Thursday, February 9, 2012

Creativity in the Kitchen

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I get bored really easy. I might as well be honest about that. I'll get very excited about something, go all gung-ho with it for a few weeks or if I'm on a roll, even months and then fizzle. I'm working on it because I know it's not a good trait.

However, one area where I'm glad that I get bored easily is the kitchen. It means that I'm constantly looking for new recipes and new ways to jazz up my cooking.

Dan told me when growing up that they always had the same dish on particular days of the week. The same held true for breakfast in his house. For example, Monday may have been cereal day and Tuesday, eggs and so on. YAWN! I would get so bored of cooking that way. It's my own weird, "have-to-do-something-new-and-exciting" personality that makes our meals interesting around here.

When I'm planning a meal I try to follow a few basics.

1. I start with a protein. It may be meat or beans or cheese. Then I use that as a jumping point to plan the rest of the meal.

2. Vegetables are a must. So I decide what veggie will go with the main dish. At times the main dish may have veggies if it's a one pot deal. However, I usually have a side dish to go with it.

3. Bread. It's a staple here. I have 3 hungry teenagers and 1 hungry husband. I don't want to have a $1,000 per month food budget. So I make homemade bread for every meal. It makes a good filler.

4. Sides & condiments. I usually have some sort of side dish. If they go with the meal, we'll have pickles or olives or something along those lines that fill in the holes of the meal. Or I'll make a fruit salad.

5. Dessert. This is one area where I give in to my husband's cravings. He had dessert growing up after every. single. meal. Okay, not really. But after lunch and after dinner and for some sort of snack. So to him, a meal is not complete without something sweet at the end of it. And no ladies, a piece of fruit doesn't count in his book! :-)

An example of the past few night's meals...

Tuesday
Flounder with lemon-garlic butter
Rice
Cornbread
Steamed green beans
Fruit salad
Ice cream

Wednesday
Chicken-coconut soup
Italian bread
Fruit salad
Brownies with ice cream

Tonight
Chicken & veggie stir fry
Rice
Homemade sun dried tomato breadsticks
Tossed salad
Ice cream (yes, we are on an ice cream kick this week) :-)

At least twice a month, I'll try a brand new and usually, ethnic dish to test out. I'll experiment with different spices or herbs. I'll try a new fruit or veggie we've never had.

My experiments have come up with some new favorites - baba ghanouj, kluskies, kima, and albondigas. Plus, I love that I'm expanding my children's palettes so they don't grow up and be the adults who will only eat plain meat, plain potatoes and plain vegetables.

I love that when asking for their favorite meals for their birthday dinners they ask for things such as Mexican, Middle Eastern or Chinese food.

So there you go - creativity in the kitchen. It keeps me happy. It keeps my husband and children happy. That is the goal!