inside is tender, about 15 minutes.  Cut the kernels off the ears of corn once they're done (invert a small bowl into a big bowl to prop the ear up vertically while slicing and keep the flying kernels contained!).  Then we'll mix in some chopped roasted red pepper, black beans, a bit of olive oil, lime juice, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes.  Voila!  Delicious grilled corn salad to go along with your salmon.
The Unexpected Alpaca

Alpaca is a cute furry animal that I had honestly never even considered eating...wearing in the form of a furry hat or sock, yes.  Eating?  Completely unexpected!  I’m not even sure I knew that there were people who ate Alpaca until I got to Peru and started seeing it on menus everywhere.  Of course, a gastronomic cultural explorer like me had to try it, and boy am I glad that I did.  Not only is alpaca mild and slightly sweet in taste, but it is also tender, lean and low in cholesterol. I enjoyed alpaca in the many preparations that I tried so much so that, since returning from Peru, I’ve honestly found myself craving it a bit!

Our first Alpaca adventure came in the form of Alpaca Tartar at Astrid y Gaston in Lima.  Having been named as one of the top 50 restaurants in the world, it was a pretty safe bet that this dish would be a winner regardless of the focus on this new, strange meat.  The tartar was served in three ways along with waffle cut potato chips.  The first preparation was traditional in style…quail egg on top with a bit of hot sauce to go along with it.  The other two preparations were international journeys in their own right with one taking us to Japan with flavors of wasabi and ginger and the other bringing us back to Thailand with Thai chilies and mango.  All three were distinct and amazingly delicious with the alpaca being lighter than your traditional steak tartar.  It’s almost what I would expect from a pork tartar if one were to exist.  And I love me some pork!

Our second taste of Alpaca was in the form of grilled skewers…slightly crisp on the outside and juicy and tender on the inside.  In this simple preparation the Alpaca was almost like a hybrid between pork and chicken.  The texture was very similar to well-cooked chicken but it was more flavorful.

Weekly Menu: July 8-14, 2012
Sunday: Leftovers: Frozen White Bean & Kale Soup
Monday: Stuffed Salmon with Ratatouille (DIY)
Tuesday: Leftovers: Frozen White Bean & Kale Soup
Wednesday: Omeletes with Honey Toast
Thursday: Grilled Pork Tenderloin with Cherry Salsa, Grits & Summer Vegetable
Friday: Eat Out
Saturday: Leftovers: Grilled Pork & Cherry Tacos with Summer Vegetable 
Having just returned from San Diego on Sunday we're going to keep it pretty simple again this week.  We're also going to make sure to keep it healthy since we indulged in a few too many drinks and yummy Mexican meals while we were having fun in southern California!  So the majority of the week is focused on a mix of previously frozen home-cooked meals and DIY meals.

One of the DIY meals leverages this delicious stuffed salmon that our local fish market sells...we'll pair it with a homemade ratatouille since the farmer's market is overflowing with squash and tomatoes these days!  We'll also have my old stand-by, breakfast for dinner.  Omelets are another great way to use up the season's freshest produce.  The one new recipe we are trying out is the Pork Tenderloin with Cherry Salsa...I love cherries, so I'm really looking forward to this one. For the vegetable, we'll cook up whatever strikes our fancy at the Farmer's Market. I think it's going to be delicous!
Keeping it Simple for the 4th…

The Fourth of July has been one of my favorite holidays for as long as I can remember...but the funny thing is that it's one of the few holidays that I love that isn't all about the food for me.  Thanksgiving?  Definitely about the food.  Christmas Season? Cookie Party,  Fondue and Roast Beast. Easter?  A delicious brunch.  New Year's Eve?  Osso Bucco. New Year's Day? Black Eyed Peas.  You see, the thing that keeps me up the night before most holidays is child-like excitement over what I'm going to be cooking and/or eating the next day.  Of course it's about family and friends (and let's be honest...presents) as well but food always plays a central character on holidays for me and it has since I was a child.

The Fourth of July, however, was always a bit different.  I grew up having a big family picnic in a local park every Fourth of July...so it was the one holiday where my mom and I weren't cooking at home and weren't responsible for the entire meal.  Sure we'd make a few nice dishes to bring along but other members of the family chipped in too so it was casual, easy and really more about being in the park and hanging out with family that we really only saw on this one day a year.  Well, it was also about my Aunt Nixa's amazing Puerto Rican rice that she made every year...but I've yet to wrangle that recipe from her!

Weekly Menu: July 1-7, 2012
Sunday: Leftovers: Minestrone Soup from last week
Monday: Leftovers: Frozen vegetarian Cassoulet leftovers with a side salad  
Wednesday: In San Diego for 4th of July!
I apologize...I'm not going to be much help with your dinner planning this week.  We're only here for two days before heading down to San Diego to visit good friends so we're relying heavily on leftovers to keep it simple.  I made a double batch of the Minestrone Soup last week so we're freezing some but also stretching it to feed us for one more night. Monday we're reaching back into the deep crevices of our freezer and pulling out something we made a few months ago, vegetarian cassoulet.  Simply mix up a little butter, breadcrumb mixture to sprinkle on top, pop it in the convection oven and we'll have dinner in less than 30 minutes.  Perfect...that means I'll have time to pack!

If we were hosting 4th of July at our house we would likely be heading over to Fort Mason with a grill for a good old fashioned BBQ.  Nothing too fancy for this holiday...grilled summer corn, high quality sausages and burgers, maybe my mom's cracker-fried chicken, pasta salad and a beautiful red, white and blue summer berry trifle to finish it all off.  Good 'ole American beer and maybe some white sangria to quench our thirst.  I know, I know...this may seem a bit underwhelming for SavoryGirl.  Since we never eat this kind of food it's a bit of a treat for us, so I've really tried hard over the years to avoid making 4th of July fussy despite all of the fun, unique recipes I always see out there this time of year.

Happy 4th of July everyone...I hope you have a wonderful day with family, friends, good food, great fun and beautiful fireworks!