Last week, I wrote about a blogger, My Vegetarian Kitchen, who was trying not to buy any more food until she used up everything she had in her kitchen.
This wonderful blog post continues to inspire me. So I decided to try to create at least one meal without having to go buy anything new.
This experience is similar to the way restaurant owners sometimes try out potential chef candidates. They are given a “black box” full of ingredients and given the task of creating something original and delicious. They are given no advance knowledge of what the ingredients will be.
I’ve always enjoyed those kind of tryouts, so I was looking forward to this experiment in my own kitchen. The only problem was I didn’t have much lying around: some frozen ground turkey, a half a bag of egg noodles and not much else.
I tore my cupboard apart, dismissing those items that simply wouldn’t work — a can of lentils, half full bags of assorted grains and beans — until I found a couple that would, such as a can of peas and a lone envelope of Mrs. Grass Onion Soup Mix.
The refrigerator was pretty sparse as well, but I did manage to find half an onion and half a green pepper, as well as some partially full containers of fat free cottage cheese and sour cream.
I used these ingredients to whip up what I told my wife was “Cupboard Casserole”. It actually turned out pretty delicious, especially since I made it out of essentially nothing. It wasn’t good enough that I would put it on a restaurant menu, but we enjoyed it and saved some money at the same time.
Now, if you will excuse me I have to go grocery shopping.
1/2 lb ground turkey
1/2 white onion, medium dice
1/2 green pepper, ribs and seeds removed, medium dice
1 jalapeno pepper, ribs and seeds removed, small dice
1 TBS extra virgin olive oil
1/2 bag dry egg noodles
1 cup fat free cottage cheese
1/2 cup fat free sour cream
1 can reduced fat cream of chicken soup
1 envelope Mrs. Grass Onion Soup Mix
1 can peas, drained
1 dash Worcestershire sauce
1 dash Tabasco sauce
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1. Cook egg noodles according to package instructions, about 7 minutes. They should be slightly undercooked so that they will absorb some of the liquid while the casserole is cooking. Drain and rinse under cold water to stop the cooking process.
2. Meanwhile, put cast iron pan on fire. When hot, add oil. When smoking, add onions and peppers. Cook until onions translucent, about three minutes, then add turkey, using a spatula to break it apart into small peices. Cook until turkey is browned, about five minutes, then remove from heat and let cool.
3. Preheat oven to 375F. In a mixing bowl, combine egg noodles, turkey mixture, cream of chicken soup, the onion soup mix, the sour cream, cottage cheese, Worcestershire and Tabasco and blend together with a spatula. Season to taste with salt and pepper then transfer to a casserole dish. Sprinkle with bread crumbs, cover and bake for 35 minutes. Remove cover and bake another 10 minutes.
What kinds of meals do you make out of whatever you have lying around your kitchen? Share your story in the comments section below. And thanks for looking at my blog!