This year has kinda sucked, so I’ve fallen back hard on recipes I already know how to make, and haven’t really pushed myself to try many new ones. But I saw this about a month ago, and felt like this would be a fun riff to try. And with the cold turn that finally came this weekend, this seemed like the perfect thing to make for the week. This is definitely getting added to my long term repertoire – it is the good shit.

A few variations: I used smoked cheddar instead of the recommended medium cheddar, used gigli from Trader Joe’s for the macaroni, held off on the cayenne, and didn’t quite get the toasted panko right. But oh man. Bacon, cheese, and a good kick from the kimchi that gets mellowed out by the dairy a bit. You could probably add a dash of shichimi togarashi for a more interesting kick. I’ll try it with the next batch.

Bacon and Kimchi Mac and Cheese

Ingredients

  • 6 slices bacon
  • .5 lb macaroni of choice
  • 5 T unsalted butter, divided into 4 T and 1 T
  • 4 T flour
  • 2.25 c whole milk
  • 1.75 c shredded smoked cheddar cheese (recipe recommends a medium cheddar, go with whatever cheddar your heart desires)
  • Pinch ground pepper and sea salt
  • 2/3 c chopped kimchi
  • .75 c panko
  • (1 t cayenne, gonna try shichimi togarashi next run around)

Heat your oven to 400 F, place the bacon slices on a foil lined baking sheet, and bake for appx 15 mins until done to your preference. Set aside and cool. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, and while you wait for that to happen, chop up your bacon. Add your macaroni of choice and cook according to package directions. Drain and set aside (pic 1).

In a large pot (possibly the same one), melt 4 T of unsalted butter over medium high heat, and once melted, add the flour and whisk constantly to make a roux (pic 2). Slowly add the milk to the roux in the pot, continuing to whisk until the sauce thickens. Once thickened, add in the cheese and stir until it’s melted and smooth (pic 3), followed by the salt and pepper, and finally the bacon and chopped kimchi (pic 4). Finally, gently fold the cooked pasta into the cheese sauce (pic 5), and pour it all into a 9 x 13 in baking dish (pic 6).

Meanwhile, melt the remaining T of butter in the microwave, and then stir together with the panko and sprinkle over the mac and cheese. Bake for 15 mins until the cheese is good and bubbly and the panko are golden brown (pic 7).

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So, this is my first attempt at using the app to write these up. We’ll see how this goes!

It’s been a hell of a year so far. Besides the death of my dad and grandpa, I’ve also changed jobs, gotten a cat, and moved apartments. I also went to the doctor in the last few months, and was told that I need to up my green veg intake, and that brussels sprouts would be the best way to do that.

This was my first attempt at cooking them, and I have to say, these turned out really well. Definitely going to have to make it again. Need to find a cheaper place for halloumi though – the local Trader Joe’s is out, and Whole Foods is double the price for half the amount. (Chicago folks, any recs?)

Pan Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Bacon and Halloumi

Lasts appx 3-4 meals as a side

Ingredients

  • 3 slices thick cut bacon, chopped
  • 1 lb brussels sprouts, halved
  • 3 T olive oil
  • sea salt and pepper to taste
  • pinch crushed red pepper flakes
  • .25 c red wine vinegar
  • 8 oz halloumi, cubed

Heat a large pan over medium high, add the bacon, cook until it reaches your preferred level of doneness, remove the meat (but not the fat!) and set aside.

Add 2 T of the olive oil to the pan with the grease (and be careful of splattering fat during this process!!), and when the oil shimmers, add your halved sprouts, cut side down. Cook until charred around the edges (pic 3), and then cook another 8 to 10 mins until the sprouts are soft (pic 4). Then reduce the heat to medium and stir in the crushed red pepper and red wine vinegar (pic 5). Cook until the vinegar covers the sprouts (about 1-2 mins), then remove from the heat.

If your pan is still relatively clean like mine was, add the last T of olive oil, and when shimmering, add in the cubed halloumi and sear for about 3 mins a side, until golden on each side (pic 6).

Then, combine it all together and enjoy the resulting amazingness!!

 

This is one of those incredibly good, incredibly simple recipes that you come across every once in a while. I had something similar to this from one of the Chinese places downtown, decided to try to find a recipe to make it myself, and then did a bit of a riff on it based on what I had to hand. This is done in 15 minutes, incredibly simple, cheap if you have most of the stuff on hand, and has a good umami flavor about it.

Chinese Egg and Tomato Soup
Lasts three lunches, roughly

Ingredients

  • 1 15 oz can diced tomatoes (I used fire roasted)
  • 1 t sugar
  • 1 inch piece fresh ginger, grated
  • 3 c vegetable stock
  • 1 T soy sauce (I used dark aged soy sauce)
  • 2 large eggs
  • (finished with a dash of fish sauce, recipe also recommends a dash of sesame oil)

In a medium sized pot over medium heat, add your tomatoes and sugar, and bring to a simmer (pic 1). Then add your grated ginger, veggie stock, and soy sauce, and bring to a boil (pic 2). While the soup is being bought to a boil, whisk your eggs until broken up (pic 3). Once boiling, slowly pour the eggs into the soup while stirring the soup (pic 4). Then, finish with a dash of fish sauce (and sesame oil, if you so choose), and enjoy!

Ham is one of my favorite things to make, point blank. And let me tell you, this is one of those “why the hell didn’t I think of this sooner” moments? As it turns out, Dr. Pepper works unbelievably well as a glaze base, and when you roast it? Oh man. (A British friend of mine has recommended boiling a ham in a whole 2L bottle of Dr. Pepper. I am incredibly intrigued to try this out.)

Dr. Pepper Glazed Ham
Makes: ham. Many ham. 

Ingredients

  • A ham. Go with whatever you can get the most of for cheapest on sale. This one was a ten pounder on sale from Christmas.
  • .75 c packed brown sugar
  • .5 c Dr. Pepper
  • 2 T orange juice (fresh as possible)
  • 2 t Dijon mustard

Take your ham. Preheat the oven to 250. If you have an oven bag, click on the recipe for those instructions. If you don’t, place your ham face down in your roasting dish, be sure to remove the plastic cap on the bone, wrap your ham tightly in foil, take out at least one of the racks in your oven (cause these things are bigger/taller than you think), and put in the ham. Figure about seventeen minutes per pound for roasting time – a ten pound ham will take about two and a half hours. Go do other things, like nap, or play video games, or attempt to do a batch of cookie dough that will fail because you don’t have enough flour.

About ten minutes before the ham is finished with the initial roast, combine the brown sugar, Dr. Pepper, orange juice, and mustard in a small pot, and bring to a simmer, cooking for about 8 minutes, until reduced to .75 c and thick and syrupy.

When your ham is done roasting, remove it from the oven, peel off the foil, and gently pour the juices that have gathered in the pan into your sink. Then, slowly pour the glaze over the ham, and brush it liberally with the glaze while you’re at it. Put it back in the oven for another half hour, until the glaze gets sticky. Then, remove from the oven, brush it with the glaze again, and let sit for a half hour or so to cool.

Then, enjoy your ridiculously good ham.

Potatoes. Oregano. Feta. Lemon. HELL YEAH. I picked up almost all of this from Trader Joe’s for under $10, and most of the rest of it I already had in my pantry. Good, cheap, filling side dish. And made of noms.

Crispy Oregano Smashed Potatoes with Feta and Lemon
Makes enough for 2 with leftovers, even more so for 1

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs mixed baby potatoes (I went with red, honestly)
  • 2 meyer lemons, quartered (original recommends half a lemon, it can do with more)
  • 4 T olive oil
  • 6 cloves minimum garlic, minced (original recommends 2 max. come on.)
  • .25 c dried oregano (original recommends fresh, I used my dried leaves, and it still packs a good punch)
  • sea salt and fresh ground pepper
  • 2 T grated parmesan cheese (I used parmigianno reggiano from TJ’s that I had on hand)
  • 6 oz feta crumbles (I just went with the max on this, also skipped fresh basil)

Preheat your oven to 425. On a large baking sheet, toss together 1 T olive oil, the lemons, potatoes, and a pinch of sea salt.

Original recipe recommends roasting for 20 minutes, but depending on the size of your potatoes, this can take up to 35 minutes. Be sure to remove the lemons after the 20 minutes, though, and let them rest. Check on the potatoes every ten minutes after twenty minutes, and see which are tender enough to stick a fork into. If they’re ready, use the back of the fork to smash to about a quarter-inch thickness (see pic 3), and let the smashed potatoes roast with the ones that aren’t quite ready yet.

In the time between checking on your potatoes, combine your minced garlic, 2 T olive oil, and oregano in a small bowl (see pic 2). Once your potatoes are all smashed, spoon the mixture over them (pic 5), and then sprinkle sea salt and fresh ground pepper and your parmesan over them, and roast another 20-25 minutes, until they’re golden and crisp (pic 7).

While they roast, finely chop your lemon, peel and all (pic 4), and add to a small bowl with the remaining 1 T olive oil and a pinch of salt (pic 6).

Once you remove the potatoes from the oven, put them in a large bowl and toss them with the roasted lemon dressing and feta (pic 8), and enjoy!

 

If you’ve not read What Did You Eat Yesterday, I can’t recommend it highly enough. It’s a combination of a slice of life manga about a gay couple (a lawyer and a hairstylist) in Tokyo and their day to day life, and a cooking manga, with detailed instructions on how to make the dishes that the main characters try. And it’s just a quiet, domestic manga, and sweet as fuck besides.

My boything’s been wanting to learn how to cook better, and I’ve been wanting to try some recipes from this manga, so this recipe from Volume 12 seemed like the perfect intersection of our needs. This is a simple, cheap, low effort, and easy meal to make; just slice up some sweet potato, throw it in with some rice, sake, and salt in the rice cooker, and just let it cook, and boom, you’ve got a good, hearty dish, and the rice cooker can keep it warm for as long as you want. It is a bit bland, so I would recommend adding some soy sauce (or ponzu went real well with the bowl I just had for lunch). Also, we used Murasaki sweet potatoes from Trader Joe’s for this for a change of pace, would definitely recommend them.

Sweet Potato Rice
Makes enough to feed 2 people for 2 meals

Ingredients

  • Rice and water per your rice brand’s instructions (here, 1.5 c rice, 2 c water)
  • 1 sweet potato
  • pinch sea salt
  • dash sake

Rinse your rice (I did it for the first time with this, I’m going to try to get some better instructions on this later), and then add your rice and water in recommended portions per the instructions on your bag of rice to your rice cooker. (If you’re like me, you have one of those big ass 10 lb bags, because you go through a lot of rice in the space of a year, and you have several Asian markets near you, which means it’s significantly cheaper.)

Meanwhile, take your sweet potato, rinse it thoroughly, and then half it width and length wise, and cut into .5 in fan shapes (see pic 4). As you get closer to finishing the sweet potato, add the sea salt and sake to the rice cooker. Once the sweet potato is fully cut up, add the pieces to the rice cooker, and then cook on the normal settings for white rice (usually about an hour).

Then, stir and fluff with a rice paddle, scoop into bowls, and enjoy!

It’s been a long while since I’ve been able to do an impulse breakfast like this. But this Sunday morning, we were sleeping in late after a party at a friend’s the night before, I had the ingredients for this on hand, and I was in a headspace to be able to cook, and I decided to go for it. (Again, major sign that the meds are working – I have not been able to do this as much as I would liked to in the last few years. Fuck depression, yay meds.)

Dutch babies are always fantastic, especially on a cold winter morning. And with all the holidays, odds are you’re going to have all these ingredients in your kitchen already. (Tieghan also recommends maple syrup and whipped cream, but tbh the cranberry butter is more than enough.)

Do the thing. It’s wonderful.

Cinnamon Spiced Dutch Baby with Cranberry Butter
Makes one big ass dutch baby, enough for two people minimum

Ingredients

  • 4 eggs
  • .66 c whole milk
  • .66 c flour
  • 2 t vanilla extract
  • (1 T hazlenut liquer – didn’t have this on hand, maybe try Grand Marnier)
  • 1.5 t ground cinnamon
  • pinch ground nutmeg
  • dash salt
  • 4 T butter (2 T of this melted)

For the cranberry butter

  • 4 T butter, softened to room temp
  • .25 c leftover cranberry sauce (I picked some up from Trader Joe’s)

Preheat your oven to 450, and put out the 4 T butter for the cranberry butter to start softening. In a blender, blend together the eggs, milk, flour, vanilla extract, cinnamon, nutmeg, the 2 T melted butter, and salt, until smooth (pics 1 and 2), and no flour clumps remain.

In the last five minutes of the oven preheating, take a cast iron skillet and the 2 T butter, and add to the oven, letting the oven melt the butter all over the skillet (pic 3).  Once the oven is preheated, pour the batter into the skillet (pic 4), and bake for 25 minutes, until the dutch baby is puffed and browned on top (see pic 6). (Don’t open the oven in the first 15 minutes of baking, or it will deflate!)

In the last ten minutes of the dutch baby baking, mix together the butter and cranberry sauce until combined (pics 5 and 7).

Then, transfer the dutch baby to a plate, and spread the cranberry butter over it, letting the heat of the dutch baby melt the butter. (I could probably have used more of the cranberry butter here, however, I do now have leftovers for future dutch baby making.)

And then, enjoy your wonderful breakfast, ideally while playing some Destiny 2 and cuddling.