Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner…and then some

In the kitchen at Di's House

Meatless Monday – Linguine with Lemon, Garlic and Thyme Mushrooms

I don’t belong to a CSA but my sort of equivalent is shopping at Sam’s Club, when I buy a big container of mushrooms or bag of avocados, for just the two of us.  I also inherited some beautiful lemons from my sister-in-law.  This week, my mission is to cook recipes that use mushrooms, lemon, cilantro and avocado.

Tonight’s dinner was linguine with lemon, garlic and thyme mushrooms, from a Nigella Lawson recipe.  I made a few changes, like using thick spaghetti, using more mushrooms and sauteing them a little.  I read online suggestions of letting the mushrooms marinate, so after the mushrooms were sauteed, I put them into the lemon juice and olive oil mixture.  I also threw in a few raw sliced mushrooms to see what difference it would make (raw vs. cooked).

Mushrooms marinating while pasta is cooking.

The rest is simple, mix the pasta with the mushroom mixture, add grated parmesan cheese and parsley.  I don’t like parsley, and used some chopped arugula instead.  How can you go wrong with mushrooms, garlic, pasta and cheese!  I liked the cooked mushroom flavor, I think it would have been blander with all raw.  The lemon and thyme added a nice acidity.  (I hate it when the chefs say “it needs more acid” on the cheffy shows, it sounds snobby!)  We had salad and focaccia along with the pasta for a tasty Meatless Monday dinner.


The recipe says to mix everything in a bowl but I used the pan since it was already dirty from cooking the mushrooms.

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Happy Chocolate Cake Day!

Today is National Chocolate Cake Day!  I had the ingredients on hand, to make a Chocolate Cherry cake.  I’ve had it before but never made it myself.  (Recipe note:  the link does not list an amount of butter.  Most recipes I’ve seen call for 5 tablespoons.)  The only special ingredients needed are cake mix, canned cherry pie filling, and chocolate chips.  The rest of the ingredients are probably things most people have in their pantry.

chocolatecakeCake Ready to go into the oven

I made half the recipe, saving half the cake mix for another time and putting the half can of pie filling in the freezer.

chocolatecherrycakeHere’s the finished cake, look how much puffier it is.

I have been such a scatterbrain lately, I didn’t pay attention to the recipe and put all the frosting ingredients in the pan at the same time.  I think it turned out OK, except that the sugar didn’t dissolve.  This is definitely a good potluck occasion type cake, fancier than what it would be just plain, and the frosting is easy to make.

I’m trying to use up leftovers from the week.  My friend Ronni suggested I cut up leftover grits and fry them in a pan with butter.  I don’t think I used enough butter, but they were still good.  You know how leftover mashed potatoes aren’t as good as the first day…the leftover grits were just as good as Day One.


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Baked Bao and Clean-Out-The Refrigerator Goulash

I froze some of the ham I baked earlier this week, and today finished off most of it as a filling for baked bao.  Instead of char siu, I used diced ham and onions.


In the past, I’ve also used leftover stirfry as well as BBQ pork for the filling.  I like that I can freeze the bao for a quick lunch.  Here they are split, to show the inside.


I’m thinking I can make it into a breakfast bao by stuffing in a scrambled egg.  I miss Bay Area dim sum!  I think if anyone opened a dim sum restaurant in Tyler, they would have an instant hit.

For the rest of dinner, I made an impromptu clean-out-the-refrigerator goulash, using a quarter of a cabbage, a third of an onion, a handful of frozen chopped green pepper, a few spoonfuls of fire-roasted diced tomato, and a generous spoonful of lentils & refried beans.  Sometimes I get lazy about making salad, and I like sauteed veggies instead.  This sort of fit the bill, plus used up a bunch of produce in the refrigerator.


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Lentil Enchiladas

A week or two ago, I found a recipe for lentil enchiladas that I wanted to try, but I didn’t have refried beans and had to postpone it.  Anyway, we had it tonight.  The filling is lentils, salsa, and water cooked up, mixed with green chiles and refried beans.


It’s rolled up into tortillas, topped with sauce and cheese, then baked.  I added a few sliced olives, and served it with sour cream, onions, and pickled jalapenos.


I used 8 corn tortillas and still had filling leftover, but I can use it for burritos or quesadillas.  This was really tasty.  Normally my enchiladas are dry, but the refried beans kept it moist.  The lentils added texture to the beans.  The recipe is definitely a keeper.

For dessert, we’re having lemon-glazed pound cake, from King Arthur Flour.  My sister-in-law had a bumper crop of lemons, we’re not sure if they’re Meyer.  I don’t like using zest from store-bought lemons, since it’s questionable what is on the rind.  So when I get home-grown lemons, I try to find recipes that use the zest.  The recipe online calls for lemon oil, but the cookbook recipe says lemon zest can be used (1 tbsp.).  Here’s the batter, before I smoothed it out.  You can see how thick it is.


After the cake is baked and cooled for 10 minutes, holes are poked in the top and the lemon glaze is poured on.


I only made half the recipe, and baked it for about 45 minutes.  It might have needed a few more minutes, you can see the stripe at the bottom where the batter hadn’t quite risen, plus the cake deflated a little after I took it out of the oven.


It tastes good, although it’s not quite as dense as I would expect from something called “pound cake.”  Still, better than a boxed cake mix because it wasn’t overly sweet.

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Armadillos & Grits

Last night we had ham, that I had bought during the holidays and wanted to cook up.  As a side dish, I made Armadillo Potatoes.  It’s basically potatoes sliced partially through, stuffed with breadcrumbs, cheese, paprika, S&P, and olive oil, then baked.  (I just realized I didn’t add paprika!)  I also used small new potatoes, since that’s what I had, and didn’t cut them in half since they were already little.  Judging from the picture on the recipe website, I think the paprika makes the “segments” more pronounced.


It was a fun side dish.  I thought it needed more seasoning, though, like garlic salt or butter.

Tonight, we had mushroom, ham and cheese omelets, with cheese grits on the side.  The grits recipe is from Alton Brown and got a lot of positive reviews.  I made the mistake of trying to cook while watching the 49ers in the NFC Championship game.  I set the water and milk on to boil and then got distracted by the game, producing a big mess on the stove.  I used about half the butter, although it’s not a huge amount, and added some garlic salt for seasoning.  This was so good.  This Sansei  Yankee from California never would have pictured herself cooking grits for dinner.  (Actually, I like them for breakfast with butter, sugar & milk.)

Not much to look at, but it was good!

I made half the recipe (2 instead of 4 servings).  It made a LOT.  I have a whole bowlful leftover.  I have no idea what to do with the leftovers.  I know with polenta, you can slice it up and fry it in a pan.  Maybe I’ll try something like that.

Lots of leftovers

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Brussels Sprouts Pizza

I watch shows I’ve recorded while I’m drinking coffee in the morning.  Today it was “Unique Eats” from the Cooking Channel, and the theme was pizza.  One of the restaurants was Motorino in New York.  They have a brussels sprouts pizza, using the leaves scattered over the pizza.  It looked intriguing.  And then I found a recipe online.

Here’s my pizza before it was baked.

I brushed the dough with olive oil, scattered on chopped garlic, then added cheese, sauteed onions, thinly sliced brussels sprouts, crushed red pepper, and since I had a can open, fire roasted diced tomatoes.  The restaurant uses pancetta, I used chicken apple sausage instead.

The baked pizza.

What I liked about it was that it wasn’t too heavy or greasy.  In fact, I ate about 3 hours ago and now I’m hungry again.  I found the menu for Motorino online, and their brussels sprouts pizza is $16.  I know things in New York are expensive, but really???  My sister-in-law bought a ready-to-bake pizza from the local grocery store Fresh for only $10, that was tasty.

This is the most I’ve cooked in awhile.  During the summer, I’d alternate cooking days with salad days.  When it’s cold outside, as it is today, I like meals that warm the belly as well as the soul.

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I had wanted to make veggie enchiladas but the recipe called for refried beans and I didn’t have any.  While looking in my pantry, I found a handful of garbanzo beans…that’s what we had, as vindaloo, using up more bits & pieces from the refrigerator…cabbage, calabaza squash, potatoes, carrots,  plus onion & garlic.  I followed the basic recipe on the label of Patak’s Vindaloo paste, that I got at Fresh.

Here are the veggies before the curry & tomatoes were added.

Basically, it was sauteed veggies, the garbanzos, then 1/4 cup of vindaloo paste, 3/4 cup water, and 1/2 cup diced tomatoes.  I let it all simmer until the potatoes & carrots were tender.

Served with basmati rice

I’ve used this paste before but I don’t remember it being sooo spicy, and I like hot food.  It was good but the heat kind of overpowered everything else.  I think I’ll use half mild curry paste and half vindaloo paste next time.



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Fettuccine with Brussels Sprouts and Mushrooms

My sister-in-law shares a lot of stuff she gets at Sam’s Club, and I inherited a bunch of brussels sprouts.  Originally I was going to make them au gratin (saute them, add cream and top with buttered crumbs).  I was feeling lazy and didn’t want to have to cook something else as the entree, and found a recipe for Creamy Fettuccine with Brussels Sprouts and Mushrooms.  A bonus is that it’s from Eating Well, meaning that it’s healthier than what I was originally planning.


I only made half the recipe, used regular (not whole wheat) pasta plus less of it, no sherry, and mostly pecorino romano for the cheese.  It was good and simple to make.  I thought it needed more seasoning but I’m not sure if it’s because I used a different cheese.  I like that it can be a basic recipe and other ingredients substituted, like broccoli, chicken, peas, etc.

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Meatless Monday

Today is the first Meatless Monday of the year!  I found this pasta with eggplant recipe while looking for a Pasta Alla Norma recipe.  I like the Pioneer Woman so it was yet another reason to try it.  She insists on salting the eggplant, but honestly, I wonder what difference it really makes.  I did it anyway, though.  I added some of the leftover calabaza squash and mushrooms(from the panini).  I didn’t have fresh basil, the substitute here was a spoonful of pesto.  I was also able to finish off a box of farfalle.  I’m trying hard to be good at using what I have, instead of buying more.


I added parmesan cheese after I took the picture.  I love pasta with veggies.  This tasted like ratatouille, it had most of the ingredients.

I bought a big chunk of parmesan from Sam’s Club.  Since it’s just the two of us, it takes awhile to go through it.  The Foodsaver works great for some things, but for foods I get into more frequently, I love Ziploc Vacuum Bags.


The manual air removal pump fits on the little circle on the upper corner.  I use the bags for coffee, nuts, cheese, tortillas, etc., etc., etc.  It makes it easy to pull out what I need then seal it back up.  I got extra bags recently at Walmart but haven’t seen the starter kit for awhile.  Some Targets also sell them.

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B,L & D

By chance, today I made dishes for all three meals, breakfast, lunch & dinner.  I’d been meaning to bake up another batch of granola, I had the ingredients all mixed up, but hadn’t gotten around to baking it until today.


Right now,my favorite recipe is one I got from my sister, it’s an olive oil and maple granola.  I don’t use olive oil, though, just a a blend from Crisco.  I change around the ingredients too.  I added more oats, substituted honey for maple syrup (and added less), and used different nuts (sunflower, pumpkin and almonds today), plus threw in some oat bran and flax seed.  I baked it on two sheet pans, as it made quite a lot and I wanted to make sure it all browned.

granolabakedBreakfast for tomorrow

I’m still trying to be good and use up ingredients before they spoil.  Today it was buttermilk, which went into a wheat bread from a “Cooking Light” recipe.  The “secret ingredient” is ground up oats.  It adds substance to the bread without making it dry.  The recipe calls for walnuts but sometimes I don’t use them.  This is one of my favorite breads.


The rest will be eaten as toast with breakfast and sandwiches for lunch.

Dinner was Day Two of cabbage…Beer Bratwurst with Cabbage.  I’ve made it before so I knew what I wanted to change.  For one thing, I only made a quarter of the recipe and I still have leftovers.  I also added carrots and potatoes.  I don’t know what the big deal is about bratwurst here, it seems quite popular.  I used bratwurst since I had bought a package and there were leftovers (frozen).  Next time I think I’ll just use a chicken sausage, or if I can find it, knackwurst or bockwurst.


What I like about dishes like this, are that it’s vegetables, protein and carbs all in one.  I also like using meat more as a seasoning than the main ingredient.  Of course, all of this cooking meant lots of dishes in the evening.  Tomorrow is definitely leftovers.

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