Quarantine Week 5 – Keeping the Menu Interesting

We got new groceries this week, so I was super excited about cooking!

Thursday (4/16), I did poached eggs and toast for breakfast using the rye bread I made the prior week. The bread was getting close to its shelf life. I hadn’t thought about the fact that we had no lunch meat until now. For lunch, I cooked up a frozen pizza that I think has been in my freezer for a year. It was a tandori vegetable pizza, and my husband kept refusing to try it, even though we were together when we decided to buy the crazy thing. It wasn’t bad. It was basically just a sweet pepper pizza. I was planning to make cabbage rolls for dinner. However, after receiving delivered groceries and santizing/repackaging everything, dropping the little one at her Mom’s, doing grocery pick up from Harvest Time and then santizing/repackaging all those items, I was honestly just wiped. We ate left over pot pie and had some wine!

Friday (4/17), I made cabbage rolls. For my husband and I, I made a hearty red sauce with a little kick and stuffed our cabbage with a mixture of ground beef, rice, onions and spices. For the kid, I stuffed a couple of pieces of cabbage with diced mushrooms and rice. Honestly, her’s were a challenge as they were not as easy to “roll” as my meatloaf like. But it worked in the end. I cooked her’s in just a basic mushroom and vegetable stock rue. The plan had not been two different sauces, but I accidentally put chicken broth in the first before I thought about it, so had to adapt a bit. Honestly, she’s never big on tomato sauces, so I think it worked out well.

Saturday (4/18), I decided to make double chocolate banana bread french toast.

undefinedThis absolutely blew the little one’s mind. She was giggling as she ate her breakfast. If I didn’t have a thing about not posting public pictures, I would share a picture of that very happy face. You’ll have to settle for a picture of the food. For my husband and I, I made chicken sausage gravy using the leftover chicken sausage I had made previously and drop biscuits. For dinner, I made macaroni ‘n cheese using a Wisconsin cheese spread I have had in the refrigerator from our last dinner party. I wasn’t sure how it would go over, as I wasn’t sure said cheese would truly melt into a sauce or how it would go over with the kid since it was a pretty sharp cheese with brandy flavoring. However, it got rave reviews.

Sunday (4/19), I still had some leftover biscuits and chicken sausage gravy, so I made country eggs benedict for myself and the spouse. I gave the kid just a poached egg and biscuit since there was not way to de-meat the gravy, and I just wasn’t looking to make a whole separate dish. Sunday evening, I smoked a chicken. (On Sunday evenings, the little one is with her mom, so it’s always a carnivore night, in case you had not noticed the pattern.) I cut it in half so I could experiment with two different rubs. I had brined the entire thing overnight with kosher salt. On one half, I used pepper, garlic powder, onion powder and paprika. On the other half, I used pepper, poultry seasoning and ground up fenugreek leaves. I served up a leg and thigh for each of us with some double air-fried potatoes. It was delicious.

Monday (4/20), I took the leftover mac ‘n cheese from Saturday and tossed it with some scallions, a little egg and bread crumbs, and then topped that with shredded mozzarella and parmesan and baked it. I also made a pickled beet and cauliflower salad and served with some reheated brocolli we had left over. I think the mac ‘n cheese was actually better this time around. After dinner, I mixed up some sourdough bread to let it rise overnight.

Tuesday (4/22) was an ambitious day. I started the day making omelets. This required almost every skillet I own. For my husband, I made a ham, cheddar and chive omelet. For the kid, I made a mushroom and cheese omelet. And for myself, I made a feta and chive omelet. I had a craving and had ordered the feta in my last grocery order, and it was calling my name. Some spinach would have been nice, but it was still good. I deflated my sourdough, gave it a good knead and set it to rise again.

Confession, late Monday night, I ate a wing and breast of the leftover smoked chicken. I remembered that chicken breast is just too dry for me. I mean, it was smoked and so not as dry as baked chicken, but compared to legs and thighs, it was a desert. So, on Tuesday, I cut up the remaining breast and wing meat, and I made a chicken salad. I didn’t have the black grapes I usually put in my salad, but I threw in some dried cranberries. I had some for lunch on some Italian bread I had made at some point over the weekend. I forgot to journal that one or take a picture, so I don’t recall what day I made it, but it may have been Sunday. Anyway, the chicken salad was great.

I received my spice order after we dropped the kiddo at mom’s on Tuesday. I may have gone a little crazy when ordering, and now my cabinet is a mess again because it doesn’t all fit. I had shaped my sourdough loafs and set them in the pans for the final rise before we left, so they were ready to go into the oven. I fired up my grill to smoke a tritip. I smoked it to about 120 degrees and then seared it over hot coals. It was a nice medium rare at each end with a more rare as you moved to the center. I served it up with mashed potatoes and some really fantastic sourdough bread. Is it okay if I say my own bread was fantastic? I don’t care. It was. And I have tritip leftover for another meal.

Wednesday (4/22), I decided to scrap whatever I’d written on our menu calendar. I wanted to use up some sourdough, as it turns out that if you succeed at growing it, you may really succeed, and you may find yourself running out of containers to keep it in. I know some people throw part away. I split it because I’m a bit crazy about the concept of just tossing a third of it out every day. Long story short, I made a sourdough cornbread and pinto beans. I did the pinto beans in my instant pot, so it didn’t require a lot of planning ahead. To replaced the meat I would normally put in the beans, I used liquid smoke. They turned out super savory.

I really struggle to balance the desire to make new things and continue experimenting, and the desire not to produce food waste because we almost always have leftovers. Luckily, I’ve been able to share some leftovers with my neighbors (with proper social distancing) and some with our co-parent. She’s working a ton and so doesn’t often have time to cook, so she’s super appreciative. And sharing my cooking always makes feel great, so it’s a win-win! Next week, I get to pick up flour from my grain milling guy!

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