I made some lovely Udon-style soup last Sunday. It was my own recipe of a little of this, a little of that. The main ingredient was these wonderful Trader Joe’s fresh rice noodles. They appear to be all over the Internet and deservedly so; they are to die for. Soft and just chewy enough to coat your mouth without being cloying – I really can’t say enough good things about them.
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It was the rare success that pleased all 3 of us; I even think we all had seconds. And yet, at the end of dinner, we had an entire giant mixing bowl full of leftover soup. Why? Well for starters, I used two full packets of the noodles. I later found out that’s 8 servings. And two full containers of vegetable broth.My rationale was that I wanted “some to take for lunch tomorrow.” Well, that was enough to take to lunch for the next two weeks.
Why do I do that? Well, because even though they’ve been gone for close to four years, I still cook like these two guys still live at home.
When both guys lived at home, I would double the “Serves 4” recipes and still run out of food at dinner. And leftovers? Fuhgeddaboutit.
When Alex moved out and before I remarried, I’ll admit that Charlotte and I spent too many nights eating mac and cheese watching Gilmore Girls reruns in front of the TV. I’m not really sorry we did that, even it wasn’t the best nutrition to provide my growing daughter. I have fond memories of cuddling on the sofa and I treasure it when (all too rarely) she has the time and inclination for TV time with Mom now. But it did mean that I never really learned to recalibrate my cooking.
So, it looks like that’s one more adjustment I’m going to need to make as I move into the Empty Nest stage of my life. I’m learning to right-size my portions.
So I set out to solve a particular challenge I’ve had: cooking a pot roast in the slow cooker in a size that yields a dinner for two and leftovers for one lunch or dinner later and providing a good dinner at the same time for my vegetarian daughter.
Here’s a recent meal that went pretty well.
Slow Cooker Pot Roast for Two (With Leftovers)
2 1/2 lb beef chuck roast
1/2 potato, cubed or 3 or 4 red potatoes
15 baby carrots
1/2 medium onion, sliced into rings
1/2 packet CrockPot Savory Pot Roast Seasoning Mix
Place cut potatoes & carrots in the bottom of your slow cooker. Place roast on top of the vegetables. Separate onion into rings and lay rings on top of roast, trying to cover as much surface area as possible.
Empty half of the contents of an envelope of the seasoning mix into a bowl, then add water slowly and stir until you have created a paste, about the consistency of a cream soup. Spread the paste over the roast and onions.
Cover and cook on low for about 8 hours.
A few notes about this: This was very much a “use up what you’ve got” project. I much prefer red potatoes for pot roasts, but I already had the russet potatoes on hand so I used one of those. A half of a potato was plenty for this although I really did almost cry when I cut it and my sad and lonely half an onion. I used my onion half later in the week and I finally just threw the potato half away. What am I going to use that for? Crafts? So a few red potatoes would have been better.
I also had the flavoring packet on hand. It would have been just as easy to flavor the meat with garlic and other spices.
I used a slightly larger roast than was needed for just the two of us because I wanted leftovers. Two and half pounds was pretty much the perfect size for this meal and a couple of lunches afterwards. It’s tough to buy smaller than a two and a half pound roast.
For the vegetarian, I pulled out this super tiny slow cooker that I mostly use for meatballs for Super Bowl parties. I branched out a bit with a cut up sweet potato, some black beans, Rotel tomatoes and chili powder and called it Sweet Potato Chili. It was huge success with my pickiest eater.
So, takeaways: Would cook again on both counts. And super easy for a weeknight.