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Adventures in food for curious cooks.

#cook90 Week 2: In the Groove

Blog: Random Acts of Deliciousness

Recipes and other delicious discoveries, served randomly.

#cook90 Week 2: In the Groove

Lynley Jones

As I look back over the last week of cooking, a couple things occur to me:

1) We've been eating a lot of Mexican food! This makes sense, given that hubby and I are both from Arizona. Mexican and southwestern-style food are my natural first tendency, my reflex whenever I'm up against it and have to figure something out in a hurry. So it makes sense that that's where things have started.

And also,

2) I'm not doing a very good job cooking out of my freezer and pantry! I've actually cooked some large quantities of new things, that now need to find storage space in my already-crowded freezer. So I'm going to need to re-focus on this for the cooking I do for the rest of this month.

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Monday, 1/8


Hubby finished the last of the leftover oatmeal I made with Mexican Sweet Blend last week. Kids and I had yesterday's leftover strata (aka savory bread pudding), warmed with a fried egg on top.


For my daughter, PB&J with apple slices.

For my son, leftover grilled cheese and tomato soup. (Leftover grilled cheese, you ask? Why yes. Not hot by the time it gets to school, but probably roughly room temperature. He and I both thought it would probably still be pretty yummy).

For me, a salad with fresh mozzarella.


My daughter helped me make Beer-Braised Sausages with Peppers and Onions, with Roasted Red-Skinned Potatoes on the side. (This is my new thing in the new year, having my kids take turns making dinner with me as much as schedules permit. Day 1 - check!)

(Sadly, the peppers and onions left over from the Sausages dish were thrown out when my hubby did the dishes. Mistakes were made. I had ideas for some sort of pepper-and-onion-burger-topping or maybe peppers-and-onions-over-potatoes-with-an-egg-on-top or something... but alas, no leftovers. No dice.)

Passes used: 1

Meals cooked this month: 23

Tuesday, 1/9


Very simple this morning: grapefruit, breakfast sausages left over from the weekend, and toast.


For my daughter: last week's beans, tortilla chips, carrot sticks and ranch dressing.

For my son: peanut butter with apple butter, and an apple on the side.

For me: leftover tomato soup from this weekend and a grilled cheese sandwich with a little gruyere I was able to scrounge from the cheese drawer. 


Tested last week's Beer-Simmered Beef and Gruyere Casserole recipe this afternoon, and photographed it in daylight for the website. So the family warmed it in the microwave for dinner tonight. Still super yummy. A couple minor tweaks and the recipe will be ready for you. ;) (Update - recipe now published!)

Passes used: 1

Meals cooked this month: 26

Wednesday, 1/10


Steel-cut maple cinnamon oatmeal, with raisins and/or dried cranberries (whatever they each chose) on top.


For my daughter: last night's leftover casserole and a salad.

For my son: mini-salami sandwiches on ancient grain bread (so good!) from our local bakery. Celery and carrot sticks with ranch dressing on the side.

Sadly, my own lunch consisted of apple slices and a cup of coffee during a conference call. Actually, the apples were great ("opal" apples, golden yellow, and newly discovered at our local Whole Foods) and so was the coffee (beans from Local, our neighborhood coffee place). But I really could have gone for a big salad. Maybe tomorrow.


Made pasta with Red Wine Meat Sauce, with roasted broccoli on the side. The meat sauce is fairly simple, but oh-so-good: ground beef, onions and garlic, deglazed with dry red wine, simmered in pureed tomatoes with herbs. I threw an old parmesan rind into the pot with everything tonight, which is always extra nice.

Today's Batch Cooking

Made extra oatmeal so we can reheat leftovers for easy breakfasts later in the week.

Made about twice as much meat sauce as we needed for dinner, so we can reheat the rest later. Also made extra pasta. When I make a big batch of pasta ahead, I spread it on a large platter or baking sheet to cool (so it won't get sticky), then store it covered in the fridge. Just pop it in the microwave covered with sauce to reheat.

Passes used: 1

Meals cooked this month: 29

Thursday, 1/11


I made smoothies and toast, and someone polished off the last 3 pancakes (which we discovered hiding in the back of the fridge).


For the kids: Turkey and avocado sandwiches with red onions and green leaf lettuce. We were getting near the tapered ends of our Ancient Grain loaf (which yield smaller slices), so I made 2 mini-sandwiches for each child instead of one normal-sized one. Apple slices on the side.

I had to run some errands so had to grab lunch out (!) for myself at Panera. (Lucky I had already made lunch for the kids so I didn't have to use a pass.) 


Leftovers! I had to work, so everyone microwaved their choice of casserole or pasta with meat sauce. (I had the last of the casserole.) 

Passes used: 1

Meals cooked this month: 32

Friday, 1/12


Smoothies and fried eggs.


Welp, this week my son decided he doesn't want a thermos-full-of-anything for lunch, because he doesn't like carrying that heavy thermos all day (can't say I blame him). So, sandwiches for him pretty much from here on out.

I made Miracle Tuna for their lunches, then realized I forgot to buy bread! So no sandwiches. I gave them each a (non-thermos) container of Miracle Tuna with sliced scallions scattered on top (to eat with a fork), and some carrot sticks and ranch dressing on the side.

(And then I forgot to include a fork.)


For me: A big salad with shaved pecorino romano.


For the kids: Bowl of leftover beans (made by me) and a salad (made by hubby - thank you, hubby!).

For me and hubby: Date night out! Dinner at a local restaurant. (But since I made dinner for the kids, I didn't need to use a pass) :)

(My son said, "Wait. Mom, you and Dad can't go out every Friday night! It's not fair - we have to sit at home and eat beans and salad, while you go to a nice restaurant? When do we get to go to a nice restaurant?" Ahh, my poor foodie kid. Next month, kid.)

Passes used: 1

Meals cooked this month: 35

Saturday, 1/13


Hubby took the kids for bagels. There seemed to be a bit of a rebellion afoot; the kids were quite adamant that bagels were in order. I get it; sometimes, you just really need a bagel for breakfast. But as for me, I finished off the last of the leftover oatmeal from earlier this week, so didn't need to use a pass.


Leftover pasta with meat sauce from earlier in the week.


Tostadas made with refried beans I made from this pot of beans at the beginning of the month, topped with shredded cabbage, scallions and the tomatillo salsa my friend Diana made for us.

Today's Batch Cooking

Fried about 15 tostada shells, and only used about 8 of them for dinner. So the rest are stashed away in a ziplock back (un-refrigerated) to be used later.

Passes used: 1

Meals cooked this month: 38

Sunday, 1/14


First of all, I should probably let you know I'm training to run a half-marathon in March. I need to let you know this because every once in awhile it's going to affect my cooking. For example, Sundays are long run days, which means that's the day you run the longest distance of the week.

I'm really behind in training right now. After the holidays, when it was time to start getting serious, we had that deep freeze with lots of snow, and I just couldn't bring myself to do my first long run in those arctic conditions. So I put it off until this week, and as luck would have it, it was really cold again today: 14 degrees Fahrenheit, to be exact. But I powered through and ran anyway, despite being quite sure my nose might fall off due to frostbite. (Don't worry, it didn't.) 

So...! All I made for breakfast were smoothies


To celebrate my run this morning, I used a pass to take the family out for burgers at one of our favorite local burger places. I had the Montclair Blue Burger with lettuce and red onions, and split a Coke with my son. And somehow we started talking about the "Pepsi Challenge" in the 1980s, and Coca-Cola's numbskull introduction of New Coke in response, and how this travesty held the attention of the entire nation for a couple of months until they rectified the situation by reintroducing "Classic Coke," and our long national nightmare was finally over.


I used the leftover roasted broccoli from earlier this week to make broccoli soup with onions, shallots, chicken broth, parmesan cheese, a little cream and a squeeze of lemon. Served it with a salad, and that was plenty for everyone after our big burger lunch.

Passes used: 2

Meals cooked this month: 40

Recipes this week:

Tools and special ingredients used this week:

Mexican-style cinnamon sugar, made right here in the Adventure Kitchen (!) from grated piloncillo (Mexican brown sugar) and canela (Ceyon cinnamon).

Mexican Sweet Blend
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#cook90 is the brainchild of David Tamarkin at (I'm a fan.)