Around here, “unusual meals” are more the norm than the exception.  It’s great to be able to play and not worry about finicky eaters.  We both can just go for it, knowing that something may not always work as planned, but no matter what, it’s only one meal.  Worst case scenario is toss it out and call for pizza.  In all of these years, we’ve never called for pizza.

So I had taken some Alaskan Cod out of the freezer Thursday night to thaw for a Friday dinner with no clear idea of what it was going to be.  I had a few ideas floating around, breading it with almond meal, making a picatta, but I came across a recipe for making potato pockets and knew I had found my dish!

The recipe I found was a bit convoluted, so while it gave me the idea, the concept I came up with was based more upon a classic Pommes Anna.

Using my trusty mandoline, I thin-sliced potatoes and layered them in 6″ skillets. I then thin-sliced carrots and added a layer atop the potatoes, drizzled them with butter and placed them on the stove over medium heat.  I added the cod fillets, sprinkled them with salt, pepper, and just a wee bit of French herbs, and added another layer of potatoes.  I drizzled a bit more butter over the tops, covered them and placed them in a 400° oven for about 20 minutes.

Oh my goodness gracious!  These came out great!  The potatoes were crunchy-crispy tender, the carrots, perfectly cooked, and the fish perfectly tender and flaky.  Who knew a carrot, a potato, and a piece of fish could come together so well in one pan?

Of course, there was homemade bread to go along with it…

And last night, I had a rope of sweet Italian sausage I wanted to do something different with.  I came up with a baked-in-the-oven Italian Sausage Paella.

I chopped a medium yellow onion and sauteed it in a bit of olive oil.  I added about 3/4 pound of Italian sausage that I took out of the casing.  When it was fairly well cooked, I added a cup of arborio rice and stirred it around.

Next went in a half-cup of white wine.  I scraped up all the good bits in the pan and added a jar of artichoke and red pepper tapenade.  Into that went 2 cups of beef broth.  i stirred it all together, covered it, and placed it into a 375° oven for 20 minutes.

I pulled it out of the oven and topped it with a sliced non-Florida tomato and a handful of shredded cheese.  Back into the oven it went for another 5 minutes.

Another winner! Creamy rice, sausage, tomatoes, red peppers… cheese…  The flavors all came together really well in another non-traditional way.

Today I’m cleaning out the freezer and reclaiming tupperware.  I had 3 containers of turkey stock and 1 turkey gravy that are now simmering to become turkey soup.  There was also plenty of turkey meat and other odds and ends.

It’s gonna be good.

I’m also trying my hand at some knotted egg rolls.  I haven’t made them in years – and years.  If they come out well I may make them for Easter.