Tuesday, June 24, 2008

three-ingredient no-bake pie

blueberries are more dramatically distinct from other grocery fruit in size, shape and color than they are in taste, which is more subtle. i like them on cereal-- but when i could get a pint of them for 2.50 at leon's last week, i had to come up to with a way to use that many. because of course i bought them.

the blueberry's size and shape also make it hard to get on a fork (or keep on a spoon) when fresh. and the delicate flavor goes bland when baked. so i mixed a pint of blueberries with 8 oz of store-bought chocolate pudding and poured/pushed that into a graham cracker crust i had bought recently when on sale. after cooling briefly in the fridge, it had set up enough to taste great... if not look neat when served.

i bought vegan pudding, so that was two dollars worth of that... but you can find four-packs of store brand pudding on sale for a dollar fifty sometimes, which would be 75c worth.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

another kitchen in the family

if you prepare food in someone else's kitchen (and especially if you're trying to make the result something that every generation in a family will eat), it works best to limit your ingredients, utensil requirements, mess-making and time suckage. cook smart not hard! also remember that any holiday dinner tends to suggest at least one relative's particular preferences.
my solution wasn't vegetarian friendly, but i guarantee it didn't have to be. my only requirement was textural digestibility... and food that people would want to eat, if they felt like eating.

i bought pre-made cannelloni, bacon, fancy pasta sauce, and a wedge of decent parmesan at leon's. (also more salad mix for 99c, and berries for days.)

after assessing that purchase and figuring out a further plan, i stopped by hy-vee on the way over to family. bought a bag of baby carrots, a couple of potatoes big enough to peel quickly and easily, a tub of ricotta cheese, and a pound of boneless chicken thighs.

i used most of the jar of sauce on and around the cannelloni (which i split between two dishes, so that one could drive away if need be). i stirred some ricotta into the sauce before loading the parboiled pasta tubes into each dish. i used a carrot peeler to sliver parmesan over the top of each pan. baked them at 450 for half an hour. removed the pans to cool, and turned down the oven to 350 for the chicken.

the chicken: which i'd been prepping while the pasta was baking. into the pyrex pan in which i had boiled the pasta, i layered most of a bag of baby carrots and two peeled and chunked potatoes. i stirred in some chicken broth (thanks!) and the chopped, cooked bacon from leon's. on top of that mixture went the chicken thighs (coated with the rest of the marinara sauce), which were then covered with the rest of the wedge of parmesan (sliced into a thickness of about an eighth of an inch before layered over the pieces of bird). between the tomato sauce lending color, and the cheese that looks like breading, you don't have to brown the meat first. but you do still have to make sure it's safe.

as an aside: this post is the first one on this blog showing photos taken anywhere outside of my current apartment. happy father's day, dad. and mom.

Friday, June 20, 2008

crazy good sale on berries at leon's

the sale is on now through monday. blueberries are two pints for five bucks, strawberries 1.50 a pound, raspberries 1.50 for 6 oz.
i chose the blackberries, which were 1.50 for a 5.6 oz package.

since i was at leon's, i checked the produce section for one of those 99c bags of salad i wrote about before, and picked out a very fresh-looking one... a caesar salad "kit" that included croutons, dressing and parmesan cheese. for 99 cents. that means this salad more than big enough for two cost 2.49 from start to finish.

(by the way, i realize a caesar salad doesn't have berries in it. but a true caesar salad is made with raw egg. so i give myself a little leeway here.)

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

the best spring mix greens are...

the ones you buy loose (and sold by the pound) at a farmers' market or in a produce department, like at open harvest or red clover. eight bucks a pound might sound like a lot, but they're on the weightless side. you might sometimes see a pre-packaged bag of spring mix on sale for three dollars, but it's probably four ounces-- which makes it twelve dollars a pound. and the loose greens are better beyond just being cheaper. these little lettuce leaves swelter in plastic packages.

if you're in open harvest and need to grab a quick lunch to go, i recommend a bag of as many salad greens as you want--this bag was 75 cents--and a quarter pound of a protein-heavy selection from the deli...i chose the barbecued tofu, which cost two-fifty for a small container. take them to your destination, throw them together in a bowl, and enjoy.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

salmonella troubles and tomatoes

just read an article about people across the country getting sick from raw tomatoes carrying salmonella. no reported illnesses in nebraska yet, but i'd be careful about supermarket tomatoes until the source of the problem is found. also, you might find some restaurants and fast food places pulling them off the menu so they don't get sued. er, so they don't get their customers sick.

i feel fine about these tomatoes i got at the farmers' market this morning. another reason to know your farmer.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

cetak's has chicken, too

cetak's has a special going on frozen chicken drumsticks and thighs for 1.29#.

i picked some up when i was in there for steaks, and then cooked it in the grill pan after the steaks, for lunches the next day. (i marinated the skin-on thighs while grilling the red meat.)

it seems strange to buy poultry at cetak's, a place with such amazing beef and pork. but i had a hunch that their poultry would be excellent, and it was. it didn't all make it to leftover land... even after a big steak dinner.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

take-out review: ming's shredded szechuan pork

it's not quite as spicy as i would have liked... i wanted something so spicy it wouldn't even need refrigeration. it had great flavor and texture, though; so i'm going to order it again and ask if they'll make it hotter, and then see if that happens.

this restaurant is in the piccadilly-named "piccadilly square" shopping center at the intersection of north cotner, 66th, and holdrege. the lunch deal can't be beat. 4.50 for a dish with rice and either an egg roll or crab rangoon. the serving is huge. i ate most of this before i took a picture. i do also recommend the hot and sour soup.