Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Canvas of possible

Me at about 3:30pm everyday: "What am I gonna fix for dinner?"
My response to me: "oh cwap, I didn't take anything out of the freezer!!"
Me: "um, um, um"
My response "I really don't want to feed my family boxed food or fast food, I want them to eat something healthy"
Me: "I'm such a slacker not to get anything out of the freezer and then forget to ask the hubster to take something out this morning"

I could go on and on but really, you get the point.

Here is what I came up with and realized that it really is a blank slat to create many different (maybe even a little healthy) dishes.  This was totally inspired by an article in Parent Magazine, just so ya know. 

So here is the breakdown.  Not calling it a recipe, more of a guide. 

Broccoli.  Grocery store had broccoli on sale this week.  I picked up 2 bunches and when I got home cut the heads off the stalk and put them into a container in the fridge for ease of prep at meal time.   In this dish I just cut the heads into smaller bits. 

Chicken.  Sunday I had cooked 8 or 9 leg quarters and then once cooled, shredded the meat.  For this dish I used about a handful and then put the rest in vacuum bags, sealed and froze.

Yellow squash.  Thanks to my friend Jessica I remembered a trick to up the health value of a meal by adding shredded/grated squash and/or zucchini.  This idea was gonna work perfectly in this meal.  I used about 1/2 of the squash.

Philadelphia cooking cream.  Not too proud of this ingredient, but in a pinch it was good.  Not good for us but good tasting.  The sauce is actually where I think the most experimentation can fit.  I was telling the Hubster at dinner that I would like to try and make this more of a stir-fry dish by using some Asian type ingredients for the sauce. 

Whole grain pasta.  I will admit that this is the first time I've used whole grain pasta.  I've used the garden pasta stuff that is all different colors but no whole grain.  I felt that maybe the family would need easing into this part so I used 1/2 whole grain and 1/2 traditional pasta.  The fam didn't seem to mind the whole grain, so that will be our pasta of choice next time. 

So here is what I did, and what I will change next time.  I first boiled the pasta.  Then I blanched the broccoli.  Next time I'll do it in the reverse order so that the pasta can absorb any nutrients left behind by the broccoli.  Then in a skillet I added some butter (yes, the kind I made), I then added some garlic infused olive oil.  The butter helps to raise the smoke point of the olive oil.  I then got the skillet hot and threw the drained broccoli in the skillet.  This steamed it some more and gave it a nice garlicky kick.  I then added the squash, chicken and cooking cream.  Then, the pasta (which BTW I made way too much).  I tossed to coat everything with the sauce.  YUM!

I admit that I had to get past the "it's not dripping with sauce" thoughts in my head.  I'm not used to fixing a pasta dish that doesn't have sauce dripping off every bit. 

Now for some variations that I'm considering.  How about grilled chicken over a bed of the pasta/veg mix with an Italian vinaigrette type sauce.  Or an Asian noodle inspired dish using soy sauce and other stuff that I haven't figured out yet. 

So, yeah, this was a revelation for me in my cooking.  Revelation one: I'm so glad I had the fresh veg in the fridge to use in my meals.  Revelation two: I've acquired enough skill and confidence in the kitchen to fake it when in a crunch, which then manifested into a meal that will go into regular rotation as long as there are wonderful veggies for us to use. 


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