Purposely eating the same thing all week

I don’t know about you, but post Thanksgiving, I’m perfectly happy to not cook for a couple days. Thanksgiving can take a lot of my cooking mental space. The problem with trying that this year is that we didn’t have much in the way of protein leftovers – the leg of lamb Adam roasted was excellent. Also, he estimated servings pretty well, so with much effort (i.e. attempting to cut even more meat scraps off the bone) we had two lunch portions of lamb, each. I mean, hurray, more tasty lamb, but not so much with the not having too cook – we needed a protein/main course for dinners. Have enough left over sides that I didn’t really need to cook any vegetables or stuff… So what did I do?

Cook a vegetable heavy lasagna, of course.

Totally worth it.

For you vegetarians out there, and anyone who just wants to occasionally have a meatless dish, this recipe will totally work in a vegetarian version. It should since the original was developed that way 🙂 We just really wanted some animal protein. And I really dislike mushrooms. It’s a personal failing I’m sure 😉

Cheesy Lasagna

Original from TheKitchn
Makes 8-10 servings
Recipes left to try (& copy…): 9 recipes; Dinner: 1

  • 1 onion, diced small
  • 3/4 lb ground 90/10 beef
  • 1/2 lb smoked andouille sausage, sliced into bite-sized slices
  • 1 eggplant, small – medium (12-16 oz), small dice
    • [psst, go for the smaller size, especially if your skillet or pot isn’t all that large]
  • 1 butternut squash, small – medium, small dice
    • again, go for a squash on the small size
    • your favorite type of squash will work here: feel free to substitute (butternut squash was a pleasant surprise – I had not idea if it would actually work or not walking in, we just need to use up these squashes floating around the house)
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • pinch of red pepper flakes, optional (but totally awesome in)
  • 5-6 oz baby spinach
  • 3 cups tomato sauce
    • (one 24 oz jar worked, but we would have been happier with more sauce. or I failed measuring whilst executing, since 24 oz should definitely be 3 cups…)
  • 15 dry lasagna noodles (not no-boil, you want the regular ones)
  • 2 1/2 cups ricotta cheese
  • 2 1/4 – 3 cups mozzarella, chopped or shredded
    • we used 2 1/4 cups, but would have been happy with more
  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. Warm some olive oil in a large skillet or pot over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until they begin to turn translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the ground beef and sausage; cook until the beef browns.
    IMG_0361
    Add the eggplant, squash, and bell pepper; cook until all soften, roughly 3-5 minutes.
  3. Clear some space in the middle of the pan (this is where it would have been easier if I’d used a pot with tall sides…). Add more olive oil, the garlic, salt, and spices – stir until the garlic is fragrant and beginning to turn golden, about 30 seconds. Now stir the garlic and spices into the vegetables. Add the spinach on top and stir until it wilts, about 3-5 minutes later. Remove the skillet or pot from heat.
  4. Spread some tomato sauce in the bottom of a 9″x13″ baking dish (you do not need to use cooking spray or butter the dish). Lay 5 of the lasagna noodles (breaking if needed) in a single layer over the sauce. Spread 1 cup of ricotta on the noodles (I totally reached in and spread out the ricotta with my hands), half of the vegetables, 1 cup of tomato sauce, and 1 cup of mozzarella. Add another single layer of lasagna noodles using 5 pieces, the rest of the vegetables, 1 cup of tomato sauce, and 1 cup of mozzarella (in that order). Top with a final layer of 5 pieces of lasagna noodles, the remaining tomato sauce, and 1/2 cup of ricotta. Reserve the remaining 1/4-1 cup of mozzarella for later.
  5. Cover the dish with a lid or tightly with foil; bake for 1 hour. After 1 hour, check that the noodles are done by inserting a knife – if the knife does not slide easily through all the layers, recover and cook for another 15 minutes. Once noodles are done, sprinkle the remaining mozzarella over the top and return to the oven, uncovered, until the mozzarella melts, about 10-15 minutes.

 

Again, good, but not quite good enough

The title really says it all… tossing together cooked tortellini, nuts, dried figs, and salad greens, then drizzling with red wine vinegar is pretty decent. It’s just not terribly exciting, taste or texture wise. I’m sure it will work perfectly well as an emergency ‘I’m hungry and need to throw something together quickly; what do I have in the refrigerator’ kind of thing. It’s just not worth planning out and making sure the ingredients are available.

On the plus side, now we have a bag of emergency cheese tortellini in the freezer. Goes with the emergency pasta sauce in the pantry. 🙂

Tortellini Salad

Original from TheKitchn
Makes 2 servings
Recipes left to try (& copy…): 10 recipes; Lunch: None! Hurray, another section done!

  • ~10 oz tortellini (I used cheese and see no reason other types wouldn’t work)
  • ~1/2 cup walnuts
  • 1/2 cup dried Mission figs
  • Salad greens
  • Red wine vinegar
  1. Bring a pot of water to boil over high heat. Add the tortellini and cook as long as the tortellini package directs you to. Or until they bob to the surface and are tender. Drain and set aside.
  2. Roughly chop the walnuts. Cut off the stems of the figs and then roughly chop them.
  3. Combine the salad greens, tortellini, walnuts and figs in a bowl; toss together. Drizzle with red wine vinegar (or balsamic vinagrette) and toss again to coat. Divide between serving bowls. Alternatively, withhold the walnuts until the end and sprinkle on after the division into serving bowls.

Using up the refrigerator (that’s what I do around here)

We had lots of unused vegetables from our CSA and leftover ingredients from Feastly and life, and needed to get rid of them. So… I made a casserole; a crazy veggie corn casserole. And it has in it: 2 eggplants, 6 ears of corn , 6 bell peppers, 3 hot peppers, 1 red onion, 5 cloves of garlic, and 1 cup of leftover rotisserie chicken. This was literally what we had in our fridge, and it needed to go away.

So I diced and salted the eggplant. Cut the corn off the cob. Diced the peppers (bell and hot). Diced the chicken (again). And mixed it all up in a bowl.

Then I made a cheese sauce. Oh god. Diced the red onion. Got it simmering in olive oil. Added several tablespoons of all-purpose flour (too many tbsp of flour). Added oil back to try to recover from too many tbsp of flour. Then pulled out leftover chicken broth. And in that pan, I keep stirring and stirring until it got thin enough to add a quarter of a pound of parmesan cheese and an eighth a pound of cheddar cheese (both of these were also leftovers). I mentioned this was a cheese sauce, right? And then I added a little bit of milk to thin it out more.

And after Laura very kindly transferred the mix of veggies into our covered casserole, I poured the sauce over and mixed it in. Then I covered it with panko crumbs from our pantry and shoved it in the oven at 350°F.

We’ll let you know how it turned out.

 

P.S. We also made apple sauce today, finishing the apples from our insane, mistaken purchase of a bushel of apples.

Dictated by Adam, transcribed and edited by Laura

Final pizza from this batch

Definitely not quick weeknight pizza, this one. But very excellent and very fall-like, what with the roasted butternut squash. This one worked well with the dough we tried early so now we’ve got a batch in the freezer as well (woot). Honestly, I don’t have much to say about this one because, other than roasting the squash, this one seems like a pretty standard pizza – dough, mozzarella, and toppings. Okay, kale and roasted butternut squash probably aren’t your standard pizza toppings. Or olive oil and salt instead of a red sauce. Aaaaaand I did skip the bacon – intended to grill some chicken, slice it up and stick it on top. But… I forgot, so we just forged ahead without. Okay, not so standard I guess, but it did still feel like I learned the foundational skeleton of a pizza recipe from this. Might be that it’s the third pizza recipe I’ve tried within the last 3 1/2 months.

Adam did turn to me after one bite with a ‘We’re keeping this one!’ So that was nice.

Kale and Butternut Squash Topped Pizza

Original from TheKitchn
Makes one 8-10″ pizza (depends on how well you roll out the dough)
Recipes left to try (& copy…): 11 recipes; Pizza: None! Hurray, we’re done!

  • 1 butternut squash, small – 1.5 lb or less
  • 1 small bunch (or less) of kale of your favorite variety
  • 8 oz mozzarella (smoked if you can find it)
  • 1/2 lb pizza dough, store bought or homemade
  • olive oil & kosher salt
  1. Heat the oven to 450°F. Peel and dice the squash into small cubes, about 1/2 inch. Spread the cubes in a single layer on a baking sheet; drizzle with olive oil. Roast until soft, about 30 minutes.
  2. Wash the kale and pat dry. Strip the leaves from the steams and tear into 1/2 inch pieces. Slice the mozzarella into thin rounds.
  3. Heat the oven to 500°F or as high as the oven will go – if you have a baking stone, place it in the lower half of the oven as it warms.
  4. Shape the dough into a 10″ round. Brush the dough with olive oil and sprinkle the kosher salt over the dough. Lay the mozzarella rounds on the dough, arrange the roast squash on top, and scatter the kale over the top.
  5. Bake in the oven for 7-10 minutes, until kale is crispy and the dough a dark golden. Allow to cool slightly before slicing and serving.

A fall snack – I think this one will be sticking around

One of the very nice things about our particular CSA is the apple cider included every week. This farm really has an orchard (you may have seen the entire bushel of extra apples we bought?) and the cider changes a bit every week as the apples change with the season before getting picked. So between the apples and apple cider in the box and the old-fashioned rolled oats rattling around the pantry, we pretty much had everything to hand. I think next time I should let it go a bit longer for more crunch but I do like this snack as is.

If you’re looking for a thick granola where things stick together, this is not the one for you. This is more crumbly and individual.

Apple Cider Granola

Original found LastIngredient
Makes 3 cups
Recipes left to try (& copy…): 15; Snacks: 1 recipe left

  • 1 largish apple, preferably tart
  • 3 cups old fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, or other nut you like
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup apple cider
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  1. Preheat the oven to 225°F and line a couple of sheet pans with parchment.
  2. Slice the apple as thin as you can, preferably to 1/8 inch with a mandolin. Lay them out as a single layer on the sheet pans and bake until dried and brown, about 1.5 hours. Set aside to cool before roughly chopping.
  3. Increase the oven to 300°F. In a large bowl, combine the oats, cinnamon, salt, walnuts, honey, cider, and vanilla. If the apples are not completely dry, chopped them up and mix into the granola. Spread onto the mixture onto the sheet pants.
  4. Bake for 15 minutes, then toss and return to the oven. Continue baking until golden brown – check every 5 minutes to make sure the granola does not burn. Allow to cool, then add the apples if not already mixed in.
  5. Eat and store the excess in an air tight container.

Good but not quite good enough

This was my second weekend hauling stuff up to my friends’ place, so that Adam and I can get dinner going while they deal with their baby and we’ll be able to play a board game (this week was Formula D; I did not do so well this time – frustrating, this is usually one of my better games). Lessons learned this week:

  1. They do not own a roasting pan with a lid
  2. pyrex covered with aluminum foil works just as well
  3. When folks have babies, things like pepper, garlic, and other pantry staples may run out without anyone noticing
  4. the legs of the chicken to be roasted goes up. However much sense it may make that the flat side of the chicken should go down
    1. If the pan is full of sauce, it’s okay if the breast side went down instead of up
  5. One day, one day!, I will succeed in making an entire meal that my new vegetarian, gluten-free friend can eat!
    1. first I need to remember all of her restrictions (forgot the vegetarianism this time, arrrrrgh)
    2. challenges are good – they make me grow as a cook

On to what I actually did make: Roasted Chicken in a milk sauce. In the end, the vote was ‘yeah, this was pretty good, but you’ve got other things that take less work and come out even better’. I am wondering if it would have been better with sauce poured on individual pieces – we pulled the whole chicken out of the pan, carved and served. I’m thinking one of those sauce/gravy boats that only see use at Thanksgiving (I’m pretty sure Adam and I don’t have one of those, much less our friends up in Columbia) of the sauce on the table may have been a good thing. ::shrugs:: Oh well, I guess roasted chicken is still safely in Adam’s repertoire 🙂

Roasted Chicken in Milk

Original found JamieOliver.com
Makes 1 whole chicken – maybe 8 – 14 servings?
Recipes left to try (& copy…): 16; Dinners: 2 recipes left

  • 6 lb whole chicken
  • kosher salt and pepper
  • olive oil
  • 2 sticks cinnamon
  • handful of sage
  • 2.5 tbsp orange zest (b/c I didn’t want to zest a couple of lemons, and our orange zest was/is old, so we upped how much we used)
  • 6 cloves garlic, left in their skins
  • 2 1/3 cups milk
  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Season the chicken all over with salt and pepper – sprinkle a generous amount onto the skin and then rub in with your hands. Heat the olive oil in a pan or pot on the stove, then fry the chicken until the skin turns golden. Remove the chicken and discard the oil. If using a pan, transfer the chicken to an oven safe pot (with lid) or pyrex dish. If using a pot, return the chicken to the pot.
  2. Add the cinnamon, sage, zest, garlic, and milk to the baking dish with the chicken. Roast in the oven for 1 1/2 hours or until the internal temperature reaches 165°F. If you remember, baste the chicken with the sauce. If not, don’t worry, it’ll come out fine.
  3. Serve

Why does everyone think a 4hr slow cooker recipe is helpful?

Seriously, if I’m around to turn on the slow cooker 4 hours before dinner, I’m around enough to cook. Okay, now our slow cooker can switch over to warm after a set number of hours, but things still cook (at least a bit) on warm. It might be that my first slow cooker didn’t have a timer option and I came home to quite a few batches of overcooked chicken something. But 4 hour cooking times in a slow cooker still sounds like a really awkward time to work with/around.

Eh, I might just be cranky about how many vegetables I chopped up for this one – more specifically, how long I was standing up to do so. Also how much in leftovers there are. Trust me, there was no way this recipe, as written, was going to fit in my 6 quart slow cooker.

I think I’m starting to understand what Adam means by his (usually anguished) cries of “It got away from me!” We are totally going to be eating this for the rest of the week.

At this point, in a change from how things usually go around here, I’m thinking I will not keep this recipe. Basically too much work for the end result (for me) – those of you with working olfactory senses might get more out of it.

Vegetable & Chickpea Stew

Original from TheKitchn.com
Makes … lots. 8-12 servings?
Recipes left to try (& copy…): 17; Dinners: 3 recipes left

  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1/2 – 1 large onion, diced
  • 10 purple potatoes, diced
  • 1 tbsp salt, divided
  • 1 tbsp curry powder of choice
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1-inch piece of ginger, peeled and minced
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/8 tsp chili powder
  • 2 cups broth
  • 32 oz chickpeas
  • 4-5 small peppers, diced
  • 1 medium head of cauliflower, cut into bite-sized florets
  • 28 oz (5-6) tomatoes, diced
  • 10 oz baby spinach
  • 1 can coconut milk
  1. Heat the olive oil in a Dutch oven or large pot on medium heat. Add the onion and 1 tsp of salt; sauté until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the potatoes and 1 tsp of salt; sauté for several minutes.
  2. Add the curry, brown sugar, ginger, garlic, and chili powder; cook, stirring a bit, until fragrant – about 30 seconds. Pour in some of the broth and scrape the bottom of the pan to pull up any brown bits. Add the rest of the broth, chickpeas, peppers, cauliflower, tomatoes; stir to combine. Cover and simmer for 45 – 60 minutes, or until potatoes are tender.
  3. Add the spinach and coconut milk; stir until spinach wilts. Pull off the heat and adjust any seasonings if necessary. Serve.