Cooking from the Cabinets: Day 7 (Hallelujah!)

Faithful readers, this week has taught me a lot of things.

1) We waste too much food.

2) We eat too little food. A lot of the stuff in my cabinets was/is heavily processed and full of edible ingredients that are not, in fact, food.

3) If planning to undergo such a challenge yourself, I strongly encourage that you make sure you have what you need to complete it. That was part of the challenge when I started was to not reinforce my supplies and just eat what we had. That being said, it has definitely been a challenge. 🙂

So, the final day of the challenge. We ate oatmeal for breakfast, and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for lunch (by sandwiches I mean he had an English muffin and I had a wrap since we were out of bread). Nothing we couldn’t handle and nothing we wouldn’t have done on a normal day anyway. I think the knowledge that we were so low on some things was messing with our heads more than the actual food we were eating.

Dinner was another one of our quick, simple, “I’m hungry-and-tired and you’re hungry-and-tired” weeknight meals that we both enjoy. Simplest thing in the world, but very good. Smoked Sausage with Potatoes and Onion. Simply take a smoked sausage and slice it up (I try to do it on the bias just so it’s a little bit prettier, Chubby Hubby just slices it…men 🙂 ) along with some potatoes and an onion.  There are options in regards to both to change the flavor or textures of the dish. We prefer to use Turkey smoked sausage as it’s a bit lighter in calories and is not greasy at all. We also generally use red potatoes because you can get such a nice crust on them when you roast them in a hot cast-iron skillet, and we prefer yellow or Vidalia/sweet onions to white because it’s a mellower flavor.

We just heat our trusty cast-iron skillet in the over before we start the prep at about 400 degrees. This helps make a nice, crisp, crust on all the ingredients (as Chubby Hubby refers to it: crusty goodness).  Then slice all the ingredients, toss them in a little olive or canola oil (we prefer olive in general) and season with salt and pepper, garlic powder, and cumin.

CUMIN IS IMPORTANT TO THIS DISH.

We’ve had it before with just salt and pepper, and it’s fine, nothing wrong with it. Add the cumin and it becomes a party. It’s just so much better with this little bit of extra smoky flavor. When the skillet is heated nicely, (carefully) add the ingredients to the skillet and roast for about 30 to 40 minutes, or until the potatoes get soft.

We generally add an egg to the meal, and I prefer mine either “sunny-side-up” or “over-medium” for this meal. Chubby Hubby hates and detests the idea of a runny yolk, but when it’s all mixed in with the sausage and potatoes of this dish, it makes like this rich, yummy sauce and it just can’t be beat.

So yummy, complete with "crusty goodness"

So yummy, complete with “crusty goodness”.

This is another one of our fallback meals, and it never disappoints.

I hope you all have enjoyed reading about this challenge and it has opened your mind to different methods and recipes to try when you get low on groceries. I, on the other hand, and heading to the grocery store! Later guys! 🙂

Advertisements

Cooking from the Cabinets: Day 6

OK, we really could use some supplemental groceries now! This has been a good experiment, but for future reference you may want to make sure that you have plenty of staples before embarking on such a process. It’s getting a bit hard to come up with things without some key ingredients. That being said, I think we did pretty well today!

Breakfasts were yogurt and bananas for me, and Chubby Hubby had oatmeal. Very bland as we’re out of milk to enrich it.

Lunch today was leftover chicken and pasta from last night.

Ok, dinnertime. The main event, so to speak. I found two more chicken breasts lurking in the back of the freezer. I do remember buying them, so they’re not that old, but this is pretty much the last protein remaining in the freezer. I have successfully cleared out the surplus. Yay!

So, this chicken. I don’t know what to do with it. Ever been there? I feel like I live there. I’m looking around to find what to pair it with, because if I find what I’m putting with it, maybe inspiration will strike for how to prepare it. I look in the cabinet and find a box of instant stuffing mix. I bought this not to long ago because my mom (hi mom!) was telling me that she made some with some turkey she slow-roasted with gravy and how good it was. I decided to make the stuffing and then thought that since the stuffing would be so soft that making the chicken crispy would be a good difference.

I coated the chicken in some corn meal seasoned with salt, pepper, garlic powder and onion powder and cooked in about 1/2 inch of canola oil in the skillet. It turned a beautiful brown color, much more than I expected, and crisped up so nicely! We paired the instant stuffing and cornmeal fried chicken and some steamed veggies and it turned into quite a nice dinner! I will definitely cook the chicken this way again, since I haven’t been able to eat deep-fried chicken since my bariatric surgery (anything greasy does not do well with “Oscar the Pouch”) and sometimes I miss the crispy texture. This was very crisp but not at all greasy.\

This experiment is teaching me a lot about being more creative, putting more thought into the meals I cook. One more day, and thankfully I have that dinner planned, so be prepared for our absolute favorite weeknight dinner!

I’m sorry that there are no pictures to accompany this post because my phone ate them. I apologize for the lack of eye candy, but instead I am attaching a picture of Zoe Dog in one of her two settings: running around crazy, or this:

 

Setting #2: Canine paperweight.

Setting #2: Canine paperweight.

Stay tuned for our exciting finale! Same Bat-time, same Bat-channel!

Cooking from the Cabinets: Day 5

So today is Wednesday and I got good news faithful readers. Your friendly blogger passed her licensure exam! Woo-hoo!! I’m officially on the way to becoming a professional counselor! *happy dance*

Ok, enough of that! I mentioned this only because it is an important part of the story. Since Chubby Hubby and I were celebrating, he cooked dinner.  He is actually a pretty good cook, but he ALLOWS me to cook the majority of the time so a break from the stove for a night was nice.

He found some chicken breasts in the freezer and baked them with salt, pepper, rosemary and lemon. I have to tell you, these were very simple but tasted AH-MAZING.

Ok, we're deep in the freezer clean-out week, so the chickens are not the largest cuts. STILL YUMMY!!

Ok, we’re deep in the freezer clean-out week, so the chickens are not the largest cuts. STILL YUMMY!!

I love lemon and/or rosemary anything, and the combination of the two is so yummy. In the cabinet, he found some sun-dried tomato tortellini and some garlic alfredo sauce so he boiled the pasta and tossed it in the sauce.

Not overly complicated for a weeknight but it was very good. We probably should have added a bag of steam-in-bag veggies (some green beans would have been good) but we didn’t. Next time.

Bravo Chubby Hubby. :)

Bravo Chubby Hubby. 🙂

Five days down and I have to tell you that my cabinets are emptying! This is a good thing. I went through and cleaned them out a bit but I’m using more stuff than I’m getting rid of.  Two more days to the challenge (which is good because we could really use some bread, and milk, and eggs, and cheese…) !


So who does more of the cooking in your house? Or who is the better cook? 🙂

 

Cooking from the Cabinets: Day 4

Alright ladies and gentlemen, I promised you something different and here it is–Chubby Hubby’s #1 most requested dinner: Korean Beef!

So delicious!

So delicious!

I found this on Pinterest a few months ago and it is so yummy and simple that it is probably requested at least once a week in our house. To give credit where it’s due, this recipe is copied from Damn Delicious‘s blog (source: http://damndelicious.net/2013/07/07/korean-beef-bowl) and I have to commend them on an easy and delicious dinner option.

Now to be honest, some of these ingredients are somewhat specialty (I’m looking at your green onions and ground ginger) but I bought a jar of the ground ginger in an Asian market for about $3 and have barely made a dent in it. I just have the jar in the fridge and use it when I need it. The green onions you can find at a grocery store for about a dollar, and can be put in many different things for color or flavor.

 


 

Sauce:

  • 1/3 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce (we use low-sodium)
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red-pepper flakes, more or less to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced

So to make this, you whisk together the brown sugar, soy sauce, sesame oil, red pepper and ginger in a bowl and set aside.  Mince 3 cloves of garlic and brown in 1 tbsp of canola or vegetable oil. Add 1 pound ground beef, brown and drain (haven’t made this with ground turkey yet, but keep meaning to try it). Stir in the sauce and heat until warmed. You can either mix some of the green onion in the sauce for more flavor or add it to the meat at the end for color, I usually do a mixture of both.

Serve over instant brown rice and add a bag of your favorite steam-in-bag veggie (we usually do broccoli or snow peas) and voila! Yummy dinner in about 15 minutes. I can’t attest to how well this reheats because we never have any leftovers (Chubby Hubby REALLY likes it!), and the pics may not be reflect how delish this dish looks and smells. If you love Asian flavors though, just make this once and see if it doesn’t enter the dinner rotation.

Korean Beef2

Does not photograph well, but trust me!



Stay tuned! There’s more stuff in my cabinets! 🙂

Cooking from the Cabinets: Day 3

Day 3—Monday, lazy Monday.

Didn’t mean to torture you, but this particular Monday the Chubby Hubby and I were both off so this was our quality time day. We spent this day in our pj’s  and watched House of Cards, so what we ate were things we could grab while the show was paused.

Breakfast was coffee, turkey bacon, toast and eggs. When we’re off together we generally make a big breakfast, but since we’re out of grits, pancake makings, and most of our fruit so we keep it simple. The bad thing is, in full disclosure, we got up, showered, ate breakfast, and took a nap. 🙂 Yup, it was one of those days!

Lunch was chicken noodle soup and grilled ham and cheese sandwiches. I haven’t eaten much chicken noodle soup since I got grown, but I have to tell you how much it hit the spot. Warm chicken noodle soup on a sore throat was just the ticket.

Mm-mm-mm-mm-good!

Mm-mm-mm-mm-good!

While Chubby Hubby was working on our sandwiches, I put some thought into dinner. Didn’t see anything in the actual cabinet that really struck my fancy, so I started digging through the freezer and came across some beef burritos I had stuck in the freezer a month or so ago.

I found this great blog on Pinterest called “Fun with Sharps!”, and thought that their recipe for the burritos looked good. I also liked that I could half it and use I for two meals, which we did. Shortly after I prepped them, Chubby Hubby had to go out-of-town for work for a couple of weeks. His company was generously putting him up in an extended stay type place with a kitchenette, so we fixed him up with the small slow cooker and all kinds of things to throw in there to eat when he didn’t feel like fast food.  He fixed them and talked about how good it was so I kept meaning to make them for myself but never got around to it.

I hope I’m not alone in this, but sometimes I prep for things and feel good because I’m prepared and then completely forget that they’re there. Which is why I decided to start this experiment in the first place was to clear out some of my reserves!

So we stuck the fixins in the slow cooker and went back to our show. A couple of hours go by and we start to smell the beef. Yums. It smells heavenly. When I decide its dinner time I go in and check, looks good to me! I shred the beef and make efforts to pull out the peppercorns. This part is a little rough because they’re small and the sauce is chunky. It’s worth the effort though, because I found one I missed when I was eating and it was a bit strong.  Overall, these were very good and very easy considering that all I did today was thaw them a bit in the sink, dump it in the slow cooker and shred it. Even the initial prep I remember being not too complicated. We ate them with a bit of Greek yogurt and some salsa on some whole wheat tortillas. This is definitely going on the list to make again. Recipe listed below.

Beef Burritos (from SOURCE: http://fun-with-sharps.blogspot.com/2012/10/well-you-cant-say-i-never-cook.html?m=1):
(6+ servings)

  • 1 London Broil or top round roast (about 2 lbs)

    Very, very good. A little salsa and some greek yogurt and tasty dinner complete.

    Very, very good. A little salsa and some Greek yogurt and tasty dinner complete.

  • 1 diced onion
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons whole peppercorns
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 (8 oz) cans tomato sauce
  • 1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce – Use just 1 pepper!! (It’s in a can.)
  • 1 ½ teaspoon chili powder (you can adjust this according to your taste)
  1. Add all the above ingredients into a freezer bag.
  2. When you are ready to cook the meal, dump the contents of the bag into the crock pot and cook on high for 4-5 hours or low for 6-7 hours Cook on high for 4-5 hours or low for 6-7 hours.
  3. When the meat is cooked, you will need to strain the juices and add the juice back to the slow cooker. (You want to remove the peppercorns and onions.) Shred the meat and add back to the juice in the slow cooker for about 30 minutes. This is one of our favorite recipes. My kids eat it as long as we have leftovers.

    20140518_204637

    Whoops! Missed some peppercorns! Still very yummy!


Faithful readers, I do promise tomorrow to put in some very good effort and whip up something memorable from the contents of our cabinets.

In the meantime, want to share any ideas of our next Netflix show to binge on? House of Cards is very good so far!


 

Cooking from the Cabinets: Day 2

(Formatting fixes made, prepare to be inundated!!)

Day 2 of the Cabinet challenge and boy are you going to be disappointed…

No, I didn’t break the challenge again. C’mon, I’m better than that. However, of my very few posts to the site, one of the few things I have already shown you is how I make chicken pie and guess what we made? 🙂  So this is a review in most ways.

Breakfast was cereal (exciting, no?) but that’s off the table now because I used the last of the milk. Oops.  Lunch was a turkey sandwich and chips, and a snack was a couple of handfuls of seasoned nuts (a mixture of almonds, peanuts, cashews and sunflower seeds roasted together. Yet another thing I promise to post later). So for dinner I was digging through the fridge and found some leftover rotisserie chicken that I got at Costco several days ago. It was destined to end up at that great dumpster in the sky had I not rescued it from its fate in the very back of the fridge.  I’m so charitable.

Anyway, Chubby Hubby and I picked all the meat off the bones and diced it up nicely. In retrospect, I really, really wish I had saved the bones to make stock, but I frequently make my own rotisserie chickens so it will simply have to wait and be a post for another day.

So, to review, we took the chicken, diced it up and put it in a greased casserole dish. I added a bag of mixed frozen veggies, a can of cream of mushroom soup, a cup and a half of chicken broth, and some seasonings (the classics: salt, pepper, poultry seasonings, onion and garlic powder, etc.). Once this is well mixed together I make my crust mixture and pour it on top. Bake this in a 400-425 degree oven for about an hour, or until the crust is brown and the casserole is bubbling.

20140518_001614

This is one of Chubby Hubby’s favorites, which I think is why he offered to help, and he ate a big helping AND took some to work for lunch. This one is always a hit and it was nice to not have to fuss with dinner.

What are some of your favorite “go-to” recipes?


 

Cooking from the Cabinets: Day 1

(Still working on some formatting for the blog, hence the delay in postings. Day 1 of the challenge actually took place on Saturday, May 17)

So I had planned for both my husband and myself to cook or eat all three meals this week from the cabinets/fridge. However, full disclosure: I wanted pancakes. I had been craving pancakes (no chubby baby in progress for the record) and nothing would satisfy that craving. So, I did let my parents take me out for blueberry pancakes this morning. Sorry. Day 1: partial failure. But there’s nothing like getting back on the horse right?

Dinnertime and the Chubby Hubby is hungry and on his way home. What to do? I scour the freezer for a protein and find the ground turkey breast I bought when it was on sale before I realized that it was ground turkey breast and therefore has zero fat. There’s nothing wrong with this except it’s easy to overcook and dry out and therefore I’ve avoided using it. Tonight’s the night!

I thaw the turkey and scour Pinterest for ideas (seriously, Pinterest. How did I ever live without you? Am I right?) I find inspiration on Laura’s Sweet Spot for Ground Turkey Stroganoff  (http://laurassweetspot.com/2012/07/16/ground-turkey-stroganoff/). She used ground turkey breast, so I figure this is a good place to start.

I know we have plenty of macaroni, which I can use in place of egg noodles. We always have greek yogurt that I can use in place of sour cream (greek yogurt is a gastric sleeve’s best friend!), and I think we have mushrooms. I look in the crisper drawer for the mushrooms only to find they’re not good anymore. It’s embarrassing how much food we waste because I forget about the stuff I stash in the crisper. I scan the canned goods to see if we have any cream of mushroom soup (I know, I know…processed). I find some Progresso Recipe Starter in Creamy Portabella Mushroom that I bought when it first came out and was on sale and promptly forgot was even in the cabinet. BINGO. This is exactly what I need.

Soup image (STOCK)

MMMMM…canned, processed goodness.

I see a peel-able recipe on the can and looking at it I decide to use that recipe instead of Laura’s (although I’m sure Laura’s is MUCH BETTER and is definitely less processed) because it has MUCH fewer ingredients and looks a lot less complicated for tonight. I peel, slice and saute two garlic cloves in a bit of canola oil while I chop an onion (a white one, as this is what I have) and throw it in with the garlic. When they are cooked super soft I add the ground turkey and brown it. The recipe says to wait and add the Worcestershire sauce once you add the can, but the turkey and the onion and the garlic are JUST.SO.WHITE…no color, carmelization, nothing. I add the Worcestershire to the turkey and it begins to smell pretty good.

Once all the turkey is cooked (this stuff is just so white when you’re used to cooking ground beef or regular ground turkey) I add the canned stuff. It’s gloppy and thinner than I thought it’d be, but it’s fine. I add more Worcestershire sauce because why not. While the soup/sauce/stuff is warming up, I put the macaroni on to boil. Once the noodles get boiling, I take the sauce off the heat and add 3/4 cup of plain Greek yogurt and give it a good stir.

This actually doesn’t look to bad.

Image

About that time, Chubby Hubby comes home. He sniffs and sees what I’m cooking.

“Have you ever made stroganoff before?” he asks.

“Nope.”

“Then why are you making it now?”

“Because we had stuff to make it and we needed dinner.”

Chubby Hubby pauses, nods, and grabs a bowl. Apparently, he enjoys it because he eats two bowls. I ask him if he likes it, he nods. I ask if he’d like for me to make it again in the future, he nods (he’s a man of few words 🙂 ). I eat some and while stroganoff is not my favorite thing in the world, I agree it’s pretty good.

So, day 1 of the experiment went pretty well. On to day 2.

~~~

Any thoughts or inspirations? What do you all use Ground Turkey BREAST for?