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!

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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!

Brie. Smashed potatoes. Together. Hell yeah. The stuffed here is more like topped, but man, these are still good.

Bless Tieghan, but pretty much everything after the brie in the original recipe I omitted, because FFS, white truffle oil??

Brie Stuffed Crispy Baby Potatoes
Makes 1.5 lbs of brie smashed potatoes. Hell yeah. 

Ingredients

  • 1.5 lbs baby potatoes (aka, one bag at Trader Joe’s)
  • 1 T olive oil
  • sea salt and pepper
  • 3 T butter, melted
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 T fresh chopped thyme (substituted dried)
  • 8 oz brie, cut into small wedges
  • (white truffle oil, pan fried sage leaves, crushed pink peppercorn if you want to go the full mile on garnishes)

Preheat the oven to 400. Take the baby potatoes, olive oil, and sea salt and pepper, and toss them together in a small bowl (pic 1). Put them on a lined baking sheet (pic 2), and roast for about 30 minutes (original recipe recommended 20, I found it took longer) until the potatoes are fork tender.

Just before the potatoes come out, combine the melted butter, crushed garlic, and thyme in a small bowl. Using a potato masher or a fork, gently press down on the potatoes and smash them until they’re about .25 inches thick (pic 3). Drizzle the butter mixture over the potatoes (pic 4), and then roast for another 20 minutes, until golden and crisp (pic 6).

Cut up the brie into small wedges (pic 5), enough for each potato, about five minutes from the potatoes being done. Then, take them out of the oven, top with brie (pic 7), and put back in the oven for 5 more minutes, until the brie melts all over the smashed potato (pic 8).

And then, enjoy your ridiculously rich cheesy potato!

Looking for an interesting, healthy snack? Like salt and vinegar flavored potato chips? Ever wondered what this tastes like when applied to edamame? Well, then I’ve got a hell of an interesting, simple snack recipe for you!

Salt and Vinegar Roasted Edamame
Makes enough for a good week of snacks, depending on the package size of the edamame

Ingredients

  • 1 16 oz bag shelled edamame (thaw it if frozen, obviously)
  • .25 c rice vinegar
  • .75 t sea salt
  • pinch fresh ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 375. In a medium bowl, place your thawed edamame, add the rice vinegar, sea salt, and black pepper, and stir to combine. Let it sit for about 5 to 10 minutes (pic 1). Line a baking sheet, and place the edamame on the lined sheet in a single layer, trying not to pour the leftover vinegar onto the sheet (pic 2 – a little will end up on the sheet, nonetheless).

Roast for 30 mins, toss gently, and then roast for another 10 minutes (see pic 3 for what they will look like at the end). Let them cool for 10 minutes, and then enjoy! Ideally with some water to keep you hydrated.

As frustrating as dealing with my landlord can be (“I’ll maybe fix the peeling ceiling after the holidays,” oh and there might be mice as evidenced by the large trap placed right by a hole in the back stairway, and one running through the bedroom, that trap seems super helpful), one of the things I love about where I live is the neighborhood. And specifically, the middle eastern bakery/grocery that’s a ten minute walk up the street. They do amazing, cheap hand pies that are great for lunch or breakfast, wonderful sides (dolma! baba ghanoush! pita!), they have a small fuckton of spices, and they have a lot of reasonably priced staples. Like say, the black lentils that are central to this recipe.

This is a simple, cheap, low energy, but amazingly filling recipe. I’ve been perfecting it over the last few months to my and boything’s taste, and the recipe as I have it currently is beyond perfect. My spices are a bit more haphazard than the ingredients list below suggests in terms of amounts, but I promise you you can adjust this to your own taste, easy. Throw this on the stove while a Destiny 2 or Overwatch session is going on, and voila.

Punjabi-Style Black Lentils
Makes enough for two and then a little meals for two

Ingredients

  • 2 T ghee (regular butter or oil also acceptable)
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • .5 T ground cumin (original says seeds, I went with what I have on hand for simplicity)
  • 1 in piece of ginger, grated (original says finely chopped, I go with the ginger grating trick mentioned earlier in the blog these days
  • 5 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 T ground coriander
  • 1 t ground tumeric
  • 1 T garam masala (usually more)
  • pinch ground chile powder
  • 1 can diced fire roasted tomatoes
  • 1 t sea salt, plus more to taste
  • 1 c dried black lentils
  • 3.5 c water (reduced from original recipe bc now I just use a whole can of diced fire roasted tomatoes, which is an extra cup up from the original recommended amount
  • 4 t salted butter
  • 2 T heavy cream (can be omitted if people don’t like it)

Over medium heat, melt your ghee. Once warm, add the onion and cumin, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is lightly browned in places (pic 1). Add in the ginger and garlic, cook 1 minute more until fragrant, and then add the remaining spices (pic 2) and can of tomatoes (pic 3), and cook 3 more minutes, scraping up any bits that may be stuck to the pot. Add the salt, water, and then the lentils. Bring to a simmer, and then reduce the heat to low, and cover the pot. Cook 35 to 45 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the lentils are tender (see pic 5). If you want a looser dal, add more water. Adjust the spices and seasoning to taste.

To finish, ladle the dal into the bowl, add 1 t butter and .5 T heavy cream, and stir in to melt (see pic 6).

The version I made of this was severely parred down, as the boything doesn’t like mushrooms, I wasn’t sure about the beets in this, and honestly the pomegranate arils seemed more decorative than anything else. I’m probably going to try this again with the beets and maybe the mushrooms, not real sure about the pomegranate arils. (If anyone has insight on this, please feel free to chime in!)

The resulting pasta was, and is, still pretty amazing, and definitely something I want to try again. Please note below – parentheses used in this recipe will be used to indicate omitted ingredients, or instructions for the omitted ingredients.

Caramelized Balsamic Goat Cheese Pasta
Makes: pasta. However much you want. Look, it’s been forever since I made this.

Ingredients

  • 4 T olive oil (2 T if omitting the beets)
  • (4 medium red beets, quartered – omitted)
  • ((1 T chopped fresh thyme (substitute dry if you don’t have fresh), omitted bc not using beets)
  • sea salt and fresh ground pepper
  • 1 lb long thin pasta (like spaghetti)
  • (8 oz cremini mushrooms, sliced – omitted)
  • 2 T butter
  • 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 c balsamic vinegar
  • 2-3 T honey
  • .5 t crushed red pepper flakes
  • .5 c crumbled goat cheese
  • (pomegranate arils for serving – omitted)

(If using the beets – preheat your oven to 350, toss together the olive oil, beets, thyme, sea salt and pepper, put on a baking sheet, and roast for 25 to 30 mins, till tender and lightly charred.)

Meanwhile, in a large pot, bring salted water for the pasta to a boil. Add your pasta, and cook according to package instructions until al dente, and then drain. Just before draining, reserve 1 c of pasta cooking water.

While you wait for the water to boil, melt the butter, and add 2 T olive oil in a pot over high heat. (If using the mushrooms, add them here and cook until just barely caramelizing on the edges, appx 5 mins.) Add the garlic slices like in pic 1, and cook 30 seconds to 1 minute, until fragrant. Remove the (mushrooms) and garlic. To the same pot, add the balsamic vinegar, honey, and red pepper flakes, like in pic 2. Bring to a boil over medium high heat, and then cook for 5-8 mins until the balsamic has reduced by about a third and is sticky to the touch – see pic 3 for the example of this in progress, and pic 4 for what this looks like towards the end. Then, reduce the heat to low and stir in the pasta and garlic(/mushrooms). Toss to coat. If the sauce seems too thick, thin it out with a bit of the pasta cooking water. Season to taste with sea salt and pepper.

Serve the pasta immediately, topped with crumbled goat cheese, (roasted beets, and pomegranate arils).

So, earlier in 2015, I received a large amount of frozen steaks from my mom and her boyfriend, as a result of an auction they won. They mostly lived in the freezer for a good long time, and I was trying to figure out what the hell to make with them, as the amount of steak I had was, shall we say, slightly excessive to my norms.

And then I came across this recipe, and given that I was on a kalbi kick at the time, decided to give it a try. It was the right choice.

Simple, quick, and a good meat preparation. You can’t get too much better than that.

Korean Style Steak
Makes however much steak you want it to. 

Ingredients

  • 3 T sugar
  • 6 T soy sauce
  • 2 T vegetable oil (or other mild cooking oil), plus more for the grill pan
  • 2 T sesame oil
  • 1 T fresh ginger, grated
  • 5 cloves garlic, grated or minced (whichever you prefer, I went crushed)
  • 1 small shallot, minced (I think I skipped this, it was long enough ago that I honestly don’t remember)
  • sea salt and fresh ground black pepper
  • (recipe recommends 2 lbs hangar, skirt, or flap steak, I used whatever steak this was that I had in the freezer)
  • (scallions, sliced, and sesame seeds for serving, again, pretty sure I skipped this and just put it over a bowl of white rice)

In a large shallow bowl (large enough to fit your steak eventually), stir together the sugar, soy sauce, vegetable oil, sesame oil, grated ginger, garlic, shallot, sea salt, and pepper together until the sugar has dissolved. Add the steak, turn to coat with the marinade, and let sit at room temperature for about fifteen minutes. I marinated mine in the fridge overnight, I’m pretty sure.

If it’s not the dead of winter and you have access to a grill, heat up your grill. If not, heat up a grill pan on the stove. Either way, heat till medium-hot.

Lightly brush a paper towel with vegetable oil, and then rub that over the rack or pan using tongs. Transfer the steak to the grill area, and discard the leftover marinade. Grill it on each side until done to your liking (five minutes or so a side gets you medium rare, depending on how thick the steak is – adjust over or under according to your tastes). Transfer the steak to a cutting board and let it rest for five minutes.

Slice the steak thin, at an angle against the grain, and top with the sesame seeds and sliced scallion if you so choose, or put it over a bowl of rice from the rice cooker for a kinda donburi, do whatever you want!