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.

 

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Probably should have been the first pizza I tried ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

This here is the mother recipe of pizza – the simplest pizza to base the ratios you remember off of, the base recipe you improvise off of. Dough, sauce, meat, veggie and cheese. The baseline of pizza. The ‘oh f***, I don’t have a plan for dinner’ emergency dinner of pizza – as long as you’ve got a batch of dough in the freezer.

I mean, unless you’re like Adam and I, who for some reason don’t keep a jar of pasta sauce in the house. Probably because we’d use it in a non-emergency-food spot. Which rather defeats the purpose of emergency sauce, in my opinion.

The original calls for sausage, we used chorizo, and I am pretty darn sure it would work with chicken sausage, chicken strips/chunks (browned on the stove first please), meat substitute or whatever you want/have lying around.

So our pizza doesn’t look too … square in the pictures below – I had some issues pulling the pizza off the pan. The cheese and whatnot slide around – still tasted good 🙂 We kinda devoured the whole thing for dinner – thought there’d be half a pizza for leftovers. Nope.

Baseline Pizza

Original from TheKitchn.com
Makes 1 pizza
Recipes left to try (& copy…): 18; Pizza: 1 recipe left

  • 1 batch of pizza dough (I used the 2nd half of the thin crust we made back in July – it’d been hanging out in the freezer for a while)
  • 1 jar tomato sauce – use as much or as little as you like (the Wegmans’ store brand tomato & basil sauce worked quite well for us)
  • ~3oz sausage link, or other meat product of your desire
  • 1 pepper, color of your choice, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 onion, yellow or red
  • ~ 4oz Monterey Jack cheese (~1 cup)
  1. If you have a baking stone, place it in the oven on a rack in the bottom third of the oven. If you do not have one, place a baking sheet on a rack in the bottom third of the oven, to heat along with the oven. Preheat the oven to 550°F or as high as it will go; heat for at least 30 minutes before baking.
  2. Lay the pizza dough in the middle of how you are keeping it from sticking in the oven, such as a large square of parchment – we used a Silpat but as mentioned, had issues getting it back off. Press and push, staring in the middle working outwards, the dough into a flat-ish round, about 10-inches wide. If the dough starts to shrink back, let it sit for about 5 minutes, then continue. Once shaped, let it sit to rise until ready to top, about 15-20 minutes.
  3. If your meat topping is not cooked through, do so now before adding it to the pizza.
  4. Spread the tomato sauce nearly to the edge, then distribute the meat, pepper, and onion evenly over the pizza. Sprinkle the cheese evenly on.
  5. Transfer the pizza on the parchment or silpat into the hot oven. If using the parchment, after 5 minutes, use a spatula to lift and slide the parchment out. Bake until the crust is golden and crispy/charred in spots, a total of 8-10 minutes.

I’m failing to think of a clever title

Does it seem like I’m keeping most of the recipes I try to y’all? Does to me… Might be because most of the new ones I find are through TheKitchn.com – who knows where they get them, but presumably someone has tried it out before the post goes up (and the bad ones don’t get posted). I think they’ve got enough writers that all the published recipes get tested before hand – unlike cookbooks and magazines who are under a deadline… So at least one layer of filtering before I ever try the recipe.

I’m hoping it’s also that I’m developing a sense of what usually works together and don’t add the ones that won’t to the queue of things to try – it’s nice when your own actions/abilities are a factor in the outcome 🙂

So what’s the recipe I’m keeping this time?

Sweet potato, caramelized onions, sausage, and eggs hash. While that definitely sound like a breakfast type of food to me, Adam and I happily used the leftovers for lunches that week. Because when there’s only two people in the house and you make an 8 serving recipe, there’s gonna be leftovers. This is basically a meal-in-a-bowl (definitely not a one-pot recipe) that really does work for breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner. Probably gonna be most impressive at brunch though – the partial cook ahead of the sweet potatoes, onions, and sausage can let you make a very pretty presentation with the eggs (and a cast-iron skillet if you got one).

For those of you who don’t eat pork, I see no reason this wouldn’t work with chicken, turkey, or other non-pork sausage. Vegetarians, I haven’t cooked with non-meat sausage enough to have a feel if it would work or not. Give it a try and let me know, would you? I’d like to know and think you might get to it before I can get back to this recipe. Thanks! 🙂

Sweet potato, onion, sausage, and egg hash

Original from TheKitchn
Makes 8 servings
Recipes left to try (& copy…): 19; Breakfasts: 1 recipe left

  • 2 lb onions (2 should do)
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • table salt
  • 1 lb your favorite sausage (chorizo is rather good too), sliced
  • 3 lb sweet potatoes (about 3)
  • 8 large garlic cloves
  • 1/4 cup fresh rosemary leaves or 2 tbsp dried rosemary
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper

To serve:

  • large eggs
  • Parmesan cheese
  1. Preheat the oven to 450°F. Line a baking sheet with foil, parchment paper, or a Silpat.
  2. Peel the onions, slice in half lengthwise, cut into thin moons, then cut the moons in half. In a skillet over medium-high heat, melt the butter until it foams. When it starts foaming, add the onions and sprinkle with salt. Do not worry about cramming, everything will cook down. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until onions are a very dark brown. If the onions appear to start burning, lower the heat. They will probably cook for 30-45 minutes before turning the very dark brown.
  3. Meanwhile, in a separate skillet, cook the sausage over medium-high heat, chopping it into smaller pieces with a spatula. Cook until browned and beginning to crisp, about 10 minutes. Drain off excess fat.
  4. While the onions and sausage cook, chop the unpeeled sweet potatoes into about 1/2 inch to a side cubes. Finely mince the garlic and fresh rosemary, if using. In a large bowl, toss together the potatoes, garlic and rosemary (fresh or dried) with the olive oil, kosher salt, and black pepper.
  5. When the onions and sausage finish cooking, toss them in the sweet potato mix as well. Spread the mix out evenly on the prepared baking sheet. Roast in the 450°F oven until the potatoes are soft and browned, about 30-45 minutes.
  6. You can at this point, refrigerate the hash for up to 5 days and finish off (detailed below) the day of serving – Adam and I continued straight through and it worked fine. But! I think this would be an awesome way to prep during the weekend for guests during the week.
  7. Heat the oven to 425°F. Spread a relatively thin layer of the cooked hash in a baking dish, cast iron skillet, or individual ramkins. Make small wells in the potatoes and crack eggs into those wells. Sprinkle everything with salt and pepper, to taste. Bake for 15-20 minutes until potatoes are hot and eggs are cooked through. If you like your eggs runnier, cook for less time – the sweet potatoes and everything are already cooked and safe to eat. Serve with Parmesan cheese on top, if you like.

I so wanted this one to be worth copying…

I am aiming on cutting down my (our) meat consumption – bit tricky when Adam loves meat so much. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not aiming for vegetarian or vegan (personally don’t think I have the discipline for either, plus I get really tired/unhappy without animal protein [I think it’s the concentration]). Any rate! Cutting down on meat consumption – basically, I’m trying to aim for actual USDA portion recommendations (6 ozs is less [visually] than you think) and one or two meatless nights. Which you know, is still higher than historical averages. It’s a health thing, a portion control thing, and a trying to walk the environmental talk I believe.

So! I rather wanted this recipe to work out – it’s got a lot of things I love to eat (pasta, broccoli, cheese!, chickpeas) and making a big casserole is great for the leftovers and building lunches to take to work.

One, the kitchen ended up looking like a disaster zone. Now admittedly, that’s on me and my need to improve on dealing with multiple moving parts and cooking implements. But multiple moving parts! Any time that pops up, stuff better be freaking amazing to be worth the time (and stress) of making it again.

Two, there was just something missing. Not ‘eh, it’s okay, we’ve made better’ (which is enough to boot a recipe) but something was actively missing. Maybe I needed to mix in some nuts for texture. Or have actually exchanged the 1% milkfat cottage cheese we accidentally grabbed for the 4% called for in the recipe. Also, it’s just too light, even after we browned up some ground beef (using the same seasonings as the main part) and mixed that in.

So, multiple moving parts (which usually stresses me out, especially on a weeknight) producing something that neither of us found very tasty. I’m still posting the recipe to this one, since maybe one of y’all will make it amazing for your family.

Tomato-Mozzarella Pasta Bake

Originally from TheKitchn.com
Makes ~10 small servings, 6-7 large servings?
Recipes left to try (& copy…): 26; Dinners: 6 recipes left

  • 1 lb pasta, your choice of type
  • 1 lb broccoli, fresh
  • 4 medium tomatoes, divided
  • 3/4 lb onions, diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • one 15 oz can of chickpeas, drained
  • dried basil, to taste
  • 1/2 lb full-fat mozzarella, divided
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup cottage cheese
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 3/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F; lightly grease a 9″x13″ casserole dish and set aside. Heat a large pot of salted water. Add the pasta and cook until barely al dente. Drain, then return to the pot.
  2. Steam the broccoli, drain and cut into bite-sized florets. Toss with the cooked pasta. Chop three of the tomatoes into rough pieces and toss with the pasta. Stir in the onion, garlic, chickpeas, and ~half the basil you plan to use. Tear about 2/3rds of the mozzarella into small chunks and fold this into the pasta mixture.
  3. Whisk together the eggs, cottage cheese, and lemon juice. Stir in the Parmesan. Add this mixture to the pasta, along with the salt and pepper.
  4. Transfer the pasta to the casserole dish and spread out evenly. Slice the remaining tomato into half-moon slices, then arrange on top of the pasta. Tear the remaining mozzarella into pieces and scatter between the tomato slices. Drizzle with olive oil.
  5. Bake for 35 minutes or until the cheese has melted and the casserole is bubbly. Remove from oven and sprinkle with other half of basil. Serve.

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Pretentious Pizza

Also known as ‘Grown-up Pizza’. Yep, I understand how utterly snobbish the title and first line sound. But serious, what else am I going to call pizza involving figs and brie? Oh, and caramelized onions.

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Pizza is one of those things around here: we own a pizza stone (and leave it in the stove all the time to even out heat in the oven) but don’t make it very often. Which probably explains why the finished product was square tonight. Ledo’s, I am not and would like to make round pizzas…. You’d think if I can for pie, I’d be able to with pizza. But no-O-o. 🙂

The pizza was utterly delicious by the way.

Tonight was actually testing two new recipes: the thin crust and the topping combination. The crust came out pretty good – rolled it out a bit too thin so folded it over on itself which created some air pockets when parbaking. Wasn’t a problem per se, but definitely something I’ll keep in mind next time. Tasted a bit like sourdough bread, except, you know, thin and almost crispy (not burnt crispy, approaching cracker crispy).

The topping combination worked out really well – as Adam said when we sat down to dinner, this was a bit outside his comfort zone. After the first bite, his comfort zone had expanded. 🙂 Fresh (green) figs with brie and a caramelized red onion, with a drizzle of honey reminded both of us of an appetizer I’ve made occasionally: dried figs split in half with a smear of goat cheese and a drizzle of honey. The tartness from goat cheese was brought in here by the onion (although not a great deal – red onions == sweeter than yellow onions). And I really like slightly goo-y brie melted just a bit into onion.

Good crust, good toppings, just not quite right with each other though. We’ll be keeping both recipes, just not using them together.

Next time though? DEFINITELY caramelizing the onions in a slow cooker ahead of time. I swear every recipe I’ve ever seen lies about how long caramelizing onions takes.

Thin Pizza Crust

Original from TheKitchn.com
Makes two 10-inch crusts
Recipes left to try (& copy…): 35; Pizza: 2 recipes left

  • 6 fluid oz of lukewarm water (~3/4 cup water for them without digital scales [get a digital scale. I’m making the transition from measurements to weights right now and it’s pretty awesome])
  • 1 tsp active dry yeast
  • 10 oz (~2 cups) all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  1. Combine the water and yeast; stir to dissolve. Let sit for 5 minutes to proof. Combine with the flour and salt in a bowl and mix until the dough comes together, kinda shaggy.
  2. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface (along with any loose dough from the bowl). Knead until all the flour is incorporated and the dough is smooth and elastic. It should still be moist and slightly tacky. Knead in 1 tbsp of flour at a time if too wet.
  3. Set in a warm place and allow to rise until doubled in volume, about 1.5 hours.
  4. Divide the dough into 2 portions. The 2nd portion can be used or frozen (at least I hope so – the 2nd one from tonight is in our freezer right now). Gently press, stretch and roll the dough out until 1/4 inch thick.
  5. Top and bake as directed in your pizza recipe

Caramelized Onion, Brie and Fig Pizza

Original from Heather Crhisto
Makes 1 pizza
Recipes left to try (& copy…): 35; Pizza: 2 recipes left

  • 1x pizza crust
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • kosher salt
  • 1 large red onion, thinly sliced and separated
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 8 oz brie
  • 5-6 fresh figs
  • Honey, optional
  1. Preheat the oven to 425°F and prepare a baking sheet/pan.
  2. In a large sauté pan, melt the butter over medium heat. Then add the sliced onion and sprinkle with kosher salt; sweat for 5-7 minutes. Add the water, stir, and continue cooking until the onions are soft and the water has evaporated. Add the red wine vinegar and cook, stirring, until the vinegar has cooked off. Transfer the onions to a bowl and set aside.
  3. Roll the pizza crust out, brush with the olive oil, and sprinkle with kosher salt. Bake in the oven for 12 minutes (this parbakes the crust).
  4. Meanwhile, slice the brie and figs into slices the size of your choosing. Thin brie slices will be more melty (and wonderful).
  5. Spread the onions over the crust, then top with the brie, then layer on the figs. If desired, drizzle honey over the pizza.
  6. Bake until onions are hot and brie is melted, 5-7 minutes. Slice and enjoy.