daily recap · re-purposing leftovers · what we ate

Day 91: Chicken Sandwiches & Cucumber Salad

For lunch I made sandwiches with the leftover chicken thighs, tomato and lettuce and served them with leftover lentil salad.

In the afternoon I made some cucumber salad to have with dinner. For dinner we had smoked salmon with red onions and cream cheese on English muffins (Matt) and crackers (me) and some chips.

Non-food related activities:

We watched Eve’s Bayou on DVD. Matt had somehow never seen it!

We watched the last A Touch of Cloth on Prime.

I listened to some of the Your Own Backyard podcast. The host seems like someone I’d want to punch.

daily recap · what we ate

Day 56: Old Bay Mac & Cheese, Chicken Tenders & Shrimp

I have been craving mac and cheese for ages and I finally thought, why not just make it? What’s stopping me? I always feel like it takes so much effort but it really doesn’t. I posted the recipe here and it was so good! And ready in about 30 minutes. I made chicken tenders by dreding chicken tenderloin in egg yolk/milk/Old Bay then in bread crumbs we made from the heels of white and marble rye and frozen. Baked for 15 minutes at 450 and they were perfect! Flavorful and juicy.

For dinner I had some frozen breaded shrimp, a leftover pupusa and an apple and Matt had some rice with an egg scrambled with spinach.

Non-food related activities:

We watched more of The Good Fight. I worked a lot on Coconut & Lime.

daily recap · planning · repurposing leftovers · what we ate

Day 47: Corned Beef Baked Frittata & Ravioli

Matt made a baked frittata with 4 eggs, leftover rice, leftover corned beef, garlic, onions, leftover shredded cheddar and frozen spinach for lunch. It took forever to bake but it was great! Frittatas are wonderful for using up leftover odds and ends and when stretched with a lot of other ingredients (like rice) don’t have to use that many eggs.

For dinner I sauteed some cubed ham, mushrooms, onions, garlic and kale and tossed it with from frozen truffle mushroom ravioli from Aldi. This is my favorite way of serving frozen/fresh store bought ravioli or tortellini. It’s easy, has vegetables and doesn’t require me to make a real sauce.

I made tuna and pasta salad for our lunch tomorrow and prepped ham, rutabaga, carrot, parsnip, and celery for slow cooker split pea soup tomorrow. All I will have to do is make some broth (using Better Than Bouillon) and get it going in the morning. Last time we went grocery shopping it was an exhausting day and I wanted to make sure I didn’t have to come home and cook lunch or come up with dinner. I don’t love grocery shopping and we don’t have many grocery stores near us. Even though we live in the city, the closest store to us over a mile away and unfortunately, we have bought rotten meat, expired dairy, and spoiled seafood there before. I don’t want to deal with that at all if I can manage and I really don’t want to deal with it now. The next closest stores are about 10-20 minutes away so that plus the stress of shopping right now and the volume of buying for hopefully 3 weeks or more is so stressful! The last thing I want to do is worry about cooking tomorrow.

It has been 28 days since we last shopped so we are down to the bare bones in the fridge. We have a fair amount of frozen seafood and some chicken we froze earlier in the month in the freezer but it’s mostly condiments, cheese, a lone tub of hummus, eggs, carrots, zucchini, and celery in there. Like last time I am going to go to Aldi and then Matt is going to go to a “regular” supermarket to get the odds and ends we don’t get at Aldi-bread, International ingredients, anything from the pharmacy department (vitamins, mouthwash) we need and whatever Aldi didn’t have during my trip. And soda. I really am getting low on Coke and it’s making me antsy.

Nonfood related activities:

We are still watching some Meurtres à… They are a little uneven because they are basically made for TV mysteries taking place in different French towns but some are really good! It’s on Mhz.

I finally was able to get the last variety of bushes for my island in New Horizons. I’m still listening to podcasts while doing it. I don’t have a lot of TV shows that I watch airing right now and there are few jobs to apply to right now.

We both talked to our mothers who are in good spirits. My mom got the Skip-Bo deck and notecards I sent her for an early Mother’s Day gift and was really excited.

daily recap · planning · recipe · repurposing leftovers · what we ate

Fish Stick Sandwiches, Salad & Chili (day 41 recap)

Another chilly day! At least it was sunny for most of it. Our beach plums (above) are really blooming! Last year was our best yield so far (after planting the bushes several years ago) but we didn’t really take advantage of it because my mom was nearly diagnosed with her brain cancer. I just didn’t have the capacity to worry about it. The plums are very small (like cherry-sized) and require a lot of prep. Hopefully, we will get a good yield this year too and we certainly will be home for it.

For lunch, we finished off the box of fish sticks we opened a couple of weeks ago in sandwiches with tartar sauce and a sprinkle of Old Bay. I was really pleased with them! I hope Aldi has them again, they were wild, sustainably caught, and quite tasty. I also made a salad with lettuce from our produce box (please let us not get so much lettuce again for a long time), leftover beets and potatoes from making the mimosa salad, cucumber, red onion, the last of the feta crumbles and a drizzle of balsamic. It was okay but I am not eager to eat a cold boiled potato in a green salad again anytime soon.

Dinner was a super basic chili I made in the slow cooker: 2 cans kidney beans, 2 cans fire-roasted tomatoes with chiles, lots of spices, 1 1/4 lb cubed sirloin, onion, and garlic. We had it with leftover cheese from making quesadillas, red onion, sour cream, and tortilla chips. It was pretty tasty! I wish we had fresh peppers but the canned tomatoes with chiles are pretty good.

We also had some ice I bought early in March thinking we might want a treat we didn’t make ourselves in April. Good thinking, past Rachel

A local restaurant has been doing a “Chopped” style challenge where you can get a box of seafood, meat, wine, vegetables, eggs, butter, cream, fruit, etc for $50 to make a meal with. You post what you create and you can win a gift card to the restaurant. Normally I don’t know if I’d do that but $50 seemed fair for all that food and drink and this week one of the ingredients is soft crabs!! My absolute favorite. We have to pick up the box Friday and make it by Monday afternoon. At the very least it will be a fun activity. I am a little nervous about the pickup but I think it will be okay. We need to go to the store next week anyway.

Non-food related activities:

We finished Little Fires Everywhere on Hulu. So many frustrating people. We also are finishing up Poldark season 4 on Prime, we had watched it live back when it aired but went on vacation We never saw the last three episodes because we missed one on the PBS app and PBS is pretty ruthless about episodes only being available for 10 days or so. I noticed we have season 5 on DVD coming up on our Netflix DVD queue (people laugh that we still get DVDs but they are great now! So many movies and shows aren’t available for streaming and we have so much time) so I thought we should catch up in case they are sent out soon. We only have like 40 discs in our queue and new stuff (last season of Mr Robot, please!) gets jumped over and we end up with some movie from 1983 I only vaguely know why we wanted to watch it. At least we know we like Poldark! I sort of prefer binge watching it anyway because it’s easier to keep everyone straight; they have a habit of picking up some very old storyline suddenly and all those white men in topcoats look alike to me.

recipe · repurposing leftovers

Spätzle with Smoked Pork and Cabbage

This simple recipe is a great way to use up leftovers from smoking, grilling or slow cooking a pork shoulder or butt when maybe you don’t have some rolls to make a sandwich on.

It’s a complete meal unto itself and requires minimal effort. Last winter I added some pulled pork leftovers in some haluski (a Polish-American cabbage and egg noodle dish, I posted the recipe here) and it was an unexpected delight. I took inspiration from that meal tonight. Halušky, the Eastern European dumpling that gives the Polish-American dish it’s name is very similar to spätzle; they are both thick, egg based noodles. I do a lot of shopping at Aldi and they frequently have spätzle on sale. The bags are an odd size (20 oz, I think) so I end up only making part of the bag and then collecting the rest in a large resealable bag I add to every time I make spätzle until it is enough for a meal. This was that meal. I had some cabbage leftover from two other recipes, some sad carrots plus the leftover pork and turned into this extremely satisfying dinner. The trick is not to overcook the cabbage so there is some texture difference, lightly brown the pork and stir it all together in the skillet before serving.

Ingredients:

1/4 medium cabbage, chopped (about 2 cups)
2 cups smoked/grilled pork (I used leftover kalua pork*)
1 onion, thinly sliced
2 carrots, diced
1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
salt
freshly ground black pepper
12 oz dried spätzle (or egg noodles or regular pasta)

Cook spätzle according to package instructions.

In a large pan, sauté the onion, cabbage and carrots until the cabbage starts to wilt and the onion is translucent. Add the pork and spices and sauté until the vegetables are tender and the pork is heated through. Drain the spaetzle. Add to the pan, stir and sauté for 1-2 minutes. Serve immediately.

*Or pulled pork. Any leftover meal would work, really but I think pork is tastiest with the cabbage.

Yield: about 4 servings

daily recap · what we ate

Day 21 Recap: Roasted Chicken and Dill-Fava Bean Rice (4/2/20)

Today for lunch we just had canned soup, I think we were both recovering from yesterday’s venture. For dinner I made a roasted chicken sprinkled with harissa seasoning. Matt made some basmati rice mixed with frozen fava beans, chopped Swiss chard sautéed in garlic from our produce box and plenty of fresh dill from our shop yesterday. It really really good! The rice was inspired by the baghali polo we like to order at our favorite Persian restaurant. It made a ton of rice and of course we have some chicken leftover so that will put us in a good spot for some easy meals in the future!

We froze the bones in a bag to make soup later.

Non-food related activities:

The Switch we ordered a long way back finally arrived! I’ve been playing Animal Crossing since 2001 so I’m really excited about that. I’m really disappointed you can only have one island per Switch. I hope they change that. We both wanted to play but it’s sort of pointless for the second player. We downloaded Stardew Valley after realizing that. Who wants to buy a whole new Switch and copy of Animal Crossing for two people to be able to play? Maybe they will do an update and change it?

recipe

Simple Pot Roast

Pot roast is one of the easiest ways to turn a tough piece of beef into a delicious meal. I normally make a smaller one (2-3 lbs) and that is enough for two with plenty of leftovers for future meals. If you have more people to feed or want more leftovers, buy a larger roast and scale up. The trick is to make sure the roast is at least 2/3 covered in liquid before you bring it to a boil and then simmer. If you add the root vegetables at the beginning they add a lot of flavor and make a great gravy but if you had them about 2 hours in, they retain their shape better and end up being more of a built in side dish. It’s really up to you. I just used carrots and celery because that is what I had on hand but turnips, potatoes, rutabaga, parsnips or winter squash (not spaghetti squash!) are all really good too.

This is my most basic version of pot roast, which is perfect for planned leftovers because while it is flavorful, it doesn’t have a super distinctive flavor profile so the meat is equally tasty in tacos as it is in soup or in sandwiches. A slightly more elaborate version is on my recipe blog which is very good as-is or in sandwiches but I find the leftovers are less versatile and it uses a few more ingredients.

I made the leftovers into borscht.

Ingredients:
2 1/2-3 lb beef bottom round roast (or brisket or other beef roast)
1 medium onion, chopped
4-5 cups beef stock
3 cloves garlic
3 tablespoons herbs de Provence (or whatever you have that looks good)
2-3 cups chopped hardy vegetables like carrots, celery turnips, potatoes, rutabaga, parsnips and/or winter squash (optional)
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
superfine flour (or all purpose)

Directions:

Heat a small amount of oil in a large, lidded heavy-bottomed pot (like a Dutch or French oven).

Add the onions, garlic and cook for 2 minutes. Rub salt, and pepper into the roast. Sprinkle liberally with flour. (You can skip the flour if you don’t want to to form a gravy-like sauce–I skipped this because I want to use the juices/liquid in place of stock in a soup tomorrow) Place in the pan and brown on all sides.

Add the spices and stock.

Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer 2 hours. Add the vegetables.

Continue to simmer, covered, 1 hour or until the meat is very tender.

daily recap · repurposing leftovers · what we ate

Day 15 Recap: Smoked Pork Grilled Cheese, Canned Soup and Popcorn (3/27/20)

We do have a fair amount of pork leftover from yesterday. Today I chopped it finely and used it to make grilled cheese with some shredded cheddar. It was very good!

We froze the rest of the pork in a new eco-friendly reusable quart bag so I’m looking forward to seeing how it holds up! I think it would be fine defrosted in soup or fried rice. I’m trying not to use disposable resealable bags so if this works well, I’ll have to buy more. I also froze half of the pack of bangers (sell by 4/3) because there is no way we are eating 16 bangers between now and next week even if they are small. I froze the stew meat I had in the fridge too, it was sell by 4/2 and we also have a bottom round roast that is sell by the same day. I don’t think we will want to eat pot roast for a couple days followed by beef stew or chili for a couple days over the next week either. We still have a seasoned pork roast in the fridge, the small bottom round, half of the bangers and then a few things that have May (!) expiration dates: hot dogs, a tiny ham and a corned beef.

I’m sad to say that my spaghetti squash was suddenly moldy! It was older but it looked fine yesterday morning. Matt might bury it in the yard to see if it will sprout. Last year a squirrel must have dropped a pumpkin seed because we had a volunteer pumpkin plant and that was a lot of fun. I made so many things with the pumpkins! Anyway, the squash might not sprout but why not. At the very least it be fertilizer.

Matt still doesn’t feel 100% so we just had some canned soup and I had some popcorn. Not every day has to have an exciting menu!

Non-food related activities:

I read The Bus on Thursday by Shirley Bennett while I played the Sims. It was sort of a horror-comedy? It was odd. I also read My Father’s Arcane Daughter by E.L. Konigsburg which I remember reading in 6th grade Reading class. These ’70s children’s books are a lot more adult kid’s books today- jokes about sticking your head in the oven, lots of smoking and drinking. I didn’t remember that E.L. Konigsburg was the author until recently. I read  From the Mixedup Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, of course, but very unlike me I guess I didn’t read her other books or make the connection. Someone mentioned another one of her lesser known books so I got some from the library before they closed.

I worked on my embroidery.

We watched Cold Feet: The New Years on Britbox. Adam is so cringy!

Today is my mom’s birthday but we don’t feel comfortable visiting her. I did have a nice talk with her! I wish we could see her but with her brain cancer and my dad’s health, I don’t think it’s a good idea. My brother went over but I wish he didn’t. I know he’s been out and about.

daily recap · recipe · repurposing leftovers · what we ate

Recap Day 14: State of the Pantry, Leftover Shrimp, & Smoked Pork (3/26/20)

I can’t believe it has been two weeks since either of us has left the house! We’ve been in the backyard of course, and Matt took Lulu on a walk around the block a couple of times but that’s it.

We are still in very good shape food-wise. Early in the month I shopped as if we weren’t going to the store for two weeks plus got a couple of long lasting sale/seasonal items (bangers, a small ham, corned beef) that I would normally pick up. It’s lasting a lot longer than expected even though I didn’t buy more than I typically would for two weeks.

We’ve been trying to stretch one package of meat into at at least two meals and make simpler meals for the other meals of the day. Our usual non-quarantine meals are dinner leftovers for lunch then a new meal (normally involving some meat or seafood) for dinner. We are using up a lot less meat by making sandwiches or having soup or snack type meals for one meal a day. Normally we would be opening a new pack of meat/seafood a day and now it’s more like every other day. Since I had shopped for our usual cooking routine so I have a lot more meat now than I thought I would. Matt didn’t feel well or eat much for two days this week so that, plus using frozen/jarred/boxed stuff for some meals (like this shrimp pasta or the tuna wraps) is really stretching it out.

Our fresh produce is holding up well too! I still have one bagged salad (from Aldi, it is mostly hardier veggies like cabbage and carrots), 2 heads of cabbage, some Love Beets, potatoes (sweet, Russet and Yukon Gold), celery, carrots, garlic, a spaghetti squash, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, yellow squash (not anymore, used them for tonight’s dinner), cara cara oranges and onions. Some of that I bought 3+ weeks ago! The trick is storing it well. Keep things as cool as you can.

I have a running list for when we actually go shopping again. We hadn’t ordered any food/groceries or had anything delivered food-wise. Then last night Costco.com had olive oil and canola oil back in stock so I ordered one of each. We have an okay amount of olive oil left but we are almost out of canola which we use as our every day oil. I hadn’t realized we were so low back when I was shopping. We also really need dish detergent because we don’t have a dish washer and we are washing so many dishes having every meal and snack made from scratch at home but that wasn’t available for delivery to my zip code.

I have to admit, I’m very very nervous about going shopping again! I want to do it in person to ensure that we get the best expiration dates/best looking food but it’s nerve-wracking knowing that we don’t apparently have the virus now and to go out among people who might. We aren’t in total lock-down in MD so people still seem to be out and about a bunch. Our goal is for us to go out the middle of next week. I’ll go to Aldi (their response to the virus looks good) and get the basics and Matt will go to another store to fill in the gaps with items Aldi doesn’t sell at the same time then we will try and stay home as a long as possible again.

It’s nice and sunny out today so Matt smoked a pork butt on the grill. Normally that’s a weekend activity but we are here all day so why not? We marinated it overnight. It’s huge so we should get many meals out of it. We might even end up freezing some of the cooked meat to use later. I don’t think leftover frozen meat would be great in a sandwich but I made barbecue spaghetti last summer (a surprise hit!) and I think defrosted leftover smoked pork would work well in that. Or maybe Brunswick Stew or some kind of soup.

We had our shrimp and pasta leftovers for lunch. I didn’t think it would reheat well so I added some mayo, crumbled feta, chopped celery and red onion and served it as a cold shrimp and pasta salad. It was pretty tasty!

For dinner we had the smoked pork.

We marinated overnight in a paste of

  • 2 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 2 tablespoon dehydrated onions
  • 1 tablespoon mirin
  • 2 tablespoons Shaoxing cooking wine
  • 6 tablespoons gochujang
  • 1 tablespoon gochugaru
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons garlic ginger paste

then smoked for 6-7 hours using the snake method and a Weber grill and served it over rice with some yellow squash I sautéd with onions and gochugaru. It wasn’t quite at point where it could be easily shredded but it was very tender so we just sliced it up. If we had another hour or two I think it would have been great pulled pork! We don’t have rolls anyway so a rice bowl was fine.

Non-food related activities:

I played the Sims while I finished reading The Daylight Marriage by Heidi Pitlor. We watched the Stumptown finale (I hope it comes back for season 2!) and Little Fires Everywhere on Hulu. I’m not sure how similar Little Fires is going to be to the book. I read it back when it came out so it’s been a while but there are already some differences in pacing.

recipe

Pasta with Shrimp, Artichokes and Sun-dried Tomatoes

This may not be the prettiest pasta but it is tasty! It relies entirely on jarred, boxed or frozen ingredients plus one lemon, onion and garlic. It gets a lot of flavor from the marinated artichokes (and the oily brine they are packed in) and the sun-dried tomatoes so don’t skimp on those ingredients!



Ingredients:

1 onion, sliced into half-moons

3 cloves garlic, sliced 

3 oz julienne sun-dried tomatoes (dry, not oil-packed)

12 oz jar fired roasted red pepper, drained and sliced

12 oz jar marinated artichoke hearts 

2 tablespoons capers

juice of 1 lemon

12 frozen shrimp

12 oz trottole pasta (or other small/medium pasta)

Directions:

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add the shrimp. Cook until just pink. Remove from water using a slotted spoon or spider. Set aside. Add pasta to the same water, cook until al dente.

Meanwhile, heat some olive oil. Saute the onion and garlic until the onion is translucent, add the sun-dried tomatoes, red pepper, artichoke hearts (with liquid!), capers and lemon juice. Saute until warmed through. Add the shrimp, continue to cook until the shrimp is fully cooked. Add the pasta, toss to combine.