Our broccoli has broccoli-fied! This joyful occurrence led me to page through our recipes in search of a dish with specific criteria:
- It had to contain broccoli, naturally.
- It needed to be a main course. Bill was up to his elbows in cucumbers making pickles (recipe to come) and had not taken out any meat to cook for dinner, nor was he intending to do so. This meant that I was in charge of the full meal, rather than just the usual side dish.
- It had to contain ingredients that we had on hand.
Criterion #3 is always a bit tricky. It’s annoying to find a fun recipe, and then have to make a special trip to the store to buy a bunch of ingredients. Especially if they are weird ingredients that are unlikely to be used again. A friend of mine had a solution to this all-too-common problem, and told me about this cool cookbook, The Stocked Kitchen by Sarah Kallio and Stacey Krastins. It contains over 300 recipes that can be made using one grocery list. The idea is to keep your kitchen stocked with the items on the list and never have to worry about what to make. Sounded perfect for us! So, I bought a copy from amazon.com as a Christmas gift for Bill. We have yet to use it. Why? Because in order to have a well-stocked pantry, having an actual pantry is kind of a necessity.
The “pantry” in our miniscule kitchen consists of three shelves in the cupboards above our microwave (see picture). The only other spot we have to store food is a small cupboard above the stove, which is where the TALL ITEMS, such as cereal boxes and gallon-sized rum bottles are kept. We keep many non-refrigerator foods in the refrigerator–such as flour and sugar–just because we have room in there. And to keep bugs out. If we don’t have a pantry, then we shouldn’t have to worry about pantry pests, right? So, although we already have many of the things on The Stocked Pantry grocery list, we simply do not have room for the rest of them. I hope to figure out something soon, though, since I would like to try the recipes. For the time being, I have to do some artful arranging to fit everything inside of the cupboard, and then dodge falling items with my cat-like reflexes when I am searching for something.
Last night, I settled on a recipe for Chicken Broccoli Supper, and while I was exploring the “pantry” to see what kind of noodles we had, I was attacked by a bottle of barbecue sauce that decided to jump from the top shelf. Missing my temple by mere centimeters, it bounced off the edge of my Salad Spinner and sent a chunk of the Salad Spinner’s lid flying clear across the kitchen (I found it later in the fruit bowl). This made me very cranky, since my Salad Spinner is one of my Highly Regarded kitchen tools that I use often. But at least dinner turned out OK, even if it was not particularly photogenic.
I’ve attached a link to the inspirational recipe below, but if you follow it, it really won’t be what I made because I changed a lot of things. First of all, I measured nothing. When scavenging, I found some pasta shells, so I used up what I had left and thawed a few chicken tenders in the microwave. I used cream of mushroom soup, rather than cream of chicken and vegetable stock instead of chicken broth. After 30 minutes in the oven, when I took it out to stir it, everything was cooked through but it tasted a bit bland. So I hit it with some Tabasco sauce and topped it with a four cheese Italian blend. After a few more minutes in the oven to melt the cheese, it was ready to go. It was tasty and cheesy, but a bit beige. If I were to make this again, I think I would steam the broccoli to a pretty green color and serve it on top of the pasta and chicken, just to add some brightness. Baking the broccoli makes it kind of dull and lifeless to look at, and I prefer my broccoli happy, green and crunchy.
CHICKEN BROCCOLI SUPPER