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!

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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 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?

Cooking from the Cabinets

Hello again! Did you think I had abandoned you? I guess I kind of did. Sorry. Between earning a Master’s Degree, working, interning and having bariatric surgery I kind of left you. I’m sorry. The good news is that I’m back and have LOTS more life experiences to blog about! 🙂

So, for starters, let’s talk about what this post is about: Cooking from the Cabinets.

I hope that a lot of you are better than this, but I know I’m terrible about buying groceries every week without necessarily using what we already have. I’m good about meal planning, but I only use what I need to make those meals and miscellaneous other things begin to accumulate in the cabinets. The soup I bought when it was on sale, the extra box of macaroni that I bought thinking we needed some, the cake mixes, almonds, or salad dressings that just build up and build up until I come home with groceries only to realize that we don’t have room for them.

Cabinet

I mean, come on. It’s embarrassing. This is PLENTY of food to cook from.

What a first world problem, huh? It’s horrible and I feel terribly guilty about it when I know how many people out there go hungry. So, this week I’m doing something about it. I simply decided not to buy groceries. No advance planning, no tweaking my supplies, nothing. Just roll with what we have and figure it out. As I told my husband, we have plenty of food but we get lazy and don’t want to put it the effort to figure out how to make a meal. We’re better than that! So, here we go.

Hopefully you’ll enjoy this and maybe, just maybe, be inspired to be creative in using what you have. Enjoy!

Chicken on the bone. Grrr.

I hate chicken on the bone. I don’t know why, I guess because it reminds me of what I’m eating. Flesh of an animal. Hmmm. I prefer, as my sister puts it so delicately, to “buy all my meat all sanitized, cut up and put on styrofoam trays so that no animals were hurt in the process.” I know this is not very respectful to the animal, but it is what it is.

That being said, I bought a big package of chicken thighs on sale at Publix and came home to find them skinless but on the bone. What to do? I decided that I would brown them in a skillet and roast them in the oven to make sure they got done.

So, Chubby Hubby and I set about it. I rinsed the chicken and dried it well so it would crisp. Chubby Hubby seasoned it with salt and pepper, and assisted me in the searing process.  He seared and put the chicken in a roasting pan while I chopped an onion and several cloves of garlic to roast with the chicken. Make lemonade out of lemons, right? 

After this was done, we roasted the chicken, onions and garlic in a 425 degree oven for about 25 minutes (make sure the juices are running clear).  Pulled it out, looks and smells YUMMY. Hmm, maybe this will be ok.

Now, what to do with all this chicken? Our answer: De-bone it and make some Chicken Pie.  How do you make Chicken Pie? I’m glad you asked!

You need a couple of ingredients:

  • Chicken Broth
  • 1 can of vegetables
  • 2 cans of favorite “Cream of” soups
  • 1 cup of milk
  • 1 stick of butter or margarine
  • 1 1/4 cup of flour
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 1/2 tbsp poultry seasoning

I de-boned and cut up the chicken into small cubes.  Then, I looked at the vegetables I had. Hmm, just carrots and peas. Personally, I like some potatoes in my Chicken Pie, so I decided to cut up a couple of small white potatoes and blanch them (Note: just blanch, don’t cook completely. Remember that they will cook some more in the casserole). While they potatoes boiled, I combined the peas and carrots, chicken and cream of soups. The cream soups I used were Cream of Mushroom and Roasted Garlic and Cream of Chicken and Herbs. Stir together well in casserole dish.

Once the potatoes were  almost done…I realized I had cooked too many potatoes. Oh well, the more the merrier! I drained them and added ’em to the party. It’s now time to add the broth and it hit me. WAIT! I have all this yummy broth that roasted with the chicken, why not use that? (Seriously, how could I throw it away, look at it!)

The proper amount of broth to use is the amount equal to one of the Cream of soup cans. So I strained the broth and added it to the can, came about to be about half of what I needed, so I added the store-bought stuff till I had enough. Stirred it all together till it was combined evenly. Add salt, pepper, and poultry seasoning now and stir it all together one more time.

Now, it’s crust time. Now my mom (hi mom!) gave me this awesome recipe for crust for anything that needs crust. Just take a stick of cold butter, cut it into cubes, combine with 1 cup of flour until it looks like sand.  Add 1 cup of milk and mix together. Pour this batter over the top of the casserole last thing.

(Note: I usually prefer more crust, so I mix up about 1 1/2 times the “1 to 1 to 1” recipe, but for simplicity sake, I kept the original amount for this excursion.)

Now bake the Chicken Pie at 415-420 degrees for around 45 minutes. There are 2 sure-fire ways to tell when it’s done.

1) You give the casserole a slight shake in the oven (with a pot holder. Seriously. No lawsuits.) and if it’s still more wobbly than solid, it’s not done. When it’s fairly solid, you’re golden.

2) The crust turns beautiful golden brown. If you peek in the oven and the crust isn’t brown, give it another 5-10 minutes and check it.

Voila! Yummy Chicken Pie that re-heats well for lunches and leftovers.  I guess chicken on the bone is all right after all.