More food

Jan. 18th, 2010 06:57 pm
I'm full. I cooked up some taco dinner tonight. Taco night is easy--just plop cheese, meat, refried beans and other stuff in bowls, cook up the seasoned meat, and you're done.

Last night I made a simple two-step meal from the The $7 a Meal Healthy Cookbook: 301 Nutritious, Delicious Recipes That the Whole Family Will Love --the Texas Mash-up. At least, that's what I'm calling it.

  • 2 baking potatoes--boil and mash, but don't add milk or butter
  • 1 lb of ground meat (or tempeh or meat substitute)
  • 1 medium onion, chopped up
  • 1 packet of taco seasoning
  • 1/2 cup or so of low-fat sour cream
  • 1 16oz bag of frozen mixed veggies--broccoli, cauliflower, carrots. I was fortunate to find it in the store: it's called the "California mix".
  • 1/4 c beef broth (I didn't have any on hand, so I just used some chicken broth--I would have used veggie broth if I had some of that)

In a *large* skillet, heat up some olive oil, start cooking the chopped onion until it becomes translucent. Minced garlic is good, too.
Add the meat or meat substitute, brown it.
Add in the taco seasoning packet, incorporate it into the mixture.
Add the veggies, allow them to heat in the pot for a few minutes.
Add in the broth and sour cream and the smashed up potatoes.
Mix it all up together-potatoes, meat, veggies, sour cream, everything.

Scoop the mixture into an 8x8 baking casserole dish (I used my glass Pyrex) and stick it in the oven for about 15 minutes at 400F until it heats through.  Oh yes. You might want to top it with some Parmesan, as the recipe calls for, or sharp cheddar, which is what *I* called for!

I think it came out pretty good. Mermaid tried a little bit, but didn't like it. Tall Boy wouldn't even try. But Mermaid's friend who was staying overnight went back for seconds. There is currently 2 cups of left-over in the fridge now. I'll have it for lunch tomorrow. I still have two slices of the turkey meat loaf I made three days ago. I put those in the freezer today.

Surprisingly, even with the potatoes and the sour cream, this Texas Mash-up's calorie count was only ~340 calories. And it was very filling, too!
I've been in a cook book frenzy, it seems. Last week I bought a copy of <a href="Cook This, Not That!: Kitchen Survival Guide  and although it has some flaws (check the amazon site for a particularly good review of this book) it does have a couple of kick-butt recipes that I've tried out so far.

On page 206 I tried out the Hearty Lasagna, which, when split into four rather substantial pieces, totals about 430 calories! That is a little high even so, but it can be tweaked.

The original recipe:                                                  My version:
1 15 oz container of part-skim ricotta                    the ricotta stayed
1/2 bunch of fresh basil                                           I bought the basil, but realized it tasted slightly licoricey, so left it out
2 links of chicken sausage                                     I had 1/2 lb of ground turkey left-over from the night before-browned it w/garlic
1/3 c of 2% milk                                                         used skim organic milk instead
2 garlic cloves                                                            used minced garlic with the ground turkey
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes                             threw some of that in, too
2.25 c tomato sauce                                                 I used almost 24 oz of Ragu sauce with enough left over for Tall Boy for his pasta
8 no-boil lasagna noodles                                      Barilla flat no-boil noodles
1/4 cup grated Parmesan                                        kept that the same

Now, I also added a pinch or two of dry rosemary leaves (crumpled up) into the ground turkey, and that added a subtle taste. I've no idea what it would have tasted like with the sausage, but generally, unless you're very picky, sausage has a lot of fats and sugars in them to make them taste better to the American public.

Once the turkey was cook I mixed it in directly with the ricotta, the milk, a little more garlic, and the red pepper flakes. NO EGGS.

Spread about 1/2 c of the tomato sauce on the bottom of an 8x8 pan, layer two noodles, then the ricotta mixture, then some more sauce (I dribbed and drabbed it on with each layer), then another layer of noodles, and so on. I can't remember how many layers I finally finished the lasagna off with, but it filled my glass 8x8 casserole dish up to the top, so, it turned out fine.

The oven went on at 425F. The lasagna goes in for 20 minutes *with a foil cover*. After 20 minutes, take the foil off the top, and let it cook further for 15 minutes more.  The top of the lasagna has this terrific toasty top of crisped up Parmesan.

The 4x4" sized piece I ate was amazingly filling. I topped my piece with the fresh basil, and really really liked the added flavor. The Guy hates anything that tastes the least bit like licorice, so it was a good thing I left it out; but it was just fine as a topping. According to the directions, you would add the fresh basil into the ricotta mix.

A note--look carefully at the brand of ground turkey you buy, because apparently, some manufacturers of the stuff like to add in fatty parts of the bird, and that raises the fat content up high, obviously.

****next paragraph is about my dissatisfaction with the way animals are treated by the meat industry and my own discomfort in contributing to it***

The Guy and I are increasingly uncomfortable eating meat, and we're pretty much in agreement that I'm going to start getting our meat at Trader Joe's and Whole Foods from now on. Frankly, if I could figure out a way to convert a lot of the recipes I have so that I use much less to NO meat at all, I'd be happier than I am now about contributing to the inhumane lives and deaths of animals that have to go through the US's current butcher system.

 Well I'll be goshdarned, but it DOES pay to scissor those coupons out of the Sunday paper and the circulars they send into your mailbox constantly.

So far I've found some coupons for aspirin, Aleve, ibuprofen, band-aids and razors (which I already have enough of, but with Mermaid growing leg hair, it's not going to be enough). There are super-coupons for various Vons snacks, including one of Little Guy's favorites. There's coupons for raw and cooked chicken. Coupons for the brand of TP I use, and paper towels (although I'm trying to move to cloth towels instead, but paper towels are still needed). And coupons for Michaels and Joannes, which I can use for Mermaid's newest passion for cake decorating. The supplies she needs for that class? Stupifyingly expensive if you're not careful.

Of course, the key is not to buy items you're never going to use, and not to let the expiration date on the coupons rush you. AND wait until the stores you frequent have sales on those items anyway. 

I'm no pro when it comes to food shopping -- I still spend WAY too much on food in our house, but that's what eChef is supposed to help with.
I have a huge stack of Everyday Foods magazines (those are the digest sized mags published by Martha Stewart but have some excellent information in them) that I hardly ever look through. I'm slowly going through them and removing the pages with recipes on them that look like I'd actually USE. I also have a few cookbooks that I'm probably going to photocopy pages and resize into the same digest size as the EF pages.

My goal is to eventually have my own personalized recipe book that's organized the way *I* want it organized, with the pages laminated so I don't have to worry about getting the pages smeared and ruined by ingrediants. It would be really cool to have them on a ring, so that I could move the week's recipes into the front section, write down a list for what I need, and then combine that list with a checklist of pantry items.

Do I ever think I'm ever going to get that organized? I laugh at myself, but the idea intrigues me. 

Right now, I'm back to winging it every night, and I hate that. I love the idea of Saving Dinner's weekly list, all ready and prepared, but as I went on with it, even though the recipes were often very tasty and I'd make them again, I'd buy ingrediants that would go to waste or would total more than I wanted to spend. Of course, now I'm spending more than I want to by winging it!
 Pillsbury Toaster Scramble Egg, Bacon and Cheese Biscuits (or whatever they want to call them) are addictive. They're better and tastier than they have any right to be. I hate you, Pillsbury! 




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