Meatless Monday: Party Menu and Recipes

Good friends, family, and FOOD were the themes of Flora’s birthday weekend.

The great news is that everything was delicious. My mother and I got tons of compliments. Mom provided butternut squash soup and ox roast for Sunday. It was pretty funny to hear her have to explain ox roast. “It’s really just roast beef,” she kept saying. But the preparation in this case is unique to Erie. Ox roast, pepperoni balls, and Smith hot dogs in the casing: what Erie has given to the world of cuisine.

The less great news (for me, anyway) is that everything was so damn good that I don’t have much in the way of leftovers for myself. The bright side is that I didn’t have to throw away food. I ordered a cheese tray, a crudite tray, and the birthday cake from our local Market District. For once, I didn’t over order. We had some odds and ends of cheese, no cake, and no crudites left over. That’s a win.

Of course, this means I’m going to have to cook on weeknights this week. Having food isn’t an issue; I still have a well stocked pantry and freezer. I just prefer leftovers during the week. So much quicker and easier.

Oh well. It’s not a bad problem to have!

Saturday night, I served (to 8 adults) rotisserie chicken, Gnocchi Mac ‘n’ Cheese, and salad, with peanut butter Rice Krispie treats with butterscotch icing (for kids and adults).

We had picked up the chicken on Thursday night, and I was worried that warming it up would dry it out. So, with (literally) a wing (two, as a matter of fact) and a prayer, I shredded the chicken, put it in the slow cooker with four apples (peeled, cored, and sliced), two cloves of garlic, about 1/2 teaspoon of fresh rosemary, and a splash or three of red wine vinegar. I put the cooker on low for about 3 hours.

The gnocchi mac ‘n’ cheese was a recipe someone had shared a link to on Twitter, and I was very eager to try it out. I doubled the recipe, and frankly, I forgot the salt, pepper, and basil.

I still had no leftovers on Saturday night. A few scraps of salad, and the kids’ stovetop mac ‘n’ cheese (from a box). A lot of empty dishes to clean.

As far as Sunday, as I said, I ordered some food, and my mom brought ox roast and rolls. I made Sante Fe soup. It is the perfect fall dish to serve during the game. As I was cleaning up that evening, I was kind of excited to put what was left into a container. I was thinking I would have enough for lunch on Monday. And then Flora declared that she was hungry, and polished it off with some chips.

Bye-bye leftovers.

I was asked repeatedly for the recipe, so I am reposting it here. You can always substitute ground beef or turkey for the soy crumbles; just brown and drain the meat first. It’s good served with tortilla chips, but it’s just as delicious eaten with a spoon.

Sante Fe Soup with Melted Cheese
Adapted from the Fix It and Forget It Cookbook.

Olive oil
2 cloves garlic
1 lb. soy crumbles (I use Morningstar Farms)
Chili powder to taste
1 can corn, drained
1 can kidney beans, drained
1 can diced tomatoes with green chilies
1 can diced tomatoes
1 lb. Velveeta cheese, cubed
Tortilla chips

1. Put olive oil and garlic in slow cooker; turn it on high. Let “saute” for about 5 minutes. (You can saute the garlic and crumbles in a separate pan and add to the slow cooker, but I like to minimize clean up where I can.)
2. Add soy crumbles and chili powder to taste. Stir and let warm through.
3. Combine the rest of the ingredients (minus the chips) with the soy crumbles in the slow cooker. Cover; cook on high for 3 hours.
4. Serve with tortilla chips as a side or crumbled on top.

I usually don’t cook with Velveeta, but I have to say I’ve made this recipe with regular old cheddar cheese (usually organic), and it doesn’t come out with a soupy consistancy. It tastes just fine, but it is very lumpy looking and the cheese separates. For the sake of this recipe, I’ve put aside my processed food prejudice and I’ve gone with the Velveeta.

What can I say, I’m shallow. I like my food to look pretty *and* taste good.

What’s your favorite fall food to serve during the game? And do you like having leftovers, or would you like to start from scratch at every meal?