Mostly it involves a lot of spinach

By Mir
October 24, 2008

Many thanks to everyone who took the time to share in the last post how they handle kids and activities and arranging bread on their skulls while laying on the floor. I really enjoyed reading the array of responses, and confess that it was a relief for me to read that my kids aren’t the only ones activity-hopping. I guess I have concerns about them never finding their “thing,” (or, alternatively, giving up on the thing that they’re actually quite adept at—swimming is the first sport Chickadee’s shown real potential in, and her reaction is a resounding “whatever”), but yes, of course, y’all made me realize that at this age, flitting around is the right way to go.

In fact, when they get home from school today, I’m going to tell them that I was just kidding when I told them to “get a job,” earlier. Chickadee spent a couple of hours polishing her resume, true, but I think they’ll be relieved.

Anyway, I was just making some pizza dough, and realized I wanted to talk about food.

The new regime of weekly menu planning continues apace (though with fewer smashed fingers, thankfully), and I am enjoying this with a fervor that makes me suspect that underneath my slow-beating, sloth-like heart, there’s a tiny little bit of Martha-wannabe. Which is a little scary. But good, too, because we’re eating exceptionally well, and in truth this tiny bit of planning actually enables me to be even lazier than usual.

(I know. It’s hard to imagine me EVEN LAZIER. But sometimes it happens.)

We’re still getting a good mix of tried-and-true favorites and some new recipes. Allow me to take a moment here, too, to say that if you’re one of the five people on the planet who is not yet reading A Year of CrockPotting, you need to start IMMEDIATELY. I am thinking of enrolling my children in a 12-step program to deal with their addiction to these babies. Because every single Sunday when we sit down to plan the week before grocery shopping, they start chanting “TURKEY MEATBALLS! TURKEY MEATBALLS! TURKEY MEATBALLS!” Anyway, despite the fact that my children have latched onto a single (awesome) recipe from there, I do rely heavily on my crockpot and have found a lot of awesome recipes on Stephanie’s site, there. So check it out.

In the course of doing this, I’ve discovered that I have two “rescue” foods. (It’s sort of like having lifelines, only I don’t have to call anyone to admit that I have no idea what the capital of Uzbekistan is.)

The first one is frittata. Sometimes I have a pang or two about all those eggs, so now I mix eggs with Egg Beaters or some other FakeEggProductInABox. But the beauty here is that a great frittata can be made in about ten minutes, tops, and you can put almost anything into it. Proof positive that my children are weird: Their favorite is spinach, onion and feta. (For that matter, they also like a handful of spinach leaves for snack. I swear I had nothing to do with this, but I’m not arguing.) If you’ve ever wilted spinach, you know that that whole giant bag you get at the grocery store shrinks down to about half a cup in your frying pan, so I feel reasonably virtuous when I serve this for dinner.

Sometimes I feel the need to counteract that virtue with home-made pan fries. I’M ONLY HUMAN.

The second one is pizza. Like fritatta, you can throw on (in) almost anything. And that’s why we’ve been having pizza or frittata most Friday nights—it uses up the leftovers from earlier in the week. Unlike frittata, I actually have to REMEMBER my plan sometime before 5:00, and make some dough for the crust, but that’s one of the advantages of working from home. I can take a break and go in the next room and mix up the dough and close it in the microwave to rise while I go back to work. Then, if I’m lucky, Otto will come home and go to heat something up and ask me why the microwave is full of dough. (That one just never gets old.) (Also in the “never gets old” category: Responding “EEEEK!” to the other one saying “Boo!”, and Otto coming home and saying he’s going to go change and plaintively responding, “Don’t change! I love you just the way you aaaaaaaare!”)

None of this is to say that I don’t ever screw up the planning. Tonight when we build our pizzas we’ll have our choice of the standards the kids like—spinach, ham and pineapple, or pepperoni—but also grilled veggies, barbecued chicken, or some eggplant parmesan. Somehow this week’s menu was extremely amenable to the Friday Leftover Finale.

But just a few handy little tips I’d like to pass along:
1) Those turkey meatballs never last until Friday, which is fine, because no one wants cranberries on their pizza or in their frittata.
2) There will always be leftover rice that gets thrown away. Unless you get in a tizzy about always throwing away leftover rice and make less, in which case you will run out of rice and the carb-addicted people in your house will whine. And then you will remark to no one in particular that yes, people are whining about not having enough brown rice, what a wonderful world this is. (They will not be amused.)
3) Split pea soup—delicious though it may be—is not a suitable pizza topping.

You’re welcome.


  1. Megan

    We do omelets rather than fritatta (no heating up the oven in the AUGH season of summer) and a current favorite is avocado, cream cheese and tomato. It’s our Sunday tradition (all of two months old) and we lerves it, yes we do.

    I have a weird relationship with crock pots since my Mother went through an interesting phase when she decided we should eat dinner for breakfast (breakfast! The most important meal of the day! No with onion-laden pot-roast! YAY!!) which meant waking up to a house smelling of onion and garlic. every. damn. day – scars I tell you, I has ’em. So when I was given five (5!! Because my mother also felt that registering for a gift list is tacky) crock pots for my wedding I happily re-gifted them within two months. ANYWAY the point is that two days ago I bought my very first ownly own crock pot and although it’s still in the trunk of the car I think I’m nearly ready to let it into my house. I shall christen it with new england clam chowder which blesses everything. Then I will look into TURKEY MEATBALLS, but one step at a time.

  2. Debora Silkotch

    Long time reader, first time commenter. About cranberries on pizza: a few months ago I discovered my absolute favorite pizza EVER! It’s made with white sauce, smoked chicken, dried cranberries, gorgonzola and provolone cheeses, and freshly diced tomatoes.

    Yarg, now I’m all hungry.

  3. Katie

    I have ingredients for homemade pizzas (sauce, pepperoni, canned pineapple, etc) but I keep forgetting that magic hour when I need to make the dough. Oops.

    Our fall backs are chicken stir fry (a couple of chicken breasts, bag of frozen stir fry veggies) and tuna melts (can of tuna mixed with mayo on hamburger buns with a slice of cheese).

  4. crockpot lady

    thank you so much for your sweet words, Mir. They made my day.

    thank you to chickadee and monkey for liking my meatballs. You are invited over any day.

    bring your mom.


  5. Otto

    It’s Tashkent, in case you were wondering. I can be your life line.


  6. Kim

    Left over rice is fantastic for stir-frying said rice (it stir fries better when cold). Scramble a couple eggs, add veggies and rice, viola! Instant Asian food-night. I likes it reheated with my scrambled eggs in the morning, too.

  7. MaryP

    My youngest’s favourite after-school snack these days, which she invented and cooks herself, is stir-fried day-old rice laced with a heap of sliced, wilted spinach. She dumps it in a bowl, splooshes soy sauce all over and happily takes it up to her room to chat with friends on IM, er, do her homework.

  8. Amy

    Yesterday morning, I looked in the fridge & saw a chicken. I knew I’d be home too late to make a chicken, and that I wouldn’t be home for dinner tonight OR tomorrow night. So I threw a cup of brown rice, a giant can of stewed tomatoes, some broth, some seasoning & the sliced up chicken in the crockpot. When I got home eleventy-hours later, I had an awesome meal. The year of crockpotting site has really helped me think about the crockpot more – and I have been using it at least once a week. YAY! for crockpots. and now I will have to look up those turkey meatballs.

  9. Lori

    Here’s a sandwich for you: Plain bagel with cream cheese, avocado and BACON! YUMMMMMMMM!

  10. amanda

    We joined a CSA this year, and it has totally screwed up my menu planning. The share is done soon, so could you possibly start posting your menu to give us all some inspiration?

  11. Sheryl

    I make pizza every Friday night, and I SWEAR by <a href=”” this recipe, because the dough doesn’t have to rise. If you decide to try it, stick it in the oven for about 7 minutes before you add sauce and toppings. I will try the turkey meatballs.

  12. el-e-e

    We do leftovers on Fridays a lot lately, too (and breakfast-for-dinner), and my favorite thing is to call it “Leftovers On Parade!” The eyeroll it gets from my Husband is awe.some.

  13. tammy

    No mashed potatoes?

  14. Tal

    Well, for what it’s worth leftover rice and egg is one of my most favourite comfort foods ever. Heat up the rice a bit in a small pan, add two egss, scramble up and cook until, well, cooked. Lots of pepper. Yum!

  15. Lindy

    My husband’s favorite pizza toppings are tater wedges and turkey & swiss sandwiches. I’m not kidding. Then he covers it all in ketchup. Nom nom nom.

  16. ccr in MA

    My dad used to come home from work and announce that he was going to go change. When we said, “Into what?”, he would always say, “A werewolf!” Still cracks me up for some reason.

  17. Jess

    Otto is a riot. :)

    I could also use meal planning help. I used to do it really well, but then my husband was deployed and now it’s me and the picky kid who won’t eat “stuff mixed together”. (Part of it is sensory, but part of it is pickiness.) And her list of preferred foods is getting shorter. She no longer likes pancakes OR scrambled eggs. Sigh. And if I eat much more pizza (which we do make at home, at least), I’m going to go crazy.

    Also, I never make the correct amount of ANY carbs. Drives me crazy.

  18. sheila

    We stopped eating out at all and started making alot of our own pizza lately…you know, when the stock left us broke and alone? lol
    It’s nice that everyone can create their own meal.
    And speaking of crockpots, yesterday I made a pork sirloin roast in there for the first time. Tomorrow is a whole roasting chicken. And one of my favs is corned beef (topped off by broiling after the crock for 5 minutes sprinked w/brown sugar.
    Great, Now I’m hungry again!

  19. Jenny

    We use up our leftover rice with our old standby, “Chicken-Rice Goo.” We usually have rice and lettuce in the fridge, and usually some cooked chicken (or — if it’s uncooked, it’s pretty easy to throw it in a pot which you chop veggies), but basically chicken-rice goo is a bed of lettuce, with rice on top, and chicken on top of that, topped with ranch dressing (low fat!) and then mixed together. If we have extra veggies, we chop those and throw ’em in too, and sometimes some shredded cheese. But since rice is one of my favorite things EVER (I think it’s inherited — my grandfather would eat cooked rice with butter and sugar for breakfast.) it doesn’t usually last very long anyway.

  20. natasha

    In this family, the leftovers always hide themselves in wraps. There is just something about ’em. I swear you could put spaghetti in a tortilla and roll it up and it would be eaten in minutes in this house!

    Also, wraps are a great excuse to make sweet potato fries in the oven, or zucchini fries as a fry-type shape is the only one my son consumes vegetables in.

  21. Headless Mom

    I love Steph and the magic that is her crock pot. I haven’t yet tried the turkey meatballs but I think you just figured out a portion of our menu for next week. Thanks!

  22. Brian

    Is split pea soup suitable for anything?

  23. MomCat

    I like putting leftover spaghetti in a frittata.

    With all this food talk, I’m starving now. Too bad we don’t have a handful of spinach in the fridge! ;)

  24. hannita

    I hadn’t heard of this crockpot site and now I am enthralled! Enthralled I tell you!

  25. Anna

    Really? If Steph’s kids like the meatballs, and your kids like the meatballs… maybe I’ll try it.

  26. AnandreJenn

    1. Will try the turkey meatballs…next week, just got back from the store and I am good for protein for the week.
    2. A little rice, a little milk, some cinnamon and sugar plus the micro make a good hot cereal for breakfast
    3. Split pea soup is great with pancakes. Swedish pancakes if you want to be traditional (think crepes)

    Quesadillas are also great for using up leftovers. (and sneaking in stuff they normally won’t touch) It helps if you chop things up a bit.

  27. carrien

    Fried rice. Once a week, for lunch or dinner. You’ll never have to throw it away again.

    Fry up chopped onion and garlic, a few chopped veggies, some leftover meat maybe, add in your rice and stir fry until warm, make a space in the middle of the pan, crack open a few eggs, add some soy sauce and scramble them up. Stir in with the rest when firm and voila, dinner, and no leftovers.

    I like to add black pepper, hoisin sauce and oyster sauce s well to the concoction, my kids like to drizzle spiced rice vinegar over it.

  28. The Other Leanne

    I love my crockpot(s) and want to marry it/them/us. The best part about slow-cooking is coming home to the smell of dinner ready-to-eat…especially in fall and winter when it’s all good warm comfort food. My only problem with it is that it requires me to be organized and timely in the morning.
    I have to check out this website now and bless you for sharing it.

  29. Kim

    I think you’ll be adding fried rice to the Friday rotation! A little rice goes a long way for this dish, and it actually works better when the rice is cold and leftover. I agree with the others… scramble one egg, chop up your leftover protein from the week (cooked chicken, ham, hamburgers, whatever), add leftover vegetables or even a handful of frozen mixed vegetables, and a little sauce. The best is nuoc mam (fish sauce from a Vietnamese market), but low-sodium soy sauce, stir fry sauce, hoisin.. they all work!

  30. Azul

    Our favorite rescue meal is breakfast burritos for dinner. Scramble together Sausage, finely diced Potatoes, Egg, and Sharp Cheddar. Roll in a homemade tortilla fresh off the comal, and if you’re my husband, smother the whole thing in some leftover green or red chile from some dinner or another earlier in the week.

    Man, is it dinner time yet?

  31. jennielynn

    Do your kids like breakfast rice? That’s where all my leftover rice goes.

  32. jess

    We do the “Boo!” thing, too, except our reply is, “Ah!” instead of “Eek!”

    Me: Boo!
    Hubby: AH!
    Me: Booooo!
    Hubby: AHHHHHH!

    Ummm…you get the idea.

  33. Heather

    Homemade pizza is one of our fall-back dinners, too. Although tonight we’re folding it in half and calling it calzone. Totally different! No dinner ruts here! Hee.

  34. Heidi

    I haven’t read the comments yet, but if you don’t time the pizza crust right, it won’t matter if you already have a Bobili crust on hand. (It’s so good we even have a tune for it!) And, it comes with great sauce. Add extra sharp cheddar, lots of sliced garlic, mushrooms, black olives, and (part-way through the cooking time) sliced tomatoes, and you come up with what we’re having tonight! Ummm, Bobili…

  35. Heidi

    Actually, it’s spelled Boboli, but that doesn’t change the wonderfulness one iota.

  36. Erin

    Ah, leftover rice. My favorite breakfast food.

    Take some rice, about a cup-ish and dump it in a bowl. Pour some milk in the bowl. Maybe 1/2 a cup? Dump some brown sugar on top. Add a little more. Stir. Stick the bowl in the microwave (with a plate under it to catch boil overs) and nuke it for … 5 or so minutes. You want it to boil down and get all caramely. MMMM!!

    I didn’t say it was healthy, but it’s GOOD!

  37. Pamela

    Rice freezes pretty well, especially in small bits. Then you can microwave it to thaw it in 30 seconds when you’re short, or you can pool all the little bits and have fried rice as described above (which sounds so good I’m tempted to go make rice specially).

    I used to try to keep packs of sticky rice in the freezer for work lunches, but my fiance eats them as fast as I can store them.

  38. Cele

    Split pea soup…divine from the crockpot. I’d never be able to get those meatballs past my husband, he’s the pickiest eater EVER!

    This one is from my mom, maybe she’s already met A Year of Crockpot, if not I willhave to introduce her.

    1 26 ounce jar of Marinara
    2 cups water
    1 cubed steak
    cook in crockpot 6 to 8 hours
    add raviolis and cook for 20 more minutes

    Excellent soup. Excellent.

  39. Tammy

    Should I be celebrating the fact that I’m “one of the five people on the planet who is not yet reading A Year of CrockPotting” (it is kind of like an award) or lamenting it? Either way, thanks for the link!!

  40. Nicole in WI

    Thanks for the link. I have just gotten out my crockpot now that I am back at work and need some ideas for suppers!

  41. Ray

    Ha! That Otto! You two must be the sort of couple who, if one doesn’t know something, the other surely does. Together, you could probably figure out nearly anything. It’s good to have a lifeline like Otto.

    You’re so lucky. Nobody in my family eats crockpot ANYthing. I have two – I use them both to make soap. Not good for dinner.

    And the spinach thing??? I’m quite impressed. If it is naturally green, and not celery, my kids won’t touch it. I have a house full of extremely picky eaters.

  42. Laura

    Being from chicago, I am a pizza fiend, AND extremely picky about my crusts. When I have the time (HAHAHAHAHAHA), I take a day and make three or four batches of crust, roll it into the pans, stick them in plastic and put them in the freezer. Then, when I need a crust and I’ve forgotten to make one, voila! Look in the freezer.

    My other go-to crust actually comes from a mix… Martha White Pizza Crust Mix (look either in the baking section or the pizza ingredients section of the grocery store. It comes in a 6.5 oz. dark blue pouch). Follow the directions, but instead of plain ol’ canola or olive oil, use a flavored (I have garlic and basil oil) oil. It adds a nice flavor to the crusts. And they’re done and ready for toppings in about 10 minutes.

  43. Therine

    Mir-Thanks for getting back to me. :-)

    As for law-I interned at the P.D.’s. So my experience is more petty crime with the odd murder thrown in…

    Anyway, your clarification is much appreciated. I figured linking *was* attribution.

    One question, if you don’t mind: you said you “had a bit of fun by swapping out the picture.” This morning, as far as I could tell, the picture was the same. I’ve removed it now, but I’m a bit curious as to with what you swapped it out with. :-P

    Anyway, thanks for your help.

  44. Katie in MA

    First – awwwwwww @ Otto!

    Second – Mir, you sound extra sunshiney and happy today. What is going on that you haven’t told us about yet? Oh, wait. This isn’t really today’s post. Must go investigate further…

  45. nil zed

    I used to cook at a yacht club, and more than one member wanted ‘spaghetti eggs’ at brunch on Sunday after we had Spaghetti earlier on the weekend. I never obliged because I could never quite reconcile their descriptions into a dish I was willing to experiment with. Basically, leftover spaghetti noodles with sauce, blendeda with some volume of eggs and cooked either in the oven or on the stove. Some of them describes it as a slicable (casserole or frittata) like thing, others as barely any egg, sorta like egg-fried noodles.

    If YOU try it and YOURS like it, let me know. It sounds plausible, doesn’t it.

  46. Lulu

    I freeze the leftover rice, like Pamela does. I put it in zipper bags and squish it flat to freeze, so you can break off chunks to add to soups, stews, etc.

    And National Split Pea Soup week is coming up — second week in November. Always an occasion for the question, what’s the difference between roast beef and pea soup? Answer: anyone can roast beef….


  47. Melinda

    I freeze my rice, too. One of my go-to leftover meals is a burrito bar and having rice ready to go is terrific. My kids’ favorite burrito is chopped up leftover meat (chicken, pork, beef) mixed with rice, black beans and barbecue sauce. Sometimes if we feel crazy we’ll add corn. Top it with cheese and I’ve got some happy children!

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