Sunday, February 23, 2014

Limited Ingredients, Small Kitchen

We just got back from skiing for several days.  It's become an annual tradition for school vacation week.  Five of us (sometimes more) share a condo with a small kitchen.  It's always a little iffy about how well stocked the kitchen is in terms of pots and pans, sugar, spices, and utensils, but we make do.  Making our own meals saves us so much time and money and then we know what we're getting and that we're going to like it.  Generally, we go grocery shopping for the whole week before we get anywhere near the resort, figuring (correctly) that the groceries get more expensive as we get closer.  I don't usually plan meals that far in advance but, for this, it's necessary.  Generally there isn't an outdoor grill, so everything has to be made in the oven or on the stovetop.  Here are some of the go-to meals:

spaghetti or some sort of pasta with sauce made from lamb, garlic and cilantro with a salad;

burrito night, which involves ground meat, enchilada sauce, shredded cheese, guacamole (basically avocado, cilantro, and garlic - see how efficient that is?), sour cream, rice, salsa and a can of black beans.  We ran out of tortillas so some of us just had burrito bowls;

BLT night, so more lettuce, toast, bacon (the rest gets used for breakfast or, in this case, a little went into the black beans);

and this year I tried something new:  chicken cordon bleu.  I had chicken thighs, but they weren't boneless, and sliced cheese and ham that we had for lunches.  After I boned the thighs, I wrapped each around a little cheese and ham and then just baked them.  Sure, they would have been better with bread crumbs and a little white sauce, but they were pretty good as is.  As an added bonus, because I couldn't bear to throw out those bones with all that meat on them, I made a batch of chicken soup.

Leftover Chicken Soup

chicken thigh bones with some meat attached
salt and pepper
chopped up baby carrots
leftover rice (from burrito night)
leftover green beans (from CCB night)

Make the stock from the bones with salt and pepper, remove the bones and keep the meat.  Add the leftovers and heat through.  Reheat when ready to eat.

We decided that in the entire history of that kitchen it was probably the first time someone made soup from scratch in it.

Before baking
Dessert was another thing that required some ingenuity.  Some members of our party impulse-bought a bag of frozen berries.  We didn't need them for our oatmeal because we ran out of oatmeal long before we ran out of fresh fruit.  Since I didn't want them to go to waste, I attempted a crisp.  But again, no oatmeal.  Barely any sugar, for that matter.  No flour.  I did have Cheerios and butter.  We crushed the Cheerios and cut in softened butter with knives and put that over the berries that were in a buttered dish and sprinkled with 3 packets of sugar.  This was baked at 375 for 30 minutes and served with a little ice cream.  Unusual, but tasty in a breakfasty kind of way...

After baking

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Snow, Snow, and More Snow

Another week, another snowstorm, and another snow day!  It seems, with work and everything else, that I haven't had time to cook much of anything lately.  Certainly I haven't been canning.  Today I'd planned on making a big batch of kale and sausage soup for dinner but, with the kids getting out of school early and already about 6 inches of snow on the ground, it seemed like a better option for lunch.  We'll have pancakes for dinner, always a treat!

This is probably the best batch of this I've made.

Kale and Sausage Soup

1 onion, diced
2 ribs celery, diced
2 carrots, diced
6 sweet Italian sausages, removed from casings
1 quart turkey stock
1 quart chicken stock
2 quarts water
1 large can of cannellini beans (1 pound, 13 oz) - undrained
1/2 cup orzo
salt, pepper, bay and winter savory to taste

Saute the onion, celery and carrots in some olive oil.  Add the sausage and brown.  Add the liquids, beans, and spices and simmer for 30-40 minutes.  Add the kale and the orzo, simmer for 15 minutes.  Serve over slices of Italian bread.

My thoughts are with all of you in the South suffering with all that ice.  Stay safe!