Wednesday, March 4, 2009

March 2 and 3, new recipes

I'm rolling two days together here, which may become my new pattern. My six-month-old laptop has decided that working is bourgeoisie, and instead it will turn itself off at random intervals to keep me on my toes. So it's going back to Compaq Heaven to get a new set of fans and probably a complimentary hard drive wiping, while I make do with M's old five year old Gateway laptop, which is a fricking workhorse for all it has no battery. This is sad, because while I'm using the Gateway, we will have nothing to watch our Netflix on. We may have to finally dig up the actual discs we got about four months ago and send them back to continue on with our queue. At least those we can play on the actual television. 

Anyway, in the food department, yesterday was a day for an exciting new recipe, tomato soup lasagna bake. I found it on the label of the tomato soup can. Basically you brown and drain a pound of ground beef (I used turkey) and a diced up onion. Shake in a teaspoon of dried oregano, and if you're addicted to italian seasoning like me, throw some of that in. Over that you glop on a carton of ricotta cheese as evenly as you can. I was going to sub in cottage cheese, but was tickled pink to find ricotta on sale at Aldi's this week. It makes a difference! Over the cheese you put four cups of uncooked rigatoni, and then over that you pour two cans of tomato soup mixed with one cup of water. Squish it all down so it's all wet, then simmer it in the pan for 15 minutes, till the pasta is cooked, and then toss on a cup of grated mozzarella. 

I didn't take a picture, mainly because I was starving and worried that the burger bottom was going to burn even more than it already had if I didn't get it served up right away. If I make this recipe again, I will definitely half-cook the noodles ahead of time, because they simply took too long. By the time they were done, my ground turkey had burned black on the bottom. Other than that, though, it was a really good recipe. It wasn't hard, it didn't take a lot of attention, and the flavor was great. Excellent way to use two of my dozen free soups. There were plenty of leftovers for lunch today. 

For supper this evening, I wanted to give M a treat. A new favorite dish he's discovered since we moved to this area is Cincinnati chili, an odd dish that really isn't much like chili at all at least not to me. It's really hard to describe, watery and sweet beanless chili that's served over spaghetti. If you've ever had three-, four-, or five-way chili at a restaurant, you've probably had it. I'm not terribly fond of it, but it's okay. It's very expensive to buy at a fast food joint around here, five or six bucks for a one-person serving. This week at Meijer, though, they had seasoning packets on sale, and all they required was water, tomato paste, and ground meat. Score! I cooked up the chili for more than an hour in my six-quart pot, then boiled up some spaghetti noodles, then served it garnished liberally with low-fat cheddar and oyster crackers, very traditional. 

It turned out really well. I actually liked my homemade stuff better than the stuff from Skyline or Gold Star Chili, partially because it was less greasy and partially because the whole pot cost about 5 bucks. M was also a big fan. He had seconds, and there was plenty to pack up for his lunch tomorrow. There might even be two days of leftovers for him in there, since I think I'll stick to the turkey sandwich plan and leave the chili to someone who can really appreciate it. 

I've also been making granola this week. I got all the ingredients together and made a batch last night, which turned out delicious. I didn't put in sesame seeds, subbed in pecans for almonds and peanuts, and only used craisins for fruits, but it was snacking genius. I tried to make another batch today, while the chili was simmering, but M came home and I got distracted and left it in the oven way too long. It's not bad, a little carmelized, a little carbonized, but edible. I love making granola because it's the only way I can afford it, and it makes me feel handy and clever. 

I've been reading lately about container gardening online. We've got this nice patio here, and it gets good sun during parts of the day, so I think it could work. I need to get some containers and some dirt, but after that, smooth sailing, right? I'm thinking I could maybe decorate the outside of a plastic storage tub and plant into there, plus I have a kitty litter bucket and an empty hanging basket for tomatoes. A garden like that wouldn't have a big yield, but I think it would be satisfying to watch growing. And being able to grow some of my own herbs, garlic and green onion would be very handy, since I'm always running out. 

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