Sunday, April 15, 2012

Pasta ala Fridge

Sometimes you don't really plan meals.  You don't have time to shop and you just have to go with what you've got.  Like last night.  We had just come home from a short trip to Colorado, it was dinner time and we were all wiped out.  I looked around the kitchen and pulled together what we had.  And it worked.  In fact, Little Dog gave it a thumbs up.  I thought I'd try to transcribe the recipe here so I could make it again since Little Dog made a point of telling me how much he loved it.

Pasta ala Fridge

1 lb rigatoni (or other pasta, I just happened to have rigatoni)
2 lbs cauliflower florets
1 Tbsp olive oil
kosher salt
1/2 c grated Parmesan
3 Tbsp butter
1/4 cup bread crumbs
4 eggs

Toss the cauliflower florets with olive oil and a healthy dose of kosher salt.  Spread them on a cookie sheet and roast them in a 400 degree oven until they are tender and golden brown on the edges.  This should take about 20 minutes. 
Meanwhile, prepare your pasta according to the package directions.  Given the boiling and cooking time, this should also take about 20 minutes total so you should have cooked pasta about the same time your cauliflower is finished cooking.  Handy that.
Drain the pasta and in the cooking pot, melt 2 Tbsp of butter and toss with the pasta.  Add the cauliflower and cheese and toss together until it is all mixed up.  In a small frying pan, melt your last tablespoon of butter and toast the breadcrumbs until golden brown.  It should only take a minute or two over medium-high heat.  Add these to your pasta and toss again.

Fry the eggs, making sure to leave the yolks runny.  (I cook them sunny-side up, but if you prefer over-easy, so be it)

Serve the pasta in a bowl and top it with one fried egg per serving. 

Next time I might add some kind of bean to the mix.  Lentils or chick peas might be nice.  A bit of garlic might also be nice, but it was also well received as it was, so I could just leave it well enough alone.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Dinner born of desperation

Sometimes I have no idea what to cook.  Sometimes I don't have what I want to cook in the house and sometimes it is a perfect storm of both.  The problem is that we recently lost our local grocery store.  It was a smaller local chain with tons of local products, the nicest employees in the world that also happened to be right on my way home.  Well a big mega-chain store has been wrangling to take over for a while and they finally won.  The local grocery is gone and the mega-store is preparing to gobble up all of the surrounding real estate and open with a giant shiny store at some point in the future.  Thing is, I won't shop there.  I liked my market and they killed it.  And I hold grudges.  But this is all neither here nor there.  Fact is that when I got ready to cook dinner the other night, I had no idea what I wanted to make.  And then it hit me, fried rice.  The idea hit me, not the rice.  That would have been messy.

Fried rice is tasty, quick and surprisingly kid friendly.  I also managed to have everything on hand to whip up a batch in no time flat.

Fried Rice Out of Thin Air

1 cup uncooked rice
2 Tbsp oil
1 medium sweet onion finely chopped
2 cups chopped or shredded veggies (I happened to have a package of Trader Joe's broccoli slaw on hand so I used that.  Incidentally, this is great for throwing into soups, sloppy Joe's, scrambled eggs or anywhere else you want to add a little veg.)
1/2 lb frozen shrimp (mine was still frozen and it worked out well, but feel free to thaw it if you prefer)
2 Tbsp Oyster Sauce
2 Tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp mirin
4 eggs
Cook the rice according to the package and set it aside.  
In a large pan, heat your oil.  Once heated, add your onion and cook until slightly soft. (I call for  a sweet onion, but a regular onion would probably work just as well.)  Once that is done, throw in your veggies and shrimp.  Stir constantly until the veggies start to soften slightly.  If you are not using your shrimp frozen, you'll probably want to cook the veg a bit before adding the shrimp or they'll get over cooked.  Once everything is all tender and cooked, add the liquid ingredients and toss them together.  Then dump in the rice and stir until it is all coated in the delicious sauce.

Cover your pan and in a frying pan with a bit of oil, fry your eggs.  Serve the rice mixture in bowls with a freshly fried egg on top (or you can scramble them and mix them in, I just think this looks a bit more like a proper meal).  If you have a kimchi lover in your house, heap some on top and if they're anything like Mr. Dog they'll probably squeal "Kimchi!" with delight when you serve them.

This makes 4 big portions or 6 smallish portions.  You can add more veggies to it if you want to add volume and cut the caloric density. 

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Keeping me guessing, aka Vegetarian Shepherd's Pie

I never know what's going to be a hit with the boys.  I think I know, then it usually flops.  Other times I make something that may or may not work and the gobble it up and demand more.  Tonight was one of those nights.  My friend Sheri over a Pork Cracklins posted this recipe for Shepherd's Pie and it planted a seed.  Later when I was looking for dinner ideas in my cookbooks, I found a recipe for a vegetarian version in the Vegetarian Family Cookbook.  I decided to put it on the menu.  I started from that recipe, but made some adjustments. These are captured below.

Modified Shepherd's Pie

6 medium sized russet potatoes
1 Tbsp butter
 1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup shredded sharp cheddar

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion (I used a sweet onion because I do love them so, but a plain onion would be fine too)
2 medium carrots (I approximated with baby carrots since I have them on hand at all times)
1/2 medium cauliflower (I used a bag of cauliflower florets from Trader Joe's because that's how I roll)
1 cup frozen corn
8 oz vegetarian ground "meat" (from Trader Joe's, where else)
2 Tbsp chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
2 tsp Vegetable Better than Bullion
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. 

Peel and cube the potatoes then boil until tender.  Once they are tender, drain and mash with butter and milk until fluffy.  Add the shredded cheese to the mashed potatoes and set aside.

In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat.  Finely chop the onion and slice the carrots and add them to the pan.  Cook until the onions start to turn golden.  Finely chop the cauliflower and add it to the pan.  Cook until it starts to become tender.  Add the frozen corn and the soy meat and the Better than Bullion (in the paste form, don't add water).  Cook until heated through.  Add the parsley and season with salt and pepper.  Add about 1/2 cup of the mashed potatoes and stir until mixed in.

Put the vegetables into the bottom a a casserole and top with the mashed potatoes.  Smooth the mashed potatoes on top into an even layer.  I like to use a fork to make a nice texture on top of the potatoes, but you don't have to do that if you don't feel like it.

Bake the casserole for about 20 minutes until it is bubbling around the edges and the potatoes have begun to turn golden brown on top (at least along the textured ridges if you took that step).

Eat and enjoy. 

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Lunchbox #7

The sushi lunch was a big hit with Big Dog.  He asked for an immediate repeat, but he did tell me to "go easy on the sushi" since apparently a 9 piece lunch is too much for him.  Right-sized, this lunch went over well the next day.

Avocado sushi rolls and baked tofu
Freeze dried strawberries
Sliced mango
Dark chocolate square

Lunchbox #5 and #6

Little Dog has been tricky to pack lunch for lately.  He shuns all sandwiches other than his beloved peanut butter and jelly.  He won't help me with ideas about what he might like to be eating, so I'm guessing.  Over the weekend the boys helped me make a roast chicken inspired by Fanny at Chez Pannise and they couldn't get enough of it.  I decided to try packing that for lunch and sure thing, it was a big hit.

Little Dog has asked for a repeat so I did a second lunch working with the same theme

Lunchbox #5
Roast chicken and jasmine rice
Snap Peas
Sliced gala apple
Yogurt tube
chocolate chips

watermelon chunks in snack container.

Lunchbox #6
Porkchop and jasmine rice
Sliced mango
Freeze dried strawberries
Dark chocolate

Lunchbox #4

The night before, I'd been out to dinner for a work function.  Mr. Dog took the boys out to dinner as well.  Big Dog wanted sushi, as usual.  Little Dog wanted to go to Bick's, mainly for the "Mousse in a Mug" dessert, but because Big Dog chose last time, it was Little Dog's turn to choose.  After feasting on smoked duck quesidillas, a hamburger and mousse in a mug, Big Dog was no longer complaining, but it did give me an idea for their lunch.  I got up early to make sushi rice and gave them a lunchbox surprise.

Avocado sushi rolls
baked tofu (from Trader Joe's)
sliced pear
white chocolate chips

Friday, September 16, 2011

Lunchbox #3

Let's just say I'm going to file this one under both "head scratchers" and "lessons learned."  See, I have two bagel-loving kids.  I thought bagels would be a slam dunk. Even when I was packing lunches up, Big Dog told me just how delicious the bagel looked.  So imagine my WTF moment when I opened the lunch boxes tonight and found each bagel only had about three bites in it.  Weird.  The multicolor cauliflower was also largely uneaten despite the boys gobbling it down at home.
I'm not really sure what happened with the bagels.  Too big for polite school eating maybe?  But I have to remember the boys both bow to peer pressure.  The cauliflower was probably a casualty of nearby "yucks" from lunch table neighbors.  Big Dog has given up favorite lunch foods based on the criticism of his peers in the past, I guess I should just expect it.

Whole wheat bagel with low fat cream cheese
Multicolored cauliflower (steamed since they don't really like raw cauliflower-or at least I don't and I project that upon the boys)
Sliced red plums
YoKids yogurt tube
dark chocolate square
Snack container: green seedless grapes