Tuesday, September 22, 2009

An Announcement

I just wanted to let it be known that I am still here and care about my blog, but I am in the process of getting a divorce and have not been able to post as often as I would like. I am going to be moving a few days and once things settle down a bit, I'll be back to posting more often.

There hasn't been much to post anyway! The other night I had a beurre blanc separate in the pan, I've accidentally baked some asparagus until it was crispy, and I've resorted to fruit salad for dinner a few nights. I think my cooking is going through the same adjustment period that my family is, so hopefully once I get back into a groove with the other aspects of my life, things in the kitchen will naturally fall back into place as well. Big thanks to everyone for understanding :)

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Worcestershire Roasted Carrots and Potatoes . . . Gratin?

Tonight I was seeking something quick and inexpensive to feed myself and the kids for dinner, and I really wanted to make something using all stuff I already had on hand because I did not feel like and could not really afford a trip to the grocery store. The result was a combination of roasted vegetables, grated cheese and panko that reminded me of a gratin. Either way it was gobbled down by both myself and my kids.

To make the "gratin":

Preheat your oven to 400. Begin by combining a quarter cup olive oil, a quarter cup worcestershire sauce, and a quarter cup dijon mustard with a liberal sprinkling of grated romano cheese in a medium bowl. Whisk everything together until it is emulsified, then set the bowl aside.

Give a small dice to one red bliss potato and three large carrots. Keep in mind that I was only feeding myself and two toddlers, so you can use however much more as you need for your own family. Add the vegetables to the dressing you already mixed and fold it all together until everything is thoroughly coated. Empty the entire contents of the bowl into a baking dish, taking care to spread it into as thin of a layer as possible. The larger the dish you use the thinner of a layer you'll be able to create and the thinner you spread everything the faster it will cook.

Pop it into the oven for about twenty minutes. After twenty minutes, stir the vegetables and sprinkle them with some panko and some more romano cheese. Cook for about another twenty minutes, but keep a good eye on things. You don't want your breadcrumbs to become blackened.

After the dish has cooked for the second time, remove it from the oven and stir again. It is now ready to serve. If you are trying to cut costs like me this is filling enough to eat on its own, but it's also a fantastic side dish. Potatoes and carrots are two of the cheapest vegetables you can buy, and you use such a small amount of romano cheese here that this dish is remarkably inexpensive to make, yet bursting with flavor in each and every bite. You will not be disappointed.

Bolognese Part Three; Sloppy Joes?

This is the third and final way that I found to use my bolognese leftovers. I'm sure I could have come up with more delicious ideas but alas, I used the last of the leftovers making this dinner so more applications for leftover bolognese will just have to wait until the next time I make it :) Ironically enough, the idea for this flavorful explosion of bolognese, shredded chicken and bacon came from my sister Robin, who is a vegetarian.

To make the bolognese sloppy joes:

Begin by seasoning five thin sliced chicken breasts with salt and pepper at least half an hour before you're ready to cook. When you're ready to cook, bring a thin coating of olive oil up to medium heat and cook the chicken breasts for about five minutes on each side. Remove them to a plate and place them in the fridge to cool. In the still hot skillet, cook about five strips of bacon (you can obviously use however much bacon as you like, but I got a pretty decent bacon flavor with five strips). Set the bacon aside to cool as well.

You will use the same (still hot) skillet to reduce down the bolognese leftovers. You need at least three cups of bolognese for this dinner. You should remove the bacon grease from the pan before you add the bolognese. Place the bolognese in the skillet and let it heat up, stirring occassionally. You will also want to add at least half a cup of ketchup; this thickens the bolognese and sweetens it a little. You should increase the heat to medium/high to get it bubbling slightly.

While the bolognese is bubbling, return your attention to the meat. You are going to shred the chicken by using two forks to pull it apart into strands. This may take awhile and feel a little tedious, but the difference in texture versus dicing it is so remarkable that you really must do it. After you have shredded all of the chicken, crumble all of the bacon strips.

You may have noticed that the bolognese is slightly less in the pan; this is good. Just like when we cooked the original pot of bolognese, reducing it this way really enhances the flavor. You may now add in all of the chicken and bacon and stir until it is thoroughly incorporated. Once you have all of the ingredients bubbling away in the skillet, cook until the mixture achieves the consistency you want. It can be finished/served at any time.

And there you have it! Sloppy joes, definitely not the way your mother used to make them. You get to eat an extremely super delicious dinner and use the rest of your leftovers. This one was a huge crowd pleaser with every member of my family, and the leftovers of this leftover dinner extraordinaire made a delicious lunch the next day. I served it on wheat bulky rolls.