Couscous with Dates, Figs, and Almonds


This meal was brought to you by Glenn Lester. This is a fabulous example of what you can make out of random things in your pantry and fridge. Wouldn’t you rather eat this than pasta with red sauce or Kraft mac and cheese?

We sauteed figs, dates, and a little onion in olive oil and sprinkled some brown sugar on top. We cooked the couscous (Moroccan this time) according to the package directions, but added a cinnamon stick to the boiling water. Then we mixed it all together and topped it with toasted almonds.


3 Things to Make with Leftovers

If you haven’t figured it out by now, my meal rotation goes something like this: recipe from Gourmet, salad, recipe from Smitten Kitchen, pasta, pizza, salad. Maybe it’s a little boring to keep posting the same meals over and over, but I think it’s important. I think it’s important not to hide the fact that I make some really boring stuff sometimes. I also think it’s important to share ideas about how to make the boring stuff less boring. So here is a pasta, a salad, and a pizza made with last week’s leftovers.


Angel hair pasta with mushrooms and asparagus. This would have felt more like a meal if I had made the pasta with mushrooms and served the asparagus on the side.

DSC02531Greek-style Cobb salad. Did you know there are ivory bell peppers? They are slightly less sweet than green peppers. Is there even any lettuce under there? Somewhere.

pizzainovenHomemade pizza using Joy of Cooking crust. As it turns out, it’s pretty important to let the crust rise a few minutes before you top it. Also, preheat your baking stone or sheet — it makes the crust nice and crispy on the bottom. Roll the dough onto parchment paper or a baking sheet dusted with cornmeal for easy transfer.

Orzo with Spinach and Feta


I was dying to make the Red Pepper Risotto recipe that my sister sent me, but I was too much of a wimp to stand over a hot stove when it was still ninety degrees outside. Instead, I made orzo. It took a quarter of the time and still had some of the same richness, meatiness, and tenderness. Also, it kind of sounds the same — risotto, orzo.

Here’s what we (Glenn and I) did:

  • sauteed onion and garlic in butter and olive oil until it was cooked how we wanted to eat it
  • added the orzo and stirred for three or four minutes
  • added the water and some salt
  • cooked according to the package directions
  • stirred in sliced spinach, crumbled feta, and a little fresh dill and parsley

It was a great way to use some of the leftover ingredients from the Roasted Eggplant. (By the way, the “leftovers” tag means “ways you can use ingredients from other recipes to make new stuff” not “I microwaved something from last night.”)

Improvised Veggie Stir Fry

Veggie Stir Fry

I’m still skeptical of the whole stir fry thing. What makes it a stir fry and not just sauteed vegetables? Is the wok the only difference? Probably not, if you’re doing things right.

After some limited research, these are the major differences I have found between sauteing and stir frying:

  1. When sauteing, you heat the pan with the fat in it. When stir frying, you heat the pan dry.
  2. When sauteing, you can use fat with a low flash point, such as butter or extra virgin olive oil. When stir frying, you need a fat with a very high flash point, such as peanut or canola oil.
  3. When sauteing, you should pretty much flip the items one time. When stir frying, you should pretty much stir constantly.

For whatever that’s worth. For this “stir fry” we used onions and green beans (leftover from porcupine meatballs) and bell peppers (leftover from pizza). We served it over a combination of wild and jasmine rice that had been sitting in our pantry for six months. The point is that this was a completely found meal, no trip to the grocery store necessary. We fried up all the veggies along with some garlic in peanut oil, added some white wine vinegar, and finished it off by covering the wok and steaming it. It was sweet and sour and the veggies were perfectly crisp tender.

Pizza Salad

Pizza Salad

I was so, so proud of myself for this idea. Maybe proud is the wrong word. I was tickled. We made a pizza earlier in the week and had all the leftover fixin’s — bell peppers, red onions, pepperoni, and mozzarella. Put them all over lettuce with some garlic croutons and you have pizza salad! I used basic Italian dressing, but I think it ranch would be very tasty and appropriate. I was especially proud of myself for making it up like a pizza — croutons around the outside for crust, toppings over lettuce, and cheese on top.