Saturday, January 8, 2011

Food in Review

As much as I love the holidays (and the long weekend that come with them!), I am so glad to be back in control of our meals.  That being said, I went a little “easy” this week because getting back into the swing of making all the meals and lunches again isn’t always glitch-free.  This turned out to be an excellent strategy because Riley really had a hard time getting back to the normal schedule of no one at home and her in a crate all day.  She’s been a heathen this week!

Saturday: Yes, I follow superstition and eat “new years luck” foods.  I made a pot of Bob’s Red Mill Bountiful Black beans with corny cornbread on the side for lunch.  There’s black-eyed peas in the bean mix.  Black-eyed peas are essential on new years day.  So is cabbage.  Ours came at dinner in the form of sauerkraut served with beer brats and oven-fried okra.  Delightful!  

Sunday:  I wanted something we could feast on several times, and lasagna came to mind.  I made my own sauce out of a 15 oz. can of Muir Glen organic fire roasted crushed tomatoes, a 15 oz. can of Private Selection organic tomato sauce, a can of Private Selection organic tomato paste, sauteed onion, garlic, s&p, dried oregano, red pepper flake and several cans of water (using the tomato-y cans to get every last bit!).  It simmered for at least two-three hours until I was ready to make the lasagna.  

Right before assembly, I browned a pound of lean ground grass-fed beef (still from the stock from the last farmers market) and created the cheese mixture in my food processor.  The filling consisted of an entire 16 oz. container of part-skim ricotta, ¾ of a bag of shredded mozzarella, a handful of parm (yes, I deem that a technical measurement!), a clove of garlic, an egg, and a handful of cilantro.  Okay, I know cilantro is NOT parsley and you should use parsley in this dish.  But I like cilantro better, and it didn’t taste the least bit odd.  Also, a trick for getting the clove of garlic all chopped up nicely in a food processor is to drop a skinned clove through the shoot at the top with the processor running.  So, that was actually the first ingredient in the kitty.  

Okay, after all that, it’s time to assemble the lasagna.  (You can see why I make this on the weekend, right?  So many steps!  So much waiting!)  Start with a layer of sauce in the bottom of a rectangular casserole dish.  Lay out three lasagna noodles.  That’s right....raw straight out of the box.  I do not pre-cook my noodles.  They cook in the sauce.  Next dollop cheese all down each noodle.  I usually just drop about four little mounds per noodle.  You can try to spread it out, but it’s sort of a futile mission, especially in the higher levels. I promise, the cheese will spread out on it’s own.  Next, sprinkle the ground beef around then top, evenly but thinly, in sauce.  Repeat, starting with the three noodles until you’ve run out of ingredients or reached the capacity of your casserole’s sides.  

I try to make sure I reach both limits at the same time....meaning that last layer might have extra cheese because I’m not about to throw out any cheesy goodness.  End the process with three more noodles, sauce and the remaining ¼ of a bag of mozzarella and another handful of parm.  I also grind some Italian spices on top (one of those grinder mixes from McCormick) to be pretty, but I’m not sure it actually adds flavor.  Take a second to gauge your sauce level.  The sauce around the noodles should come up the side of the casserole at least halfway.  Remember, we’re cooking our pasta in there!  That requires moisture.  Mine was a tad lacking so I put a half cup of water around the edge of the casserole.   Cover the casserole with tin foil coated in non-stick spray (this will keep that finishing layer of cheese on the casserole and off the foil) and bake at 350 until bubbly and the noodles are done.  

It took mine an hour and a half.  Then let it sit at least 15 minutes.  Else you’ll have a huge runny mess on your hands and inedible left overs.

Serve with a salad and extra sauce....because you can.  That’s why.  This lasagna was amazing.  I haven’t made a lasagna in over a year (don’t really know why other than it’s time intensive), and I was nervous as can be that it wouldn’t turn out right.  Thankfully, it did.  And we ate it Tuesday night and Thursday night as well!

Monday: I had left over brats.  I had cabbage because when you can get a whole head of cabbage for $.21, it’s foolish not to.  Then I had some other random odds and ends in the fridge.  In true kitchen sink fashion, I decided to make an bastardized version of colcannon, which is an Irish left over dish.  Now, don’t go all Flogging Molly on me.  I am totally aware that what I made is NOT colcannon.  But that was the inspiration, nonetheless.  I cubed up two random yukon golds from the veggie drawer and allowed them to simmer in the little water until the moisture was gone and they were close to fork-tender.  Then I added and entire thinly sliced onion (from the food slices are NEVER that even).  One the onion and potato were both soft and a little caramelized, I took them out and added half a head of shredded cabbage with some olive oil.  I allowed that to get soft and lovely then added it to the onion and potato on reserve.  More olive oil went into the pan along with two sliced brats.  Once the brats were browned, I made a quick sauce of dijon mustard, a splash of apple cider vinegar and veggie stock.  Once combined, everything went back into the pan to get evenly coated.  I had no clue if this would be good, but I had a pan of lasagna in the fridge as a safety net.  Thankfully, this required no such saving.  It was delightfully different.  I love cabbage, so I might be biased.  I “mmmm”ed my way through the whole bowl.  I’d totally do it again.

Wednedsay: When I asked for inspiration for dinners for the week, the husband said pizza.  And I have the fancy new stand mixer.  So, yeah, I had to make real, yeasty pizza dough!  This is a first!  I’ve made non-yeasted pizza dough.  I’m made other things with yeast.  I’ve bought real pizza dough.  I’ve never made it.  I found a recipe that I really like the looks of on VegWeb and made it Tuesday night when we had leftover lasagna.  I don’t know about you, but I don’t have an hour and a half during my designated dinner prep time to wait for dough to rise?  If you do, I’d like to trade schedules with you, please.  The dough came together beautifully within about 15 minutes then rose on the stove (turned on just enough to make a warm spot in the house) for the full hour and a half.  

I wrapped that bad boy in saran and popped it in the fridge for the next day’s dinner.  I woke up Wednesday to find that the dough had busted out of it’s saran wrap encasement.  No big deal.  I just re-wrapped it and moved on.  Wednesday night, I grated some cheddar, sliced some onion, pulled out a container of BBQ sauce (Stubb’s Spicy is SO good), and took some help from Dickie’s BBQ in the form of pre-cooked pulled pork.  I set the oven to 375 with my Pampered Chef stoneware bar pan heating up inside while I rolled out the dough.  Once I was happy with the thickness, I pulled the hot bar pan out of the oven and assembled the pizza.  Fifteen minutes later the dough was puffy and lightly golden, the cheese gooey, and the smell in my house out of this world.  My husband was so happy with this dish.  And that makes me one happy girl.  I’ll definitely be doing this again....but doubling the batch so I can freeze a doughball for quick use!  

Friday:  Seeing Emily's fried rice made me what to make some.  I did my own thing, because it's not my first fried rice party....and I wanted to use the stuff I had in the fridge.  So, my fried rice had a small block of sprouted tofu (cooked a la Emily's tutorial), brown rice, cabbage, carrots, peas, onion, and scrambled eggs.  I seasoned it with soy, sesame oil, srirasha, and a tiny bit of ground ginger.  

As I said, Riley’s been a bit of a beast this week, but she always realizes when she’s been too bad too often.  That’s when she turns into a sweet little bundle of face licks that wants nothing more than to sit in your lap and make you feel like the only person in the world that matters.  

Have a great weekend y'all!

1 comment:

  1. Nice pizza dough!!!! And I'm totally going to make a Mexican lasagna of sorts this week.