4.01.2008

Four Easy Recipes

My middle name is simplicity. Ok that is not true, I don’t have a middle name. But still- I live by that word. No matter how complicated people try to make things, I have always known the “hoop-lah” is unnecessary. This aspect of my personality meshes great with my love of food. I eat all the time but I have no money. Thus I am forced to make some decisions about what will really fill me up. Yes, I sometimes go for the king-size Snickers bar because it takes too much time to thaw the chicken and scrub the potatoes and steam the broccoli… But I try to make wise decisions because honestly I just prefer good food over junk.

Several years ago, my non-related aunt came to visit. She was staying for a long time so she ended up making dinner one night. We went to the store and bought fresh tomatoes, angel hair pasta, and garlic. We watched her chop and use olive oil, new concepts to our “cream-of-chicken” crowd. She used three large onion, 3 garlic cloves and sautéed them in a little olive oil with a tablespoon of butter until they were transparent. Then she added 5 ripe tomatoes and cooked it all for 20 min on medium- low. I remember when she was just about done, she took my hand and my mom’s and we went to the garden boxes. She showed us the herbs we had planted that I had never known about. “This is basil,” she said. I smelled it and smiled. She proceeded to finely chop the large handfuls she had grabbed and through it in the pan. Then she added a package of cooked angel hair pasta and mixed it together. I remember that dish like it was yesterday. It was simple, so easy, but so tasty. I have tried to mimic her recipe dozens of times but it just doesn’t taste as good as hers.

My brother loves breakfast food. For his 16th birthday party we served French toast, that is it. That is all he wanted. I remember one morning when he made crepes. I think he was in a French-speaking class and it was one of his assignments to immerse himself in the culture. Though he is usually never around for breakfast anymore, my sister and I love to devour crepes. When we have a free Saturday we eat a little cereal to prepare ourselves for the work ahead. Then in a blender we combine: 4 eggs, 1 cup flour, ½ cup milk, ½ tsp. salt, and 2 tbs. melted butter. I shake it up and make the crepes on the pan. It is on med-hi heat and usually I am too prideful to let my sister help. So she prepares the berries and the sugar… then we feast around 11 am. It is our brunch.

I knew the word crock-pot before I knew what cereal was. My mom loves our crock-pot! I got one for Christmas and have since given one to any girl I know getting married. They deserve it because it can change their lives. My mom typed up a massive packet of crock-pot recipes for our neighborhood friends and I have enjoyed this simple dish. In a crock pot put 4 frozen chicken breasts, and a handful of Italian seasonings of your choice, add about 2 cups of chicken broth. All you do is twist the knob to hi- not high, they use little words on crock pots- that is how simple it is. Five hours later, yes plenty of prep time, cook some noodles and add your chicken-ey sauce. Enjoy!

Alright I saved the best for last. My mother and I love to eat lunch together. We pour the contents of our fridge onto the counter and say, “Hm what could we do with this?” In the summer time, when I am home we come up with crazy things. My mom and I are experts at gourmet grilled cheese. All you do is buy a fun bread, sometimes we use your basic white bread but usually we have a honey wheat or sometimes Wal-Mart's rosemary French bread, Focaccia if it’s on sale, or some other hearty multi grain. Now every decision is up to the maker, these are only suggestions. But this is not a suggestion- you must brush olive oil on the outsides or if you want it real crispy just use butter. Then you must add cream cheese with a seasoning of choice (we swear by McCormick’s Montreal Chicken). Next add whatever cheese you have, for us it is usually just cheddar, but you can add your leftover turkey, ham, chicken, bacon, etc. Then slice up some tomatoes or add some spinach. Pop it on a frying pan or just broil it in the oven for a few minutes. Then take it out and have some pita chips with a spinach or clam dip. Can I say heaven? Yes I think so. Again, Enjoy!

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