Monday, November 9, 2009

Throw this together for dinner

First, I have to tell you a little story.

A few months ago, I was complaining to my mother-in-law (a hobby of mine) about the chore of meal planning. It was a sunny, somnolent Sunday afternoon, and the child in mine just wanted to curl up in a sunbeam and take a nap, while the tyrannical grownup was insisting that if I didn't plan the week's menu and shop accordingly, did I really think it was just going to plan itself? Huh? Did I?

My mother-in-law graciously refrained from pointing out how this was a problem unimaginable to a large percentage of the planet, a symptom unique to the overabundant time and place in which we live.

Instead, she dug into the mental Rolodex and emerged with a file called "Cooking for the Family," dusted it off, and presented one of her Ideas from a Happily Organized Household.

Here's the idea: Keep a list of thirty meals you can make well and your family will relish. Or choke down. Let's not get picky. Then, just pick things off the master list and rotate.

I adapted, making a list of twenty, because Sunday night is always omelette night and there's always a chance that some night of the month, we just might eat somewhere else. Also, I like to experiment from my Everyday Food magazine, or a food blog, or the recipe list that comes from our Greenling produce box every Wednesday. I'm all about hope and change.

I'm loving the list. No longer do I stare slack-jawed at the calendar, waiting to be hit upside the head with a meal idea, as if I haven't been cooking for twelve years. Most of the meals on the list are winners with most members of the family. Nothing takes too long to cook. There's a delightful mesclun of meat, fish and vegetarian meals. And the list tells me where exactly in my cookbook collection or bedraggled recipe binder to locate the entree in question. Yes, we can.

Tonight, however, I hit the open road, adapting a recipe from my Greenling box, which this week contained serrano peppers. Here's what I came up with. Minimal stove time, minimal dishes, maximum yum factor. Merry Birthday to you.

1 rotisserie chicken

1.5 cups sour cream
1.5 cups mayonnaise
4-5 serrano peppers, roughly chopped
Juice of 2 limes
4 garlic cloves (or 1 TBSP minced garlic)

Cook 1.5 cups quinoa (had a big, protein-packed bag from Costco, happily gluten-free) or a box of short pasta, such as rigatoni.

Blend sauce ingredients. Shred rotisserie chicken, and warm together with sauce over low heat until warm but not boiling. Serve chicken sauce over quinoa over pasta.

This served our family of five plus two friends. Wish I had delectable photos to tantalize you, but alas, my little camera takes shoddy indoor evening shots. Especially in a yellow formica kitchen. Yes, I do all my cooking bathed in a golden glow.

Bon app├ętit!


Era said...

When we first moved into our new home I went through a cooking phase where I made quiche and even scones. Now I can barely recall my most basic recipes. I'm in a cooking slump. Thanks for the inspiration!

Stephanie said...

We were just talking about this in our household! We've made a list (months ago), but the execution is not so consistent. We'll keep on plugging away at it. Thanks for the recipe idea.

Tony said...

Hi Hannah, Thanks for visiting my blog. I have emailed Flat Tony to you. Beware though as he can get up to quite a bit of mischeif. He is a very independent little fellow. Have fun with him

cjoy said...

Mmmm...sounds yummy!
I roughly have a list of regular meals to pull from, but you inspire me to put it to better use.