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What do you cook when you have extra time?

Recently I found myself with some free time during the day. I slow roasted two pork roasts - one for a roast pork dinner and one for pulled pork sandwiches. I made a double batch of barbeque sauce and then I made two quarts of yogurt.

What would you cook if you had some unscheduled free time?

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  1. Just this week I made lentil soup. I was thwarted halfway by a power outage, but finished up the next day. I'm eating some now.

    3 Replies
    1. re: mojoeater

      Stocks, chicken, beef, veal and then freeze them flat in ziplocs. Marinara sauce, same thing, freeze it.

      1. re: mojoeater

        Where do you live? We were thwarted as well this weekend---in the middle of braising a brisket!

        1. re: nissenpa

          Our power went out at about 6:00 AM and wasn't back on until 8:30 PM. Eating out was our only option.

      2. Restock the freezer and ref with pre-prepped stuff. Last time: 6 liters of French carrot soup, 6 liters of yogurt, 4 liters of black beans, a batch of pasta for pasta salads, four large bowls of fish stew (to be cooked in the microwave over the next two days), two batches of quick vegetable pickles, and teriyaki merinaded smoked beef lung for later in the week.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Sam Fujisaka

          holy moly.

          wait, you can freeze yoghurt?

          1. Next time it's going to be my barbecue sauce. Summer is coming, and I'm OUT!

            1. A big pot of pasta sauce to freeze

              1. I wouldn't cook, I would bake, and I would make the Breton Biscuits and the Torta Sbrisolona from Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook! How's that for specific?! ;-)

                1. In winter (such as it is in SoCal!) I do slow braises (porchetta, pot roast, choucroute garni or cassoulet) and big pots of beans. When it gets hotter I'll make a week's worth of potato salad and/or coleslaw, and maybe either a meatloaf or cooked-and-pressed corned beef for sandwiches. Any time of year I might take a notion to make a big pot of gumbo - I am simply not capable of making a small one, and I've tried! - and freeze half of it. The other half we'll eat for a week (with fresh rice every night) until we're tired of it, then a month or so later I'll thaw the other half and we'll eat that.

                  I'm a little bit constrained by limited fridge/freezer room - I have just a not-huge top freezer on the fridge in the kitchen, and the one in the garage is a '30s monitor-top whose "freezer" holds two ice-cube trays and a pint of ice cream. I am going to get a small chest freezer to put out there, and then if I get the urge to make a gallon of chili in mid-August I'll have somewhere to keep it!

                  1. I made 2 pizzas on a day off. Had the time to make the dough and also to make a big batch of pizza sauce - I froze 3 containers of it. Now I'm wondering if I can freeze some rolled out pizza dough, ready to be thawed, topped and baked. It'd save time when making a weekday supper. May try that next time.

                    2 Replies
                      1. re: chef chicklet

                        Yay, will definitely try that next time then!
                        Thanks to you, chef chicklet for the excellent instructions on making pizza (dough, etc). I would have been to afraid-of the yeast-to attempt it otherwise.

                    1. With some extra time I might marinate something - I haven't done that in a while (probably because I don't think ahead enough usually...) or use the extra time to look up something I've never made before and experiment. Although it has been a while since I've had a good BBQ - weather is finally starting to permit - knock on wood.

                      1. I stuff the freezer as full as I can get it. I bake bread or bagels, or make a batch of pancakes or muffins for breakfasts. Or I do something time-consuming just for fun - dumplings, baklava, strudel...

                        1. For me, it would be fruit jam. I love making my own jam but never find the time.

                          4 Replies
                          1. re: Aurore

                            I love making jams/jellies myself. I came up with this recipe when makeing peach
                            jam, I added a can of crushed pineapple and about 15-20 chopped marascino cherries.
                            turned out pretty good. I am a diabetic so I can only taste it when I make it. and
                            I give it away to my friends and relatives as gifts.

                            1. re: bigjimbray

                              I usually give it away too. I make it just for the pleasure of making it !

                              One of my favorite recipe is my Pear and Chocolate jam. I never have this one for long on my shelf :

                              1. re: Aurore

                                just checked out the recipe since I am a pear fanatic. cannot wait to try it this weekend, if I can find suitable pears. merci!

                                1. re: dpnpt

                                  Update: went for your jam, but made the Asparagus and Brie Crustless Quiche for Mother's Day. Thanks Aurore! It was delicious and perfect.

                          2. If I have the time I make my wondeful chicken enchiladas! MY son in laws favorite food. Got to make it a few times a year. the other dish is city chicken ( a Pennsylvania dish) with veal and pork (no chicken in it)

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: Barbarella


                              Would you be willing to share your city chicken recipe and method? I never made it myself, but loved it as served by a friend more years ago than I care to remember. :-)

                              1. re: OldDog

                                here is the receipe that I got from my Aunt who was raised in PA. She makes it so good. It is alot of work takes hours to make but it is worth it. so here we go--

                                Pork Butt
                                Rump of veal
                                flour, egg, cracker meal, crisco, salt and pepper wooden skewers (6in. long)

                                Cube the meat making all 1 inch cubes. salt and pepper the meat. Put meat on skewers alternating veal and pork. Put sticks in flour, egg and then cracker meal. put in pan and fry in crisco till browned on all sides. Put meat into baking pan and add water, cover, and cook at 425 degrees for the first hour. Open and baste. turn oven to 390 degrees for the rest of the time. total time to cook is 1 1/2 -2 hours.

                                I usually use 3 lbs. pork to 2 lbs veal.

                                I have found over the years it gets harder and harder to find the correct meat for this dish.Usually use Boston butt or pork butt.Good luck. now I want to go and make it!

                                1. re: Barbarella

                                  Barbarella, thanks so much for sharing. This sounds just as I remember having it ... can't wait to give it a try.

                            2. Ice cream, ice cream and ice cream. Cookie dough for freezer. Stocks. More stocks. Soups using the stocks.

                                1. re: Kelli2006


                                  i hear everyone talk about molé and i'm curious. i know it as a dark chocolatey mexican sauce in a jar. i think i actually had it when i visited mexico, but i just don't know what it is...is it peppers? what would be a good vegetarian dish to use it in/on? and how does one make it?

                                  1. re: lollya

                                    there are about 16 ingredients in it. I call it Kitchen Sink sauce (ie everything but the kitchen sink) And I can never make it the same way twice! But it's damn tasty !

                                    I've been known to just dip tortilla chips in it :)

                                    1. re: lollya

                                      This recipe is very close to what I use. http://www.ramekins.com/mole/molepobl...

                                      I had used numerous(more than 5) recipes and just as many different techniques but it never tasted the same as what I got in my fave Mexican restaurant (Mi Pueblo) or what I had in college from a Mexican classmate. I finally got the correct recipe and proper technique from a newly immigrated Mexican family that I used to talk to at a free meal program where I volunteer. We could barely communicate but she had a family Mole recipe that could convert the Pope.

                                      The recipe has approx 20 ingredients and takes approx 5-6 hours, plus whatever meat you decide to serve it with. I tend to go with either roast goat (a acquired taste) or the classic turkey and/or chicken.

                                      I have used to drip tortilla chip and it is quite good served over tacos.

                                      1. re: Kelli2006

                                        OMG! That's the perfect all day recipe! I love cooking Mexican, but it is soooo time consuming. I'll definitely have to try that some day over the summer when I have nothing planned. Wow. Thanks for posting it.

                                        I usualy either make my chili or soup when I have time. Cutting veggies just seems to take forever for me. I think I'm much slower than others at it.

                                        Anyway, here's my chili recipe. I adapted it from a recipe I found online. Next time I make it I'll have to blog it, but I need a good pic. It's super-yummy:

                                        RENO RED CHILI

                                        3 lb ground beef
                                        1 C Wesson oil or suet
                                        black pepper to taste
                                        3 oz Chili powder
                                        6 T cumin
                                        6 small cloves garlic, minced
                                        2 medium onions, chopped
                                        6 ea. dried ancho chili pods, hydrated and soft
                                        1 T oregano, brewed in.....
                                        1/2 C Budweiser beer, like tea
                                        2 T paprika
                                        2 T cider vinegar
                                        3 C beef broth
                                        4 oz diced green chilies (Ortega brand)
                                        14 oz stewed tomatoes (or to taste)
                                        1 tsp Tabasco sauce, or to taste
                                        2 T masa harina flour

                                        Brown meat in oil or fat, adding black pepper to taste. Drain meat and add chili powder, cumin, MSG, garlic and chopped onion. Cook for 30 - 45 minutes using as little liquid as possible. Add water only as necessary. Stir often.

                                        Remove skins from boiled chile pods. Mash the pulp and add to meat mixture. Strain oregano tea, then add to meat mixture along with paprika, vinegar, 2/3 of the beef broth, green chiles, stewed tomatoes and Tabasco sauce. Simmer 30 - 45 minutes. Stir often.

                                        Dissolve masa flour into remaining beef broth then pour into chili. Simmer another 30 minutes, stirring often.

                                        I think I've also then transfered to a crockpot and let it cook for hours.

                                        Makes 1 potful.


                                  2. Beef stock (roast the bones and aromatics then simmer on top of stove for 6+ hours); bolognese sauce; beef braised in red wine... just to name a few.

                                    1. I often find myself making brownies or cookies late in the evening, chocolate and oatmeal c.c.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: Kitchen Queen

                                        Same thing, I'd bake. I rarely have time anymore but have ingredients to make about 10 things at my home right now!


                                      2. moussaka. and then i'd invite some friends over to partake, so as to prevent the husband from inhaling the whole thing in one sitting ;)

                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: missfunkysoul


                                          any chance i could get that receipe for your moussaka? I made it last month and did not like the receipe I had.

                                          1. re: Barbarella

                                            so sorry, i didn't see your message until today - i will dig it up and post shortly. a little warning though - it is NOT low-cal! ;)

                                        2. If I had a whole day?
                                          1. Make coffee. Collect cookbooks, food magazines, websites. Inventory kitchen. Drink coffee. Make biscuits. Family wolfs them down.
                                          2. Go to store. Buy whatever beautiful piece of meat looks best. Same for produce, cheese, and wine. Hit baking section for Caramel Cake supplies.
                                          3. Cook. Drink wine and eat cheese. Bake Caramel Cake.
                                          4. Dinner.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: vickib

                                            Hmm...can we come to your house? Personally if I have extra time, I make things like salmon cakes, made with fresh salmon...I have been known to do chicken enchiladas as well...very rarely, but sometimes I will bake or make a pie

                                          2. Shanks in italian sauce.. slow cooked for hours. With home made olive and parmesan cheese bread..and a fig and honey tart for afters...... and pizza dough, to be used the next day with the left over shank sauce.

                                            Lasagne. From scratch.

                                            Beef vindaloo, complete with raita.. and gulabs for dessert.

                                            1. puff pastry and anything that I can do in between the turns! I tend to find a make a cake of some description and a dinner that cooks for a long time in one dish but that you have to make five other dishes first, then combine.

                                              1. if i had some time...

                                                a yummy breakfast is mandatory on the weekends...so some sort of scramble with roasted potatoes

                                                vegetarian borscht


                                                palmiers with cardamom

                                                veggie chili

                                                whatever vegetable looks best - and make a soup from it

                                                ginger fried rice and spring rolls

                                                fresh pasta and sauce

                                                1. I remember exactly what I made the last time I had the a few hours to myself, and it is definitley a pleasure to share it. We love hearty stews, wine, and flavors, so my favorite long-cooking dish is Beef Bourgignionne. I have tried a few recipes but have found that Tyler Florece has the best recipe. I received his book one year as a gift and his recipe is the best I have ever tried - he calls for using fresh pearl onions and fresh smoked bacon from the butcher. When I have all day to enjoy myself and cook this meal I begin by going to the market (we have Central Market or Whole Foods) and get a great looking piece of chuck roast from the butcher, some smoky bacon, and then all the produce and especially those fresh pearl onions, lots of gorgeous mushrooms (last time I used baby portabellas and they were blissful!) a couple of good bottles of burgundy wine (one for the dish and one for the meal) some nice herbs de provence, and some organice yukon gold potatoes to make the world's best mashed potatoes with chive cream. I notice the difference in the organice potatoes over the non-organic, but it's not that much if you opt to use regular. i'm not that fussy but when i can get some good organic yukons they are like butter! This dish is all about layering flavors so it really does take all day. after i get home from the markets I marinate the beef after cubing it in the red wine for a couple of hours, and then i put on some nice music and start my cooking. i serve this with some nice steamed broccoli or even a spinach salad, and then those gorgeous potatoes. when it's cooler outside this is the best meal in the world, and we like it so much that we are guilty of eating this yearound. when i don't have all day i just throw it all in the slow cooker in the morning and we have it for dinner, but i have to admit the extended version just tastes brilliant.
                                                  i love baking as well so while this is all cooking i love to bake something comforting like banana tea bread or my favorite lemon squares. gee, i'm getting hungry now!

                                                  1. If I have the time and the day is mine, I will usually try something new.

                                                    Inspiration comes from different places either reading something on CH or from a cooking buddy, and you know who you are, well then I'll use the day to try the new recipe out.
                                                    I like doing it right, not being rushed and giving it the fair amount of attention it's due. Because I have found that being in a hurry is where I usually mess up or I don't catch misprints in the recipe. I just hate to waste food!

                                                    1. When I lived in the northeast, snow days = bread. Now that there's the no-knead bread recipe, there's no need for it to take all day.

                                                      These days, extra time = all-day pasta sauce - either my Mom's recipe or bolognese, including grinding my own meat - and homemade pasta. If my in-laws are coming over, I spend all day making Bulgarian food - their heritage, not mine. In cooler weather, it's stews and soups.

                                                      1. That happened to me last weekend -- I somehow had a whole day with nothing to do! Since I do a lot of Indian cooking, I made my sauces, and froze them in serving-size baggies. Then I pre-cooked lamb and chicken and frozen them in serving-size baggies. Then I made some garam masala. Now I'm ready for a quick meal at a moment's notice. And the kitchen smelled so-o-o good!

                                                        1. I'd mix the practical and the fun.

                                                          Practical: pre-roast a lot of veggies, pre-bake sweet potatoes, marinate and bake tofu, soup for the freezer.

                                                          Fun: bake! Something healthy for me (low-fat, high-fibre muffins or scones) and something decadent to give away (pie, cupcakes, cinnamon rolls). Sometimes I'll just make up a recipe and test it out.

                                                          1. A real Italian-style bolognese sauce, with hours of simmering, letting each liquid ingredient (milk, wine, tomatoes) slowly cook down until almost dry, then adding the next.

                                                            3 Replies
                                                            1. re: BobB

                                                              I am always looking for a bolognese sauce receipe. could I get this one please.

                                                                1. re: BobB

                                                                  Sounds super, can't wait to try it!! thanks

                                                            2. Shepherds pie or a pot pie or lasagna or some other recipe with time-consuming 'steps' to it... it doesn't REALLY take a lot longer to make up a sauce or some pastry and assemble the dish before baking it, but it seems like it does!
                                                              Or else I'll bake a cake/cookies for dessert...

                                                              1. If I ever have time, I make a large pot of Chicken and Sausage Gumbo. I am from Louisiana and it is a staple here. I freeze it in small containers for a day when I don't have much time to cook.

                                                                1. I have the time now all of the time but it comes down to when I can get what I want. I love to make hot dilly green bean pickles and people love receiving them as gifts. I am finding it difficult to find fresh green beans good enough when the dill is ripe.

                                                                  I also like to make things like pear mincemeat, but that is a fall project

                                                                  Love making my own dim sum and egg rolls and spring rolls. Things that require some patience and some serene chopping, stirring etc.

                                                                  1. I load up the freezer with time-consuming "homey" favorites: pulled pork from the smoker, bolognese, chili, lasagne, homemade pasta, biscuits...

                                                                    And for more short-term gratification, smoked ribs or (if I'm in a sweet mood) truffles aor toffee.

                                                                    And a batch of no-knead bread is always good.

                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                    1. re: ducky

                                                                      One-other: frozen (unbaked) scones for a quick company breakfast with lemon curd, raspberry jelly and whipped cream!