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Kitchen Experiences of a Student

Lasagna Day, Weekly Groceries, and Christmas Baking 
Dec. 21, 2009 10:46 am 
Updated: Dec. 22, 2009 8:22 am
I haven’t written in a while because I’ve been so busy with school and family life. It’s been a particularly rough few weeks with stress from my term papers and my personal life, but Christmas is coming and that’s definitely cheering me up.

Last week was lasagna day and it went so well! The lasagna was very good and I learned a lot about how to make it. My friends were very nice, gave lots of compliments and a few tips for next time (the biggest problem was that the lasagna was a little soggy – next time I won’t cook the noodles all the way or at all so that they absorb some of that moisture). The mushroom caps I made were so good – gone in seconds even though I doubled the recipe! I’m planning on making them every time we have company.

Christmas Eve is only a few days away and Lasagna Number Two will be served to my dad’s side of the family – 9 people in all. This time it’ll be a little easier since I have other family members bringing side dishes, salad, and garlic bread – all I have to take care of is lasagna.

This week our shop was under budget and we got some fancy cheese and lots of produce – a successful trip! We’re not doing splurge items for a while, and we’re trying harder than ever to keep it under budget, because Christmas is an expensive time of year, and this year is worse than usual.

Yesterday I made a doubled recipe of chocolate chip shortbread cookies, 2 types of fudge (chocolate and peanut butter), and peanut butter balls. I’m putting together little goodie bags for the people I work with, and a few tins for family members. Tonight I’m also making a giant chocolate chip cookie to give to a friend (frozen dough only – she likes to eat them warm so I’ll let her bake them) and I’m going to start making cake balls.

A few weeks ago I was in a car crash that totally wrecked my car, and I won’t be able to afford a new one for a little while, so I’ve been taking the bus to work. It takes a lot longer, and I don’t get home until about half an hour before dinner – I’ve been looking for quick, easy recipes that I can get ready in that time. My slow cooker has sure come in handy the past little while but if you know of any other recipes I could add to my recipe box I would be so grateful! I have quite a bit of time off during the holidays, so I’m planning on making some meals I can freeze and then just pop in the oven when I get home from work. I can only make a few though, because my freezer is small.

Anyways, I am getting more and more excited for Christmas and all the food, fun, and festivities. Hope everyone’s holidays are fun and relaxing, and that all the baking, cooking, and turkey dinners go smoothly!
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Dec. 21, 2009 11:23 am
Oh, Polka Dot, so sorry to hear you were in an accident. I hope that you survived all right. After all, a car is kinda replaceable. With money so tight, it is really tough to have car problems too. I'm sure that you will work it out for the best. I'm glad to hear your lasagna dinner went well. It was the first dinner I made in my first apartment on Beacon Hill in Boston when I was your age. I'd never even tasted it before I cooked it. I followed the recipe from the Joy of Cooking. I guess it was good - my guests ate every bite of it. I used to burn my fingers on the noodles trying to layer them. Maybe three years into making lasagna, I started working with a terrific crew of Italian heritage women at Polaroid. They laughed themselves silly over my lasgana efforts. "Didn't anyone ever tell you to cool the noodles off?" Well, it wasn't in my recipe. It was so much easier to use noodles that weren't boiling hot. Every time I make lasagna it comes out different. But each one is good. So now, I think of it as a lasagna experience. Like a work of art, or a snowflake - no two are the same. I hope that fortune smiles on you this Christmas, and that your Holidays are full of family, and comfort and joy. Mery Christmas.
Dec. 21, 2009 2:01 pm
I love to read the blogs but I wish there was a link to recipes (like the Lasagna, Cookies etc) that you talk about or have I missed the links? It has been a crazy few weeks.
Dec. 21, 2009 2:24 pm
Thanks for your comments - I am fine, had a sore neck for a few days and a few scrapes and bruises that are still healing, but nothing lasting, which really is a relief - I got lucky. I really loved making lasagna; I took my time with it, giving myself the whole day to cook it and put it together. Trouble - sorry about that, I just added links to all the recipes I mentioned, hope that helps! :) Merry Christmas
Dec. 21, 2009 2:29 pm
To save time with dinner prep, I cook up large batches of chicken (both boneless/skinless and bone in to shred). I freeze them in portions in ziplocs... take up almost no room and you can make soups with the shredded and quick entrees with the fully cooked breasts (Chicken Parm, Chicken in wine, etc). I also cook ground beef in large batches and season with either taco seasoning or add in onions and enchilada sauce, or onions, peppers and sauce for homemade sloppy joes. Once cooled, you can freeze these flat in ziplocs too. These items take up little room and half the cooking is done! Also budget friendly :) Hope that helps! Good Luck!
Dec. 22, 2009 8:22 am
For half hour dinners, I make pizza! There is a 5-min dough recipe on this site that makes it really easy. Mix the dough up, let it rest for 5 mins while you chop and prep the toppings, spread it out, top it, bake it for 15-20 mins and wa-la! Easy dinner with fresh goodies on top. I have started keeping a big bulk bag of mozzarella in the freezer because we eat this at least three times a month. Its a great way to get rid of extra veggies that are aging in the fridge or a small amount of meat taunting you in the freezer, too.
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About Me
I'm a 22 year old novice cook - I live with my boyfriend in a small apartment with a teeny kitchen. Right now I'm trying to eat healthier and cut some meat out of my diet - I'm writing a blog about cooking my way through a vegetarian cookbook! I love trying new recipes, and adjusting them to suit my tastes.
My favorite things to cook
I love BBQing, making casseroles, and putting together any kind of soup. I'm also trying to get into baking - my kitchen is tiny so I have to use simple recipes, but I love making muffins and cookies to share.
My favorite family cooking traditions
When I was little my mom taught me how to make brown sugar syrup for our homemade pancakes - everytime she made pancakes at home, I would make the sauce to go with them.
My cooking triumphs
Lasagna Day - My first ever dinner party in my apartment, I made spinach salad, stuffed mushrooms, lasagna from scratch, and apple crisp. It was a hit with my friends, I got so many compliments!
My cooking tragedies
When I was in high school I decided to make some cinnamon buns, but the only recipe I could find was a huge batch, so I cut it in half. However, when I went to mix the ingredients, I found myself adding the full amount of some but only half of others, and I couldn't remember how much of each I'd already done. I tried cooking them anyways, but they were terrible!
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