"Velveeta?" you say. "Why has Velveeta suddenly appeared in your kitchen?" Read on for the answer to that mystery.
Short version: Pasta with meat sauce, leftover collards, zucchini, and cauliflower
Long version: I took out a bag of ground beef to thaw with no particular plan in mind for it. I figured something would come to me. It always does.
This time, what came to me was that the remaining paste tomatoes the MiL had brought me were looking sort of wrinkly and sad. The best use for paste tomatoes is, of course, Finny's Sauce. I didn't have quite enough fresh tomatoes to fill the pan, so I also opened a can of whole tomatoes in juice and filled the rest of the pan with those (not with the juice, though, obviously).
That sauce is definitely not as good without fresh basil, though. Mark my words: Next year I am growing a LOT of basil.
I didn't have fresh basil or red wine, so I used dried basil and oregano plus a little balsamic vinegar. Although not the pinnacle of sauce, it was still really good. It's hard to go wrong with a whole head of roasted garlic. I browned the ground beef and then just dumped the sauce right into it. Mix with pasta and serve with random leftover vegetables, and there's dinner.
Short version: Tortilla chips and queso dip, tamales, green salad
Long version: The guy that we bought our house from left some food for us in the refrigerator. On purpose, I mean, not just forgot about. The eggs were no problem to use. The "whole wheat" bread was happily consumed by Cubby, who always relishes the opportunity to eat store-bought bread*. The can of diet root beer I poured right down the sink. The almost-complete box of Velveeta . . .
Well, that I couldn't bring myself to throw out. Sure, it's a "processed cheese product," but it is kind of cheese. And my mom used to use it for cheese sauce. I wouldn't buy it myself, but I figured I could at least make macaroni and cheese for the kids with it.
What I did instead was melt some of it in the microwave with some salsa and let A., Charlie, and Jack eat it with tortilla chips. I tasted some. It was weird. It tasted sweet, even though there's no sugar listed in the ingredients.
We also had prepared tamales, because we had to go to the small city to get a new tire on Saturday, so of course we also went to the grocery store and Cubby begged me to get some of the tamales that were on special. The instructions on the package said to steam them in the unopened bag. I say I'm not cooking my food in plastic packaging. So I took them out and wrapped them in aluminum foil to steam them.
I don't own a steamer basket--it's one of those things I keep thinking I should get and then forget about, so I think that means I don't really need it--but here's an easy way to get food up off the bottom of a pot: lay canning jar rings all around the bottom of the pot.
Easy assuming you have a glut of jar rings, that is. As I do.
I got one package of pork tamales and one of bean (on accident--I meant to get only pork) and the bean ones were way too spicy. We ate them anyway with a lot of sour cream.
One of these days I'm going to try making my own tamales. It's kind of the ultimate kitchen challenge in New Mexico, I think. But it will be one of these days when I'm sleeping more than four hours a night and not spending every spare moment driving ten miles away to paint walls.
Short version: Oven-fried chicken and pork chops, potato chunks, roasted sweet potatoes/onions/bell pepper/broccoli, sauteed spinach
Long version: I was so pleased with the corn flour+spice coating for chicken that I decided to do it with the combination of chicken and pork I had thawed (I had a partial package of each, but not enough of either for everyone). About noon, I dumped some vinegar, salt, pepper, and random spice mix into the bag the meat was in for a marinade. At dinnertime, all I had to do was shake the meat in a bag with the seasoned corn flour and put it on the baking sheet with melted butter.
I used the last of the aluminum foil for the tamales, so I had to use parchment paper on the baking pan. They weren't as crispy, but still very tasty. I also appreciate that the butter+corn flour helps them brown without using a broiler. I can just roast them at the same temperature as the vegetables. So efficient.
The spinach was also the result of going to the grocery store with the children. I had been letting the boys watch old Popeye videos on YouTube (do not recommend--Popeye and Bluto are really rude and mean) and they got a little obsessed with spinach. When Cubby saw it at the grocery store, he begged me to get it. I started to say no because I have a ton of collard greens at hand, but then I thought, "Wait a minute. I'm saying no to a kid begging for spinach?" So I bought it.
It was quite young spinach, so I just sauteed it quickly in olive oil with garlic. They all loved it. So it looks like I'll be growing spinach next year along with celeriac.
Short version: Not-burned brisket, macaroni and cheese, steamed carrots and broccoli, squash, cupcakes
Long version: Brisket redemption by adding more liquid and keeping the oven temperature lower.
I used some of the Velveeta to make macaroni and cheese with the recipe on the Velveeta box. I even had the tiny elbow kind of macaroni, and the resulting macaroni and cheese was pretty much indistinguishable from the Kraft kind in a box. Charlie and Cubby loved it. Jack did not. That boy's got good taste.
I don't know what the squash was. It was a pumpkin-looking one the MiL brought. I just cut it in half and put it face down on a baking sheet to cook while the brisket was in the oven.
I made cupcakes because I never measure when I'm making buttercream frosting and when I made it for Poppy's birthday cake, I added too much milk and then had to add more of everything else, resulting in about twice as much frosting as I needed. Well, I couldn't just throw all that butter and sugar away, could I? No. I must make more cake. So I did. The oven was still on anyway for the brisket, so I made Grandma Bishop's chocolate cake into cupcakes.
There were no complaints.
Short version: Pork ribs, corn muffins, green salad
Long version: I know the last time I made these corn muffins, the recipe was fully available for free on the New York Times website. And now it's not. As I refuse on principal to create any more accounts than necessary--and I don't feel the recipes on that website are necessary--I instead found a site that listed the ingredients and then made them from what I know about baking and what I remembered about that recipe. They turned out fine.
Also, Charlie, who claimed last time I made them that he didn't like them, ate three this time. I guess he forgot he didn't like them.
We need a photo right about now, don't we? Here, have a baby.
Fashion forward in polka dots.
Short version: Grease Bomb, a.k.a. Man Skillet; pinto beans; squash; green peas
Long version: Last time we were at the grocery store, A. bought some 72/28 ground beef. He told me this in the car. Had he told me this in the store, I would have said he shouldn't buy it. Waaay too much fat. He told me it was really cheap and if I didn't drain the fat we'd really get our money's worth.
I couldn't promise not to drain the fat. I always drain off excess fat. I keep it to brown or fry other things, but I drain it. So when I pulled out a bag of this ground beef to thaw, I told A. he could cook it exactly as he wanted it.
Thus, Man Food.
While I was at the new house painting, he made his own skillet thing. He cooked the ground beef with a couple of cloves of garlic, added some leftover potatoes that he had mashed, plus some masa to help absorb the great quantity of rendered grease, and then topped the whole thing with slices of Velveeta.
I had already cooked pinto beans in the morning--I had planned on making a vegetable soup with them, but didn't have the energy after the painting--so we had those, too, plus some already-cooked squash and green peas.
A. was thrilled with how his skillet meal turned out. Cubby and Jack had seconds. It actually tasted pretty good, although it was so heavy that I used just a small scoop to mix with my squash and beans.
The Man Skillet used the last of the Velveeta. I'm pretty sure the bachelor we bought our new house from would have approved of this use of his Velveeta.
Short version: Oven Cornell chicken, roasted potatoes, roasted onion and bell pepper, green salad
Long version: Cornell chicken is waaaay better on a grill. We really need to get a grill.
Okay, your turn! What'd you eat this week?
* God knows why. Store-bought bread manages to be both sweet and unpleasantly sour. Yuck.