Monday, August 13, 2012

The Cook Will Play

When the family is away, the cook will play.  That seems to be my motto these last 24 hours, because I have been cooking and baking up a storm despite the fact that there have only been 2 people home at any given time.  This means lots of delicious leftovers, though :)

First, last night for dinner, I knew that something had to be done with the three giant containers of ricotta cheese in the fridge.  I don't know why we have so much of it, but we do.  I thought about making my old fall-back of stuffed shells since we already have shells, but I didn't feel like running out for spinach.  So I searched the internet for a stuffed shell recipe that would not require a shopping trip, and voila: chickpea-stuffed shells.  I am on a bit of a chickpea kick I guess, but I thought this was a pretty ingenius idea: adding beans lets you take out some of the ricotta, so it's healthier, and has more protein than normal stuffed shells.  I made a few changes though; instead of chickpeas, I used cannellini beans.  Mom  and Kenzie both don't love the texture of chickpeas, so I figured it would be a good change.  Then, the recipe calls for the beans to be pureed in with the ricotta, but Mom and I decided we wouldn't mind just fork-mashing some of them and having some whole beans in there as well.  I was also out of onions, so there weren't any in there.  In the end, we both liked the meal.  The fresh parsley from my garden made a nice bright taste in the filling, and I liked the ricotta-bean contrast.  I'm wondering if the recipe really does need the 2 egg whites though, especially if I wasn't pureeing everything altogether.  You know me and getting rid of parts of egg... but it was okay :)

Then you may remember me saying how obsessed I was with the roasted vegetable salad that I made for lunch last week.  I have been thinking about it nonstop.  This may be a new lunchtime staple for me, particularly when school starts back up (ugh).  So today I made another batch.  My only change today is - this will sound verrrry familiar - is I replaced the chickpeas with cannellini beans.  Yes, similar to last night's dinner, and for the same reasons: Kenz and Mom don't like the texture of chickpeas.  Everything else was kept the same, and the salad is yet again my new love in life.  The crunchy, sweet corn, the bite of red onion, the smooth cool beans, and the slightly sweet, slightly tangy dressing... oh my god.  I cannot stress enough how much love I feel towards this salad.  Please make it.  Make it tonight.  If not, make it tomorrow.  You won't regret it.

It was just Mark and me home for dinner tonight.  I was more than happy to just eat more of my beloved salad and some of the tons of leftovers in the fridge (stuffed shells, hibachi soup, bean tacos) but he felt like grilling.  That works for me; I can focus on the vegetarian side dishes!  And I knew just what I wanted to try: cauliflower mash.  I have been wanting to try this out, but Mark is far less picky than my family, so I wanted to try it out on just the two of us before I roll it out to everyone else.  It was almost embarrassingly easy to make.  You don't even need a stove.  You microwave the cauliflower with a little bit of cream and butter, then put it in a food processor with some cheddar cheese, salt and pepper.  And there you have it: mashed cauliflower.  It was actually really good for a no-carb mashed potato replacement.  I would live happily eating only mashed potatoes, so I can't say that I liked it just as much, but it's a very, very good replacement.  In fact, I had seconds and Mark had thirds.  I recommend lots of salt and pepper, and make sure you process it longer than you think necessary to get it as smooth as possible.

Finally tonght I got to make the recipe that I have been ecstatic about all day since I saw it posted on my favorite blog: peach cobbler scones.  I love peaches, I love cobblers, and I love scones.  And so I knew immediately that I was making these babies today.  The dough is a buttermilk scone dough, and sandwiched in between the dough are thinly sliced peaches sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar.  These are a huge hit.  In fact I think I caught both Mom and Rachael eating seconds, and Rachael told me it was the best thing I've ever made.  Wahoo!  This might be a repeat recipe in the very near future.  Mark picked up the peaches for me, and they were so enormous, I only used one of the two he bought me.  What else to do with an extra peach but make some more scones? :)

chickpea-stuffed shells
cheesy cauliflower puree
peach cobbler scones

roasted vegetable chickpea salad
adapted from Annie's Eats


1) Preheat the oven to 400˚ F. Line a baking sheet with foil. Add the grape tomatoes, poblano, red onion, corn, and garlic to the baking sheet. Drizzle lightly with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Toss well and spread the veggies into an even layer. Roast about 25 minutes, stirring once halfway through. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly.

2) Add the chickpeas and feta to a mixing bowl. In a small bowl, combine 2½ tablespoons of olive oil with the vinegar and honey. Whisk together to blend until smooth. Add the cooled vegetables to the bowl with the chickpeas and top with the dressing. Toss to combine well. Add the herbs to the bowl and toss lightly to incorporate. Serve at room temperature or chilled.

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