Monday, December 15, 2008

Ahhh Winter.......

Ah yes... Winter in the Chicago area. When your commute to/from work often goes at the following pace....

Seriously. I was not stopped, the car was moving. Very slowly, but moving.

If you're lucky, you can get some speedy spots....

18 MPH! We're flying, baby!

Needless to say, it's been challanging to get home from work and to try and get in a workout and have dinner done by 7pm.

But for others out there... some handy suggestions and things I've been doing the past couple of weeks....

Crawfish Alfredo....

One pound of frozen crawfish tail meat + one jar of alfredo + pasta = DINNER.

A note on crawfish tail meat... if you're buying it, you want to buy it in the frozen, sealed package. Crawfish meat is all about the lovely, wonderful, orange crawfish fat, and if you buy the stuff I sometimes see thawed in the seafood case, you don't get that fat. No good.

This one of my easy and pleasing go-to dinners when strapped for time. I do add some cayanne to the sauce - really helps cut the richness - and it's always a happy mealtime.

Next up.... tostadas!!

This is what you can throw together if, for instance, your hubby is sick and says he's not really hungry and you're also kinda sick but really hungry but also want something that is easy to do and find out only after suggesting nachoes that you're out of tortilla chips. Or something like that. A smear of beans on each tostada (we're lucky around here, the stores stock tostadas that are actually made using dehydration... no frying or fat), some taco meat since I usually have a stash of that in the freezer, some of the stocks of cheese I have in the fridge and some pickeled jalepenos, pop in the oven for a few minutes and everyone is happy. I recall I also topped mine with some shredded lettuce and tomato.

And everyone's favorite... the frozen pizza... a two-fer!

I'm particular about my frozen pizza - it has to be ONE particular brand (Leonardi's) that is only sold at one store around here. They have a pretty decent crust, and the sausage is good. I need to have good sausage on my pizza.

The above is two pizzas... I did one for the hubby, and one for me. The hubby's had the additions of mushrooms, onions, green and red peppers, and a little more cheese. I had mushrooms, artichokes and red peppers, and a little more cheese. Yes, Virgina, there is a Sant.... wait. No. Yes, Virgina, you can turn a frozen pizza into something nice with some fresh veggies.

I went all out on Saturday since I figured it'd be easier to cook something than play there "where do you want to pick food up from?" game. Looking at the meat case while I was at the grocery store, I decided I wanted meatballs. But for me, meatballs are usually an all-day affair... mix them up, it takes a few batches to get them browned (and mis-shapen, mine are - or were - never round) and then a couple hours simmering in sauce. That wasn't going to happen.

But it was time for me to discover something the rest of the world knows... just bake 'em!

Per an Alton Brown recipe, I used my mini muffin tins. You can also just put them on a sheet pan. Three little words that make up one of my most favorite phrases in the world... "unattended cooking time." Threw them in the oven, checked on them at 15 minutes (and probably should have flipped them) and let them go for five more minuters. Then tossed them with the sauce and let them simmer while I cooked my pasta.

Talk about something that has changed my world. I can now do meatballs & sauce in something approaching 45 minutes (prep time is saved using the Kitchen Aid to mix the meat mixture... you're gonna dirty a bowl anyway, why not make it worthwhile?) rather than an all-day affair. I like this cooking method. I will use this cooking method!

Tonight was something I wanted to do last week but I never got around to... turkey tetrazinni.

It don't look pretty, but it was tasty. I used my own turkey that I had in the freezer, my own homemade turkey stock, and pasta leftover from the meatball feast. I was actually so bored with my television choices last night that I made the sauce then. I even had some onions and peppers leftover from pizza night, so I added those to the sauce.

I've been wanting to make tetrazinni with turkey leftovers for awhile, but the hubby usually makes some kind of face when I suggest it. But I just made it for dinner tonight - a very, very, VERY cold day around here where a warming casserole-type dish really hits the spot. The hubby took a modest helping and we sat down and he dug in, took a couple bites, and turned to me and said "My mom used to make this with Thanksgiving leftovers! This is good!"

Then he ate three servings.

I managed to not smack him upside the head. Gotta be good... Santa may be watching.

Meals for the rest of the week are still kinda up in the air... I've got corned beef and we may be having ruebens one night this week, I think I'm going to do eggs for dinner one night, and I've been dying for some Shrimp Po Boys. Looks like two more days this week will have snowy commutes one way or the other (this morning was slow due to the fear of icy streets... we had rain followed by a 40 degree temperature drop from yesterday) which means it'll be a stretch to get dinner done... but it'll get done somehow.


Scarehaircare said...

LOL on Mr. Man's reaction to tetrazzini! How many more days do you have to be good?

MrsVJW said...

Well, Santa stops here early so we can open our presents late late late on Christmas Eve.... so I don't have too long to wait. I figure Santa needs to rest for at least a couple days before he starts paying attention again, right??