Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Making Up for Lost Time

Well, after a brief period of being too busy to make anything but the quickest and most familiar dishes, I had a quiet weekend during which to make some slightly more involved meals.  I'll have to give an abbreviated version of each recipe because there are several - and, once again, not enough time.

After taking a late-afternoon nap that caused me to miss Friday night yin-and-flow yoga, I figured that an easy way to end the day feeling like I'd done something would be to make a slightly amped-up chicken noodle soup.  I love chicken noodle soup in the fall, cold or no cold, but I always like to give it a little extra something, like the City CafĂ© did when I worked there.  I always use small pasta and some kind of greenery - scallions this time, because I had them and because I didn't want to have to go outside and snip parsley in the dark once the sun had set.  Plus Steve had bought another rotisserie chicken from the Pig, and I had bought a few carrots earlier in the week and harvested a couple of red bell peppers.  The soup pictured here used all of the above ingredients (dark meat only from the chicken) plus orzo pasta and chicken broth, simmered for half an hour, and about half a tablespoon of lemon juice (on mine, not Steve's) added just before serving.  This actually bears a closer resemblance to the Greek chicken and lemon soup that I had once at Zorba's in Irmo.

Saturday I had stuff to do around the house and Steve had a friend with a computer that needed fixing, so while he was out I got started on the chicken-broccoli-cheddar bake and sweet potato rice with scallions pictured here.  This cheddar bake took care of the remaining Piggly Wiggly chicken (all the white meat) plus about 3/4 pound of Wal-Mart cheese that neither of us really liked enough to snack on.  I had planned on using frozen broccoli (we've got at least 3 bags in the freezer), but since Steve picked up a couple of fresh heads of broccoli on Friday, I just chopped that, steamed it in the microwave and added it to the mix once it was ready.  The chicken was just pulled off the carcass and coarsely chopped, and the cheese sauce used about half the cubed cheese, plus 2 tablespoons of Smart Balance, 2 tablespoons of flour, 12 ounces of milk and a little bit of pepper and nutmeg.  Once that had all blended, I mixed in the remaining cubed cheese (not cooking it all on the stove makes for a cheesier end result) plus the chicken and broccoli, poured it into a non-stick bread loaf pan (my go-to vessel for mini-casseroles) and into the oven it went, 375 degrees for about an hour.

The brown rice with sweet potatoes was more straightforward: while the rice was cooking (and the bake was in the oven), I peeled, diced and pan-fried one large sweet potato in Smart Balance with about 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon and a dash of nutmeg.  I added about 1/4 of water here and there because it kept wanting to stick to the bottom of the pan as it caramelized.  At the very end, I added the scallions, then stirred all of it into the rice once it was done.

Sunday I made lentil moussaka because Steve had picked up a couple of eggplants and I really wanted to make an eggplant moussaka after coming up with endless uses for zucchini all summer.  And I do like zucchini, but you know when you've had too much of a good thing.  The lentil moussaka was pretty much the same as the one I made in June, except that I put it in the oven for about 50 minutes at 400 degrees so that the eggplant would cook through.  Borderline burnt on top (I should probably train myself to use breadcrumbs for visual appeal)...

...but delish the whole way through.  Still have leftovers.  I think I'll have some now!

While the foods I prepared over the weekend made a decent-sized dent in my produce supply, it kept replacing itself at roughly the same rate.  I still have a sweet potato, an eggplant, a few carrots, a bag of fresh spinach and one or two other things.  What to make this week?...

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