Elections means quick and easy dinner for politicos

Tastebuds
cook of the week

I’m tired. Not gonna lie. Elections are my absolute favorite thing to cover-but it can make for a long night, or in this case, long two days. Pickens County, bless their hearts, had counting machine issues and Wednesday morning, not long after midnight, they made the decision to stop counting and resume the next morning. It’s nearly an hour drive home, so armed with a Dunkin’ Donuts large iced coffee with butter pecan swirl, milk, liquid cain sugar and an expresso shot, I drove home to Resaca. For my listening pleasure, I had on The Grave Talks podcasts— not the most reassuring thing to listen to as I drove down the dark, curvy Highway 136, but I certainly wasn’t going to stop to find something else to entertain me. By the way, even with the expresso shot, I had no problems falling asleep at zero-one.

Unfortunately, my family still requires food.

Fortunately, this isn’t my first elections rodeo. I actually dated myself to co-worker Lauren Southers.

See election results here.

“Do you remember when Al Gore ran against Bush — the whole hanging chads debacle?” I asked.

“UM, I was pretty young.”

“Two weeks of debate on paper ballots,” I continued, wondering when I got so old. The infamous hanging chads were November 2000 election. Twenty years ago. . .praying that that’s not what we are facing in Pickens County.

Still, there is something about being at the elections office when the ballots come in — the more seasoned political watchers reminisce about the old days when everyone would sit around the office, smoking, and waiting for the ballots to be counted by hand. Even when things went digital, people would gather and wait on the results. I’ve only missed a few elections in my 20 years doing this and those are not memorable elections (other than our last presidential election).

Regardless, this is how the Kirkland’s roll during elections.

 

Make ahead Lasagna

cook of the week election

Photo by Angèle Kamp on Unsplash
Lasagna is an easy make-ahead dish for busy days, like last week’s election day.

1 lb. Ground beef

2 large garlic cloves, crushed (or use garlic from a jar)

1 (28 oz) jar of your favorite spaghetti sauce

1/2 c. water

1 large egg lightly beaten

1 (12 oz.) container of cottage cheese (or ricotta)

1 1/2 tsp. Pepper

8 lasagna noodles

1 (10 oz) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained

2 c. (8 oz) shredded mozzarella cheese

1/2 c. Parmesean cheese

 

Prepare noodles according to direction, or, simply buy the kind that does not require pre-cooking.

Brown ground beef with garlic. Drain. Add spaghetti sauce and water. In a bowl, combine egg, cottage cheeses, and pepper.

Spread 1/2 c. of meat sauce onto the bottom of a 13×9 baking dish. Top with half of the uncooked noodles, cottage cheese mixture, spinach, meat mixture, mozzarella cheese. Repeat.

Cook on 350-degrees for 20 minutes, covering the top with aluminum foil until the last five minutes or so, then cook until the cheese is melted.

 

If you make this the day before, it may need to cook 30-40 minutes until heated through.

Serve with a bag of salad and French bread.

 

Colorful Kielbasa

1 c. rice

1 package kielbasa

1 cup frozen broccoli

1/2 c. onion

1 (4 oz) can of mushrooms, drained

1 (10 oz) can of cream of chicken soup

1 c. shredded cheddar cheese

cook of the week elections

Photo by Dawit on Unsplash
Bag salad is a quick way to add vegetables to any meal. Or buy precooked chicken, steak, or shrimp and make it the meal.

Prepare rice according to directions.

Cut kielbasa into 1-inch chunks. Sometimes, I halve or quarter the chunks). Spray frying pan with non-stick spray, and cook kielbasa and onions.

Time saver tip: microwave or add broccoli to kielbasa and onion while cooking.

Combine all into a casserole dish, or if using a cast iron skillet, combine in it, if it is big enough. Pop in the oven for 15 minutes, add cheese and bake until cheese is melted.

 

Other time saver tips: my daughter drains the rice pot and combines everything in it, top with cheese and cover, letting it simmer on low until the cheese is melted. Feel free to change up the veggies to fit your families taste.

 

 Again, bag salad makes a perfect side dish and thankfully, someone gifted us two giant bags of Reeces’ Peanut Butter cups, so dessert was easy-peasy.

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