Thank you to everyone who suggested a recipe idea (or ten) in response to my post on Saturday. We spent the evening surfing through some cookbooks and searching for keywords online, and came up with a half-dozen new “batch cooking” meals to try over the next few weeks.
I’m looking forward to trying Beefy Lentil Vegetable Soup, Butternut Squash Chili, Not-Too-Spicy Enchiladas, and at least one of the pasta-based casseroles that we found, but this week we opted to make slight variations on:
- Pumpkin and Black Bean Soup (from Rachel Ray’s 30-minute Veggie Meals book),
- Chicken and Rice Casserole (from Elise at Simply Recipes), and
- Miniature Chicken Calzones (VERY loosely based on the Dairy-Free Diva’s Spinach and Tofu Calzones)
The Pumpkin and Black Bean Soup smells and tastes amazing — after thickening. My major complaint about Rachel Ray is that she cuts corners and loads up on spices in order to make her not-quite-cooked-enough meals taste good, so we used about 2/3 of the spices that she calls for and allowed the soup to simmer for a bit more than an hour once we brought it to a boil — with the lid askew to promote thickening. We substituted lactose-free milk for the heavy cream, and the texture and flavor are divine. Provided that it holds up in the fridge throughout the week, this soup will become a staple — since everything to make it can be kept on hand without fear of spoilage.
The Chicken and Rice casserole was made almost exactly according to Elise’s directions, except that we substituted Paul McCartney’s tofu sour cream and some lactose-free milk for the sour cream and heavy cream combination she calls for, and we failed to properly brown the chicken, since our pan wasn’t quite hot enough at the time. We’ll definitely make this again, but plan to dredge the chicken in flour and spices before browning, and to top the dish with a tiny bit of crumbled, herbed goat cheese for the last few minutes of baking. The flavors are warm and very yummy, but could do with a little bit more bite.
We won’t know how the mini calzones turned out for a few days, as we froze them to have as individual “freeze and bake” items for later in the week, but they were incredibly easy to prepare.
- We started with pre-made dough, since we keep it on hand for pizza-making in the freezer.
- Not being vegan, we tossed a pair of chicken breasts in the crockpot and covered them with Italian-seasoned tomatoes, and cooked them on high for 90-minutes. When done, we shredded them and mixed in chopped sun-dried tomatoes, chopped pepperoni, garlic, and lots of spices — mainly oregano, basil, and cracked black pepper.
- We made the spinach + silken tofu base that the vegan dish calls for, solely to avoid soft cheeses.
- We poured this base into the chicken mixture, and let it sit while rolling out the dough and forming the baby calzones. Then each calzone was wrapped in wax paper and aluminum foil, and then tossed in a freezer bag. We plan to top them with home made pasta sauce (in the freezer from a few weeks ago) and crumbled feta.
Tonight’s dinner is Garbage Bread — leftover thawed dough filled with leftover Italian-ish ingredients (artichoke bruschetta, pepperoni, spinach, herbed chevre, and olives), rolled up jelly-roll style, and baked as one would a pizza.
Yummy, yummy, yummy.