Asparagus, red pepper and ground meat Strata

Things that 13yr olds do quickly (this will be short)
1.  Eat
2.  Brush teeth
3.  Prepare lunch for school (doesn't really matter... refer to #1)
4.  Washing dishes (or any other chore that you've asked them to do... and you will probably have to redo it once they are 'done')

Things that take 13yr olds and excruciatingly long time to accomplish
1.  Getting out of bed
2.  Showering
3.  Getting dressed
4.  School projects
5.  Collecting clothes for laundry
6.  Getting information to a friend (now called texting and apparently it takes about 50 texts to get some simple homework information)
7.  Making themselves understood - because apparently that string of words (I'm pretty sure it was english but not positive) you just pelted towards me was supposed to have some meaning for me personally but it's going to take another 15 minutes of painstaking effort to break it down so that it becomes fully understood.
8.  Cleaning their room
I will end here because this list could go ad infinitum.

Kid #2 has been cleaning her room for a total of 1 1/2 weeks now.  She has thrown out as much garbage in that week and a half as our entire household would in 3 months.  The house reno has  included some work in her room and we decided to paint while we were at it (why not, right?)  This has upset her entire universe.  It meant cleaning up first and foremost.  Who would think that cleaning up a small room could take so long.  The books still have not make their way back to their shelf.  She has no room for anything (her words) but doesn't seem to understand that a closet could potentially be used to hang clothing in and not just piling things on the floor - this would help create more room elsewhere, right?  'Things fall off when I put them on the hanger'.  Yeah - probably because you are not using a hanger properly.
I don't understand why you still need to keep the broken (yes - broken) snow globe from 8 years ago.  Take a picture.
I don't understand why you are keeping the packaging from something you received as a gift 5 years ago.  It's packaging.
At the end of the day, I've decided that I really don't understand the 13yr old brain at all.  

Some things are simply not for me to understand.  What made total sense to me however was that I needed to get food into this 13 yr old belly very quickly because a low blood sugar meltdown was about to ensue.  This recipe comes together fast, tastes good and they don't have to chew it very much (refer to #1 in the 'quickly' list - digestion can be an issue).

Asparagus, red pepper and ground meat strata adapted from 'Pretty Yummy Foods'
serves 6 - 8

1/2 cup onion, diced
two bunches of asparagus, ends removed and cut into about 1 1/2 inch strips
1 cup red pepper, medium slices
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 lb ground meat (I used a mix of beef, pork and lamb)
1 1/2 boullion cubes
2 tbsp worcestershire sauce
3 tbsp honey
1 tbsp oregano
1 tbsp marjoram
1 tbsp chives
1 1/2 tsp salt
4 thick slices of bread, cut into 1 1/2 inch cubes
1 1/2 cups cheddar (I used old cheddar) shredded
6 eggs
1 1/2 cups milk

Preheat oven to 350° F.
Butter a 9x13 baking dish and set aside.
Heat a large, heavy bottomed pot over medium heat.
Turn the heat down to medium/low and add about 2 tbsp of olive oil. Add in the onion.  Cook for a couple of minutes and add the red pepper, garlic and ground meat.  Cook together for about 8 minutes or until the ground meat is almost cooked through (you will need to stir regularly to break up the ground meat).
Add in the asparagus strips and mix well.  Cook for another 4 minutes.
Add in the bouillon cubes, worcestershire sauce, honey, oregano, marjoram, chives and salt.  Mix well and add just enough water (about 3 - 4 tbsp) to keep everything from sticking and pull anything off of the bottom of the pot.  Check for taste and adjust if necessary then turn the heat off under the pot and set aside.
In the baking dish add the cubed bread and 1 cup of the shredded cheese.  Toss to mix.
In another bowl whisk together the eggs and milk.
Add the egg mixture to the bread.  Mix well.
Add the asparagus mixture to the egg/bread stuff.  Mix well.
Sprinkle the rest of the cheese over the top.
Bake for about 30 minutes or until the middle of the pan isn't liquid and the edges and top are golden brown.

Fiddleheads, sausage and bean ragu and some kitchen craziness

Yay Me.  I think that this may be the first week in many many many where I have managed to get two posts out.  I'm feeling a little self congratulatory about it and may even make up some kind of award for myself.  On second thought, maybe I will wait until my track record starts to become consistently better before going the award route.  And with that, off we go on what promises to be one of my most scattered posts to date.
 For mother's day/anniversary (which happened on the same day this year) D gave me a new camera lense which I love and am getting used to whenever I have time to play around with it.  I'm looking forward to some hikes, portraits and lots of food shots with this lens.  I have gotten a little time to play though and done a couple of head shots for D who was doing a show this week that required such things.
In other news:
1.  Our house is all over the place right now.  We have finally organized ourselves enough to fund a reno and fix project and have taken the plunge.  What this means is that I have 50% of a kitchen (which will probably become 0% very soon), that our front stairs have no flooring on them and that our backyard space is a combination of rotting deck (that is soon to get ripped out), drywall and dead cabinets.  We are purging like crazy (easy to do) and trying not to get frustrated (hard to do).

2.  Our kids have applied, auditioned, gotten letters, been put on waiting lists and finally have both gotten into schools of their first choice.  The relief I feel about this is palpable and when they were on waiting lists for one reason or another I felt a real sense of failure as a parent.  My reaction surprised me and I haven't taken time to pull it apart yet.
3.  D is having a crazy May.  I am having a crazy May and it just fuels my i-hate-december-and-may thing.  The problem is that this crazy that's been going on doesn't exactly look like it's letting up any time soon.  TIRED.  Silver lining - refer to #, sentence 2.  $$$

This has to be my worst photo on this blog... and who would do this to a cake BTW?  A seven year old apparently. 
4.  I haven't baked in a long time - except for today when I was asked by kid #2 for a cake to celebrate his school acceptance (please refer to item #1).  I haven't calculated how long exactly but it's a long time for me - over a month for sure.  Feels weird... when I have time to think about it.  I also haven't gotten my bike out yet.  This is very very weird and it has to end.  I took my bike in for the annual tune up today.
5.  I had an interesting conversation with a colleague about how I am doing (or not doing) and what some strategies might be to feel better about myself.  My non-work life is angst ridden and changing all the time which is guess is normal and healthy.  Parenting is stressing me out... I'm learning to deal with it.
6.  It's a good thing that I remembered to pull this out of the fridge, heat a bowl up and take some pictures of it the day after I made it because very very shortly after that it was gone.  Of course that's a good thing because it means that it tasted good.  Even better is that this is good for you (I'm going to studiously avoid using 'healthy').  There is meat in here but you could definitely leave it out and add in more beans without losing much.  I get more buy in with kids when the meat is present.  If the meat doesn't buy you anything then go for a meatless version.

Playing with the new lens and nailing the background focus totally. 
7.  You may be wondering why you haven't seen these wonderful, life changing pictures of the fiddlehead ragu.  Turns out, after all of my self congratulation, that my sd card got compromised.  So I have some lovely reno shots, a shot of basil and some of the cake that kid #2 asked for (refer to item #2).  Well that's funny.  After going back to bed and crying into my pillow for a while, D suggested I post the recipe anyway because it was so good.  The flattery worked and even though you are seeing tools, basil and a cake this is a really good recipe that you should try and if you think to take pictures send them to me please.

Fiddleheads, Sausage and Bean ragu
serves 6 - 8

1/2 cup onion, diced
2 med carrots, coarsely sliced
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 lb sausage, uncooked and cut into slices
1 1/2 boullion cubes
1 tbsp dried oregano
1 tbsp dried basil
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp ketchup
1 tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
2 1/2 (approx) cups fiddleheads, stem tips removed
2 - 3 cups spinach, stems remove and coarsely chopped
1 1/2 tsp cumin
1 1/2 tsp salt
400 ml (1 small can) cannellini beans, half drained
1/3 cup water (optional)
1/2 tsp pepper sauce (optional)

Heat a heavy bottomed dutch oven or pot (I used a caste iron thing) over medium heat.
Once heated, turn the heat down to med/low and add about 2 tbsp of oil or fat.
Add in the onion and carrot.  Cook for about 7 min or until the onion is starting to caramelize.
Add in the garlic and sausage and cook together for another 5 minutes.
Add in the bouillon cubes, oregano, basil, soy sauce, ketchup and worcestershire sauce.  Mix and cook together for another 5 minutes to let the flavours mingle.
Add in the fiddleheads, cumin and salt.  Mix well
Add the half drained cannellini beans and the spinach.  Mix well and cover, turning down the heat to low.  Uncover after about 20 minutes.  If it looks a little dry add in some of the water.
Simmer uncovered for about 30 minutes more.
Check the tastes and adjust if necessary.  Add a little pepper sauce.

Serve with mashed potato or rice.

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St Michael's Choir School is celebrating it's 75th anniversary year of service to St Michael's Cathedral. Part of the school celebration is a trip to Italy where our boys from Grades 5 - 12 will be performing and celebrating Mass. This blog will be chronicling our adventures. Wanda Thorne is the Vocal Coach at St Michael's Choir School. Gerard Lewis is the Grade 7/8 Homeroom teacher at the Choir School.

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Wanda Thorne
St Michael's Choir School is celebrating it's 75th anniversary year of service to St Michael's Cathedral. Part of the school celebration is a trip to Italy where our boys from Grades 5 - 12 will be performing and celebrating Mass. This blog will be chronicling our adventures. Wanda Thorne is the Vocal Coach at St Michael's Choir School. Gerard Lewis is the Grade 7/8 Homeroom teacher at the Choir School.
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