What’s in the fridge?

So I have been trying to think lately, what recipes in my kitchen arsenal are blog worthy. But I am constantly changing my recipes based on what I have in the fridge. I hate running to the store last minute, so I usually try to make do with what I have. Saturday was a busy day, I had no dinner planned, and we were headed out the door in a short while, so it was “what’s in the fridge?” time.

Usually the first ingredient I think of when time is short is bacon. It’s versatile, quick to cook, and a little goes a long way in many dishes. Oh, and it’s delicious. I thought I might have just enough to do BLTs so I started cooking it up.

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But alas, I had forgotten the tragic failure of our tomato crop this year due to SO MUCH RAIN. The poor babies had succumbed to a moldy and mildewy fate, so no tomatoes. Okay, no problem. The fridge holds the answer! I still wanted some kind of sandwich, so I pulled some homemade ciabatta rolls out of the freezer. Don’t hate me because I had homemade ciabatta in my freezer. I figure most people don’t, and usually neither do I, but I made an experimental batch a few weeks back, and we still had some. Usually I buy them at costco, or any other crusty roll or even sliced french bread will do. We just like ciabatta around here because it’s nice and chewy. I sliced them in half and put them on a cookie sheet. The fridge next produced-

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Another Costco product that I always have on hand. I live with a frenchman so chevre is a must around here. You should hear the food conversations we have around here sometimes, like-

“What do you mean there’s no chevre left , woman? ” or

“Mom, it’s been like a week since you made us any brioche or creme brulee.”

Well, not exactly like that, but I acknowledge that our general menu isn’t exactly normal.
The good news is, lots of cheeses will work with this “recipe”. A sharp cheddar is your next best choice, moving down to the milder cheddars, provolone, or even gouda. But maybe avoid the cottage cheese. The goat just has a wonderful tang that goes surprisingly well with our next contestant-

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Yep, jam. I voted for apricot here, but fig is also nice. I don’t like berry jams with it so much, but they work in a pinch. Trust me on the jam and cheese thing, and start spreading.

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The bacon was cooking nicely, but it was also shrinking dramatically as it always does, and I didn’t think it would be enough. As luck would have it, the fridge next revealed six leftover chicken fingers. I chopped them up.

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I added them to the bacon in the pan. Now we had something to go on.

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I have used leftover pork roast for this, or you can just chop up a couple frozen chicken breasts too. Lots of options here! Divide the meat evenly over the rolls, and here’s where you separate the men from the boys. Thinly slice some onion and take a poll to see who would like the added onion flavor or who will ‘definitely puke’ if they even smell an onion.

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The sandwich is good like this, but the ingredients tend to fall off, so I usually sprinkle some shredded cheese on the top, just to melt and hold it all together while it broils.

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And then you broil it! Just until the cheese starts to brown and it’s all melty and crispy and smells really good. This combination of flavors may seem unusual, but all my menfolk gobble it up. And I do to. Serve it with potato chips and baby carrots if you are rushing out the door, or any other side you prefer if you have more time.

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Maybe next time I’ll show you how I make easy french fries. Enjoy!

Our Go To Meal

I don’t have much of a story behind the meal I am going to share today. It’s a recipe for Chicken Tikka Masala, a basic Indian curry, that I found in a Cooks Illustrated magazine and I have tweaked it over the years into a family favorite. There are several reasons I love this meal.

1.-It’s cheap. It makes a little bit of chicken go a long way.

2.- It makes a ton of food. We often serve it when we have guests and we always seem to have leftovers.(not because they don’t like it!)

3.- It’s healthy. We often serve it over roasted cauliflower when we are watching our waistlines.

4. It is the only meal, besides Macaroni and Cheese, that all of my kids will eat without complaining.

5.- Did I mention my kids love it?

Whatever the reasons, I always seem to keep the ingredients for it in the house, so it’s what I decided to make this morning for a friend and her family who just had a baby. Here’s what you need.

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Lest you think I always cook in this orderly fashion, think again. This might have been the only decent looking spot in my house this morning. I snapped that photo and then turned around and took this one right behind me. Just keepin’ it real folks.

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Start with the chicken- 3 boneless skinless breasts should do it, although I have used chicken thighs with great success as well. Sprinkle the meat with salt, pepper-

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And this.

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This is your secret ingredient folks. Garam masala is a special curry blend you can find in your spice aisle. It’s good stuff.

Next, slather the chicken with plain yogurt. I used greek here, but any plain yogurt will do.

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Stick this under your broiler until it looks like this.

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Then set it aside. While the chicken is broiling, you can make the sauce. Get a good chunk of
fresh peeled ginger
5 or 6 cloves of garlic
one large onion.
You can chop all of it by hand, but I find it much easier and faster to use my food processor. Throw it all in there and push the button. Or chop by hand, your choice.

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In a heavy bottomed pot, heat up a couple tablespoons of oil over medium heat and throw the onion mix in. Cook until slightly softened, 3-5 minutes. Then add 2 Tablespoons of both Garam Masala and Tomato Paste, and a spoonful of sugar to add a hint of sweetness.

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Stir this all together until you can smell the spices blooming. Then simply add
1 28 oz. can of crushed tomatoes
1 14 oz. can of full fat coconut milk.

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Adjust your seasonings, adding salt, pepper, and a little bit more garam masala if necessary. Then chop up your chicken and throw it in.

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That’s it. I would show you a picture of how good it looks served up over rice, or couscous, or roasted cauliflower as the case may be, but I had to give this batch away in order to get some snuggle time with a sweet, dimpled baby girl.
It was a fair exchange.