Because it's Friday, that means I'll be talking about FOOD FOOD GLORIOUS FOOD today!
I have to say, I have set a very bizarre and unintentional standard in my house. I only recently "discovered" cooking as something I really enjoy, and as such, I've been making homecooked meals every night - even when I don't feel like it. As a result of that, my family has come to expect that every night I will prepare a delicious homecooked meal.
Sometimes I can get pretty creative and come up with something really cool, but sometimes? Sometimes I just want something easy that doesn't take a lot of brain power.
One of the reason I love cooking is because once you get the hang of it, you can tweak any recipe and make it your own. Also, I just got this badass apron in the mail from ThinkGeek.com and now I wear it every time I cook:
So last night, it came to be around 6:00 and I knew I had to start...shudder...planning dinner. Normally I love planning dinner, but it's been stressful and busy for me lately, and all I wanted to do was sleep. I definitely didn't want to mess up a bunch of dishes and spend an hour in the kitchen.
I rooted through my freezer and decided to make a simple, basic meal based on my favorite freezer staples. Click "Read More" for the recipe I just made up last night.
There are certain items I always try to keep around for nights just like this one: namely frozen ingredients that can be easily tossed into a dish to give it interest, color, protein, nutrients, and bulk. Above, you'll see four of my very, very favorite frozen foods ready to go: cheese tortellini (I MUCH prefer frozen tortellini to dried), frozen broccoli, frozen tri-color pepper strips (maybe the greatest thing ever), and frozen chicken thighs. Along with a couple of other items from the fridge, I was ready to go.
So look, I didn't take any pictures of the chicken beforehand, because raw chicken is seriously gross-looking. I defrosted the thighs in a ceramic baking dish in the microwave, then drained most of the liquid out, seasoned it with salt, pepper, and chili powder, then tossed it in the oven for about half an hour. Super easy, and I love that the ceramic dish lets you defrost and bake in the same vessel.
After the chicken had been in about 10 minutes, I boiled a pot of salted water and threw in a bunch of tortellini and a couple handfuls of broccoli and peppers. No measurements, just eyeballing it (it turned out to be the perfect amount). Look! It's already looking pretty!
I boiled it for a few minutes then tossed it in a colander in the sink to chill while I made the "sauce":
The sauce itself couldn't be easier (or less healthy, I'll admit): a stick of butter (yes a whole stick):
Melted down over medium heat. I added a few spoonfuls of minced garlic, some salt and pepper, and the teensiest bit of lemon juice just to give it a tiny bit of zing:
(Pardon the rogue red pepper that had stuck to the bottom of the pan there.)
Once that was all melted and smelling awesome, I threw the pasta and veggies back into the pot and tossed to coat. By that time, the chicken was ready to come out of the oven.
It was delicious and had vegetables in it and even protein. I was pretty proud of myself for coming up with something on the fly like this!
I know, I know..."pasta with garlic butter and veggies" is hardly innovative. But my kids liked it and wanted seconds and the chicken was perfectly cooked and most importantly and best of all: I didn't stress myself out in the kitchen making it.
I'd call that a success.
QUICK TORTELLINI MEAL RECIPE!!!
3 medium-sized frozen chicken thighs
"a bunch" of frozen cheese tortellini
"a handful or two" of frozen broccoli
"a handful or two" of frozen pre-cut tri-color peppers
1 stick of butter
about 2 tsp lemon juice
salt, peper, chili powder
(no, I did not actually measure any of the above amounts, sorry)
- Preheat the oven to 375F.
- Place your frozen chicken into a microwave and oven-safe dish and microwave using the "defrost" setting. Alternately, take out your frozen chicken several hours in advance so it has time to thaw in the fridge.
- Once the chicken is thawed, drain out the pinkish liquid and season generously with salt, pepper, and chili powder.
- Place in the oven and cook for 25-30 minutes, checking for doneness after 25 minutes.
- While chicken is baking, bring a pot of salted water to boil.
- Once boiling, add the tortellini, broccoli, and peppers all at once.
- Return to a boil and cook 3-5 minutes or until pasta is done.
- Drain in a colander and return pot to stove.
- Over medium heat, melt the stick of butter.
- Add minced garlic, salt, pepper, and lemon juice and cook gently until very fragrant and garlic has begun to turn a light lovely brown.
- Return the pasta and veggies to the pot and toss until coated with the garlic butter sauce.
- Serve with chicken on the side.
I have got a hell of a weekend in front of me - it's going to be nuts! I'm going to be out of town all next week, so my posts might be erratic, but rest assured - I have a LOT of stuff to show you!