Above: Sweet potato and swiss chard gratin from Smitten Kitchen. If you're looking to make a two-dish meal feel fancy, pair this gratin with a simple protein (our go-to is roast chicken), and enjoy. It's potato, it's cheese, it's greens, it's baked until bubbly and brown.
Above: Spaghetti squash with sausage meatballs. This is only a side dish inasmuch as garlic bread is a main course.
My latest trick when Alex requests meatballs (a seemingly simple dish that I find tiresome to deal with (egg yolk, breadcrumbs, ain't nobody got time for that)), is to brown up balls of de-cased sausage. Matched with roasted strands of spaghetti squash (tossed in the sausage drippings and a little oil, garlic, lemon, parsley, and pecorino), the fake meatballs make a flavorful dinner that doesn't leave
Alex one wanting.
One note on the recipe: this blogger doesn't mention much about salt or pepper, but obviously those things are necessary. Also, she doesn't tell you quite when to add the squash, I did it with about 1.5 cups of stock left (three ladles from the end). Aaaaand I doubled the cheese. At least. I guess that was three notes. But it was delicious.
I like to start with bacon. Three-ish strips. Get them crisp, release that fat. Remove from pan onto a set-aside plate. Add in mushrooms, to soak up all that fat. Waste not, want not. When they've done their job, shrunken up and drunken up all that bacon juice, reunite the mushrooms with the bacon on the staging plate. A garlic clove, small yellow onion, three carrots, and three parsnips are next. Chopped how you like, but bite sized. Season and soften, then add a few tablespoons of butter, a few tablespoons of flour, and cook for a minute before adding in a little more than a cup of stock. When the stock has thickened into a gravy, add in however much leftover chicken you have (or none), the mushrooms and bacon, and 1/2 a teaspoon of thyme. Or try with cauliflower, curry powder, and cilantro.
Bake in ramekins topped with puff pastry for 20-ish minutes at 375-ish degrees. No matter what you've done to the filling, the flaky, buttery pastry will make this dinner worthwhile.
Above: Alex's favorite cookie, dark-chocolate chip and hazelnut. I make a double batch of the dough and freeze half in a couple of saran-wrapped logs so I can make quick small batches whenever the urge hits. It's probably the only thing I don't forget is in my freezer.
Cranberry orange pecan loaf (I skipped the crumb topping and thus the "coffee cake" aspect of the original recipe on account of an exhausting weekend-long, nine-months late, three-months early spring cleaning project that I completed moments before making this quick bread). But it was worth it. Cranberries. How great are cranberries? This loaf makes a really top-notch breakfast... and mid-morning snack... and after-dinner snack... and then again breakfast.
this amazing k pop song. You are welcome.)