Gnocchi with Mushroom Ragu and Stuffed Chickpea Crepes

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I set out this week to make this recipe for gnocchi with mushroom ragu — the meal was actually inspired by a package of gnocchi I got a killer deal on last week, so I used store-bought instead of the homemade version in that recipe.  Homemade gnocchi always seems like an unnecessary pain.  If I’m going to waste some calories on empty potato starch, it had better be becasue it makes for an easy weeknight meal and only takes 5 minutes to cook!  I’ll save labor-intensive for if I ever decide to make my own fettucine.chickpea crepes and gnocchi with mushroom ragu

The recipe for the mushroom ragu is so dang simple I don’t really know what I can say about it.  I bought a pound of delicious mushrooms at the Portland Fruit Company, sauteed them with butter and garlic and a teaspoon of homemade rub that was a Christmas gift from one of our friends this year, then added wine and stock (didn’t have any thyme), and a few teaspoons of corn starch to thicken it up.  Then topped it off with some fresh lemon juice and cream!

A pound of mushrooms really doesn’t make a whole lot of sauce once it cooks down — just enough to liberally cover two small servings of gnocchi, which was only about half the package — the rest will get turned into something else later in the week!  Oh, but after cooking the gnocchi in boiling water and straining them, I did fry them up in some coconut oil on the stovetop so they were nice and toothy.

This would never have been enough food for Jesse “I’m a growing boy” Hanson’s dinner, so fortunately I had pulled this recipe for chickpea crepes from my Pinterest to try out for this week.  I would never think of crepes as being particularly filling, but since these are made entirely with chickpea flour, they actually packed a pretty filling punch and made for great little handheld shells in which to make mini DIY salad tacos.

The crepes are super easy.  You just mix up all the following ingredients in a bowl, and let it sit while you prep the rest of the meal:

  • 1 1/3c chickpea flour
  • 1c water (I added more so that the pancakes would be thinner)
  • 1/2 jalapeno
  • 1 inch ginger, grated
  • 1c chopped cilantro
  • 2t salt
  • 1t cayenne

After whisking those together and letting it sit, I added more water until it was the consistency I wanted — like pancake batter.  I heated up some coconut oil in our skillet and made these pancakes one ladle-ful at a time, letting them cook most of the way through on one side, then flipping them momentarily to finish them off.  Our skillet has a pretty nice patina at this point so I didn’t have to re-oil the pan more than once or twice.

By the end, I had a big plate full of these protein-y, filling, spicy, savory crepes, which were served DIY-style, each of us adding our own ratio of salad greens, leftover black beans, green onions, and dressing (choices were lemon-tahini-yogurt, or garlic-dijon-vinaigrette) as the filling and eating them taco-style with our hands.  Delish!

chickpea crepes and gnocchi with mushroom ragu


Cheesy Polenta, Black Beans, Garlic Spinach, and a Poached Egg

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This was a perfect Monday night meal, inspired by this post on the Kitchn.  I love how, despite the four multiple components to this meal (which totally goes against my propensity for one-pot dinners!), everything cooks in the right order and gives you time to prep the next thing while you leave the current one to boil/simmer/saute, and it really does come together perfectly at the end.

The real shining star that made this meal so healthy and delish was the black beans, which I subbed in for the chicken sausage.  I had a long meeting on Monday morning and came home afterwards to finish up my work for the day at home, which meant I was home early enough to get this started — a luxury that most probably don’t have, but that’s the small biz owner tradeoff for late nights, early mornings, and unbridled stress.

Jesse had dutifully cleaned up after a little Super Bowl party that he threw here the day before, so our Dutch oven was sparkling clean and in perfect shape for the job.  I started by sauteeing an entire chopped onion in some leftover bacon fat in the bottom of the Dutch oven, along with 4 cloves of smashed garlic.  After a few minutes I added 2 cups of dried black beans, covered with water, and brought that all to a boil with a bay leaf, a teaspoon of salt, 1/4 teaspoon of chili powder, and some chopped up leftover charred poblano peppers that I had in the fridge from last week when I made us cheesy shrimp-stuffed peppers for dinner.  After bringing this all to a boil, I then turned everything off and let it all sit on the stove for the rest of the afternoon, not touching it again until later that night when I came home from a long run, when I brought it back to a boil and then let it simmer for about 40 minutes, with the lid slightly ajar.  (The sitting all afternoon effectively was me soaking the beans, just in a more complicated water.)

Cheesy Polenta Bowl

While the beans were simmering, I started the polenta, bringing 3 cups of water and 1 cup of milk to a boil together in a pot on the stove.  Once it started boiling, I whisked in 1 cup of polenta and 1 teaspoon of salt, covered, and simmered — whisking every few minutes to prevent clumping.  Once it had thickened, I added a big handful of shredded cheddar to the pot and stirred it in until it had incorporated.  I usually save polenta for nights like these, when Jesse does his own thing for dinner and I can experiment with foods I don’t think he’ll particularly like.  But after making polenta like this, I kind of feel like I need to force him to give it another go.  When you make polenta with this much cheese and milk, I kind of feel like anyone who loves macaroni and cheese, has to love this, too.

Cheesy Polenta Bowl

While that polenta was in its last stages of thickening, I got started on the spinach — but we also had a yam that’s been sitting around for awhile, so I chopped half of that up into little cubes and pan fried them first.  Once the yam was pretty well cooked, I added a chopped shallot, 3 cloves of pressed garlic, and a giant bunch of fresh spinach, chopped, to the skillet.  Once the spinach was perfectly wilted, I removed it from the heat.

Cheesy Polenta Bowl

Right about when I threw in the spinach, shallot and garlic, I also brought a small little saucepan of water toa boil on the adjacent burner with a spoonful of vinegar, to poach this egg.  Once the water was at a low simmering boil, I cracked the egg into the water, careful not to break the yolk, and set my timer for 4 minutes.  I think 4.5 minutes is perfect for a poached egg, so once I hear the timer go off, this gives me just enough time to find a spoon to fish it out with, assemble my bowl with all the components (polenta, beans, and spinach), and head back to the stove to place the egg on top as the crowning jewel.

Cheesy Polenta Bowl

I’m into it.


Corn Pasta with Broccoli Pesto, Button Mushrooms, and Lemon Chicken

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Here’s a super easy weeknight meal, inspired by this dish from Smitten Kitchen!

I’ve spent the past year dabbling in the gluten free world, which lately has sort of gone by the wayside because I decided to run a half marathon in May (yes, really!), and now that I’m running 4+ times a week, my body doesn’t seem to care whether I eat bread, pasta, or even pizza.  It’s pretty awesome, and honestly, worth all the miles I’m putting on my shoes.  I made a breakfast sandwich the other day…on an English muffin!  After 13 months of corn tortillas and chickpea-flour pancakes, that was pretty revolutionary.  Not to say I don’t still love brown rice (and let’s face it, I’d eat a corn tortilla quesadilla for lunch every single day if I weren’t such a stickler for variety), so a ton of meals I cook still happen to be gluten-free, but I can be a little less strict about it these days and still feel healthy and clear-headed.

Which is all meant to say, we still have a lot of corn and brown rice pasta in our pantry.  Which is why this meal happened.

Corn pasta with broccoli pesto

I started by quartering some mushrooms and sauteeing them in my skillet.  We made slow cooker collard greens for a dinner party last weekend that used an entire pound of bacon — that fat of which I saved and have been cooking pretty much everything in this week, including these mushrooms.

Corn pasta with broccoli pesto

I chopped up some frozen chicken tenders for protein, but wanted a little extra texture to go in there so after defrosting them, I coated them in a simple batter of flour and dried herbs.  Then I fried them up next in the skillet, and set both them and the mushrooms aside on a plate.

Corn pasta with broccoli pesto

Meanwhile, I had been steaming an entire bunch of broccoli in my fancy bamboo steamer (using the pot of pasta-water-to-be as the steaming liquid), which I now removed from the heat (and added the corn pasta to the water to begin cooking it.  Corn pasta — at least this brand — takes about twice as long as regular pasta to cook, so get started on it before you think you’ll need to.

Corn pasta with broccoli pesto

While all that sauteeing had been going on, I’d chopped up a couple shallots and a few cloves of garlic, which I sauteed in the empty-again skillet for a few minutes before adding the steamed broccoli, some red pepper flakes and salt, and a bit of half and half.  This made a nice mushy mess, but looks aren’t important here, because it’s all about to go into the Cuisinart anyway.

Corn pasta with broccoli pesto

Here’s where the true improvising begins.  After a few pulses in the Cuisinart, it looked like super thick cream of broccoli soup, but then I started adding odds and ends from the fridge to make it creamier — some random soft cheese wedges that were left over from said dinner party, a little more cream, spices and salt to taste, and then to thin it out and turn it into more of a sauce, I took a dips into the pasta water with a measuring cup (though I can’t tell you at all how much!).  Regular water probably would have worked fine here, but pasta cooking water gets nice and starchy, especially from corn pasta, so this helped to give the sauce some body.

Corn pasta with broccoli pesto

Once I was satisfied with the taste and consistency, I drained the pasta, mixed in the sauce, and then topped it with the mushrooms and chicken.

Easy and healthy (minus the bacon fat) one-dish meal!


Sausage Sweet Potato Hash, Asian Style Green Beans, & Brown Rice

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sausage sweet potato hash

Well hello there!  Yes, it’s been awhile, I know.  I sort of slipped into a funk there about what this blog is about, and I’ll tell you why: Living by myself, keeping up with what I was buying, cooking, and eating was super simple.  I did all my own grocery shopping, cooked nearly every meal for myself, and always knew what was in my cupboards, freezer, and fridge.  And, sticking to my $6 a day budget really was a challenge.  There were some months there where I had $6 left in the last week of the month and had to invest it in greens, making brown-rice-black-bean-collard bowls for the rest of the month.  (Which, honestly, is not a bad way to go.  It’s actually one of my favorite weeknight meals!  Especially if you have some good hot sauce on hand.)

But, moving in with Jesse has been a whole different ballgame.  I still do almost all of the grocery shopping, kitchen organizing, and cooking, which I certainly can’t complain about.  If that’s the way our division of labor shakes out and I get to sit back and knit while he fixes an emergency leak in the upstairs shower, or cleans the gutters on Saturday morning, I’m a lucky girl.  But, it does complicate things for the purpose of this blog.  For instance:

  • Jesse is a fantabulous cook, but he goes about it waaaaay differently than I do.  He simply wakes up in the morning, decides he wants to eat beef stroganoff for dinner, and then goes to Fred Meyer on his way home and buys every single ingredient, including most of the spices and pantry items we already have.  I’m grateful to have a delicious meal waiting for me when I come home from work, so this is not the battle I pick, but while that’s still part of our shared grocery expenses, it’s certainly not the way I roll!
  • I can scrupulously save receipts from every purchase and catalog them at the end of the week, but asking that of Jesse is a losing battle, so my weekly tally of grocery spending never felt totally accurate, and that bugged me so much!
  • Jesse eats at home way less than I do.  Whether it’s picking up a sandwich from Subway for his work lunch, or Mexican takeout after a late night of bowling, or just the fact that he doesn’t eat breakfast OR leftovers, the fact of the matter is, our household consumption is pretty skewed.  I eat 3 different meals at home (or bring them with me wherever I’m going) most days out of the week, and while they’re inexpensive and made using simple ingredients, the fact of the matter is I’m consuming about 70 percent of our groceries these days, which makes it really hard to really figure out the math of whether we’re truly supporting two grown adults (one of whom can put down three burritos in one sitting…and it’s not me!) on six dollars a day.

So, while I certainly haven’t stopped cooking, shopping frugally, or getting creative with my leftovers, I did stop blogging about it for about eight months!  But, recent requests from certain friends and customers have convinced me to get back into it, realizing that maybe this blog will just have to revamp its purpose.

So, I probably won’t be taking snapshots of all my receipts, keeping a running total, or showing you the breakdown of what each ingredient costs.  But, I will keep taking pictures of meals that I’m proud of, and telling you how I made them!  And you’ll just have to trust that I’m still scouting out the best deals at the grocery store, buying for the future, and getting creative with what’s already taking up space in our freezer/pantry/fridge/cupboards.

This one was a wonderfully collaborative meal, totally by surprise, and was actually precipitated by an argument about Point #3 above.  Every once in awhile, when it comes time to reconcile the monthly bills (which includes all the groceries we put on our shared credit card), Jesse gets all grumpy-pants about it, huffing that he pays for half the groceries, even though he barely eats any of them.  Which, I believe, is really not my problem.  Whether or not you choose to partake, you have a healthy, home-cooked meal waiting for you every night, plenty of leftovers for us both to take to work, and I even make most of our dinners with you in mind (i.e. usually featuring meat and/or cheese, Wisco-style!)

Being able to to share fridge space, grocery costs, cooking, and mealtimes is supremely important to me — and a requirement for me even with a regular old roommate, let alone a life partner.  Even in college, I entered every roommate situation making it clear that I did not want to have the kind of fridge where we each have our own shelf, shop independently, and label our own milk with our names in Sharpie.  Being able to share in each other’s nourishment is one of the most loving things we can do together, and I have been adamant since day one that if we are going to split the mortgage, water bills, and 50-lb. bags of food for our pup, then we should be splitting groceries too, because they are (and should be) part of our life together.

For me, part of sharing groceries also welcomes open conversations about what we’re eating, what we’re spending, what we want to cook together — whether it’s a savory midweek crockpot meal or a gigantic smoked brisket for a party.  It means that if our grocery bill is too high one month, let’s talk about it and figure out why and decide ways together to pare it down.  It means that even though you may not ever eat any of the cottage cheese that I make my morning Israeli salads with, you also get that entire package of Oreos to yourself, or if you want to eat a frozen pizza for dinner one night, go for it!  I’ll split that with you too even if I’m not having any.

I came home from work that day armed with all these arguments in mind, ready to make my case, only to find Jesse had already worked all this out in his own head over the course of the day, and was agreeing with all my points before they even finished coming out of my mouth — the best kind of frustrating.

And, on that note, I dug some random veggies out of the drawer that I thought would complement each other — zucchini, onion, and sweet potato — and a package of chicken sausage out of the freezer where I like to keep random protein on hand just for occasions like this, pointed to the pile and said, “Okay, why don’t you make a hash out of that.”

This is one thing I love about cooking with Jesse: he is refreshingly compliant and capable.  Sometimes I’ll have a vision for dinner, and instead of trying to handle all the components I’ll pull up a recipe for one of my ideas, set up his tablet on the kitchen counter, and tell him to “make that.”  He’s really good at following directions.  The other side of this is that I can trust him to chop up whatever I put before him, add it to a skillet, and season it well by improvisation.  I honestly can’t even tell you what he put in this hash, but I do know he cooked the diced sweet potatoes first since he knew they’d take the longest, then added the onion and sausage, and cooked the sliced zucchini separately so it wouldn’t get too mushy.  Swoon.

In the meantime, I trimmed the ends off of a big bag of green beans I bought last week, heated up some peanut oil in the smaller skillet over medium heat, and tossed them in.  After they’d sauteed for about two minutes, I added some store-bought stir fry sauce — nothing fancy, just some Vietnamese-style bottle of something-or-other that’s been in our fridge for awhile.  While I probably could have whipped up a homemade version of this blend, I get antsy when there isn’t regular condiment turnover, and I’m sure I bought this at Grocery Outlet some time back because it was on crazy-super-sale, so I went for it.  This added some liquid to the skillet as well, which sped along the cooking process by adding the element of steam.  I ground up some peanuts (yes!  I have  nut grinder!  It’s one of my favorite appliances, probably because I love cooking Asian food and about 60% of my meals involve chopped peanuts), and added them to the pan, causing them to get nice and toasty and also caramelize in the sauce.

I almost always have a batch of cooked brown rice already on hand in the fridge, so we just nuked some of that, spooned Jesse’s hash over top, and ate the green beans on the side.


Sushi!

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So, a few months back, I was at my favorite Asian superstore, Fubonn, and decided to purchase a gigantic bag of sticky rice.  I’m not really sure why, I just sort of wanted to experiment with it.

Turns out, it really fails in most contexts, except for mango sticky rice (dessert AND breakfast!), and sushi.

Now, I’m not going to get terribly fancy with my sushi.  If I want some edible-grade raw fish and fancy garnishes and tempura involved, I’ll happily trek over to our favorite restaurant and lay down $15 for a wonderfully satisfying meal.

This is more about utility and function.  I’m on the gluten-free train these days, and have been pretty content lately making myself lunches comprised of corn tortillas and yummy cheeses, which I heat up at work, some deli turkey, and greens or a lightly dressed salad to tuck inside.  That to me is a perfect lunch taco.

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Easy Asian slaw for the week

But, I do get bored eating the same thing every day, so this seemed like a good way to switch it up.  We always have nori on hand — I buy it in massive bulk at Fubonn and honestly can just rip pieces of the sheet off and eat them I love it so much, particularly during certain times of the month when my body is craving iron.  It just seems like the right thing to do.

So I consulted the Internet about what sticky rice is actually supposed to be used for — rather than failed side projects to my various stir-frys — and realized that it’s super easy to make sushi rice.  Cooked on the stovetop just like any other regular white rice, you just add some rice vinegar, salt, and sugar, and call it a day.  Well actually, the methods I spotted involved cooking the dressing separately, stirring it in after the rice was cooked, blah blah blah.  But I am a lazy cook, and my way worked just fine.

And the filling?  I wanted this to be a fridge excavation project, so the only ingredient I bought to sushify things up was some imitation crab meat from Safeway, and other than that just filled the rolls with sliced up cucumber and avocado that we already had on hand.

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And voila!  I did have a little dish of soy for dipping, but honestly, as untraditional as it sound, Fire on the Mountain‘s spicy peanut sauce really does the trick, too.

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This Week’s Groceries

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Roasted a chicken so I’d have some easy shredded meat on hand in the freezer, (and stock!), and a handful of sushi ingredients

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Brunch party at our house!


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Curried Cauliflower Soup

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This was totally on a whim, and in celebration of the fact that I got my Dutch oven back this week — totally forgotten about, having lent it to a friend last month.  I was in the mood for something light, something that could make use of the veggies in our fridge, and something that would last for the rest of the week.

Oh, and something that would let me finally break open that immersion blender we bought back in December!

These kind of soups really couldn’t be simpler: start by sauteeing some onions and garlic in the bottom of whatever soup pot you’re going to use, add veggies and spices, sautee some more, add broth and cover, simmering until all the veggies are fully cooked.  Blend, garnish, and serve!

In this case, the veggies were cauliflower (of course), celery, a couple of sweet potatoes, and a jalapeno pepper.

The spices were cumin, turmeric, curry powder, coriander, and half a can of coconut milk, garnished with fresh cilantro.

I was impressed by Jesse’s relenting on the idea of cooking up some chicken breasts on the side, saving those for another night, and letting this be a totally meat-free meal, quelling the craving for something hearty and savory by adding a little quesedilla on the side — a fried corn tortilla with a little pile of olive tapenade, broccoli slaw, fresh mozarella, pesto, and a drizzle of sriracha.  Of course, he ate half a package of peanut butter cookies later that night, but still.


This Week’s Groceries

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Oops!  I’m realizing some non-grocery items snuck in here — kitchen towels and a laundry basket and whatnot.  Oh but that phyllo dough you see?  I used it to make a delicious spanikopita that I served last Saturday when we had two of our good friends over for dinner, alongside some home-smoked salmon.  These were just the leftovers!:

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That almond milk I’ve been enjoying over my gluten-free Mesa Sunrise in the mornings!


Pickled Vegetables

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I had the girls over on Monday night for dinner and drinks — Jesse has his bowling league until late on Monday nights, so it was the perfect time to have a little ladies’ night soiree, cook up some dahl and a Thai tofu cabbage salad.  Without even trying, everyone else brought the perfect mix of food to accompany — an edamame tofu salad, veggie enchiladas, Rice Krispie treat fondue, and of course, wine.

Which also meant that I have had leftovers to enjoy all week!  But, I have been wanting to get back on track lately with my non-meal food projects, like fermenting, pre-making sauces and dressings to have on hand in the fridge for the nights when we don’t have as much time.  So I came home from work (still daylight out!), walked down to Grocery Outlet and got a load of some basics we were in need of, came home, cleaned the kitchen, and pickled some veggies.

Luckily, I had this guy to help me.

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This was a super simple recipe that I’m just trying out to get the proportions down, but it started with a quick mixture in my big fermenting jar of: half a cup of rice vinegar;

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a quarter cup of sugar, a teaspoon of salt, and some sliced jalapenos and ginger.

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I scored this whole box of peppers at Grocery Outlet last night for two bucks!

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Then, I sliced up some carrots and red onion…

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And some cucumbers, radishes, and green cabbage, tossed them all into the jar, shook it up, and capped it off with my super fancy fermenting lid, which keeps the air out so my concoctions won’t get moldy as they’re fermenting.

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I love having stuff like this in the fridge to add as a condiment or side dish to my meals when I feel like they’re not quite veggie-laden enough, or when I’m feeling too lazy to make a salad!

 


This Week’s Groceries

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Smoked Brisket Pot Pie and Horseradish Lemon Cream Brussels Sprouts

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This past month has been insane, and I am so lucky to have such an awesome partner to help out with cooking at home.  It’s been the kind of month where I haven’t had an actual day off in over 3 weeks…not that my days off ever ever really “days off,” but I usually have my Mondays and Tuesdays for running errands, sleeping in at least a little, doing work from home in my pajamas, and getting house stuff done like laundry, cleaning, organizing, and working on my own personal projects like reorganizing my podcasts and iTunes, rather than being at the store.

But, I recently hired a second employee, and officially opened up the shop 7 days a week!  Which, because of my penchant for delayed gratification, I know will eventually lead to more time and freedom for me, as our training progresses and I can slowly hand off to her the parts of my job that take way more time than they should, leaving my own projects as the ones that I can focus on, uninterrupted, from my home office (which is a way sweeter deal now that I live in a home that I absolutely love spending time in, with free delicious tea, coffee, and food whenever I want it!), and whittling my in-store time down to one or two days a week for the to-dos that require me to be in front of my work computer, Z-reports in hand, or actual cones in front of me to catalog.

Anyway, this is a long way of saying that in addition to the temporary time stresses of training a new employee on my days off, family drama, acquiring a new dog, overhauling Yarnia’s class system and hiring new instructors to teach instead of myself (also–will result in much more free time eventually…but way less for now!), I am damn lucky to have a handsome chef in the kitchen to have dinner waiting for me when I get home from work.

Oven roasted Tandoori chicken, saffron rice, steamed veggies with lemon-butter-dill-coriander sauce

Oven roasted Tandoori chicken, saffron rice, steamed veggies with lemon-butter-dill-coriander sauce

That was last week — and he made enough Tandoori drumsticks so that we’d have leftovers for him to make butter chicken with later on in the week!  And he says he doesn’t like to plan ahead.  Ha!  When it comes to savory meats, that is a big fat lie.

marinading drummies

marinading drummies

This week?  Well, we had a smashing, semi-impromptu St. Paddy’s Day barbecue at our place on Sunday afternoon, the result of which was a handsome hunk o’ smoked brisket.  I managed to save a yogurt’s container worth of leftovers before it was annihilated, so that later this week we could make our favorite leftover pot pie that I overheard Jesse suggesting to himself around hour 3 of smoking.

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He took care of pot pie filling, as has become our routine, while I whipped up a quick dough in the Cuisinart (just butter, flour, salt, cold water…and rosemary!), and some Brussels sprouts for the side.

He’s made this filling enough at this point that he can pull it off gracefully, from memory.  Some chopped onion, carrot, and celery, sauteed.

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Chop up all the leftover meat, whether it be smoked turkey, brisket, what have you.

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Add that to the pan, sautee it up, and sprinkle some flour in and mix it around to thicken up the gravy-like sauce that’s about to happen.  Add a little broth (we used beef broth for this one), salt, pepper, and frozen peas…

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And then he lets me know it’s time to roll out the dough that’s been chillin’ in the fridge.

Into the pie pan it goes, sealed with a lid of rosemary pie crust.

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And out it comes, 50 minutes later.

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Now, look at those gorgeous Brussels!

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I kept it simple — I wanted to whip these up in the 10 minutes that it took the pie to cool.  Into the skillet: olive oil and butter.

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Here’s all the seasoning I used: horseradish, fresh lemon juice, cayenne pepper, and “GOG” — a term Jesse picked up from his favorite Roku cooking show, for ginger/onion/garlic, a huge batch of it he whipped up in the food processor and that we keep in the fridge to start just about every meal we cook in the skillet.

I got a few spoonfuls of GOG sizzling in the skillet, then placed the sprouts all face-down in a single layer, and didn’t touch them, until they had browned.

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I sprinkled a chopped shallot over top, and then stirred in some horseradish, cayenne, and lemon juice, along with about a half cup of stock from the freezer (I think this was our smoked turkey stock from when we had our last big smoker feast!).  When the broth had just about absorbed, I added a few splashes of cream, salt, and pepper.

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Teamwork, baby.

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This Week’s Groceries

(really this month’s groceries — I’ve got some catching up to do!)

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Those circled items are shampoo and conditioner — not part of the grocery total!

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Crab Louie and “Crash” Potatoes

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Well hello there!  I know it’s been awhile.  I like to think that I can juggle 3 different businesses, a social life, family drama, gigantic yarn-related events, cooking delicious and healthy meals for myself and loved ones, and taking pictures along the way, but…apparently one of those has to fall off the radar every once in awhile.  Sorry ’bout that.  The good news though is that I just had a record breaking weekend at Yarnia, thanks to the Rose City Yarn Crawl (and I was on TV!!), and then Jesse and I got to go soak in some hot springs for 36 hours — one of our favorite annual traditions and getaways, a much needed treat for both of us since I was drop-dead exhausted, and Jesse hurt his shoulder over the weekend and was in need of some anti-gravity heat therapy!  Our timing couldn’t have been better. Back on the home front, Jesse and I have been poring over cookbooks for weeks while we eat take-out pho and super simple meals that can be thrown together by a guy with only one functioning arm, and a lady working 14-hour days…fantasizing about a time when we’ll actually be able to spend an evening trying out a new delicious recipe or crafting a new meal.  I think that week is upon us!  On my way home from work last night I picked up the ingredients for some pretty incredible looking cabbage rolls that we spotted on a mysterious new channel that just popped up on our Roku recently, featuring a stout Polish woman cooking a Christmas meal for 50 that, for some reason, enticed us to action. But we’re making those tonight after work, so you’ll hear about those later.  In the meantime, I got to whip up a quick and easy meal for myself last night while Jesse was out trying his left hand at bowling (apparently he’s more ambidextrous than he thought!).  I was at a business class until 7:00 and still had a conference call and a newsletter to finish, waiting for me at home, so a super simple meal was just what I needed. IMG_0242 First, a refreshing, protein-alicious Crab Louie salad with iceberg lettuce, cucumber, radish, a little red pepper, and some fake crab that the Woodstock Safeway always has a great deal on in their seafood section. IMG_0243 Not even feigning homemade here, I bought some lite blue cheese dressing, the one that had the fanciest jar. I was craving something starchy and fried, like grocery store JoJos or something, but then this recipe for “hot crash potatoes” popped into my head after reading it earlier last week, and I grabbed a bag of waxy yellow potatoes at the last minute.

IMG_0241 I got these boiling while I chopped the salad ingredients, and once they were soft enough to mash, sliced them in half, set them on a baking sheet, and “crashed” them with a fork. IMG_0244 I probably could have cooked them for a few minutes longer, so they would really be the consistency of ready-to-mash potatoes, and I would have ended up with less craggy, crumbly piles.  But hey — we’re talking about potatoes, oil, and salt cooked at high temperatures…you really can’t go wrong. IMG_0245 Atop these potato piles, I basted some olive oil, salt, paprika, and pepper — that’s all it takes to make a good potato — and stuck them in the oven at 400 degrees until they were brown and crispy.  The skins totally submit and fall off without provocation, crisping up to perfection. IMG_0247


Root Vegetable Borscht

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February has been all about the stews and soups.  I’ve gotten into a nice weekly routine of prepping some sort of crock pot meal on a Monday or Tuesday night, while I cook that night’s dinner, sticking it in the fridge, and then getting it started the next morning when I get up for work.

This borscht is actually a stovetop recipe, but simmered nicely in the background in the same way while I prepped about 4 different meals’ worth of food.  It’s from the same blog where I discovered last week’s tea eggs, and now that I’m glancing back at the recipe I’m astonished that I didn’t notice that it shared a post with her beef stroganoff, since that’s what Jesse got out of bed talking about on Sunday morning, and dutiful for his craving, made for dinner on Sunday night out of the Betty Crocker cookbook.

In any case, I like Mimi’s instruction to chop up all the vegetables ahead of time.  This is usually how I roll anyway, as it’s so satisfying to have the tedious work done and to be able to just dump, sweep, and add during the fun part of cooking time while cleaning up the detritus trail as I go.

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This is:

  • 1 onion
  • 1 shallot
  • 2 carrots
  • 1 rib celery
  • 1 rutabega
  • 1/2 small cabbage
  • 2 cloves garlic

All chopped up.  You start with your big soup pot, melt some butter in the bottom, and cook and onion and shallot first.  After a few minutes, add all the chopped veggies, plus a bay leaf, garlic, and 1 teaspoon crushed allspice.

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Once the veggies have cooked down a bit, add 1.5 cups of stock (I used beef stock), and simmer until all vegetables are soft.  I ate mine with a little bit of Greek yogurt as a garnish!

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