Last Supper Last Night

imageDo you know how many vegetables you can hide in lasagna?  Many, many…is the correct answer.  I used to make things like this all the time so that my kids wouldn’t die from malnutrition and so that I didn’t have to listen to their long litany of lists of vegetables they didn’t like.  Turnips, for instance.  My mother in law once cooked us a liver and onion and turnip meal which my daughter described as a child’s nightmare supper.  I thought it was delicious.  My kids did not inherit my taste buds.  They had to develop them, with a little help from their devious mother.  Now of course there is no need to disguise these gorgeous vegetables but I continue to do it anyway just because I can.

Come to think of it, this also works well for spouses who still think the only vegetables worth preparing are canned kernel corn and mashed potatoes.   Yes, I married one of those.  Now he eats a much wider variety than he knows or even suspects.  Spaghetti sauce and chile and cream soups are other clever places to load up with vegetables.

But yesterday it was a New Years Eve lasagna surprise that satisfied my creative vegetable hiding urges.  There’s white onion and garlic cloves in the chopper, with yellow, red, and green peppers, celery, zucchini and bok choi waiting their turn.  Sometimes I add a carrot or a parsnip.  Really, just about anything goes.

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Because this is what it looks like simmering away in browned lean ground beef and a jar of chunky vegetable tomato sauce.  I call this death by vegetables.  I don’t really, but this picture makes it look like it a big pot of God only knows what.  At this stage I added some vegetable and roasted red pepper seasoning and salt and pepper.

Okay!  I use the oven ready noodles that don’t have to be boiled.  I can’t find them in gluten-free but I figure all that other good stuff cancels out their badness.  I am very skilled at rationalization when it suits me.  One layer of the lasagna is beaten eggs mixed with cottage (or ricotta) cheese and lots of chopped spinach.  I buy big bags of fresh spinach and freeze them.  The frozen spinach is easy to crush and crumble so it takes up less space and works great in smoothies.  Or in any kind of hidden vegetable concoction.

I think the layers went something like this.  Sauce, noodles, cottage cheese mixture, noodles, sauce, Parmesan cheese, noodles, sauce, two full bags of grated Italian mix cheese (mostly mozzarella). This of course makes a pan so close to over flowing that you have to rummage around for a big cookie sheet to place it on when you bake it (covered with foil at 350 for about an hour) because otherwise it will bubble over and then you’ll have to clean your oven, and nobody wants that.

I have a recipe for lasagna that substitutes steamed cabbage leaves for the noodles.  Doesn’t that sound amazing?  One gigantic unrolled cabbage roll!  But that’s a bit too much of an experiment if you’re having company, even for me.  I’ll save it for W, even though I know already he’ll be less than impressed.  Unless I throw in a can of corn.

I used the broiler to brown the cheese.  There’s nothing like hot bubbly browned cheese to camouflage whatever disaster lurks beneath.

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Of course I didn’t take a picture of the uncut perfection and of course mine was the only slice that fell to pieces on the plate.  The salad came from a bag and included cranberries and pumpkin seeds and some other strange but delicious green things.

There was enough left over for our daughter to take home (and possibly feed her dog for a week).  But it was pretty good, so the dog might be out of luck.

It was a good last supper for the last day of last year.  Today I’m going to use my homemade chicken stock and make my first vegetable soup of 2015.  It may or may not contain turnips.  No one but me will ever know.

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Christmas Baking for the Christmas Baking Impaired

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Butter Tarts in Progress! I preheated the oven to 400. Separated the frozen tart shells (but left them in their little foil containers) and jam-packed as many as humanly possible on to a cookie sheet. Yes, I buy the frozen ones because it cuts the tart making stress in half.  I learned my lesson the hard way, because no matter what, tart shells and filling never EVER come out even.  Before I perfected my method,  if there was too much pastry I would mix up more filling, and if the pastry ran out I would have to make more of that to use up the filling, and this would go on and on until I got fed up and poured myself several drinks and said to hell with it.  So yeah.  Frozen pastry is the way to go.

I put raisins and chopped pecans in the shells first.  There’s nothing more annoying than picking a tart that has only three raisins in it.  Or maybe I’m the only one who would get annoyed by that.  Anyway,  on to the filling.

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2 eggs

1 cup brown sugar

1 cup corn syrup

2 T melted butter

2 tsp vanilla

1 T vinegar

a pinch of salt

I’m sure there’s some fancy order in which you’re supposed to do this, but I throw everything into a gigantic measuring cup with a pouring spout and combine it with a hand mixer.  (I save my arms and wrist muscles for the fudge mixing which comes later.)

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The reason there’s a pouring thing on my ‘mixing bowl’ is because I have also learned from trial and error that using a spoon is messy and inaccurate.  And often involves a lot of finger licking.  And if you fill these things too full (try for 3/4) they bubble over and stuff burns on to the cookie sheet and you have to toss it and buy a new one.  Just kidding.  But it is a pain to scrub the stupid thing clean.  They are supposed to take between 12 and 15 minutes to bake, so I set the timer for lucky 13.

imageSee that original pan on the far left?  Notice how many more butter tarts I had to make to use up all the filling?  See what I mean?? A good thing about taking pictures of this process is that I clean as I go.  Sort of.  You of course cannot see what is behind me on the kitchen table and in the kitchen sink at this point.

imageThe fudge recipe I make is super simple and easy.  There actually should be no other kind of recipe allowed anywhere.  Especially at Christmas.  I should be giving you quantities in metric, but I learned to cook with cups and spoons, so this is just easier.  I am all about easy.

1 & 2/3 cups white sugar

2/3 cup evaporated milk

2 T butter

1/2 tsp salt

Bring these ingredients to a rolling boil over medium heat, stirring constantly.  Boil for five minutes.  Do not try to make yourself a cup of coffee during this process, or attempt to take a picture during the rapid-boiling constantly stirring part.  No one I know is that coordinated.

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This is what it looks like after five minutes.  I doubled the recipe, by the way.  I hate doing things twice.

imageWhile everything is still all bubbly and hot, stir in

1 tsp. vanilla

2 cups miniature marshmallows

1 & 1/2 cups semi sweet chocolate chips

1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

(or chopped pecans which never made it into the butter tarts)

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Stir until the marshmallows and chocolate chips are melted, or until your arms or your spoon breaks, whichever comes first.  Spread in a parchment paper lined pan.  Choose a really beat up old piece of crap you’ve had in your cupboard for a hundred years because it is so photogenic.  Let cool.  Four hours or longer is good.  Cut into squares (some of which will crumble because you were impatient and did not wait for four hours) and store in an air tight container in the fridge.

Pray that the fudge and the tarts won’t all be gone before you leave to visit your grandchildren.

Recipe for a Good Saturday

In amongst my conglomeration of strange notes on a messy desk I came across this funny little list.  Looks like a recipe, right?  But what the hell is it for?  I wrote it down thinking I would remember why without also jotting down a bunch of details, I guess.

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I have a feeling there’s some major ingredient missing here, along with instructions.  It looks like things one should add to something else or pour over some kind of meat maybe?? Throw in a crock pot?  I don’t know.  But since there’s no quantities for the first five ingredients, I think it would be safe to just skip them.

So go ahead and measure out those two cups of red wine.  And serve immediately.  Double this recipe if sharing with a friend.  Who says doing stuff in the kitchen can’t be simple, easy and fun?  I would definitely add this one to my recipe book if I had one.

Unidentified glass of dark red wine.

Unidentified glass of dark red wine. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When W is Away I Eat Zucchini

After three months of preparation (no exaggeration) W left this morning for his island in the east.  The river ice was probably a month later than normal breaking up so he had to wait around impatiently for better weather.  I just got a text from him saying he’s in Brandon, so tomorrow he’ll do the last leg of the drive to northern Ontario.

At last we’re getting some lovely sunny warm days here too.  The lawn people have already done most of the spring clean up, except for where the last of our snow mountain was stubbornly refusing to melt.  The last time I mentioned something about green grass we had a snow storm, so I’m not doing that again.

I have lots of plans to keep myself busy in the next several months while I’m on my own.  I would mention them all here, but then I’d be embarrassed when none of them happen.  However, there is one I can tell you about since I’ve done it already.  I bought a bunch of vegetables that W doesn’t like and that I miss cooking for myself.  I don’t understand how someone can not like the taste of zucchini – it doesn’t even have a taste.  Tonight I tried a new recipe with results that even W might have been able to choke down.

What can you do with two zucchini and a sweet potato?

What can you do with two zucchini and a sweet potato?

I even took pictures to prove that I’m not completely useless in the kitchen.  Especially when I’m really hungry.

Slice the zucchini in half lengthwise and place cut side up on a pan.  I’m crazy about my Epicure pan which works great for oven roasted potato wedges.  I’m trying to broaden my horizons by cooking other stuff on it too.  Cut the sweet potato into french fry shapes.  Or not, depending on how clueless you are when it comes to chopping things up.

randomly shpaed sweet potato chunks

randomly shaped sweet potato chunks

I put a tablespoon of oil and some spices on the sweet potato and tossed them around in a red bowl.  I like Club House garlic plus, epicure seasoning for rosemary garlic oven fries, and salt and pepper.  And I love my red bowl.

Brush the zucchini with olive oil, sprinkle with garlic plus, salt and pepper and lots of parmesan cheese.  Cut up tomatoes and layer on top.  Add salt and pepper and/or bruschetta spices.  Seriously, the zucchini is so bland, you can go a little nuts with the spices.

Grate some mozzarella cheese for the last layer.

Practically naked zucchini.

Practically naked zucchini.

Zucchini all dressed.

Zucchini all dressed.

 

 

 

TAH DAH!

TAH DAH!

There it is all oven ready (375 F for 20 – 30 minutes) and here it is out of the oven.  And shortly after that most of it disappeared.

This was really simple to put together, and incredibly good.  Hope you get a chance to try it.  And I hope you enjoyed this random recipe blog.  I promise it won’t be a regular feature, and I can hear your sigh of relief from here.  I’m sure I didn’t teach anyone anything that they couldn’t have googled and figured out on their own, and yes I will admit that it was just a shameless way for me to boast about something turning out well in my kitchen.  That’s a random thing too.

See what you’re missing W??  Turnips tomorrow!  HAHAHA!  Now he’ll probably stay away for an extra month.

Recipe For A Good Day

Ingredients: (Mix together any old way you want)

Latte wine color

Latte wine color (Photo credit: Majiscup – The Papercup & Sleeve Log)

1 pot coffee brewed from fresh ground beans

1 hot shower including apricot almond (or other) aroma therapy

1 head of hair so short you couldn’t do anything with it if you tried, so don’t even try

1 lazy little dog who is going to sulk and not eat today because he’s been left with you, but that’s okay because he’ll perk up and like you just fine tomorrow

6 or more unread or half-read books and the joy of being able to choose which one you’ll read today

unlimited ice-cold crystal clear water (for yourself and your moody dog)

unlimited brilliant people and things to fire up your imagination right there on your computer screen

12 or more hours of sunny warm weather

1 quiet neighborhood in which to walk a sulking dog

Test_only.jpg

Test_only.jpg (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

1 opened bottle of red wine you forgot you had which needs to be used up right away because OMG, what were you thinking, you can’t waste red wine

2 or 3 leftover things in your fridge to go with the wine, no cooking required

Stir in the delicious fact that there’s

– nowhere you have to go

– nothing you have to do

– an entire day ahead of you and all the time you need to get there and to do it.

Enjoy.

A Recipe!

I’m so excited!  I’ve never posted a recipe on my blog before!

It’s Sunday and work doesn’t start until 11:00 so I’ve got some time to kill and I’m sitting here enjoying my breakfast shake and thinking it would be a brilliant idea to share it.

So here’s the ingredients.

1.  A cup or so of some kind of healthy fruit juice mixture, the more purple and weird the better.  (Blueberry and Pomegranate is my favourite, but if boring old orange works for you, that’s perfectly okay.)

2.  1 banana (but not the skin, for those of you who don’t cook a lot)

3.  2 scoops of Arbonne Essentials Vitamin/Mineral Shake Mix (Vanilla).  Or you could substitute your choice of protein powder, but the Arbonne stuff is the absolute best.

4.  Some frozen fruit, like blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, blackberries.  Obviously I’m partial to berries, but any fruit works, as long as it’s frozen.

5.  A big glob (sorry, I don’t measure) of greek yogurt.  (Yes, if you must, you can use whatever yogurt you like, but the greek stuff is VERY good.)  I use plain or vanilla.

6.  Anything else you might have hanging around that you’d like to get rid of.  I’ve added some orange sections, a couple of carrot ends, and a sliced apple – but not all at the same time.  Don’t get too carried away.

Method:  Place all ingredients in a blender and mix it up on the highest setting.  Does anybody ever use any of those other buttons?  I do everything on Liquefy because that’s the whole point of blenders.

Pour into a tall glass and enjoy.  It should be smooth and cold and delicious.

Now all it needs is a name.  Like Liquefied Lunch, because it doesn’t have to be limited to a morning meal.

There’s a girl at work who mixes up skim milk with a banana, peanut butter, and four cups of spinach.  I can’t comment on how it tastes because I’ve never tried it, but I can tell you it is extremely GREEN.  So it’s quite amazing the things we can consume when they’re all smushed up and unrecognizable.

But if you’re new at this, my advice is to start off with purple first. It doesn’t look like it’s good for you even though it is;  whereas green is not fooling anyone.