Saturday, March 30, 2013

Green Cottage Pie

I hate pot pies. Hate them. I really will never understand what makes people like them. But cottage and shepherd pies? LOVE. We wanted to up the amount of beans we eat, since it's an easy way to increase protein in the diet, and I made a huge batch of Appaloosa beans. Also, Ross really wanted to have a casserole, and since I think normally the only two casseroles I make are lasagna and tuna it seemed like a fun way to mix things up. So I thought I'd put a couple cans' worth in this, in place of some other kind of meat. I called it green not because it's environmentally friendly (although it is that), but because the avocado in the mashed potatoes makes it literally green. Which is kind of fun, unless you don't like that sort of thing in which case you can just wait until Saint Patrick's day to make this. Anyway, if you're wanting this with meat, just add that in (before the veggies) and take out (or not) the beans. Hope you enjoy!

2 big glugs olive oil
3 stalks celery, diced
3 carrots, diced
1 onion, diced
3 large button mushrooms, thinly sliced
salt and pepper to taste
1 teaspoon each: tarragon, sumac
half a stick (4 tablespoons) butter
juice of half a lemon

2 cans (3 cups) drained and rinsed beans: kidney, appaloosa OR pinto
1/2 cup beer

3-4 Russet potatoes, skins left on and chopped
32 ounces stock (I had veggie on hand, but you can use what you want)
1 very ripe avocado
half a stick of butter
1/2 cup (ish) yogurt, cream cheese or labne
salt and pepper to taste

Put the glugs of oil in your pan and turn the heat on to medium. Then add all the veggies, and spices, plus the lemon juice and stir around a bit. Put the butter on top of all that so it just melts in on its own time. Let cook until onions are translucent and carrots are softening (and butter is melted, of course). Once this is all cooked, add the beans and beer (and salt if needed) and stir about to heat through, cooking down the beer a bit.

In the interim, boil potatoes in a covered pan with some salt (if your stock isn't salted) and the stock. Ideally, your stock will be roughly at the same level of the pot as the potatoes, but it's okay if it's a little over or under. When the potatoes are very soft and full of stock, drain them, and mash in the avocado, half stick of butter, yogurt, and any salt and pepper you may be using.

Put the veggie mixture in an 8x8" pan, along with any pan juices. Top with mashed potatoes (you can pipe them if you're cool in that way, but I fail at piping so I just spoon it in) and bake at 400F for 30 minutes. Serves 2-4.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Chick Pea, Spinach and Pasta Stew

We had some soujuk in the freezer, and now that I'm not pregnant the smell doesn't make me sick. I wanted to eat it, and have been saving it for when I could eat it again. But I didn't want to have breakfast for dinner, so I decided (when I came across some chick peas I'd cooked for hummus and frozen for later) to make a stew to go with it. It evolved a lot while it was being made, and it was really, really wonderful. I'm looking forward to eating some for breakfast with leftover bread, too. Hope you enjoy!

1 clove minced garlic
1 diced soujuk (or about 2 tablespoons diced other sausage)
1-2 teaspoons olive oil

2 cloves minced garlic
1 large onion, diced
2 cups sliced celery (about 4 stalks), with leaves
1/2 orange bell pepper, diced
2 tablespoons olive oil
zest from half a Meyer lemon
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 teaspoon each: basil, dill, sumac, mint

juice from half a Meyer lemon

5 ounces frozen spinach (can be thawed or not)
1 12-ounce bottle beer (I used a Belgian white)
1 14-ounce can stewed tomatoes with juices
1 14-ounce can artichoke hearts (plus the liquid; do not drain)
1 can, or 2 cups cooked and drained chick peas
zest and juice of other half of Meyer lemon
salt and pepper to taste
8 ounces medium shells

In a skillet, heat oil and fry soujuk pieces until they are crispy. Combine all of second group of ingredients in a saucepan and fry over medium heat until the onions start to get crispy edges. Then add the Meyer (or other) lemon juice, and let it cook another minute or two. Excepting the pasta, add the last group of ingredients, plus the fried sausage bits, and let simmer for 30 minutes. Add the pasta, then cook another 8 or so minutes. Turn off heat and let it sit for a few minutes. During this time you can (this is what we did) fry up some more soujuk or other sausage to eat with your stew. A loaf of bread is great with this too. You can also eat this plain, and it's perfectly good that way too. Serves 4-6.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Bergamot-Cranberry Muffins

I didn't get around to making breakfast pastries this morning, and since my intention is to sleep in tomorrow, I know I won't do them in the morning then either. So I decided to go ahead and throw together some bergamot-cranberry muffins so Ross will have foods to take with him for breakfast. It's a pretty standard muffin set-up, with a little extra. Hope you enjoy!

1 cup milk (I only had soy milk for some reason, which is weird since neither of us drink soy milk, so I used that)
1 large egg
1/2 cup bergamot juice (you could use lemon, or any other citrus for this)
1/4 vegetable oil
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sugar (reduce this if using a sweet citrus)

2-ish cups flour (I admit, I did not measure very carefully, so it was somewhere between 2 and 2 1/4 cups)
1 - 1 1/2 tablespoons baking powder (see flour measuring above)
1 cup whole frozen (and thawed if you have time) cranberries

Whisk together everything in the first group of ingredients. Add flour and baking powder and whisk that in until just barely incorporated (if your batter looks smooth when you get done, expect tough muffins), then stir in cranberries. Oil a muffin pan (that's what I do) or put paper liners in the pan, then fill each well with a scant 1/4 cup of batter. Bake at 400F for 20-ish minutes. Makes 12.

Thursday, March 07, 2013

Vegetable Lasagna

I finally had the baby, so we're leaning strongly toward meals that can be eaten for a few days at a time. I'm giving extra preference to things that can just be made from odds and ends I find in the fridge too, since I'm still working out the logistics of running errands with an infant. After I'd attempted to make some yogurt for Ross, and overheated it, I wound up with some really lovely farmer's cheese. So, I hung it to drain overnight, and salted it in the morning. We decided that lasagna would be the result of this mistake. Adding to that a tomato sauce made from canned products and random veggies in the fridge, this turned out to be significantly more delicious than either Ross or I expected it to be. And because it actually worked out really well, here it is. Hope you enjoy!

1 box no boil lasagna noodles (unless you just like boiling your own)
1 14-ounce can each: crushed tomatoes, stewed tomatoes, diced tomatoes
1 8-ounce can tomato sauce
juice of two lemons
1/2 cup dried leeks (or 1 1/2 cups chopped fresh leeks)
1 cup each: sliced carrot, sliced celery
12 ounces beer (I used a Belgian white)
1 tablespoon each: dried basil, dried parsley
1 cup sliced button mushrooms
1 teaspoon each: dried mint, dried marjoram
1 bay leaf
salt and pepper to taste
1 pound mozzarella
1 pound ricotta or fresh cheese

Combine all ingredients except cheeses and pasta, and simmer for an hour or so, until thicker but still thin enough to spread. Put 1/4 of the sauce on the bottom of a 9x13" pan, then line with noodles. Sprinkle 1/3 of the mozzarella  onto the noodles, then half of the ricotta or farmer's cheese. Top with 1/4 of the sauce, then another layer of noodles. Do this again, then top with remaining 1/4 of sauce. Bake at 400F for 45 minutes, then top with the last 1/3 of mozzarella (and some parmesan, if desired) and bake another 15 minutes. Let rest 10 minutes before serving.