Dear Devoted Reader

April 9, 2008

 

Dear KatyBird,
 
You are wise in the ways of cheap and easy feats in the kitchen, and I seek your advice. How do you make sure you get in lots of vegetables? I like vegetables, particularly cooked ones, but I seem to always lack inspiration as to what to do with them. And sometimes I just need the most expedient tasty way to get some in my cakehole because I haven’t seen anything green in a while and I’m starting to feel like the federal deficit: Bloated and perverse. Got anything for me?

Your devoted reader,

Jessica

Dear devoted reader/ high school bud,

It has been a weird week so I appreciate the “kick in the pants” to get me going again. 

I remember summers in high school very vaguely but there is one day that totally stands out to me and I think marks the first time I really set out cook creatively. I made this roasted pork loin basted with a sauce made mostly of raspberry jam and stone ground mustard. I also took green beans and tied “stacks” of them with the stems of herbs I found in my dad’s herb garden. Then I steamed them and served them like that… a neat and annoyingly complicated presentation next to pork medallions and I don’t remember what else. I made the whole thing up.

Oy to the vey!

Since having a baby, who the heck has time to make little purses and tied crap? My husband is lucky if he gets something that was made in more than one pan. He is also, lately, lucky to avoid things made with soy *shuddering in my chair as I type disgusting yuck ick*.

One of my favorite CHEAP and easy ways to get in some veggies is to add it to some kind of pasta. I often cook pasta and toss it with some sort of combo involving pesto, cooked chicken or sausage and various sauteed veggies. I like to put shrimp, artichokes (used the canned in water or get them frozen from Trader Joe’s), baby peas (frozen…if Ina Garten uses frozen, anyone can and should!), onion, garlic, lemon juice, a dash of white wine, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes and some linguine. Grate some cheese over it. Drink the rest of the bottle of white wine with it. Enjoy the veggies. 

I also saw someone make Mac and Cheese but add cauliflower. I tried this and it is great. Just make your favorite cheese sauce for the casserole, choose a pasta (I like Conchigliette which are just small shells), blanche some cauliflower (or if you like it firmer or are lazy like me just chop it kinda smallish and put it in raw).  Put the cauliflower in a casserole dish first, then add the cooked pasta, pour the cheese sauce over all and then put some grated cheese on top, cook for 20 to 25 minutes at 350 degrees. Let it cool enough not to burn your tongue, ok?! You should probably make a simple green salad to go on the side as this is still pretty fatty!

Other ideas:

– I buy baby carrots, celery and a box of those Ziploc snack size bags. I divide all up on Sunday night and then my husband and I each get a baggie with our lunches we take to work. Ok, I manage to do this maybe not weekly but every other weekly;) *shrug*.

– I usually put lettuce/cress on our sandwiches for lunch. Get some pre-washed stuff so you can just grab it and throw it on there as you are slapping together the rest of it.

Veggie sandwiches or pita pockets are also good for lunch. Avocado with sprouts and cheese of choice is tasty (carry some vinagrette in a small ziplock container to add right before eating). Tomato on whole wheat with mayo, salt and pepper. Cucumber with ditto. You get the idea.

– In the summer especially, I like to snack on cottage cheese with either cucumber or tomato and balsamic vinegar. Add a pinch of sea salt and fresh ground pepper. Seriously yum and addictive. Find myself craving it.

Sauteed greens are quick for sides at dinner. Kale, Swiss chard, turnip greens, collards, spinach, etc. all can simply be sauteed with butter or olive oil, salt and pepper. All you have to do is buy them, chop them (get rid of stems and ugly/blighted bits), rinse them, heat your skillet with the oil or butter and then toss them in, swish your cooking utensil of choice arounda bit, add salt and pepper and put them on the plates. Donesville.

– Make lunch on the weekend. I know… this is a crazy idea but think about it. It is cheaper than going out or getting take-out and certainly better for you. I TRY to plan ahead and have enough salad makings and fun items for us to have a nice and fairly quick lunch. Lunches we’ve enjoyed include: 1. Salads (think greens, either sliced cucumber or baby tomatoes and perhaps chopped red pepper. simple.) with a side of cheese and baguette, cooked gourmet sausages of some kind (um…may I recommend chicken with apple and chardonnay. so good. addicted.) or a nice sandwich. Get a bottle of chardonnay or a few good cold beers and enjoy. 2. See my Home fries posting and serve with sauteed greens or a salad and 1/2 an omelette between you. Coffee AND mimosas (orange juice and champagne…you can do that!) are a fine beverage combo for this. 3. cucumber and watercress sandwiches (this is seriously cheap and easy. get good bread. soften butter and spread on bread. sprinkle with sea salt and add cucumber or cucumber with watercress). Get some good scones (or make them…:) and brew a pot of tea.

Everything above is easy and most things are really cheap. Enjoy!

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Home Spice Sleepin’

March 30, 2008

This morning we took Arthur to our bed when the “eye rub I’m so tired” routine started. Both of us rubbed his tummy and we took turns keeping the constant “shhhhhh” sound going. Took him from screaming squirming teeming mass of tired baby to soothed sleeping bebe in 1 minute and maybe 30 seconds.

AND SO NOW the baby is asleep…what should we do with with the possible hour but probable 45 minutes we have to accomplish SOMETHING. Sleep is certainly one option but parents have not had breakfast yet, even though baby has had TWO!

Head to the kitchen and stare at space. What the heck do I have besides 4 chicken sausages (which rule…they have apple and tarragon in them and I think I taste a hint of maple syrup and chardonnay.)? Then I spot the bag of Idaho’s:

(For the girl who’s never made) HOME FRIES (before):

4 peeled potatoes chopped into that home fry shape and boiled to mostly tender
1 tbsp. olive oil
2 tbsp. butter (hold one to the side)
chopped onion (1/2 of a medium should do it)
4 slices of roasted red pepper chopped
1 tsp. stone ground mustard
2 fresh sage leaves chopped
3 dashes of cayenne pepper
1 or 2 twists of ground red pepper
salt (I like sea) and pepper

Warm over medium heat the olive oil and butter, add chopped onions and red pepper for 1 minute and then add spices and herb. Saute for 1 minute and add potatoes. You may need to add a little moisture to keep this from sticking…a dash of water worked for me and did not affect the texture of the potatoes adversely. 2 more minutes in add the mustard and the other bit of butter. Let the potatoes get a browned side to some and then take off heat (use your good judgment). Enjoy with favorite breakfast meat or, if you aren’t living in my house, an egg is fine.

I’ve eaten a lot of home fries but I’ve never looked at a recipe or tried to make these before…just made this stuff up, as per usual.

I’ll never order Home Fries from a diner again.