Friday, September 2, 2016

Another No Recipe Cooking Weekend

We all know one of those planning kinds of people. You know the ones, they sit down with a notebook and a cup of coffee, their calendar and some coupons and plan an entire week's, or more, worth of menus, and actually stick to it. I am NOT that person. Oh I tried, and tried, and tried. I failed. I threw away uncooked vegetables that went bad because I didn't stick to my plan. I just did that in fact, this morning, tossing weepy organic arugula and green beans that I forgot to use for meals during the week. Darn me. I HATE when that happens. I regretfully had to toss an unopened package of beautifully prepared chili lime grilled chicken breast strips because I got lazy and didn't make dinner a few times. I just can't plan ahead! 

A few basics in the pantry and you can make a whole
takeout menu full of recipes for pennies.
Unless.......... it's a manageable amount of food- like say, six bone in chicken breasts. I had a package in the fridge that needed to be cooked or meet a freezing fate in the freezer, so I decided it's time to make some Planned Leftovers. Easy- line a baking sheet with foils, and arrange the chicken breasts on top. Season them liberally. I used the last teaspoon of some Fines Herbes from Penzey's, some garlic salt, Montreal Steak seasoning (I use this for everything), a sprinkle of smoked paprika and some tomato basil seasoning I found on the shelf and rubbed all over the chicken. I popped the chicken breasts into a 350 degree oven and roasted them for about an hour, then I let cool, popped in the fridge, and when cold, pulled the chicken off the bone and saved for some easy meals over the weekend, and I was soooo glad I did. I think I'm going to do this again- on purpose!

Dessert is a snap when you start with a mix
Having had a fairly stressful work week, the weekend was my relax time, my time to do nothing. Cooking wasn't even on my radar. I was whiny, sad that I am missing out on the Italian American Festival and the American Cheese Society's Festival of Cheese- and come on!! Who want to miss these events? One of my Foodie Resolutions was to attend more food events in 2016- and so far it's been a tough one to meet. Not for the last of wanting, however, I have had to miss out on several awesome tastings, cooking classes, and a few other events and I'm not too happy about it. So I had a teeny meeny pity party over missing out. Cooking just wasn't in my game plan this weekend. Thankfully, that roasted chicken will come into play a couple times this weekend.

Faced with certain starvation and a fridge with some pretty tasty ingredients contained therein I opted for the easy way out- a salad. Rescued from the veggie drawer, a mostly full bag of organic baby spinach formed the foundation of my salad. I wish I'd also had some fresh basil leaves but i was forced to make do. A couple of very ripe and juicy Roma tomatoes get cut up into bite size chunks and tossed in the bowl. Half a ball of fresh mozzarella, cubed, goes in next, followed with a generous handful of cut up leftover roast chicken breast. Whip up a quick vinaigrette with some olive oil, Dijon mustard and Balsamic vinegar and toss the whole thing together with some crunchy Italian bread croutons. I didn't have any croutons and I missed that crunch. It was a great light dinner I'd definitely make again.

Sunday was a lazy day. Neither the chef nor I wanted to cook again.....and we still had veggies and chicken to use. Sounds like a crazy stir fry of some sort, with rice, was in order.

Out of boredom, I thought I'd check the pantry and maybe whip up some kind of dessert. I spied some good recipe basics on the shelf and decided a cake of some kind would be easy to pull off. Simple to throw together, mix up a one layer yellow cake mix as the package directs. Pour into 8x8 pan. Grab a can of pie filling of choice- I used red raspberry, and spoon it randomly onto the cake batter, swirling a bit. Sprinkle with a topping if you like- I had some leftover pecan brittle from the Naughtiest Bacon so I used that. Chopped nuts, coconut, a streusel recipe- all would be great. Popped into the oven at 350 degrees for 35 minutes and it was perfect. No frosting needed, a little whipped topping or vanilla ice cream would have been great. 

This quick dessert is a great dish to use and experiment. Use your favorite cake flavors and different pie fillings, or fresh fruit, leftover fried apples, whatever!

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