I made a double batch of his, even though this is technically only supposed to be a side dish. Good mushrooms plus soy, rice vinegar and garlic = amazingness. Definitely a good recipe, and one I’ll use in the future again.

Mushroom Stir-Fry

Ingredients

  • 2 T vegetable or other neutral oil
  • 10 oz cremini mushrooms, stems trimmed if long, sliced thin
  • 6 oz shiitake mushrooms, stems removed, sliced thin
  • 1 T thinly sliced scallions, white bits only
  • 1 T minced garlic
  • Pinch sea salt
  • 2 t sesame oil
  • 3 t soy sauce
  • .25 c dashi
  • 1 t rice vinegar

In a large skillet, heat 1 T veggie oil over high heat. Add the mushrooms and cook over high heat, until the liquid they exude during the cooking process and the mushrooms are nicely browned (pic 1). Then, add another T of veggie oil, and add the scallion, garlic, and salt, and cook for another minute (pic 2). Then, add the sesame oil, soy sauce, and stock, and use it to deglaze the pan, scraping up anything that might have stuck to the pan (pic 3). Let the sauce reduce a touch, then remove the pan from heat and stir in the rice vinegar. Serve hot or at room temp (pic 4).

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This is one of those “this is so stupidly simple, why did I not try it sooner?” things. As it turns out, puddings are kind of stupidly simple to make, and when you add in a touch of booze, it makes it the more wonderful. I altered the recipe a bit bc it’s a Tieghan recipe, but it’s still pretty much the same at its core. I was able to get some clearance organic semisweet baking chocolate, but I have a feeling I could have gotten better for this.

Kahlua Chocolate Pudding

There’s still some in the fridge, I’ll get back to you on how many servings this lasts us

Ingredients

  • 2 c milk
  • 3 T flour
  • 3 T sugar (2-4 recommended)
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 T vanilla extract
  • 1/3 c Kahlua (used peppermint Kahlua that I still have in the fridge)
  • 4 oz semisweet chocolate chopped
  • 4 T butter

Warm the milk in a pot over low heat. In a separate pot, whisk together the flour, sugar, egg yolks and vanilla extract until smooth (pic 1). Then slowly whisk in the warm milk, a bit at a time (pic 2), until smooth (pic 3). Turn the heat to a low heat and cook for 2-3 mins, stirring continuously. Then, whisk in the Kahlua (pic 4) and turn up the heat to medium low, confusing to whisk till the mixture thickens, roughly 15 to 25 mins. (I had it too low, and had to increase the heat, whoops).

Remove the pan from heat, and stir in the chocolate (pic 5) and butter (pic 6) and stir together till melted and smooth. Place in a container to chill in the fridge, and enjoy!

So, this was a recipe I decided to try on a whim, because I had access to good, cheap tomatoes and potatoes, and it turns out that Trader Joe’s sells reasonably priced saffron, and I wanted to try a recipe out of the new Persian cookbook I got earlier in the year (Naz Deravain’s Bottom of the Pot) that my vegetarian boyfriend might like. Lessons for the future: maybe reduce the water content by like a cup or so (or sub vegetable stock) bc the tomato/potato/leek mixture brings its own juices into the mix, and make the dices smaller next time. And try the fried egg on top next time like she suggests in the book, because that looks amazing.

Kateh Estamboli – Rice with Potatoes and Tomatoes

Lasted me and the boy two servings each plus one more left over

Ingredients

  • .25 c olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion diced
  • 1 leek (white and light green bits only), halved and sliced thin
  • .5 t ground turmeric
  • 1 large Yukon Gold potato (appx .5 lbs) peeled and cubed in .5 in cubes
  • 3 c water (chicken or vegetarian stock also an option)
  • Fresh ground black pepper
  • Sea salt
  • 3 large tomatoes (about 1.5 lbs), diced
  • 4 large garlic cloves, diced
  • 1.5 c rice, rinsed and drained (I used short grain bc it was what I had to hand, basmati recommended)
  • .25 t ground saffron
  • 2 T unsalted butter, cubed

(A note – I used a rice cooker here. If you don’t have one of those, just use a single large pot. I’ll put the stovetop version notes in parentheses.)

In a large skillet (pot), heat the oil over medium high heat, and add the leek and onion (pic 1). Cook, stirring frequently, until golden brown and good-smelling. Sprinkle with a touch of salt, and add the turmeric. After a quick stir, add the potatoes (pic 2), and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 mins.

Meanwhile, get your rice cooker ready, adding the rice and water. (If doing this stovetop, bring your water or stock to a boil in a separate pan).

Season the potato mix well with salt and pepper, and then add your tomatoes and garlic (pic 3). Add a pinch of salt to the tomatoes, and cook about three mins, until they start to release their juices. Add the mixture to the rice cooker and add some more salt, the ground saffron, and butter (pic 4), and let the rice cooker do its thing (pics 5 and 6)!

(If using stovetop, stir in the rice to the mixture, cook two mins until toasted, then add in the boiling water, 2 t salt, saffron, and butter, and stir to combine. Bring the mixture to a boil, then cover and reduce the heat to low. Cook until the liquid’s been absorbed, about fifteen mins. Them, wrap the lid in a kitchen towel or a few layers of paper towel to catch condensation, make sure they’re secured so they don’t catch fire, and cook until the rice is fully cooked and the flavors have all melted, about 30-ish mins).

So, this is one of those “why the hell didn’t I try this sooner?” things. Canned coffee (in this case, a La Colombe draft mocha, which is equivalent to 2.25 c of coffee), cut down with a bit of milk and vanilla extract, and add some good Oreos (I had leftover peppermint bark version from winter), and put in popsicle molds, and you have a reasonably caffeinated popsicle. And popsicle molds are going on sale around this time of year too, so you can easily make these pretty cheap.

Mocha Cookies and Cream Popsicles

Makes 10-12 popsicles

Ingredients

  • 12 oz milk
  • 1 can (9 oz) La Colombe draft mocha
  • .25 c sugar
  • 1.5 t vanilla extract
  • 18ish Oreo-type cookies

Stir together the draft mocha, milk, sugar, and vanilla extract (pic 2). Take your Oreos, put them in a plastic bag, and crush them with a rolling pin (pic 3). Stir them into the milk mixture (pic 4).

Then, pour the milk mixture into the popsicle molds (pic 5), and freeze. And then, enjoy your caffeinated popsicle (pic 6)!

Risotto is good. It was one of the first things I learned to make well out of college. However, up until I found this recipe, I had never thought of just straight up taking tomatoes and using them as the base for the broth for the risotto. This recipe is now joining the mainstay recipes, especially in the summer, and hopefully as I start growing things on the balcony again. Good, fresh tomatoes grated down to make tomato pulp and juice, essentially, plus some good cheeses, makes an amazing tasting dinner. And if you can grow/pick up some good heirlooms, they also make it look gorgeous, if you want to go the aesthetic route. (The ones I used for this were German striped tomatoes, as the farmers market had a tomato tasting this morning and they were amaaaaaazing.)

If you have an Instant Pot/pressure cooker, click on the original recipe link for the pressure cooker version of this recipe. I do have one, but haven’t taken it out of the box yet, and am honestly mildly intimidated to do so. So, for now, I just stuck to the way I know best – stovetop method.

Fresh Tomato Risotto

Probably going to last four-ish meals judging on the amount of leftovers that went in the fridge

Ingredients

  • About 3 lbs tomatoes (how many this comes to will depend on size – mine were 2 largish heirlooms)
  • .25 c olive oil
  • Half an onion, finely diced (original recommends 4 medium shallots, didn’t make a large difference I think)
  • 2 c Arborio rice
  • 1 c dry white wine at room temp (I used a dry Riesling I found at TJ’s for $5)
  • 2 T unsalted butter
  • 5 cloves garlic, peeled and grated (honestly I’m just using minced garlic rn)
  • Large pinch sea salt (read Samin Nosrat this afternoon, learn what you like salt wise and go with it! This is just a recommendation!)
  • Pinch fresh ground black pepper
  • .5 c finely grated Parmigiano Reggiano (found this at TJ’s)
  • .25 c marscapone cheese

Take a medium sized bowl and a box grater, and then take your tomatoes, and start grating the whole tomatoes using the largest holes of a box grater. When you grate the tomatoes, it will pretty much leave you with just tomato seeds, juice, and pulp in the bowl, and will leave the peels against the grate, which allows you to just discard them. Pics 1 and 2 give you an idea of what the process looks like, and pic 3 shows the finished product.

Heat your skillet over medium heat, add the olive oil, and as soon as it’s warmed, add the onion, cooking until softened and just barely browned at the edges (pic 4). Add the garlic and heat until it starts to smell good. Then, add the rice, mix well to coat with the olive oil, and cook until lightly toasted (it should smell like it’s toasting, too), which comes out to about 2-3 minutes, roughly (pic 5).

Then, add the cup of white wine, use it to deglaze the pan and make sure that nothing is sticking, and stir constantly as you bring it to a simmer, cooking until the wine has been almost completely absorbed, about 3 minutes. Then, slowly add your grated tomatoes about a half a cup at a time and stirring slowly and constantly, making sure that the liquid’s been almost completely absorbed by the rice before adding more. Pics 6 and 7 show what this process looks like. Do this until you’ve used all your tomatoes up – this should take about fifteen to twenty minutes. Taste the risotto and see how the rice is – it should be soft but still have a bit of a chewy edge (aka al dente). The broth should be creamy and thick, like a nice porridge. A neat way to tell if it’s done is that you should run your spatula through the risotto, and the rice should slowly fill the dry area back in, like a wave of water at the beach.

Then turn off the heat, and stir in the butter and Parmesan (see pic 8) until it’s nice and creamy, and add the marscapone in to finish, folding in until absorbed and creamy (pic 9). Let it sit for a few minutes after all the cheese is in it so that everything can combine.

And then, enjoy your amazing ass risotto, ideally with some bread if you’ve got some around.

This is something I threw together quick on Monday night – it feels like it needs a bit more substantial of an addition (any recs along the lines of veggies?), but the boyfriend liked it, so it’s going to enter the regular rotation, lol. It’s a quick meal, and simple, and dead cheap, which is always a benefit.

Sweet Korean Lentils

Lasted 2 servings for him, one for me, and some leftovers I sent home with him

Ingredients

Sauce

  • 2 c water
  • .25 c soy sauce
  • 2 T brown sugar
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 inch piece of ginger, minced (grated here)
  • 1 t sesame oil
  • .5 t crushed red pepper flakes

Lentils

  • 1 T vegetable oil
  • Half of an onion, chopped
  • 1 c red lentils
  • (2 green onions chopped and 1 T sesame seeds for garnish, skipped these)
  • Cooked rice to serve

Mix all the sauce ingredients together in a medium bowl (pic 1). Heat the veggie oil in a skillet over medium heat, then add the onions and sauté for a few minutes, until the onions soften and are lightly browned (pic 2) As soon as this happens, add the sauce and lentils (pic 3), and cover and bring to a gentle simmer (pic 4). Cook until the lentils are tender and most of the liquid has been absorbed, about 10 to 15 mins over medium high heat from what I found.

Take a bowl of rice, spoon the finished lentils over them (pic 5), and then mix together to serve (pic 6).

I’ve been seeing a few folks I know hype this recipe on social media as something that’s super simple to make and is ready quickly on, say, a super hot night like we’ve been having recently. This definitely lives up to the hype, to the point that I’m probably going to get a few things of nice-ish tortellini and throw them in the freezer to have on hand. This may even rank as a depression meal in its level of easiness/quickness to prepare, tbh.

Also, around this time of year, farmers markets tend to sell shelled peas, and I can highly recommend getting several pounds worth and just throwing them in the freezer. At the rate that people tend to use frozen peas at, will last you for several years minimum, and it gives you excellent peas for your meals.

Crispy Tortellini with Peas (and Prosciutto)

How many meals you get out of this depends on the size of the package of tortellini you use tbh. A 10 oz bag gave me 2 meals.

Ingredients

  • (3 thin slices of prosciutto – I skipped this bc the tortellini I used had prosciutto in it)
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1 package tortellini (you can get either frozen or the kind you find in the refrigerated section and just toss those into the freezer, all depends on your preference)
  • .5 c frozen peas (don’t defrost)
  • 1/3 c water

To finish

  • 2 – 3 T marscapone (or crème fraiche) (depends on the size of your tortellini package)
  • Splash lemon juice
  • Sea salt and fresh ground black pepper
  • A few fresh mint leaves, torn
  • Grated parmesan (optional but lbr you’re probably gonna use it)

Take a large skillet (and BE SURE YOU HAVE A LID FOR IT, or at least a lid that will fit over the pan), and heat over medium high heat. (If you’re using prosciutto, cook it here, until curling and browned on each side, about two minutes for each side. Set aside and cool.) Add the olive oil to the skillet and heat it for a minute or so. Add the frozen tortellini in a single layer, and cook for 4 mins, until they’re browned and crispy underneath (pic 1). Then, sprinkle in your frozen peas (or if they’re all in one clump like mine, add them in and stir them a bit to break them up, pic 2). Add in the water, and be ready for it to roar/hiss/make distressing noises. Immediately cover with the lid (pic 3), and steam for five mins or so, until all the water has cooked off (pic 4). If the water cooks off before five mins is done, add a splash more.

Once all the water has cooked off, scoop the pasta and peas into a bowl. (If anything has stuck to the pan, use a splash of water to deglaze it off the pan on high heat and toss it around till the bottom is crispy again.) Immediately add in the marscapone so it melts over the pasta and peas, and then splash with lemon juice, sprinkle with the salt and pepper, (crumble prosciutto over if using), and then add the mint and Parmesan, and toss it all together (pic 5).

And then, enjoy your amazing tasting pasta dinner that’s ready in 15 mins and pretty much just amounts to put things in pan, steam, toss with other things, nom nom nom.