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Tuesday, August 14, 2007

three for one

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I'm beginning to think that I'm in serious need of a vacation. Lately, I just feel burnt out and useless and like I need to just spend a few days loafing around with no nagging concerns.

Work is busy, home seems busy, and I just want a break.

But I'm not getting one, so here is a quick post, with three tasty meals that I ate in the past week. It's a little too late for me to witticize, but I do have something yummy (hopefully) coming for you all on Thursday. Stay tuned.

The first dish is that last part of my 'eating for free' week. Good things hide in the back of my pantry and in the bowels of my freezer. An army could probably live for a month on the sheer amount of random starchy bits I have stocked up (including a container of some grain....I don't know what it is, and hence have no idea how to cook it).

At any rate, I came up with this when my dad was visiting...somehow, he read of 'eating for free' week, and ended up bringing some of his own food (totally NOT allowed, hehe), as he was fearing for his tummy.

But he needn't have feared. I put a number of italian antipasto staples to work and dinner was tasty, flavourful and very filling. No empty bellies here.

Scooby Doo Pasta with Pesto Cream Sauce
(I know, I know...another seafood pasta....what can I say, it's a household fave)

1/2 lb frozen calamari
1/2 lb frozen scallops
1 lb imitation crab

1 onion
1 jar marinated artichokes
1 jar roasted red pepper
1/2 jar oil-packed sundried tomatoes
1 small jar of pesto
1 tomato
lots of garlic
1 can of evaporated milk (I use skim)
parmesan cheese
pepperoncini peppers (optional)
1 pound pasta (I used scooby doos, also known as tortoglioni...I think...)

1. Put a large pot on the stove to boil.

2. Gather your ingredients in all their prefabricated goodness. Admire.

3. Heat a touch of olive oil in a large skillet, add seafood, onion and garlic.

4. Cook gently (medium-low heat) until almost done. Meanwhile, chop the roasted red pepper, sundried tomatoes, artichokes, and the fresh tomato.

5. Add all this stuff to the pan. Incorporate pesto and evaporated milk (a good substitute for cream - and it won't curdle).

6. Grate parmesan cheese over the pan (makes it extra yummy).

7. When water boils, add pasta and cook to desired tenderness.

8. Serve sauce over pasta, top with parmesan and a pepperoncini if desired (after the photo, I passed mine along to hubs, who was all too pleased to indulge).


YUM. Fast, easy, not the worst thing in the world for you to eat, and a great way to work on cleaning out that pantry!

I was tempted to place this recipe in its own post and title it "eating for poo", but hubs vetoed the idea. So I'm burying the moniker deep in this post, in hopes that he won't read. hehe.

I will explain (and it isn't quite as gross as it sounds). The backstory is that a year or two ago, our dryer was smoking incessantly (like more than your average chain-smoker). We called an appliance repairman to come take a look, and it turned out to be this very cool sicilian guy. Our dryer is located in our basement, and happens to be right next to our rabbit cage (housing our two fat rabbits). This guy was quite excited by the sheer amount of poop these guys generate (must be seen to be believed) and we quickly struck a deal. We give him poo. He gives us fresh home grown veggies (that have, of course, been fertilized by said poo). Hubs is a bit grossed out by this, but I'm happy to play around a bit with backyard bounty I was not given the chance to kill.

Anyway, this time, he came buy with the strangest looking zucchini I've ever seen...apparently, it's some sort of sicilian zucchini.

And it's also huge (almost rabbit-sized....). So this is what I started making with it. Also, ignore the lentil salad in the background. It was not very yummy and I'm not sharing the recipe, because I could barely choke it down. I think I like the idea of a nice lentil salad a lot better than the reality. Pu-ah.

Black Bean and Zucchini Cakes

15 ounces canned black beans, drained and rinsed
2 egg whites
1tsp chopped roasted garlic (I used regular garlic)
1 T ground cumin
1 T chili powder
1 1/3 cup shredded zucchini
1/3 plain whole wheat/grain bread crumbs

1. Mash the beans a bit with the fork, (so there is some whole, and some mushed), mix in the rest of the ingredients.

2. Spray a non stick pan with oil, heat over medium heat. Make mounds in the pan and flatten a bit with the back of spoon. Cook for about 4-8 minutes.

Serve with Salsa and sour cream

Easy and quite tasty.

And then I have yet another risotto. It's starting to be come a favourite. It's yummy, requires few ingredients, and you can vary it with tons of success. Here's a hint - pretty much all risotto is the same - 1.5 cups of rice and about 5 cups of broth. It's just the seasonings that change.

Wild Mushroom Risotto

1 pound mixed wild mushrooms (I used shitake and oyster)
1/4 c. minced shallot
1 T olive oil
1 T butter
1/4 c. white wine (or whatever you have...I used vermouth and it was not bad at all!)
1.5 cups arborio rice
5-6 cups chicken broth
1/2 c. parmesan cheese
1 T butter
2 T fresh herbs (HIGHLY recommend rosemary here, but alas, the store was I used basil...not fragrant enough with the woodsy mushrooms)

1. Chop your mushrooms and shallot. Meanwhile, melt butter with olive oil in a large pot.

2. Add mushrooms and shallot and sauté until shallot is translucent. Add rice and give a good stir (about 30 seconds).

Add your booze of choice. Stir more.

3. Add broth, 1/2 cup at a time, and stir pretty much incessantly for the next 30-35 minutes. When you start to run out of broth, add more. Keep on truckin'

4. When rice is done to your liking (start tasting after about 20 minutes), stop adding broth. Stir in parmesan cheese, butter and fresh herbs.

Taste and see if it needs anything more. Serve immediately (does not keep well).

We were going to have it plain, but hubs was insisting on shrimp. So he sautéed it with about 8 cloves of garlic, a lot of butter and a bit of lemon juice. It was good.


Thanks for visiting, thanks for commenting, and I swear, it won't be two weeks before my next picture post. Your patience with my procrastination is most appreciated.


SteamyKitchen said...

Its an albino zucchini!

Deborah said...

I feel like I am going into how you are feeling now....I know I need a vacation, it's been way too long. But all 3 recipes look amazing!

Donna said...

*sigh*, if only my husband would eat seafood, some of your recipes look so great. But alas, he can spot anything from the sea a mile away, and I am not energetic enough to cook TWO meals in one night.

I've never had the patience for risotto, but I may try it since your looks so great. I'll be trying those zuchinni cakes for sure!

Quellia said...

So how is the not spending any money experiment going? You look like you are doing well with pantry items!

Anonymous said...

Your Risotto looks awesome (one of my Fave Dishes as well!!!!) Instead of Basil I use fresh Thyme and Fresh Parsley.....mmmm totally makes a HUGE taste difference!

Mandy said...

Gotta give the Scooby Doo Pasta with Pesto Cream Sauce a try. It has all my fave ingredients in it! Thanks for the recipe.

Fiber said...

Wow - these are all fantastic recipes! I love the step-by-step photos.
And zucchini cakes?? You read my mind....

Janet said...

This all looks so good. Your recipes are always so original. I can totally sympathize with your need for a break, I'm on vacation this week, and it was MUCH NEEDED.

Karen said...

I just returned from a vacation, but feel more exhausted than before I left! That's what family and road trips do, I suppose.

Where's that beach in Capri with waiters bearing glasses of champagne when you need them?

clover_the_jenny said...

LOVE the story of the bunny "poo collecting" repair man. In a way it's very sweet, it's as though your bunnies are helping to provide you with food (albeit a little twisted).

I have two guinea pigs thatprovide an endless supply of ummmm...pellets. Maybe I should strike a similar deal :P

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