Posted in Quick Dinners, The Market

Quick/Easy Meals & Whole Foods Woes

(I have decided to update my Header photo monthly, in order to reflect the season, my mood, something really yummy-looking, whatever. I’ve changed it to a photo of the corned beef & cabbage that I served at Culinary Affair this past weekend. A little late for a photo to represent March, but what can you do. I will also try to include photos of anything I prepare.)

Yesterday afternoon was incredibly interesting and stressful for me, so it was quite a relief when I came home to discover that the meal I was putting together was simple and delicious. I was perfectly thrilled to end the day so pleasantly.

The first mistake I made yesterday was the decision to go to Whole Foods. I love Whole Foods, everything looks delicious and they have just as many appealing options of deliciousness as Trader Joe’s. The problem: Whole Foods is not as cost efficient as Trader Joe’s. Every time I shop at Whole Foods, I forget why I convinced myself that there was something specific I needed that could only come from there. I could have easily found the items I purchased yesterday at either Trader Joe’s or Stop & Shop. But, for whatever reason, I found myself wandering the many aisles of Whole Foods.

So, upon entering the market, I knew that I was going to make the White Cheddar & Shells macaroni and cheese that I had bought at Trader Joe’s last week and that I wanted a meat and vegetable to go along with it. After wandering around for what seemed like a lifetime, I finally was able to check out and head home to assess what I bought and figure out a meal. Even though I was confused and a little unsure of what I felt like eating, my subconscious struck gold by magically creating two nights of easy meals all on its own.

For last night’s meal, I made roasted asparagus and chicken sausage (not just any chicken sausage – but roasted red pepper and garlic chicken sausage!) to go along with my white cheddar and shells. Now, I am not going to describe my boxed, all-natural mac & cheese in detail, but I will tell you that it kicks the crap out of Kraft mac & cheese without a doubt. It was absolutely delicious and it required the eye of a seasoned chef who knows that a real cheese sauce must be cooked a bit in order for it to become thick and creamy. Needless to say, I was a happy gal.

For the chicken sausage and asparagus, I was concerned with ease and simplicity. Thus, I trimmed the asparagus, sliced the chicken sausage fairly thin and preheat the oven to 375 degrees. I chopped up two medium cloves of garlic, quite finely, and then put everything on a sheet pan together. I sprinkled a little canola oil – olive oil is just more expensive – and some salt, and cracked some black pepper over everything and then tossed it all together in order to make sure it was seasoned evenly. Before I placed it in the oven, it looked a little something like this:

Asparagus and sausage, before baking in the oven.
Asparagus and sausage, before baking in the oven.

I spread everything out so that it would roast evenly, and put it onto a rack in the middle of the oven.

While that was baking, I cleaned up a bit and went to work on my mac & cheese, which took only about 15 minutes to prepare. Within about 15-20 minutes, after shifting the asparagus occasionally to check for tenderness, the pan full of deliciousness was ready to come out of the oven. I pulled out the pan, let everything cool a bit and turned up the heat on my mac & cheese to create a creamy texture for my white cheddar sauce. That scene looked a little something like this:

Thickening up that delicious mac & cheese!
Thickening up that delicious mac & cheese!

Now, I’d say this was a pretty simple meal, and I was pretty surprised by how delicious it was. I had the leftovers for lunch this afternoon. So yummy. And yet, my amazement at my subconscious self is not yet over.

The next thing I wondered, naturally, was: But what will I eat tomorrow night? I ate all of the leftovers from this meal, and I – again – don’t feel like delving into something too intense or difficult. Aha! I also bought bacon yesterday while I was at Whole Foods. The all-natural 365 bacon, one of my favorite things in the entire world – I mean who doesn’t love bacon? I can throw it in the oven, bake it up in about 15 minutes and then I can throw together a BLT and have it with none other than the all-natural tater tots that I picked up at Trader Joe‘s last week. Pretty. Darn. Amazing.

Now, although I would much prefer to be going out to dinner on one of my nights off, the boyfriend has karate on Thursdays. But today, I accept this sacrifice to stay home and eat bacon and tater tots for dinner. I’ll even get to watch the beginning of the Bruins game without having to deal with someone routing against them. It’s a win-win.

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