Friday, August 12, 2011

What's For Dinner?

My daughters have heard me say over and over, "The cooking is not as hard as the deciding WHAT to cook." So the nights you have that planned, everything goes better. But what if you've had one of those weeks when all your plans flew out the window. Or you didn't even have a plan.

Granddaddy will always say, "We can just go get something for supper." But we live in the country. Nearest town is tiny, so our choices are limited. If we don't want to eat at the same place again, I'd better see what I can fix quickly.

This is really written for the newer cook, 'cause I'm guessing we grandmothers who have cooked for years just do this without thinking. But you are "recipe dependent", it's time to venture out. Be brave. This all hinges on the fact that you keep a few things on hand to make a quick fix dinner possible. Let's just walk through my thinking a couple of nights ago.

No supper. It's nearly 7:00. We don't want the Greek/Italian menu again. Walk into the kitchen and survey what's in the refrigerator. I have turkey smoked sausage (good to keep on hand because it will keep in the  refrigerator for a good while), green pepper and a container of light Alfredo sauce. That's half way to dinner. The pantry has several boxes of pasta--all shapes and onions. And that's enough.

Here's what I did... Start boiling water for the pasta first because this takes longer than anything. Slice the peppers and onion and the smoked sausage. In a skillet brown the peppers and onion in a tablespoon or so of oil. After a couple of minutes add the sausage. Add the pasta to water as soon as it boils. Stir things around in the skillet until peppers and onions are tender and sausage is a little browned. Drain the cooked pasta and add pasta to skillet. Stir in Alfredo sauce. (I added some fresh basil because we had some in the garden.) That's it. Dinner is ready. That took about 15 minutes. That's quicker than we could have gone out. And the photo above is actually the leftovers we had again the next night.

Okay, you recipe followers---you could have used leftover cooked chicken instead of sausage. Or cooked a few cut up chicken tenderloins.  Shrimp, maybe? Or just use a mix of vegetables--broccoli, zucchini etc. You could have used mushrooms instead of peppers or in addition to peppers. It's basically pasta and Alfredo sauce with whatever you have on hand. The jarred Alfredo sauce is good, too and it can sit on the shelf beside the pasta for a long time--until you have one of those desperate nights.

Biggest tip? You need to start the water boiling for the pasta before you've even decided exactly what you are going to do. It just takes forever for a big pot of water to boil. My other tip is to keep some good rolls or bread in the freezer. My family would always think I had cooked a good dinner if there were good rolls on the plate. They smell so good baking that it makes everyone think you cooked!

Oh, one of my nicest surprises this week was to check in with a blog I enjoy and read that she was making my peach cobbler. Grammy, I hope it turned out yummy!

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