One of the most important parts of doing "once a month cooking" is the prep work. Even if you don’t do all of the cooking on one day, you’ll want to do as much of the prep work at one time as possible. This way, even if you need to stop early, you have still shaved off tons of time for later in the week or month.
The above is an example of peeling a whole bunch of carrots at once. I ran out of time and couldn’t go ahead and slice/dice/chunk them for various recipes. I was also making enchiladas for dinner and had just emptied a tortilla. Instead of throwing it out, it was an easy, reusable way to store the whole, peeled carrots, until I was ready to come back to them again.
Later in the week, I likely sliced some of these for the kids’ lunches, diced some for soups, and polished off the last for snacks. Chances are, I had a similar bag of celery right alongside it in the fridge, too.
Broccoli and ham cheese stuffed crescent rolls are one of the earliest recipes I remember learning how to make.
We would’ve used canned crescent rolls, so as a kid, it was pretty easy for me to cut the packaged ham into tiny squares, shred the cheese, and mix the broccoli in with my hands.
Unfortunately, it’s also another one that I don’t have a real recipe for either. (Kinda funny how this one involves broccoli, too.)
The basic breakdown?
- A head of broccoli with florets chopped and boiled or steamed to be tender
- A couple packages of cheap ham – In terms of ham bought from the deli, I’d call it about an inch stack, diced, give or take several bites
- A half a block of cheese (about 4 oz?), shredded
- A very large squirt of mustard….plus a couple small squirts after you taste-test and realize you still want it a little tangier
Mix it all together and pile onto 8 croissant rolls, canned or homemade. If the broccoli is still a bit warm, all the better because it’ll melt the cheese some and help it stick together.
With these croissants, I put the pizza stone in the fridge while I prepared the rest of the ingredients and then worked directly on the cold surface as much as possible before putting everything in the oven.
Now I’ll be the first to raise my hand if you ask me if it’s okay to play with your food. Of course it is! Change it into silly shapes. Add smiley faces. Make it look like other objects. Switch the ingredients around into something unexpected. Do whatever you feel like really.
At the same time, I’m a little torn on adding items to food that you can’t actually eat. Yes, it can make it look even more awesome and I’ve definitely done it my fair share of times when when I can’t find something appropriate to use that’s still edible.
It almost feels like cheating at times, though. And it sort of spoils it to have to deconstruct the dish before you can eat it by removing all the parts that are inedible. It’s like having to remove toothpicks from stuffed foods….but even less fun because you immediately kill whatever creation was on the plate and make it less quirky.
Then again, look at this one:
Am I really going to complain that I can’t eat the eyes? No way! It’s too cute!
But I’m definitely not going to bother with that bowl of cereal… ;)
P.S. – Candy eyes are sooo much better for this sort of thing, at least when it comes to sweet dishes. You can buy them at the store or make your own like cookplayexplore does.