How to Butcher a Recipe

When folks tell me they don’t enjoy cooking, I truly understand.  I only like to cook when I have everything all planned out and know all the ingredients are here and I only like trying new recipes.  Rarely do I make the same things over and over and cooking just routine recipes, like steak and gravy and rice, are kinda boring.  There’s rarely a week that I don’t have a menu planned out well in advance and all the ingredients lined up in my pantry for each day’s meals.  On those days when I don’t know what I’m cooking for dinner, don’t have a plan, don’t know if the ingredients are here or not . . those are the days I don’t enjoy cooking.

Today was one of those days when I didn’t have a plan.  Normally I keep enough ingredients here that I could cook for weeks without going to the store.  With another move coming up shortly, I’m not stocking the freezer so we hardly have any meat.  So far, I’ve found tons of green beans, canned tomatoes and coconut milk.  There are only so many nights we can have those ingredients!

“Town” is almost 20 miles from home, which may not sound like a lot but in MO, the grocery store was .7 miles from home and Wal-Mart was 2-1/2 miles away.  I got spoiled. When I go to town, it seems like I’m either taking Speck to the vet and cannot leave him in the car when it’s this hot, or Vince and I are together going to look at a house and I cannot shop with him. So, I hardly had anything in the house to cook for dinner tonight.

There was a package of boneless chicken breasts in the freezer so I took those out this morning.  Usually by 2:30 or 3:00 p.m., I’ve started prepping for dinner.  Today at 2:30, I decided I’d take a nap.  How’s that for solving the problem?  🙂  After sleeping for an hour, I woke up to realize Vince would soon be home and we had no dinner.  I went to Tasty Kitchen and the first recipe that caught my eye was Roasted Red Pepper Penne.

It calls for fresh red peppers.  I knew I didn’t have those but there was a jar of roasted red peppers in the pantry.

It also called for fresh basil and I knew I didn’t have that but I did have some of my pesto in the freezer that I made last year.  It also called for penne pasta and, pasta is pasta so I knew my rotini would work.

The recipe called for putting some of the ingredients in the food processor.  I thought it looked like it could use a jar of tomatoes so instead of messing up the food processor,  I dumped the roasted red peppers into a jar of tomatoes and used my stick blender.

I also had some fresh broccoli in the fridge and had planned to steam that but the steamer must be with the longarm handles.  Couldn’t find it so I decided I’d put the broccoli in the sauce.  I’ve seen Italian dishes with broccoli.

But once I added the pesto, it smelled so much like basil and I couldn’t see the broccoli with the basil.  So, I ended up making Charred Lemon Broccoli and it was delicious.  Thankfully, along with the broccoli, I had asiago cheese and lemons.

The longer the sauce simmered, the better the entire house smelled.

Vince came in and proclaimed that the house smelled wonderful!  Then he tasted dinner and he said I could stay forever . . as long as I keep cooking like this.  If only he knew how close he came to having no dinner at all!


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    We are in the same boat as far as not having ingredients. We do have meat, but I need to get pasta, rice, potatoes, fresh garlic and milk. Those are the things I remember. Maybe I will run to the store while DH is at the DR wed. He doesn’t like to shop at the store where I buy some of these items and I don’t like the prices at the store he likes.

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    LOL, can’t go wrong with Vince & a nice Italian dinner, huh? I didn’t know I was working all day, forgot to eat breakfast or lunch & needed to whip up dinner from nothing myself & I sure didn’t want to go to walmart even though it’s right down the street. I pulled the last pkg of sausage from the freezer, made some boxed red beans & rice and had fried okra on the side because I picked it yesterday & it was starting to go on the counter in the heat. Excellent dinner, no shopping, done in 30 min 🙂

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    Marilyn Smith says

    Judy, you cook like I do. I am a very good cook…but starting to get a bit bored with all the health restrictions. I have cooked/fixed 3 squares for 46 years. There are nights I just don’t feel like doing it. We both eat different things and that makes it tough to cook.

    Last night I roasted a 5.75 lb chicken. Good dinner. Tonight I decided to make enchiladas. But, decided not to make the rolled version. I had leftover chopped chicken, black olives, chopped/diced green chilies, cheese, onion and Las Palmas Green Ench. Sauce. I decided not to roll them (frying in oil)..just chopped the tortillas up and doused them in some of the green sauce. Layered a mixture of everything else. Topped with more low fat cheese. this and a salad are dinner. So, we will have a good casserole for dinner. Sour cream if we want it. That and a salad-dinner is done.


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    Good job, Judy! I rarely use a recipe and just throw stuff together by what I think would taste well together. Of course, I’ll never win any awards in the kitchen, but I’ve never poisoned anyone either.

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    As Vince blames you for everything I too am blaming you for my latest blip in life… a new double oven and ceramic hot plate arrive on Thursday!! I do the absolute minimum in the kitchen to get by.. if everything would come out of the freezer into the microwave and onto the plate I’d live.. I’m that sort of person, BUT my New Years resolution starting October 1st is to cook.. so it MUST be your fault!
    Now to find the conversion tables from USA to English and I’ll be cooking up a storm.

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    Roberta says

    It’s those throw together dinners that are usually the best. Also altered recipes are wonderful too. Does sound really good, might have to give it a try. Tomorrow, tonight is swedish meatballs for supper. Hugs!!!!!!!!!!

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    Pauline in PA says

    I love your foody blogs. It is always inspirational even if I don’t follow your exact recipes. I usually don’t start thinking about “what’s for dinner?” until 6PM and keep stuff in the freezer and pantry. So now when I read about your dinner in the AM, I start thinking of dinner much earlier. Like now, what’s for breakfast?

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    I have to agree that a menu plan saves my sanity. If I don’t know what is planned, I’m panicking and usually dinner is late and sub-par (I’m not one who cooks by instinct).

    Glad your meal was a winner!

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    Oh I love how you can pull together a gourmet masterpiece at the last minute – and with only what you have on hand!

    Judy, I truly mean this – you are a truly multitalented creative woman!!!

    Have a great day – and what are we having for dinner tonight?

    sao in Midlothian, VA

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    Linda in NE says

    That Vince is a lucky man. Of course if I fixed something like that for supper my DH would walk in and ask, “What stinks?” He’s a strictly plain meat & potatoes man. That’s the way his mother cooked. It took me 35 yrs. to get him to eat pizza, for crying out loud!

    Like…problem solving = nap. LOL