28 February 2010

Lazy Weekend

This weekend we had some of the most beautiful weather we have had in months...but did I go outside and enjoy it?  No.  Because this was also the first weekend in months where we had absolutely ZERO commitments.  So, I chose to be lazy.  Yes, it was a conscious decision.  One that I reveled in. 

I didn't cook at all on Saturday - we ate leftovers for breakfast and lunch, and for dinner we ate out. That meant Sunday would be my cooking day for the weekend.  First, though, I had to plan out our meals for the week, make the grocery list and then actually do the grocery shopping (something I love).

Last post, I mentioned a granola bar recipe I had seen on Smitten Kitchen and wanted to try.  I have recently become so disgusted by all of the preservatives and chemicals in a lot of the foods that we eat.  Another thing that really bothers me is the amount of trash generated from all of the packaging from so many foods on the market.  In fact, that is one of the main reasons R and I have switched to packing our lunches in our new Laptop Lunches bento-ware

According to the literature that came with our bento-ware, the average elementary school student generates about 67 pounds of trash from their disposable school lunchws each year. YIKES!

But back to the granola bars...

One thing I really loved about this recipe  for Thick, Chewy Granola Bars was the fact that it's so easily customizable.  Although the 'batter' is pretty much set, it's the baker's choice as to what the 2 to 3 cups of nuts and dried fruits can be.  I ended up choosing pumpkin seeds, ground flaxseed, pecans, walnuts and dried cranberries to add to my first batch.

 (I would have loved to put some coconut in there too, but R can't stand it.  Maybe next time...)

I was a little nervous about how they would turn out, but I shouldn't have been.  The smell coming from the oven as they were cooking was soooo good.  And once they cooled and I was able to cut and taste the granola bars... well, let's just say I am NEVER buying granola bars again.  Nothing compares to these.

These are some dense little guys... very filling

This one has an appointment with me for tomorrow morning

Once I had the week's breakfasts taken care of it was time to move on to dinner.  Another Smitten Kitchen recipe - Baked Rigatoni with Tiny Meatballs

This is NOT a healthy dish. 

This dish is all about ooey-gooey-cheesey goodness.  Besides the obvious (pasta and cheese), there were several other things that attracted me to this recipe: 1) it required me to make a bechemel sauce, something I had not yet attempted and 2) it gave me the opportunity to use my dutch oven for frying, and I don't really fry anything... ever.  I liked that this recipe 'stretched' me. 

The bechemel sauce came out beautifully, although at one point early on I kind of freaked out because it was looking more like pate a choux than a sauce.  Luckily, I just kept going and things worked themselves out.  Parmesan cheese gets mixed in to the sauce right before it is mixed in with the rigatoni and meatballs.  The only thing I would do differently next time would be to throw in another sharp cheese as well for more 'bite'.  Maybe something like a Gruyere. 

I used ground pork (instead of beef) for the meatballs and was really pleased with that decision.  I'm not always a huge meatball fan.  In fact, I never order them in restaurants, so I was really surprised with how tasty the little boogers turned out to be.  These are about the size of raspberries and are lightly fried 'til golden brown.  Yum.  Oh, and the garlic, parsley and cheese in them help with the 'yum' part too!

Fresh out of the oven... the cheesey sauce was still bubblin' away

I love the crunchy, cheesey parts on top ...

and when the meatballs get covered in cheese too.  Who can resist that combo?

Apparently neither R nor I could!  We each ate more than our fair share tonight.

This is definitely not a dish to make every night, or even just once a week.  I would say it's more of a once a month  or special occasion kind of meal. 

Completely unhealthy, yet utterly delicious. 

And don't we all need that every once in awhile?

1 comment:

kelli said...

hi Ella! those granola bars looks amazing! I am a grocery store 'perimeter' shopper myself and try to keep as little packaged convenience foods in the house as I can. I could definitely use some good recipes like this. Thanks for sharing -I love seeing all the interesting and yummy things you cook!