Sunday, November 9, 2008

Cause I'm the Queen of Second Chances

One of the major kitchen roadblocks I tend to hear about from twentysomethings is that they don't want to cook for just themselves. "It's not worth the trouble to make all that food for just me." And I understand part of this because most recipes produce 4 servings so either we're going to get fat or creative. I also tend to think I'm almost always worth the trouble but that's the petite hedonist in me and the fact that I do my best thinking while working methodically in the kitchen.

But alright, let's humor ourselves. Assuming that you will have some leftovers, what can you do to turn those leftovers into a new meal? Many wiser cooks have broached the topic and some have even adjusted recipes into single servings but I'll offer two examples on how to push your food/budget farther.

#1 Pictured Above: Friday night I had Mols, Chrissy and Elle Michelle over for a hearty cool-weather meal and some wine. The menu was drunk onion chicken with mushrooms, mashed red skin potatoes, carmelized carrots and Jaimeson's addictive salad. This is an easy meal and goes like this:
  • Spray a large sautee pan with PAM or the like and brown your chicken on all sides. In a 2 cup liquid measuring cup, combine 1 cup water, 1 cup dry white wine and 1 packet of Lipton Onion soup mix. Stir to combine then pour in the saucepan and cover at Medium heat.
  • Add 1 1/2 cups sliced white button mushrooms and 1/2 a large yellow onion (sliced and separated) to the pan and let the whole thing simmer together for about 1/2 hour, turning the chicken at the 15 minute mark.
  • Boil red potatoes and carrots in separate pots. When the potatoes are easily pierced with a fork, drain them and add 1/4 cup 2% milk, 1 1/2 TB butter and 1/4 cup sour cream then either mash with a potato masher or beat with an electric mixer. Season with salt, pepper and a little onion powder or fresh chives if your have them.
  • For the carrots, drain them and add 2 TB butter and 2 TB of dark brown sugar plus salt to taste. Stir to make sure all carrots are glazed. Move carrots to a serving dish and cover. Wash the pot.
  • Back to the chicken. Take your now clean carrot pot and strain the juice from the chicken into it. Remove chicken from heat but keep it covered. Now with the juice pot on low heat, Add 1 1/2 TB of flour and stir with a whisk until it starts to thicken into gravy. Stir any flour lumps out so that it is evenly distributed. You've now made really tasty gravy. Congratulations.
  • We like to make little lakes on top of our mashed potatoes to pour the gravy into. Then waterfalls of delicious run down the sides like an eruption that then marries with the caramelized carrots. Sigh.
  • The salad, as I've described before is one of my new favorites. I sent a dressing 911 text to J that night and he walked me through his dressing very patiently. Start with a bowl of arugula that has 6-8 shredded basil leaves mixed in. Dressing is 3 parts olive oil to 2 parts red wine vinegar. A shake of oregano and a healthy shake of garlic salt. Juice of one lemon. Salt and pepper to taste. Coat every leaf and listen for the salad to say thank you.
  • Dinner's served.
Now the re-purpose: After my pozole extravaganza yesterday afternoon, I was not hungry till close to 8 last night. And craving polenta again. Instead of ordering my favorite polenta from Mana, I opted to just attempt my own version which is where Emeril came in. God that was easy and I left out the creme fraiche- too rich for me- and used ground cornmeal rather than technical polenta. So "polenta" topped with leftover mushrooms and onions from the night before plus fresh salad with leftover dressing. Two meals for one and only one pot sullied.

#2 Pictured below: I don't eat takeout very often. Maybe 2-3 times a month because if I'm home I cook and when I don't want to cook, I want the full restaurant experience. Something took hold of me a couple weeks ago and I could not stop thinking about Orange Chicken and fried rice. It'd probably been 2 years since I had it and I just gave in. The chicken comes with veggie rice plus an extra white rice and I got a side of steamed broccoli to dilute my MSG intake. I ate it in my living room in a way that would likely paint me as feral in public.

Part 2 was the leftover white rice poured in a sautee pan with 1 TB vegetable order and stirred till coated. Over Medium-Low heat I added 2 TB Tamari (regular soy sauce would work just fine) a sprinkle of ground ginger, chopped garlic, chopped leftover broccoli, chopped fresh spinach and some onion and tomato leftover from something else. All together stirring till heated and the egg was distributed. It made enough for lunch the next day and when I divided the original cost of the take-out by three meals, It was $2.70 a serving. Seconds please.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Can I just let you work in my kitchen please? You have inspired me to try cooking a little more. Seriously, you have!!! :hugs: Thank you!