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 30-31: Kale-o-rama! And I may be turning into a pizza crust.

Not a whole pizza, mind you. Just the crust.

Yesterday our Little Flowers Girls Club, in lieu of having a meeting, celebrated the birthday of one of our original members. I helped out the hosting family by making par-baked pizza crusts. In other words, I made one double-batch of dough cut into sixteen equal pieces, baked for 10 min at 425F then stored in an empty bread bag. When it was party time, we let the kids top their crusts as they like and bake 8-10 min at 425F or until browned to your liking.

While I was with First Shift at said party, Mr. Mackerelsnapper made us a pan of kale with onions and garlic (pretty much the link there but without the sweet potatoes), served with some bread on the side. Because only three of us were eating, as First Shift had been fed at the party, we had about two servings left over. What to do, what to do…

Well, today is Saturday: Lenten Food Prep Day. So far I’ve emptied the stock bag and made a pot of rice, which is an activity that takes more than 20 minutes, thus breaking the Lent 2013 Challenge Rules. All of that work totaled up to about 45 minutes. That still gives me an hour and fifteen minutes. With any luck I’ll make either some bagels or some pita.

With the rest of my time I made ANOTHER double-batch of pizza dough, separated those into a total of four crusts, and par-baked them as above. While those were baking, I used this awesome find from the produce bargain bin…

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…and made another batch of kale with onions and garlic, this time without adding beans. When the pizza crusts were finished their first bake, I set two aside to cool and be frozen for use next week. The other two I topped with last night’s kale leftovers and today’s newly cooked batch. I sprinkled some mozzarella (frozen in bulk, of course) on those and baked them the rest of the way (10 more minutes at 425F). Voila—lunch!

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(Somebody took us out to dinner tonight, so dinner wasn’t our “by the rules” meal for the day.) Vegans:  skip the cheese.  Gluten-free?  Use one of those fancy cauliflower crusts, which, btw, I’ve been meaning to try.  Any reviews?

Two weeks of Lent remain. Usually Easter means ham… but this year, I could really use a big, thick steak….

 

 

Lent 2013 Challenge Day 17: Teeny Tiny Tacos

We just made these, with the addition of a diced cucumber that would not have survived another day of not being eaten.  We splurged for a bag of “scoops” corn chips with which to eat them. The only problem was that Mr. Mackerelsnapper came home late and the children had already eaten his dinner!

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

Lent 2013 Challenge Day 10: Corn Pudding

Friday was completely breaking the rules because someone came over and shared crab cakes with us.  In the name of hospitality, we broke down and accepted them.  However, we did provide a side which, if given some tuna or “krab” and made in the slow cooker, *would* have worked just fine with the Lent 2013 Rules linked above.

This is our family’s recipe for corn pudding.  I used to have it stuck in my mind that this is a Thanksgiving Recipe, and never should it be made outside of Thanksgiving.  In recent years, though, we’ve become a little more adventurous.  I love having this with shellfish of any kind… especially crab cakes.

Corn Pudding (prep time:  5 minutes)

1 can creamed corn
1/2 c cracker crumbs
1 c milk
3 large eggs, beaten
salt and pepper to taste
about 1 T butter

Mix all ingredients together and pour into greased slow cooker.  Dot top with butter.  Cook on low 4-5 hours.

Lent 2013 Challenge Day 3: Are you going to Scarborough Fair?

Roasted Fennel and Chick Peas (prep time: 15 minutes)

1 fennel bulb, cleaned, trimmed, and sliced
1 can chick peas, drained
3 medium potatoes, scrubbed and chopped into 1″ pieces (leave the skins on)
1 c baby carrots
1 onion, sliced thin
1 tsp each of… wait for it… parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme
salt and pepper to taste
1 T minced garlic (or less–we totally overdo the garlic around here, because of, you know, the vampires)
1/4 c olive oil

Dump everything into your slow cooker, being sure to mix well after adding the olive oil. Set your slow cooker on low and walk away for just about as long as you’d like. Give it all a good stir before serving.  The slow roasting really mellows out the fennel, so if you’re like me and more than a little afraid of that much licorice-flavor in your veggies… just put on your big-chef panties and buy the fennel.

Yes, YES, my friends, you can put things in a slow cooker without any fluid. I don’t know where we all got the idea that you must have fluid in your slow cooker. Maybe it was the condensed soup companies or something, but it’s not necessary. You can bake potatoes (white and/or sweet), roast carrots, make puddings… I could go on and on. I’d better not, though, as my family is waiting for me to join them for Netflix and Doctor Who.

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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!

So much catching up to do!

I “won” National Novel Writing Month and am now trying very hard to prepare for Christmas. That involves a lot of crafting. Otherwise, here’s what we’ve been up to:

  1. No Advent calendar here. We do a gingerbread sacrifice manger: whenever you offer something up to Jesus, put a “straw” (strip of yellow paper) into the manger, and that will make a nice, soft bed for Jesus when he is born.
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  2. For the eve of the Feast of St. Nicholas, our Wednesday Dessert were some well-intentioned but badly executed “Saint Nicholas Miter Cupcake.” I used this recipe for vegan white cake, and then I added red food coloring too late in the recipe to make anything but a pink marble cake. Then, somebody on Pinterest said that if you put marshmallows on top of you cupcakes in the last five minutes of baking, you’ll have self-iced cupcakes. Again, well-intentioned but badly executed, to the point that I’ve considered submitting the results to Pinstrosity.
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    Well, they were ugly as anything, but they did taste good.

  3. I’ve been known to go through cooking phases. The current phase seems to be called How to Stretch One Can of Black Beans Across Two Meals for Five People. Last week we made a black bean spread for lunch (black beans, minced garlic, some olive oil and lemon juice all smashed together), then mixed the leftovers all up in lieu of the refried beans in our Vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie, and we served that for dinner. We had some friends over, and even my self-proclaimed “picky hick” friend liked it.
  4. Today is the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. This is the day that you can honor Our Lady’s first visit to the Americas by eating chocolate. I told the kids the story of Our Lady of Guadalupe while making hot chocolate.

Our Lady of Guadalupe Heavenly Hot Chocolate

approximately 3/4 c chopped chocolate
3 T butter
3 c whole milk
Optional: marshmallow creme, blue and yellow sprinkles

Melt the chocolate and butter together in a saucepan over low heat to make a ganache, stirring constantly. Whisk in milk until blended and heated through. Pour into mugs and top with a dollop of marshmallow creme, representing Mary’s purity, come to Earth to be the Mother of God, and come later to the home of chocolate to be the Mother of the Americas. Sprinkle with blue and yellow sprinkles, representing Our Lady of Guadalupe’s blue mantle with the yellow stars.

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This was so rich that even I couldn’t finish mine, and that’s saying something. It reminded me of how heaven is so rich that we need to trust that God will give us only as much of it as we need here for our lives now.

 

All the Thanksgiving Sides!

I used to be a strict traditionalist about Thanksgiving. It wasn’t Thanksgiving unless we served:

  • Five Cup Salad
  • Green Bean Casserole
  • Corn Pudding
  • Cornbread sausage stuffing
  • and turkey (although that was merely an excuse to serve the above)

And every year we served these things, we would always say, “These things are so good. Why do we only eat them once a year?” Then we’d promise on the spot to make those things throughout the year without needing the excuse of Thanksgiving. Then, another Thanksgiving would roll around and we hadn’t made any of those things.

What’s more, having the same Thanksgiving meal every year got a bit tired over the years. Two years ago we started to “theme” our Thanksgivings, not only to motivate us to make those other dishes throughout the year, but also to narrow down the new things we were trying. Our first year, we had a Southern-style Thanksgiving, following a lot of Paula Deen recipes (love her and her butter!). One of those dishes we tried was her Oyster Dressing. Can you say, “Yum”? We had this for dinner last night as the main event.

How did we papify it? Can we make that be a word? PAPIFY (vt)–to turn an ordinary recipe, item, or event into something friendly to papists. Anyway, in order to papify, ahem, this recipe, we just used two 8oz jars of clam juice in place of the chicken stock. Easy-peasy. If we’d had veggie stock on hand, I would’ve used that, but our slow cooker has been so busy this week that it hasn’t had a chance to make any veggie stock. Anyway, the flesh meat-free version was just as good as the brothy kind. It was warm, filling, and made the whole house smell like Thanksgiving.

 

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