Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Cooking For Two

I'm officially the worst blogger. Ever. I only blog when I am angry or annoyed which is passive aggressive silliness that makes me sound snarky and bossy. I have deleted said posts and will try to stick to happier subjects, i.e. my son and FOOD, mainly.

With that being said, I am not a great cook nor do I have much experience. Only since my sweet boy was born and I found out everything we eat is poison became more interested in what we put in our bodies, have I begun to experiment in the kitchen. I also found a real love for saving money and not producing food waste. Typically, I am cooking for just the two of us and my little man loves to cook and eat as well. He's the best sous chef a gal could ask for! 

We try to utilize the small yield from our garden, local farmer's markets, organic items from local grocery stores, and sometimes items that aren't necessarily the greatest option but will do in a pinch. Also, I love coming up with ideas for my leftovers. I rarely work from recipes and often stand in front of the refrigerator puzzling over what to make out of what is already in there so I can avoid grocery shopping with my toddler until the next open air market day. He tends to become supremely annoyed inside large grocery stores but is a willing participant at all the outdoor markets. That's my kid! 

I am going to try to remember to post a few meal ideas we've enjoyed every now and again. Most lean more towards the healthy-ish spectrum but all are simple and require very little time OR prowess in the kitchen arena. My definition of healthy will vary from other people's idea of healthy. We still eat lots of good fats, carbs, use real sugar and butter, and probably are a tad heavy handed with the dairy but I incorporate fresh fruits and veggies into our meals every day. We never eat food dye, HFCS, pesticides, or awful "low-fat" chemical laden crap at home.  Also, I don't have any recipes as I just use what we have on hand and rarely make the same meal the same exact way more than once. Use what you have and make it work for you!

Corn Chowder
1/2 a large onion
giant spoonful of chopped garlic
twice around the pot with EVOO
Cook until onions are transparent
Add a healthy amount of diced carrots
Add the kernels from 3 ears of fresh corn
Cover and cook until carrots are slightly tender
Add a ton of chopped greens (we only had spinach left) and fresh basil
Cook until greens are wilted
Add your thickening agents and liquids
(We had a ton of mashed potatoes leftover, whole milk, and plain Greek yogurt)
Season to taste (black pepper, sea salt and yummy smoked paprika for us)
Cook on Medium heat with lid off until desired consistency

Not exactly the healthiest or leanest meal out there but it utilized what was in the fridge and some leftovers too. Plus, we both went to bed with happy, warm tummies so that's what matters most nights! I didn't get a picture of it all finished because we gobbled it all up and both went to bed early.

Tonight, I am almost a week past due for the market and running on fumes. I even used the last of our milk for dinner last night! Still, a day at the park with sweet, new friends took precedence over the dreaded grocery shopping. I looked inside the fridge and found a pack of ground chicken (meh), some leftover black beans from taco night, a shriveling avocado and zucchini, salsa, and some shredded cheese. The garden offered up one puny, ripened tomato from within a sea of green. The cupboard contained a bag of brown rice (40 minuted cook time=no) and a box of wild rice (15 minute cook time= WINNER). I would have liked to have thrown some fresh peppers and onions into the mix but that would have required leaving the house again and I was feeling lazy tonight. I figured I could get two meals minimum out of those products so I went ahead and prepped for dinner tomorrow night too.

While the chicken browned up with a healthy dose of ever present garlic, and the rice quickly boiled, I chopped the tomato and scooped the middle out of the zucchini. I then combined the rice and chicken into one pan with the diced tomato, seasoned with salt and pepper and split the mixtures back between the two pans. 
Steamy pics are hard to get!

To the pan we ate for dinner tonight, I added salsa, cumin, and ancho chili pepper with a handful of shredded cheese and the leftover black beans. We ate this mess with whole wheat tortillas and sliced olives and avocados. It definitely needed some crunch and I wish I had some nice red and yellow peppers to add in there but it was decent and easy. Now, I have a big container in the freezer ready to be stuffed into some peppers or turned into "enchiladas" one night.

For tomorrow's meal, I added oregano, basil, and more garlic to the chicken and rice. I rubbed the zucchini down with olive oil, salt and pepper and stuffed it with the mixture. I would have liked to have added mushrooms and spinach to it but we'll make due with what we have on hand. Tomorrow, I will bake it covered until almost tender and then top it with bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese and brown up the top. I have the last bit of Romaine from the farmer's market, and the rest of the black olives from tonight's dinner, plus a cuke from our garden to make a nice salad with. Depending on how hungry we are, I can always whip up some angel hair pasta with either our own marinara sauce or lemons, capers, basil from the garden and Parmesan to go with it in less than 10 minutes.
I'll get a quick shot of dinner tomorrow to add!

So, there's a peek into how we do food around our house. Eating better doesn't have to be complicated or expensive but it does require some foresight and a certain degree of thriftiness. The more you learn to work with what you have and curb wastefulness, the easier and LESS expensive it becomes to cook a fairly healthy meal for your loved ones every night. Of course, this probably wouldn't work for larger families, dieters, families dealing with food allergies, etc. but my little guy is a great eater and very healthy. We like our carbs:) Happy eating!

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