Isn’t it interesting how plummeting temperatures and a blanket of white can send you scurrying for your pots and pans? It’s instinctual to search out warm and nourishing food during this season, and I found myself trying some new things in the kitchen this past week.
I like casseroles. I know they have a bad reputation for being gloppy and full of condensed soup, and some of them are, but I have a soft spot for these one-pan meals. You can alter them based on what you have in the fridge, add vegetables to lighten them up, and get all of your food groups in with only one pan to wash. My family doesn’t share my affinity, unfortunately. J will eat them and Beans usually will too, but neither will request a casserole. Swee is in a phase where she doesn’t like her food mixed together, but we can sometimes get her to pick the good bits out and eat them. This doesn’t stop me from cooking one from time to time, and when I saw the recipe for Sausage, Kale and Potato Casserole in my Taproot, I knew this would be one I’d try (if you click on the website image at that link, you can read the whole recipe).
I thought it was wonderful. The flavors melded perfectly, each one taking their place without being overpowered by another. We used sweet Italian sausage, and it added a nice zing. I might use less salt on each of the potato layers as I think the cheeses added enough, but it was still delicious. So much so that I got seconds and overate a little.
True to form, J didn’t love it but ate it anyway. Beans wasn’t a fan, and neither was Swee, but both ate the sausage once I gave them dippy (ketchup). It gets frustrating to cook for toddlers. I would like to eat a more varied diet than just Annie’s mac and cheese, but it can be hard not to take it personally when they refuse a perfectly good meal multiple nights in a row. I’m sure I’m not alone here.
Earlier in the week, we had a rough day of adulting and decided to spring for frozen pizza and a six-pack for dinner. Because my children won’t eat pizza (I know! Crazy, right?) they helped me clean out the leftovers in the fridge. I realized during this clean-out that half of my freezer was taken up by bread bags, each with one or two heels in them. I know I’ve mentioned my distaste for food waste before. I don’t mind the heels as toast, and sometimes I’ll turn them inside out and hide them in Swee’s sandwich. Overall though, they’re not a favorite around here. We are privileged enough to choose not to eat the heels of our bread, but I draw the line at tossing them in the trash. As we finish a loaf, I’ve been wrapping the bag around the ends and popping it into the freezer to make into breadcrumbs.
Since we already had the oven cranked up for pizza, I laid the slices out on a cookie sheet and slid them into the heat to thaw and dry while we ate. I turned the oven off so they wouldn’t burn and just used that normally wasted heat as the oven cooled. After dinner, the bread was nicely toasted and stale.
Once the girls were in bed, I tore each slice into chunks and tossed them into the blender with dried parsley, dried thyme, and some garlic powder. If I had any, I’d have included some basil and oregano too. This would probably have been easier with a food processor, but “make it do,” right? Twelve slices of bread filled this quart-sized Mason jar, which I then tucked into the freezer. No preservatives, colors or additives, and they taste good. I made chicken parm a couple days later, and it was wonderful. Now, to just make my own spaghetti sauce…