Polenta

This Giada recipe is perfect! If you halve it, it makes plenty for 4 (when paired with veggies). The butter is optional, it still tastes delicious without (also of course good with olive oil and/or cheese).

Note: Half a recipe is 3/4 cup plus two tablespoon of dried corn grits. (1/2 cup plus half of 3/4 which is 3/8. 1/4 cup is 4 tbps, so 1/8 cup = 2 tablespoons. So 3/8 cup is 6 tablespoons, or 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons. So 1/2 c plus 1/4 c plus 2 tablespoons = 3/4 cup plus 2 tbsp).

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Avoid Food Waste

I’m trying to avoid wasting so much food (also saves money). The Kitchen Counter Cooking School has a chapter on leftovers (“Waste Not, Want Not”). Here are my favorite tips:

1. Flatbreads

Throw unused extra veggies and toppings onto a premade flatbread. Crack an egg on top, stick in the toaster oven. Make sure to use a spatula to get it off, the egg can seep through to the pan.

You can also do this with tortillas and add salsa for a slightly different twist.

Topping Ideas: Caramelized onions, olive oil, leftover greens, avocado, pear, fresh herbs (or pesto), cheese, etc.

2. Fresh Herbs

Make a pesto with leftovers. That way I don’t have to feel guilty about buying them, because I never use them up in time. Then, freeze the pesto if you don’t use it up quickly.

3. Soups

Caramelized Onions (note that you can make a big batch at freeze these!) and leftover veggies, throw in a pot with some broth, let it simmer for at least an hour. Could add a cooked grain at the end for complete the meal.

4. End of Condiment Jars

Using the last drops of mustard, olive oil, vinegar jars, make a salad dressing in the jar using the leftovers (1 part acid to three parts oil).

5. Weekly Grocery Trips

Only buy what you’ll eat in a week. If buying for one, don’t buy that giant bag of oranges, you won’t eat them all! For me, cooking a 3-4 portion meal twice a week gives me dinner plus a couple of lunches per recipe. Then, I can use leftovers for the remaining dinners.

6. Write Down What You Throw Out

Do this for a week and see what happens. This does double duty. You know what you tend to waste the most, and it makes you think twice about doing it. Then, adjust your shopping accordingly.

7. Make a Triage Box

In the fridge, throw everything in a box that you need to use up (sauces, veggies, fruit, etc), then do it!

8. Extra Prep

Not using all of those veggies for your current recipe? Prep┬áthem all and save the prepped veggies in the triage box. You’re more likely to use them if they’re visible and ready to use.

9. Freeze Broth Ingredients

Extra celery, a few slices of onion, herbs, etc? PLace them in a box in the freezer to make broth with laer.

Food I’ve wasted, past two weeks:

Some basil leaves that went bad before I made pesto

Remnants of soup from lunch

Chives that went bad (they were kind of duds to begin with, not much flavor)

Remnants of polenta from lunch

 

This week (Feb 2-8)

Slice of week old pizza (I was sent home with all of the leftovers from a dinner one night, couldn’t quite finish them all)

Failed pound cake cupcakes

Tomato Carbonara

The carbonara pasta part was good, and I used the reviewer’s tip to save some pasta water when combining the pasta with the egg mixture to pour onto the pasta so the mixture coats evenly.

Using frozen broccoli was a bad idea, it just came out soggy.

Using angel hair pasta was delicious.

I also added caramelized onions, chicken broth and extra garlic to the veggie saute to boost flavor.

Recipe: Tomato Carbonara

Crepes

If you’re cooking for one, halve the standard recipe (for buckwheat, but amounts are similar in the traditional recipe). It will still give you around 8-10 crepes.

UPDATE: I tried to buckwheat recipe, and it was so good. Just like the galletes I had in France. Cooking a sunny side up egg on top is still a bit of a mystery. I tried again, and it just cooked all the way through. I think from now on I’ll just do an over easy egg separately, then add it at the end. Also! My milk had gone bad, so I substituted with an equal volume amount of watered down plain, full fat yogurt, and it turned out great! Even added a nice little tang. I do think the crepes might have been a bit more delicate, but not a huge deal. Will always do this in the future, because I almost always have yogurt but not milk.

Make sure the pan is really hot before you add the first crepe’s batter.You can keep the batter for a few days in the fridge for leftovers (quick, easy and much better than warmed over crepes). It’s even better to let it sit overnight before you make them.

Fresh Berries: Add these near the end, then cover the pan with a lid so they get a bit soft. Add some cinnamon and a teaspoon of brown sugar. Yum!

Eggs: This site says to cook the sunny side up egg on low for 5 minutes. I’d cover the pan as well.