Here At The End Of All Things

This blog started as a way to convince myself to eat more vegetables, a writing exercise, and an experiment. It’s been a good one! It’s pushed me to find new recipes and actually keep track of what on Earth I’m doing.

I’m going to end it here, though. I first posted on January 19, 2015, and so I’ve managed a year of this. With only a couple of hiatuses, that I posted ahead of time! I’m considering the whole experiment a success. But I have one semester left of undergrad, then graduate school, and I still work. This means I’m not really prioritizing cooking experiments: I’ve made some variation of ground turkey with artichoke hearts three times in the last month.

I hope this can provide some inspiration, or at least remind you that throwing together whatever you have is a legitimate way to cook and so is eating the same thing for a week. Take care of yourselves, and happy cooking.

One Pot Turkey Pasta

Ingredients:

  • ground turkey
  • parmesan
  • salt, pepper, Italian seasoning, garlic
  • pesto
  • half a package of cream cheese
  • half a box of pasta
  • water
  • can of artichoke hearts
  • balsamic vinegar

Ground meat tends to be cheaper than most cuts, largely because of the whole ‘made out of unidentifiable bits’ thing. It’s also really versatile, though, and does well stashed in the freezer until the day before you want to use it.

I browned the turkey and garlic in the pot I intended to cook the pasta in, throwing a bunch of Italian seasoning in as I went. Turkey being very low fat, I didn’t have to drain it when I was done, just add a couple splashes of balsamic vinegar, a spoonful of pesto, and salt and pepper. Mix that up, throw the half a package of cream cheese on top, then add your pasta. I used linguine broken in half, but anything you can get to lie fairly flat works well. Add enough water to just cover your pasta.

I then stuck the artichoke hearts on top of that – they don’t need to cook, but I wanted the flavor incorporated, and putting them on top of the pasta ensures that the pasta stays under the water where it belongs. Bring to a simmer, put a lid on, and walk away for twenty minutes- pasta takes longer to cook with stuff than on its own.

When the noodles are the texture you want them, mix it all up: you’ll be able to tell you’ve got a unified dish rather than layers when you stop seeing distinct streaks of cream cheese. Serve with parmesan.

Nachos

Ingredients:

  • IMG_1253ground beef
  • taco seasoning
  • chili pepper
  • tortilla chips
  • shredded cheese
  • whatever else you like on nachos

Brown the ground beef on the stove. When it’s close to done, start the oven preheating to 425°F. Get out a large baking sheet and spread a thick layer of tortilla chips on it.

Add seasoning to the beef, and whatever else you want: I like diced jalapeños, but T hates them, so I forewent those. I did add some salsa con queso. The benefit of mixing all of that in with the beef is that you get maximal even distribution with fewest passes of sprinkling things over the chips.

Spread some shredded cheese over top, then another layer of tortilla chips and another layer of bIMG_1252eef and stuff. Top with the rest of the cheese and stick the whole pan in the oven for 15 minutes. Best served hot – and to a group – as they do not reheat well.

Fresh from the oven, though, they’re delicious.

Yorkshire Pudding

I hadn’t had Yorkshire Pudding in ages, and was really craving it. I have no idea why – I’ve been watching Hawaii Five-O, and all my other recent food cravings have been Hawaiian. But I wanted it. So I had to figure out what on Earth even went in it.

Pizza Yorkshire Pudding Obviously, I had even less idea than usual what I was doing.

Basic Yorkshire Pudding Ingredients:

  • one part flour
  • one part milk
  • lots of eggs
  • generously oiled pan

Additional things that went into mine:

  • pizza seasoning
  • pepperoni
  • shredded cheddar

Start your oven preheating to 425°F, put a generous coating of oil in the bottom of the pan, and stick your pan in while the oven is preheating. You want the oil pretty hot, and assembling everything else goes really fast.

Throw together your basics. I used a cup of flour, a cup of milk, and a little over half a small container of egg substitute. I don’t think just egg whites would work. Traditional recipes vary wildly – partly because it’s such a staple in Yorkshire that it’s basically ‘throw together what’s on hand and stick it in the fire.’ Seriously. The recipes I looked at had a 150°F spread in recommended temperature. Whisk or beat that together until it’s all smooth. Take your pan out and pout all of the batter in.

I then threw on a bunch of pepperoni and a generous shake of pizza seasoning. It seemed like an easier idea at the time than making gravy? It tasted really good, anyway, even though I used too much oil in the pan. Lack of depth perception is bad for when you’re trying to gauge the difference between ‘a generous layer’ and ‘almost a quarter of an inch, what the fuck.’

Pop that in the oven for 15-20 minutes or until it turns golden brown on top. Check on it with your oven light: you don’t want to open the door until it’s done or it’ll collapse like a soufflé. Mine looked kind of disappointing and sad at 18 minutes, so I opened the door, threw on a double handful of shredded cheddar, and then closed the door and put the oven on the high broil setting. Melted cheese makes everything better. This is fact and not a result of bias stemming from living in Wisconsin, home of the cheeseheads. When the cheese was melty and it looked more delicious, I took it out of the oven and cut it into quarters. It tasted amazing.

20 Minute Chicken And Dumpling Stew

Recently I decided I didn’t want to always be fussing with cooking raw chicken before I made everything, so I got some frozen pre-cooked chicken. I also got frozen veggies, because we need to eat more of them.

Ingredients:

  • half a bouillon cube
  • garlic
  • pepper
  • whatever other seasoning seems like a good idea
  • chicken
  • frozen peas and carrots
  • Bisquick
  • milk
  • water

Throw your broth basics, pre-cooked chicken pieces, and however many peas and carrots you want in a larger pot than you think you need. Add about a cup of water for every bowl of soup you want to end up with.

Put that on high and get out a bowl to mix your dumpling dough. Add a couple cups of Bisquick, salt and pepper if you want it, and enough milk to make a quite moist dough – think something like a Betty Crocker brownie mix that you pour into a pan. Mix that with a spoon.

Is the water boiling yet? If it is, drop spoonfuls of your dumpling mix in. Simmer that for the like ten minutes or until the dumplings are as done as you want them. Serve immediately!

Pizza Rolls

We had a friend in who liked my pizza rolls before, so I tried making them a little fancier this time: with a breading type thing.

Rolls:

  • frozen bread dough
  • pepperoni
  • block of cheese

Coating:

  • pasteurized egg mixture (substitute real egg if you have it on hand)
  • olive oil

Topping:

  • parmesan
  • bread crumbs
  • pepper
  • salt
  • garlic powder or salt

The topping should be mixed in a bowl in whatever proportions taste delicious to you, but I suggest lighter on the salt than you think you need because the pepperoni is salty.

So basically, you roll out the bread dough super thin and then cut it into squares – it’s easier than ripping and flattening because then the edges stick together better. Cut up little squares of cheese and put one of those and a pepperoni in each bit of bread dough. Wrap them up, trying to make them as seamless and dumpling-like as possible.

Dip them in the egg mixture, then in the topping. Stick them on a non-stick baking sheet. Start preheating your oven to 375°F at some point while you’re filling a tray – these can take a while, especially the first time you make them.

When the sheet is full stick it in your preheated oven for 15 minutes.

Best served still quite warm.

Blackberry Cheesecake

51rk4txvkal-_ss365_I got a craving for blackberries. But it’s winter in Wisconsin, so blackberry preserves seemed like a better idea. Blackberry preserves, and, because I sometimes pretend to be a civilized adult who wouldn’t eat blackberry preserves straight out of the jar, cheesecake. My first stop, obviously, ended up being The Pioneer Woman, but I don’t actually have a food processor, so I went a little differently.

Ingredients:

  • Oreo cheesecake crust
  • 2 packages cream cheese
  • a jar of blackberry preserves
  • lime juice
  • 2 eggs
  • cinnamon
  • nutmeg
  • sugar

Soften your cream cheese – leaving it on the counter for an hour and then microwaving it for 45 seconds was enough for me – and put it in a large bowl. Add sugar, lime juice, cinnamon and nutmeg to taste, beating well. The ‘to taste’ thing works really well, because it’s safe to eat the batter until you add the eggs. I used a ton of cinnamon and a couple generous splashes of lime juice because I wanted it as a strong counterpoint for the blackberries. Start your oven preheating to 350°F and add your eggs and beat well again, until everything’s well mixed.

Pour or scrape all of that into your Oreo crust, then add the preserves. If you’re feeling ambitious or artistic, heat the preserves a bit, either in the microwave with the lid off or spooned out into a pot and heated on low. Then drizzle the warm preserves over the batter for a marbling effect.

I just kind of spooned room temperature preserves in and then smoothed everything with a spatula, because I didn’t have it in me to care about what it looked like. Bake for 50 minutes at 350°F, then turn off your oven. Let it cool in the oven to close to room temperature, then cool on the counter completely before refrigerating, otherwise the top cracks.

It tastes amazing.