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.

 

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.

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.

In which the difference between Adam & my palette is made apparent

This is one of those dishes that will not be sticking around, not because it’s not good – in fact Adam says he rather likes this one, but because it doesn’t work for both of us. Turns out there isn’t enough textural differences within this bake for me to think I’m actually eating something. Also needed the hot sauce that was a) said to be optional (no… not really) and b) I forgot to add before baking. Adam definitely liked these ramkin sized bakes more after topping off with Sriracha. Probably would have also helped to trust the cooking length directions. What can I say, the egg didn’t looked cooked through until twice as long as called for. At which point, there were some hard-boiled like eggs on top.

Part of what made me feel this one took a while were the chickpeas. The original recipe calls for basically a can of (already prepared) chickpeas. But since Adam makes hummus, we don’t buy canned chickpeas. Yeah, he insists on buying dried chickpeas and soaking them the night before making hummus. All the hummus. mmmm, hummus. Any rate, there’s been another recipe calling for chickpeas so I’d prepared a batch for that recipe. … I don’t really work with chickpeas much and misjudged how much dried chickpeas I’d need. And thus ended up with 8 cups of cooked chickpeas. Yes, this is even more than Adam would use in one hummus making go. So! mentally I was adding in that time to the prep-time for this recipe. Or at least a portion of it. And that was not a terribly pleasant experience so I may have remembered more time than it actually took. ::shrug::  Any rate, be smart and use canned chickpeas if you make this one.

The other part of why this felt long was the first portion on the stove, followed by baking. It’s a thing from learning originally on stir-fry, I think. Mentally my brain goes ‘if I’m sautéing stuff on the stove, why aren’t I dumping everything else in (eventually) and finishing on the stove?’ Not a mental thing with baking… makes perfect sense to me to mix everything together and then put it in the oven. Must be categorizing the mixing parts as ‘prep work’…

End result, would I recommend this one to y’all? Only with certain caveats:
1) if you cannot smell (for any reason – a cold or allergies will do it), move along, this is not the recipe you are looking for
2) if you don’t like hot sauce, again not the recipe for you. the extra kick is needed to make the rest interesting (to us any rate)

Sausage, Chickpeas, Kale and Egg bake – Single Servings

Original from TheKitchn.com
Makes 8 seven ounce ramkin size servings
Recipes left to try (& copy…): 23; Dinners: 4 recipes left

  • 1 onion (variety to your taste), medium chop
  • 2 tbsp olive or other neutral oil
  • salt
  • 1/2 lb sausage (chicken was our choice), sliced
  • 1 bunch of kale (variety to your choice), stripped of the stalk and cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 3 cups -OR- 2 cans cooked chickpeas
  • Hot sauce (variety to your choice)
  • 8 eggs
  • 8 seven ounce ramkins
  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F.
  2. In a medium frying pan, sauté the onion with a pinch of salt in the oil. Cook until the onion softens and begins to turn translucent. Add the sausage, break up into crumbles, and continue cooking until the sausage browns.
  3. Add the kale to the frying pan. If the kale is a bit wet from washing, continue on; if not, add a splash of water to the pan to steam the kale. Cook until kale is wilted. Add the chickpeas and stir gently to distribute but not mash them.Taste for salt.
  4. Distribute the mixture between the ramkins and top with some hot sauce. Make a well in the mixture, crack an egg into a small bowl, then slide the egg into the well. Sprinkle with salt, preferably finishing salt and set on a baking sheet (for ease of getting all the ramkins in and out of the oven). Repeat with remaining ramkins. Slide sheet into the oven and bake for 7 minutes, or until the whites are set but the yolk still looks runny. Enjoy.

Note: you can use a toaster oven instead of a full-sized oven if you like.

The first ‘recipe’ I might actually memorize

And by recipe, I really mean that they’re more like … guidelines than actual rules.

This is what makes me think I can actually eventually learn to bake by ratio and weight, rather than volume measurements. Not that baking has anything to do with this dinner. It just that baking is the other place in cooking where a skeleton structure of a recipe makes sense to me.

Also a one pot + strainer recipe, who doesn’t love fewer dishes to clean? Plus, can be seasonal (and thus cheaper) by only using the ‘greens’ in season – makes me happy. Can be kosher and/or vegetarian (depending on the sausage you get). Not gluten-free though. Unless there’s a gluten-free pasta out there that tastes okay? I know not. But yeah, this one should be very versatile.

Definitely going into the binder.

Pasta with Sausage and Greens

Original from TheKitchn.com (yes, most of my recipes come through there – what can I say, it’s my cooking portal)
Serves 4-6
Recipes left to try (& copy…): 27; Dinners: 7 recipes left

  • 1 lb your favorite variety of pasta
  • olive oil
  • 1/4 lb of your favorite variety of sausage, crumbled
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced OR garlic cloves to taste 🙂
  • As many handfuls of seasonal greens as you want/fit in your pot
    • I have used mustard greens in this recipe
    • Also suggest spinach, baby spinach, arugula, kale
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
  1. Cook the pasta according to package directions; drain and leave in the colander.
  2. Heat some olive oil in the pasta pot. Add the sausage and garlic; cook over medium heat until sausage is cooked through.
  3. Add the greens on top of the sausage and cook until they begin to wilt. Add the drained pasta and Parmesan cheese to the pot and stir until everything is combined and the cheese is gooey, about 2 minutes.
  4. Serve with extra Parmesan, to taste.

That’s it! So simple.