30 Day Coronavirus Cooking Challenge

Random Observation/Comment #654: Cooking is my stress relief. Probably gaining some weight in quarantine.

Why this Challenge?

If you’re stuck in quarantine, why not cook your food and freeze it? I had experience with this when my wife was nearing her delivery date and we wanted to reduce the amount of cooking during the first month with a newborn. If you’re new to cooking, check out this set of cooking advice for beginners.

To prep for coronavirus quarantine, we bought groceries (once from Costco, but mostly from Target drive-thru and a nearby grocery store going at first open) for around 1 month of meals:

  • Meat: Ground beef, beef stew meat, pork chops, steaks, short ribs (because they were cheap), chicken breasts, Italian sausage links, bacon, ham bone
  • Veges: Potatoes, Carrots, Avocado, Celery, Onions, Zucchinis, Eggplant, mushrooms
  • Fruits: Apples, oranges, pineapple
  • Cheese: Hard cheeses, shredded low moisture mozzarella, cream cheese, ricotta
  • Eggs: 4 dozen, Should have bought more of these because they last a long time and they’re a great source of protein
  • Bread: Cut up Italian baguettes to freeze, Whatever sliced bread was on the shelf, tortillas, bread crumbs/panko
  • Pre-Frozen: Chopped Spinach, Peas, mixed veges, cubes of garlic, onion, basil, dumplings, chicken bake
  • Pantry: Flour, bouillon cubes, pasta (different shapes), tomato paste, tomato sauce, canned beans, dried lentils, canned fruits, matzo ball package, cooking oil
  • Alcohol: Probably around 30 bottles assorted wines and liquor

Currently, we’re on Day 8. We also bought pizza to take a break from cooked meals. For a prepped stew or sauce, we freeze half and refrigerate the remaining 4 or so portions for eating the next few meals.

The high level planning for this was to cook up all the fresh meats and veges first so that we could load up the freezer. In retrospect, I’m probably cooking way too much at once, but it’s helping me feel more prepared.

I don’t really follow a recipe, so I just wrote some high level steps. I may space this out if I wind up cooking too much food at once.

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Day 8: braised beef short ribs

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  1. Beef stew with egg noodles – Brown stew meat, soften onions and celery, add tomato paste and flour, chicken stock. 3 hours low heat bubbling. Cook egg noodles separately.
  2. Chicken taquitos – Poach chicken breasts, cool and shred. In a bowl add black beans, cream cheese, and shredded cheese. Mix together. Roll taquitos with fillings and brush with oil. Bake 375F for 30 min (or until edges brown and not burn).
  3. Meatballs – 80-20 lean-fat beef, 2 eggs, 40% filling with panko, separately sweat onions and garlic. Mix lightly. Sear palm-shaped balls. Sauce with rest of onion, frozen chopped spinach, and can of tomatoes. Hand blitz. Add meatballs and simmer for a few hours.
  4. Frittata – Cook bacon, eat bacon because it tastes good, make more bacon and chop up finely. Use bacon fat for cooking onions and spinach. Cool. Cut up ham. Mix with 8 eggs. Put into cupcake tins. Top with bacon. Bake 350F for 30 min.
  5. Eggplant parm – Peel eggplant, cut into 0.5 inch disks, salt and let rest, use towel to soak up bitter extract. Brush with oil and cover with panko. Bake 400F to crisp for 30 min. Sauce with onions, chopped spinach, kidney beans (this was a fun add), and tomatoes. Layer your eggplant with sauce, eggplant disk, cheese + ricotta, eggplant disk, sauce, cheese, rest of sauce, more cheese on top. Cover with foil. Bake 350F for 30 min (mostly to thicken the tomato sauce).
  6. Zucchini pancake – Shred zucchini, squeeze out water, pat dry with towel. 1 egg, flour, baking powder. Mix gently. Medium heat pan with olive oil. Cook like pancakes – wait for bubbles on top to flip. I keep these pretty thin.
  7. Sausage portebello mushroom spinach shells – Cut open sausages and brown inside meat, add diced mushrooms and spinach. Cook shell pasta to al dente. Add shells with some pasta water and a little heavy cream. Add shredded moz and parm. Mix and serve.
  8. Braised beef Short ribs – Salt short ribs. Brown fat cap and sides. Take out beef. Soften carrots, onion, and celery. Add tomato paste and flour. Add 2 cups of wine. Re-add beef with bone down. Fill with chicken stock. Normally, we’d put it into an oven for a few hours, but we just simmered on low heat bubble for 3 hours.
  9. Avocado toast (avocados got ripe) – Hard boiled egg + smashed avocado + sprinkling of hot chili flakes on toasted slice of bread.
  10. Split pea soup with ham – dried split peas soak, potatoes, chicken broth, ham bone. Hand blitz. Add cubed ham chunks. Serve with sour cream.
  11. Baked ziti (using up the ricotta) – Cook ziti pasta al dente. Cool. Brown ground beef. Add sauce. Mix in a big bowl ricotta and cheese with ziti. Transfer to casserole dish with sauce and cover with more cheese. Bake 350F for 20 min.
  12. Prepped fries – Peel, cut into fries, blanch for 3 minutes. drain, dry, and freeze. When need to eat, lightly toss in oil and salt, bake in 425F oven for 10 min.
  13. Potato Latkes (using up the potatoes) – Food processor potatoes and onions, dry. Add eggs, flour, baking soda and mix lightly. Cook like pancakes in a bit of oil. 5 min each side.
  14. Mashed potatoes – Wash, peel, cut, boil potatoes. Butter, milk, and mash.
  15. Chicken noodle matzo ball soup – Never made this, but it doesn’t seem hard. Use up rest of celery, carrots, and onions. Add chicken broth and make matzo balls.
  16. Pan Fried tofu slices – Cut directly in tofu box (half and 1 inch slabs. Slow fry in oil (around 8 min per side). Salt. Dry between paper towels.
  17. Grilled cheese – Vinessa actually does this pretty well. The key is soft butter and shredded cheese.
  18. Twice Baked potatoes – Bacon bits and sour cream is a must. Bake for a few hours and cut in half. Add some cheese and rebake.
  19. Homemade pizza/flatbread from flour (using up the cheese) – Shouldn’t be too hard to do.
  20. Mapo tofu – Brown ground pork. Make sauce with tomato paste, oyster sauce, miso paste, some chicken stock, and corn starch. Add to pork. Cube tofu. Mix and heat up. Serve with rice.
  21. Penne with cubed hams – Similar to pasta recipe above
    /** After this, I’ll try to use more pantry and frozen items **/
  22. Mac and cheese (using up the cheese) – We have some boxed mac and cheese, but I’ll make my own rue.
  23. Congee – Wash 1 cup of rice and drain. Freeze overnight. 8 cups of water to 1 cup of rice. Add frozen rice to boiling water and add a meat (not sure what we’ll use here).
  24. Fried rice – Defrost some chopped up veges (peas, carrots, spinach). Must use frozen cooked rice as a base. Hot wok. Start with scrambled egg. Add rice, veges, and garlic. Add soy sauce and a bit of butter at the end.
  25. Ramen burger – Defrost beef day before. Make some instant noodles and chill in patty form. Cook burger and assemble.
  26. Chili – Ground beef with tomato paste and beans. I may look up a good recipe for this.
  27. Minestrone soup – Mostly frozen veges and tomato base withe some soy sauce.
  28. Falafel – I have cans of chick peas and a food processor, so this should be doable
  29. Meatloaf – Mix of ground beef, veal, and pork. May not have worschester sauce, but I’ll figure something out. I might replace this with some baked goods.
  30. Spam and rice – I actually really like this and can probably make a good one by frying slabs. I’ll probably make this much earlier.

~See Lemons Cook in Quarantine