Bitchin’ in the Kitchen

I continue to cook most of our meals, though I’ve taken to writing them into our wall calendar rather than recording them here.  But ya’ll, we have had some ABSOLUTELY DELICIOUS stuff in the past few months – exhausting work schedule notwithstanding – and so this post is for all of you (one?  two?) folks who like to get recipe ideas from me.  Including my Future Meal Planning Self.

  • Brisket  TJ’s tends to have reasonably priced brisket, so when we go there, I get one and make it using this recipe.  That night we generally have brisket sandwiches and some sort of starchy side (potatoes?  mac and cheese?) plus frozen veg.  Then the leftovers get put into enchiladas or burritos later in the week, or sprinkled on top of nachos along with diced tomatoes, sour cream, refried beans, and corn.  We don’t eat beef much, so when we do we make it good, and this is goooo-ooood. 
  • Sunshine lentil bowls.  I’ll admit, I have not mastered cooking lentils yet.  I seem to cook them too long – they turn into a paste, more suitable for soup than a lentil bowl.  But I shall continue, because one of my fave things to do is cook lots of lentils, lots of tiny potatoes, blanch some green beans, roast some brussels sprouts, steam a bunch of carrots, and then take it all to work and assemble a lentil bowl every day of that week til I’ve eaten the lentils all up.  I stopped putting the dressing on it- the goat cheese is enough.  When we have them at home, I definitely put a fried egg on top.  If anyone has lentil cooking tips, hit me up – I have red ones, green ones, brown ones, all kinds of colors, and every time I cook them they come up pasty.
  • Veggie bowls.  Along similar lines, very often if I have forgotten to cook a bunch of lentils, I just bring a can of chickpeas and several giant Costco bags of produce to work, and make a raw veggie bowl for lunch.  I have lots of toppers to put on – dried chipotle chickpeas, garlic hemp hearts, this giant Costco bag of pumpkin seeds and dried cranberries, cans of artichoke hearts, I even splurged on pickled okra.  I just make a big bowl – quartered zucchini, halved cherry tomatoes, snapped green beans, chunks of carrots, sometimes some leftover salmon from last night’s dinner, plus one or two of my special toppings.  I sprinkle a little bit of salt and a ton of pepper on top, and it’s really good.  The key for me is that it’s all crunchy and raw or barely cooked.  I don’t like mushy vegetables.  I find that if I make a huuuuuge bowl (and I do), it’s all I need – I don’t miss carbs or meats or crackers.  I am turning into an Old Person.  I promise not to evangelize about eating plants – I can still murder a steak or a pizza – but I’ve developed a real taste for plain old fresh veg these days, and that’s not a bad thing.
  • Salmon, roasted potatoes, roasted veg.  I have taken to cooking salmon very simply, using this recipe.  I buy a giant slab of salmon from – where else? – Costco, and cook the whole thing at once.  We eat about half, and I take the other half to work and warm it slightly, then flake it over my veggie bowls.  We eat this now at least once a week.  It is not cheap – it’s like $25 for a filet – but it is a giant filet and it feeds the 5 of us plus me probably at least 5 more times, so $2.50 a serving.  Not terrible.  I love to put tiny baby creamer potatoes in the oven first and get them mostly roasted, then put the salmon in (a separate pan) and throw some sliced brussels sprouts or broccoli or green beans in the potato pan at the same time, and it all comes out at once.  Tiny bit of pepper is all you need.  Mmmm.
  • Slice sausages and peppers.  Whatever Costco has on sale, I slice them lengthwise, slice three colors of peppers up thin plus thin slices of onion, saute them all together and serve with grainy mustard.  We used to put on rolls but now we just eat it as is.
  • Taco spaghetti.  The boys liked this a lot – I made it with ground turkey.
  • Zoodles with pesto.  I got a cheap spiralizer and love it! The boys are less impressed with zoodles but I’m going to work on them.  I like that it takes three seconds to cook it.  I don’t like that it’s so fragile.
  • Pork chops with a spicy rub and curly sweet potato fries.
  • Eggplant parmesan for one.  I made this while the boys were out of town, and it turned out that it fed me that night, and also fed all five of us after they returned.  Very tasty!  I normally fuss a lot over eggplant – I’ve read that you should sprinkle slices with salt and leave out to sort of leach out the gross bitterness . . .  This time, I just sliced it and cooked it, and it was just fine.  So I shall no longer fear the eggplant.
  • Lamb ragu – OMG, this was so good.  SOOOOOO GOOOOOD.  Ragu is basically stew – I served it over rigatoni, as the recipe calls for, and it was a delight.  
  • Orzo and squash with pesto.  As he notes in the recipe, dicing the squash small is key with this one – it should be only a bit bigger than the orzo itself.
  • Chicken and charred succotash.  I must admit – I bought the stuff to make this but haven’t made it yet.  But it looks good and I want it in this list for future reference!
  • Chickpea curry.  I make this by buying canned chickpeas and dumping them in TJ’s madras curry, cooking til hot, serve over rice.  Easy, delicious.
  • Spinach and artichoke pasta.  OMG this was like appetizer spin dip, but for dinner.  Most recipes include cream cheese – this one did not, which made it much lighter and really, really good.
  • Single serve chickpeas and eggs.
  • Southwest chicken tortillas.  Always looking for new Mexi recipes.
  • Chicken and kale burgers, mac and cheese, green beans.  The link is to the brand, not a recipe. Got these burgers at Costco and they really are good.
  • Chicken pot pie.  I do a fancy version sometimes, but for this one I kept it simple and quick – picked a rotisserie chicken, added frozen mixed veg and quartered potatoes (recommend pre-boiling them for a few minutes before putting them in or they will take forever to cook) into a casserole dish.  Pour jarred chicken gravy over top and stir, then put a frozen Pillsbury pie crust on top.  Cook for an hour, or til the gravy is bubbling and the crust is done.
  • Ground turkey tacos.  Cook a pound of ground turkey, sprinkle some cumin, oregano, chili powder, and cayenne on top, put in a little water or chicken stock to keep it from sticking and then simmer most of the water off, then serve with taco shells, sour cream, shredded lettuce, cheese.  Also excellent as leftovers on top of lettuce, along with corn and sliced cherry tomatoes – a great taco salad.
  • Greek tortellini salad.  We had this a couple of days ago and people – the dressing is worth the work.   I almost just put some old green goddess bottled dressing on top, but I’m glad I didn’t.
  • Moroccan lentil and vegetable stew.  The spices in this thing made our house smell like some exotic South Asian or African locale.  Really, really tasty.  Although I used broccoli instead of cauliflower and that was a mistake – it tasted find but the heads crumbled and there were tons of little broccoli bits everywhere, which made the texture not as good.  Next time, I’ll stick with cauliflower or carrots or something less crumbly.
  • Oven ‘fried’ catfish, roasted potatoes and brussels sprouts.  In addition to salmon I’ve taken to buying catfish – relatively cheap at either Costco or Rouse’s, always hearty and tasty and quick.

So that’s my list of dishes lately.  We are trying these two this week – if they’re terrible, I’ll come back and erase them from this list so as not to read any johnny-come-lately readers astray.  Korean beef zoodles; Vietnamese noodle bowls.  I’ve also taken to eating pepper Boursin, fig jam, and wafer thin crackers as a snack on weekends.  DELICIOUS.

Meanwhile, in other, non-food related content, I’ll note that I turned forty a few days ago.  I have thought about it all year – about what it means to be In My Forties – and so I guess I fully processed the thought of it before it even happened and it was a lovely birthday but not too emotionally strenuous.  We have a big weeklong trip planned in October – camping in a place with neither cell service nor running water!  I can’t wait.  Not everybody’s cup of tea but just what the doctor ordered for me.  Nobody can reach me.  I literally am not able to work.  **evil laugh**  It’s what it takes these days, to have even a few hours off duty.  You have to escape the wifi – or at least tell everybody that you have!  Not easy to do, but I’m doing it.  I want, at 40, to be dwarfed by landscapes larger than I, to be challenged physically, to be outside for a whole week.  My parents will be watching the kids.  My husband shall be with me.  It shall be, as the kids used to say, The Bomb.

Now it’s time to put the kiddos to bed, and do some more WERK.  I know I write less, but it’s borne of circumstance and not lack of desire.  Blogging is passe these days, but nevertheless – I ain’t going anywhere!

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3 Responses to Bitchin’ in the Kitchen

  1. joy says:

    Red lentils are basically made to be overcooked–with them, you will pretty much always end up with a paste, which is fine. Make red lentil dal. Here’s the recipe, with amounts for doubling it as well.

    2 c stock [water is fine] → 4 cups
    1 c red lentils → 2 cups
    1 Tbsp vegetable oil → 2 T.
    1 1/2 c chopped onion [1 good-sized onion] → 2 onions
    1 Tbsp minced garlic [3 good-sized cloves] → 6 cloves
    1 Tbsp minced ginger [maybe an inch-square chunk or so] → double that amount
    1 tsp yellow mustard seeds [I used brown] → 2 tsp
    1/2 tsp crushed red pepper (or red chili flakes) → 1 tsp (or a couple of crumbled dried chiles)
    1 tsp ground cumin → 2 tsp
    1 tsp ground turmeric → 2 tsp
    1/2 tsp ground coriander → 1 tsp
    1/2 tsp black pepper → 1 tsp
    1 Tbsp tomato paste → 2 T.
    1/2 c light coconut milk → 1 cup
    1/2 tsp salt → 1 tsp.
    2 tsp fresh lime juice [lemon is fine] → 4 tsp.

    1. Combine broth and lentils, bring to boil, reduce, partially cover and simmer 10 minutes or until lentils are tender. Remove from heat, cover and set aside.

    2. Heat oil, add onion, garlic, ginger, mustard seeds, and red pepper. Cook 5 mins or until onions are tender and seeds begin to pop, stirring constantly. Add cumin, turmeric, coriander, and black pepper, and cook 3 mins, stirring constantly. Add tomato paste and cook 3 mins, stirring constantly. Add lentils, coconut milk, and salt and cook for 3 mins, stirring frequently. Remove from heat, stir in lime juice. Eat hot or warm with pita or rice. It also freezes well.

  2. joy says:

    For brown lentils, I also find it’s a super fine line between lentils that still have some bite, which is awful, and lentils that are total mush, which is not awful but not as nice as lentils that have shape. I try to simmer them on low for 20 minutes, stirring and testing occasionally. I have also had better luck when I spring for the expensive fancy French puy lentils, which seem to keep their shape a little better.

  3. LL says:

    I’ve actually never made lentils. I just buy the pre-cooked bag in the produce section at Trader Joe’s. It’s the perfect amount for lunch for a week and you don’t have to do a thing! (You can put them in the microwave if you want them warm, but I just dump them straight into my mason jars for lunch.)

    Also, the green goddess dressing in the produce section is amazing on top of them. It’s super fresh tasting and delish.

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