September Best Bites – a mash-up of home and out and about

While I took a break for a few days thanks to that flu, I still enjoyed some nice late summer meals in September, including lunches at Seasons 52 and Ricky’s Thai, and a nice dinner at the newish La Rouge 23 in Allentown – fantastic wings and fries there (and more), my review should be in the Packet on October 9. I lived on chicken soup and toast for a few days while I was sick, but even once I got my appetite back (too bad!), I didn’t feel like cooking much of anything, so took myself to Lucy’s Kitchen & Market to stock up on a couple days worth of prepared meals. I had my heart set on their chicken pot pie, but, wouldn’t you know, they were out. I was still feeling fragile, so almost cried, just like a cranky feverish child!

But I quickly recovered and restocked chicken soup for my freezer (having used up my own homemade), plus a serve of chicken Milanese and eggplant Napoleon, along with a couple of grain/pasta salads for lunches. (I try to always have a tub of their excellent clam sauce in my freezer, too.)  By the time I’d worked my way through those, I was starting to perk up and felt like cooking for myself again. (I also had a big fresh vegetable/salad deficit, as I just can’t eat such things when I’m sick, so now I’m  trying to make up for that lapse.)

Being stuck at home for several days helped me use up some of the things in my cupboard and freezer, like the franks from Mallery’s Grazin Meats  in Skillman with Bush’s baked beans, and the packaged tortellini with Italian sausage. The tortellini are packaged Barilla ones (cheese/spinach), they come in a bag right on the pasta shelves! They are surprisingly delicate when they’re cooked up, with nice, thin, pasta.

Note there are two egg dishes in the slideshow below, based on leftovers, one with chopped tomato and rice and the other with roasted potatoes and arugula. This is my new way of throwing together odds and ends to make a quick breakfast/lunch when I’m staying in for the day. Love it!

Also note the pork braciole – I am lazy, I buy that at ShopRite (yes, in spite of “no-name” meat), and it’s surprisingly good. They have beef too, but I far prefer the pork; I just brown it then pour over some very simple tomato sauce (in this case Monte Bene from Whole Foods), and simmer until the pork is tender. Put some pasta on the side and I’m good to go. I just can’t make everything from scratch, although I did for many, many years. Now I get a free pass on some scratch cooking.

The end of the month brought a very nice dinner with a few friends, where our hostess, Pat Tanner, prepared the New York Times Butter Chicken that has been so popular, according to their Cooking newsletter. She was inspired by fresh-from-India spices one of her daughters brought back from a trip there, so it was just delicious as were the lightly pickled radishes dramatically served up on a ceramic arch that was also a gift from a daughter (those two find the niftiest gifts for their food-loving mother!). Pat made spiced cashews, too, which I had to move away from me so as not to ruin my appetite for dinner.

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