Make Ahead's

I’ve never been the “meal prep” type. First of all- it always sounded way too bro-ish. I couldn’t use the phrase without thinking of black plastic containers filled with broccoli, brown rice, and grilled chicken. Which is all delicious and fine in it’s own right, but it didn’t feel like it was an intuitive, organic, or very fun way to cook. Plus- who can eat the same thing every day? I like to improv with what I have in the refrigerator or even make something I saw while scrolling through Instagram earlier in the day. I get why eating that way works for many of us. But I’m an artful kitchen witch- I refuse to be contained.

Okay, okay. If I’m being fair, there are some pretty good reasons for prepping food ahead of time:

  • Saves Money- If you have food easily and readily available, you’re less likely to order out. The end.
  • Instills Healthy Eating- Don’t ask me why, but we’re more likely to eat foods that are already prepped. Taking the time to wash, peel, and slice up our vegetables and fruit as soon as we get home from the market somehow makes us actually eat them. Weird. Plus, if we’re eating our food, we’re not letting is spoil and throwing it away. This reduces food waste and again, saves money.
  • ULTIMATE TIME SAVER! Sure, you cooked for two or three hours on your day off, but that means you have that much less to do during the week. A reheat is much quicker than starting from scratch by FAR. And if you choose to roast, it’s so hands off you can watch the Golden Girls marathon until the timer dings.

If you’re not convinced, well fine. But at least think about trying some some of my favorite make ahead foods.

ROAST POTATOES AND VEGETABLES:

To me, roasting vegetables is the best way to enjoy them. Yes, you could chop up the carrots and celery and store them in little tupperware for easy munching snacks. But wouldn’t you rather have a crispy, slightly charred carrot or potato? Yes. You would.

RICE

Whether you prefer brown or white, short grain or jasmine, rice is a great make ahead item. You can easily pack it in a lunch with the aforementioned steamed broccoli and chicken, heat it up in a bowl with a pat of butter and italian seasonings, or add it to a warm broth in a pan and make a faux-risotto… Risot-faux? Ris-faux-to… There is something there, I can feel it. Regardless of the name, made-ahead rice is a non-negotiable.

GRANOLA

Why would you ever buy your own granola when you can make it as sweet or as savory as your desire for a fraction of the cost? It is a great energy packed snack that you can eat alone, with fresh fruit, atop yogurt, a smoothie bowl, you get the idea! Recipes are quick and generally fool-proof. The key to great granola is not letting it sit on the cookie sheet for too long after it cools, otherwise it becomes soft and not crispy crunchy. Add any seeds and crushed nuts you like; sweeten with honey, agave, or maple syrup. It’s completely customizable and absolutely delicious.

I hope you enjoy these ideas for make ahead meals and food. They absolutely save time during the week and keep me eating the foods that I enjoy and love.

January Updates

Hello one and all!

Weren’t you all just waiting on baited breath for the next blog update from yours truly? No? Well, that certainly makes more sense. Considering this blog has all but been neglected for some time now. I’ll address that in a moment. But anyway!

Twenty-twenty! Here we are. I’m sure many of us are approaching this New Year with the illuminated hope of new beginnings, goals, aspirations, intentions. All of this is rooted in some really good stuff. I myself have never been a “resolutions” person because, frankly, I’ve never been great at keeping them. But my idol, icon, and all around hero, Lauren Toyota, said the other day that she is all about setting “intentions” for 2020. I don’t know if it’s my mindset, the matching numbers in 2020 (so tidy and clean) or being settled in my thirties, but dang if I’m not all about intentions right now. 

This post actually should have been made two weeks ago, but hey. Sometimes it takes us a second to get into that mindset. And if you would indulge me, I’m here to share some intentions of my own.

 Blog post more! This is for two reasons: The first is to work my writing muscles since my job is in an industry where less is more and elaborate vocabulary is not appreciated or desired. Which, hey! I get it. But I need somewhere to let this out. The second reason is forward thinking. I’d be a fool to think that Instagram is going to be around forever. I can’t rely on that as my only source of sharing recipes, food photos, etc. The blog, however, is tried and true! So I’m leaning into it.
 Be more thoughtful about my recipes. Up until now I am the kind of cook who looks in the refrigerator and pulls out whatever is in there to make a meal. Which is great for so many reasons: reduces food waste, gets the creative juices flowing, and is fun! But I would like to be more organized. Plan some of our meals ahead of time so I can let you guys know what is in store for the week/month and curate recipes as oppose to throwing them together. Again, not always a bad thing.
 Get to know filming a bit better. Years ago, in a previous life it feels, I dabbled in indie film. Mainly acting and some production aspects. I never got heavy into the filming aspect though. I never learned how to edit film or even get behind the camera. So that is something I intend to do in 2020. Which, more details on that to come. Once I, you know, figure out what the heck it is I am actually doing.
 Outsource more! This also ties into the filming part. I can’t do everything on my own nor should I. Because I don’t KNOW how to do everything. So asking for help is a big part of that. We don’t need to be good at everything, so it’s important to reach out and “network” (ugh) to the people who do!

Alright. I think that is enough for now. So please, stay tuned and keep checking in and reading. I’ll have a lot food photos and recipes as well as personal updates. Would you be into that? As always, thank you so much for checking in and staying with me. I started Clocked out and Cookin’ only this past summer and am so thrilled with the growth it has already seen. The page reached1,000 followers over on IG and it’s allowed me to make some great connections with other home cooks. I’m even more excited to explore where else this can go in 2020.

Let’s get cooking!

The Scotland Trip

I promised this post literally two weeks ago. Ugh. But better late than absolutely never.

Last November my husband and I went on our very belated honeymoon/first anniversary trip to Scotland. Specifically Glasgow and Inverness. We had originally booked an all-inclusive to Cancun and about a month later decided to change the trip entirely.

We stayed for a long weekend, renting an Air Bnb in the Merchant City area of Glasgow. Our host showed us in and we were absolutely blown away by the hospitality. He toured the entire flat, had a binder of recommendations and tourist stops, he even showed us how the electric kettle worked. But then it was time to get down to brass tax: Where do we go to eat.

Yes, we had watched our fair share of travel shows leading up to this trip, but if you don’t ask the locals what their favorite restaurant or pub is, you’re frankly an idiot. My husband jokingly said, “How about pizza?” And our host’s eyes lit up. “Oh, you gotta go to Paesano’s.”

So we did.

It was the best thing to eat after a long flight. We were told (and read on the menu) that Paesano Pizza sources everything from Italy to make the most authentic Neapolitan pizza- even the oven. I’m a crust lover and when I tell you I was in pizza crust heaven… just stop. It was BEYOND. We could’ve eaten there literally every night but we had a lot more exploring to do.

That first night we drank our way around the city. We went to The Horseshoe Bar, had a pint or two. Stopped in at Drury Street, had a pint or two. Then we wandered around for a while, saw the monument with the traffic cone on that guy’s head and finally stopped in at Tesco to grab a sixer. We swayed back to the apartment only watch a nude dating show and wake up with achy little heads.

The Horseshoe Bar, Glasgow

Drury Street, Glasgow

Drury Street, Glasgow. I could have lived here forever.

The next day we rented a car to make our way to Inverness. We had booked another Air BnB overlooking Loch Ness. Driving on the other side of the car on the other side of the road was… an experience. But I think we did fairly well! My husband drove and did a great job. I said next to nothing critical regarding his driving so I also did a great job!

After you get out of the city, be prepared to have your breath taken away. I’ve never seen anything quite like the highlands in my life. Gorgeous hills and mountains laced with snow and fog. The grey skies almost make the greens and oranges of the landscape MORE vibrant.

Then it was lunch time.

The trip from Glasgow to Inverness is a little over three hours. Our car rental rep, who was also SO FRIENDLY AND HOSPITABLE recommended we stop at The Green Welly Stop. He was in his twenties and had moved to the city from up north. He said whenever he visited family he always stopped at The Green Welly for a bowl of soup.

So I’m thinking this is a restaurant. Well, it’s not. It’s a rest stop. So what are you thinking? Annie Anne’s, Roy Rogers, Starbucks. Sbarro. Think again.

For lunch we had homemade soup and baked bread. They also have whisky, of course. But that’s in the gift shop.

Cullen Skink at The Green Welly Stop

This glorious bowl of warm, smoky goodness is called Cullen Skink and I fell in love. Made with smoked haddock, potatoes, and onions it was exactly what I was craving on that cold trip.

It’s not exaggeration when I say that I became a woman obsessed. I looked for this soup on every menu and when I finally found it at a different restaurant back in Glasgow on our last night- I was sorely disappointed. Nothing could compare to the skink at The Green Welly. Damn me for trying to make a moment happen twice.

My husband also opted for soup. He chose the less adventurous “Cocky Leeky” which is chicken soup with leeks. Also delicious!

Cocky Leeky soup, also at The Green Welly

After getting back on the road and stopping for many scenic photos, we finally made it to our bed and breakfast in Drumnadrochit (which I can hardly spell let alone pronounce.) Our hosts we’re, you guessed it, the NICEST people on the planet! And we felt cozy and relaxed during our time there. We filled out a little card for the next day’s breakfast and explored the grounds before making our way to dinner.

We didn’t have plans as to where to go to eat- we originally we’re going to make the trip up north to Ullapool, but our host Simon it would be too dark and not worth the trip. He asked us what types of food we liked (all of it, Simon. Duh.) So he said “If you want something special, I would go to The Lovat.”

Our B&B in Drumnadrochit overlooking Loch Ness

Partridge and chanterelles @ The Lovat

Pork loin with the fanciest bubble and squeak

This meal was definitely one of the more memorable ones. As Simon promised, it was very special.

Breakfast with a view

HAGGIS!

That’s award winning haggis, to you.

Listen- I was wary of this. And I can be meh with meat. Especially meat that’s made with the lungs and heart of a lamb and cooked in its own stomach. But when I tell you this was beyond delicious, believe me! It was on the drier side with a beautiful texture and peppery quality that had me sold. Haggis. Don’t pass on it.

Poppies for Armistice Day centennial

Tomb at the Necropolis

We had other great food while in Scotland; Fish and chips, tuna sandwiches on soft buttered bread, yellow lentil soup. It was a beautiful country with the most lovely people and this trip will not be our last.

Taco Tuesday with homemade tortillas

Yep, we sure did. Oh, Taco Tuesday. When did you even become a thing? Not that I’m arguing, because let’s be honest- what’s better than finishing work on a mundane Tuesday knowing that you get to come home to TACOS.

Needless to say, there doesn’t need to be a designated day for me to eat tacos. They’ve always been a favorite food even from my early childhood. My mom would buy the Old El Paso taco kit, brown the meat with the included seasoning packet, bake off the hard taco shells and microwave the soft tortillas in a damp paper towel. After the table was set with various bowls of chopped fixings, it was a free for all. I think the assembling part was why I loved it so much. I remember making my own double-decker taco and thinking what a genius thing that was to do. I mean- It was genius.

Those tacos are absolutely perfect in their own right- but if you want to skip the kit and pump up the “mmm” factor, I suggest following the two recipes below:


HOMEMADE TACO SEASONING:

  • 2 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 2 tsp salt
    1 tsp pepper
  • 2 tbsp adobo (optional)

Once you brown and drain your meat (or any “meat” choice of your choosing- minced cauliflower, ground turkey or chicken, soy curls, etc) simply add the dry seasoning until evenly distributed and then the adobo.

Many pre-made seasonings are packed with salt and some type of thickener, like corn starch, yada yada, we know this. This version eliminates the additives and gives the cook more control of the flavor. Which we love, right?


HOMEMADE CORN TORTILLAS:

  • 2 cups masa/corn flour
  • 1 cup water, room temp
  • Pinch of salt

In a large bowl, work the water into the corn flour until a substation dough forms. Roll out small balls and flatten with a tortilla press if you’re fancy, or between plates coated in plastic wrap if you’re me.

On a hot, well-oiled (preferably vegetable) cast iron pan, cook the tortillas until they puff ever so slightly, flipping once. They’re done once they turn slightly golden with charred edges.

These two recipes couldn’t be easier if you tried and will really bring your taco game from standard yum to omg-how-have-I-lived-without-you-until-now?

Broths and Bothers

Nothing bothers me more than wasting food. Letting food spoil in the fridge, throwing out perfectly good scraps, not reinventing a leftover- ugh! It’s all my pet peeve.

Even though I try my hardest to reuse meals and not let food go bad, it happens. I generally compost the scraps and that’s been good enough for me until I came across the instagram page @shisodelicious ran by Sara Kiyo Popowa. She is the grandmaster at utilizing food and reducing waste. She, in her infinite wisdom, suggested using vegetable heavy, water light broths to honor those measly scraps. The result is an aromatic, complex vegetable broth concentrate that can be watered down to your liking in future cooking. It’s a great way to use up collected scraps and it truly couldn’t be simpler.

Here’s the recipe:

Pepper corns and lots of salt are a must. Bay leaf if you’ve got it. Other than that… it’s whatever, man. Throw it all in there.

You can use this method a few times until the vegetables don’t have any more flavors to give. Then they can finally be composted. I used leftover zucchini from bread I made last week, limp celery, and some green onion ends. Some of these vegetables were collected over and frozen over time, others were simply from the fridge.

When this is all done (it’s still cooking and smells sooooo good already) the broth will get jarred and frozen.

How do you utilize leftover foods? What type of meal would you make with this delicious broth?

Welcome!

My day job may be exhausting, but cooking is my peace. -Chrissy Teigen

Do I really start my first blog post with a Chrissy Teigen quote? Shouldn’t I use someone with more cooking chops like Julia Child or Anthony Bourdain?

Hi. My name is Liz. And when I’m clocked out, I’m cooking.

I need cooking for probably the same reasons you do: To turn it all off, to check out, to EAT, to slip into that aromatic world of zen that can only be disturbed when my husband is blocking the utensil drawer or when I trip over the dog. But even those things have become part of the process.

That is what this blog is for, who this blog is for: For people who truly enjoy cooking after a long day of work. It is your escape, it is the way you tell your family “I’m home now and I love you.” For the people who look at what is leftover and try to reimagine it to create something new and delicious.

It’s silly, but I do relate to that quote. My job is a typical 9-5er in the world of finance based in my home state, New Jersey. All of that can be intense, fast-paced, and loud. I didn’t grow up to be an illustrator, nor do I work for NASA, SNL, Random House, or for a marine biology research lab like I dreamed of when I was younger (my career aspirations were clearly varied and changed often.) I don’t hate my job, and I’m surprisingly good at what I do. But it’s just that- it’s my job. “Quittin’ time” is a thing. I still need that creative outlet and cooking food happens to be it. And it tastes good.

So if you’re like me and you ache for the moment when you can log off, snake your way through rush-hour just to get home and rifle through the refrigerator to see how you can make yesterday’s take-out into something new and delicious, stick around.