Black Beans and Rice-ish

I can finally cook again, so I got in the mood for some black beans and rice and decided to do some kitchen chemistry. Here are the ingredients, note that this thing is scorching hot.

Ingredients
15 oz black beans (canned or you can soak, if canned, rinse off)
16-24oz H2o + 2 (chicken) bouillon cubes (or use stock, which I did not have)
1 andouille sausage
2 cups rice (I used leftover texmati)
2 jalapenos
3 serrano peppers
1 medium onion
1 red bell pepper
1 shallot
1 tbsp butter
salt to taste
bunch of cumin … say 2 tsp
garlic powder (bunches, because I forgot to chop up the fresh garlic, otherwise 4 cloves or so)
fresh ground pepper
pinch of cayenne
other spices as you see fit

place the beans, water/bouillon/stock, butter in a pot.
cut the sausage into your desired shape (I prefer coins) and brown. add to pot
fry cut vegetables until somewhat broken down (i.e. not or barely crunchy). add to pot.
bring pot to boil, then simmer for 20+ minutes until you like the consistency.
eat.

The pic isn’t good, but all I’ve got is the cell phone right now. Sorry.
black_bean_rice-01

Serves: probably 6-8.
Cost: $10-ish
Review: 4/5. It’s really tasty, but truly exceptionally hot. Hotter than my firehouse chili, but there are still a multitude of flavors and the spices don’t overwhelm. I’m totally digging this, but it’s not for the faint of heart.

Spring Pasta

Ingredients:
1.5lb ground beef (extra lean)
1 egg
1 lb penne rigate
1/2 head garlic, chopped
1 med. onion, chopped
8oz mushrooms, sliced
fresh basil
~.75 tbsp garlic powder
~.75 tbsp onion powder
3 tbsp worchestershire sauce
~pint heavy cream
1tbsp olive oil
1/2 can vegetable broth
splash of citrus soy sauce
1 tsp black pepper
some salt
1 can (28 oz) crushed tomatoes
1 cup frozen peas
some red wine
2 lemons

cook the penne in lightly salted water until al dente, set aside (may
do this while meat is cooking)
in mixing bowl, combine ground beef, egg, garlic powder, onion powder,
worchestershire sauce, soy sauce. mix by hand. brown in large
skillet.
add mushroom, onion, and garlic to cooking beef
when veggies are cooked to satisfaction, add 1/2 can of vegetable broth
add crushed tomatoes tomatoe
stir in heavy cream and red wine to tomatoe meat mixture
heat marinara until it bubbles, then turn down to simmer
salt to taste (pepper if you want, too)
add peas and basil. stir
juice the lemons. Add first lemon at beginning of cooking. Add rest throughout.

Add wine, lemon, seasoning to taste as it simmers.

simmering for 30 min or more makes it taste better, but it’s ready to
serve as soon as the peas are unfrozen. this amount will probably
serve 6-ish, depending on the size of plates and seconds.
theoretically, it could serve 8, but 5 is a guarantee.

CMo Stirfry #1

Ingredients:
4 chicken breasts, cut into strips
marinate breasts in mixture of soy, ponzu, teriyaki (2 kinds – soy vey and maruchan/kikoman), some hui hui, and touch of sriraccha

veggies:
1/2 onion, chopped
1/3-1/2 cup carrot, chopped
5 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
broccoli florets (as much as you want)
1/3-1/2 cup frozen peas
1 tbsp unsalted butter
add seasoning to taste (i used cajun and salt)

noodles: somen, the thin spaghetti asian noodles

Directions:
all concurrently:
cook meat in iron skillet, set aside as finished
cook onions and carrots in separate skillet – this will be stir fry skillet
after they are well browned, turn to simmer, add garlic and brocolli
pour 1/2 remaining marinade over veggies
cook noodles
deglase meat pan with *red* wine sauce
pour meat sauce over veggies
drain noodles, add to stir fry skillet
add peas, red pepper flakes, remaining marinade
stir noodles to mixture until peas are cooked

can add meat if you want or keep separate

Taste is wonderful, cost is low. Good times. 5/5

White Chili Chicken

Ingredients:

1-1.5 lb chicken breast, cut into small bits
7 oz canned green chiles
14.5 oz diced tomoatoes with chiles (e.g. Ro-tel)
1 can chicken broth
14oz ~ (1 bottle) salsa verde (alternatively – you can use tomatillos, though that changes the end flavor)
1 can white beans
1 onion
4 cloves of garlic
1 jalapeno
2 ears of corn
1 tsp+ coriander seed
1 tsp+ cumin
1 tsp+ oregano
1 tbsp sour cream (regular)
1 lime
salt
pepper

Note: on my first try, I made double the amounts above. It’s a good thing I like it because, doubled, this serves about 30 people.

Steps:

1. Cut the chicken. Season it to your taste (I used salt, pepper, and cajun seasoning). Cook and set aside
2. Chop the onion and jalapeno (de-seed the jalapeno), dice the garlic
3. In a big pot (5qts+, 3qts is fine if making a standard batch as above), brown the onion, garlic, and jalapeno
4. Add the tomatoes, broth, green chiles, salsa verde, seasoning. Bring to a soft boil and then turn down to simmer. Let simmer for 5-10 mins.
5. While simmering, cut the kernels off the corn, set aside.
6. Add the chicken, beans, and corn. Season to taste. Squeeze 1/2 the lime in. Simmer 5-10 minutes.
7. Add the sour cream and squeeze the last 1/2 lime.
8. Let simmer for “a while”, season to taste

Serve with tortillas, sour cream (if you like), and cheese.

Total food cost: ~$15 (1/2 of that is the meat)
Serves: 10-ish. Verrrry affordable.

Review: 4/5. Excellent! It’s only moderately spicy; keep the jalapeno seeds and add a dash of cayenne if you want to make this actually spicy. This soup/stew/chili is sort of the companion piece to my Garlic Stew (with Other Bits), in the meat + bean + verde semi-spicy things category, and it’s just as delightful. The flavor is wholly different from the GSwOB – much lighter, with an electric zing rather than the heavy, round, wallop in the beef stew. I found it delicious and plan on having it many more times. Which I have to because, see note above.

A standard serving size should run you ~260-300 calories, not including the tortilla(s), extra sour cream, or cheese you may add.

Gourmet Mac and Chee

Best mac & cheese I’ve ever made. Also, the first.

Very rich comfort food. Obviously not for the faint of heart or blocked of artery.

Ingredients:

4 eggs
12 oz condensed milk (one can)
6 tsp butter
2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp hot sauce (I used Tapatio… but only because I couldn’t find my Cholula)
fresh ground black pepper (dunno, a peck? enough until it feels right)
1.5 tsp ground mustard
4-6 strips of bacon
12-14 oz shredded sharp cheddar cheese
4 oz mixed shredded Italian cheeses (I get the asiago, parm, mozz mix)
1 lb. elbow macaroni
Shredded parmesan (optional)
Panko bread crumbs (optional)

Directions:

  1. Cook the bacon. Set aside. Chop up when cool.
  2. Cook the macaroni. ~7 minutes for al dente for most boxed brands
  3. Add eggs in mixer bowl. Mix in condensed milk, pepper, hot sauce, salt, mustard powder.
  4. Drain the noodles, but don’t wash them.
  5. Stir the butter into the noodles (I found it easier to do it in 1 tsp pats)
  6. Stir the mixture into the noodles. Mix until evenly coated.
  7. Stir in the shredded cheese and bacon. Mix until all cheese melted and evenly distributed.

You can stop there and serve. However, if you’re like me, you’ll want to:

  1. Pour the noodles into a buttered 9×13 baking dish.
  2. Spread the shredded parmesan on top until moderately covered.
  3. Spread Panko bread crumbs on top until moderately covered.
  4. Broil until top begins to brown. (You can bake before you broil to bring the temp up if it’s cooled too much for your enjoyment. If you like the top blackened, add more Panko, some herbs, and bacon and broil away).

Note: I also forgot to put the bacon in the first time. You can add it later pre-baking/broiling and just bury it in the noodles. Works fiiiiine and is a bit more aesthetically pleasing, if you ask me.

Cost: $11-12
Serves: 6-8

Review: 4/5. Best mac and chee ever, but still room for improvement. A squaring off flavor to even out the rich roundness of the dish. Still, this serves a bundle and fills everyone up. Don’t get the blue box, make some comfort lurve.

Beef Biryani

Biryani is a dish the Moguls made popular and is common throughout south Asia. I was looking around for something fun and challenging to make and this sounded right up my alley.

This dish took forever to make, but… it’s tasty and worth it. On the other hand, due to the number of steps, my laziness, and general distraction, no pics. Sucks to be you. If you want to see a picture, it will end up looking something like this:

Biryani

Ingredients:
2 large onions
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1″ fresh root ginger, chopped
1 jalapeno, seeded (mostly)
60ml sliced almonds
3 tbsp water
3-4 tbsp butter (or ghee if you can get it)
3-5 tbsp oil of choice
2 tbsp sultanas or golden raisins
2 lb. beef stew meat
175ml plain yogurt (one regular container)
1.5 cups rice (I used Thai/Jasmine, given the history of the dish, Basmati … except my grocery store sucks)
5 cups chicken stock
2 hard boiled eggs

Spices:
coriander (fresh would be better, but my grocery store sucks and didn’t have any, so… ground)
cumin
turmeric
cinnamon
salt
pepper

You can probably tell from that list, this is not a simple dish.

Directions:
1. The base:
Chop one onion
Add the onion garlic, ginger, jalapeno, and 1 tsp-ish of coriander, half of the almonds, and the water to a food processor/mixer.
Process into smooth paste.

2. The sparkle
Thinly slice the other onion into rings.
Heat 1 tbsp butter and 3 tbsp oil in a big pot (if this pot is oven safe, use that)
Cook the onion rings for 15 minutes until golden brown. Set onions aside.
Cook remaining half of almonds in the pot until brown (just a few secs). Set them aside with onions.
Cook sultanas/golden raisins until they swell (just a few secs). Set them aside with the onions and almonds.

3. The meat
Add 1 tbsp of butter and 1 tbsp of oil to the pot.
Cook meat until heated evenly. Set aside.

4. Alchemy
Clean out the pot (or use a new one). Add some oil and heat it up.
Pour the base paste in and stir constantly for 2-3 minutes until it starts to brown.
Add spices and stir in. You should probably put heat on low for this bit or you could burn the paste.
Salt and pepper to taste.
Add the yogurt in bits, blending between additions.
When paste and yogurt are fully mixed, add the meat in and stir it to coat the meat with the paste.
Cover tightly and simmer on gentle heat for 40-50 minutes until the meat is tender.

5. Sidebar, AKA where Ghostfinger checks out
Put rice in large bowl. Cover with water. Let sit for 15-20 minutes.
… wait
… preheat the oven to 325F
Heat the chicken broth on the stove.
Add the rice
Bring water to a boil, then turn down. Cover and cook for 5-6 minutes.
Drain and set aside.

6. Now it all comes together
Place the rice on the meat, totally covering the meat as a top layer. Using your spoon, make a hole in the middle.
Sprinkle the onions, almonds, and golden raisins around the top.
Break 2tbsp of butter into little bits and place strategically on top. Strategically can also be randomly. Random is a strategy.
Cover the Biryani with two layers of aluminum foil.
Place a lid on pot.
Stick pot in oven for 30-40 minutes.
… make 1-4 hard boiled eggs (1 per serving you are planning on doling out)

7. Finish
Serve on warmed plate with the egg as garnish. Optionally, include naan, some form of bread… or you could use homemade tortillas. Or nothing. Plenty of starch in that rice. Some cucumbers, tomatoes, maybe carrots as garnish sides would work well also.
Eat! (It’s been about 2 hours by now if you’ve been doing it all from scratch, maybe longer. You must be hungry.)

I was initially unsure about the raisins, so I kept them off to yet another side. In the end, I decided to add them and… they work really, really well. Kinda make the dish, actually. The random explosion of sweetness was a great balance and did not overwhelm at all.

Cost: under $20, mostly depending on meat
Serves: 4-6
Review: 4/5. I almost want to give this a 5. It was yummy, and I’d been snacking during the whole ordeal too, so it’s not just hunger speaking.

Shepherd’s Pie

OK, last one. I think. Except for the Pasta With No Name and it’s lamb-based second cousin thing I did. Oh, no, wait. I also did Phad Thai and some Teriyaki chicken… but I didn’t take pictures so you’re in luck there.

Shepherd's Pie

I mashed the potatoes myself. If you use a packet, adjust accordingly.

Ingredients:
2 lb extra lean ground beef
1 cup peas
4 carrots
1 medium onion, chopped
worchestershire sauce
salt
pepper
3 lbs potatoes
2 tbsp butter
1 egg
1 cup milk
spices for the potatoes

Directions:
Potatoes: your standard mashed potatoes by hand recipe. Peel and cut. Put in salted water for at least 30 minutes until soft enough to fork through. Put in mixing bowl, add 1 egg, spices, butter, milk, and blend.

Spice and brown the meat (with salt, pepper, and worchestershire to taste), drain and set aside. Cook the carrots and onions until soft. Cook veggies with with meat if you want. Put veggies and meat in bowl. Add peas. Mix.

In baking dish: add one layer of potatoes. Add meat mixture. Cover with potatoes. Sprinkle top with paprika, fork for texture. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes. Broil at end until top is brown.

Cost: $10-12
Serves: 4-6
Review: 3/5. It’s not the most flavorful dish. I kept wanting a different texture than potatoes, but that was just me.

Pre-baking:
pre-baking pie

Masaman Curry

Getting there…

Masaman curry

Ingredients:
2 lb beef (I use stew meat; it’s already cut) (lamb will work too)
3 medium potatoes, cubed
1 small can thai red curry paste (better with masaman paste, but the grocery stores here suck)
1 can (14oz) coconut milk
1 large onion, cut into wedges
1 cup peanuts, roasted
2 sticks cinnamon
4 bay leaves
3 cloves garlic, diced
1 tsp coriander
1 tsp cumin
1 tbsp cayenne
at least 2 tsp salt (to taste)
at least 1 tsp pepper (to taste)
1 tsp white pepper
1.5 tbsp sugar
.5 tsp ground cloves
2 tbsp fish sauce
1.5 tsp la yu (chili oil)
some “Thai curry spice” I had in the pantry. No idea what’s in it.

Directions:
It’s been so long now, I can’t remember, precisely.

Brown beef. Drain and add to cooker.
Add everything else except bay leaves and cinnamon sticks.

Cook 4-5 hours on high. Add cinnamon sticks and bay leaves for 30 minutes on low at the end.

Serve over rice.

Cost: $15-ish
Serves: 4-6

Review: 3/5 – it wasn’t spicy enough and needed thicker paste and more peanuts. Will try again, with less sweet spices and more salty/spicy

Firehouse Chili “Mr. Deadly”

OK, got stalled on the catching up. Really have a recipe backlog. First up: my first take on a firehouse chili which I shall call Mr. Deadly

This is a warning of things to come:
Firehouse Chili Mr. Deadly

Ingredients:
2 lb beef stew meat
1 can green chilies
4 serrano chilies, chopped
4 jalapeno chilies, chopped
3 cloves garlic
1-2 tbsp cayenne
1 large onion, chopped
1 15 oz can pinto beans
1 14.5 oz can tomatoes
pepper
paprika
salt

Directions:
Brown the meat. Drain the fat.

Put the onions and beans in slow cooker. Meat on top. Everything else on top of that. You might want to put the spices somewhere in the middle, but you’re going to stir it anyway, so no biggee.

Cook!

Serve with sour cream, cheese, the jalapeno cheese bread, and lottttts of milk.

chili served
This may look innocent, but trust me… it’s a vicious little bastard.

I like hot stuff. I really do. This chili is beyond heat. We’re into serious gastro danger territory here. I like it better after it had marinated in the fridge for a week, actually. This chili is not for the faint of heart and/or weak of the anii.

Review: 3/5

Jalapeno Cheese Cornbread

Jalapeno Cheese Cornbread

Ingredients:
1 cup cornmeal
1 cup all-purpose flour
2.5 tsp baking powder
.5 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
3 tbsp sugar
Dash of cayenne pepper
4 fresh jalapenos, chopped
4 oz shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 cup canned corn kernels (optional)
8 ounces sour cream
.75 cup milk
1 large egg, beaten
4 tbsp melted butter

Directions:
1. Coat a 9-inch square baking pan with vegetable oil and set aside. Heat oven to 400°. Put the baking pan in the oven.

2. In a large bowl, combine the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, soda, salt, sugar, chipotle or cayenne pepper, chopped jalapeno peppers, cheese, and corn kernels.

3. Mix the sour cream, milk, egg, and melted butter. Stir the mixture into the dry ingredients. Pull the pan out of the oven and pour the mixture in it.

4. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until set and lightly browned around the edges. Cool in the pan on a rack.

Cost: $4, maybe
Servings: 6+

Review: 4/5. It’s tasty. Needs more cheese and next time I’m doing without the kernels; their flavor is too sweet and I don’t like the texture mixture. I used white corn meal (since that’s what I purchased), but next time I’m definitely using yellow. This is a great compliment to any kind of chili, even my firehouse chili.

J C Cornbread piece

Cashew Chicken

Catching up on a couple of weeks recipes here. Prepare for the deluge.

I cooked this along with the sesame noodles as I was suffering from the dearth of asian cuisine available in my area. So here’s a little stir-fry that’ll calm some of those cravings.

Cashew Chicken

Ingredients:
1 lb. chicken breast, cut into cubes
2 tsp cornstarch
1 tbsp cooking sherry
.5 tsp ginger root (peeled & grated) (I took about a 1.5″ knob and grated it)
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp hoisin sauce
1 tsp sugar
4 tbsp vegetable oil
4 garlic cloves, diced
1 green pepper, cut into bits
1.25 cups whole cashews
1 tsp sesame oil
2 tbsp water
2-3 cups rice, steamed

Directions:
1. Heat the oven to 325F. Place the cashews on a baking tray on a single layer. Place in the oven for ~7 minutes, stirring as necessary as the tops brown. Remove from oven and set aside.

2. Place chicken in a bowl. Add green pepper, cornstarch, sherry, and ginger.

3. In another bowl, combine soy sauce, hoisin, sugar, and water. Mix until the sugar is dissolved and set aside.

4. Pour oil in stir fry or wok, add the oil and cook at high heat. When the oil is just beginning to smoke, add the garlic and stir. They will brown quickly.

5. Add chicken mixture to stir fry. Stir constantly until chicken is almost done, around 1-2 minutes.

6. Reduce the heat to medium-low and add the soy sauce mixture. Stir until the sauce is well blended into the chicken. Add cashews and sesame seed oil and mix the dish well. Serve immediately over a bed of rice.

Review: 3/5. This one was actually better as a left over (possibly because I was satiated from the sesame noodles, but more likely because the sauce marinaded the chicken well). I would definitely do it again, though I would add onion and some dried red peppers for texture and spice.

Cost: $10-12 (not counting sauces or oils)
Serves: 3 (2 if you like it a lot, 4 if you dole out the portions)

I actually used ginger that I grated myself straight from the root. For those that don’t know me, this is a big deal – I freakin hate ginger. After playing around some with fresh ginger, I think perhaps I just hate pickled ginger.

Soft Pretzels

I got a bug up my ass and thought I’d try some handmade, home-rolled soft pretzels.

The good news is: they taste like pretzels. Fluffy and … pretzelish.

Bad news: I don’t have enough counterspace or cooking tins to make these the size they needed to be made, so they looked like shit. Hence, no picture. They could use a butter paste, which I did not have ready, and were average tasting at best.

Summary: they were OK, and I’ll take this as acceptable for a first try. Gimme a mulligan. At least they’re edible and what was expected… just close your eyes and tell yourself it’s a pretzel, OK?

Ingredients:
4 tsp dry active yeast
1 tsp white sugar + 0.5 cup white sugar for flour mix
1.25 cups warm water
4 cups hot water
5 cups flour
1.5 tsp table salt
1 tbsp vegetable oil + more for oiling a bowl
0.5 cup baking soda
kosher salt (I used kosher sea salt. YMMV)

Directions:
Add dry yeast, 1 tsp white sugar and 1.25 cups warm water in a bowl. Stir until dissolved, then let stand for 10 minutes.

In a separate bowl add the flour, 0.5 cup white sugar, and 1.5 tsp table salt.

Add the yeast mixture and the vegetable oil. Mix to form the dough (if the mix is too dry add some water).

Knead dough until smooth. Note: not as easy as it sounds and takes longer than you think. “Baker’s hands” indeed.

Use more oil to grease a bowl lightly–place the dough in the bowl and keep turning it until the dough has been oiled.

Cover the bowl with a dish towel and let it rise at room temperature for 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 450

Divide dough into 10-12 equal pieces. Note: these are not small pretzels. You could probably have 18+ if you’re rolling thinly enough.

Roll the dough and make a pretzel shape. Dip the finished pretzel in the soda water and place on greased cookie sheet.

Sprinkle the tops of each pretzel with the desired amount of kosher salt and/or any seasoning you may wish to have or use.

Bake at 450 degrees for 7-8 minutes or until brown.

Next time I do this, I’m going to incorporate some more flavorful dough or spices before putting it in the oven. It will have to wait until I have a real kitchen, though, because working with 2 bowls and almost no counterspace upped the degree of difficulty beyond what I was expecting. Oh, and I need to add more oil to the mixing boil. This was a sticky ass mess.

Review: 2/5. No better than average.

Sesame Noodles

Sesame Noodles

My first reaction upon tasting my concoction, verbatim: Holy fuck! This is awesome!

So, it’s got that going for it.

This and the (as yet unpublished) JCo pasta (name to be determined later) are far and away the best dishes I have yet created.

Ingredients:
8 oz egg noodles (skinny noodles of any kind will do)
4-5 green onions, chopped
1/2 – 1 cucumber, cut into long, thin spears or slices

sauce:
3 tbsp soy
1.5 tbsp sesame oil
2 tbsp la yu (chili oil)
2 tbsp sesame paste (AKA tahini)
1.5 tbsp rice vinegar
2 cloves of garlic diced
~1 tbsp ginger, grated
2 tbsp peanut butter (if using peanut butter)

Directions:
Boil water in a large pot. Put noodles in and cook for 5-6 minutes. Drain.

Place all sauce ingredients in small bowl. Whisk until homogeneous. Add noodles, onions, and cucumber. Mix until noodles, sauce, and other bits are well blended. Eat.

The dish can be eaten and enjoyed either hot or cold, so your choice on when to serve and mix (it’s easier mixing when the noodles are at least warm).

The taste is both delicate and powerful, well balanced, and explodes on the palate. The peanut butter side is thicker and more blunt of a taste, the sesame gives more room for all of the flavors but may not be immediate enough for some palates.

Cost: $4, tops, not counting the ingredients for the sauce
Serves: 4-ish. 1, if it’s me. And I’ll cut you if you come near. It’s that good.

Review: 5/5.

Fookin Ziti

This is actually my second time making some fuckin ziti, and to beat a cliche about the head, second time is the charm.

Ziti

Warning – your heart may explode just reading the ingredients. Caution is recommended.

Ingredients:
1 lb dry ziti pasta (I couldn’t find any ziti, so my noodles are actually rigatone)
1 onion, chopped
1 lb lean ground beef
5 cloves of garlic, chopped
2 26 oz jars spaghetti sauce
a bit of red wine of your choosing
6 oz provolone cheese, sliced
1/2 of a container of sour cream (~8 oz)
1/2 of a container of ricotta (~7.5oz)
6 oz mozzarella cheese, shredded
grated Parmesan cheese, sprinkled until you’re happy. Say 4 pinches

The first time I tried it, I used turkey meat instead of the beef. While healthier… it’s still turkey meat. So “browning” it really just turned it into some relatively tasteless grey bits of texture. Which is fine, but I didn’t add any seasoning to compensate.

For the sauces, you can either make some of your own or store bought. I used store brands and mixed a spicy tomato marinara with a tomato and garlic sauce. YMMV, but this blend was quite tasty for me, but I think we’ve identified that I like spicy and I like garlic. In an ode to ghostfinger, I also added some wine to the sauce (a shiraz). Probably not enough to notice, but the results were tasty so I’m considering it to be a job well done.

Directions:

  1. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add pasta. Cook until al dente (~8 minutes)1 then drain and set aside.
  2. In a separate pot, add marinara. Set to simmer.
  3. Brown onion, garlic, and ground beef. Add to marinara. Mix and let simmer for 15 minutes.
  4. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  5. Butter a 9×13 (inches) baking dish. Add the ziti in layers described below.
  6. First layer: 1/2 of the pasta, provolone cheese, then spread the sour cream and ricotta on top. Add 1/2 of the marinara.
  7. Second layer: remaining 1/2 of pasta, mozzarella cheese, remaining 1/2 of marinara. Sprinkle parmesan on top to taste/visual/as you like it.
  8. Bake for 30 minutes or until cheeses are melted.

Now, I didn’t remember this so much from the first time, but that 9×13 tray will be alarmingly full. Not enough to really scare you that it’s going to explode. In any event, the tray will also be heavy enough to use as a weapon and/or counterweight.

I tried to get a shot of some plated ziti, but… that didn’t work so well. Given the amount of cheese and marinara involved, you can imagine the gloop. I’m not a good nonmessy gloop spooner and I wasn’t willing to wait until the dish set before eating, so you’ll have to use your imagination.

Food cost: $20-24, including marinara
Servings: a bazillion, but I’m going to go with 8.
Cost/serving: $2.50-$3.00

Review: 5/5. Hey, it’s fuckin ziti! Loaded with fat and cheese. Anything less than sheer bliss is criminal. I may add some hot pepper flakes next time. That sounds yummy too.

1. In case you don’t know (I didn’t when I started), after the pasta is al dente and you drain it, you should then run the pasta under cold water. Otherwise, it will continue to cook and can overcook to the point of mush.

Slow Cooked Steel Cut Oatmel

I had heard so much about this particular meal, I had to try it out.

Ingredients
2 cups steel cut oats
8 cups water
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
3 tbsp butter
1-2 cups of dried fruit or fruits of choice (e.g. cranberries or raisins)

Directions:
1. Spray slow cooker with nonstick cooking spray. You will thank me later.
2. Put ingredients in slow cooker. Stir if you want.
2a. Depending on your fruit choices, like banana, you may not want to put them in until the morning.
3. Cook on LOW for 8-10 hours. (turn it on before you go to sleep, eat when you get up)

When I ate it, I added more brown sugar on top and some half and half (just a bit. Couldn’t taste it, really, but it is also discussed a lot in oatmeal recipes). I had planned on chopping up some almonds and throwing them in there, but in the harsh light o’ morning that just seemed like way too much work. Also, I had no dried fruit, so my meal was pretty institutional in its constituent parts. Which gave me a great basis for comparing it to undergrad oatmeal days.

Review: 4/5. It’s tasty. It’s good. It’s only a 4 because, hey, it’s oatmeal… can oatmeal ever be a 5? The steel cut, slow cooked oatmeal has a full, rich texture and taste you don’t get from instant. Or it could be all the butter. Hard to tell for sure. I’m sure it’s a combo of oats and cooker, but it is fuller, richer, and more flavorful than other oatmeals I’ve had. Good times.

No pictures. Hey, it’s oatmeal. You know what that looks like.