Pasta Shells with Zucchini and Gouda Cream Sauce

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This was a clean-out-the-fridge kind of week.  I had a super-power-work-day on Tuesday, totally reveling in the fact that I can stay at home during my day off to catch up on computer work for UCU and Yarnia, rather than going to a cafe where I have to pay for coffee, bring my laptop into the bathroom with me, and fight over outlets.  This used to be a Tuesday necessity for me, because I hated staying at home in my basement on a beautiful day, staring at a wall, even if it felt as great as it did to be productive and feel on top of my work for the coming week.

But this week?  I got to go to my step aerobics class (yes, that’s right, I said it.  And it’s awesome), come home and shower, and walk up and down my staircase more than necessary just because I’m so excited it’s there, while I organize my kitchen, do my laundry, and then have a marathon work sesh out in my backyard, at a makeshift card table we’ve set up under the porch, in my bare feet, drinking homemade iced coffee (mine is so much better than Crema’s, anyway!), and crank out 6 serious hours of computer time.

Not exactly what most people would call a day off, but in my world, I’ll take what I can get.  Plus, I took last Saturday/Sunday off to go up to Seattle for a friend’s wedding, and had a fantastic 3-phase evening that included me and Jesse attending a swanky reception at an art center downtown, crashing a college electronica basement party near my old high school, and ended with us wandering around my childhood backyard park at 7:00 in the morning…so I don’t feel too sorry for myself.

view from the makeshift office

I had bought some summer veggies the day before, in anticipation of an impromptu Labor Day barbecue we had sent out a mass text about, but that ended up being pretty low-key, so I had plenty of zucchini left over.  And tons of milk products in my fridge that were on the verge of going bad, including a half-gallon of whole milk that Jesse had brought over that would sadly go to waste if used in any form other than a delicious cream sauce.  So that decided that.

First, zucchini and onions.  You guys get sauteed together.

Then, a roux.  That’s just a fancy way of saying butter and flour melted together.

This turns into a paste, so you can incorporate it into the milk to thicken it nicely without any clumps!

See?  Look how nice and thick that is.

Once I start (slowly) adding the milk, stirring as it thickens, I also add 3 cloves of garlic (just got a new garlic press!  Yesssss!), and some bouquet garni-type herbs.  And salt and pepper.  And ground coriander.

Oh, and back to all the dairy that was about to go bad…I had a stockpile of cheese from various soirees we’ve had over the past month or so — some soft, some hard, namely gouda — that were also salvaged and melted into this delicious creaminess.  God it feels good to clean out the fridge.  Subtle psychological burden, lifted!

Those veggies I sauteed earlier now get mixed in…

And this box of shells (with a few rogue pennes, apparently), freshly cooked, gets stirred in to it all at the end.

I even had some leftover spinach-strawberry-hazelnut-blue-cheese salad left over from Monday night’s BBQ that made a perfect complement to this super rich-and-heavy gut bomb of a dinner.  Oh, and at the last minute I tore up some collard leaves that our friend (newly employed at New Seasons and with bounties of reject produce to spare!) had brought over on Monday night, and stirred those in for a nice healthy crunch.  And as you can see, I felt compelled to add some Bacos as garnish.  Is living next to Grocery Outlet turning me trashy?

This Week’s Groceries

New Seasons 8/30 (but counting it as part of September)

  • Half gallon milk: $2.50
  • Broccoli: $2.51
  • Garlic: $1.08
  • Red cabbage: $3.52
  • Fuji apples: $1.41
  • Bok choy: $0.46

TOTAL: $11.48



Fred Meyer 9/3

  • Watermelon: $5.98
  • Turkey breakfast sausages: $1.67
  • Frozen seafood mix: $3.99 — I see some hot and sour soup in my future…
  • Salmon burgers: $3.00
  • Honey: $5.47
  • Bulk granola: $1.23 — Someday I’ll actually make my own…
  • Coriander seeds: $0.72
  • Sliced almonds: $1.91 — So stoked that the Johnson Creek Fred Meyer has a bulk section!
  • Navy beans: $2.38
  • Eggplant: $1.49
  • Baby spinach: $3.98
  • Strawberries: $2.00
  • Adam’s peanut butter (x2): $6.00 — on sale for $3/jar!!  In case you hadn’t noticed, I make a lot of peanut sauce.
  • Cottage cheese: $2.29
  • Dozen eggs: $2.99
  • Zucchini: $0.82
  • Fresh mint: $1.99 — Someday I’ll grow this in my backyard, but for now, I have to buy it in itty bitty packages 🙁
  • Case of Diet Coke: $4.60 — For those rough days at work.  You know the ones.

TOTAL: $52.41



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