real food. real life.
Okay, this one is easy. Really easy. It was one of those nights where what I had planned for supper wasn't going to work, for whatever reason. I am such a planner that, well for anyone who knows me, knows that when my plans don't work out, it's pretty much the end of the world. I can't think outside my little box of plans that I had made. It's drama-city. It's bad. Lee normally escapes. Poor Hannah, it's in her genes.
But, if I've learned anything so far in being a parent, and also as a teacher for that matter, I've learned that it is often best to have back up plans, or honestly, this sounds crazy as I admit it, but having no plan at all! Aah! Crazy!!! Haha, that's hard for me to say, but as hard as it was for me to admit, I know that the best memories, lessons, experiences were often not planned. As difficult as it is for my type-A personality to admit, not planning is often my plan when it comes to many things now. I have changed!
However, meal plans are a huge part of our household. Mainly to save money. And therefore, planning is still very much a part of my life. And are the meltdowns that follow when they don't work. But, in the kitchen, whilst learning to cook all these recipes, I've learned to always have back up ingredients. Well, this meal comes from those back up ingredients.
Here is my on the fly, last minute meal that turned out to taste great! So, I'm sharing it with you, it will definitely make another appearance here in our kitchen. It was yummy. And, best of all, it will be one of those meals that we always have the ingredients for.
Total Time: 20 minutes
Pasta of choice, cooked to al dente
drizzle of olive oil for cooking
1-2 chicken breast(s), depending on how many you're feeding! We always just use one for the 2 of us (Hannah eats 2 bites of chicken at this age...)
OR for vegetarian option - omit chicken, use beans instead!
1/2 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 green pepper, chopped
1/2 pint of grape tomatoes or 1 tomato, chopped
1/2 cup frozen corn
any other add-ins: spinach, hot peppers, olives, etc. we added some chopped dandelion greens (yes, I know, totally weird but they are yummy and we get so many of them in our CSA this time of year)
Spices: I'm guesstimating I added about 1/2 tsp chilli powder, 1/2 tsp cumin, 1/4 tsp pepper flakes, 1/4 tsp cilantro flakes
juice of 1/2 a lime
1/2 (or more) of salsa of choice! We used Tostitos medium. Honestly, because it's the kind Costco sells for a great price and the list of ingredients doesn't include sugar. Best would be to use your own homemade version - if you have it!
*Fresh crunchy lettuce, roughly chopped (optional)
*Grated cheddar (optional)
What to do:
1) Use leftover cooked pasta - just set aside until ready to use, maybe heat up in the microwave - or start the pasta cooking process by boiling water, etc. You know what to do here... I hope. ***If you are making your pasta, do remember to save a cup of the hot starchy water that the pasta cooked in before you drain your pasta. It is a great tool to get your sauce to stick to the noodles.
2) Heat oil over medium heat in a cast iron pan, or any kind of pan, it really doesn't matter. (I've been really into our new cast iron pan lately. Sorry, I'm becoming a cast iron snob.) Cut the chicken into bite-size pieces and place into pan. Cook, stirring around, until no longer pink. Add onion and garlic and continue cooking, stirring, for another 3-4 minutes until things smell awesome. Or, if not using chicken, just heat oil and go to the next step.
3) Add in your crunchier veggies, like peppers and frozen corn. Cook, stirring, for another 3 minutes or so. Add in your softer veggies, like tomatoes and greens. Add beans now, if using pre-cooked beans. Stir.
4) Add in spices and lime juice. You should get a super awesome sizzle here. Make sure you stir and scrap from the bottom of the pan to lift off that flavour. Add a bit of water here if it seems too dry. Not too much, I'm talking like a tbsp, just to move things around easier.
5) Turn heat to low. Add in your pasta and toss to combine everything. Then, the final touch, add your salsa! And, if you remembered, add in a bit of your hot starchy water you saved before you drained your pasta. Stir everything until evenly combined. Then, serve up and eat! Yum! *Add cheddar to top if you can do the dairy thing. Also, a great idea I thought of only now after I've already eaten it all.... place atop some fresh chopped lettuce! Oh, that would be good. Very taco/fajita-ish as well.
1 more month.
1 more month to figure out how to save, use less, and live happily and healthily without spending lots. 1 more months till things are real!
1 more month till we see a major dip in household income! My parental leave runs out. And, surprise! - to anyone who reads my blog posts and is any bit interested in knowing - I am not going back to my full time job! Eek - super scary to not have 2 full time salaries paying our bills.
Super scary indeed. But exciting.
Exciting to be the one raising our daughter.
Exciting to take on a different style of living that includes family time, home cooking, and appreciating the little things.
Not so exciting to have zilch in the spending department though! And, depending on who you're talking to, not so exciting to Lee but super exciting for me to scrape together random ingredients to create a yummy yet healthy family meal! Lee looks at the fridge and says there's nothing to eat. I see a challenge. I love a good challenge in the kitchen.
I've posted many random recipes before using random ingredients because I had an abundance of a certain vegetable, or what have you, and I found a good use for it. Usually, it turns out good! (not always... haha, you don't see those ones!) Well, get used to it! No money = using up everything we have, no wasting and unnecessary purchases :)
This week's post is brought to you by: the buy one get one free spinach sale at the Vegetorium this week, and therefore, a need to use up spinach before it went bad.
This pesto was extra garlicy and lemony, which you could tone down if you're not as much into those flavours as we are. It was a great way to use up your spinach and made enough for me to freeze half for another meal. It would taste great mixed into a pasta dish or overtop salmon. Tonight, we put it atop some panfried chicken breast pieces with rice as a side. It was quite yummy if I do say so myself! I was impressed. Here's the recipe!
Total Time: 5 minutes to prepare pesto
about 2 -3 cups of spinach, steps removed (rinse and dry if fresh from a farm - ours always has dirt left on it! But that's how you know it's fresh and local!)
2-3 cloves of garlic, peeled and coarsely chopped
1/2 cup walnuts
zest of one lemon
juice of 1/2 a lemon
about 1/2 cup olive oil *** This really depends on how liquidy you want your pesto - don't go by my measurements. Go by instructions below.
Pinch of sea salt and fresh cracked pepper
Optional: Parmesan cheese for you dairy eaters out there.
What to do:
1) Place all ingredients except oil in a food processor. Pulse on high until mostly combined and chopped fine.
2) While processor is on low, drizzle in olive oil until it reaches a consistency you are happy with, kind of creamy, kind of liquidy, but still holding its' form slightly.
3) Remove top for a quick taste test. Add more garlic, lemon, cheese, salt, or pepper to adjust taste to your liking. Use right away, store in an airtight container in the fridge for a couple weeks, or freeze in a container/baggie for months!
Yes, this tastes good. Sooooo good. Very simple ingredients that are create a clean, sweet and garlicy sauce. Using the slow cooker, the meat soaks in all the yumminess of the flavours and practically falls off the bone. (As you can see by the chunks of chicken in the sauce overtop the rice in the picture, that I proceeded to gobble up seconds after this pic was taken!)
Using corn starch or arrowroot flour will help create a thicker sauce. However, it's not necessary if you're avoiding things like that. The sauce is just as delicious.
Total Time: 2-4 hours in slow cooker (or longer if using more chicken)
Chicken drumsticks/wings (We have a small slow cooker and usually only cook for 2, so we did only 5 drumsticks. Feel free to do more!)
1 stalk of green onion or leek
1/4-1/2 cup honey
2 tbsp. coconut oil (melted)
3 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
3-4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp. hot pepper flakes
dash sea salt/pepper
2 tsp arrowroot flour or corn starch - optional at end of cooking
What to do:
1) Add sauce ingredients to slow cooker - omit arrowroot flour/corn starch until the end. Turn on high. Stir to combine.
2) Add chicken and stir to coat in sauce.
3) Cook, on high for 2-3 hours, or on low for 4-5 hours (depending on how much chicken you're using)
4) When chicken is done cooking and no longer pink on the inside (and starting to fall of the bone) remove to a side bowl. Add arrowroot flour / corn starch to sauce. Keep slow cooker on high. Stir to allow sauce to thicken. Once starting to thicken, add chicken back in and turn off heat or remain on low until ready to serve.
Pairs great with rice & summer rolls! Or at least that's what we had tonight. :)
We really cooked these things. From scratch. On weeknights. And we even had time to do the dishes.
They have real, simple ingredients that you'll find in your cupboards. They're healthy and delicious. No lies.
Thanks for reading. Leave a comment below!
Here's a pic of me and my babies. Just because.
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