Because I knew this week would be a short week but also a work intensive week (y’all – it took me two hours to alphabetize my CDs last night. Nothing was in its correct case. Nightmarish.), I did my cooking on Saturday when I just so happened to have people over for brunch.
The menu (in addition to copious amounts of cheap champagne mixed with various assorted nectars, of course):
1. Mom’s Sausage Balls
I grew up in Texas, so I have never been to a potluck where there were no sausage balls. And I can’t remember a moment in my childhood when they weren’t magically hiding in a Ziploc bag in the freezer. These little glories freeze beautifully, both pre- and post-cooking, but I have yet to make a batch big enough that I felt compelled to freeze them instead of just baking them all and keeping them in the fridge to snack on for a few days. I don’t do this often, though – I would be the size of a house. Health food, they are not.
The real beauty of this recipe is that you just can’t mess it up. You mix three ingredients, roll them into 1-inch balls, and bake them at 350-375 for 20 minutes.
It doesn’t even really seem to matter how much of each ingredient you use. Mom uses half a pound of sausage, four cups of grated cheddar, and two heaping cups of baking mix (she uses Bisquick but you can also make your own). I used a whole pound of sausage, a large log of goat cheese (DO IT…SO GOOD!), and three scant cups of baking mix. You can look all over the Internet for recipes, and most of them will have slightly different measurements. If it sticks together enough to roll into a ball, it will work.
2. Vegan Mini-Cinnamon Rolls
I originally chose this recipe for its adorableness, but with a few minor tweaks, I was happy to discover that it can also be vegan. I didn’t think it was possible until I was reading the crescent roll label at the grocery store, trying to figure out just how many pills I would have to take to partake of them. Zero. Zero pills. The original Pillsbury Crescent Roll is lactose-free. So I did a little digging, because lactose-free dough sometimes means vegan, and although PETA does give the disclaimer at the bottom that it was probably processed in non-vegan ways, it lists the product itself as “accidentally vegan.” If it passes PETA’s standards, I guess it passes mine (although if I were to go all-out vegan, I would be one of those religious kind of vegans who grinds my own sugar and never eats processed foods, just in case, which – i.e., my commitment to laziness – is at least part of the reason that I have yet to go all-out vegan). If you are a religious kind of vegan, you can also make your own crescent roll dough pretty easily, although I would totally sub coconut oil for the canola oil, because DELICIOUS.
To veganize the recipe in the link above, you brush the dough with coconut oil instead of butter and use coconut milk instead of regular milk in the glaze. If you use full-fat coconut milk, it will be so creamy you’ll want to roll around in it. And I’m using maple syrup in every glaze I ever make from now on, because that was fantastic.
3. Farmers’ Market Veggie Frittata
Frittata – another thing that’s hard to mess up. Full disclosure – the only things from the Farmers’ Market I used in this recipe were the tomatoes. The shredded potatoes and spinach were totally frozen. Organic…but frozen. You can use any vegetable you want, though, and fresh is better for this recipe.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Take some eggs. I like to make a lot at a time, particularly if I’m feeding other people, and I own that big ass skillet in the picture, so I use a full dozen. If you are using a smaller-than-twelve-inch-deep-dish skillet, I recommend using fewer eggs. Then again, I like a frittata where egg is not necessarily the star, so if want more of an egg focus and you use fewer additional ingredients, you can probably get away with a dozen eggs in a smaller skillet. It just all has to fit when it goes into the oven.
- Whisk the eggs and season them generously with salt and pepper and any other seasoning you like (a healthy dash of herbs de Provence medley – marjoram, summer savory, thyme, rosemary, lavender – is nice). Set aside.
- Heat a dollop of oil on the skillet and add crushed garlic (two-ish minutes on medium heat). Add whatever vegetables you are using – washed and chopped, of course – to the skillet and toss them around for a little bit (3-4 minutes).
- Pour the eggs over the warmed vegetables. Stir gently a couple of times in the first minute, but then let it sit for a few more to set the bottom of the frittata.
- Put the skillet in the oven and bake until the frittata sets completely. Mine usually takes about 15-20 minutes, but the time will vary wildly depending on a number of factors, such as how long you kept it on the stove, how warm the vegetables were when you poured the eggs in the skillet, how crispy you want the edges, etc. Just make sure you keep it in the oven until you can press down on the center without it being wobbly.
And now, a word about adjustments:
I’m only three weeks into the project, and my refrigerator and freezer are bursting with leftovers. I have shared at least two meals a week with other people. I even brought Cavatini leftovers to leave in the fridge at work for the summer RAs to have, because I can’t finish them all. I have so much food it is taking over other people’s refrigerators.
I know. There are worse problems to have. But when the novelty of raining leftovers down on all my people wears off (which, if the past is any indication, will happen in about two more weeks), there could be a lot of food that goes to waste if I don’t scale back a bit.
So I’m scaling back by playing it by ear. I will keep my three main categories – Mom’s recipes, vegan recipes, and farmers’ market recipes – but if Mom’s recipe makes eleventy dozen meals (and a lot of them do – we were a family of four, and she’s also a fan of leftovers), I will either skip one of the other categories that week or combine them.
Also, that bread business? Let’s scale that back to a couple of loaves every other week, or just when I need it. Bread takes up a lot of space in my tiny freezer, and I do not eat a loaf a week. Apparently, my planning self thinks that I have a brood of children I’m feeding. But my freezer begs to differ.