Galley: 1) the kitchen of a boat. Sally: 1) a venture off the beaten path, 2) a military action in which besieged troops burst forth from their position, 3) a witty remark.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Couscous Casserole

I'm in the early stages of exploration, but I'm beginning to suspect that any casserole/lasagne recipe intended to be baked can be successfully modified for cooking in a Dutch Oven on the stove top.

Yes, I made another Dutch Oven creation... and I don't want the Dutch Oven to be my NEW rut. But it does make such yummy, cozy food, and it has been quite cold for this time of year. Speaking of cold, we've had our share of colds and illness on this boat (quarantine flag anyone?), and the brunt of the illness has been borne by the three year-old crew member. So! While I have been cooking, I have also been quite busy wiping snot. Not at the same time mind you. That noted, cries of "Snot! Snot!" did take priority to blog posting. I must catch up.

I found this recipe in the latest issue of Parent's magazine, and remembered that I have carted around a small bag of couscous for.... years? I never knew what to do with it. This recipe answered the question.

Couscous Casserole

Adapted from Parent's Magazine

2 T. Olive Oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 T. minced garlic
1 lb. ground beef
1 head broccoli (largish, rinsed and cut to small florets)
1/4 cup soup stock or water (I used water, it was fine)
4 cups pasta sauce
1/2 cup couscous
salt and pepper
grated Parmesan cheese (I used cheddar)

1. Get out your Dutch Oven and set aside. Perhaps not easier than preheating your oven, but better for your biceps!

2. In a skillet over medium-high heat, saute onions and garlic in 2 T. olive oil. After about five minutes, add the meat and stir; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook until the meat is no longer pink, then set aside.

3. While meat is cooking, steam the broccoli florets. Be sure to stop steaming when they are tender but still bright green (I steamed my broccoli in a small pot, then removed broccoli and used same pot for next step. Fewer dishes!)

4. Heat the stock/water and the pasta sauce in above named small pot over medium heat. Bring to a gentle bubble, then add couscous. Stir well, cover, turn off heat; let sit 10 minutes.

5. Let the layering begin! Spoon a thick-ish layer of couscous mixture into bottom of Dutch Oven. Add shy 1/4 cup water (to help prevent burning). Top couscous with a layer of broccoli, then with a layer of meat. Repeat until you have used up all ingredients, ending with a top layer of couscous. Sprinkle with grated cheese. Cover.

6. Place your Dutch Oven over medium-low heat. Listen/check for bubbling. When all is merrily bubbling and the cheese has melted, it is finished! Serve hot, and enjoy!

We loved this. Coming out of the Dutch Oven, it doesn't hold its shape too well, but it was hearty and yummy, and all three of us ate big bowls (with enough left over for lunches).

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Bean Casserole w/ Hominy and Homemade Tortillas

I am always always on the look-out for good, healthy, cheap eats. I found the recipe for this casserole back in December 2009 while creating a two week meal plan. The meal plan goal was to make a wee amount of money for shopping, plus what I had in the cupboards, last for two weeks. The plan required lots of beans (and lentils), and this recipe is no exception.

The exception is that I didn't make it back in 2009. We were invited to a friend's for dinner on my designated "hominy" night. We let ourselves get a bit too excited about the prospect of eating a "non-legume" dish... and found ourselves sitting down to a delicious and prettily presented plate of rice and lentils. On the ride home we laughed about how we were in good company, and not alone in our meal planning.

That's the long story. The short story is that a can of hominy sat on my shelf for over a year, just waiting. Last week I opened it. Here's how it went.

Bean Casserole w/ Hominy and Homemade Tortillas

A quick note before getting started. I didn't intend to, but I broke this recipe up over two days. The first evening I made my tortillas and cooked my beans. Then my husband ran out the hatch to a nearly forgotten appointment. So, I kept those two items in the cooler until the following night. I would now recommend doing this, as it made the casserole assembly quick and easy the second night.

Adapted from Mark's Bitman's recipe
(You will see potato slices in my pics. Don't do it. They take too long to cook)

1 T. chili powder
4 cups drained cooked or canned beans, any type or mixture (I cooked black beans)
2 cups cooked hominy, drained
2 T. dried oregano
3 medium large tomatoes, sliced
1 1/2 onions large onions, sliced
1 1/2 cups grated cheddar cheese
8 homemade tortillas (~3 inch diameter)
salt and pepper to taste

1) Make tortillas! Or use store bought if you must. I have a bag of cornmeal mix specifically for tortillas, with directions on the back. The directions call for plastic wrap and a tortilla press, two things I don't have. I just make the dough and hand shape it. I haven't had much luck (so far) rolling or pressing with plates and such. I have tried. The dough STICKS. So, handshape, toss in pan, follow cooking directions for your mix. They aren't pretty, but they taste awesome.

2) Mix your cooked, drained beans and hominy together. Then place a layer of them in the bottom of a dutch oven. Pour 3/4 cup water over this layer (to help prevent burning). Season with salt and pepper and sprinkle with a bit of the oregano.

3) Add a layer of tomatoes, one of onions and sprinkle a layer of cheese. Add a second layer of beans/hominy plus seasonings, then your layer of tortillas. Continue layering with tomatoes, onions and cheese as before.

4) Repeat until you have used up all of your ingredients, finishing with a nice layer of cheese. Cover, and turn heat to low. When all is bubbly hot and the cheese is melted, serve it up!

Remember, don't put potato in! I thought I would use one up, but it cooked way too slow. On the positive side, we had never tried hominy before, and we loved it. Also, the taste of homemade tortillas went a long way toward making this dish a good one. I don't think it would have been nearly as yummy with store bought ones.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Coconut Millet Pudding

Millet is good for you and pudding is yummy!

I created this pudding recipe when I really wanted to make rice pudding, but didn't have rice and didn't have milk... What I did have was millet and coconut milk. The end texture is different from rice pudding, but a warm bowlful goes away all too fast.

Three-year old verdict: I really like this!

Coconut Millet Pudding

3/4 cup uncooked millet
1 can coconut milk, divided
shy 1/3 cup white sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 egg, beaten
2/3 cup raisins
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
cinnamon to garnish

1. In a medium saucepan, bring 1 3/4 cups water to a boil. Add millet and stir. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for ~20 minutes or until all water is absorbed.
2. In another saucepan, combine cooked millet, 1 1/2 cups coconut milk, sugar and salt. Cook over medium heat, stirring often, until thick and creamy, ~20 minutes.
3. Stir in remaining coconut milk, beaten egg and raisins. Cook 2 minutes more, stirring constantly. Remove from heat, and stir in butter and vanilla.
4. Serve warm, sprinkled with cinnamon.

I DO have recipes!!


I haven't blogged in the last week, but I do have a couple recipes to share! I have been cooking! I promise!

I will be posting one dinner and one dessert.

And I won't go to bed tonight until I have completed posting at least one of them!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Oh my...

Today, in our post office box, I received an entire little book of NEW RECIPES!!!

My three year-old and I will be picking out the ones that look best to try.

Stay tuned.

Oh yummy.

Can you say hummus burgers?

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Gentle Lentils

I'm calling last night's dinner Gentle Lentils because they are gentle on the budget, your time, and your dish count. Plus, they are cozy good and good for you.

The only downside? They are part of my uninspired cooking rut. I fell back into it last night. A minor set back, but a wholesome one (and one I'll enjoy again I'm sure...)

Gentle Lentils

4 Adult Servings

1/2 lb lentils rinsed
1/2 onion chopped
4 garlic cloves minced
1 cup uncooked brown rice
1 T. nutritional yeast
cheese if desired (I usually use mozzarella or cheddar, both are very good)
salt to taste
serve with plain yogurt/sour cream and hot sauce.

Toss lentils, onion and garlic into a pot. Add water to cover plus three inches. Bring to a boil and skim off any foam, then turn heat to low and cover.

Go read stories to your kid, or tidy up, or write a letter while your lentils simmer along. Remember to stir them well and check water level every 10 minutes or so, adding water if necessary. If the lentils become very tender and are still very soupy, remove cover until excess liquid has cooked off. I aim for a very "thick soup" but not a paste.

When lentils are close to desired consistency, start your rice. Cook rice as per bag's instructions (usually 2 cups water to 1 cup rice). When rice is done, add nutritional yeast to lentils and mix in. Salt to taste.

In a bowl, layer first rice, then a layer of sliced cheese, then lentils over the cheese. Finish off with a dollop of plain yogurt/sour cream and serve with hot sauce.

The layer of cheese will melt into gooey deliciousness, but you can do without it if you must.

I tried several shots, but my lentils refused to show their best side to the camera...

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Polenta Lasagna, Dutch Oven style

Next time you visit a grocery store and see those little tubes of pre-cooked polenta for sale, don't buy one. Polenta is so easy to make at home, and SO much less expensive. In 30-45 minutes, with minimal work, you can have enough delicious and fluffy polenta to make lasagna in your dutch oven... so why wouldn't you? The lasagna I made yielded 4-5 (large) adult servings. We enjoyed it for dinner and then lunch the next day. Here is what you do:

Polenta Lasagna, Dutch Oven style

1 cup polenta
4 cups water
1 teaspoon salt
1 lightly oiled cookie sheet (or similar sized piece of aluminum foil)
your favorite lasagna ingredients (I've included what I used below)

In a medium to large cook pot, bring four cups of water and a teaspoon of salt to a boil, then slowly add one cup of polenta while whisking constantly. Don't stop whisking while adding the polenta, or you will get clumps. After adding all polenta, turn heat to low and whisk for ~five minutes. Cover. Every six minutes or so, uncover and stir well (switch from whisk to wooden spoon), making sure to scrape bottom and sides thoroughly.

You can let your polenta simmer along while you prepare the rest of your lasagna ingredients, making sure to stop and stir as described. When your polenta begins to "stack up/hold shape" when you scrape it away from the sides, it is ready.

Pour/scrape your polenta out onto the cookie sheet. You will need to press it out evenly and flat to fill the cookie sheet. TAKE NOTE! The polenta is very hot. I've tried several different suggested ways of smoothing polenta, but I think the best way is to wet your (clean) hands thoroughly with cold water, and work rapidly to hand press it out. When your hands get too warm or begin to stick, re-wet them and keep working. The polenta stiffens quickly, so you need to work fast, but I've found that the water on your hands buys you a little time and doesn't affect the final product.

While the polenta cools (room temperature is fine, you don't need a refrigerator), prepare your favorite lasagna ingredients. For our dinner, I used:

3 cloves garlic + 1/2 onion sliced and sauteed in olive oil and a splash of balsamic vinegar
1 zucchini chopped and lightly sauteed (add to pan once onions are lightly browned)
1 jar marinara pasta sauce (add to pan last and heat until warm)
1 bunch spinach stemmed and cleaned (set aside for layering)
grated mozzarella cheese (set aside for layering)

Next, the Polenta Noodles! So good! When your polenta is adequately cooled you will be able to easily lift a corner up from the pan.

Use a knife to cut wide lasagna "noodles," or whatever shape you desire. You will treat the polenta just as you would lasagna noodles while layering up your ingredients.

Place a nice smear of your sauce in the bottom of the dutch oven. Add layer of polenta noodles, then another layer of sauce. Cover sauce with spinach leaves and sprinkle cheese over leaves. Repeat, beginning with polenta. Over your last layer of polenta, layer sauce and cheese only.

When your layering is complete, pour a shy 1/2 cup water between the edges of your lasagna and the edge of the dutch oven. This will help simmer and avoid burning on the bottom. Place dutch oven over low-medium heat and cook until sauce is bubbly and spinach leaves have just wilted.

OR! Use your own favorite lasagna ingredients. The basic technique will be the same.

Let me know what you think about this, or if you tried something similar before! Enjoy!