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The Great Tortilla Caper

Friends, my Kitchen Muse has vacated the premises.  Without warning she packed her knives, wiped down her skillets, and sailed out the front door, trailing confectioners’ sugar and a few grains of salt.  Perhaps she was offended by Scott’s preference for American cheese over Havarti?  Perhaps it had something to do with the juice I spilled in the refrigerator and didn’t mop up?  I’m not sure.  All I know is she’s gone and I’ve lost the will to cook.

No disrespect to good Tex-Mex cuisine, but dinner around here has degenerated into a can of beans, a box of Spanish rice, and a look on my face that says why yes, we *are* shoving stuff into tortillas again tonight.

tortillas

I’ve gone through food ruts before.  In the summer of 2010 I ate so much sushi I could have grown a dorsal fin.  In 2005 I lived on boursin and angel hair pasta.  And once–not so long ago–I had a serious fling with canned green beans and mustard.  (This is where I turn in the password to this website like a corrupt cop handing over his badge, right?)

I passed through those phases eventually, just like I passed through a period of  adolescence when I wore hoop earrings the size of onion rings.  I expect The Great Tortilla Caper of 2013 will be no different; it too shall pass.  In the meantime, hit me up with some of your favorite meals, will you?  A favorite from your recipe binder or website.  Something to keep us from succumbing to scurvy or quesadilla-induced boredom over here.  Something to lure the Kitchen Muse back.

thunder 5.1 smallWaiting.

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93 Comments Post a comment
  1. I get this way too. We are not everyday Martha Stewarts… I keep an emergency stash of mac n cheese for when I just don’t have two brain cells left to make dinner after a long work week. Go visit a farmer’s market, enjoy this lovely cool weather, you’ll find something to spark that pilot light 🙂

    May 2, 2013
    • My Gawd, in my heart of hearts I love Kraft mac’n’cheese. I like it when it cools a little and thickens. I usually put Crystal hot sauce on it. Sometimes I stir some canned peas in there. So good.

      Such a good idea about the farmer’s market. Ours just started up on Thursday! I work there for my friend who has the goat cheese company, though, so I didn’t get much of a chance to poke around. Next time I’ll get there extra early and I’ll buy up all the good produce before anyone swipes them up. 🙂

      May 3, 2013
  2. This has happened to me so many times – in fact, have been having a dose of it in the last few months. It’s sort of coming back to me now, but not fully. It’s a weird situation to be in – you feel guilty for not cooking. Bloggers Guilt – a bit like tennis elbow for the soul.

    However, I do have a dinner that takes less that fifteen minutes to make so maybe that will help. This ricotta gnocchi – http://www.deliciousdays.com/archives/2009/05/19/15-minutes-to-fame-gnocchi-for-beginners-and-braggarts/ – plus some food processor pesto, and you’re good to go. It is soooooooo good.

    May 2, 2013
    • Um, gnocci is Scott’s favorite food. His absolute number 1, class A, most revered food stuff in the whole freaking world. Before I moved in it was all he made. Sometimes he threw spinach into the cheese sauce, and on those nights he felt insanely proud of himself. We will make this for sure. THANK YOU.

      May 3, 2013
  3. http://allrecipes.com/recipe/slow-cooker-pulled-pork/
    three words: pork tenderloin.root beer.bbq sauce. the best!

    May 2, 2013
    • I have nothing to say about this recipe except expletives. The good kind. The kind where you shout them while wiggling your arms with glee. Holy crap, woman. I have a slow cooker! I can make this! Scott loves root beer! The pieces are all coming together.

      May 3, 2013
      • This is in the slow cooker right now! I hope substituting Dr. Pepper for the root beer works–that’s what I grabbed at the store when I didn’t find a root beer. I just made a really good slaw to go along with this tonight. So thank you! I’ll let you know how it goes….

        May 7, 2013
  4. I’ve gotten into food ruts before too, so I totally understand! I recently found a recipe for a quick spicy soup that’s become one of my new favorites – maybe it will help!
    http://lettuceneversquashourlove.wordpress.com/2013/04/25/hangover-soup/

    May 2, 2013
    • Man, this looks good, Melissa. I have rice noodles already, and it’s about time I spring for red curry paste and fish sauce. I love hot and slightly spicy soups when I’m tired or sick. I always hit the Vietnamese place here when I feel under the weather. I’m really glad you posted it because this looks like a great recipe. Thank you!

      May 3, 2013
  5. http://allrecipes.com/recipe/slow-cooker-pulled-pork/
    3 words: tenderloin,root beer, bbq sauce…unbelievably good!

    May 2, 2013
    • I’m tempted to reiterate everything I said above again here just for emphasis because that recipe looks so freaking good. (I know you had a typo so you reposted the comment–I would have done the same).

      May 3, 2013
  6. I applaud your bravery in admitting this! I have been there, and am only recently clawing my way out of a long and torrid affair with tortilla chips, jarred salsa and shredded cheese. Literally ate this every day for over a week. The will to cook anything else was just gone. I would go to the grocery store and browse the produce aisle totally uninspired. It was a little scary honestly! This recipe saved me because it was easy (I got most of the ingredients from the olive bar at Whole Foods), pretty to look at, and woke up my taste buds to the many, many things I’d been missing! Hope you get over this funk soon – though I love tortillas so it doesn’t sound that bad to me! 😉

    http://www.ibreatheimhungry.com/2013/04/balsamic-grilled-chicken-with-mediterranean-salsa.html

    May 2, 2013
    • Mellissa, this is awesome because my only other obsession right now is olives! Green olives in particular. I’VE BEEN PUTTING THEM ON MY TORTILLAS.

      Good grief. It feels good to get that out.

      Anyway, the recipe looks great. And I hear you walking around the supermarket like a zombie. I went to EarthFare the other day (we don’t have Whole Foods here–isn’t that a bummer?) and I walked around for seriously 40 minutes. I left with a bunch of celery, some beets, and a bottle of white wine. Those were the only things I could commit to. Isn’t that ridiculous? I went in hoping to be inspired for dinner, and I wanted grass-fed beef but they didn’t have the cut I wanted. I practically had a toddler-like meltdown. Yikes. So here’s to some Mediterranean chicken!

      May 3, 2013
  7. oh no – my kitchen slump has been going on for years now, but on days when I really can’t face another bowl of cereal (for breakfast, lunch and dinner – yes, it happens!) I will push myself to make this super duper easy and delicious soup – sauté some onions, add a can of chopped tomatoes, I use that can to measure the amount of water I add, a can of coconut milk, throw in a bunch of lentils (whichever color I have in the cupboard at the time), sprinkle in some cayenne pepper and let it all bubble away until the lentils are cooked – yum! I seem to remember the source I found the recipe from years ago suggested adding fresh pineapple too, but as I am allergic to pineapple I have never tried that!
    And in the meantime those tortilla look pretty tasty!

    May 2, 2013
    • How yummy! I love lentils and I definitely don’t make them often enough. Adding fresh pineapple is such an interesting idea. I bet it makes it both sweet and savory (especially with the cayenne to give it a kick)–awesome! Thank you.

      May 3, 2013
  8. We all get into those kids of ruts! I have been married for 25 years and dinners can get very dull, especially when hubby’s motto is “don’t deviate!” He hates change in his food. lol. So I have to make small changes and see if he notices.

    I’m on a veggie kick lately. I have decided I LOVE a veggie stew with chick peas and red curry paste added. Sometimes a little bit if tomato to the veggie broth too. I serve it over brown rice and it is sooo good!

    I have a hard time with recipes, I tend to not follow or I don’t write down what I am doing so a dish is never the same!

    Good luck getting out of your tortilla rut. It’s not a bad rut to be in though. You can do so many fun things with a tortilla!

    May 2, 2013
    • LeAnn, I could add chickpeas to everything. I adore them. I used to eat hummus almost every day at lunch, but now I might even say I like whole chickpeas even more. I’ll try a veggie soup! I already have celery and carrots and onions. . . I’m on my way!

      May 3, 2013
  9. marianne #

    Hey it happens to all of us, but not all of us has a bog that we post to for all the world to see! I’ve been in a buttered noodle, sausages, and baby carrots slump lately.

    May 2, 2013
    • Good grief, Scott would love to come over to your house and participate in your rut instead of this one. Buttered noodles and sausage are a dream come true to that guy. Last weekend we had a New Orleans-themed dinner at a friend’s house (thankfully. A break from Tortillaland) and he cooked the sausage in a couple cups of water in a skillet. It turned out really great. I wouldn’t have thought to use water at all.

      May 3, 2013
  10. Frosty #

    This Jamie Oliver recipe, known as “chuck ‘n’ bung chicken” among my friends. Totally customizable and delicious. http://www.jamieoliver.com/magazine/recipes-view.php?title=one-tray-bake

    May 2, 2013
    • How awesome that looks! Thank you. An excellent suggestion with an excellent name. I also think it’s hilarious that nobody reviewed the masthead before hitting “publish”. Do you see how the “Look inside” sticker covers up the “o” in “hello”? Ha!

      May 3, 2013
  11. This is one of my favorite recipes and hardly takes any effort at all! http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Island-Kielbasa-in-a-Slow-Cooker/Detail.aspx

    I’ve been in a major food rut as well! My boyfriend is on blood pressure meds and has decided to cut out as much sodium from his diet as possible. That removes so many options!! We’ve been living off of chili made with no salt added beans and canned tomatoes, and variations of Mrs. Dash No Salt Seasonings chicken. Bleh.

    May 2, 2013
    • Angela, Scott is going to FUH-REAK when he sees this recipe. It’s pretty dreamy for a dude who loves loves loooooves kielbasa. Thank you!

      Reduced sodium is hard. We did it for a few weeks a couple months ago and it was tough. Especially since one of my favorite things is sushi with soy sauce. Good luck to you!

      May 3, 2013
  12. My favorite things are always smothered in garlic and herb sauce. I posted the recipe on my blog a couple of months ago. It’s simple and doesn’t require turning on the stove! http://crackersonthecouch.blogspot.com/2013/01/yall-got-no-idea.html?m=0

    May 2, 2013
    • This is exactly the kind of transition I need out of pure tortilla-dom. Rice and beans is totally up my alley these days. I can do that and maybe even incorporate a tortilla the first time…? My neighbor also has an insane herb garden and he doesn’t mind when I go over there and wreak havoc on it. So thank you, Brooke!

      May 3, 2013
      • It’s important to take things slowly. If your rice and beans need to be wrapped in a warm tortilla security blanket, I totally support this…

        May 6, 2013
  13. This recipe looks, and sound a little random, but it’s so stinkin’ easy and is one of my FAVORITE things ever. http://www.jamieoliver.com/recipes/chicken-recipes/chicken-in-milk
    Use a cast iron pot, and I find that putting a lid on it while it’s in the oven is better than leaving it uncovered. I also mop up all the sauce with a good hunk of bread.

    May 2, 2013
    • Ashley, this looks great! I’ve always wanted to braise vegetables in cream, and I just started tenderizing meat in buttermilk, so cooking chicken in milk is right up my alley. Thank you for the recipe and especially for the tips. I hear you on mopping up the sauce with a good hunk of bread–when I see sauce (any kind) on a plate (any plate, including a stranger’s) that HASN’T been mopped up and enjoyed, it makes me want to run across the room with a loaf of bread and take care of it myself. IT’S THE BEST PART!

      May 7, 2013
  14. Oh don’t worry – it seems as though we all go through cooking ruts!! But I’m glad to know it does not just happen to me! My fall back is safron risotto with prawns http://thetravellingchopsticks.wordpress.com/2011/11/12/saffron-and-shrimp-risotto/ or any risotto for that matter! I realise it take a lot of time, but I find all that constant stirring incredibly theraputic, and then when the results are so good and delicious – it gives me a bit of an ego boost! Someimtes it is as simple as that! Good Luck!

    May 2, 2013
    • Yay! I got a little saffron in my Christmas stocking this year. I haven’t used it yet. Your risotto seems like a good dish to use it on. So creamy! Thank you, my friend. I will let you know when I make it.

      May 7, 2013
  15. Ok, so this is something else to do with the tortillas…one of my favorite (easy) things to make. The link is super long and annoying, but it leads to a google doc with the recipe I came up with. Enjoy!

    https://docs.google.com/file/d/1cWZlwXAolQzinWogUyynNs6JBZCIIeQZpPuBw7JRStNPXbHLk4QP8p_sO9vY/edit?usp=sharing

    May 2, 2013
    • Mary I love that you use cumin. It might be my favorite spice. Thank you so much for the recipe. I love a good rotisserie chicken. It makes dinner so much easier!

      May 7, 2013
  16. I try to lure the muse back by eating or cooking something from a new ethnic cuisine (South Indian, African, Cambodian…there’s so many). At the very least it introduces me to some new flavor combinations I have not tried.

    Two recipes that have brought back the creativity for me in the past are Roast Chicken with Georgian spice rub:
    http://origin-splendidtable.publicradio.org/recipes/special_summer_chicken.shtml
    Or Marcus Samuelson’s Pomegranate Rice (scroll down for the recipe):
    http://www.cbsnews.com/2100-500186_162-2076614.html

    PS: I am glad I am not the only one who made the gigantor hoop earring mistake!

    May 2, 2013
    • This rice, Dorothy. The rice. . . it looks amazing. I’ve read over the recipe several times already. Did you see the cardamom rice that Amelia at Bon Appetempt made last week? It has currants in it.(http://www.bonappetempt.com/2013/04/video-attempt-chicken-with-caramelized.html) Ever since I watched her video about it, I’ve been craving a tasty rice dish: I want to make Marcus Samuelson’s immediately, but I can’t find pomegranates in the grocery stores around here right now. But I stocked up on cinnamon sticks, so when I think of a good substitute, I’ll give it a shot. Any ideas?

      May 7, 2013
      • I had not seen that rice recipe, but it looks great (I am always looking for good savory uses for cardamom) thanks for sharing!

        In terms of a substitute for pomegranate seeds, maybe you could use dried cranberries? They aren’t quite as exotic, but they do have a similar sweet/tart flavor.

        May 7, 2013
  17. The strawberries right ņow are luscious. How about dessert for dinner?

    May 2, 2013
    • Yes! Such a good idea. They’re selling strawberries at the farmer’s market near me in large buckets that I want to shove my face into. I didn’t get any last week, but the market happens again this Thursday and I plan to spring for one. I’ll let you know what happens to those berries in the kitchen.

      May 7, 2013
  18. Adriana! #

    I always resort to fish tacos when I’m in a cooking rut. But when I feel like I should put something green on my plate but 1) I want carbs, and 2) I can’t imagine cooking for hours, I resort to this simple and delicious pasta dish: http://www.yumsugar.com/Simple-Pasta-Asparagus-English-Peas-7936147 or my go-to French tart: http://hipparis.com/2012/09/19/locavore-paris-fall-market-shopping-the-perfect-september-tart/. Bonne chance!

    May 2, 2013
  19. When I get in a food rut I go for comfort foods like chili or a big crockpot of minestrone soup. Hang in there and stay away from the ruts:)

    May 2, 2013
  20. No-Brainer Guacamole (to liven-up those tortillas): Smush the guts of one avocado with about the same quantity of sour cream. Dump in a tablespoon of jarred salsa and a couple teaspoons of taco seasoning (like those packets you buy to spice-up ground beef). Add a squirt of lime juice (bottled is fine – lemon works, too) to keep it from turning brown.

    It helps if you let it meld in the fridge for a bit before serving………..

    I call this one Easy-Peasy because I usually have all of the ingredients on-hand.

    May 2, 2013
  21. Teresa #

    Using zucchini to make “pasta” is one of my favorite go-tos – easy way to get in some veggies and it’s delicious, too. Easily paired with any kind of pasta sauce. Simply peel zucchini into strips, salt, and leave in a colander. (Put a bowl full of water over the zucchini pile so that it gets all compressed.) Let soak for an hour, rinse, and warm in a saucepan with sauce of your choice. Easy and delicious!

    May 2, 2013
  22. Cindy Rogers #

    First of all, she’s a fairy, not a muse. This could actually the heart of your problem: she’s insulted at being called a muse.

    May 2, 2013
  23. I just posted my first recipe for simple grilled chicken with summer vegetables yesterday!! And I posted a pic of my dog waiting for food too! Haha. Except he’s my dog nephew technically. Anyway, I hate food ruts. It’s hard to be inventive in the kitchen sometimes! I cook a lot of easy recipes that I just kind of make up as I go. Tonight I might have to incorporate tortillas! Have you ever had Joseph’s whole wheat flax and oat bran tortillas? They are super delicious and soft and healthy, if you’re looking for variety during your tortilla time!

    May 2, 2013
  24. After 50 + years of marriage, cooking is sometimes a real chore. When boredom strikes, I tend to start sorting out my breakfast recipes and go for a nice, but easy breakfast dish for dinner. Or pull out the slow cooker and dump stuff into it … frozen pork, frozen chicken, frozen meatballs, followed by things to make them saucy. Or better yet, hand a spatula or wooden spoon to my husband and tell him, he is in charge of dinner tonight. Sometimes he has great ideas, other times, his great idea is to call for pizza. No matter what he comes up with, it beats the blank in my mind.

    May 2, 2013
  25. When I get in a rut it’s BLT ‘s all the way. With the variation of BLAT if avocado is in season. At times like these the sandwich press is my best friend. When anyone complains I tell them that they could always fire up the BBQ and throw on a few sausages or a steak. Sometimes we all just need a break.

    May 2, 2013
  26. Marinate and grill, everything!

    May 2, 2013
  27. My husband, being a chef for a living, knows your pain all too well. Whenever he’s just not feeling it, we have two remedies. The first is to give yourself permission to enjoy the less-effort foods. Popcorn and sangria for dinner is sometimes the very best idea.

    Second, sometimes I pick up a fun new cook book for these occasions. He’s got quite a collection by now, so it can be hard to find the right one to do the trick, but I did recently score with this little gem:
    http://www.amazon.com/Breakfast-Dinner-Florentine-Rancheros-Sunny-Side-Up/dp/1594746133

    May 2, 2013
  28. Anne #

    I made this slow cooker carnitas recipe over the weekend, it was delicious. Try it on a tortilla!
    http://www.gimmesomeoven.com/crispy-slow-cooker-carnitas/

    May 2, 2013
  29. Oh! I’ve got this great recipe for quesedillas….first, get some tortillas….

    Hahaha! I kid, I kid!

    But I feel your pain: I just found out my favorite frozen frozen entree has been discontinued and *was* just on closeout at my grocery store (emphasis on the word “was.”)

    Back to the drawing board!

    May 2, 2013
  30. Right now I have most of my cooking dictated to me in 6-7 hour blocks. When I cook for myself, it usually needs to be easy after my week!

    For a super simple main course, try:
    Seasoned softened butter( however you like -I love cooked bacon and fresh herbs) rubbed under the skin of chicken thighs/legs/breasts – or a whole chicken. Roast at 400 degrees until juices run clear and skin is golden and crispy. (Approximately 40 minutes) If desired, whisk 1/3 of pan drippings with 4-6 tablespoons flour, salt and pepper, the same herbs as used in the butter, and 1-3 tablespoons Dijon for a quick gravy. Go easy on yourself and open a bag of salad and a carton of grape tomatoes, with a splash of vinaigrette on the side. Voila! Dinner is served, and nobody stressed or got bored in the process.

    PS: The gravy or vinaigrette both work on potatoes too, should you feel like simultaneously roasting something extra. But you already knew that.

    May 2, 2013
  31. Ohh…when I actually do feel like cooking…especially since they are out of my favorite frozen entree at the grocery store….burgers are a good go-to:

    DDP’s Hamburger Recipe:

    I usually buy about 1lb or so of hamburger.
    1 or 2 cloves of garlic
    A large pinch…maybe a teaspoon and a half of each of the following:
    Rosemary, Thyme, Basil, and sometimes Oregano.
    A sploosh of catsup…maybe a tablespoon.
    A pinch of sugar, preferably brown or maple syrup (or Pick a Peppa sauce)…optional
    About a tablespoon of soy sauce
    About a large tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce
    If I’m feeling really fancy, I’ll incorporate about 1/4 cup or so of minced onion.
    NEVER EVER use salt.

    Mix that all together with your hands until just blended. Don’t overwork the meat. Also I use the lowest fat beef I can find. That way you are not overwhelmed by the greasy taste of the fat, and the herbs and garlic shine through.
    Garlic is the key…never forget the garlic!
    Also, a squeeze of lemon juice is also really good if you want it to taste a little like Greek Keftedes. (Of course, I’m spoiled because the lemon juice I used would come from our Meyer lemon tree.) And you could also add a pinch of mint too.

    This recipe is just based on what we have on hand. You’ll probably want to experiment with the amounts of things to your taste.

    This usually makes two big thick burgers plus some left over for a small one, but you can divide it however you like. Best cooked on the grill, but pan frying works too.

    Dayum, I am hungry now!!

    May 2, 2013
  32. Amy #

    Oh my gosh, Katherine, I’ve TOTALLY been in the same rut lately. I have zero desire to cook. I’ve been coming up with all kinds of meals that require the least amount of effort as possible. I think just give it time and you’ll get sick of green beans and mustard and all of a sudden, you’ll get the urge to cook. No point in forcing it. You need a quick, easy recipe to get you back in the kitchen…do some sort of one-pot pasta meal.

    May 2, 2013
  33. I don’t remember who I got this from…I hope it wasn’t you but if it was THANK YOU . It is amazing. If it wasn’t, enjoy.

    Mixed Mushroom Baked Risotto
    Ingredients
    2 tablespoons butter
    2 tablespoons olive oil
    10 shitake mushrooms, sliced thin and in half again
    10 button mushrooms, sliced thin and then in half again
    1 teaspoon dried sage
    2 cloves garlic, chopped fine
    1 1/2 cups arborio rice
    4 1/2 cups chicken stock
    1 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
    1 tablespoon butter for serving
    Directions
    Preheat the oven to 350°.
    Add the butter and oil to a large, non-stick frying pan until they get all melty together. Add the sage. Add the mushrooms.
    Cook the mushrooms for 2 minutes, then add the garlic.
    Cook for another 3 minutes or until mushrooms are cooked through and goldeny.
    Put the whole mushroom mixture into a 10 cup baking dish. Add the rice and stock and stir through.
    Cover the dish tightly with foil and put in the oven.
    Bake for 40-45 minutes or until most of the stock is absorbed and the rice is al dente.
    Add the Parmesan, butter and salt and pepper to taste.
    Stir until the butter is melted and serve to people that you love or at least like a lot.

    May 2, 2013
  34. How I loved hoop earrings. I can’t help you because I think in-a-tortilla is food’s highest calling. Tonight we had avocado tacos for dinner. It’s the best not-cooking there is.

    May 3, 2013
  35. So funny – I have a few meals, like yours, that I like to call my “single girl dinners” – meaning, meals I eat when I’m cooking for myself and nobody is watching.

    Number one is an egg mcmuffin – english muffin, eggs, whatever veggies and cheese are lying around, sriracha. I actually love that meal.

    Right behind that meal is, much like yours, the Sad Bowl of Black Beans – I heat up a can of black beans, top it with some sour cream and salsa, scoop it up with chips while sitting on the couch in front of Wheel of Fortune.

    It’s actually quite liberating!

    Anyway, on a more inspired front, how about a little quinoa salad, with asparagus, mushrooms and feta (or goat cheese)? plus avocado and walnuts? I’ve been stuck on this one lately – it really is good. Here’s my recipe: http://carleybeans.blogspot.com/2013/04/an-object-at-rest.html

    May 3, 2013
  36. Lyn #

    Even the thought of canned green beans makes me a little ill, otherwise I’d ask for your canned green beans and mustard recipe. ;>)

    May 3, 2013
  37. Joe G. #

    The following is the exact polar opposite of your blog: http://thugkitchen.com/

    warning: it’ll make you laugh

    May 3, 2013
    • Joe G. #

      That’s not to say your blog isn’t funny. It’s very funny.

      May 3, 2013
      • Jenny #

        Thug Kitchen is my favorite thing on the internet these days.

        May 3, 2013
      • I didn’t even get past their tagline before I knew it was going to be hilarious.

        May 3, 2013
    • You posted this. . . what? 30 seconds ago? I’m cracking up already. It’s so funny!

      May 3, 2013
  38. Jenny #

    When I’m in a rut I do Magic Sauce (you have to giggle when you say that) over pasta because it’s easy as crap and tastes ridiculously amazing and it makes me feel vaguely chef-y. Here it is in its entirety, and it’s been years and I can’t remember where I got the recipe but I think it was on a blog and it’s some famous recipe or something? And they probably didn’t call it Magic Sauce?

    1 large can whole peeled San Marzano tomatoes
    1 large-ish white onion, peeld and sliced in half
    About 6 TBSP butter. REAL butter. I say “about” because I really don’t remember. Not a whole stick. Just, most of it. And these days I use a giant butter log from a farm here and so I just kind of hack of a big chunk.

    Empty the tomatoes into a large heavy pot, poke at the tomatoes with a wooden spoon to break them open a bit. Put the onion halves in. Put the big butter chunk in. Heat on mediumish heat until things are nice and bubbly, butter’s melted, etc., turn the heat down and simmer for 45 minutes or so, stirring and crushing the tomatoes against the side of the pot as you go. DONE.

    Meanwhile, cook a pot of pasta and when ready, top with the Magic Sauce.

    Those three ingredients cook down into this mind-bendingly delicious thick tomato sauce that is tangy and sweet and positively indecent. The original recipe, I remember, called for discarding the onions, but sweet baby Jesus, why would you discard amazing buttery and tomato-y onions? I eat them. Sometimes on the pasta. Sometimes for a snack the next day.

    May 3, 2013
    • This is a Marcella Hazan recipe, only she only calls for using one half of the onion. I usually eat this with bread – just bread dipped in the sauce. I lived on this recipe for two weeks once.

      May 6, 2013
      • Jenny #

        Oh my gosh, yes, that is it! I seriously make this about once a week.

        May 6, 2013
        • Jenny and Tina,

          I’m making this right now. I cannot wait to eat that onion.

          Thank you so much!

          May 6, 2013
        • This sauce tastes PHENOMENAL. I’ve never had buttery tomato sauce before and holy crap is it good.

          May 6, 2013
          • Jenny #

            RIGHT?!? I consider it my duty to the Earth to spread the gospel of this sauce far and wide.

            May 7, 2013
  39. K Conner #

    “Espinachas con Garbanzos”

    http://smittenkitchen.com/blog/2010/03/spinach-and-chickpeas/

    Grab a bottle of Rioja, cheese, and olives. Maybe throw a poached egg on top! My go to no brainer 20 minute dinner.

    May 3, 2013
  40. Hi Katharine!

    Looks like you already have enough recipes here to get you out of your cooking rut, but here is one more. It is a Nigel Slater recipe, but I have renamed it, since it’s SO YUMMY!! 🙂

    I also have a recipe for ricotta gnocchi if Scott wants to try that in contrast to potato gnocchi. My boyfriend is a big gnocchi freak too, so one dinner party recently we did BOTH types of gnocchi with 2 different sauces. The cheese sauce was supposed to go on the potato gnocchi, but my friends ended up putting cheese sauce on the ricotta gnocchi instead — cheese on cheese! It was awesome.

    Lastly, if you are tired of main course recipes, let me know if you want a dessert one, because I have some that I tried recently that are terrific.

    Trust that all is well with you!!!! :o)

    Wenying :o)

    YUMMY CHINESE CHICKEN (4 servings) (MARINATE FOR AT LEAST 1 HOUR)
    Ingredients
    – 8 – 12 chicken thighs
    – 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil
    – 1 tablespoon of light soy sauce
    – 1 tablespoon of lime juice
    – 1 tablespoon of fish sauce
    – 1 clove of garlic
    – 1 stalk of lemongrass
    – 1 level teaspoon of sugar
    For the sauce:
    – 3 tablespoons of fish sauce
    – 6 tablespoons of water
    – 3 tablespoons of rice vinegar
    – 6 tablespoons of caster sugar
    – 1 thumb-sized lump of fresh ginger
    – 2 large hot chillies
    – Juice of 2 limes
    – 1 teaspoon of light soy sauce

    Method
    – Put the oil, soy sauce, lime juice and fish sauce in a small, screw-top jar
    – Peel and crush the garlic
    – Thinly slice the lemongrass, removing any tough outer layers
    – Add to the jar with the sugar
    – Cover and shake thoroughly
    – Then pour into a shallow bowl
    – Add the chicken pieces
    – Set aside for at least an hour or overnight
    – Put the fish sauce, water, rice vinegar and sugar in a small saucepan
    – Bring to the boil
    – Peel the ginger, chop it finely, then crush it to a pulp with the flat of the blade
    – Add the ginger to the pan
    – Let the mixture boil till it has started to thicken slightly
    – Leave to cool
    – Remove the stems from the chilies
    – Halve the flesh
    – Chop it finely
    – Don’t discard the seeds
    – Stir them into the sauce with the lime juice and soy
    – Set the oven at 200 degrees Celsius
    – Place the marinated chicken in a roasting tin / baking dish
    – Roast for 25 – 30 minutes, till their skin has become lightly golden and their flesh is cooked through
    – Serve with the chili dipping sauce, spooning it over the sizzling chicken

    May 4, 2013
    • I love that your recipes are in Celsius now! Thanks for this. It looks amazing and I really am going to make it–I just need to figure out where I can get lemongrass in this town. We don’t have a good selection of grocery stores, but I have a hunch.

      I made ricotta gnocci once for a soup and it blew my mind. Where is your recipe from? I’d hate for you to type it out. Could you take a photo of it and email me? And, um, desserts are always welcome if it’s not too much trouble. I’m dying to know what you’ve had because I haven’t had any amazing desserts lately.

      May 7, 2013
  41. Now you’ve entered *my* cooking domain! My best Vegan Easy dish is nachos. Here are the layers. Refried beans, diced avocado, diced mango, chopped black olives, sweet onion salsa (comes in a tub from Aldi, but you know what you like), topped with chopped sweet greens (spinach is a fav). Sometimes I substitute strawberries for the mango.

    Thunder: Ah, Kierkegaard understood my existential angst. I wait by the table for food to fall only to find it’s tortillas. Sigh.

    May 4, 2013
    • I could eat those nachos right up! And I happen to have a ripe mango, too. I’ve been putting mango in my tortillas with rice and beans and avocado, so this is right up my alley. Thank you, Sandy Sue!

      Maybe my next dog will be named Kierkegaard. I could call it Kierky for short–that has a ring to it, no?

      May 6, 2013
  42. I know I’m only enabling you here, but our simplest dinner when we don’t feel like cooking also involves putting things in tortillas: smear some avocado on your tortilla, toss in some chicken (that’s been skillet-cooked in olive oil– the easiest), then squeeze over lime juice + hot sauce. Done.

    I’m also fond of baked polenta with stuff (like tomato sauce– the Magic Sauce someone mentioned above– plus basil & cheese) on top. And that’s also barely cooking because you just stick in the oven, and at one point, stir some butter into it.

    Or! Some kind of rice or grains, topped with garlicky/lemony steamed/sauteed kale, topped with a fried/poached egg. (But then you have to stand around chopping up all that kale first…)

    Still, I think of all three of those as my favorite barely-cooking recipes. Especially the avocado chicken taco one, because Paula always makes that one, so I literally don’t have to cook at all 🙂

    May 4, 2013
  43. jenny_o #

    My kitchen muse has been gone a good twenty years now at least.

    It may even be possible that I never had one, because I never made the lovely kinds of things I keep seeing here!

    Hope you get back in the groove soon. I find when I’m tired it’s hard to cook. Maybe you need a rest, then things will fall into place …

    Thunder is very pensive in that photo. Must be thinking deep thoughts.

    May 4, 2013
  44. Cindy Rogers #

    Cooked Water

    “Acqua cotta” is a rustic Tuscan soup that is about like Stone Soup. It’s made of very simple ingredients and is delicious! I first had it on top of an enchanting hilltown in Tuscany called Civitella di Val di Chiana. If you look it up, you’ll see it is beautiful and has a very sad history.

    1 chopped leek
    1 1/2 chopped celery stalks
    3 T evoo
    1/4 lb. kale
    hot red pepper
    1 C. tomato pulp
    3 C. water
    salt
    2 eggs
    2 slices country-style bread
    parsley
    1/4 C. parmigiano-reggiano cheese

    Saute the veg. in the olive oil. Add tomato, pepper and water. Simmer 20 min. or till veg are very soft. Stir the cheese into the soup. Put toasted bread at bottom of each of two soup bowls. Poach eggs lightly, then slide each on top of a bread slice. Pour veg soup over.

    May 5, 2013
    • Cindy, thank you. I will gladly make this lovely soup.

      I looked it up. What a sad story, indeed.

      May 6, 2013
  45. Here is an excellent and easy tomato soup. I’ve made it with all both canned and fresh tomatoes -all good. http://www.thekitchn.com/recipe-egyptian-tomato-soup-123308

    Thunder looks like she might be tired of a life of tortillas.

    May 6, 2013
    • Tina, I read the recipe and the description and I just love the idea of a hot soup on a blistering hot day. (I drink hot tea all summer long, for some reason.) I tried to grow pimento peppers in my garden last year and they didn’t turn out, so I’m glad this recipe calls for the jarred variety. I’m on it!

      May 6, 2013
  46. http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/sweet_and_sour_chicken_52908
    This will lure you in every way.. good luck Katherine.

    May 7, 2013
    • This looks so good, Rhema, and easy too! I’ve had good success with BBC recipes in the past. Thank you for reminding me that they exist. I haven’t looked for them in forever and I’m going to have fun scrolling back through the website you linked to.

      May 7, 2013
  47. I have been in a food rut for weeks. Mostly because of school and my work term. I’m surviving on Kraft Dinner and crackers. I’ve decided to be okay with it. Mostly because I really like Kraft Dinner.

    May 7, 2013
    • your mention of “Kraft Dinner” reminds me of a Barenaked Ladies reference in “If i had a million dollars,” where they say they would eat Kraft dinner even if they HAD a million dollars, because it’s good. Here’s my question: What is Kraft Dinner? Because obviously I’m an American and know what Kraft is, but YOU are Canadian, and the Barenaked Ladies are Canadian, and you refer to something as an actual “dinner” from Kraft. I’m curious. Explain yourself.

      May 7, 2013
      • I thought the exact same thing (minus the Barenaked Ladies reference, though I do remember it)! By Kraft dinner do you just mean Kraft mac’ n’ cheese? Because if so I agree 100%. If not, I would like to know what these other “dinners” are and where I can acquire one. I need to try one so I can decide if I need to revise my plan for how to live my life once I get a million dollars.

        May 7, 2013
    • Also, movita–can you just do me a favor and check those crackers REALLY CAREFULLY before you put them in your mouth? Thanks.

      May 7, 2013
  48. It. happens.
    was there even one comment about it not happening? probably not. because i go through continual ruts (and we’ve even talked about this before). You’ll break out of it; your muse will come back. And i don’t know about anyone else, but green beans and mustard sound a little avant-garde/inspired, so.
    sometimes i eat Le Seur baby peas from the can. BECAUSE THEY ARE DELICIOUS.
    you can vent to me directly if you would like *I’m here*

    May 7, 2013
    • I love those freaking peas. How are they more delicious than all the other peas? What is their magic? Other canned peas are chalkier but La Seur peas just melt in your mouth. When I am not eating them out of the can, I like pouring them onto pasta with a light cream sauce and prosciutto.

      May 7, 2013
      • Jenny #

        I’m going to go rogue tonight and put Le Seur baby peas IN THE TOMATO SAUCE WHAT. This is my most favorite thread ever, I’m learning some great easy recipes. Which is good because I don’t get home from work until 7:00 most nights and I suck at planning ahead.

        May 7, 2013
  49. It happens. To everyone. I think food ruts can sometimes be best soothed by an all day, pour-yourself-into-it cooking meditative experience, if you will. Two weeks ago (I think) this is what I mustered up. The smell of roasting garlic and tomatoes, red wine reductions, fresh herbs, and searing meat, should (I hope) get something stirring deep inside of you. The food muse shall return. If not today, then another. Hopefully sooner rather than later.

    http://coffeetablecookbook.wordpress.com/2013/04/14/rack-of-lamb-with-roast-tomato-and-cannellini-bean-mint-stew/

    May 7, 2013
  50. D Childs #

    Until your muse returns here is a Super easy recipie that tastes super fancy (courtesy of Real Simple)

    8 oz ziti
    1/2 bunch of asparagus (about 12 spears) cut into 2 inch pieces
    1 16oz tub of mild fresh salsa
    4 oz soft goat cheese
    1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined

    Cook shirmp in small amount of olive oil for two minutes and then flip. remove from heat and keep in pan for an additional minute. remove from pan and set aside
    Cook ziti in boiling water for 10 minutes, add asparagus and cook for 5 minutes. drain well
    Heat salsa in skillet over medium heat, stiring frequently until tomatoes release their juices. Add cheese and stir until cheese is completely melted
    Toss with shrimp, pasta and asparagus

    Buon gusto!

    May 12, 2013
  51. Jean #

    Dude, I have been feeling the exact same way, so I came here for inspiration. Ha! I am going to make Awesomesauce tonight, I think. Glad to know it happens to all of us.

    May 13, 2013
  52. I actually like the idea of a tortilla rut – my husband had to bring it to my attention that my default dinner is tacos. But anyways, this recipe is really good and since I’m not Paleo, I cheat and put it on top of rice. Layers within layers, I tell you: http://earthenergyyoga.com/cauliflower-spanish-rice-chicken-arroz-con-pollo/

    May 14, 2013
  53. Obviously you need chocolate and alcohol here’s a muse caller. Johnny Walker Brownies
    http://petaeats.blogspot.com.au/2013/05/johnny-walker-brownies.html

    May 20, 2013
  54. Try Nigella Lawson’s brownies from the domestic goddess book. It has eggs for protein.
    Of course my rut has left me months behind in blog reading so maybe you are already over the tortillas:-)

    June 8, 2013

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