Sunday, November 20, 2011

Creation Sunday

Today Hillary Wanted to share with you some thoughts on planning a quick "gourmet style" dinner.

A large part of my childhood was spent on the couch with a thermometer in my mouth when I should have been at many parties, holiday celebrations and other awesome things.  So, I am no stranger to the idea of changing plans.  As an adult, my immunities are better but my husband and I both have migraines, so the same attitude that got me through a fourth of July spent on the couch sipping peppermint milkshakes instead of eating grilled food and hanging out with my friends, has gotten me through many special days as an adult that got "altered" due to someone having a migraine or being ill.  While the accepting attitude is helpful, The thing that gets me through valentines days with someone having stomach aches or anniversaries with someone having a migraine, is being able to come up with a way to make it special even though we end up staying home.  One of the ways I do that is to come up with a nice meal.  It's actually really simple, I take something I know my husband likes and try to make an awesome but easy version of it. 
To do this for yourself you have to know a few things:
- what does my loved one like?
- how would I make such a thing?
- How can I make it awesome?
-What can I do to make the awesomeness simple?
The first two are easy. 
The third one just involves figuring out what would "kick it up a notch."  If they really like grilled cheese, what about using artisan bread and aged, smoked cheddar?  If they like chicken, what about using a marinade and then serving it on top of herb pasta?
The fourth one involves figuring out if there are any shortcuts you can use.  Keep in mind we are trying to get to the optimum combination of "awesome" and "convenient".  Some of the shortcuts I like to use are buying pre-made herb butter, using the refrigerated pasta (much better than the dried stuff without the hassle of homemade), using mixes or doughs, when applicable and using pre-cooked chicken when appropriate.
Today I'm going to share with you a meal plan/menu I recently came up with on about two hours notice when we were supposed to go out to a celebratory dinner but my husband got a migraine instead.  When he has headaches, he usually just wants soup and sandwiches. I was at work when I was conjuring up the idea for this meal and didn't get off until late, so convenience and speed were a big factor in "planning" this one.  We had Turkey and Provolone Sandwiches on pretzel bread, chicken noodle soup, sparkling grape juice to drink and Mookie Sundaes for dessert (I'll explain later).

The sandwiches were the easiest and best part.  I used Black Forest Deli Turkey from my local grocery store deli, provolone from the same, and Sister Schubert's Pretzel rolls.  Make the rolls, slice 'em open, put meat and cheese inside, put back in oven until cheese melts.  it's super simple and Hubby and I agree this may be the best sandwich we have ever had.

The soup used enough short cuts to be ready quickly, but not so many as to taste bland or processed.  I brought one container of storehouse chicken stock to a boil, added some fancy egg noodles, added a few dried herbs and some salt & pepper, and added a pouch of pre-cooked chicken (in the same aisle as the canned chicken) and then let it all cook until the flavors had had a chance to meld together (probably 10 minutes or so... the noodles I used were done in 3).

The Mookie Sundae ended up being the ultimate combination of decadence and convenience.  First, I should explain what a Mookie Sundae is.  There used to be a very tasty local Italian restaurant that had the ooiest gooiest cookie dessert ever, called a mookie sundae.  They would bring you a medium sized ceramic dish filled with a warm chocolate cookie that had been cooked in said dish.  On top of said awesome, warm gooey cookie, was vanilla Ice cream and fudge.  Sadly, the restaurant went out of business, so the lack of mookie sundaes is an oft heard lament in my household since we frequently drive by their empty building.  But I digress. On to the instructions:
I got a tube of chocolate chip cookie dough and put about half of it in the bottom of a (more or less) 6 inch corning glass oven safe flat bottomed bowl.  Then I cooked according to package instructions.  I actually could have put less dough because the middle was a little undercooked and it filled up almost the entire height of the bowl when it rose.  I let that cool until it was still soft and warm but no longer cookie lava and scooped half into a wine glass for each of us.  Then I added gelato on top (this evening's choice was vanilla with caramel swirls and chocolate cookie bits), then hot fudge then whipped cream. It was a total surprise to hubby, really pretty in the wine glasses, awesomely tasty and really easy to make since I used cookie dough instead of making something from scratch.

We hope you enjoyed this week's "Creation Sunday" and hope you have a fantastic Thanksgiving!

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