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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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

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.

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.

Not stuffed enough apples

Apparently farro is not a standard thing to find. I mean, I knew I probably wouldn’t be able to find some in a regular grocery store. But surely, SURELY, our local hippy food co-op would have some in their bulk section. I mean the bulk section is like the main attraction (to me anyway). Who else sells 12 different types of rice in bins. Between the rice, and the lentils, and the flours, and the dried chickpeas, and the quinoa, I was SURE that there’d be farro around somewhere.

Nope.

Well… not exactly gonna completely ditch my plans and come up with something new on the spot… Just not how my brain works. Also, didn’t have internet access and the list of recipes I’m working on trying out with me. Nor my binders of power (recipes). So, I did what I’ve finally learned to do in those situations. Ask a grocery store person for their recommendation on what to substitute in. Which is how I ended up cooking wheat berries for the first time.

Also learned that 2 inches to be hollowed out from the middle of an apple is bigger than I think it is. And if you don’t make a big enough cavity in apples to stuff filling in, you end up cooking a lot filling in the bottom of your pan. Tasty that way, but definitely not the driving idea behind the recipe.

As you may have noticed from the ‘bounty!’ photos that have popped up on Saturdays, Adam and I have joined a CSA for the fall season. And boy do they have a lot of apple trees on the farm (I assume) – 5 to 6 Honey Crisp apples every week. In a half-share! I’m totally not complaining, given a) how many apples we eat around here and b) since I rather like the Honey Crisp variety. It was also nice for this recipe since the original called for honey crisps. Also for the contrast between apple, wheat berry, and chicken sausage. I’m not much of a pork sausage fan – happens when you grow up without any type of pig product in the house (yes that included bacon, yes I’m actually not a fan of bacon, yes I do speak that particular food heresy). Which makes chicken sausage my go-to substitute for ‘sausage’ in recipes. Substitute back as you choose 😀

End result for these particular stuffed apples? Too much work for the end result. Did you know you need to cook wheat berries for 50-55 minutes before mixing them in with the rest of the filling ingredients and then cook everything? Too long.

Good contrast in textures though.

Wheat berry, nuts, and sausage-stuffed baked apples

Original from OhMyVeggies
Makes 4 apples
Recipes left to try (& copy…): 22; Dinners: 4 recipes left

  • 4 Honey crisp apples, at least medium sized
  • Olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 4 oz sausage of your choice, crumbled or sliced
  • 1/3 cup wheat berries, soft or hard, cooked
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts and almonds (what can I say, it’s what we had lying around)
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • salt, to taste
  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Spray a baking dish with cooking spray or grease it with oil or butter.
  2. Core each apple and then widen the hole in the center to 1.5″ to 2″. If you think it’s big enough, make it bigger.
  3. Heat some olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until softened and turning translucent, about 5 minutes. Add in the sausage and cook until browned, about 5 minutes.
  4. Transfer the onion and sausage to a medium bowl. Stir in the wheat berries, chopped nuts, and nutmeg. Salt to taste.
  5. Stuff this mixture into the apple cavities with a spoon, packing as full as you can. Spray a piece of foil with cooking spray and cover the baking dish (with the apples in it!), spray side down. Cook covered for 20 minutes, then remove foil and continue cooking for 15-20 minutes, until apples are tender.

All the weekend work for food ready for travel

These pockets too had all the moving parts. The difference here is that the end results are worth it (it may have something to do with doing this over the weekend, rather than a weeknight). I rather like making dough and this dough was just a pleasure to work with – neither too sticky nor too dry, easy to roll out into (almost) the shape I wanted, easy to handle, and cooked great. Both Adam and I liked the combination of mashed sweet potatoes, kale, and lentils. Which is good, for the purposes of expanding our food repertoire, lentils being new to us 🙂

And who doesn’t like caramelized onions? I seriously need to try out the caramelizing onions in a slow cooker thing though. Wha. Tasty tasty onions – take forever though. Well, it feels like forever while standing up.

Adam and I have been using these as dinners on the evenings we have classes (Adam grad school, me I’m taking an intro class in ASL [American Sign Language] after work). The pockets work great being frozen and then slowly defrosting over the day in our bags. Hurrah for reusable sandwich bags for catching the defrosting ice/water.

Whole Wheat Lentil Pockets

Original from TheKitchn.com
Makes 6 pockets
Recipes left to try (& copy…): 25; Lunches: 2 recipes left

Dough

  • 1 cup warm (neither hot nor boiling) water
  • 2 tsp active dry yeast
  • 1.5 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1.5 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1.5 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp olive oil

Filling

  • 3 small to medium sized sweet potatoes (not yams. As Adam would say “They’re entirely different SPECIES!”)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground allspice
  • 1/2 cup green lentils, rinsed & picked over (also known as French green lentils and Puy lentils)
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/2 bunch of kale, ribs and tough stems removed
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  1. Combine the water and yeast (I use the measuring cup for the water); let sit until yeast dissolves.
  2. Meanwhile, combine the whole wheat and all-purpose flour, plus the salt in the bowl of a stand mixer; mix on low speed with a dough hook. Add the olive oil and dissolved yeast; mix on low until a shaggy dough forms. Pull the dough out and knead on a clean board until the dough is smooth and elastic. Lightly grease the bowl with a little olive oil, butter, or spray; return the dough to the bowl and cover with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel. Let rise until doubled in volume, about 1-2 hours.
  3. When the dough is set aside to rise, start preheating the oven to 400°F. Prick the sweet potatoes several times with a fork or other pointy object. Place on a baking sheet or wrap in aluminum foil and place directly on the oven rack. Bake until very soft to the touch, about 45 minutes to an hour. Set aside to cool.
  4. Once the sweet potatoes are in the oven, cut the onion in half. Thinly slice one half and set aside; dice the other half. Warm about 1 tbsp of olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat; sauté the diced onion and garlic until the onion is translucent. Add the cumin, cinnamon, and allspice; cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  5. Add the lentils and water to the saucepan; bring to a boil over high heat, then lower the heat and simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes. While the lentils are simmering, cut the kale into bite-sized pieces. Add the kale and salt to the lentils then cover and simmer for 5-10 minutes more – the lentils should be soft but not mushy. Taste and adjust seasonings here. Transfer the kale and lentils mixture to a bowl with a slotted spoon, leaving most of the cooking liquid in the pot.
  6. Meanwhile, heat some olive oil in a skillet over low heat. Add the sliced onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until caramelized. The thinner the slice, the sooner this will happen – thin enough and you might even hit the original recipe’s 20-25 minute estimate.
  7. Once the sweet potatoes are out of the oven, increase the heat to 450°F. Divide the dough into 6 balls and let rest, loosely covered (with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel), for 20 minutes. While the dough is resting, peel the sweet potatoes and mash in a bowl until smooth. Add a sprinkle of salt if necessary. If the potatoes are a bit underdone, cutting them into 1 inch chunks will make the mashing go faster.
  8. On a floured board, roll a ball of dough into an 8 or 9 inch circle. Spread 1/6 of the sweet potato mash (~1/4 cup) over one half of the dough, leaving a boarder around the edges – this is where the dough will seal together. Add 1/6 of the lentil mixture (~1/3 cup) over the sweet potatoes, and top with some of the caramelized onions. Fold the unused half of the dough over the filling, then pinch and fold the edges to seal the pocket shut. Transfer to a greased or parchment papered baking sheet, brush the top with olive oil, and cut 2-3 small slits in the top for steam to escape. Repeat with remaining dough and filling.
  9. Bake for 25-30 minutes (or until browned). If serving now, let cool for at least 5 minutes before hand. Otherwise, let cool on the baking sheet and then transfer the entire baking sheet to the freezer. Once completely frozen, wrap each pocket individually and store in a freezer safe container. To eat, thaw and reheat in a microwave (or oven), or eat at room temperature.

Whole Wheat Lentil Pockets

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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