Crest Cottage Creations

Food, Family, and Fun in our little cottage…

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Baked Ziti

Just stopping by with a quick post today.  If you remember my post from a few days ago, I have some home made ricotta in the fridge waiting to be used.  Easiest use?  Baked Ziti. 
Step 1: Boil ziti until it is just short of al dente
Step 2: Add John’s magical tomato sauce (there is no link to that because John doesn’t like me to take pictures of his food when it is cooking, so I don’t get to blog it often).
Step 3: Add home made ricotta.
Step 4: Bake at 350* until it looks done.  If you are lucky, John adds a mini step 3.5 and shreds some cheese on top!
It was super tasty!
This post was shared on Fat Tuesday!

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Chicken and Rice

John loves chicken and rice.  I am trying and trying to perfect the recipe, but I have been failing.  This try was pretty close to perfect.  Check it out!
First, I sliced up some chicken thighs.  I made sure they were really thin so they would cook quickly.  
Then, I had to create a marinade.  It was supposed to be made with barbecue sauce, but I wanted to make my own.  Unfortunately, I didn’t think of this in time, and didn’t have a good recipe ready.  I ended up just winging it.  How?  With one small can of tomato paste and an equal amount of vinegar.  
I mixed it up and added in brown sugar, salt, and garlic.  
I mixed it with the chicken and let it marinade.  The next day, I threw it all in a pan to cook.
In the meantime, I melted down chicken stock.  
When it was melted, I added 2 cups of brown rice and the cooked chicken (and the sauce it was cooking in).
Then, it just cooked and cooked on low.  Occasionally, I stirred it. 
John liked it with toasted slivered almonds…
… But I like it just plain!


Spinach Baked Ziti

I had forgotten how much I liked baked ziti.  Now, I remember!
First, I cooked up a box of macaroni.  While that was cooking, I sauteed some garlic and spinach in butter.  
When it was all wilted, and the macaroni was cooked (a little undercooked on purpose) I put it all into a baking dish.
On top, I added my tomato sauce and some raw milk ricotta. 
I mixed it all together and stuck it in the oven.
I baked it at 350* for a while, and then broiled it to get the top nice and dark. As a finishing touch, I grated parmesan cheese on top!
It was so quick and easy!  I HAVE to remember to make this more often. 

This post was featured on the Hearth and Soup Hop!


Makeshift Pizza

Here at Crest Cottage we have a few traditions.  One of my favorites is “Pizza Friday.”  Now, we don’t have Pizza eeevvvvvery Friday, but we have it often enough.  When I’m meal planning and out of ideas, sticking Pizza Friday on fixes everything.  
This past Friday I didn’t plan for what KIND of pizza we would have.  John likes a traditional pie, with tomato sauce and mozzarella, while I usually just throw whatever leftovers we have in the fridge on top and cover it with whatever cheese scraps are lying around.  The dough is easy, I make a lot of it and keep it in the freezer.  John defrosted it the night before and we let it rise while we were at work.  What we didn’t defrost, however, was the tomato sauce. So that takes care of John’s pizza… and we had no leftovers in the fridge because we didn’t overcook this week. 
Solution?  John took some canned unseasoned tomato sauce out of the pantry, mixed it with some seasonings and goat cheese, and topped it with mozarella.  I put a layer of goat cheese on the dough, sliced up some tomatoes, and added herb garlic cheddar on top. 
They were both so yummy I forgot to take a picture!  Bad Blogger!
I guess the point of this rambling post is that, with a little ingenuity and a LOT of creativity, a pizza full of nothing can turn it to a meal full of yum. 


Grandma’s Gravy Meat and Fun Facts!

My grandma taught me how she makes her gravy meat and meatballs a few years ago.  I have the recipe saved on stained and somewhat crumpled note paper and refer to it EVERY TIME, even though I know it by heart.  The recipe isn’t even a recipe, really, but a list of ingredients and the order to add them.  
While I have made tomato sauce from actual tomatoes (a yummy tomato basil sauce), this is comfort food for me.  I decided to make it recently, and thought it may be time to gently tweak it to align better with our food philosphies.  Nothing major, of course, but little changes at a time. 
The original recipe calls for beef, pork, and veal as the gravy meat.  To get all of those meats in the quality I would like (and raised the way I would like) would make this a very cost-prohibitive recipe.  This time, I defrosted some grass-fed beef that we had gotten at a GREAT price and just used that.  Change #1.
*Note to self for future photography- Don’t take a picture of red meat on the red cutting board.  
The next step of the recipe calls for browning garlic and then the meat in vegetable oil, then removing the meat, adding tomato paste, and then draining off the excess oil.  I decided to just use butter, and leave it in there. 
The sauce itself is made of 2 small cans ( oz) of tomato paste, 2 large cans (15 oz) of tomato sauce, and 2 15 oz cans worth of water.  This would be the next step that I will tweak.  Next year I am hoping to can my own tomatoes and tomato sauce, so I can nix the canned stuff.  
*Fun Fact- The tomato cans for this recipe, clams, tuna are the only canned goods to be found in my pantry right now.  Actually, they are usually the only canned goods in there. 
Back to the sauce.  It all gets stirred up well, until the paste and sauce meld.
Then it is seasoned.  I like to use this sauce for macaroni and pizza, so I don’t over season it.  This batch had oregano, basil, sea salt, pepper, and fresh parsley (because that is the only fresh herb I have on hand).  Add the meat back in and bring it to a boil.  When it does, turn it to a simmer and let it cook until it is thick.  I leave the top 1/2 on the pot, since it can splatter.  
When it was finished, I scooped the meat out and then threw (read: carefully poured through a funnel) the rest into some mason jars.
*Fun Fact- I needed to pick up another set of mason jars.  Around our new house, EVERY SINGLE STORE has them.  I mean, drugstores, big box stores, hardware stores, you name it.  I was going shopping near work, however, which is about 1/2 hour closer to NYC.  I just ASSUMED that the stores there would have them.  Not so.  Target and CVS had never heard of them.  Shoprite looked at me like I was CRAZY for suggesting they might have it.  As a last resort I ran to the hardware store near our old apartments only to find that it was closed down.  Forever.  Sigh.  I had no idea there was such a small market for Mason Jars.  Apparently I am a hick now or something. Oh well.  I love it.