Friday Food. April.


Passover, Easter, Spring Break, Prom Season. So much to do, including cooking. Holiday cooking plus the regular everyday cooking that we’re expected to do. These last few weeks had me teaching, my daughter working practically every day after school, my son trying to break the world’s record for most movies seen in a month (kidding), my husband’s job is one person short, and no one wants to cook dinner. They also don’t want to pay for take out or fast food, and frankly, I don’t blame them. I thought I would take this Friday Food to share some shortcuts and new things to try.

Everyone knows about cooking two meals on Sunday and then eating leftovers. I try to make one big meal a week, like a roast beef, a pork loin, or a whole chicken. They make a great meal, and then they make great leftovers. All of them can be eaten as sandwiches later in the week with a side of chips and cole slaw. If the first night is mashed potatoes, the next night can be rice. My daughter likes Minute Rice, but regular rice is very easy to make. I got the recipe from The Kitchen Survival Guide by Lora Brody and while I’ve changed some things, the gist of it is the same.

White Rice
My version is to bring 3 1/2 cups of water to a boil after adding a small spoonful of chicken soup base (I use Penzeys) or 1-2 chicken bouillion cubes. Add 2 cups of rice. Be sure rice is covered by the water. Cover and lower the temperature to low. Let cook for 30 minutes. Turn off heat. Let sit for 20 minutes. Voila! Perfect rice. If you don’t need this much rice (this will feed a family of 5 with a bit left over for lunch the next day), half everything, and only cook for 20 minutes.

Cabbage and Leeks
For St. Patrick’s Day my husband insists on corned beef and cabbage. I’m not a fan of the cabbage cooked with the beef, and when it didn’t fit in the crock pot, I decided to try to concoct a recipe that I had just eaten the other day on retreat. I really just guessed what the cook had done, and everyone loved it. I’ve never had a St. Patrick’s Day where we didn’t throw away leftover cabbage until this past one. It also couldn’t be simpler:
I used half a cabbage and one large leek, but it can be increased or decreased depending on how many people you’re serving. It’s also important to remember that cabbages will reduce in size, so you’ll almost always need more than you think you’ll need.
Put half a stick of unsalted butter in a non-stick skillet. While it’s melting, add in the chopped cabbage and leeks. Move around in the pan on medium. The leeks may begin to turn brown, like when you’re frying/sauteing onions, so I let it cook a little longer since I like them that way. Lower the temperature, and serve hot.

Cabbage and Leeks, pictured about halfway through cooking.

There are an abundance of things to do with chicken (and turkey or beef) leftovers. I’ll share a couple of them here.

Pot Pies & Shepherd’s Pies
They’re similar enough to be nearly the same way of cooking these. What changes is based on whether you’re using chicken and turkey or beef. The flavors are a bit different.
For chicken and turkey, the first way is a pot pie. I use Pillsbury Pie Crust. I press it into a round, glass pie plate. Cut up the meat into small chunks and layer that on the bottom. Cover with a bag of frozen mixed vegetables. Cover with gravy (chicken for chicken turkey for turkey, but these are interchangeable if you only have one or the other). Lay the second pie crust over the top and crimp the edges all around until the pie is sealed. This will keep the gravy from leaking out. Prick holes in the top to let the steam out while it’s cooking. You can either put this directly on the rack or on a cookie sheet to catch the spills. Bake at 350 for about 45 minutes.
If you choose not to use a pie crust, follow the directions leaving that out. On top you can put a layer of mashed potatoes and sprinkle some shredded cheese and/or bread crumbs on top. Baking instructions are the same. For the turkey, with no crust, you can also layer the bottom (before the turkey) with leftover stuffing.
For beef, I typically do not use a pie crust. It’s made the same way, however for the Shepherd’s Pie with beef, I will use beef gravy, a bag of frozen peas & carrots, and I’ll add a little Worcestershire sauce, sometimes HP Sauce. Ketchup works also if your family likes that. Mashed potatoes on top with shredded cheese. This one bakes for 55 minutes.

One tip: It’s easier to cut the roast beef with kitchen scissors rather than a knife. The chicken and turkey are easier with the knife. At least that’s been my experience.

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