Living Simply,  Recipe Box

Old Dog, New Tricks

We don’t often go out for dinner, and keeping to our low-sodium, low-fat diets means most convenience foods never follow us home from the grocery store. But there’s always going to be nights when I don’t want to or don’t have the time to cook a decent dinner. So, I go on the occasional food-prep spree and stock the freezer with our own style of convenience foods. This week I hit my goal with:
  • 51 steamed pork and shrimp shumai (there was one bonus wonton wrapper in the package) bagged by the dozen. I love this shumai recipe from Omnivore’s Cookbook.
  • 32 Ikea-style meatballs, which is perfect for 2 dinners for 2 people. They are little meatballs, so a serving of 8 per person is nice.
  • 26 zucchini and potato latkes, bagged in 4-packs (with a couple left over for snacking). If you want my latke recipe, I’ll put it at the end of this post… because of COURSE you need to wade through a lot of chatter before you get to a recipe on the internet, right?
Now for the new tricks! I’ve always steamed my shumai with a layer of either lettuce or cabbage leaves underneath them, so they won’t stick to the steaming rack. But this time, I cut out a circle of parchment paper the size of the rack and folded it into wedges. then I snipped out tiny holes on the edges. When I opened it, there were vent holes evenly spaced around the circle. This worked really well to support my shumai and prevent sticking. And, it laid much flatter than cabbage or lettuce leaves do. I learned this trick (and so can you!) from Recipetineats.
Next, meatballs. I wasn’t looking forward to frying up dozens of meatballs, so I decided to bake them instead. I put some cooling racks on my baking sheets and balanced the meatballs on top of the racks. This way, any excess fat drains off, and the cooked meatballs aren’t left sitting in a pool of burnt drippings.
Ikea Meatballs Hovering Above The Cookie Sheet Before Baking
Ikea Meatballs hovering above the cookie sheet before baking


Cooked Meatballs: All the fat and burnt bits are down in the pan!
Cooked meatballs: All the fat and burnt bits are down on the pan!

Finally, today was latke day. Once again I was not in the mood to babysit a splattering frying pan and stink up the house with oily smells. So, I laid parchment paper on cookie sheets, oiled it, formed my latkes on the paper, brushed a little more oil on the top of each latke, and baked them at 425 degrees for 20 minutes. Then I flipped each latke and baked them an additional 10 minutes. Perfection.

Baked Latkes. Who knew? Not me. But, Now I do.
Baked Latkes. Who knew? Not me. But, Now I do.
Finally! That recipe.
Baked Zucchini and Potato Latkes
(I’m taking suggestions for a snappier name, incidentally)

Makes about a dozen

Mix together:
3 cups shredded zucchini, squeezed dry
1 cup shredded potato, squeezed dry
3 eggs
1/2 shredded onion (blot up moisture with paper towels)
2 cloves minced garlic or 2 tsp garlic powder

Mix together:
1/2 cup bread crumbs
3 tbsp flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt (you can add more, I barely use any)
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp hot pepper flakes (optional)

Fold wet ingredients into dry, stir until fully blended. Using about a quarter cup of batter, form latkes on oiled parchment paper laid out on cookie sheets. Lightly brush oil on the top side of each latke.

Bake at 425 degrees for 20 minutes on the first side, then 10 minutes more after flipping them, or until browned with crispy edges. Remove to a paper-towel covered dish to cool. Serve hot with sour cream on the side.

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Lori Alden Holuta lives between the cornfields of Mid-Michigan, where she grows vegetables and herbs when she’s not writing, editing, or playing games with a cat named Chives.

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