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.

Baked Couscous

This was the first of the dishes we made over the weekend. It’s multi-step, which in my book means only worth making very rarely, and is why we had to start it before anything else.

Ingredients for massive batch version we just made:

  • 1kg uncooked couscous

    Mm, couscous.

    Couscous! Topped with paprika.

  • butter
  • cumin, coriander, nutmeg, garlic, paprika, pepper
  • yoghurt
  • head of cauliflower
  • rotisserie chicken
  • 4 cups water or chicken broth.

Rinse and then chop up the head of cauliflower pretty small, then mix in a bowl with enough yoghurt so it’s all coated, along with spices to taste: I went heavy on the cumin and coriander and nutmeg. Spread all that on a baking sheet and put in the oven at 425°F for like 25 minutes or until you can poke it and like the texture (Science!).

At some point, start your water or chicken broth to heat with a little butter and pepper. When it comes to a boil, add all of the couscous and take it from heat. Let it sit five minutes. I used an 8-cup baking dish and it ended up really full, so I split the couscous between that and another container about the same size.

Shred the chicken so you have bite-sized pieces. By now the cauliflower should be done, so add that and the chicken to the couscous. Mix it all together, add a little more butter and spices if you want, and stick it back in the oven at 425°F for like 40 minutes or whatever: all of the ingredients are cooked at this point, so it’s just making the flavors combine. You end up with a fuckton.

Bonus: having cooked the cauliflower coated in something else, you don’t get the really distressing raw sewage smell from it when it’s leftovers.

Coordinating batch cooking

IMG_1082Our fridge was getting . . . rather bare. T and I haven’t had the chance to go grocery shopping in ages, since we’re now on pretty much opposite schedules. But another friend, E, also doesn’t often have the energy to cook, and so we hatched the idea to cook a whole bunch of food together.

We made chicken stew, rosemary potatoes, and baked couscous. The nearly ten pounds of potatoes we made followed this recipeIMG_1083, and the other two will be going up following this. This worked really well for both of us, so I think it’s gonna happen every couple of weeks at least until the end of the semester. IMG_1084
Grocery List:

  • 2 rotisserie chickens
  • 10lb bag red potatoes
  • 1kg container of couscous
  • Large container of yogurt
  • family size can of cream of chicken soup
  • box of low-sodium chicken stock
  • carrots
  • frozen peas
  • head of cauliflower

Things I already had on hand:

  • olive oil
  • rosemary
  • other spices
  • water

We spent a couple hours cooking, mostly with the oven at 425°F, and then packaged it up and had food for the week. It was great.

Rosemary Salt Potatoes

When I got home from Russia, I was overjoyed to be reunited with my spice cupboard. Sad to leave Russia, happy to see loved ones, but: spice cupboard. I celebrated by making something simple but with one of my favorite seasonings.

Ingredients:

  • potatoes
  • rosemary
  • salt
  • olive oil

Add some oil to a pan and crush some dried rosemary to go in it – it’ll still be pretty chunky bits of rosemary, but who cares? Rosemary is delicious and smells amazing.

Start the oven preheating to 425°F and start cutting up potatoes. Toss them in the oil. Right before you stick it in the oven, sprinkle some salt over it: sea salt is preferred, because the bigger granules won’t all dissolve while cooking and it matches the rosemary better so you get the little bursts of flavor from biting down on both things. Bake for an hour and fifteen minutes, devour while catching up on missed Hannibal episodes.

Green Bean Casserole

This is the most Midwestern thing I have ever made in my life.

Ingredients:IMG_0310

  • 2 cans green beans
  • 2 cans cream of mushroom soup
  • ground beef
  • tater tots
  • garlic

Brown the ground beef! Brown it with diced garlic and maybe salt and pepper if you want. If you’re having a low spoons week, you can brown the beef one day and then stick it in the fridge and throw together the rest another day.

When you’re going to start putting everything together, start your oven preheating to 425°F.

Drain the two cans of green beans – French Cut, Italian Cut, whatever, doesn’t matter, but the cans that are closest in size to soup cans (but slightly larger) to get the proportions right – and put them in a fairly large casserole dish. Throw in the ground beef and cans of soup. Use a big spoon to mix it together until there’s condensed soup all over everything, then sort of pat it so it’s vaguely flat. Cover in frozen tater tots! You want a fairly complete covering: think processed Shepherd’s pie crust.

Stick it in the oven for about half an hour: whatever it takes to get the tater tots golden brown and slightly crispy.

It makes for delicious comfort food that isn’t too heavy to eat when it starts to get warm out.

Roasted Sweet Potatoes

When your starch is the same color as your seasoning, try before you combine.

When your starch is the same color as your seasoning, try before you combine.

Sweet potatoes are supposed to be some kind of superfood. I think. Probably. I don’t know, I just keep hearing things about, like, vitamins or whatever. It’s got betacarotene, some iron, B C and D vitamins, and a couple minerals, so they’re pretty good for you. I think the traditional Thanksgiving marshmallows and brown sugar and butter topping might cancel out the health benefits, but who cares? It’s delicious.

Anyway, I picked up a couple of sweet potatoes last time we went grocery shopping with some vague idea of adding more variety to our starches.

Ingredients:

  • 2 sweet potatoes
  • garlic
  • seasoning salt
  • olive oil

I think I’d leave out the garlic if I made these again, much as it pains me to say: the garlic was a little overpowering.

But the most important thing is: mix the seasoning with the oil before you add it to the sweet potatoes. Seasoning salt, with the paprika in it, is very similar in color to sweet potatoes when mixed with oil. I’m used to using regular potatoes and being able to see the seasoning, so these ended up a little on the salty side. Still delicious! Just more on the fast food end of saltiness than we usually like at home.

Anyway, mix the seasoning with some oil in a large bowl, start the oven preheating to 425°F, and wash and start chopping up the sweet potatoes. They’re a lot tougher than regular potatoes, so a chef’s knife is a good idea, and trying to remember how to correctly handle knives so you don’t chop a finger off. These are basically like fries, so if you want to cut, like, fry-shapes, that’d probably go over well. When everything’s cut, toss the bits in the seasoned oil and then spread everything on a single layer on a cookie sheet.

Bake for 20-25 minutes until they’re all tender and delicious – shaking the cooking sheet and tossing them a bit in the middle so they’re cooked more evenly on both sides. Let them cool for like 5 minutes, then serve.