Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Week 36 - Stacked

I couldn't figure out what to make for the stacked challenge, so I asked A for some ideas. He immediately said a short stack of pancakes. I don't really make regular pancakes (like the breakfast kind), and it was going to be for dinner, so I decided to make zucchini pancakes, following an Ina Garten recipe.

The ingredients we used were:

- 1 lb zucchini, grated
- 1/2 large onion, grated
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 7 tbsp flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- onion salt
- freshly ground black pepper 
- butter

(Again, cheese in picture but did not use...)

The steps for making the stacked zucchini pancakes were:

1. Prep: grate zucchini and onion, beat eggs.
2. Stir onion and eggs into zucchini.
3. Add flour, baking powder, salt, and pepper, and stir well. (Initially added less flour but seemed too thin, so recipe said to add more.)
4. Melt some butter in a large sauce pan and once melted lower heat to medium/medium low.
5. Add batter to pan in scoops of about 1/4 cup.
6. Cook pancakes on each side until browned. (Recipe said 2 minutes per side but it took much, much longer than that. Unfortunately did not time it.)
7. Continue frying pancakes in batches until they're all done.
8. Stack the pancakes and eat!

I don't know why, but in my head, I had this idea that these would come out soft and fluffy like regular pancakes but made with lots of zucchini. That wasn't the texture at all, but I don't know why I thought it would be. They were more like pan-fried potato pancakes, very soft. As far as taste, they were good, but I thought they would have more flavor. Frying them all up took a while too, so I'm not sure if I would do this again.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Week 35 - American Midwest

There are a lot of different foods associated with the American Midwest, but the one thing I knew I wanted to make for the challenge was hotdish. I don't remember where or when I first heard about hotdish, but I mostly associate it with Minnesota for whatever reason. (Wikipedia says Upper Midwest, particularly Minnesota and North Dakota, but I always think Minnesota.) For those unfamiliar, hotdish basically consists of some (usually ground) meat, mixed vegetables, and starch (often tots) mixed with canned (usually cream of something) soup in a casserole. Simple and hearty.

For ours, I used a pound of ground turkey, a few cups of frozen mixed vegetables, an onion, cream of mushroom with garlic soup, and about a pound of tots. (The ingredients photo has cheese in it, but didn't end up using the cheese because I didn't think it needed it.)

To make the casserole, in a baking pan you assemble layers of cooked ground turkey, mixed vegetables and onions, soup, and then finally tots on top, and then bake it for about an hour until the tots are golden brown. Very easy to make.

Growing up, my mom would often make a dish called a "hot plate" with ground meat, mixed vegetables, and some sauce (often an Asian sauce, like Yoshida sauce) over rice. That one was stir-fried and not creamy, but this reminded me a lot of that. Just a simple protein, vegetable, and starch dinner. Easy to make, no fuss, but tasty.

We've never had hotdish in the Midwest before, so no idea whether or not this came close to how it should really taste. It wasn't as flavorful as we thought it would be, but that could be because I misremembered some of the recipes I saw online during my research and only got one can of soup instead of two. That probably would have added more flavor. It was a good hearty dinner though.