Tuesday, September 9, 2014

All's well that ends well...

I am a rare bird amongst most of my friends.



Shocking, I know, right?

A love to eat good food is common to us all, but the desire and demonstrated ability to make good food is something of a lost art with many (though not all) of my 30-something, mommyish friends.

Now, I will admit, I have not always been a culinary prodigy - it just sort of happened over time.

As the tried and true recipes in my inventory got repeated, I got brave and started eyeballing measurements instead of getting all the cups and spoons out.  Then I started getting creative, adding spices that "I bet would be good with that," and before I knew it, the go-to recipes I knew so well became my recipes with a ton of adaptations.  Many of which I don't write down and so, it's always something of an adventure when it comes to recreating the yummiest versions.

Over time, I have become rather haphazard in the kitchen and my cooking has become increasingly extemporaneous.  Especially when necessity has forced me to use only the staples on hand over recent years.

And those little forays don't always work out.

Last night was such a night.  In my meal planning, I'd forecast salisbury steak for our dinner.  It's a standby meal at casa del Meyer regardless of which unrecorded iteration I've put on the table.  Seeing I was low on the usual potatoes, which would normally be served mashed, I thought, "Cauliflower mashes well - I have several bags in the freezer.  That's what I'll do instead."  Mind you, I'd never actually made mashed cauliflower, but I thought, surely it couldn't be too hard.


So, on the tail end of my daily, 25 mile round-trip mad dash from work to the bus stop, to cross country pick up, to home, (phew! yes, EVERY. DAY.) the relentless witching hour that is two middle school siblings intent on making each other's existence miserable plus one 5 year old exhausted from full day kindergarten was in full swing.  I started cooking, trying to ignore the wailing and injurious sarcasm flying through the room, and was on pace to have dinner on the table by 6:15 - a record thus far into the school year!

I threw the cauliflower into the microwave to cook, took it out and started to mash.  The white veggies were resistant to my efforts.  Ok, I'd get my Ninja out.  Threw the cauliflower in, along with the assumed proportions of water, butter, and whole milk, whizzed that baby up.  And got white, gritty paste.  I tried a few more efforts to save it, but to no avail.

Hmmm....it was now 6:40.

Into the freezer I turned and came up with peas.  To go with the glazed carrots I already had.  So we had salisbury steak with glazed carrots, buttered peas, and slices of (whole grain) white bread with butter.  It worked.  The fam loved it but I was just a little meh.

But I still had a Ninja full of cauli-paste and I hate wasting food...HATE it.  Especially when we're in the middle of a pay period and I only go to the grocery store when we get paid.

So I culled the pages of my mental cookbook (and actually, due more to Colton's request for cauliflower soup) this recipe came to mind.  It is SO GOOD.  My kids request it.  Often.

So dinner for today was planned.

Except that I didn't have chicken stock.  (but I had bouillon!)

Or celery. (but I had dried celery flakes!)

Or onions. (but I had onion powder!)

See also: How the Spice Cabinet Saved Dinner.

So this soup would be of questionable origins.  But fingers crossed!

Then, because it didn't have enough substitution going, I realized tonight that we had no protein, something the Mister thinks is no bueno.  I wracked my brain, thinking maybe sandwiches - but then, no because the kids needed that stuff for lunches this week.  I finally lighted on a pound of Jimmy Dean Natural Sausage - no paid endorsements here, I just LOVE that sausage.  The flavor is amazing and there is no MSG!!  Sausage gravy, Olive Garden's Zuppa Toscana, oh, yes, this creamy sausage pairing would be a good match.  Paired with a beer bread mix I had sitting in the pantry, mmmm.  I was drooling.

And oh, my heavens, yes, yes, YES!

I love it when a crazy adaptation works well :)

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