Monday, July 12, 2010

Down and Dirty Dinners

Sometimes I get caught up in the complicated meals that I don't really challenge myself to create food with just random ingredients in my pantry and fridge.  I am highly ordered when it comes to meal planning and grocery shopping.  (Actually, I'm rather ordered about most things).  I go grocery shopping once every 2 weeks and I typically plan out the meals I want to make over those 2 weeks.  It doesn't mean I sit down and go, Monday I will make pesto pizza, Tuesday leftovers, Wednesday snobby joes, etc.  I usually get some ideas for meals, maybe 4-6, some difficult, some easy.  The difficult ones that take more time will probably be Friday or Saturday night meals.  I also add some staples to the list based on sales at my grocery like bananas, apples, and other fruits, baby carrots, etc.

Over the months I end up with a glut of basic ingredients.  Too many cans of beans, coconut milk and tomatoes, lots of various grains, dry noodles, frozen fruit and veggies, etc.  Items leftover from one too many meals that never made it on to the table (I'm not very good about checking what I currently have in stock before shopping).  These past two weeks I decided to step away from the cookbooks and just wing it based on the ingredients I had on hand.

I discovered two things: 1) I remembered that veggies can be just as tasty steamed as being combined in a more elaborate meal (like enchiladas).  2) I'm more likely to be lazy and want to eat out.  I think this is because I first have to figure out what ingredients I have, what I want to make, and then make it.  With my typical approach, I just have to look through the recipes I marked (if I can't just remember them) and pick one that sounds good.  I know I have all the ingredients because I just purchased them. 

That being said, I've made some yummy and easy meals in the past week.

Super Duper Lazy Meal
- 1 broccoli stalk
- 1 head of cauliflower
- 2 carrots
- favorite Asian sauce (I went with a jar of hoisin)
- cooked rice (optional)

Clean and chop the broccoli, cauliflower, and carrots into bite sized pieces.  Make sure you chop up your broccoli stalks as well.  If yours is a bit tough, you can take a peeler to them.  I just cut mine up into small enough pieces that it isn't a problem.  I also don't peel my carrots, does that make me weird?  I just give them a good scrub and chop them up.

Set up your steamer, however you do it.  You might have a steamer contraption like me that sits in a pot, sitting perched above the bottom, where you put your water and bring to a boil.  You may have something that sits on top of your pot.  If you have nothing official, I've been known to bust out a large pot and a metal strainer and tie the strainer to the pot so it floats in the pot.  Channel your inner kitchen MacGyver.

Steam until veggies are tender.  It depends on how packed your steamer is.  I usually do about 15 minutes. Once they are done, serve over brown rice if you have it, however it's just as tasty without.  Brown rice takes a while to cook, so sometimes I just eat the veggies.  Top with favorite Asian sauce.

Question of the day: What's your favorite, made up meal?

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