Hello, Old Friendly Meals


A familiar meal is like a warm blanket or a hug from a good friend.


As I was looking through a binder of recipes for a different project, I came across a printout of a Cooking Light recipe I first made way back in 1995 or ’96: Spanish Fork Chicken Stew. If I recall correctly, it was originally displayed served in a bread bowl, but I think I’ve only done that once over all the years I’ve made this stew. Even without a bread bow it’s an amazing, hearty soup that I somehow had never made for Todd. So on Monday night, while it was still a bit chilly in Southern Georgia, I made a big pot of this soup and it was as glorious as I remembered.


The next night’s supper was not quiet as successful. It was still supper, of course, and fairly tasty, but my potato-cheese ratio was a bit off and the Bacon-Wrapped Potato Volcanoes were not anywhere near molten, gooey goodness. That said, I stand by my opinion that Boursin and Chevre are superior substitutes for cream cheese in most savory recipes. The excess potato mixture made a nice bed for the smoked sausages that we baked alongside the potatoes, and baking is still an excellent way to prepare okra (far less “slimy” in the end).

Wednesday we had a bit of a mix-up regarding Duncan and his dog door, so the open night on the menu shifted from Saturday night to Wednesday. Instead of cooking, we opted to visit George and Louies, a place we had not been in a while (more’s the pity) and had some amazing seafood. The scallops were like butter, the fish fillet sweet and tender, and the oysters bursting with flavor. We really need to go there more often, though it’s probably just as well we don’t–the indulgence factor is high on this one.


It did mean we had fish two nights in a row, with Thursday night bringing the Wrapped Salmon with Spinach and Feta I’d originally planned for Wednesday. Probably the simplest aplpication of phyllo dough I’ve seen, using cooking spray instead of brushing with melted butter, but the resulting packets were nice and light. I can see us revisiting this recipe in the spring. Then again, it was feeling more spring than winter by Thursday, so it was fitting!


Friday night I returned to a Cooking Light recipe, this one from the current issue, with the Sausage Ragu over Polenta. (After finding a $5 subscription on Amazon around Black Friday I resubscribed and am already loving that decision!) I have nothing against polenta per se, but I much prefer slow-cooked southern grits, so that’s what I made instead. we get ours stone ground from a little country store and cook it low and slow for 45 minutes or so. I think I’ve mentioned this before, but it’s worth noting again, that Todd hated grits when I first met him, but only because he’d only ever had the gritty instant or quick kinds. If you’ve found yourself in the same position, give the long version a try.


Thank goodness for freezer meals as I wasn’t feeling very well Saturday, and the fact that all I had to do was add rice and water to the rice cooker and then, 10 minutes later, dump the bag of Chicken Curry with Peppers and Cabbage into a saute pan… well, that made the difference between making dinner and not. Something I’ve noticed with the freezer meals, though, is that they frequently need more seasoning. I’m not sure if it’s scientifically correct, but it seems like between the last time I made this freezer meal and the current one, the flavor broke down even more. Just something to keep in mind, along with being sure to rotate your freezer meal stores regularly (this one had been in the deep freeze since March).


Finally, Sunday night I made Taco Bowls. It was inspired by the pin from Damn Delicious but I deviated quite a bit. First of all, I added some shredded cabbage for crunch. Second, I cooked the corn (the pretty picture shows blistered corn cut straight from the cob, the recipe calls for drained canned corn–I compromised with frozen corn sauteed with garlic oil, salt, and pepper). Third, I added cheese and a bit of avocado queso. I mean, really, what is a taco (bowl) without cheese of some sort?!

So that was our week, what’s on the menu in your house this week?