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Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Dinner musings

I really hate thinking of things to serve for dinner. Not that I don't have some great recipes at my disposal, but the whole process of planning, shopping, prepping... and then not being in the mood for whatever it was I planned. And on top of that, dinners have to generate reheatable leftovers for Car Guy's lunch. We're trying to save some money, so I'm currently trying to cook from the pantry, instead of going to the grocery store.

Sunday night I had a simple dinner of chicken and stuffing planned. Not because we love it (although I think stuffing and cranberry sauce are my favorite parts of turkey dinner), but because I have a couple of boxes of Stove Top in the pantry from just before the holidays - it was on sale and I had a coupon. While getting the box out, I glanced at the recipe on the back. Sounded pretty good, and I had all the ingredients. Oh, my gosh! Delish!

It's probably on everybody else's standard dinner rotation, but I hadn't made the chicken and stuffing casserole before. I did make a couple of changes. Well, actually I hybridized the 2 recipes that were on the box. One had cheese and sour cream, one had milk. I didn't have sour cream in the house, but I did have cheese and milk. See where I'm going? And I used fresh broccoli instead of frozen. The only complaint I had is that the instructions called for cut up chicken breasts, and didn't indicate that they needed to be already cooked. But the pieces in the middle of the casserole weren't cooked through when the casserole was done (and at that point the stuffing on the top was getting really crispy and dark). So next time I make it, I'll either pre-cook the chicken a little, or cook the chicken mixture for 10 minutes before I put the stuffing on the top.

Car Guy said the leftovers reheated well for lunch. I figure that the almost-burnt stuffing on top (I put it back in the oven for 10 more minutes after I figured out that the chicken was super-rare) would soften with reheating. So this recipe is going on the "OK to make again" list. But I think next time I'll jazz it up a little: add some sauteed onions and celery to the stuffing, or maybe some chopped apple. I think I'll also try it with cut up pork tenderloin or chops and mushroom soup instead of the chicken and cream of chicken soup.

What are your fall-back dinners that you don't have to think about and always seem to have ingredients on hand?


Gnightgirl said...

I have different fall-back dinners; those for the nights Clint's working and I'm eating alone, and those for the nights he is not.

Pasta is usually on the fallback menu, I can do anything with it, and am usually stocked up on veggies of some sort: add onions, garlic, mushrooms, basil and oregano to some jar sauce (I always add the stuff even if it says it's in there.) Or toss spaghetti with bacon, green pepper, onion, garlic, and parmesan. Any veggie mix tossed into any pasta works, and if I have a workable meat (italian sausage, polish sausage) all the beter.

My personal, when no-one-is-home fallback usually involves squid. It's only $3.59 a lb, cleaned and frozen, and there's always a pack in my fridge. Simmer it in italian tomatoes and eat as a stew or on pasta, it gets very tender this way. Sauteed in olive oil and garlic, chewier, but still good.

We eat sauteed spinach as a side with almost every meal. Sometimes I punch it up with mushrooms, garlic, pimentos, ham; other times just a splash of balsamic vinegar.

Rae Bates said...

Mine is lemon chicken. I saute chicken breast tenderloins in a bit of butter blend (my 50/50 mix of butter and light olive oil) and lemon juice. I can add garlic, spices, or even honey to change it up. Paired with Royal Blend rice, it's a quick, easy meal.