Simple But Tasty

This past weekend my friend Marta invited me on a little retreat to the mountains. I suppose I should have taken some photos of the mountains, but really, all we did was hole up in a condo and read and write and cook and eat. I’ll share the reading and writing at some point in the future, but here are the highlights of the cooking and eating part.

For Saturday dinner, we got some veggies and salmon and cooked those up. Marta baked the salmon with salt and pepper and olive oil, and I did a saute of sweet onion, red bell pepper, and zucchini in white truffle olive oil. For seasoning, I think I used powdered ginger, herbes de Provence, salt, and dried chives. Marta did a rice-quinoa pilaf with rosemary (Near East brand, I believe), and we stir-fried that in with the veggies.

The next morning I did a polenta crumble using up the remaining bell pepper and onion. The polenta was the kind you get in a sausage-style tube, so no fuss there, and it was already mixed with sun-dried tomatoes and some Italian-style seasonings, so I didn’t really have to do much at all. I think I added some powdered ginger and salt and fried the whole mess up in olive oil.

Yes, I have been lectured at length by an Italian shopkeeper in Wisconsin on the evils of pre-cooked polenta. But if you don’t have a gas range, it’s really the most reliable option.

Sunday dinner involved shortcuts as well. I did not have the energy required to make my own sauce for the angel hair pasta, so it came out of a jar. And the veggies came out of a bag in the freezer. I nuked them in butter (yes, real butter), salt, and herbes de Provence. And yes, I actually prefer cheap, sawdusty “Parmesan cheese” out of a can. Well, at least when it comes to basic pasta in tomato sauce. Seriously, I tried the nice stuff one time and didn’t enjoy it at all. It just didn’t seem appropriate. Anyway, super-easy meal, and we washed it down with Kon Tiki cabernet sauvignon. IMG_20160306_192254

Yesterday, I couldn’t resist the strawberries at Costco, and there are a lot of them (because Costco), so I had some for breakfast this morning. I also couldn’t resist the call of the Laughing Cow yesterday, so I spread a few wedges on some rice crackers and topped them with strawberry halves. I washed them down with a mug of “Rubiee,” an appropriately reddish tea from Dryad Tea. That’s my idea of a delicious and decadent breakfast that is also ridiculously easy. IMG_20160309_105514

 

 

Pineapple Fusilli Chicken

It’s nothing really fancy or challenging, but Brian wanted chicken for dinner last night, and we were pleased with how this turned out. IMG_20160303_184934One of the things I absolutely refuse to do is handle uncooked poultry, so Brian took care of that part, seasoning the chicken breasts with black pepper and garlic salt and baking them. They took rather longer than expected, but that’s okay, because I needed the time to prep the pasta mixture.

Not that it was a really complex task, though. First I chopped up a red bell pepper and set that to cooking on medium-high heat with a little bit of grapeseed oil. Then I chopped up about half of a medium sweet onion and added it in, along with a healthy dose of whatever white wine I had handy. I think it was a sauvignon blanc. I still have the bottle and can look it up if anybody really cares. Then I added in a bunch of powdered ginger, minced garlic, garlic salt, and herbes de Provence. I thought I was quite liberal with the ginger, but next time I’ll be sure to add more. That’s what I get for learning Chinese cooking from a housemate named Xinan. “When in doubt, add more ginger.”

While I was working on that, Brian opened a can of pineapple chunks and drained the liquid off for later use. I then added the chunks to the pepper-and-onion mix and waited for the pasta.

I am including a photo of the fusilli package here mostly for my own future reference. This is the best rice pasta I have come across so far. I always remember what the packaging looks like, but I can never remember the actual brand name, so if they ever change their packaging, I’m screwed. Unless, of course, I post this photo someplace handy, like the Internet. I cooked the pasta in salted, boiling water, but I didn’t cook it for the full time.

I strained out about half of the pasta and put it in the pan with the pepper-onion-pineapple mixture. Then I added the reserved pineapple liquid and increased the seasonings accordingly. This time I also added a bit of dried lemon thyme. IMG_20160303_183537 Then I reduced the heat and let it all simmer until the chicken was ready.