Everything but the Kitchen Sink Dinner

>> Wednesday, May 12, 2010

What do you do when all you have in the fridge are last week's rejects? I mean, how can you make a dinner out of a few green peppers and a couple tablespoons worth of peanut butter and . . . 1 cup of coconut milk? Don't forget the 1/3 of an onion hiding in there. Oh. And there are some pieces of portabella mushrooms. Parsnips? Goodness!

Yeah. That's right. You suck up your food lust for other tasty treats and get creative with all that stuff. It's definitely the budget friendly way to go. Certainly a way to improve your kitchen cred. And, of course, is far less wasteful than letting all that good produce rot until your husband hangs his head in shame, upset you've "done it again."

Oh, sorry. That last part is all about, well, me. I do that. Often. I'm trying desperately to stop. And our quest to lower our groceries bills (which is going extremely well, thank you) has been helping out. I imagine some of you other foodies out there fall victim to the whole always-wanting-the-absolute-freshest-most-interesting-(and abundant)-ingredients, too.

This recipe should help. Just use all those ingredients up. Slather them in a fun sauce. And call it dinner.

What you'll need . . .
  • 1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 to 1 large green pepper, sliced
  • 1 to 2 medium parsnip, skinned and sliced
  • 1/2 to 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1/2 to 1 large portabella mushroom, chopped
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons natural peanut butter
  • Soy sauce, to taste
  • Garlic powder and pepper to taste
  • Honey, again, to taste

Method . . .
  1. Over medium-high heat, cook onions in a little olive oil until glassy.
  2. Add in the green pepper and parsnips and cook until soft.
  3. Add portabella mushrooms and chickpeas. Cook for about 3 to 5 minutes.
  4. Then whisk together the coconut milk, peanut butter, soy sauce, garlic powder, and pepper. Again -- it's all to your taste. Some people like it more soy-ish, others less. You may even wish to sweeten it a bit with some honey. The key is adding it all in small amounts. Go teaspoon by teaspoon with the extras.
  5. Then pour this mixture over the stir-fry and cook until nice and bubbly.
  6. Serve with a gorgeous grain like red quinoa.
"Ashley. That is a rather lax/lazy/sorry excuse for a recipe." I know, I know. The measurements are all weird. The sauce formula is far from set in stone. But I share this recipe with you, friends, to make a point. We get lots of emails asking us if it's OK to substitute this ingredient in for that ingredients. And what I want you all to know -- those of you who aren't comfortable cooking up a storm in the kitchen -- is that experimentation is more than OK, it's fantastic. It's the only way you can come up with good eats on your own.

Once you start letting go. Once you stop measuring out every little thing, you'll definitely have some awful creations on your hands. Yes. But you'll laugh about them and PRETEND you enjoy them. Other times, you'll come up with something so incredibly delicious, you'll wish you had written it down (keep that in mind -- I keep a pen and pad of paper in one of our drawers). Cooking need not be a scary venture. Instead, it's just another outlet for your imagination (and cravings) to run wild.

I'd also like to take this opportunity to publicly congratulate my brother on his graduation. He's the reason I'm posting less this week (thanks a lot, little bro!) -- all weekend was spent down in Bloomsburg, PA, sitting in the wind, waiting to hear his name be called so he could receive his diploma. So, employers: If you or anyone you know needs a college grad with a degree in marketing (and mad guitar skills -- I'm just sayin'), Ryan's your man!

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