by Terrance Mc Arthur
I was let out of quarantine, and then I took four weeks off (because I had the hours). I went back to work for a week-and-a-half, and then I was out again because I had a heart attack (of the mild variety). However, I can still write, and I can still cook, and so…we return to Casa de Mc Arthur!
Chicken Rice-a-Roni with Real Chicken and Asparagus—Store-bought does not have to look like store-bought! (Chicken-Flavor Rice-a-Roni mix that had been sitting in a cupboard for ages, Costco rotisserie chicken meat, asparagus from Gong’s Market in Sanger) Chunk up the chicken while the rice-vermicelli mixture is browning. Trim the asparagus, put it in a bowl with a bit of water before you throw it (gently) in the microwave, and add the chicken to the rice. In less than half an hour, it’s good eating!Hamburger Helper Stroganoff with Mushrooms—It doesn’t take much to turn ho-hum into Oh, Boy! (Hamburger Helper Stroganoff, hamburger meat from the freezer, mushrooms from Wal-Mart) Actually, I consider the Stroganoff to be one of the better H.H. varieties, but it cries out for mushrooms, and if you have sour cream on hand, that elevates it even more. Spinach-Feta-Mushroom Pizza—Okay, sometimes cooking doesn’t seem like a good idea, and you just want somebody else to do the work. (Computer, and the URL of Domino’s) Some of my family members have trouble with tomatoes, and I just prefer a garlic white sauce. Spinach and mushrooms are considered staple foods in my house, and if there’s a take-out special online, who am I to fight fate? Besides, it tastes so good! Broccoli Cheese Soup with Real Broccoli and Mushrooms—I think soup is soup-er! Creamed soups are soup-er duper! (Bear Creek Soup Mix from WinCo, Broccoli and Mushrooms from Wal-Mart) Bear Creek brand comes in large envelopes, so I won’t cut my fingers on a can lid. I had left-over mushrooms from the Stroganoff, so…why not?
Pasta-Roni Alfredo with Chicken and Broccoli—I guess there’s a theme, here. Have some basic packaged foods on hand, then toss something into it to give it a touch of pizazz. (Pasta-Roni from the cupboard, more of the Costco chicken, the last of the broccoli from Wal-Mart) Don’t be afraid to add ingredients. It had that Alfredo taste, with protein and veggies added. It was popular, and stretched the servings…if we hadn’t gone crazy and eaten it all!
Ramen-Lama-Ding-Dong—In college, ramen was my emergency stash of food if the dorm cafeteria shut down for the holiday, and I didn’t have money or gas, but I had cans of Vienna Sausages. (Chicken Flavor Top Ramen I dug out of a cabinet, zucchini from State Foods Super Market in Sanger, baby carrots from Wal-Mart, an egg, shredded Fiesta Blend cheese from Costco) The secret of ramen is that just about anything you find in the refrigerator will fit. I only wish I’d sliced up an onion and added it. Oh, well. Next time.Pan-Fried Tuna Casserole—Oh, look! I have some…Yeah, we can use that. If you do it right, it won’t look like desperation. (Food-storage Elbow Macaroni, food-storage carrot flakes, Costco tuna, cheese, panko from Winco) Sometimes, you are surprised by something you threw together. This was one of those dishes. It is now one of our family recipes. Pork Roast with Barley—You’re driving home, out in the country, and you remember…“Don’t they sell really good meat at that little place we’ll pass in a few minutes?” (Pork Roast from Sunmaid Grocery—1952 N. Academy, Sanger, barley from Winco, more baby carrots) This one gave the slow-cooker a real workout. Eight hours of cooking, and that roast became pulled pork! Sometimes, barley is a better idea than potatoes.
What Is there to Say?—We had our first sit-down restaurant meals, this week, after all the home-cooking and take-out (DiCicco’s in Sanger; Red Caboose in Sanger/Clovis, depends on who is telling you where it is), and it was so nice to let someone else do the cooking, but I’ll try not to get too dependent on eating out. These days, you never know what tomorrow will bring.