Wow, we are a couple of blog slackers. I don’t know what Sara’s excuse is, but I’ve been in a major cooking rut for quite some time. Cooking for 2 kids and no other adults just got depressing. But…good news! My other half got a new job and is home for dinner at least 4 nights a week now, which has breathed new life into my menu planning.
This week I tried a new recipe from one of my favorite cookbooks, Simple Vegetarian Pleasures by Jeanne Lemlin. Scratch that. This is THE favorite cookbook in my house. Every single recipe is easy to prepare and full of flavor. There is seriously not one thing we’ve tried that we weren’t happy with. The recipe I made this week was Rice and Leek Gratin. It takes a little advance planning because you need to have 2-3 cups of cooked rice on hand, but is also a great way to use leftover rice. I did made a few modifications to the recipe and would make a few more if I made it again, which I’m sure I will because everyone loved it. One note, you could easily add any other veggies to this. I felt like the leeks alone would be a bit blah so I threw in some mushrooms, and I could picture many other additions–carrots, broccoli, etc–depending on what’s in your garden or market.
1 cup rice uncooked
2 1/2 cups stock or water (I used veg stock)
2-3 leeks, cleaned, trimmed and thinly sliced.
1 tsp fresh chopped thyme
1 egg, beaten
1 cup milk
1 cup shredded gruyere or other swiss cheese (I used jarlsberg because I’m cheap!)
1/4 cup breadcrumbs mixed with 1 tsp olive oil
Cook the rice. I like to toast mine in a teeny bit of butter before adding the stock.
Saute the leeks in a bit of olive oil until tender. Add any other veggies you’re using. Stir in the thyme and let mixture cool down to room temp.
Mix the veggies in with the rice. Stir in the milk, egg, and some salt and pepper. Stir in the shredded cheese. Press rice mixture into a 2 quart casserole. Sprinkle the bread crumbs over the top. Bake at 375 for about 30 mintutes, until the breadcrumbs are toasted.
One of the things I look forward to when our favorite farm stand opens each summer is the fresh Georgia peaches they bring in. These are not your average grocery store peach–there is nothing like them! My two year old eats at least one a day, sometimes two. Is there anything sweeter than a toddler with a face full of a juicy, ripe peach?
That’s what I thought.
But this week, I bought too many peaches. Since I had four that were starting to go bad I decided to try peach cobbler. I have never even eaten a cobbler to my knowledge so I wasn’t sure what to expect. I checked out a few recipes and this is what I came up with:
1. Melt 1 stick of butter and pour it into the bottom of a 2 quart baking dish.
2. In a separate bowl, mix together 1 cup sugar, 1 cup flour, 2 tsp. baking powder, 1/2 tsp salt.
3. Stir in 1 cup of milk and 1 tsp. of vanilla.
4. Pour this mixture over the melted butter.
5. Toss 4-5 slices peaches with 2 tsp sugar and 1/2 tsp cinnamon.
6. Bake at 375 for about 35 minutes, until the crust is brown and pulling away from the sides of the pan.
YUM. I always imagined cobbler to be more of a biscuity crust but it wasn’t. The batter rises over the peaches and forms this gooey, sticky, chewy crust. My 5 year old, who was not excited about this dessert because he doesn’t like peaches, asked if we could “always” have this for dessert. The only thing missing was vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.
This meal reminded me of the kind of thing Sara and I would have come up with together if we still lived down the road from each other. (Sara would have had the pizza dough rising and I would have had the spinach and feta.) I threw it together last night because I wasn’t in the mood for traditional pizza, which I was making for the kids.
I split the pizza dough I had in half, and let N. do his thing on the the boys’ pizza. I sauteed some onion, garlic, and a bag of fresh spinach from my favorite local farm store, squeezed some lemon juice over the whole thing, threw in some crumbled feta (I used fat free, I don’t notice a difference), and folded it into the dough. Baked for about 25 mins at 450. It was delicious–flavorful, satisfying, and not too heavy. Great simple meal!
Since it’s just me and the kids 5 nights out of 7 I am always on the hunt for easy home cooked recipes that the kids will eat and I will enjoy, too. My 5 year old especially is pretty picky and almost always whines and says “ewe” to just about anything home cooked that I put in front of him. There is nothing more depressing than cooking for yourself and 2 little kids and having them reject what you made. To avoid the battle, I end up falling back on “kid” food–mac & cheese from a box, pizza, grilled cheese, etc.
This week my friend sent me a slow cooker recipe for sloppy “janes,” or vegetarian sloppy joes, claiming even her pickiest kid gobbled it up. I decided to give it a shot yesterday. It was the perfect night for a crock pot recipe because we had swimming class till 5:30 so it was great to come home and not have to scramble to get dinner going.And…drum roll…both kids chowed it! I think they liked the sweetness of the sauce, but could it be any more nutritious?
1 chopped onion
2-3 cloves garlic
1 cup each diced carrots and celery
2/3 cups each brown lentils and brown rice–uncooked
2 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp mustard
salt and red pepper to taste
30 oz stock
1 15 oz can tomato sauce or pureed tomatoes
Throw everything in the crock pot except the tomatoes. Cook on high for 4 hours. Dump in the tomatoes and cook for 30 mins more. Serve it on hard rolls or it totally works as a rice & lentil bowl meal, too. Next time I might sneak some pureed greens in.
Can’t wait to try the black bean mango salsa, Sara! It so happens that I also made a black bean salsa recently for a potluck at my son’s school. I threw it together spontaneously with things I almost always have on hand. Apparently it went over very well and the school principle tracked me down the next day asking for the recipe.
2 cans black beans (rinsed and drained)
1 can sweet corn kernels (rinsed and drained)
1/2 red onion, slivered (or scallions if you prefer)
1 ripe but still firm avocado, diced
2-3 tbps chopped cilantro
1-2 cloves garlic
juice of 1 lime
1/4 cup olive oil
salt/pepper to taste
Mix everything together and chill for an hour. Makes a great side, relish, taco filling etc. I made it again at home and ate it for lunch over spinach greens with some shredded cheddar on top–yum! It would also be great with a cup of quinoa or cous cous mixed in for a heartier salad.