These days, I find that watching other people on TV shows just isn’t as fulfilling as living my own life. In the last couple of years, I’ve realized that I have other hobbies and passions and friends to occupy my time. I still watch the
occasional TV show and when I do, it’s usually on my younger brother Kyle’s computer. He’s an avid movie and TV watcher, so he’s got seasons and seasons of TV shows downloaded on his computer.
This summer, I haven’t had much time to watch TV. Since Summer Co-op ended last week, I’ve been volunteering at a summer camp. I wake up at around 6:15 AM each morning and by the time I get home at 6 PM, I’m exhausted. After such a long day, I don’t feel like doing anything.
Unfortunately, this was the week that my parents and other various relatives decided to go on vacation, leaving me and my older brother to fend for ourselves at home. This isn’t the first time that my brother(s) and I have stayed at home alone and I love that my parents trust us enough to let us stay by ourselves. Granted, my brother is almost nineteen, but in reality, he’s never really aided me aside from squashing the occasionally bug in my bathroom (and that’s only when it’s late at night and I’m too tired to take care of it myself).
I miss my parents when they are not here, but I really enjoy the taste of independence. At sixteen, freedom is a privilege that most parents don’t give gratuitously.
I relish the fact that I can take care of myself. The biggest part of “taking care of yourself” is definitely eating proper meals. Eating out every night certainly is not as healthy or economical as cooking, but making a proper meal from scratch (and washing all the dishes involved) drains so much time and energy. And after a long day, there’s nothing I dread more than having to cook dinner, so I try to compromise. My brother and I take turns cooking and washing the dishes and we have take-out half the time.
On Wednesday, I was feeling particularly inspired to cook, since I wanted to eat the leftovers for a hot breakfast the next morning. After a long look in our the rapidly diminishing food supplies in the fridge, I decided to make a Garlicky Spinach Zucchini Carrot Gratin and Roasted Chicken Thighs with Potatoes in order to use up the vegetables that had been sitting around too long. I specifically designed the recipes so that they would bake at the same temperature and for around the same length of time.
The Roasted Chicken Thighs, which my brother marinated with salt, black pepper, sugar, and paprika, turned out way too salty, but it was delicious with the lightly seasoned potatoes. The Garlicky Spinach Zucchini Carrot Gratin tasted great right out of the oven, but in my humble opinion, it tasted even better the next day, when all the flavours had time to marry. The addition of a whole clove of roasted garlic (which my brother had roasted the last time he had barbequed) lent a garlicky and subtly rich flavour to the gratin.
Leftover gratin reheats beautifully and can be sandwiched between two slices of dark rye for a light lunch or dinner. I added half an avocado, which adds richness and healthy fats to the sandwich.
Click below for the recipes.
Garlicky Spinach Zucchini Carrot Gratin
Note: The gratin was loosely based on this recipe. I omitted the ingredients I did not have and added others that I had in my fridge. Feel free to substitute.
- 3 tablespoons butter or olive oil
- 1 medium onion, finely diced
- 2 medium zucchinis, grated
- 3 medium carrots, grated
- 2 pkgs of frozen spinach, thawed
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, minced
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon black powder
- 1 small head roasted garlic OR 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 2 eggs
- ½ cup parmesan cheese, grated
- ½ cup mozzarella cheese, grated
Preheat oven to 375F. Using a tablespoons of olive oil, grease a 9-inch by 13-inch baking dish.
Set sieves over top a medium bowl and line it with a tea towel (that you don’t mind staining). In the sieve, combine the zucchini and ¼ teaspoon salt and let sit for half an hour. The salt helps draw moisture out. Squeeze all the extra water out of the zucchini. Repeat with the spinach, but omit the ¼ teaspoon salt.
Meanwhile, soften the onions with 2 tablespoons of the butter in a large saucepan. Add the grated carrots and cook for a couple minutes until it appears mostly cooked. Turn off the heat and mix in the spinach, zucchini, thyme, remaining ¼ teaspoon salt, black pepper, roasted garlic, and parmesan. Taste and season accordingly. Add the eggs and stir until combined. Spread the gratin into the prepared baking dish and sprinkle the mozzarella cheese over top. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the gratin is set and the cheese is bubbly and browned.
Roasted Chicken Thighs with Potatoes
- 1 lb chicken thighs (the thighs I had in the freezer were skinless and boneless; you could certainly use thighs with the skin on or bone in, but remember to adjust the cooking time accordingly)
- 1 ½ teaspoons salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- 2 lbs of yellow potatoes, diced (1-cm cubes)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, minced
- 1 teaspoon fresh rosemary leaves, minced
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
In a large Ziploc bag, combine the chicken thighs, ¾ teaspoon salt, black pepper, and 1 teaspoon of paprika. Marinate for a couple hours or overnight.
Preheat oven to 375F. Place the potatoes on a large baking sheet and toss them with the olive oil, thyme, rosemary, garlic powder, and Italian seasoning. Place the chicken thighs over top and sprinkle with the remaining paprika. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until the chicken is no longer pink in the middle and the potatoes are tender.