Friday, March 16, 2012

When Food Bloggers Don't Have Time To Cook

Man alive!  What a busy week!  I am absolutely looking forward to the weekend and the Local Farmer Open House (it's tomorrow, people.  Don't miss it!)

It really seems like, when I'm busy at work, I just run out of time for everything else.  It's not that I'm blogging there, of course, for two reasons:

1. That would be wrong
2. Ever since my article in, I suspect that some of my co-workers/bosses might be reading this.

But mostly #1, of course!

I don't think that's the reason.  When we're busy at work, we're there longer.  We also get more tired.  Being stressed is tiring, and being tired means you don't want to do crappy stuff like cleaning your house, laundry, and cooking.  Yes, if you have to do it every day, cooking is a chore.  Even if you love to cook, it's still a chore.

So, since it's basically all I've eaten all week, I thought I'd take the time to talk a bit about how to locavore up your dinner if you don't have time to braise, bake, or make your own pasta.  All you need is a little pre-planning.  And it can be WAY pre-planning.  Most of the things I ate this week were in my freezer well before the start of the week.

Yesterday I had grilled sausages with carrots and mushrooms and baked potato wedges.   I forgot to take a picture...

We have a selection of sausages in the freezer, as well as a bag of sausage buns.  Bread freezes very well, so it's nice to have buns on hand for when just want that quick sandwich.

I started out by slicing the potatoes into wedges (actually, Jeff did this), and then boiling them until they just start to get soft.  Drain the potatoes, season with about a tablespoon of olive oil, salt, pepper, and garlic powder, lay out on a cookie sheet so the slices aren't touching, and pop into a 425 degree oven for about 20 minutes, flipping them once half way through.

While the potatoes were baking, I chopped up the carrots into bite sized pieces, and boiled them again until they were about half way done.  Heat olive oil and saute thinly sliced shallot or red onion (about a tablespoon) for 2 or three minutes, then add 1 clove minced garlic and cook for another minute.  Add the carrots and one sliced portobello mushroom, and saute until the mushrooms are browned and the carrots are cooked through.  Add 2 tbsp honey, 1 tsp white wine vinegar, and a pinch of cayenne pepper.

Meanwhile, grill up your sausages, plop them in their buns, and dinner is served.

Wednesday, Jeff was playing at a bar and I had hot wings and fries.  Don't judge me!

Tuesday, we had pasta carbonara with spinach and mushrooms.

Pasta carbonara is really easy and really quick, and is something that can be made with nothing more than fridge/pantry essentials.  The addition of spinach and mushrooms mean that it's not a "true" carbonara, but it makes me feel better to get some vegetables.  If you want to make a true carbonara, you can follow this recipe and just omit the veggies, and I think you should use a spaghetti type pasta - but I'm not positive on that one.

Start out by bringing a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Chop up about 3 strips of bacon into 1 inch pieces.  (I keep bacon in my freezer.  When I buy it, I open it up and wrap it into 3 slice packages and freeze it like that.  That way, I can use just a little bit of bacon for cooking and not have to thaw the whole chunk.)  In a large frying pan, fry the bacon until it is just about to start getting crispy, then add about 1/2 cup thinly sliced mushrooms to the pan.  By this point, your water should be boiling, so drop in about 2 cups pasta.

Keep an eye on the bacon and mushrooms, and if the bacon looks like it might start to burn, take it off the heat.

While the pasta is cooking, whisk together one egg and two egg yolks with 1 cup grated Parmesan or Romano cheese.  Also, wash about 1/2 lb spinach and tear into bite sized pieces

Once the pasta is done, drain RETAINING SOME OF THE COOKING WATER.  I always forget this step.  The best way (in my opinion) to do this, is to place a bowl under your pasta strainer to catch some of the water.  You don't need all of it, but may need up to two cups.  Don't rinse off the pasta.  You want it to be hot.

Acting quickly so nothing gets cold, remove the bacon/mushrooms from the heat.  Slowly stir 1/2 cup of the hot cooking water to the egg/cheese mixture.  (I know I said act quickly, but you do need to stir it in slowly, so the egg does not cook.)  Add the hot pasta to the mushroom/bacon mix and stir to combine.  Add the egg/cheese/water and stir again.  Add the spinach, stir one more time, and cover the pan.  Allow to sit (no heat) for 5 minutes.  The heat of the pasta and water will cook the eggs and wilt the spinach.

Monday, we had Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms with Pasta Salad.

I removed the casings from one of those sausages and sauteed it up in a pan while I heated up my grill.  Once the sausage was cooked, I added about a tbsp of shallot and a tsp on garlic to the pan, and just cooked that down slightly - about three minutes.  I mixed that with about 1/2 a pound of spinach and 1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese and piled this onto three portobella mushrooms.  The mushrooms will look really full.  It's okay, they will cook down nicely:

Uncooked mushrooms
Place the mushrooms on a hot grill, cover, and cook until the mushrooms are cooked through, the spinach is wilted, and the cheese is melty.

I served this with pasta salad, which I made by combining Sunday's kohl slaw with some cooked pasta.

Which brings us to Sunday's meal: Grilled Chicken Wings with apple kohl slaw and zucchini fritters.

I like to season my wings with nothing but salt, garlic powder, and onion powder.  The kohl slaw was equal parts thinly sliced apple, carrot, and kohlrabi, with a splash of apple cider vinegar, a dollop of mayo, a sprinkle of dill, and salt and pepper.  I served it over lettuce because I had lettuce.

It was the fritters, really, which were the most exciting thing I've eaten all week, so it gets to be written as a real recipe.  I could eat these all winter!  I think this is good enough to make me remove my zucchini question off of my list of questions for the farmers tomorrow.  The more zucchini, the better!

Zucchini Fritters
(this only makes 9 small fritters, so make a double batch!)

  • 2 cups shredded zucchini (if frozen, allow to thaw fully)
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp minced shallots
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 tbsp dried dill
  • 1 beaten egg
  • 3/4 cup grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • Oil for frying (not canola)
First off, please don't use canola oil.  Canola almost always contains GMOs, which I am against and which are bad for you.  Use sunflower or safflower or grape seed oil for frying.

Combine the zucchini and salt and allow to sit for 10 minutes.  Squeeze well to drain out all of the water.  Mix zucchini with all remaining ingredients except oil.

Fry the fritters by the spoonful in hot oil about 1 inch deep, flipping once.

As you are frying, keep finished fritters in a warm oven.

I served these with a dip that was 1/2 cup sour cream, 1/2 cup Greek yogurt, 2 tbsp fresh minced mint, 1 tsp dried dill, and one clove minced garlic.

So good!

1 comment:

  1. Hell, when I'm too tired to cook, we have frozen pizza or take-out. You rock!