Tag Archives: Kitchen boredom

Twisted Hash with Blueberry & Chipolte Sausage

Meal time can easily be a problem, especially as we cook two or three times a day.  But I find that figuring out how to keep meals from being so routine that it losses appeal just because it is a frequently repeated menu.  My tendency to avoid boredom and think “outside of the box” also known as lateral thinking reaches right into the kitchen.

Sometimes this tendency is not well-received, but I just can’t keep from trying out something new or different despite the “Can’t you just leave well-enough alone?” litany that pops up when I do step outside of the box–or in this case, the cookbook.

Last night I wanted to use some grilled smoked sausages that I had left over.  The local meat shop Alwell’s offers a variety of precooked sausages in a range of flavors at a very reasonable price.  The ones that were left over from grilling were blueberry chipotle flavored.  I just could not think of an interesting way to do it until I thought about a skillet meal.

IMG_2328

Blueberry chipotle sausages

The problem that I faced was how to fix a meal that could be left warming while I had to leave for another softball game.  I did not want to waste the leftovers, and I needed something new.  Hence I started thinking about these sausages.  They are a bit on the spicy side, but sweet, too.  Hmmm.

I began running through a list of options and suddenly remembered I had a box of hash browns.  I picked it up, sliced up the sausages and began cooking.  Granted there are no major surprises in a meal like this, but since the advent of Hamburger Helper, every once and a while you need a one-pot

The problem I have with pre-packaged products is the excessive salt and additives that are in them.  I understand the need for preservatives and taste, but I have fun with creating those elements to a dish on my own.

When the obituary and features came out last week about the famed restaurant owner, Mother Gibbs, aired, I was reminded how much cooking is not about following a recipe but knowing what works together.  Therefore, when I thought about the sausages, I thought what would go with them and potatoes seemed a winner over pasta, rice, or even other veggies.

IMG_2329

 

This brings me back to the hash browns.  I do not make my own from once baked potatoes, and I often have used the famous O’Dell’s Hash Browns.  Lately though, I have discovered that dehydrated packages of hash browns, much like instant potatoes, have self life

IMG_2330

and are easy to work with.

The boxed version are reconstituted with hot water, which comes out of my tap hot enough to scald the skin, so I filled the carton with water, sat it aside, and sliced the sausages into the skillet.  As it began warming up, the skillet is also being prepped for the hash browns.

Such a simple solution for a quick and filling supper.  A one-pan wonder, so to speak.  The spice of the sausage flavored the hash browns.  I could have added some onion, peppers, even carrots or zucchini, but I kept it simple.  Isn’t cooking one of those processes that the effort matches the clock rather than the taste?

The dish was ready in about 15 minutes after the potatoes were reconstituted, And itIMG_2331 was easy to keep warm until everybody was ready to eat.  Something different, yes, but certainly worth duplicating again when the calendar dictates different meal times or everybody is in a hurry

Cooking off the top of one’s head is part of everyday life.  Mildred Council, famous restaurant owner of Mama Dip’s Kitchen in Chapel Hill, NC, knew what worked and carried into a thriving business.  Maybe more thinking ‘outside of the box’ needs to be part of our menu planning, too.  This little experiment certainly turned out to be yummy, now I want to add a little more to it, too.  Watch out those who gather at my table, you never know what will show up next.

Leave a comment

Filed under Kitchen notes

Twisted Chicken Noodle Soup

Maybe the long winter season is getting into my psyche, but I really am tired of being cold.  And here in Missouri, our cold is without the emotional benefits of snow.  We are just in a cold, drab world.

Cooking has a way of making a negative mood positive and tackling the cold winter, soup continues to be a comfort food.  I decided to try something a bit different yesterday.  Using left over stove-top grilled chicken tenders, I created a Twisted Chicken Noodle Soup.  Actually it was a twisted cream of chicken noodle soup, and the twist was in the noodle.

A visit to an Asian market resulted in the purchase of sweet potato noodles.  They have sat in my pantry waiting for me to use them.  As the cold permeated my psyche, I kept thinking there must be a way to use them.  Finding the left over chicken, I put together the idea that sweet potatoes go great with chicken, so why not a chicken noodle soup with sweet potato noodles.

The process began with creating a base of chicken bouillon, chopping the tenders up, I started the pot with my favorite non-MSG chicken bouillon.  Then came my chopped veggie additions–celery, onion and carrot.  For additional flavor, I added  KC veggie seasoning, mixed herbs including a touch of rosemary and rubbed sage, and finally, pumpkin pie spices.  The pot smelled good as it heated up:IMG_2081

As the pot was boiling, I got the noodles out.  I had no idea what I was getting into as I am so accustomed to using traditional pasta; but what problem could there be.  Open up the dried noodles, break into a manageable size and drop in the boiling broth.

Much to my surprise, the noodles are tough.  It was impossible to simply break as I do with regular pastas.  It was even remarkably difficult to cut with a knife.  Therefore, I simply had to drop them in.  The full length of one noodle is about 18 inches long, so stirring them while they begin to soften makes them fit into the pan.

The noodles cooked down quite nicely, but they are translucent.  I began to wonder how my husband would respond to the visuals in the clear broth.  I was letting it cook and began trying to decide whether this soup was going to be any good or not.  Then I started thinking:  if butternut soup is a cream base, and cream of chicken soup includes noodles in some cases, then why couldn’t I modify this into a cream of noodle soup.

I returned to the kitchen, took about a half cup of half and half, poured it in.  Maybe I should have removed some of the broth, but I didn’t.  Then I decided it needed thickening and if you make sweet potato or even potato soup, you use the meat of the potato.  I pulled out instant potatoes and added about half a package to the pot to thicken it.

Oh, I learned another trick concerning the noodles.  Even if you cannot break them up, once they cook and soften, they are very easy to cut.  I used a pastry cutter to cut them in the pan.  A bit of a challenge, but it makes it easier to eat.  I would suggest cooking the noodles in the soup base and then cut them as you serve them.  Maybe there is an easier way to do so, but my pastry cutter worked.

The final result:  YUMMY!  IMG_2082

My husband really liked it and I can’t wait for others to try it, too.  The translucent noodles looked much more traditional once creamed and thickened.  I think the sweet potato noodles and the pumpkin pie spices paired well with a much more traditional chicken noodle soup.  Whew!  another twist for the tastebuds.

If you are interested, here is a rough list of ingredients.  I apologize that I tend to just add and not measure when I cook independent of a regular recipe:

  • 3 cups of water
  • 2 tablespoons chicken bouillon powder
  • 2-3 tablespoons of chopped onion, celery and carrot
  • 1 teaspoon of mixed dried herbs (Italian mix would work)
  • 1 teaspoon of pepper (I prefer veggie pepper)
  • 1 teaspoon of salt (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon of rosemary
  • 1/2 teaspoon of rubbed sage
  • 1/2 teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice.
  • 1/3 package of sweet potato noodles
  • 1/2 cup half and half
  • 1 cup of instant mashed potatoes
  • 1 tablespoon of butter

I know many might wonder about calorie counts and fats, but I cannot address them.  I use My Fitness Pal, and they do include sweet potato soup and cream of chicken noodle.  I had to guesstimate what the calories were.  I did some research though and know that sweet potato noodles are gluten free and may be a more nutritional option than most wheat-based pastas.

I hope you let me know if you try recreating this Twisted Chicken Soup.  I will be fascinated to know your opinion.  Happy eating!

1 Comment

Filed under Kitchen notes