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Hodgepodge Meals

Posted Jul 21 2009 12:00am

So- what is a hodgepodge meal you might ask. Well, this is a meal where you literally throw a bunch of this and a little of that into a pot, skillet, casserole dish or even on the grill and voila you have a complete meal.

Here is what one of my versions looked like the other evening. (I forgot the picture to accompany the description)

After a very long exciting Sunday full of fun church events, we are in the process of hiring a new minister so the weekend was full of meet and greets and then a luncheon on Sunday afternoon, I had the daunting task of figuring out “what’s for dinner”. Now some of you might think, especially those close friends who know how much I enjoy cooking, that every meal is a joy for me to thoughtfully prepare. Ha- have a got you fooled. No way! I too suffer from exhaustion from being a mommy, having a full time job, having house chores, running my own small book business and of course having a husband. I get worn out just as much as everyone else!

Anyway, Sunday afternoon I stood in the kitchen gazing out my window thinking that someone would magically appear walking down our street with a fully prepared meal in hand. No luck. So instead I moved myself to our pantry and crouched down to take a gander at our dried good, canned mess. Oh how I need to organize my dried goods. Yea- I’ll stick that on my to-do list. Well one of my BIG peeves that drives me nuts is when I do not have a “complete” meal to offer. A complete meal for me would be protein source, grain, lots of veggies and a little oil/fat. As I looked in our pantry I remembered that I had just replenished my bulgar wheat stash. Grain- check. While looking in the pantry I also saw a jar of Trader Joe’s YUMMY Pineapple Salsa. (I’ll have to do a complete entry on Trader Joe’s someday to make sure folks understand the importance of TJ’s!) In the freezer I had a bag of frozen Trader Joe’s hormone free chicken breast that’s a breeze to cook frozen. Protein- check- with marinade even better. My oldest and I bought some fresh corn on the cob earlier but I didn’t want it on the cob. Instead I remembered a receipt for Succotash using fresh corn. I took 2 onions from my garden and a clove of garlic and sauteed it with a little EVOO (Just for Rachel Ray). Then I cut the corn off the cob added it along with a diced green pepper and cup of edamame beans. For the seasonings I added two big dashes of TJ’s 21 season salute and small pinch of salt. Veggie- check! I baked the chicken with a whole jar of salsa and served it with the succotash. The cooked bulgar ended up being an appetizer for my hungry kids and I. The man of the house passed on the bulgar and stuck with the main course. What do you think I did next? What would you have done for dessert? A hodgepodge fruit salad of course! Look at the fruit on your counter or look at what jars or frozen fruit you have on hand. Cut it up and mix in some vanilla extract and a small drop or two of honey – or you can add a ¼ cup of OJ instead. I used an apple, orange banana and didn’t have to add any honey with the juicy orange. What a perfect meal!

What do you feed your family- or just yourself on nights you don’t feel like cooking? Do you end up dialing the pizza place instead? Try and challenge yourself to mix it up next time. Have your kids help you out. Give them the instructions and some choices. They need a grain, give them two of your options. Then have them pick the protein, do they want a can of beans, diced chicken or some chunks of tofu or even hard boiled eggs. Next they can pick the veggies. Make sure to give them enough options and have them pick at least 2-3 to add to the dish. Then- you mix it up and add the spices. I promise, you will not have too bad of a turnout. Plus- kids are more likely to eat the food in front of them if they helped prepare. Have fun.

Here is a picture of my garden. I struggled with what to plant this year. Tried beans instead of corn and didn't plant beets like years past. Not my best- but still have lots more coming in. Even have a pumpkin and some cantaloupes on their way.

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