Personal life

Kooking with Kate

Longtime Shapely Prose readers will recall that I am neither a gifted nor a frequent cook. And because I am neither a gifted nor a frequent cook (and I’m married to a total non-cook*), I have this wasteful, expensive habit of buying a bunch of meat and produce with the best intentions, using a quarter of it and forgetting about the rest until the fridge starts to reek. (This is the story of my life in so many ways, very much including “I stock up on fancy food because I’m also planning on morphing into a master chef and actually cooking instead of just eating nachos for dinner every night.”)

Guilt about doing that accumulates over time, so about once a month I decide I am going to form one of two new habits:

  1. Going to the market for a small amount of fresh food every day (or at least every day I can realistically envision cooking), like I’m all European and shit.
  2. Keeping enough non- or semi-perishable staples in the house at all times that I can make a full meal — albeit one that will make Michael Pollan weep — even if I haven’t been to the grocery store in two weeks.

The problem with potential habit number 1 is that it involves A) shopping and B) planning, which are the two parts of cooking I most strongly object to.** So that usually lasts  about as long as my resolutions to spend thirty seconds tidying my desk every day instead of waiting until I’m crying hysterically because I can’t find a bill that needs paying/the notes for something I’m writing/my headphones/the computer/whatever.

Or, I don’t know, my resolutions to update this blog more.

The problem with potential habit number 2 is that since I avoid both shopping and cooking as much as possible, my mental kitchen inventory tends to be spotty whenever I’m actually at the store, which means I eventually end up with like three bags of frozen broccoli,  a dozen cans of soup, four boxes of lasagna and 20 lbs. of flour taking up space where there ain’t much to begin with. And then I go to use up some flour, for instance, and discover halfway through a recipe that I have 3 boxes of baking soda but no baking powder, so there is not even any goddamn point to having no room in my cupboards, because I still can’t just spontaneously decide to make food.***

This brings us to two nights ago, when Al opened the freezer to get some ice cubes, triggered a small avalanche, and issued the following edict: “TOMORROW NIGHT IS VEGETABLE NIGHT. I don’t care what we eat, but the primary ingredient needs to be frozen fucking vegetables.”

I had actually been sorta-planning to do something stroganoffy with some stew beef and sour cream that were not getting any younger, so now I had a challenge: how to use all of it at once? After Googling stew recipes for 45 minutes and failing to find anything that sounded simultaneously tasty, freezer-clearing and doable, I went out to the kitchen and made a miraculous discovery:  after 5 years of attempting to develop Habit 2 above, I finally have a lot of ingredients in the house that actually go together. Enough to make two separate casseroles, using three bags of frozen shit!

This is where my eyes bug out as I triumphantly raise a spatula and cry, “COOK ALL THE THINGS!

So here’s what I made:

1. Beef Stew with Biscuit Topping

Starting point: This recipe

What I did differently: 1/2 cup of red wine + water instead of all water; 1/2 bag of frozen peas (stirred in at same time as Worcestershire and sour cream) instead of carrots; no fresh garlic; dried dill instead of chives in the biscuits.

2. Broccoli Casserole

Starting point: This recipe, plus the one on the broccoli bag, plus the highly variable tuna casserole recipe in my head

What I did differently (from the linked version): 1 bag broccoli instead of boxes; + 1 bag frozen corn; cream of chicken instead of mushroom soup; no eggs; no mayo; + maybe 1/3 cup ricotta I was looking to get rid of; + 1 glug ranch dressing; bread crumbs and parmesan (canned in both cases) instead of Ritz crackers for topping; baked 30 mins.

I also made peanut butter banana cookies while I was at it, but they turned out pretty mediocre. (Which is not to say that I won’t eat them all, just that there’s no point in sharing the recipe.)

Michael Pollan wept, surely. And yes, there was a slightly off-putting church potluck vibe to dishing up multiple casseroles, but both recipes turned out pretty damned yummy and made enough for several more meals, which was the idea. (Granted, that kind of defeated the whole make-room-in-the-freezer goal, but at least tupperware stacks more neatly than bags of veggies.) So  now I’m all, DUDE, I GET WHY NORMAL PEOPLE THINK COOKING IN BATCHES/FROM WHAT YOU HAVE ON HAND IS A GREAT IDEA! I’M TOTALLY DOING THIS ALL THE TIME!

Which means, of course, that I will do it again in six months or so. But you know. Baby steps.

If I have any commenters left, please feel free to leave me some more foolproof clean-out-the-cupboard/freezer recipes!

*I knew that going in and agreed to live with it, even if it means the division of labor is super stereotypical in this instance.

**Yes, I have tried online grocery delivery — in fact, it’s how we do most of our big shops now, and I highly recommend it to others. But there’s a big minimum dollar amount, plus delivery fee and tip, so you can’t use it to pick up just a couple things, which are what I always want/need.

***Yes, I know you can substitute baking soda and cream of tartar, but do I sound like the kind of person who has cream of tartar on hand? I would have to chuck  one of the 9 bottles of poultry seasoning from my spice rack to make room for it.

39 thoughts on “Kooking with Kate

  1. I try to always have a bag of frozen tortellini or ravioli in the freezer. Cook according to directions, add frozen vegetables to the water at an appropriate point for whatever vegetable(s) it is, drain it all and add butter and cheese. I recently found out that this even works with frozen kale, though I started with peas.

    Another pantry meal is to drain a can of kidney beans and a can of black beans, heat them with a can of tomatoes with chilies and serve on a bed of rice with grated cheese on top. I find that adding grated cheese on top of anything can make it more respectable. When alone I have been known to cook a package of frozen vegetables (broccoli most often) and melt a chunk of cheddar on it, eat it with a piece of toast and that’s the whole dinner.

  2. I’m failing at finding the actual recipe, but Alton Brown did an episode on casseroles where he broke down the components and talked about the general ratio of each. So you have a starch, a binder, some liquid, and whatever random meat and/or veggies you want, in the proportions that makes them a casserole. (You could probably figure out these proportions based on the casserole recipes you’ve used and liked.)

    A couple of my go-to methods of using up random veggies are:
    -sautee them with soy sauce and one or two Asian-themed spices (garlic or sesame seeds or whatever). I especially like this with broccoli.
    -Cook random pasta noodles and drain them, microwave frozen veggies til they’re nice and hot. Mix the two things together and mix in cheese (particularly if you have shredded cheese, because it melts nicely).

    Adding frozen veggies or leftover cooked meat to boxed mac & cheese also seems like something that’d work well, particularly ham in mac & cheese. And my husband (the cook in our family) is fond of making those little boxed Pasta Sides with either a can of tuna (not sure if he puts it in straight or mixes it with mayo as you would for a tunafish sandwich).

  3. Welcome back! I can heartily recommend Vegetable Soup as a surefire way to use up veggies about to go bad. It can be done in a crockpot or on the stove top.

    Ingredients:
    Vegetables! (I usually do onions, cabbage, celery, carrots, canned corn and frozen peas)
    Garlic clove!
    Broth! (beef works well but I think veggie broth would be good, too)
    Leftover red wine!
    Canned tomatoes! (big can or two small cans)
    Canned beans!

    If you’re making it on the stovetop, saute the onions, celery and carrots in some olive oil. If you’re making it in a crockpot, just layer the ingredients, starting with the cabbage. Save the beans, corn and peas until shortly before serving. I usually use 6-8 c. broth and 1/2 c. red wine, adding some dried parsley and basil and a bay leaf. Oh, and salt and pepper of course. Crockpot should be left for 6-8 hours on low; stovetop can be done in as little as 15 minutes, but it will be better the longer it sits. If you have leftover pasta, add it in at the end.

  4. This isn’t a recipe, just a general tip. I made a spread sheet of all the grocery staples I need to keep on hand so my pantry is well stocked enough that I don’t have to go to the market every other day and I don’t stress about making the shopping list because it’s already done. When we’re running low on stuff, I just print off the spread sheet, check a few things off, and off I go. Once the thing is set up, there is very little thinking involved.

    For clean out the cupboard day, I like to make a good stiff chili. 3 Cans of beans, a can of tomato sauce, whatever veg I have in the fridge or freezer, and if I’m especially lucky, a couple of frozen chicken thighs (or whatever hunks of meat I can find lurking in the bottom of the freezer). I put all of that into my crockpot with some chili powder and various other chili spices and cook it on low for 6 to 8 hours. OM NOM NOM.

    Are you the sort of cook with a crockpot?

    • I switched from a crockpot to a pressure cooker – anything you can make in a crockpot you can make in a pressure cooker. In half an hour (plus chopping time, if any).

  5. I recently made a clean-the-pantry casserole that went something like this:

    Leftover roasted cauliflower & broccoli (frozen would have worked equally well) + can of corn chowder + can of chicken chunks.

    Topped by 1 box of stuffing, prepared following directions (e.g., this required some butter and water).

    Cooked until it was hot. Ate. Yum.

  6. hi kate! my default pantry-meals:

    pasta with canned tuna, white beans, anchovy and red pepper flakes (i hate hairy anchovies but they are yummy when INVISIBLE in a pasta dish — melt them with some olive oil or butter in a saute pan, then add the red pepper flakes and the tuna) . kale’s good in there too.

    thai-ish soup — saute frozen or fresh veggies with jarred red curry paste. dump some noodles or leftover rice into packaged chicken broth, then add the veggies and a can of coconut milk. add some bottled fish sauce and lime juice (bottled is fine).

    keep some emergency sausage (which is my new band name) in the freezer. thaw in microwave, saute in olive oil. when browned, add to boxed chicken broth jazzed up with sriracha sauce, throw in some greens, add canned chick peas. this also works over pasta, without the broth.

    there are a zillion easy veggie and non-veggie chili recipes on the interwebs. make a metric buttload and freeze.

    roasted squash soup — cut squash in half (life is too short to cube squash), roast, scoop out, dump into some cut up onion/ginger/garlic you’ve already sauteed, add water/wine/lemon juice/OJ/whatevs mixture, puree with hand blender you have asked for for xmas (i love mine like it’s a vibrator) (bad comparison). or cut up and saute carrots or sweet potatoes, then simmer in mixture of tasty liquids and hand-blend. all these orange soups freeze well.

  7. Like CTJen said: Crockpots are your friend this time of year! If you freeze meat in small chunks in advance (like when you buy it) then even if you’re about to race out of the house if you have like 5 minutes; you can still crack open a few cans of beans, toss in a bag of veggies and those chunks of meat, some tomatos/sauce/spices and set to cook while out at work! Nom. If you think of it the night before, get everything on the counter (cans) that night so all you have to do is open, drain and pour it into the pot!

    Also good for me is the “Everything in the fridge over pasta” plan. I usually have onions so I’ll fry up that, add any left-over meats/veggies and add tomato sauce. (frozen meats are okay if you’re willing to chop into smaller bits so they actually cook) Have over pasta. Or rice. Or heck potatoes or grains or whatever.

    Alternates are:
    1. the same base but with a jar of gravy; all over rice. Kinda stroganoff-y.
    2. Same base (onions, veggies, meats) but add a cheesy sauce (basically heat some milk or cream in a pot, add cheeses and a bit of flour or something to thicken, spices and then cook a bit until cheese melts) …pour over the veggie/meat mix and put over pasta.

    These concoctions make up many of the meals I “whip” up and usually come out edible and even tasty :)

    Also? Hyperbole and a Half makes me weep with amusement most days ^.^

      • Oh hells yeah! It’s freaking in there for 8 hours man. Totally. Just don’t drop a cube of meat like 3 inches thick in there and expect tender bits to be flaking off it in an hour. Otherwise load it up! :)

      • Also: “The Crock-pot website says (in regards to if frozen meats can be put in there):
        ‘Yes, but be sure to add at least 1 cup of warm liquid to the stoneware first. Do not preheat the unit. Cook recipes containing frozen meats an additional 4 to 6 hours on Low or 2 hours on High.’” Enjoy that whole new world!

    • I have something similar in my repertoire, except it’s called “everything in the fridge on a tortilla.” Random vegetables + whatever cheese + tomato sauce (or pesto, or no sauce at all), plopped on a tortilla and baked in the oven until crispy. I’ve had varying levels of success with this over the years, but it’s always at least edible. I’d be hesitant to serve it to comp’ny, though.

  8. OHMYGOODNESS I *love* that Hyperbole and a Half post. It defines my life. I love the whole blog, but that one is probably the best.

    I don’t have any clever recipes to share, as I’m only a baby college student about to start really living on my own when I start winter quarter. (I had a trial run this past summer, but my apartment was really hot so I avoided cooking a fair bit–lots of sandwiches and salads and “boyfriend let’s go out to dinner so we can be in air-conditioning”.) Moving in six weeks is going to be quite a shock, after four months living with a family abroad where I have three meals a day provided for me and my laundry done weekly. I shall watch this thread for hints.

    Anyway, I have nothing else super-constructive to add; mostly just that I love reading everything you write, Kate! Good luck with your future cooking adventures.

  9. Minestrone soup is a great use of frozen veggies. Just throw together whatever veggies you have, broth, canned beans (cannelloni are traditional but really anything works), some sort of smallish shaped pasta, heat, and serve. You can even cook the pasta in the broth if you have a little more time (it will cook in hot water it just takes longer than boiling).

    PS: This post inspired me to get off my butt and make the (fake) beef stew I’d planning to make for at least a week to use up some of the last of our root veggies from our CSA. It’s simmering on the stove right now and it smells great!

  10. I’m a pretty darn good cook, and I really like doing it (it feels like “me time”), so I’m pretty big on habits 1 and 2. That said, I get home fairly late several days a week because of my class schedule, so I don’t get to cook every day. Here’s what gets me through:

    1) Keep a big pot or tray of something in the fridge at all times

    I have some really awesome big-batch recipes: chili, bolognese, tuna noodle casserole, chicken tetrazzini, bigos, shepherd’s pie, split pea soup, enchiladas, lasagna, cabbage roll stew, etc.

    These recipes take 30-60 minutes to cook, scale up to 6-10 servings easily, are tasty enough to eat more than once in the week, reheat well, and freeze well if we somehow decide not to finish them.

    2) Have 2 or 3 go-to veggie recipes that can be made right out of the freezer (no thawing) that I actually like, and keep those frozen veggies stocked.

    I do roasted brussels sprouts with garlic, curried cauliflower (think Aloo Ghobi without the Aloo), roasted rutabagas (our supermarket sells them cubed and frozen), and steam-sauteed rutabagas with cream.

    3) Master a couple of fairly-quick-cooking recipes that require few ingredients and can be easily adapted for different seasonings/ingredients.

    This is good for those days when you have time to pick up some basics (or have something in your fridge), but not time to buy a whole bunch of ingredients. Or for when you forgot an ingredient or want some variety.

    Shameless self-promotion:

    I’ve got a few recipes up on my rarely-updated food blog.

    My chili recipe:
    http://omnivory.blogspot.com/2009/04/yes-actually-i-do-get-bit-obsessive.html

    Roasted brussels with garlic:
    http://omnivory.blogspot.com/2009/05/roasted-brussels-sprouts.html

    Also, I don’t know if you like chickpeas, but this is amazing, and the ingredients don’t really go bad, so it makes a good backup pantry meal:
    http://orangette.blogspot.com/2007/01/brown-bag-it.html
    (tip: don’t skimp on quality.)

  11. Most of my recipes are needlessly complicated (I like to make everything from scratch), but I do have a couple of easy dishes under the “one-dish meals” tag on my silly little food blog: http://suzannawinter.com/galleykitchen/tag/one-dish-meals/

    To further simplify a few of the recipes:

    * use frozen meatballs for the Italian Wedding Soup

    * use rotisserie chicken and frozen corn for the Spicy Chicken, Black Bean and Grilled Corn Soup

    * use frozen or dried gnocchi, pre-made pesto, and rotisserie chicken for the Gnocchi with Roast Chicken, Asparagus, and Sun-dried Tomatoes in Pesto Cream Sauce

    * use rotisserie chicken and frozen mixed vegetables for the Chicken Soup Risotto

    Also on my blog (but not under that tag):

    * use pre-made pie crust for the Cremini Mushroom, Goat Cheese, and Leek Crostata with Fresh Thyme

    * use canned chicken broth for the Pasta e Fagioli

    /shameless self-promotion

  12. If helpful, Karen’s staples include chocolate chips, canned Vienna sausages, deviled ham in a can, and brown sugar. There you go. Load up.

  13. Open up about four cans of beans, one can of tomatoes, and put all that in a crock pot with some barbecue sauce, garlic (fresh or granulated), and pepper. Let it do its thing for 2 1/2 hours or so, and then add frozen corn and frozen spinach. Give it another half-hour, then enjoy barbecue beans. Especially delicious with biscuits (which I know you can make from the post!).

    Since everything is vegetarian and already cooked, the crock-potting is really about letting the flavors meld. I think you could also do this on the stovetop, but it’s one of my go-to recipes. If I put it together right when I get home (4:30), then we’re eating dinner around 7:30.

    • You (along with the rest of this thread)inspired me to make a stewy thing out of a bag of lentils I’ve been wondering what to do with for close to a year, a box of frozen spinach, and a can of diced tomatoes — it’s in the crockpot now. (Haven’t decided if we’ll be eating that around 8, or if we’ll have leftovers tonight and keep this until tomorrow.) I’ve made a monster out of myself.

      • Update: OMFG, I am happy with how this turned out. We didn’t eat it for dinner, which was a good move, because a couple more hours in the crockpot (I turned it from high to low after 3 hours) made a big difference. It’s tomorrow night’s dinner now, but I’m having some for a midnight snack, and I’m ridiculously pleased with myself.

        What I did was a variation on this recipe. I wanted stew instead of soup, so I cut down the liquid (though I ended up adding the 2 cups of water during cooking, after I saw how much the lentils were soaking it up).

        Actual ingredients used:
        I bag brown lentils
        1 box frozen spinach
        1 can diced tomatoes
        1 can chicken broth
        1 can coconut milk
        2 c water
        3 strips apple-cinnamon bacon, cut into bits and fried (We happened to have this in the house, and I was curious, but I’m sure you could omit this and not miss it. I’m sure you could also use veggie broth or water in place of the chicken broth to make this vegetarian.)
        2 tsp. garam masala
        2 tsp. cumin
        2 tsp. lemon juice
        1 tsp. chili powder
        Some onion powder
        Some Lawry’s seasoned salt
        Some dry mustard

        When I say “some,” I mean a few shakes. Throw all of the above in the crockpot and stir. In the future, I’d probably crock it on low, 6-8 hours. I will also probably add some more spices — it could use a bit more salt and a bit more heat, I think — but it is shockingly (well, to me) good as-is.

        Note: If I were making this for myself, I would also put a metric fuckton of garlic in it. (Al can stand a certain amount of garlic — hence Lawry’s — but in general, he’s not a fan.) And if I had an onion handy, I certainly would have added that. (Unfortunately, I used my emergency onion last night.) But it’s still damned good without those things.

  14. This is not really what you asked for, but it was my eventual solution to the same problem: a make-ahead cookbook (I use _Fix, Freeze, Feast_). The idea is that you get the stuff to make six or so meals of something, prep it, and freeze it *before* you cook it. Then on cooking day, you pull it out of the freezer and go. Or put it in the crock pot still frozen, in the case of a number of recipes. All of the recipes in my book are scaled to the amount of food in one Costco tray pack of meat.

    My routine is to shop on Saturday morning, and then to cook on Sunday and throw everything in the freezer. Once I’d been doing it for a while, I had a good variety built up in the freezer, so it’s easy to take something different out and cook it. (Tonight we are having steak marinated in a mix of molasses and balsamic vinegar, with garlic and nutmeg in it. Totally awesome.) I also rely heavily on those cook-in-the-freezer bag veggies.

    The other thing that turned out to be a big help with the problem of needing a big minimum order on online grocery shopping was establishing an automatic delivery once a week of staples. In my case, this is milk, frozen veggies, diapers, and bagels (the diapers also help a lot with the minimum order amounts, but I know that’s not a big help to you right now). Then, during the week, whenever I notice that I’m out of something, instead of having to write it down or remember it until I get to the store, I add it to the upcoming automatic delivery right then (the iPhone is nice for this). By the time it arrives, I have totally forgotten about it, but I remember when I pull it out of the bin and stick it in the pantry.

    • This is actually a great idea for me — thanks! I’ve often thought about going to one of those places where they hand you a bunch of recipes and chopped up ingredients, and you assemble meals to go in the freezer. Since I seem unable to actually book an appointment at one of those, a book could be the next best thing. Although I’d still need to find someone to chop everything up for me.

  15. My freezer almost never has anything in it. This is not a virtue – I think it would be more economical if I would prepare to freeze some leftovers or bulk purchases – but just an announcement to explain how you can cook pretty easily without frozen goods if you get into shopping habits that work for you.

    Also, I really do cook ALL OF THE THINGS. I have a farmshare during the summer, so most of my meals then are planned around using up whatever veg I was allotted.

    Things I keep on hand at all times:
    1. some kind of grain, like rice or couscous.
    2. onions and garlic
    3. broth – chicken or veggie, and I usually make this myself cheaply and easily, but the homemade bit is not required.
    4. A can or two of coconut milk
    5. A can or two of diced tomatoes
    6. A deep skillet with a lid
    7. A pot

    Things I buy fresh when I pass a grocery store on my way home, which I do once a week or so:
    1. whatever meat is on sale
    2. whatever veggies are on sale (unless I’m getting them through the farmshare)

    And pretty much everything I make with these items is a variation on this form, which is actually splendidly variable and can usually be made highly nutritious (and vegetarian if you just leave the meat steps out):
    1. Boil rice or coucous in pot. I like to boil mine in broth.
    2. While grain is boiling, mince some onion and garlic. Coat the bottom of the skillet with a thin layer of oil, put a handful of chopped onions and garlic in on medium heat. Cover. While they cook, prepare your meat if you have it: chop it up, season it, whatever.
    3. When the onions are getting soft and sort of translucent, dump meat in. Stirring it around on high heat for a few minutes really sears the flavor on. But then cover and turn the heat to medium, let meat simmer and steam.
    4. Most meat will make its own juice, but you may wish to add some liquid to help it simmer – the canned diced tomatoes, coconut milk, or broth.
    5. While the meat is simmering, chop up whatever other veggies you got at the store. After the meat starts looking (mostly) done, throw veggies in and stir around. If there isn’t enough liquid in pan to keep things from sticking, add more of whatever liquid you used before.
    6. Cover and leave on medium for a few minutes. It’s done when you can stick a fork in all the bits. Dump over your rice and eat.

    Takes 30-40 minutes, but it would take that long to boil brown rice anyway. Some variations I like:
    lamb with canned diced tomatoes, olives, green squash, and italian seasoning
    chicken with potatoes, carrots, cauliflower, coconut milk, and curry seasoning
    ground beef with canned diced tomatoes, black beans, carrots, and if I can find a good avocado to garnish YAY

    What makes this tasty and appetizing is putting tasty and appetizing things in it, so I really do like to get fresh veg whenever possible, and I like exciting grain mixes – which I like to think save money in the long run, because if I get the sexy wild rice blend then I’m more likely to fill up on rice than on the expensive perishable stuff.

  16. May I suggest supercook.com? My husband (who is the cook in our family, thank God) found it about a year ago, and it’s a total life-saver as far as “What can we make just with the shit we’ve got in the house?” ideas go. When you go to the site, you create a list of all the food, spices, oils, etc. you’ve got on hand, which you can save and add to and subtract from as you go shopping or use things up. Then the site will suggest recipies that use *only* what you already have on hand. It’s saved us a ton of money, because stuff doesn’t go bad waiting until we figure out what to do with it.

  17. Broccoli Soup w/or w/out cheese:

    Broccoli (fresh or frozen)
    water
    salt, pepper (go easy on salt if adding shredded cheese)

    Optional:
    cheese: cheddar, goat’s, cheese, pecorino romano, brie, etc.

    1) add broccoli to rapidly boiling salted water, cover and cook 5-6 minutes.

    2) remove broc from water w/slotted spoon OR drain into another pot using colander, save HALF THE WATER. Zhuz broc and remaining water in blender (or crush in pot with potato masher), making sure it’s NOT TOO THIN (this is the secret to good broc soup!). Add salt and pepper to taste.

    3) IF using cheese, return soup to pot and put on medium-low heat. Slowly add shredded cheese, stirring all the while. Add pepper and serve. If using goat cheese, CRUMBLE/SLICE to BOWL instead of pot.

    Have lots of frozen/old veggies? Grab a couple of jars of curry sauce or paste, some yogurt or crushed tomato, grab some beef or chicken (I use ground or stew beef [chuck] or whole chicken legs). Throw the protein in the hot pot with a little oil, add sauce/paste with requisite yogurt/crushed tomato, simmer or bake for 20 minutes, add frozen veg and cook for 20-30 more. Dinner is served.

    Simple chicken poached in coconut milk:

    chix (I prefer whole legs, breast will be faster)
    3 garlic cloves, unpeeled
    3 bay leaves
    1 can coconut milk

    Optional:
    chix stock/bullion
    hot red pepper slices or flakes
    ginger
    black pepper

    1) put ingredients in heavy bottomed pan w/lid or plate
    2) cook until done
    3) eat (I love it served hot in a bowl over torn lettuce)

    Hope that helps!

    Oro

  18. Generic spice mixes for when you’re in a rush:

    Fajita: cumin, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, garlic salt

    Chili: see Fajita and add Oregano (equal parts oregano to cumin)

    Asian-style (because I am not knowledgeable enough to be specific to dish or country) sauce for dipping or hot veg like broccoli or green beans : olive oil, 1 clove crushed/finely chopped garlic, couple of drops maple syrup or use sugar, cider vinegar or rice wine vinegar, tamari or soy sauce, dark sesame oil. Mix to taste, yum.

  19. We call this chicken tacos for some reason but for us it’s actually burritos.

    2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
    2.5 cups salsa, or enough to cover the meat
    1 cup rice uncooked (I use basmati)
    1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
    Some tortillas
    Some cheese (we use the not at all racistly named fiesta blend)

    Combine chicken and salsa in a crockpot and cook for 4-6 hours on high or 6-8 hours on low. Chicken will shred easily with a fork when done.

    Meanwhile, make rice according to package instructions (may want to add some butter or olive oil to keep it from sticking). When the rice is done add in the black beans and salt to taste. I also usually put a couple teaspoons of minced garlic and cumin but it’s okay without those.

    Role everything up in a tortilla with cheese.

    FYI we always freeze our chicken because we buy in bulk and I’ve had to ad extra time for regular chicken breasts. We have a 6 quart crockpot which I guess is kinda large but I don’t know if that effect thawing speed.

    Wow that is a lot longer than I thought it would be. Happy cooking!

  20. Frittatas can take a lot of leftovers and frozen veggies, though you need to be careful that it doesn’t expand the amount of leftovers that need to be eaten, rather than reduce them. Quantities are what you want. Saute garlic and perhaps onion and other fresh veggies in olive oil, when soft add cooked/frozen veggies and cooked meats, then add a mix of beaten eggs and cheese. Cook over stove until firm at the bottom, then sprinkle with more cheese, put in the oven (in your oven proof pan) till it is firm at the top. Good hot, warm, or cold.

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