Bored? Who, me?

Not on your life!
This past week has been rainy and a bit gloomy, and up until Friday afternoon we had no obligations or appointments. Nothing to do? In my kitchen, that’s the perfect set-up for a little creative cooking.
Sunday Michael manned the grill for some of that Chattanooga inspired grilled Italian Meatloaf with Tangy Sauce. While he was at it, he grilled a few veggies. Red bell peppers, zucchini, mushrooms, and Vidalia onions were all doused in bottled Italian dressing and skewered before grilling.  So easy!   We intentionally grilled extras to be added to Wednesday’s dinner.
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Michael’s preparing most of our dinner gave me the time to plot and play. I started by making a batch of homemade Fresh Ricotta Cheese. Fresh ricotta is so quick and simple to make, and children love to watch the curds magically separate from the whey. Actually, I get a kick out of that myself! Ricotta doesn’t require any special ingredients or equipment and only takes about half an hour’s time, if that. I love the fact that this ricotta is all natural with no additives or preservatives. The only down side is that without preservatives fresh ricotta has a short shelflife. It has to be used within four or, at the most, five days.
Monday’s Eggplant Parmesan for Two took care of some of that.  The rich and creamy fresh ricotta made this batch outstanding, and there was enough eggplant left for Thursday night, too.
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Wednesday’s dinner was another new recipe, Ricotta Gnocchi. Traditonal potato gnocchi can be a little tricky to make, at least for me, but this ricotta version was surprisingly easy and went much faster than I imagined. Once again, several recipes were researched to write this one. Often I have to make changes after my first attempt at a new recipe, but not this time. I think what may have made the difference was the texture of the homemade ricotta. Almost no flour was required, only 1/4 cup in the actual dough. The dough wasn’t the least bit sticky, so very little flour was needed on the work surface to roll and cut the gnocchi, either. The gnocchi were light and fluffy, but held up well in my chunky Meat Sauce with the grilled veggies we saved from Sunday. While the recipe didn’t make a huge number of gnocchi, it was still more than the two of us could, or should, eat at one meal. I’m not sure how the leftovers will hold up, or if the gnocchi can be frozen. Time will tell.
For the sake of economy, I try to base my meat purchases and thus my menu choices, on the grocery store sales. I try to select only one item and buy that in bulk. A couple of different dishes are prepared with that one selection, and a portion is destined for the freezer. I almost always have cuts of beef, pork, and chicken available, all purchased at the lowest cost. This week it was boneless pork loin. I made another batch of Pork Carnitas and a pot of Grillads ready for Saturday. All I’ll need to do is stir together my Quick and Light Cheese Grits.
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The trimmings from the pork loin will go for Mini Egg Rolls. Waste not, want not, in either food or money.
Be thankful for what life gives you.

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