Recession Chic

a down economy does not = ugly shoes

Homemade Marinara April 18, 2011

Filed under: Food & Drink — karakrautter @ 1:20 PM
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After 9 months of working from home, I believe I’ve uncovered all the pros and cons of not going to an office everyday and always being in the same room as your latest work project.

The cons are fairly limited (wishing people would call instead of email for one-off questions, being the only one of the phone for brainstorming sessions, losing my fashion edge to yoga pants…). The pros, on the other hand, continue to expand. I’ve discovered that my brain works better from 7am – 10am than it ever could after 4pm. Also, work drama for me is often caused by a temporarily slow Internet connection. However, the best part of working from home has to be that I have the time, opportunity and energy to do more cooking.

Over the past several months I’ve been able to prepare soups, beans, and bread from scratch during the week — something that is only possible because my ‘lunch break’ can occur whenever I need it to be. After several round of beans I realized that I could (and should) do more slow-cooked dishes since I can keep my eye on the oven/stove all day.

A few weeks ago, a good friend and fellow remote office worker shared with me her basic recipe for pasta sauce she liked making from scratch. She made it sound simple enough that I was eager to try it. My first attempt went well since I was able to simmer the sauce for several hours before serving, adjusting the seasoning as needed. Round two was even better as I refined the recipe and added veggie sausage to create a vegetarian bolognese that could fool some meat eaters (according to my Jeffery).

I first browned the ‘meat’ in my dutch oven and set aside. From there I sautéed the garlic and onions in olive oil, deglazing the pan with a little wine. Next, two cans of Italian style whole peeled tomatoes, tomato paste and a variety of dried Italian seasonings. As the sauce thickened, I tasted and adjusted seasoning. Towards the end I incorporated the ‘sausage’ into the sauce and added some vegetable stock to thin the sauce to the right consistency.

I used about 3/4 of the sauce for dinner that night and saved the rest. Below are some photos of the leftover sauce and the delicious cheese and rigatoni dish.

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Spinach Lasagna for the Vegetarian in All of Us December 1, 2010

Filed under: Cooking 101,Dough Diaries — karakrautter @ 4:39 PM
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After almost a year of making my own pasta, I finally felt ready to try to make homemade lasagna noodles. For many years around the holidays (or any celebration) my best friend’s mom would make the most amazing lasagna — complete with homemade noodles. So, after the chaos of the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, I thought that our Sunday night meal should be a warm, comforting vegetarian lasagna.

Here are the photos of the process:

1. First layer of sauce and noodles

2.Yummy spinach and ricotta layer

3. More sauce and mozzarella cheese

4. The final stage fresh out of the oven

5. The first slice…yummm

I was shocked at how good it was and how relatively easy it was to put together. The homemade noodles were the perfect texture — not too soggy and able to hold its own against the cheesy, delicious filling. I will definitely do this again!

 

Cooking 101: Vegetarian Enchiladas September 9, 2010

Filed under: Cooking 101 — karakrautter @ 10:10 AM
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As a native Texan and a lover of spicy food, I’m almost always in the mood for Tex-Mex or Mexican food. However, other than fajitas, I rarely cook it. The other week I decided it was time to break that cycle and cook one of my favorite dishes, spinach enchiladas with verde salsa.

The whole ordeal was so much easier than I originally thought, mainly because I already knew the exact flavors I wanted to incorporate. Here’s what I used:

  • frozen spinach (thawed), sautéed with garlic, salt, pepper and queso fresco
  • corn tortillas, warmed in a paper towel
  • quality verde salsa (thanks HEB)
  • fresh avocado slices with cilantro and lime juice
  • more queso fresco

 

A Holiday Fritatta for vegetarians November 25, 2009

Filed under: Food & Drink — karakrautter @ 8:29 AM
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For the past 8 years I’ve been a vegetarian (specifically a pescatarian because I still eat seafood). I primarily made the choice for health reasons and secondarily because I was quite skeptical of meat not prepared by my dad. Since cutting meat out of my diet, I’ve never looked back. This diet has helped me think more about what food I’m putting in my mouth and strive for better balance in my meals. I can’t imagine ever eating meat again because I don’t miss it…anyway, I digress.

The holidays for vegetarians can be difficult. Sure, it’s a challenge when all the meals center around roasted/fried/brined meats. But, the harder part is convincing the host you don’t need a Tofurkey to feel included. A few years ago, my aunt was hosting Thanksgiving for the family and was nervous about what I would be eating. Most of the time I was fine just eating the sides, but I knew she would feel better if I brought my own protein. After a quick discussion with my mom, I decided to make a fritatta. It’s simple to make, warm, rustic and a veggie-friendly protein that doesn’t make the rest of the world raise an eyebrow. Oh, and it’s really inexpensive to make.

That first fritatta Thanksgiving, my asparagus and Gruyere cheese fritatta was quickly devoured by the entire family. Since then, I’ve just switched out the ingredients each holiday to keep it interesting. This year my family is traveling and won’t be cooking any part of the Thanksgiving meal. So, I decided to celebrate a little early and make my fritatta before we left.

My mission this week was two-fold: create a new delicious fritatta and use up as much food in my fridge as possible. My mother gave me some of her fresh herbs that needed to be used. So, that is where I started my recipe search. Basil. Not a bad place to start, eh? I searched for a recipe on a new site my dad found, www.bigoven.com, for some inspiration. Quickly (cause their search is pretty awesome) I found a fritatta recipe based around basil and tomatoes, two of my favorite things. Using this recipe as a guide, I knew I only needed to pick up some eggs, an onion and a tomato to make this meal happen (talk about recession friendly!).

Ingredients:

  • 1 Thinly sliced onion
  • 1/2 shalot; sliced
  • 1 tbs butter
  • 3 tbs olive oil
  • 1 md Tomato; diced (be sure to remove the seeds)
  • 1/4 c Fresh basil; chopped
  • 1/4 c fresh Italian parsley; chopped
  • 1/4 c shredded Parmesan
  • 1/2 c shredded mozzarella
  • 3 tbs ricotta cheese
  • 1 16oz container Egg substitute
  • Salt and pepper

Directions:

  1. Sauté the onion and shalot in butter and 1tbs of olive oil in a large pan (oven safe) until translucent.
  2. Add in the chopped herbs, salt and pepper and tomatoes.
  3. Remove the veggie mixture from the pan and set aside. Turn your oven on to a high broil
  4. Add the remaining olive oil to the pan and once it is heated, add half the eggs and all the ricotta cheese.
  5. Cook for less than a minute on low heat, combining the egg and cheese.
  6. Add the veggie mixture back into the pan and top with the remaining egg. Cook until the egg is mostly done, just a little liquid at the top.
  7. Top with Parmesan and mozzarella and place pan into oven to broil until all the cheese is melted and is slightly browned.
  8. Remove the pan from the over and let cool for a few minutes. Slice like a pie and serve!

Happy Thanksgiving!