These are the recipes for Day 3 (Tuesday, May 1) of Offbeat Home’s Cooking Challenge, wherein we see if Offbeat Bride’s Managing Editor Megan, a complete non-cook who lives off of frozen pizza and cereal, can go an entire week of preparing her own meals.
Each day, Cat Rocketship (who SWEARS you can afford better food!) will be sharing the recipes that Megan will be preparing — feel free to play along at home! If Megan, a pizza-loving non-cooking cereal-for-dinner web dork can feed herself healthy, home-cooked meals for a week — YOU CAN TOO.
Aiight, dude, I’ve worked you pretty hard for two days. You have been a good sport, so let’s look at a couple of simpler meals which won’t take you so much time.
Bagels and goat cheese, plus fruit of your choice and honey!
We’re going back to Day 1 for a bagel sandwich redux. Slice and toast bagels, smear them with goat cheese, and top them with a fruit of your choice — apples again, strawberries, or something else. Drizzle with honey and high five yourself and your breakfast mates.
In exchange for not having to cook anything, though, I want to encourage you to learn about sharpening your knife. Read this how-to about using a sharpening steel, and if you have the tools, give it a try. Keeping a sharp knife makes a big difference in kitchen efficiency and SAFETY! You’re much more likely to slip and cut yourself with a dull knife than with a sharp one.
Lunch: Asian turkey sandwich with hoisin sauce
You get an easy lunch, too. SEE HOW MUCH I LOVE YOU?
- Sliced turkey
- Lettuce leaf, washed
- A pinch of onion: thinly slice a couple of rings to dress your sammie with
- Hoisin sauce
- A slice of cheese: whichever you’d like.
- Lay out two slices of bread on a plate.
- Assemble sandwich. Lettuce, turkey, cheese, onion, hoisin, MM!
- Eat. Relax. Get some non-cooking-related work done!
Dinner: Parm-mushroom-spinach risotto with a salad
This is one of my favorite dishes to make: it’s simple — though it does take babysitting — and it tastes like something amazing. I like to serve this to guests and make them think I’m much more talented than I am. It’s just the cheese talking, guys.
Really, the key to risotto is patience. The ingredient amounts needn’t be exactly measured, as long as you have enough parm and salt and time for your rice to cream up, it’s gonna taste so good.
This is a recipe that invites experimentation. Though really, I think all recipes are open to interpretation — I do lots of substituting, adding, substracting, and swapping. It doesn’t always go well, but as I’ve gotten better at cooking the success rate’s shot up. Since risotto isn’t very exact, this is a good place to try feeling comfortable with using terms like "handful" and "about half".
SOME PREP NOTES: I’d use a pot with high sides for this dish. Ideally, you’d have a really big-bottomed saucepot (YEAH YOU WOULD!) but I don’t have one, and this is too much food for my large, flatter pan. So I make this is in a stew pot, because that rice will double in size as it cooks.
This recipe serves 2ish.
- Olive oil
- Onion, chopped (get used to chopping onions. Sorry brosef.)
- 1-2 cups chopped mushrooms — whatever small ones you bought. You can use any type of mushroom for this recipe.
- 3 garlic cloves, smashed and then lightly chopped
- 1.5 cups rice
- 3/4 cup white whine
- Tomatoes! Whatever you’ve got is fine: another can of whole peeled, a fresh tomato diced up. If you haven’t got any, it’s fine to skip this.
- 4 cups vegetable stock
- 1-2 cups parmasan, grated
- 1-2 cups spinach, washed and roughly chopped
- A book to read
- Leaf lettuce, washed and roughly chopped
- 1/4 apple, diced
- goat cheese
- Sliced almonds for everything!
1. Fill a smaller pot with 4 cups hot water and the appropriate amount of veg stock — the cubes or jar you bought will have instructions on how much to use!
2. Cover pot, set to medium-high heat, and let boil. After it’s fully mixed, just shut off the heat. While you’re waiting, get started on the rice.
1. Coat bottom of a large pan or pot with oil, add 2 tablespoons butter. Heat to just over medium heat.
2. Add onion and cook five minutes, stirring often.
3. Add mushrooms and garlic, cook for another 2-3 minutes. Watch the garlic carfeully — when garlic burns it turns bitter, so you want to keep it soft and golden, not hard dark and crispy.
4. Stir in uncooked rice and let roast for about 3 minutes. Keep stirring!
5. Pour in wine, cook about 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.
6. Reduce heat to medium-low, add tomatoes if you got ’em, and about a cup of vegetable stock. Stir fairly constantly until liquid is mostly absorbed — about 5 minutes. This is when I grab a book and read it next to the stove, stirring gently while I read. As liquid is absorbed, keep stirring and adding about a cup at a time, stirring and adding until about 30 minutes have passed (set a timer!), and your rice is creamy and cooked.
7. Stir in half a tablespoon of salt, spinach, and half your parmasan. Cover, reduce heat to low and let cook for 4-5 minutes, until spinach is wilty.
8. While spinach is wilting, prepare salads: cut and rinse lettuce, serve into bowls, top with crumbled goat cheese, diced apples, a handful of almonds, and salad dressing…which I hope you have because I didn’t put it on your list.
8. Sprinkle remaining parm on top of the risotto, along with a good handful of almonds and serve. OM NOM.