Thursday, January 20, 2011

Use What You Have

It was pajama day at K-Picky's preschool today. It should have been easier to get ready then, right? I mean, she was ALREADY in her pajamas. Nope. She insisted on trying on different pairs to see which she felt were most school-worthy. And, she had to have to appropriately braided hair, headband, necklace, bracelet, and sparkly slippers. But, she also had to bring a back-up pair of sparkly shoes in her backpack in case she changed her mind. The girl can accessorize, which is funny because it's not one of my strengths. But, she loves going through her little ballerina jewelry box on the hunt for the perfect star ring or heart necklace to match her outfit. She gets a huge kick out of putting together outfits, using bits and pieces from a few different ones to make a whole new combination. Her eyes light up as she says, "mom, these new leggings from this outfit will go great with my pink sparkly skirt from my butterfly outfit!" And, usually she's right. She has, on occasion, been known to insist that her daddy change his outfit because she knew of another shirt in his closet that would go better with the slacks he was wearing. And, usually, she is right. Again. K-picky is the queen is using what she has in a whole new way. So, I took a lesson from her.

This is the butternut squash ravioli I made last week. This is as homemade as you can get, aside from the jarred sauce. Let's face it, after making the pasta and filling from scratch, I didn't have time or energy to make homemade sauce. Besides, Mrs. Ragu does it so much better than I would have anyway.

I started by cutting a butternut squash long-ways, and placed it face down on a baking sheet with half an inch of water. Meanwhile, I used a simple recipe of flour, water, salt, and olive oil to make the dough, and let it rest under a bowl while I mixed up the butternut squash puree. When the squash softened (after about 45 minutes at 400), I purreed it in my food processor, and mixed in onion, garlic, italian seasoning, salt and pepper, and freshly grated parmesan cheese. I ended up with a ton of this mixture, so I saved half in a freezer bag, sure that I would be able to slop it into something in the future.

Then, I enlisted Big Daddy, because who else would be so good at putting all that strapping muscle into rolling out the dough and cutting the raviolis, using a highly specialized and rare kitchen tool- a glass? He was a great sport, and we started an assembly line to make our crescent shaped raviolis. I simply filled each one with a spoonful of the mixture and folded them over, wetting the edges and pressing them together with my fingers.

Lastly, I boiled them (placing them ever-so-gently in the pot) for a few minutes, strained them, covered it all with sauce, and grated parmesan, and enjoyed this rich, scruptious, yet completely wholesome meal.

Big Daddy Bacon said it was a winner...even without bacon.

Tonight, (a week later), I slopped the tasty orange butternut squash goop into lasagna! I feel incredibly frugal and smart...and sneaky. That's because this was a totally vegetarian lasagna with layers of pasta, butternut squash mixture, finely chopped firm tofu chunks, marinara sauce, and grated italian cheeses. Big Daddy had no idea until he found a piece of tofu, halfway through with his lasagna. K-Picky and Wacky ate it without one complaint. They actually had a few compliments for the wise and tricky chef.

NO one can thwart the evil plan of the sneaky and frugal Veggie Mama! I used what I had in a whole new way.

Now if you will excuse me, K-Picky needs help finding her sparkly slippers. She misplaced them during her last wardrobe change.

And, on a totally different note, I read a great frugal healthy-eating tip today that I will pass on before I go. What do you do with those bananas when they begin to get spotted and brown? Throw them (peeled) into a freezer bag, and use them for smoothies in the future. Guess what's in my freezer, waiting for our morning smoothies?

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