Lola's Victory Garden

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Cheap eats - Spiffed Up Boxed Mac & Cheese

I have a boatload of boxed macaroni and cheese. Various brands, but all pretty much the same. I got them from our local food pantry and I've been trying to figure out what to do with them, other than the typical Tuna Mac casserole that uses canned tuna, a can of cream of mushroom soup and a box of mac & cheese. Of course I could just make it according to the package directions, or make it seem closer to homemade by adding some shredded cheese.

Broccoli Chicken Mac & Cheese Bake
Boxed Mac & Cheese
Frozen Broccoli Cuts (or fresh steamed broccoli if you have it.)
Canned White Meat Chicken
Shredded Cheese (I use a colby/jack blend)

I took an aluminum foil roasting pan, sprayed it with cooking spray and set it aside while I made the mac & cheese according to the package direction. I used 3 boxes for the size roasting pan I had. (It seems like a lot, but this is enough for 2 meals, and a few hungry teenager snacks.) I then defrosted a bag of broccoli and opened a couple of cans of white meat chicken. Stirred in the broccoli and chicken, and added a bit of shredded cheese. I then covered it with foil and put it in the freezer. When it's time to serve, put it in the oven at 325 degrees for about an hour. (It helps if you put it in the fridge the night before so it begins defrosting.

The broccoli and canned white meat chicken make it a meal when served with a salad. And it's healthier than just eating it plain, cuz you're getting some veggies and protein.

You could also kick it up a bit by adding a sprinkle of pepper or cayenne pepper, or maybe a bit of garlic powder. I will definitely be making this again and I'm going to try it with some garlic and pepper.

Lola's Victory Garden©2009-2010

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Lola's Eggplant Rotolo

My garden has been producing, but not very prolifically due to lack of rain. In the mean time, I thought I'd share with you an Original Recipe By Lola, Lola's Eggplant Rotolo. I did not plant eggplant this year, so I purchased mine from my local farmer's market.

OMG! This is so delicious. I was trying to duplicate a recipe for an Eggplant Rotolo at a local tapas bar. This turned out even better than the original. I've attached a photo, but it was taken after we ate dinner. It doesn't do it justice.
Lola's Eggplant Rotolo
1 large Eggplant
1 large tub of Ricotta Cheese
Mozzarella Cheese, shredded (about 1 pound)
1/2 of 1 small box of frozen Spinach (use fresh if you have it.)
3 eggs, beaten
Vegetable Oil
Cooking Spray

Bread Crumb Mixture:
Bread Crumbs
Parmesan Cheese
Spices to season Bread Crumb Mixture:

Spaghetti Sauce (about 1 quart):
Mine is a secret, so you'll have to substitute your own recipe or use store bought sauce.

Slice Eggplant into 1/4 inch long slices. Salt eggplant and layer in strainer/colander with paper towels. Put a plate and a heavy weight, like a large can or book. Place strainer/colander into a larger bowl to catch the drainage. This allows the moisture from the Eggplant to be removed and it removes the bitterness from the Eggplant. Allow to sit with the weight on it for several hours. You will notice a brownish colored liquid in the drain bowl. Discard this, then thoroughly rinse and dry each slice of Eggplant. (I know rinsing afterward sounds counter intuitive, but trust me, this process removes the bitterness and you will definitely notice the difference if you skip this step.)

Mix Bread Crumb Mixture thoroughly in a bowl large enough to dip the Eggplant slices into.

Dip Eggplant into beaten eggs, then dredge in Bread Crumb Mixture.

In a large frying pan, pour about a 1/4 inch layer of Vegetable Oil. Heat oil. Test oil by putting a drop of water into it. If it disburses, the oil is hot enough. Fry Breaded Eggplant slices on both sides until golden brown. Allow to drain on cooling racks, or paper towels. Set aside.

Defrost Frozen Spinach in Microwave Oven. Squeeze water out and press a clean paper towel over the top to remove any excess moisture.

In a medium bowl combine Ricotta Cheese and Spinach.

Spoon a layer of the Ricotta Cheese/Spinach mixture onto each slice. Using a spoon, dribble a bit of Spaghetti Sauce down the middle of each slice. Sprinkle a small amount of Shredded Mozzarella Cheese over the top, being sure to reserve some to top off the dish before baking. Roll each slice individually, using a single wooden toothpick to secure each.

In a 9x12 baking dish, spray thoroughly with Cooking Spray. Add a layer of Spaghetti Sauce. Add each Eggplant Roll to the baking dish.

Top with reserved Shredded Mozzarella Cheese. Use cooking spray to coat a sheet of Aluminum Foil large enough to cover baking dish. Cover baking dish with foil. Bake in 325 oven for 40 minutes. Remove Aluminum Foil, bake an additional 5-15 minutes until cheese on top browns.


Lola's Victory Garden©2009-2010

Friday, June 18, 2010

Finally! Garden Photos!

Due to my back issues, and lack of help with the garden from my kids, I decided to do a raised bed garden.  This way I can tend to weeds and pick the produce myself and no bending or stooping is required.  I already had most of the supplies (railroad ties, cinder blocks, planter box recycled from curbside, large pots and several bags of dirt unused from last year.)  I purchased 2 pre-cut pieces of plywood to form the bottom of my raised beds, along with more bags of dirt.

I planted Beefsteak Tomato plants in the raised bed area of the cinder blocks, and in the large planters (ran out of room, lol!).  I also planted 2 Kohlrabi plants in the raised bed area of the cinder blocks and 2 in the large orange planter.  I planted 4 varieties of peppers (A sweet Italian Red Pepper variety, Banana Peppers, Jalapeno Peppers and Green Bell Peppers), and 4 Roma  Tomato plants in the planter box.  I planted Basil plants in the openings of the cinder blocks.  Basil aids in pest control for the tomato plants.  And besides, no one can ever have too much Basil.  Lol!

I still haven't planted my Petunias.  I hope to get to them soon.  I need to purchase more dirt.

So how's your garden growing?

Lola's Victory Garden ©2009-2010

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Garden Procrastination

Yes, there will be a Lola's Victory Garden this year. I'm just getting a late start, as usual. Last week I purchased my plants. Mostly Beefsteak Tomatoes, a few Roma Tomatoes (they only had a few left), basil, green bell pepper, jalapeno pepper, yellow banana pepper, and I think Kohlrabi.

Last week I also purchased a few 1/4 pieces of plywood for part of the base of my raised garden beds.

Monday we set about to assemble the raised beds and purchased 6 additional bags of soil to add to the 3 bags left from last year. I utilized the landscape timbers I purchased last year, along with the recently purchased plywood, and cinder blocks which I got from a few years ago. I also will be utilizing a large planter box which I literally picked up the night before trash pick up one night. I will be recycling Styrofoam blocks from packaging I've saved up to raise up the bottom of the planter box, so as not to use an excessive amount of soil. My raised beds don't look pretty, but they accomplish what I need. That is, that they are raised beds and will allow me to tend to my garden more easily due to my back issues.

Rain is expected on Tuesday, so actual planting will not commence until the weather clears.

I will have photos of the garden beds as soon as I am able to take some.

How's your garden growing?

Lola's Victory Garden©2009-2010

Thursday, April 29, 2010

B-bye Entrecard

I will be leaving Entrecard May 5th. Please become a follower and bookmark my site so you don't miss out on anything at Lola's Victory Garden.

Why am I leaving? Too many of my blog pals have been getting hit with Trojans and Viruses while visiting sites through Entrecard to drop. I don't think I even have that many blog pals, and when I'm hearing it this often amongst a small group, that means the danger is too much to ignore. Entrecard is ignoring the problem, so it's time to leave.

Yes, I will miss the traffic, but it hasn't been that much lately anyway. Time to cut the apron strings and be free.

The other 2 blogs I own will also be leaving Entrecard, so please visit them, follow them and bookmark them so you don't miss out.

Lola's Diner
Fire Crotch Rocket

Lola's Victory Garden©2009-2010

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Garden Thoughts

As the weather turns more Spring-like (well not really the past couple days, it's been fairly cool, which I do like) thoughts turn to gardening plans.

Unfortunately, this years vegetable garden will be scaled down from last year. I had originally hoped to expand, but since this year I will be handling it solo, except for when I can badger the kids into helping me, smaller will have to do.

I envision a raised bed using cinder blocks and landscape timbers. (I already have plenty on hand.) Probably mostly tomatoes and zucchini, with some herbs.

In terms of other gardening activities, I plan on adding landscaping rock to the front of the porch area. I'm thinking the white rocks, rather than river rock. That will make the Lilac Bushes stand out when they are in bloom.

I have a large planter box, about 1' x 4' that I need to paint. Looks a bit like this one:
I can't decide on the color. It was originally a boring brown, but needs repainting. My house is a kind of grayish-blue. I'm debating whether to go with a Country Blue or Barn Red. Any thoughts?

Lola's Victory Garden

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Scalloped Potatoes And Ham

This is one of my favorites my Mom used to make. It uses leftover ham and potatoes. When potatoes are $2.99 for 10 pounds, this is a real inexpensive meal. When I bake a ham for the holidays I cut the leftovers into cubes and put into zip-top bags. Each bag contains enough for a large batch of Scalloped Potatoes And Ham. I also take the bone and put it in a zip-top bag and throw it in the freezer for a future date for making Split Pea Soup.

When my Mom used to make this, it wasn't a side dish, it was dinner. When I make it for my family I use a large baking pan in the hopes of having leftovers the next day. Every time our son manages to eat all the leftovers before I look for them in the fridge the next day for lunch. I guess that tells you how good it is.

Lola's Scalloped Potatoes And Ham
Russet Potatoes (peeled and sliced thinly)
Ham (cubed)
Milk (you can use Cream, Whole Milk, 2%, 1% or Skim Milk.)
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste
Non-stick cooking spray

If you slice your potatoes very thin, the top layer gets very crispy. If you don't care for that, slice them about 1/4 inch thick. For the Milk, you can go full fat with the Cream, or you can even use Skim Milk, it still turns out delicious.

Spray your baking dish or pan with non-stick cooking spray. Layer sliced potatoes in bottom of pan. Lightly sprinkle with Salt, Pepper and Flour. Sprinkle some of the Ham pieces. Cut the Butter into small bits and dot the mixture in the pan with some Butter. Add another layer of sliced Potatoes and continue layering until you reach the top of the pan. Add Milk, being careful not to overfill your pan. You want enough liquid to make the creamy sauce, but not so much that it bubbles over while cooking.

Cover and bake at 350 degrees about 30-45 or until done. You may want to take off the cover for the last 5 minutes or so to brown the top layer.

Lola's Victory Garden