Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Tonight's Thrown Together Dinner

Like many people I have a ton of food in my pantry and freezer that I always seem to forget about when we do our weekly shopping trip.  In an effort to "make some room" in our freezer and cupboards I am trying to be creative with ingredients we already have on hand, and come up with some quick and easy weeknight dinners.  Tonight I made a skillet dish with some ground turkey that I purchased this week but added our "in stock" pantry items to make it interesting.  It was all made in one skillet and in about 30 minutes while a dessert bubbled away in the oven.

It doesn't look all that delicious in this picture, but it had a good mix of textures and tasted really good.  I browned a pound of Jenny-O ground turkey and poured off the fat, seasoned it with Mrs. Dash and McCormick's garlic and herb seasoning mix, then added two and a half cups of water and brought it to a boil.  In went half a bag of frozen baby lima beans, and when it returned to a boil again I added the rice portion of a box of Rice-a-Roni in the creamy garlic variety.  The heat was turned low and it was covered to simmer for 17 minutes, then the seasoning packet was added along with 3/4 of hot water and 4 tablespoons of white cheddar cheese powder which I purchase in a bulk container from our local Amish market.  The end result was creamy, garlicky, and not too salty because the salt inherent in the rice mix and cheddar was just enough.  Andy thought it was delicious and I will definitely make it again.  The turkey and the ditching of the added butter, milk and salt made it a little lighter too.

Dessert was NOT light by any stretch of the imagination!  I bought Andy a cookbook on our anniversary and told him he could pick any dessert he wanted me to make from it and we'd celebrate with it some night this week.  Cathy Mitchell's Quick and Easy Dump Cakes was the book, and he was very excited because his mother's dump cake is one of his favorite desserts.  Hers has a can of cherry pie filling and a can of crushed pineapple topped with a yellow cake mix, melted butter, coconut flakes and pecans.  I'm allergic to pineapple, so when I make it I often substitute canned peaches.  The dessert he chose was called a peach crunch cake and it was pretty amazing.  The book has a TON of recipes that have practically no prep.  You pretty much just literally dump the ingredients in the pan in the order they tell you and then bake it.  There are brownies, bar cookies, cakes and all sorts of treats you can make and clean up is a snap.  I only had a knife and a measuring cup to wash - not too shabby!  I am looking forward to trying more recipes from this book.  I wish it had photographs for all of the desserts rather than just a few, but then again that would encourage me to bake more and I need to lose weight, not find it!

My finished Peach Crunch Cake

The recipe was incredibly easy and the only change I made was using chopped pecans rather than pecan halves because they were already in my pantry for baking.  I chopped up the sliced peaches a little more so they spread across the whole baking dish, but it wasn't a necessary step.  The only other ingredients were the nuts and some brown sugar sprinkled over the top.  The topping was slightly crunchy from the caramelized sugar and the nuts and the peach flavor reminded me of the pies at the Varsity restaurant in Atlanta.  Oh how I miss having those little marvels of hot peach perfection when we'd travel to Atlanta in search of fabric.  I always got a nifty little red and white striped paper hat too because I would tell them I was under ten.  They may have been skeptical, but they gave me one anyway.  The people at the Varsity were cool like that, and their hot dogs are another thing I dream about from my time in the deep South.  Yum.

One word of caution - it is incredibly difficult to get this out of the pan in an attractive way.  If you want it to look nice, say for example you wanted to photograph it for your blog looking all pretty, delicious and put together it will say "uh, nope".  Trust me though,  it was smashing.

Now I am probably going to have to break down and buy Cathy Mitchell's other recipe book which is the same dump cooking method applied to savory dinner items.  The dessert cookbook was only $8.99 at Rite Aide this week which I actually thought was a reasonable price.  I need another cookbook like I need a hole in the head, particularly since I have been able to review and keep some amazing ones from Blogging for Books, but it was a gift so it didn't quite count.  Ha ha.

One more quick thing - the latest book I chose from the good folks at Blogging for Books is the Neil Patrick Harris autobiography.  I am incredibly excited to read it.  I have never seen a full episode of How I Met Your Mother, but when I was a kid I loved Doogie Howser M.D. and I have followed N.P.H.'s career on and off Broadway for years and years.  His performances in Assassins and Sweeney Todd blew me away, and I'm sad I have yet to see him in a Broadway show.  Someday I know it will happen, and when it does I will try to refrain from making a total fool of myself the way I did with Brian Stokes Mitchell (who happens to be an extraordinarily lovely gentleman) and Rex Smith (who was kind of a douche, and who did not take my breath away).  When it arrives I will tear through it and since it's set up as a "Choose Your Own Adventure" style of book I will try to have it end in his demise by piranhas at least once because that's an exciting Hollywood tale if ever I heard one!

Hope you are all having a very happy hump day.  Hope your tomorrow is awesome too.

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