My daughters started year around swim, which means one day a week we are gone from 1:00 – 5:15, because we also have pottery that day. Having a nice family meal during the week is very important to me, so I need a fast dinner option for our busy day. I’ve been eyeing a technique for awhile now called “One Pot Wonders,” where you put all the ingredients in a pot (including uncooked pasta and raw meat) and boil it into submission. No, these aren’t soups, they are main dishes. It looked intriguing, and frankly, too good to be true. Even my foodie cousin Jenny murmured to me, in a better-you-than-me tone, “You try it first, and tell me.” (Come to think about it, she said that about having children too . . . ) We were both skeptical, and I knew there was a 50 percent chance of ordering an emergency pizza. But, if you don’t try, you will never know. So I did, and now I do. It was really good.
Last weekend I got a 23 pound box of red bell peppers for $18. They came in all different shapes and sizes, so I had to purpose them differently. I sliced, diced, and chopped some for the freezer. I roasted many of them, and flash froze for another day. I employed the biggest, most choice peppers, as vessels for a main dish.
This summer I bought 50 pounds of red bell peppers at the farmers market, and spent time dehydrating, stuffing, freezing, and roasting bell peppers. Fifty pounds of peppers sounds like a lot, but they really cook and dehydrate down quite a bit. I regret not roasting more peppers because we use them a lot.
I was introduced to the concept of butternut squash macaroni and cheese by Martha Stewart. It was nice, but too bland. Fabulous idea though, to put butternut squash in mac and cheese. But her recipe calls to boil butternut squash, which doesn’t allow this vegetable to be all it can be. And she uses ricotta, which is rather expensive, and you can’t even tell it’s in there. Kind of a waste of a pricy ingredient.
I have quite a collection of herbs and spices, so instead of buying preservative and salt-laden seasoning packs, I make my own. It’s frugal, and less expensive. And with taco seasoning, you never know if it’s going to end up being spicy. I love spice, but my kids don’t. I add salt while cooking the beef initially, before adding the seasoning. You can play around with the recipe according to your tastes, but there is my recipe for taco seasoning: