Post #432 Flour for Dinner

October 28, 2015 at 4:17 PM | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Okay, first day on the job went well.  3 hour orientation and them home.  Easy peasy.  So I have time to write the blog.  Yesterday was my last day of being ungainfully employed so I decided to make as many things from scratch as possible.  I also received my copy of Lidia Bastianich’s Mastering the Art of Italian Cooking the day before guess what kind of food was on the menu?

I’ve made pasta by hand for many years and have found it to be as tricky as making bread.  Since you can’t eat pasta that doesn’t turn out right, like you can bread, I haven’t made it as often as I have bread.  So I’m not skilled with homemade pasta.  I’ve watched Lidia make it a dozen times and she makes it look so easy.  Mary Ann Esposito makes it the same way and it looks so easy.  Even ATK makes it the same way and it looks so easy.  Well, there was a recipe in the cookbook that showed three different ways to make it so it was heavy, medium, or light.  And it had two different processes, by hand or by food processor.  I’ve been wanting to learn how to make it by machine and I’ve watched Lidia do this many times so I decided now was the time.

I went with the medium weight pasta.  I set up my food processor and put 2 3/4 cups of flour in it and a pinch of salt.  Then I put three large eggs and one large egg yolk in a two-cup measuring cup.  I added one tablespoon of extra-virgin olive oil to the eggs, and a teaspoon of water.  I mix them all together.  Then I turned on the food processor and let the flour aerate for a few seconds, then poured the eggs quickly into the mix.  Eureka!  It actually did what it was supposed to do!  I had a ball of pasta in 40 seconds.  I unplugged the machine and turned the dough onto my counter which was floured.  My dough was a little sticky (it’s been very humid around here due to the hurricane remnants moving through.  It rained all day today and it’s still going on.)  So I floured my hands well and kneaded the dough until it was smooth and elastic, about a minute or so.  Not long.  I wasn’t going to make the pasta right away so I wrapped the dough in plastic film and set it aside.  This is an important step because it allows the dough to absorb the liquids in the batch.

Then I started on the Roasted Garlic Focaccia.  Focaccia is an Italian flat bread that’s sort of free form.  It can be made in large sheets or small rounds, whatever you like.  It can be made plain, or made to taste like a pretzel, or herbs can be added to the mix, or stuff can be piled on the top.  Mine was an Italian herb flavored bread with roasted garlic on top.

So here’s what I made:

bread (2)

That little ball of dough is about a pound.  A pound is a LOT of pasta.  The bread is about 11×14.  A lot of bread for one meal.  What I made would have served six people.

Here’s the recipe for the bread:

Focaccia Bread

  • 2 34 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon white sugar
  • 1 (1/4 ounce) packet active dry yeast
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 12 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 12 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 dash ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons parmesan cheese (grated)
  • 1 12 cups mozzarella cheese (shredded)
  • Directions
  1. Mix the yeast and water in a small bowl. Let proof for 10 minutes (until bubbles begin to form).
  2. In large bowl, stir together flour, salt, sugar, garlic powder, oregano, thyme, basil, and black pepper.
  3. Add the yeast mix and vegetable oil to the dry ingredients and combine.
  4. When dough has pulled together, turn out onto lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic.
  5. Lightly oil a large bowl, place dough in bowl, and turn to coat with oil.
  6. Cover with damp cloth and let rise in warm place 25 minutes.
  7. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  8. Punch dough down, place on greased baking sheet.
  9. Pat dough into 1/2-inch thick rectangle (doesn’t have to be perfect).
  10. Using your knuckle, make indentations in the dough about 1/2-inch apart, then prick dough with fork.
  11. Brush top with olive oil, then sprinkle with Parmesan and mozzarella cheese.
  12. Bake for 13-15 minutes until golden brown.

So, while the bread was cooling, I made the pasta with my pasta machine:

pasta roller

I didn’t use the machine to cut my pasta though.  I rolled it and cut it with a sharp knife.  But I made a mistake.  I should have cut the pasta as soon as I stretched it and rolled it.  By the time I got to the fourth chunk of rolled pasta, it was sticking to itself.  I hadn’t used enough flour to keep it separate.  But, there was plenty for the two of us.  So while the pasta dried, I put on a gigantic pot of water to boil.  Once it was boiling, I made the pasta sauce.

I’ve written about this sauce before, but it bears repeating cuz it was GOOD!

I had two very ripe fresh tomatoes from my favorite veggie stand that if I didn’t use now, I would have to toss.  So I used the technique of grating the tomatoes that I wrote about in a recent post.  I put all the tomato into a bowl.  Then I heated up a tablespoon of olive oil and cooked up some onion until they were sweating and clear.  Then I added a half cup of pepperoni slices cut into quarters.  I cook them up with the onions until they were dark and were releasing their juices.  I added a couple of pinches of oregano and some garlic powder and stirred everything around.  Then I added half a pinch of pepper flakes.  Be very careful with these cut they are HOT!  I added the tomato and cooked it down until it was thickened.

The water was boiling furiously by this time, so I added about a tablespoon of salt (salting the boiling water is a matter of taste.  Some people like it very salty, and some don’t like any salt at all.  The salt in the water transfer to the pasta so the saltier the water, the saltier the pasta.)  I put my fresh pasta in two or three noodles at a time so they didn’t stick to each other.  Fresh pasta cooks much faster than dried pasta so in just a few minutes it will be done.  I fished the pasta out of the water with a net basket strainer and put it directly into the sauce.  Stirred the pasta and sauce around and served with the bread and some parmesan cheese.

Pasta

It was so good!  And a few hours before, it had been flour.

Enjoy

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Post #431 Two Great Gifts From Your Kitchen, and NEWS

October 26, 2015 at 12:29 PM | Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Post #431 Two Great Gifts From Your Kitchen, and NEWS

We’re coming up on the Holiday Stretch and it’s always a challenge to come up with gift ideas for the loved ones.  I enjoy the process, for the loved ones.  But then there’s the casual gifts that “must” be given during the season.  Either it’s an office party, or a holiday get together with friends, but you know what I’m talking about.  Then there’s the gifts for the “far flung” family and friends, those who aren’t quite as close but you want to give gifts to.  The strain on the budget and your sensibilities can be tremendous.

Long ago, I decided that many of my far-flung gifts, party gifts, and even some close gifts were going to be made in my kitchen, or by hand.  One year, a good friend complimented me on the playlist on my Ipod, saying how much she enjoyed the choice of music.  That year, I copied the entire playlist onto 30 CDs, and packed them into a CD wallet which I then wrapped up.  They still listen to the CDs.

So, I’m going to tell you about a couple of great gift ideas from your kitchen that you can make cheaply, and can give as sets or singly.

bottles

Gift bottles are elegant and useful and versatile.  They can be as creative as you make them, decorated in any way imaginable, and always make a “splash.”   See what I did there?  I’m going to focus on just two things, oil and vinegar.  That’s because you can give them singly, or as a set.

Oils:

Flavored oils have to start with a good quality oil.  Olive oil is the usual choice since it picks up flavors so well, and it’s mild flavor blends well.  But other oils can be just as good.  Any of the nut oils, walnut, pecan, almond, etc. can work just as well as long as you pair the oil with a complementary flavor.

The first step is to find a bottle.  You can use bottles you’ve cleaned thoroughly from around the house.  For instance, a nicely shaped pasta sauce bottle with no label on it can make a good bottle for a gift.  Dress it up a bit and put a new label on it.  If you put a label on it, make sure to put the date and any care instructions.  Some oils will turn rancid fairly quickly at room temperature so let the “giftee” know that.  The most important thing is make certain the bottle is absolutely clean.  You can also get already prepared bottles at craft stores and hardware stores.  Another place for oddly shaped and colored bottles is antique stores.  Just make sure they’re clean!!

Then select your oil/flavor blend.  Normally what I do is use olive oil and make herb or spice flavored oil.  It’s very easy.  Measure the amount of oil to fill the bottle into a pan that will hold it.  The easiest way is to fill the bottle with water, then measure the amount of water you have by emptying it into a measuring cup.  Measure the same amount of oil into the pan and set it over the lowest heat setting your stove will allow.  Then add your flavor ingredient.  As I said, herbs and spices are very popular, but peppers and chilis are, too.  You can either chop the ingredient up or leave it whole.  Heat the oil gently for about ten minutes, then turn it off.  You want to extract the flavor; you don’t want to cook the herb/spice/pepper.  Leave the pot on the stove for about 3 hours to allow the ingredients to steep, like a tea.  Then strain the oil into the bottle using a fine mesh strainer and a funnel.  Do this over the sink to avoid messy cleanup in the case of a spill.  I also try to put a large whole piece of whatever flavoring into the bottle if I can.  It gives a visual clue to what flavor the oil is.

Some of the more popular (and easy) flavors are garlic, rosemary, thyme, basil, mint, truffle, citrus, hot pepper, sweet pepper, and apple.

Vinegar:

All the bottle care for oil is the same for vinegar.  Labels, cleanliness, information, etc. all the same.  Don’t neglect it.  Vinegars, though, can safely stay at room temp without spoiling.

You need to use a vinegar that pairs with the flavor you want to make.  Vinegars are harsh, but some are not so harsh as others.  When making flavored vinegars, it’s best to stick with the balsamic or rice wine vinegars due to their slightly milder flavor.  Champagne vinegar is good, too, if you can find it.

As with flavored oil, you measure the amount of vinegar into a nonreactive pan and set it over the lowest heat setting available.  You add the flavoring agent and allow it to steep over the heat for ten minutes.  Then you turn the heat off and allow the vinegar to steep for 2-3 hours.  Strain through a fine mesh strainer into the bottle, add a piece of whole flavoring agent, cap it, and store.  Vinegar is easy.

Fruit flavored vinegar is the most popular.  I love a good pear vinegar.  Another way to make flavored vinegar is to add fruit juice or concentrate to vinegar by tablespoons until you get a flavor you like.

Herbed and spiced vinegars are good, but most people tend to stick to the sweet herbs and spices for vinegars to offset the acidity of the vinegar.

There’s one other thing you can do with vinegar, particularly balsamic vinegar.  Take a full bottle of balsamic vinegar and put it in a nonreactive pan and set it to simmer.  Allow it simmer for quite a long time until it’s reduced by half or more.  It will turn to a syrupy consistency, and the grape flavors of the vinegar will intensify, making it taste sweeter.  Pour this into a clean bottle and label it reduced balsamic vinegar.  Store it in the fridge to avoid spoilage.  This reduced vinegar can be used in sauces, as a deglazer, or as a garnish, among other things.  It’s well worth the effort to make.

Enjoy

 

******************************** N E W S ! ! ! *************************************

There are a few things going on that I need to update you about because they will impact the blog.  First, I’ve been pulling together stories and recipes from the blog to compile into a book.  I’ve got them all gathered and I’m going through my second edit.  Hopefully by Christmas, I’ll have an ebook ready on Amazon based on the blog.  This was one major goal for this blog and I’m thrilled to be near crossing it off my bucket list.  I’ll update you the further I get along.  I’m leaning towards a price point of 99 cents, or perhaps 1.99.  Depends on how I feel when I’m ready to hit the “publish” button.

Second, I’m joining NaNoWriMo next month.  That stands for National Novel Writing Month and it’s an unofficial competition to write 50,000 words in 30 days.  It’s been going on for over a decade and I’ve followed friends’ progress on it with enjoyment, but I’ve never attempted it myself.  It boils down to 1667 words a day, and in the last hour, I’ve written 1200 on this blog post and have a few hundred more to write.  So I think I can do this.  I’ve been busy selecting the book I’m going to work on, and doing a chapter breakdown.  It starts on Sunday Nov 1 and I’m nervous but excited by the idea.  You don’t win anything, but at the end, if you finish, you have a completed novel, or 3/4 of a completed novel on your computer.  So, here I go.

Third, I’m rejoining the ranks of the gainfully employed.  A high end grocery store in a nearby town has hired me to join their middle management team.  I’m starting at the bottom and working into the spot they have in mind for me.  I start Wednesday, the 28th.  I have no idea what my schedule will be like.  I could be there as early as 5am, or as late as 12 midnight.  I’m looking forward to interacting the customers, and with the coworkers.  It’s been a long time since I’ve worked day to day and I’m happy to be doing it again.

All this leads me to Fourth.  I’m going to take the month of November off from blogging.  The work on the blog book, plus the work on the writing competition, plus the work at the store is going to keep me busy and I don’t know at this point what my days are going to look like.  I’ll continue to update as I can, and I will do my best to write funny and insightful blog posts.  If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions, or want to throw a guest post my way, just let me know.  I’ll be back on Dec 2 without fail.

Once again,

Enjoy

BTW – this came in at 1500 words.  I’m gonna kick ass in November!

 

Post #430 Chili Stompin’ Good Times

October 23, 2015 at 10:00 AM | Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Post #430 Chili Stompin’ Good Times

A friend recently asked me for the link to my blog post about chili.  She and I both remembered me writing about it.  I searched.  And I searched.  If any of you can find a post about chili, let me know.  I couldn’t find it and neither could she.  There’s a search box on the right.  I’ve mentioned chili many times, but always in conjunction with another subject.  SO!  Guess what this post is about?

When I was 18 and still living in that small Arizona town one winter day (temps reached down to 67 degrees about that time) the power went out.  Mom wandered around the house and finally told everyone that dinner was going to be cold sandwiches since the power was out and she couldn’t cook anything.  We were all in the living room because the wood burning stove was lit to drive off the chill.  I looked at her for a moment and finally said, “Are you for real?  What the heck do you think that is?” while pointing at the stove.  She made a big pot of chili in a cast iron dutch oven on the wood burning stove and said she felt like a pioneer.

I grew up with my mom’s chili.  I hated my mom’s chili.  When I was still in my before teen years, the only way I could eat it was to crumble crackers into it until it was a sludge, wait for it to get cold, then shovel the stuff into my mouth and swallow as fast as I could just to get rid of it.  (In those days, kids ate what was put in front of them or they didn’t eat.)  Later on, when I was old enough to take care of things myself, when mom made chili, I ate peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.  She always made the chili too hot and too full of onions.

Once I got out on my own, I never made chili.  But after many years of not having it, I got to wanting a taste of it again.  I bought a can of Hormel chili to put on a hot dog.  It wasn’t too bad.  So I looked up a recipe and found out that the way my mom made chili wasn’t the only way to make chili.  In fact, it wasn’t even the traditional way to make chili.

Chili con Carne, or simply chili, is meat cooked with chili.  That’s pretty much it.

Chili 1

The meat takes on the flavor of the chili, and the chili take on the flavor of the meat.  Typically a touch cut of beef is used and simmered for hours with the veggies and spices until the meat is fall-apart tender and the flavors well aged.  It can be as spicy or as mild as the individual wants it.  Tomatoes are usually added as the simmering base and to impart a heartier flavor.

chili 2

Sometimes beans are added, although some purists believe that chili doesn’t contain beans.  Other spices are added to kick up the spiciness and heat, while some topping can be added to cool things down.

chili 3

I’m going to talk about three ways to make chili that will make wonderfully satisfying pots of chili.

Diabetes Cookbook Chili –

  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • 2 cups chopped onion
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 1-2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp oregano (optional)
  • 2-3 cans chopped tomatoes
  • 1 can red kidney beans (optional)
  • 1 6oz can tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon each of dark brown sugar and cocoa

Cook ground beef until no longer pink, try to leave large chunks.  Using a slotted spoon, remove ground beef to a bowl.  Discard all fat except two tablespoons.  Heat leftover fat and sauté onion and garlic until onion are clear and sweating.  Do not brown.  Add spices and stir for 30 seconds to bloom the flavors.  Add the tomato paste and allow to cook for one minute while stirring to blend.  Add remaining ingredients in order of list, plus one cup of water.  Stir to combine, then heat to just starting to boil.  Reduce heat to simmer and cook for 1-2 hours until all flavors are combined and chili thickens.  Serve hot or warm with tortilla chips, sour cream, and shredded cheddar cheese.  When cooled and thickened, this can also be put inside flour tortillas, rolled, and heated in microwave to make burritos.

America’s Test Kitchen Chili –

  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 2 tsp minced canned chipotle (chi-pote-lay) chile in adobo sauce
  • 4 slices of bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled, fat reserved
  • 1 3-4 pound chuck eye roast, cut into one inch pieces and fat removed, patted dry
  • 1 medium to large onion chopped small
  • 1 jalapeno stemmed, seeded, and chopped fine
  • 2-3 tablespoons chili powder
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoons yellow corn muffin mix

In a blender or food processor, process tomatoes and chipotle chiles until smooth.  In a large dutch oven or heavy pan, heat one tablespoon reserved bacon fat.  Brown beef in fat in batches.  Add remaining bacon fat to pot and cook onion and jalapeno until softened.  Stir in spices and cook 30 seconds.  Stir in water then add sugar, tomato puree, beef, and bacon.  Bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer.  Cover pot and simmer one hour stirring two or three times.  Remove lid and skim fat from surface if necessary.  Simmer another hour, until beef is tender.  Ladle one cup of liquid into a bowl and add muffin mix.  Stir until smooth, then add back to the chili and stir to combine.  Taste and add salt and pepper.  Serve hot with sour cream and shredded cheese.

My Own Private Chili Bowl –

  • 1 large jar favorite red salsa
  • 1-2 cans chopped tomatoes
  • 1 60z can tomato paste
  • 2-3 pound chuck roast, fat removed and cut to 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1-2 medium onions, chopped roughly, half cup reserved
  • 5-6 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1-2 tsp cumin
  • 1-2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 pinch chili flakes
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1/2 cup crushed tortilla chips (optional)

Brown beef pieces in hot oil, remove to bowl.  Cook onion (except reserve) until clear.  Add garlic and cook one minute.  Add spices (not chili flakes) and cook 30 seconds to bloom flavors.  Add tomato paste and cook one minute while stirring.  Add canned tomatoes and stir.  Add beef and salsa and stir to combine.  Add two cups water and stir to combine well.  Heat to boiling, then reduce to simmer.  Simmer 2 hours until beef is tender, stirring ever twenty minutes or so.  Taste and add chili flakes if extra heat is desired.  Add reserved onion and crushed tortillas.  Cook another 45-60 minutes, stirring every ten minutes or so to make sure tortilla chips incorporate into sauce and don’t burn.  Serve hot with cheddar cheese, extra tortilla chips, or warmed tortillas.

Conversely, you can make this in the oven or a crock pot by cooking the roast whole covered until tender.  Break it apart with a wooden spoon then add other ingredients and stir to combine.  Cook another hour covered, then stir again.  This way also makes a wonderful filling for tacos.

Ground beef can be substituted for the roast.  Beans can be added but since Partner/Spouse doesn’t like them, I generally don’t.  It’s good either way.

And don’t forget, chili tastes wonderful this way:

Chili Cheese Dog

As always,

Enjoy

 

Post #429 Cauliflower, It’s What’s For Dinner

October 19, 2015 at 12:04 PM | Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Post #429 Cauliflower, It’s What’s For Dinner

More years ago than I like to think about, I had moved out of my mom and dad’s house and was living in a small travel trailer in a travel trailer park in my home town.  One lazy Saturday afternoon, I was sitting inside with all the doors and windows open talking with a friend who had dropped by.  As we talked, an old man was wandering up and down the lanes selling fresh vegetables.  He held out a head of cauliflower that was sparkling white and huge.  He only wanted a dollar for it, so I gave him four quarters, set the veggie on the table and continued talking to my friend.  Without thinking about it, I broke off a small piece and started crunching on it while offering some to my friend.  Within an hour, we have devoured that whole head of cauliflower, half a cheese ball, and most of a box of crackers.  It was the first time I’d ever eaten raw cauliflower, but it reinforced an opinion that has stayed strong all my life.  Veggies are good.

cauliflower

Cauliflower is part of the cabbage and kale group of veggies, closely related to broccoli.  It’s a white vegetable that, to me, looks remarkably like a brain, or what I imagine a brain looks like.  It comes in a lot of different varieties and colors ranging from white to green to purple.  It’s high in vitamin C and dietary fiber and low in fats and carbohydrates, making it an excellent food for anyone on a low carb diet.  It is versatile and can be cooked in lot of different ways.  We’re going to explore some of those ways now.

First, when cooking this veggie it’s important to remove all the green stems.  You can eat this part if you feel like cooking them for a couple of hours, but I don’t recommend it.  Apart from that, all other parts are edible.  Most people like to break it into small bite-sized florets while others like to cut or chop it into even smaller pieces.  It can be a little messy when cutting or chopping, but make sure you get all the little pieces because they’re all good and good for you.  The stalks can be eaten as well, but I mostly use them for soup.

Most of the time, cauliflower is steamed or boiled.  It cooks remarkably quickly this way and is done when a fork can poke its way easily to the center.  Try not to overcook it because it can get mushy pretty quickly.  Once it’s done, try to serve it immediately.  Lots of people  sprinkle grated cheese of various types over it, as well as bacon bits, chopped green onion, or cheese sauce.  Use your imagination.  I personally like it just as is with a very light sprinkle of salt.  It has a good flavor that doesn’t need to be hidden.

Another very popular way of eating it is chopped fine into a salad or nearly any kind.  In a green salad, its white color and graininess gives the appearance of snow.  In mayonnaise-based salads (chicken, tuna, etc.), that same color allows it to hide in the dressing and provides a surprise crunch.

One method of cooking that has become popular recently is mashed.  When it’s steamed or boiled soft, it’s easy to mash the vegetable.  It’s becoming popular this way since it is so low in carbs and is an acceptable substitute for mashed potatoes.  The trouble is mashed cauliflower can be soupy.  What most cooks do to fix this is make a blend of potato and cauliflower.  Use about 1/4 potato to cauliflower for best results in both texture and health benefits.  Otherwise, mashed cauliflower can be used exactly as you would mashed potatoes with the same additions and flavorings.

I’ve roasted cauliflower florets with other vegetables to make a good side dish, but there are a couple of other ways to roast the veggie that make it stand on its own.

The first way is as a side dish.  Heat your oven to 350.  Cut away all the outer leaves and cut the stem so it’s even with the head of the plant so it sits evenly in a baking dish.  Take a quarter cup (half a stick) of softened butter and spread it evenly over the entire head of the vegetable.  Then sprinkle it lightly with whatever is your favorite herb/spice blend.  Bake for half an hour then sprinkle the whole thing with parmesan so coat it medium thickly and return to the oven for another half hour to 45 minutes.  It should be soft to eat and golden to dark brown on the top.  You can mix it up with whatever herbs and spices you like, whatever cheese you like.  You can even substitute the butter for olive oil or mayonnaise or whatever else you have to make the herbs stick to the vegetable and add flavor.  Serve it hot and whole and let the family scoop out what they want.  {Note:  As I was typing this, it occurred to me that you could also make this sweet with sugar, honey, or something of that nature.  I haven’t tried that, but it would be worth it to play around with.}

The other roasting way turns it into a main dish and is called Stuffed Cauliflower.  It can be done two ways, inside or outside.  Whichever way you’re cooking it determines what you’ll want to use to stuff it.  The inside method uses a meat stuffing.  Carefully hollow out the stem leaving a fairly large bowl shape inside the cauliflower head.  Fill the bowl with a meatloaf type stuffing.  Set the cauliflower bowl-side up on a baking sheet with an aluminum foil ring to keep the veggie upright.  Bake at 350 for 30-45 minutes until the cauliflower is soft and the meat is cooked thoroughly.  Cool for 10-15 minutes, cut into wedges and serve.  The outside method is similar to the side dish above.  Prepare the cauliflower as above cutting the stem so it sits evenly.  Prepare a thick, sticky bread stuffing and plaster it to the outside of the cauliflower head all the way down to the baking sheet or dish.  Bake at 350 until the cauliflower is tender.  Cut into wedges and serve hot.  The outer stuffing will be crisp and tasty while the vegetable will be tender and steamy.

So, which one is my favorite?  Hmmm, I would have to say, all of them

Enjoy

 

 

Post #428 Five Ways to Use Leftover Spaghetti (With the Sauce)

October 16, 2015 at 11:24 AM | Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Post #428 Five Ways to Use Leftover Spaghetti (With the Sauce)

Partner/Spouse has been working some unusual hours this week which brings him home in the early afternoon exhausted and hungry.  On Wednesday, I made a big pot of spaghetti because we hadn’t had it in a long time, and it’s so good on a chilly October evening.  I made biscuits to go with it and we both enjoyed the heck out of it.  I used my standard recipe for the stovetop that I’ve described in detail in previous posts.

spaghetti 02

I dumped the cooked noodles into the pot of sauce, mixed it around, and let it stand while the biscuits were baking.  We scooped out what we wanted, ate with gusto, and enjoyed the heck out of it.  It was good.

The next day, I decided to use the leftover spaghetti rather than freeze it.  Instead of having the same meal twice in a row, I wanted to mix it up a bit so I did what I always do and hit the internet for ideas.  They boiled down to five basic dishes.

Basic Dish 1 – Fried Spaghetti Leftovers

You can do this in two different ways, but they’re basically the same thing, just different sizes.  Heat a large skillet very hot.  Reduce to medium heat.  Melt butter and wait for foaming to subside.  The amount of butter depends on the amount of spaghetti you’re frying, but use plenty to avoid sticking to pan.  Place spaghetti in pan.  Fill pan, but make it manageable.  Leave the spaghetti alone for several minutes, then move it to avoid sticking and to check if feels cohesive.  When the underside is browned and crispy, use large spatulas to flip it.  There’s a trick to this type of flipping.  Use a plate the same size as the skillet and turn it face down over the food.  Holding both the plate and the skillet, turn the skillet over so the food falls onto the plate.  Then gently slide the food back into the skillet.  It works best with a non-stick skillet.  Then continue frying, adding more butter if needed or desired.  When both sides are crispy and brown, remove from heat and sprinkle with parmesan cheese.  Cut into wedges and serve warm.  Alternatively to making one large chunk, you can make several smaller sized pieces.

Basic Dish 2 – Baked Spaghetti Lasagna

Heat your oven to 400.  Spray a baking pan large enough to hold all your leftover spaghetti.  Place half the spaghetti in the bottom of the pan.  Mix 1 cup of sour cream with half a cup of ricotta cheese, and a cup of shredded mozzarella cheese.  Spread this evenly over the spaghetti and top with remaining spaghetti.  Sprinkle top with parmesan cheese and bake for 30-40 minutes until cheese is brown and spaghetti is bubbly.  Let set for 10-15 minutes, then cut and serve just like lasagna.

Basic Dish 3 – Spaghetti Pie

Heat your oven to 375.  In a large bowl, mix 2-3 eggs (depending on amount of spaghetti) with the spaghetti making certain to mix thoroughly.  Mix 1/4 cup parmesan cheese, 1/4 chopped onion, and 1/4 cup chopped pepperoni pieces.  Pour spaghetti into a pie plate sprayed with vegetable spray.  Bake for 30-40 minutes until eggs are cooked and set and the entire dish is piping hot.  Remove from oven, allow to cool for 5-10 minutes, cut and serve.

Basic Dish 4 – Spaghetti Casserole

Heat oven to 350.  Spray a casserole dish large enough to hold your spaghetti with vegetable spray.  Pour spaghetti into dish.  Cover top of spaghetti thickly with pepperoni slices.  Cover pepperoni thickly with cheese blend of parmesan, mozzarella, and cheddar.  Bake for 20-30 minutes until cheese is golden and bubbly and casserole is heat throughout.  Serve hot.

Basic Dish 5 – Chili Spaghetti Makeover (my idea, not the internet)

Place spaghetti in a large pot.  Add two more cans of chopped tomato and one can of kidney beans.  Stir to mix, and add water if sauce is too thick.  Add 1/8-1/4 tsp of red chili flakes.  Add 1 tsp of chili powder.  Add one tablespoon of cocoa.  Add 2 tsp cumin powder.  Stir to combine, then simmer for an hour to an hour and a half for flavors to combine.  Serve with corn tortilla chips and sour cream.  One note on this one, remember you’re trying to change the flavor profile from Italian to Mexican.  They share a lot of herbs and spices but some are unique to each.  Taste each addition and adjust as needed.

So after all that, which one did I chose to make with the leftover spaghetti?

I made reservations.  Just kidding, but we did order out at one of our favorite local delivery places.  They have good food and good service.  I got quite a chuckle during the ordering process because the young lady who answered had only worked there a couple of days so we were both struggling through the ordering.

Enjoy

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