Wednesday, December 17, 2008
~ Noodle soups: Everyone remembers living on ramen at one point or another, and there’s no shame in continuing to indulge in the long noodles swimming in salty broth. But ramen can get boring, so by all means, jazz it up! I’m sure most folks have done this and I would love to hear your ideas, as I’m sure I haven’t explored the entire spectrum of ramen possibilities. Sometimes I add mixed veggies and chopped chicken or diced tofu; other times I go very old school and throw in a whole egg and let it poach in the broth, adding chopped tomato at the end; and when I’m really feeling exotic, I make my famous Curry Shrimp Ramen Soup (recipe coming soon!). I have a lot of other ideas, but this should give you a general idea of what you can do with the old college kid staple. For those of you Trader Joe’s fans, head to the soup section and invest in their $0.99 Rice Noodle Soups (available in Garlic, Spring Onion, and Mushroom flavors). They are AWESOME, affordable, and contain all-natural ingredients in the flavor packets. Absolutely preservatives, MSG, or junk like that. Goes to show that you can make great “instant” food without loading up on the chemicals. I sense several new soup combos in my future with these!
~ Combine leftovers w/the aforementioned good bases for a satisfying lunch: When I'm pressed for time, I'm a big fan of the boxed soups that Trader Joe’s carries. They’re all very basic and delicious on their own, in flavors like Sweet Potato Bisque, Creamy Tomato and Roasted Red Pepper, Butternut Squash, Creamy Corn & Roasted Pepper, this apple one whose proper name escapes me right now… they have a great variety. But I see them as the beginning of a great meal and the end of stashed leftovers. Today, for example, I had a little bit of my mom’s Arroz con Pavo still lurking in the fridge here at work and added it to the Creamy Tomato and Roasted Red Pepper, and it was such a yummy and filling lunch! Another extremely simple combo is to add frozen veggies to the Vegetable Bisque, nuke, and add some crushed red pepper flakes and you’re on your way to a very fast and easy work lunch. They run between $2.29 to $2.49 for 16 oz. I know I’ve seen similar boxed soups at major chain grocery stores for a bit more, but if you can’t afford those, even a regular old can of cream of tomato soup can become a monumental affair.
There are endless possibilities in the land of soup and for those of us on a tight budget, this is wonderful news because that means there’s always something delicious and filling on the horizon. You know how much I preach about creativity in the kitchen (or the office break room), and I will continue to harp about it now: think outside the box, and you’ll never feel like you’re missing out, just because money’s tight.
Sunday, December 14, 2008
When my mom makes this, she always starts with homemade turkey stock (someday I will post her consomme recipes - they are to DIE for!), but a good quality chicken broth will also do. This is definitely a recipe that requires broth or stock, not water; that is a huge part of why this tastes as good as it does. Don't be frightened by the large amounts of ingredients; since we always get a huge turkey, and because this is something that we like to freeze and save for later meals (so quick and easy for a lazy night's dinner), we make a lot. This recipe is easily halved, so just adjust accordingly.
In a large pot, cook the rice with the broth/stock. When rice is cooked, transfer to a very large tray or bowl (we actually use the same type of roasting pan used for the actual turkey - there's plenty of room in there) and let cool to room temperature. This is very important, as the whole thing will turn to mush if you use hot rice. While rice is cooling, defrost the veggies and slice the olives. Add the turkey to the rice and mix well. Next, add veggies & mix together. Finally, add the olives and pimentos and incorporate them into the mixture. Serve with a nice salad or on its own, and don't forget to freeze the leftovers! You will have several days of a great, healthy meal just ready to pop into the microwave after a long day's work. Enjoy!