Week 46: Hotdish

 

This has been a big week! I finally trimmed Stella’s mullet. It took me a while to get the right scissors but thanks to another mom’s advice I got short scissors with rounded ends which were exactly what I needed. I also delved into a recipe organizational upgrade which is huge and long overdue. I’ve started using Paprika per my brother-in-law’s suggestion and so far I think it’s pretty fabulous. I can upload recipes from any website, categorize them, make menus, grocery lists, and multiply recipes without messing up. I someday hope to get the contents of my recipe binder in here, but that will be a very slow process. Baby steps, but for now I’ve got a platform that is super user friendly and a place to put all the new recipes I cook each week. Now that the updates are over, we can talk about other things.

I’ve learned over the years that Travis and I tend to go big. We don’t test the waters and take baby steps; we usually jump in head-first and hope we remember how to swim. Hence the puppy, house and baby thing we chose to do in rapid succession. Ill advised by most, but somehow we survived and mostly enjoyed it. Back in early 2011 we decided to move to Minneapolis so I could go to grad school at the U of M, sight unseen. We packed up all our belongings two days after getting married, drove from Vermont to Minneapolis, found a place to live, and I started school a few days later. And as always we were so happy we took the risk. We loved our two years in Minneapolis. I know this is a huge stereotype, but people from the mid-west are SO nice! We met great people, biked a lot, ice-skated, cross-country skied, played ice golf, camped in the Boundary Waters, and enjoyed life surrounded by lakes and the Mississippi River. Plus my people, Swedes, are there in droves so there was no shortage of blonds. But in the end we missed the mountains and decided to come back to CO. However, along the way we learned a few things about the regional cuisine. There are several specialty dishes including cheese curds, anything fried and on a stick, and hotdish. What, you might ask, is hotdish? Hotdish is “a casserole which typically contains a starch, a meat, and a canned or frozen vegetable mixed with canned soup.” There is tater tot, green bean, taco, and tuna noodle hotdish to name a few. We just about never ate casseroles growing up, and I don’t think I’d ever heard of cream of anything soup until my post-college years, but for many people this is comfort food and I can see why. I really enjoyed Monday night’s Creamy Chicken and Wild Rice Casserole, a dish most Minnesotans would proudly call hotdish given that wild rice is a locally grown crop. It had a starch, vegetable, meat, creamy component though not from a can, and was baked in the oven. Since everything was from scratch it took a heck of a lot longer, but the enjoyment I get out of eating a dish I make far exceeds any I would get from a casserole with tater tots and cream of mushroom soup. Though hotdish is not that dissimilar from your classic casserole, there is much more pride and creativity that comes with it. And do take the time to study the map I posted. It is completely amusing and of course comes with its own Paul Bunyan and Babe. Meal Plan & Grocery List

hotdish

Monday: Creamy Chicken and Wild Rice Casserole with Green Salad

  • Casseroles are pretty much the opposite crock pot recipes, my favorite kind of cooking, but I am a sucker for trying new things. And since it was a casserole without a cream of something soup I thought it sounded pretty good.
  • Since you have to pre-cook everything it is pretty unavoidably time consuming, but it was great to get home at 5pm, pop it in the oven and be ready to eat at 5:30.
  • And we had tons of leftovers so I could have theoretically frozen half for another time, but alas we ate it all.
  • Since we can’t top our meals with crunchy almonds, I used some panko breadcrumbs and a little parmesan cheese instead. I also used more carrots in place of the mushrooms, and dried thyme instead of fresh.
  • Future goal is to find quicker meals that don’t take up my entire break during Stella’s nap!

Tuesday: Simple Coconut Quinoa and Lentil Curry with Lime Mango

  • I added a red onion that I bought for a recipe last week and forgot to use, and white quinoa instead of a mix.
  • This fits more into my simple meals goal.
  • Since I used water instead of coconut water or stock the dish needed some salt which I didn’t notice until we sat down to eat. Note to self: I should taste my food while cooking.
  • We served it with a splash of apple cider vinegar, yogurt and mango.

Wednesday: Spicy Roasted Ratatouille with Spaghetti

  • This dish can be as spicy or mild as you want it to be since red pepper flakes are the only spicy ingredient, but the roasted veggies are super tasty no matter what.
  • I used two zucchini and squash each along with a red onion and eggplant to have a little more vegetables for a pound of pasta.
  • I used some frozen basil from my garden last year but dried or fresh are both an option. Just add the dried to the oil and vinegar mix before roasting.

Thursday: Cumin Pork Tenderloin with Dried-Apricot Chutney, Green Beans & Couscous

  • These are pretty straight forward recipes that didn’t take all that long. I put the marinade on the pork during Stella’s nap but since it was pretty thick you can just toss it on before cooking and the flavors will still be very enjoyable.
  • Stella loved the chutney and ate that and only that for dinner which was a surprise given her usual love of meat. But I think her love of being unpredictable won out this time around.

Friday: Teriyaki Salmon and Brown Rice Bowl with Veggies

  • I always appreciate making something as simple as teriyaki from scratch. And since bowls seem to be in I served the salmon over brown rice in a bowl with a mix of veggies including scallions, shredded carrots, cucumber, and some roasted broccoli.
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