Monthly Archives: March 2020

Meatless Lent: Week 4

Before all this, how many times did I yearn for more time at home with my family? How often did I fail to do something around the house because “I don’t have the time?”

I finally got what I asked for!

While isolation has been fine for me, Jason’s been working around the clock for the last two weeks. A big part of his job is helping employers navigate laws and regulations, and the government has rolled out a bunch of them in the last week or so. That means a big part of my job is supporting him – mostly by keeping him fed.

To that end…

Pesto Tortellini with Balsamic Roasted Vegetables

I had a couple of bags of BOGO tortellini hanging out in my freezer, so I made a simple weeknight dinner based on this recipe. I roasted some vegetables – zucchini, red bell pepper, red onion, and grape tomatoes – with olive oil, salt, pepper, and a splash of balsamic vinegar. I used prepackaged pesto because I also had some of that in my fridge.

Oatmeal

Since the kids don’t have to be at school in the mornings, breakfast is suddenly an enjoyable cooking opportunity, rather than a mad dash.

I did not learn how to make oatmeal (other than sad microwave pouches) until I was an adult. We are a grits people. But when I did, I learned a simple trick for making oatmeal delicious. Melt a couple TB of butter in a skillet, then add the dry oats (I used 1.5 cups) and a pinch of salt. Stir and toast the oats for a minute, then add 3 cups of liquid. I used milk. Cook until desired consistency is reached. I like my oatmeal very firm, but your mileage may vary. We topped ours with brown sugar (or maple syrup) and fresh berries. I usually include sliced almonds, but we were out.

French Toast

Continuing with breakfasts, I had half a loaf of homemade French Bread taking up space in my freezer. I used the recipe from the big Cook’s Illustrated’s cookbook, but a substantially similar online version can be found here. I’m not usually a fan of french toast, but I make an exception for this one. It is delicious. Can you tell that raspberries and blueberries were also on sale last week?

Coconut Curry Ramen

I heart ramen, and am always on the lookout for new variations. I based my ramen on this recipe, but (as you can tell by the egg) I didn’t make it vegan. In addition to the vegetables suggested in the recipe, I added a red bell pepper and doubled the sugar snap peas. I also usually cook my ramen noodles separately, so everyone can adjust their own noodle-to-broth ratio. Finally, I included sliced green onions and crushed peanuts as toppings.

I’ve been surprised at the number of other people who are finding this isolation tolerable, if not pleasant. Maybe it’s because we’re Floridians, and long school absences are usually accompanied by power outages and property damage. Having air conditioning and hot water and lights makes a huge difference in our contentment.

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Meatless Lent: Week 3

It’s still Lent, and planning meals (and eating meals, and thinking about meals) is still a stress reliever for me, so I’ve continued preparing meatless meals. There have been a few exceptions – like St. Patrick’s Day, when I always make corned beef and cabbage, and eating Sunday’s meaty leftovers on Monday.

Obviously it’s been more of a challenge to plan, cook, and eat when there are new and stricter requirements on stores every day. Over the weekend, I planned meals around everything in my fridge/freezer/pantry. I went to the grocery store first thing Monday morning to fill out my ingredient needs, and I will not have to go back to the grocery store again until next Tuesday.

Some highlights:

Curried Lentil Stew with Ginger Yogurt

This is another meatless dish that dates back to the days when we couldn’t afford furniture. It’s so old, in fact, that I have it printed out on a piece of paper – not even on Pinterest. I always have lentils on hand, so this was a no-brainer.

Baked Gnocchi in Vodka Sauce

My picture of my finished product looks super unappetizing, so I will share the photo that accompanies the recipe on Pinch of Yum’s web site. Last week, frozen gnocchi was BOGO at Publix, so all I had to purchase Monday was a can of tomato paste and some fresh mozzarella.

Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes

Not all my meatless cooking has been dinners. Because we’ve been home more, I’ve had more time to cook fun things, like these Irish Car Bomb cupcakes I made for St. Patrick’s Day. I did not make the ganache, because I did not have heavy cream or bittersweet chocolate on hand. They were still really, really good.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

I had a lonely can of pumpkin lingering in my pantry from Thanksgiving, so I put it to good use this morning in the form of Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins. I froze half of them.

And now, an obligatory toilet paper story: As some of you know, my mother was notoriously frugal, occasionally in ways that made no sense. For example, she always bought exactly $10 of gasoline, no matter how empty her tank was. And she was fanatical about not wasting toilet paper. She bought one pack at a time and kept it under her bathroom sink, where it was rationed like butter in wartime. If the pack was empty, we’d resort to pilfering half-used rolls from other bathrooms. As a result, I make sure to always have pah-lenty of TP on hand. I hoarded toilet paper before it was cool.

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Meatless Lent: Week 2

This week I soldiered on with my meatless meals, and the complaints from my family grew quieter and quieter.

Garlicky Kale and Ricotta Pizza

This recipe is from the outstanding Budget Bytes, and it is one of my favorite meatless pizzas. I say that as someone who could eat pizza every day.

Seriously. Every day.

Orecchiette con Salsiccia

I first tried this pasta in pistachio sauce at an Italian restaurant in Edinburgh this summer, and as soon as I got home I tried to re-create it. “Orecchiette” means “little ears,” and the pasta shape creates tiny cups for all that saucy goodness. Many recipes call for including broccoli in the dish, but I like to roast it and serve it on the side.

Pane Bianco

BOOM. Look at all this fancy.

I made this to accompany two kinds of lasagna (Cook’s Illustrated’s Spinach Lasagna and a regular red lasagna) for a dinner gathering on Monday night. It looks amazing, but was pretty easy to create. It’s basically a big, savory cinnamon roll, filled with sun-dried tomatoes, basil, garlic, and cheese. I doubled the cheese. Okay, tripled.

Have a delicious week!

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Lent 2020: Meatless

For the last several years, I have eschewed giving something up for Lent in favor of adding a practice. For several years, I did guided photo-a-day projects. I added devotionals and added quiet reflection and added generosity.

This year, I wanted to feel an absence. After some thought, I decided to stop eating meat at home.

I say this because I’d feel like a jerk for making other people conform to my temporary vegetarianism. If I am choosing the food, I will choose a meatless option, but I was raised to be polite and eat what you’re served.

It’s been a whole week of eating (mostly) vegetarian, and so far so good. Well, for me. My family is deeply disappointed in my choice. Jason asked, in all seriousness, if we could pretty please give up alcohol instead.

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAno.

I’ve been making some of my favorite meatless dishes and altering others to conform. I thought I’d share a few highlights:

Vegetarian Bibimbap

This recipe is adapted from Fine Cooking’s Korean Bibimbap with Sesame Chicken, which I have been making for years. I omitted the chicken and sauteed a bunch of sliced baby bell peppers with the mushrooms, then threw a sunny-side-up egg on top along with a sprinkling of Trader Joe’s Chili Onion Crunch. Fun trick: instead of grating the carrots, I use my vegetable peeler to make long, noodley strips.

Mushroom Bourgignon

Just before Lent, I cemented my status as an adult by preparing Julia Child’s iconic Boeuf Bourgignon over one long weekend afternoon. It was perfect, and I had been dreaming about repeating it every weekend for the rest of my life….until Lent came along. I used Smitten Kitchen’s Mushroom Bourgignon recipe, and it was very good. There’s no way to replicate the meaty deliciousness of the original, but this was a very acceptable compromise.

Avocado Kale Caesar Salad + Sweet Potato Fries

This is another recipe I’ve made a bunch of times. It’s from Pinch of Yum, and is one of my favorite weeknight meals.

Tune in next week for more meatless recipes! That is, if my family does not throw me to the lions first!

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