Lent 2013 Challenge Day 44: Good Friday Krabby Stuffed Potatoes

Outwardly, this seems luxurious for Good Friday: Seafood? Really? With white wine? When seen in the light of using stuff up in the fridge, though, hopefully the indulgence factor drops. I also based this on a family recipe that called for a can of condensed lobster bisque, but we’re aiming for from-scratch per the rules.

I had wanted to have some deep, meaningful reflections for the most solemn day of our faith year… but between choir practices and making sure Mr. M was equipped to manage a loud, squirmy preschooler through collective hours of Triduum doings… stuffed potatoes with salad it as good as it got. Humility can just show up in the form of a recipe without a reflection.

Wait. Did I just give a reflection in spite of the humility? Sheesh, you can’t even dress me up, much less take me out.

Krabby Stuffed Potatoes (prep time: 3 min + 15 minutes)

5 baking potatoes, scrubbed and baked in the slow cooker on low 6-12 hours
1 T butter
1 T flour
1 t salt
1/4 t black pepper
1/4 c white wine or vegetable stock
1 8oz can PLAIN tomato sauce
1/4 c heavy cream
1/2 c shredded sharp cheese
1/2 lb “krab” pollock seafood flakes

As your potatoes are baking in your slow cooker, melt butter over medium heat. In a small bowl, whisk flour with salt and pepper. Sprinkle seasoned flour over butter, then whisk in wine/stock. Let that reduce over medium-high for about 3 minutes, then whisk in tomato sauce and cream. Once that’s all bubbly, fold in cheese and stir until melted and smooth. Fold in “krab” and heat through.

Cut potatoes open on their individual serving plates, then pour “krabby” stuffing inside.

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Speaking of humility, it tasted way better than this picture looks.

And, folks, there you have it: a meatless, cheapo Lent for 5. I shall post our obligatory “I Learned Something Today” reflection sometime soon. Stay tuned, Mackerelsnapper fans. Erm, all three of you.

OH! Gluten-free friends? Corn starch for the flour should work.

 

Lent 2013 Challenge Day 36-37: Nothing to see here, people.

Really, there isn’t.  Late Thursday afternoon I had all the kids out for haircuts, so Mr. M made pizzas for us using the par-baked crusts spoken of in last weekend’s food prep post.

Last night, I had to use up the rest of that monster bag of bargain kale before it went south, so I made sauteed kale with mushrooms (bought on sale last week, also going south) and garlic.  I deglazed the pan with a bit of white wine, having forgotten to take out a container of vegetable stock to thaw.  Meanwhile I had angel hair cooking in our microwave pasta cooker… and I’m starting to give up on that thing.  I don’t know what I’m doing wrong, but all but the first two batches of pasta I’ve made in that thing have been just this side of inedible.  They’re gummy and mushy and gross.  So, we had food last night, and it was all by the book, but it wasn’t very tasty.  Alas.  There wasn’t enough Parmesan cheese in the world to save it.

Lent 2013 Challenge Day 16: Roasted Cauliflower Curry Soup

Roasted Cauliflower Curry Soup (morning prep time:  10 minutes; prep before serving:  5 minutes)

1 medium head of cauliflower, broken intoflorets
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
1 tsp each of curry powder, ginger, and salt
1 pinch of ground pepper (white would be prettier, but we don’t care much for pretty and used black)
2 T olive oil
2 c vegetable stock
2 c buttermilk (in our case, we used homemade yogurt that did not set up properly)

In a slow cooker, combine cauliflower, onion, and seasonings.  Pour oil over all, tossing to coat.  ADD  NO OTHER LIQUID.  Cook on low for at least 4 hours, up to 10.  Just before serving, heat vegetable stock in a microwave-safe container for 3 minutes on high power.  Pour stock and buttermilk into slow cooker and blend with a stick blender until smooth.  

Serve immediately with bread, toast, or the leftovers from a weekend double-batch of whole-wheat biscuits.  Cheating?  Perhaps….

Lent 2013 Challenge Day 11-12: Getting saucy

1:49:25. That, my friends, is the amount of time we devoted to food prep this weekend. Scary? Be not afraid! In the time above, I made two batches of bagels, a double batch of sauce, did the dishes, made and ate breakfast, and did my hair and makeup.

I made the bagels using this recipe, only making them 12 to a batch, rather than 8. My sauce, however, has been perfected recently, and I’m happy to share the results here.

Mrs. Mackerelsnapper’s Tomato Sauce (total prep time: 20 minutes)

2 onions, chopped
2 medium green peppers, chopped
2 T olive oil
1 c red wine
1 T minced garlic
1 tsp each salt, oregano, basil, parsley, and thyme
1/2 tsp black pepper
2 large (48oz? 36? sorry, I forgot!) cans of tomato puree, sauce, or crushed tomatoes
2 bay leaves

In a large, heavy skillet, cook onions and greed peppers in olive oil over medium-high heat until tender and just starting to brown. Add wine, garlic, and seasonings to pan and let simmer about 3 minutes. Pour into a slow cooker and stir in tomato. Add bay leaves. Heat on low 4-5 hours (more if you need to be out of the house longer). Remove bay leaves. If you have a stick blender, blend until smooth. Pour into containers and refrigerate until needed.

Or, make bagel pizzas:

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Picture courtesy of Nada

Ash Wednesday 2013: Besan Pancakes with Carrot Salad

Here we go! For those of you following at home, each dinner must take no more than 20 minutes to cook. We didn’t say those 20 minutes had to be all together, did we? First, let’s start with how I spent my morning:

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Carrot Salad (Time: 10 minutes)

1 lb carrots
1 c Greek yogurt
2 T chopped cilantro leaves
1 tsp each turmeric, coriander, ginger
1 tsp lemon juice

Wash, peel, and grate your carrots down to the smallest nubs you can manage. Chop the remaining nubs as small as you can get them. Combine all ingredients except lemon juice and refrigerate 6 hours or overnight. Just before serving, add lemon juice.

The carrot shredding is the part that took 8 of our 10 allotted minutes. It also took this off of my thumb.

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If that portion of my manly thumb fell into the carrots, does this count as flesh meat?

This goes with…

Besan Pancakes (Time: 10 minutes)

1/2 c Greek yogurt
1 c milk (more for thinner batter, if desired)
1 1/2 c besan (chickpea flour–usually available with specialty flours in your baking aisle)
1 tsp salt
Optional whisk-ins: ginger garlic, cumin, coriander, turmeric, fresh cilantro leaves

Blend yogurt and milk until smooth. Whisk into remaining ingredients until it looks like the consistency of your favorite pancake batter. Whisk in more milk (or water) if you’d like it thinner. Heat a frying pan on medium and spray with cooking spray (or rub with a paper towel dipped in oil). Once pan is hot, pour ¼ c of batter then swirl it around to thin out the pancake. Cook the pancake on one side until it’s almost completely dry on top and golden on the bottom. Flip and cook until the other side is golden, too. Eat as-is or stuff with carrot salad, above.

A note about the cilantro: We can usually get a large, fresh bunch for about one dollar. We chop it up as soon as we get it, portion it out into ice cube trays, fill the trays the rest of the way with water, then freeze and pop out to be stored in freezer bags, thawing as needed. Don’t waste that cilantro! We are counting this as part of our 2 hours/weekend food prep.

I have all sorts of thoughts that I have had going through my mind today, all sorts of fears and worries and joys.  Sharing them here would make this post much better than it is.  However, sometimes we just have to be satisfied with enough; on Ash Wednesday, we are called to find satisfaction in less what what we think would be enough.  We have to find a full belly on five loaves and a few fish to feed the five thousand.

What’s on your menu?

Seitan Fried Rice

3 T mixed oils (we used olive oil and corn oil, but if you can tolerate sesame, do so)
1/2 a batch of seitan, chopped
3 c frozen vegetables of your choice (we used broccoli, carrots, corn, green pepper strips)
1 can of crushed pineapple, drained, reserving juice
1 T grated fresh ginger (more or less to taste)
1 T minced garlic (more or less to taste)
1 egg, beaten
2 T plum preserves (optional)
3 c cooked rice

Heat oils in a large, heavy skillet or wok. Add seitan and vegetables, stirring frequently until thawed. Add ginger and garlic. Pour pineapple juice over all and stir throughly, placing lid over top to help steam the vegetables, about five minutes. Add beaten egg and stir until egg is cooked and evenly distributed. Add crushed pineapple, plum preserves and rice, stirring to combine and heat through.

This comes together within half an hour if you have all the pieces put together as you have time throughout the day (for example, mince the garlic, grate the ginger, and put them aside until you’re ready to cook; cook the rice when you have a moment, then set it aside).

Vegans: skip the eggs. Can’t do sugar? Skip the plum preserves. Enjoy!

The one post is three…

Like the obscure reference to Fr. Gaitley’s forthcoming book?  Golly, I do.

I’m going to cover a backlog in one quick post.  Tonight’s dinner is One Pot Macaroni and Cheese with some vegetables thrown in.  I also like to make the cheese a mixture of sharp cheddar, cream cheese, and good old pasturized process American.  That’s some creamy deliciousness right there.

Another vegetarian Pinterest find?  Buffalo Cauliflower.  Perfect for Friday night snacking!

And at last, something I came up with myself.  Using the basic idea of slow cooker polenta, we had the easiest, perhaps cheapest Friday lunch ever today.  Put 3 c water, 2/3 c cornmeal, 1 c cooked/canned pumpkin, 2 T maple syrup, 1/2 t salt, and dashes of cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg in your slow cooker.  Cook on low 4-6 hours and enjoy.  I put that in around 6am and we came home to a fabulous, warm and cozy lunch after a morning of homeschool field trips.

It's a pot! It's an oven! It's...

Slow Cooker, you’re my hero!

You’re welcome.

In all seriousness, today is The Feast of the Faithfully Departed (a. k. a. All Souls Day).  Our Little Flowers Girls Club is going out to pick trash at the parish graveyard and pray for the souls of those buried there.  In the shower this morning, where all good thoughts arrive, I realized that not to believe in what we call Purgatory is kind of silly.  I mean, if we are made perfect in Christ, then for love of Him, we will voluntarily spend time making amends for the times we hurt Him… I daresay we’ll want to do that even moreso when we’re in Heaven and have the opportunity to be with Him face to face.

Who are you calling shrimp?

Last Friday’s dinner was one of the best in recent memory, and I’m not just saying that. I was able to make all of this in our kitchen while hosting ten Little Flowers and their moms for an All Saints Day party.

First I cleaned, trimmed and halved about a pound of Brussels sprouts. I placed them in a cast iron pan and tossed them with salt, pepper and olive oil. Then, frankly, I stashed the pan in the microwave for storage, because who wants Brussels sprouts stinking up the fridge?

Next I prepped that baked shrimp recipe that’s all over Pinterest but now Pinterest is saying the link is spammy. Boo. Anyway, it wasn’t my idea, but here’s what I did: spread one stick of room temperature butter in the bottom of a 9″x13″ pan; covered the butter with the slices three lemons; spread 2lbs thawed, peeled and cleaned shrimp on top of that (there was a keee-razy sale on frozen shrimp, cleaned, easy peel at the market a few weeks ago); then sprinkle a packet of dried Italian dressing mix on top of that. This I covered with aluminum foil and stashed in the fridge.

Next I entertained the girls and their moms. Thanks to our “craft mom” for the meeting, we made “spoon saints,” so easy even Second Shift of Kid could make one.

Then I preheated the oven to 350F. I put the sprouts in for 15 minutes. I then put the shrimp in the 350F oven with the Brussels sprouts and let them all bake for an additional 15 minutes. About ten minutes from showtime, I made up a batch of cous cous; had we had more time, I would’ve made pasta; had we need for gluten-free, I would’ve used rice. Throw the starch in with the shrimp and mix to coat. Serve all. The shrimp were so tender and flavorful. I am not a Brussels sprouts fan, but these were so good that I am looking for excuses to make them again.

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“So… is that the good Korea or the bad Korea?”

Don’t mind me. In my little world, there’s no such thing as a gratuitous Lost reference, even less so a gratuitous Hurley reference. I love how Sun handled that, too.

Today is the feast of St. Andrew Kim Taegon and Companions. St. Andrew was the first Korean to be ordained a priest. I like the story of Catholicism in Korea because it was started not by a bunch of rabid priests who were in it for the money or something, as our culture would like to have us believe. Catholicism was brought to Korea by laypeople. I’m reasonably confident they were not rabid. Laypeople make a difference. You don’t need a collar to proclaim to all nations.

St. Andrew Kim Taegon was captured for the crime of being a Catholic, refused to recant, and so we celebrate his courage. Our family celebrated the eve of this feast yesterday with a Korean-inspired dessert porridge. I’ve only ever had Korean food once; it was fantastic, but I don’t remember any sweets at the end. What I do remember is poor Mr. Mackerelsnapper being served an octopus beak, and the Chinese-Canadian in attendance laughed at him for it, remarking something about, “What is it with Caucasians not wanting to eat anything with a head still on it?” Hey! Is that any worse than Brazilians thinking that eating meat off the bone is barbaric? But I love chicken wings! We’re all a little weird here on this globe.

That brings me to how weird I felt about making a dessert… soup. I’ve never made Korean anything before, so I had to do some research. Googling “Korean desserts” led me to Beyond Kimchee, a blog of Korean cooking. On there is a recipe for hobaak jook, a pumpkin porridge thickened with rice. As it’s just starting to turn seasons here, the flavors seemed perfect, but not only had I never made Korean food before, I’d never made a dessert porridge. I was intimidated to say the least. But as I read the recipe, I realized it was similar to Chinese congee, which I have made before. Once I got past that fear, the rest was easy. So, inspired by Beyond Kimchee’s recipe for hobaak jook, I bring you:

St. Andrew Kim Taegon Slow Cooker Pumpkin Porridge

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1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded and sliced into 1/2″ slices
1 cup cooked rice (all we have is jasmine, so I used that; if you have sweet rice available, I bet that would rock)
3 thin slices of peeled, fresh ginger root
2 tablespoons shredded sweetened coconut
5 c water
2 tablespoons white sugar
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Place the first give ingredients into a slow cooker and cook on low 5-6 hours.

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Add the sugars, then puree all ingredients together; if you have a stick blender, use that, but if not, pour it into a large food processor.

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If you don’t have either, and you also don’t have arthritis, according to our friend at Beyond Kimchee, you can mash it all together with a fork or other hand-masher.

The coconut and vanilla were additions of mine to the original recipe, as was the slow cooker method. Both cooking and faith have that in common: we can add flavors of our own cultures but still have true nourishment. I love the  statue of St. Andrew Kim Taegon that wiki shows. If my memory of Chunhyang is correct, the hat St. Andrew wears is the hat worn by noble scholars. St. Andrew was surely a courageous and noble priest. We all need more of those in our world, regardless of where we live.

 

 

 

Vegan September Soup… and Lent? Already?

It’s never too early to start thinking about Lent 2013. Okay, maybe for you it’s too early, but when one’s blogging mission is impelled by the gravity of Lenten cuisine, it’s not too early. Your thoughts?

I have my preference, but I’m curious as to what others would want to see… or do themselves. If they were, you know, as delightfully kooky as I am.

And now, for last Friday’s dinner. It was our first Little Flowers Girls Club meeting of the year, which is our annual “Happy Birthday, Blessed Mother” party. It was also stinking hot and humid on Friday. On top of that, Mr. Mackerelsnapper had to get the lawn mowed after work, so dinner was going to have to be ready at a moment’s notice. This was a job for… SLOW COOKER! (dat da da daaaaaaa!)

It's a pot!  It's an oven!  It's...

Slow Cooker, you’re my hero!

I researched some recipes, looking for something new to do with black beans. In that process, I realized… I’ve never made a plain old, humble black bean soup! My research and this epiphany, therefore, joined hands to bring you:

September Soup

3 c vegetable stock
1 medium onion, chopped
1/2 c celery, chopped
2 lb tomatoes, trimmed & pureed (I did not remove seeds or skins)
1 14.5oz can whole kernel corn
1 15 oz can black beans
1/4 c quick grits
1 T minced garlic (or more to taste)
1/2 T chili powder
1 medium green pepper, diced
1/2 T smoked paprika
1 T ground cumin
1 t salt
1/4 t black pepper

Stir everything together in your slow cooker and cook on high 2-3 hours, low 4-6 hours.

Feel free to add more chili powder or other heat if you’re not cooking for toddler tastebuds. The grits as the grain make it gluten-free but still add a bit of body. The tomatoes were from our garden, but I am sure you could use a large can of crushed tomatoes, if that’s what you have on hand. It’s as vegan as we get around here, but the Mr. and I still added some pepper cheese on top.

This week is our first week back to Wednesday Desserts. Check out the tag if you’re interested in those.

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