Wednesday, January 26, 2011

what we've been making lately

Some fluke in the Universe provided us with three (<--- read 3!!!) whole weekends in a row without plans.  No trips to visit family. No socializing out and about. No travel for the Able-Bodied Boyfriend. No weekend work for me. No major hosting duties, save a couple of last-minute get-togethers.   Three.  Whole.  Weekends.

(Let me just say now that the post from Monday was most likely a result of cabin fever, as weekend number three felt like a big cold boring un-fun event. Nevertheless...)

So what did we do with our wintry home-bound time? We cooked, of course! So here be the list of stuff we made, and maybe ate. Some I may get around to writing about in-depth (aka, recipes) at a later time; feel free to post requests!

Homemade pasta.  Able-Bodied Parents gave us a pasta machine, and we've Able-Bodied Boyfriend has been whipping out batches.  Very handy for...

The Best Lasagna Ever.  BLE is based on a New Zealand recipe I brought back. Full of turkey and spinach and feta, it's healthy, not overwhelmingly rich like a lot of ricotta-based lasagnas, and freezes well.  So we made two pans in foil pans (meh, disposable, but recyclable!), froze them, then pulled them out, let them thaw for an hour, cut them into thirds and rewrapped them for later dinners. We have made BLE for my family in the past too, and they all love it! That homemade pasta turned out really well in the dish, and also in...

Cilantro Pesto. Umm. If you like a bit of heat, and a kick of flavor. *swooooooon* Not normally a Rachel Ray fan, but dear god where did she come up with this?!?! So, if you buy one of those huge bunches of cilantro at the grocery, it makes about two batches worth. We mostly ignore recipes that call for a bit of cilantro as garnish or just a couple tablespoons in the dish - why waste the whole bunch? - but now I've decided that for every single recipe that calls for a tiny leaf of cilantro, we'll buy a bunch just so Able-Bodied Boyfriend can make the pesto to freeze for later :)  Good plan, right? I think my cilantro excuse this time was...

Local lamb chops in this indian tomato/potato dish. Probably from one of my indian cookbooks. Not too bad, but a bit mild on the indian spices IMO. Now to find more uses for the other packages of lamb (we got a half).

Yogurt, from this post. Because I've been eating a ton of it. And we've made other dishes with it...

Curried Lentils. Best recipe I've ever found on Food Network. I use regular store-bought brown lentils, and on occasion will add (or replace the cauliflower with) chopped cabbage. Also played with making my own curry paste, so I don't need to buy the Patak's, which is hard to find. So freakin' yummy we can't get enough of it. And it uses yogurt (cooking liquid and a fabulous topper), as does...

Spinach Saag. I played around with a couple of recipes I had found, but mainly stuck with the A&M Blog's version, but replacing the cream and buttermilk with yogurt, and no paneer (but I might try making my own soon, since Able-Bodied Boyfriend loves it so).  Note to self: I have got to stop overheating my dairy products when cooking with them. Even a slight curdle does not look appetizing. But, it was yummy anyway.

Loose Breakfast Sausage. I love sausage. But really, it's not all that healthy so I deprive myself all the time until I find an opportunity to gorge myself. Not anymore! Penzey's, our favorite spice source, has Breakfast/Pork Sausage seasoning, which we bought with our last stock-up. I had hoped that it would be a good substitute for the flavor, without the greasiness. I was right! I mixed about a tablespoon and a half with a pound of ground turkey, browned it, and created an awesome substitute. I dumped it into a towel-lined bowl to absorb whatever fat was still hanging on, sauteed some red peppers and onions in the leftover fat in the pan, then put the peppers and onions in with the sausage while I scrambled some egg whites in the pan.  Toss it all back together and it was a rich hearty breakfast with probably much less than half the fat. Now, can I make tofu or veggies taste like sausage.....? :)

Orange-Chili Braised Spare Ribs. There might just have to be a whole post about this recipe, found on the A&M Blog. Oh heaven on earth. Of course, you want to have the Able-Bodied In-Laws send you a case of very sweet and decadent oranges from Florida...

African Peanut Stew. When kellywhitephillips of Living on the Vedge posted about her favorite vegan winter dishes, the first dish, an African Peanut Stew, just sounded completely YUM.  Her source was a local restaurant, so I had to go recipe hunting... Oh Google, how wonderful are thee... I found the recipe on the Fat Free Vegan Recipe blog and brought it home to Able-Bodied Boyfriend.  His philosophy is that all stews are better the second day, so he had it all made by the time I got home the next day, sitting temptingly on the stove for the next night's dinner. He cut the recipe in half, but mysteriously still added 2.5 serrano peppers from the summer harvest (frozen).  He also make his own peanut butter, and used the stove-top directions.  He was surprised that the veggies are "sauted" just by simmering in water, rather than using oil. And it was totally worth the wait!  Served over brown rice, the stew was very filling and flavorful... and quite a bit spicy.  Amusing, becuase kellywhitephillips loved it so for the soothing, non-spicy nature.

Whole Wheat Loaves. Using a whole wheat roll recipe we use regularly to make hamburger buns, I shaped a couple loaves out for some garlic bread. Didn't turn out too bad, but not really the sort of dough I'd ever do again for that sort of application.

Flax Seed Bread. My favorite bread of Able-Bodied Boyfriend's breach machine repertoire. Half goes in the freezer for later, and I get to spread my springtime strawberry-rhubarb goodness on the other half :)

Rotisserie Chicken & Roasted Veggies. We have a crap-ton of meat in the freezer, so weekends have been deemed Meat Days (weeknights being reserved for fish and vegetarian meals). We popped a whole roaster on the rotisserie in 15 degree weather, stuck a pan of veggies to the side, and let 'er go. Excellent company made it taste better :)

Tabbouleh. I had some bulghur wheat screaming to be used, and the local grocery had parsley on sale. I make mine a bit differently, by soaking the bulghur in a mixture of half lemon juice, half water, to get that awesome lemony flavor. I skimped on the olive oil for health, which makes it much less sticky, but still very yum. I ended up making about 3-4 quarts... so for lunches this week, tabbouleh it is!

Buffalo Bean Soup. Can't say enough about this. There will be a post tomorrow with the recipe.

Mulligatawny Soup. From the aforementioned : 500 Soups by Susannah Blake. Turned out pretty well overall, though very similar to several other recipes from this book and from my past soup experiments. Gotta consolidate all the good ideas into one excellent soup.

Pumpkin & Lentil Soup. My grand plan for {le}Internet Cooking Princess's Squash and Lentil, and my own Roasted Pumpkin and Apple fell by the wayside when we realized the ribs were going to need the 4th soup's vessel, and the local groceries did not have good-looking squashes. So, I replaced her squash with my frozen pumpkin from the fall harvest, and added a full pound of lentils (store brown, since fancy lentils are a hike away). Wow, kudos to the Princess. A wonderful soup!

Chili Verde. Another recipe from "Make it Fast, Cook it Slow" by Stephanie O'Dea , made and frozen in 2-serving batches. So scrumptious, I shouldn't even really tell you about it.

Veggie Chili. On the docket for this week, to be served at Able-Bodied Niece's first birthday party. Originally passed to me as a copy of a cookbook recipe from a coworker, this has quickly become a chili favorite of the Able-Bodied Boyfriend (my heart is forever with Cincinatti chili, over thick spaghetti noodles and smothered in sour cream, cheese, and oyster crackers). Hearty and tasting like, well, meat. Without meat. Only he sometimes adds meat anyway.

Whew. It's any wonder I'm losing any weight at all!

What's been going on in your kitchen?? Any recipe requests from the list?

Much Love,
Able-Bodied Girl


  1. I am especially interested in BLE and Chili Verde

  2. you got it jill! coming soon... :)