As proven time and again with classics like Meatloaf, the old standards are still worth returning to.
I don’t know about you, but one of the staples of my child-hood dinners, at least in the capacity of what my dad could make us when we had weekends with him, was a Tuna and Noodles Casserole. Or as we playfully called it, “Nuna and Toodles”.
It was of course a pretty different dish than what I made with supplies on hand, but I was still able to evoke the memory of dinner with daddy and that taste of home.
This Sunday I got the most excellent call from my brother-in-law to let me know that he had a few summer squash from his garden for me.
They were big and beautiful and ready for eating. I grated up one to put in a zucchini raisin bread, and the rest I diced up with some sauteed chicken and a 40 clove garlic sauce from Trader Joe’s to pour over some multicolored bow-tie pasta.
The flavor was so light and fresh and just screamed “summer”.
Ever since this last autumn Adam and Brandie have been saving the butternut squashes that they’ve received in their veggie box deliveries with the intent that we would make something together with them.
It wasn’t until this Friday though, when we were faced with having to use SIX butternut squash, that we did anything at all.
I had been desperately craving butternut squash ravioli, but really didn’t want to make the pasta, so Cat suggested a lasagna.
It was genius!
And with our amazingly delicious lasagna Adam and Brandie made a butternut squash risotto, and I made a butternut squash soup.
It was perfection, and at the end of the day, there were no more squash.
There’s that glorious period of about a week after a major grocery run where I am pretty sure of what the daily menu will look like. I have a good handle on what we have in the house and a decent idea of what is or is not expired. It’s always a mix of cool new recipes I’m wanting to try, and the routine family favorites.
After those sevenish days it gets tricky. I *could* go to the store, but ugh. Then we start running out of easy meal options and the fresh veggies dwindle. I rough it for as long as I can, maybe picking up some milk here, some bread there, eventually stretching that big grocery run for two weeks.
And then… it’s the dregs. The grocery dregs.
This is where planning dinner becomes a major challenge and I get stubborn about not wanting to do another big grocery run.
Turning to the great Google god for help, I pick three or four major ingredients I have on hand that I think *might* work harmoniously for a meal for the four grown adults in my household. Usually it’s onions, [some kind of meat], [pasta/rice/legume], [frozen or canned veggie]. Sometimes I’ll throw in a wild card like “coconut milk” or “shelled walnuts.”
Thankfully, as I’ve become better and better at spotting good recipes online, these Google adventures turn out pretty well. I usually blend several of the recipes that pop up (taking from the best of the comments sections).
This time it was “onions,” “sage sausage,” “white beans,” and “crushed tomatoes.”
I ended up hitting pay dirt – the resulting stew is hearty, filling, and really delicious. I was completely out of bread and wanted something doughy to dip in the stew, so I paired it with my first-ever attempt at focaccia bread (carmelized (charred?) onion).
2 cans (8 oz each) Pillsbury™ refrigerated crescent dinner rolls
½ cup well drained roasted red bell peppers (from a jar)
8 slices provolone cheese, halved
⅓ lb deli sliced hot salami
¼ lb deli sliced ham
¼ lb deli sliced capocollo
½ cup well drained hot pepper rings (from a jar)
Heat oven to 375°F (350°F for dark or nonstick cooking sheet).
Unroll both cans of dough; separate into 8 rectangles. On ungreased 12-inch pizza pan, arrange rectangles in ring so short sides of rectangles form a circle in center. (Dough will overlap; half of each rectangle will hang over edge of pan. Dough ring should look like a sun.)
Spread roasted red bell peppers toward center of ring on bottom halves of rectangles. Top with half of the cheese. Layer salami, ham and capocollo slices over cheese. Arrange pepper rings over top. Cover with remaining half of cheese.
Bring each dough rectangle hanging over side of pan up over stacked filling, tucking dough under bottom layer of dough to secure it. Repeat around sandwich until entire filling is enclosed (some filling might show a little). Sprinkle with black pepper.
Bake 18 to 22 minutes or until dough is golden brown and thoroughly baked. Cool 5 to 10 minutes before cutting into serving slices.
We used three different kinds of salami, pepperoni, and nixed the ham. For the beef and cheddar sandwich, we soaked about ¾ of a pound of roast beef in an au jus overnight, and then drained it well before putting it on the sandwich. We then topped that with a very meltable cheese dip.
We created this space in 2013 as a home for recipes, reviews, and entertaining tips for those on the nerdier end of the spectrum. We're on vacation at the moment, but there are usually new posts every Thursday. Sometimes more, if you're lucky.
With our powers combined, we represent a culinary school grad, an aspiring astronaut, a culinary school dropout, social nerds, gamers, cinephiles, bibliophiles, laqueristas, food fanatics, social anxiety disorders, and more. It’s fun stuff. Oh! And Brandie is wife to Adam who is brother to Brie who is cousin to Cat! Clearly nerdiness runs in this family.
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