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.

Pizza Rolls

Sometimes I like to be able to make things in batches so I can just grab them to go later. Sometimes I like to make things in huge batches because to be honest I don’t really know how to cook for more than either just myself or myself and T, and you can’t go wrong with ‘lots.’ One of my favorite things to make in batches is pizza rolls.

Ingredients:

  • frozen pizza dough
  • pizza pepperoni
  • marble cheese
  • sea salt
  • Italian seasoning

This is the pepperoni I use: usually one of these packages goes with three pizzas worth of dough and a medium block of cheese.

It’s not complicated! It takes a little more time than some of my other recipes, but I can stand at the kitchen island and talk to people or watch TV while I’m working on it.

Cut the cheese into little cubes. Sandwich it between two pieces of pepperoni. Wrap that in a chunk of pizza dough – enough that it’s wrapped completely, but not a huge ball of it. Roll it out flat if you want, but I’ve had pretty good luck just sort of smashing it with my hand and then stretching it into place. Place the roll on a non-stick baking tray with like an inch of clearance on each side. Repeat until the tray is full, then sprinkle some sea salt and Italian seasoning on top.

And then you have two options: for crispier rolls that are a delicious golden brown on top bake them 15-16 minutes at 425°F, or for slightly doughier rolls that freeze spectacularly well for eating as leftovers bake them 20-ish minutes at 350°F.

Avocado thing

One of the things I really love for either brunch or whatever you call it when your second meal of the day is at 4pm is avocado and egg. The most complicated part of the whole thing is buying two avocados that’ll be perfectly ripe on the same day. Mostly I try to find ones that are the same color and then leave them on the counter until they’re that dark green that means they’re the perfect ripeness.

Ingredients:

  • avocado
  • 2 eggs
  • salt
  • pepper
  • paprika

It’s incredibly simple: cut the avocado in half and discard the pit. At this point I usually make a little tinfoil nest for the avocado half to keep it upright, but if you have relatively steady hands, it might not be an issue. Score each avocado half a bit, then crack an egg in each one. You probably want medium eggs for this unless you have a very large avocado, because you’re going to get some spillover. The yolk fits neatly into the hole left by the pit, though, so that’s cool.

Top with salt, pepper, and paprika to taste and bake for 20 minutes at 425°F. They taste incredibly rich and creamy and indulgent.

Steak and Parmesan Potatoes

Ingredients:

  • potatoes
  • garlic salt
  • powdered parmesan
  • olive oil

Tonight was steak and potatoes, because I felt like it. The trick to good steak when you can’t use a cast iron skillet on your glass-topped stove is to preheat your nonstick pan what feels like excessively. That, high heat, and not overcooking it are how I’ve figured how to do it.

Now, the parmesan potatoes: unlike pretty much every other iteration of potatoes I make, you want only a single layer. So I grabbed a 9×13 baking pan and put a layer of olive oil on the bottom. It makes the potatoes both crispier and orders of magnitude easier to get out of the pan. I ended up being able to fit 5 potatoes in there, cut up smallish. Then I sprinkled a little garlic salt and a lot of parmesan on top. Like, they should be pretty much coated in parmesan.

50 minutes in a 425°F oven and you have deliciousness!