Friday, January 9, 2009

Things that make me happy

Some of the most simple things in life make me very happy. Getting a good sale on meat at the grocery store and filling my freezer makes me happy. Getting 2-3 meals out of one purchase makes me happy. Cooking and eating good meals makes me happy. Listening to good music and singing and dancing around my kitchen as I cook or do dishes makes me happy.

Unfortunately, that last part does not make my son very happy, at all. I play my music too loud, I sing too loud, I'm embarrassing him by dancing in the privacy of my own home. Whatever. Anyone who's ever been in my home while I'm cooking knows what I'm going to say next: "Get out of my kitchen".

When we were growing up, there were a lot of us to feed. I learned young how to cook for an army, and have had trouble downsizing since then. Now that it's just me and the boy, and money is tight, I've tried really hard to plan for leftovers in a new way. The boy will not readily enjoy the same exact meal 2 nights in a row, so I have started getting creative, especially as we don't always like the same thing.

I made a pork roast on Saturday, and a roast chicken on Sunday. I cut up the leftovers of both, and froze the pork in 3 different baggies. Out of those 2 dinners, I have made: chicken fettuccini alfredo for the boy, chicken scampi with veggies for me, chicken a la king for the boy, red beans and rice with pork burritos, barbeque pulled pork sandwiches, and I still have pork left over for maybe fried rice.

I only made one other dinner from scratch this week, because I thought my nieces were coming for dinner on Tuesday. A snow storm foiled that plan, but this is one of my favorite recipes and I want to share it with you. I adapted it from a Woman's Day Magazine recipe, and I tweeked it to make it my own. Keep in mind, I am not The Pioneer Woman - there will be no pictures attached or step by step directions. The soundtrack that should be playing is Santana's Supernatural. Again, that makes me very happy, and kind of goes with the cilantro theme.

Chicken Breasts with Cilantro Pesto

6 chicken breasts
2 cups cilantro leaves (one bunch is good - keep in mind leaves only, stalks get tossed!)
1/4 cup walnuts
1/4 cup minced red onion
juice of 2-3 fresh lemons (adjust to how much you like lemon)
1 Tbsp oilive oil
2 cloves garlic (more if you really like garlic)
2 tsp each paprika, curry powder, cumin and salt

*Note: I have never been in possesion of cumin. I've also never noticed it's absence in this recipe. Paprika, curry, kosher salt and fresh ground pepper are my weapons of choice.

Process pesto ingredients in food processor until a smooth paste. (I don't own a food processor. I put the ingredients into my small chopper/mincer thing that I got for less than $10 at a Black & Decker outlet store. I run them through in batches, and them mix them in a bowl. By hand, the old fashioned way.)

Spray roasting pan with cooking spray, add chicken breasts, and then smear the pesto over the top of the breasts. Take a deep breath, boys, we're talking about chicken here, only chicken breasts. Bake one hour at 350 deg.

Here's where I get wacky.

I like to eat the chicken with chunky avocado salsa. This is another recipe in it's own right. And delicious, I might add. I'm going to try to break it down for you in 1-2 serving increments. What you choose to add to it will make the serving size differ. This is good as a very quickly used condiment, larger as a dip served with scoops, or, as my sister Bouf told me, served as a main dish with cooked shrimp mixed in.

Chunky Avocado Salsa

1 avocado
1/8 cup fresh chopped cilantro
1 lime, freshly juiced
1/4 cup minced red onion
sprinkle kosher salt
small fresh tomato, chopped
small jalapeno, minced

Mix and enjoy immediately.

I hope you enjoy this, it was yummy for me, too!


That damn expat said...

mmm that sounds good!

I sing and dance while I cook too, only I have an iPod on.

MelO said...

WOW!! The things that make you happy make me happy too!! I can't wait until I have a teenager to be all embarrassed of me so I can tell him to cook his own dinner! ;)

Thanks for the recipe ideas! I have such a habit for making these huge meals, even if its only me. I am constantly looking for new and creative leftover ideas... although usually I just end up eating the same exact meal three or four times in a row... Lol ;)

Whiskeymarie said...

Even I have a hard time cooking for two, and I'm some sort of professional at this stuff, or something.
I sing and dance while I cook too- my grown-up boy in the house (a.k.a. the Mr.) rolls his eyes every time.

Gwen said...

Food made with love (singing and dancing) ALWAYS tastes better. Thanks for the great recipes!

JoJo said...

It sounds fantastic but like way too much work for lazy me. So I'll bring the wine and be at your place at 6.