There are a couple (among many) things different about me since I last blogged regularly:
1. I shop at Trader Joe's now.
2. I no longer have time to whip up creative meals.
...Wait a second. Something doesn't look right with that #2. It's not that I don't have time. I have pllllenty of time. It's more so that I'm distracted by other activities that aren't cooking. My life is wildly different from two or three years ago. And it's mostly internal-ish things that only I would notice. My priorities are different. I think a lot of the cooking I used to do during that time period was a way for me to fill a void, to play a role. It's not that I didn't enjoy it or take artistic pleasure in it...I did. But that wasn't its main function. I won't get into too many details, as this isn't a therapy session (or is it?). Long story short, nowadays, cooking as an art (not as a way to prepare food) is low on my priority list.
That being said, before tonight, it had been a really long time since I made a from-scratch, no ingredient list, innovative meal. The meals I used to blog about. Tonight is just a typical Tuesday night. Home from work, tired, not much going on. I just need to feed myself dinner so there's no one else's taste or desire to consider. As everything was finished and I set the plates down at my little solo table setting, I realized that this was the first meal in 2 years I felt compelled to blog about. But it's not really about the meal...is it?
I'd also like to blame Trader Joe's on the partial death of my kitchen spontaneity. That store is amazing. And so much of it is prepared stuff...like really REALLY GOOD prepared stuff. Like their cooked pastas, for example...that stuff is amazing. So many of their frozen meals are good. The curry chicken salad is the bomb, too. Anyway, it allows you to make really awesome "gourmet" meals on a time crunch. Ideal for a busy 27-year-old foodie like me. So "from scratch" hasn't really been part of my vocabulary lately.
I do have to thank Trader Joe's for my discovery of DELICATA SQUASH. Hoooly moly. I don't think I've ever been so excited about a vegetable (and I love vegetables!).
This squash is actually CREAMY. Imagine whipped sweet potatoes with cream cheese added...that's the texture (not the taste). The taste is somewhere between a butternut squash (but more intense) and a sweet potato. It is so sweet. And so easy to prepare. I just poke a few holes it with a knife and microwave it for 6-8 minutes per pound (thanks TJs!).
I had a tupperware full of a delicata I cooked last night and just wanted to do something different with it. I remembered a sweet potato casserole I made "back in the day" and figured I'd do something similar. I'm not going to even try to write a recipe, so I'll just tell you how I made it.
DELICATA SQUASH CASSEROLE
I used about 2 cups worth of cooked delicata squash. You can eat the skin, but I discarded it as I wanted the casserole to be smooth and souffle-like. Mash it with a fork until the consistency of mashed potatoes (doesn't take much). Add equal parts brown sugar and white sugar, maybe a tablespoon each. A couple tablespoons of melted butter. Cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and cloves to taste. Pop it in a casserole dish, top with pecans, and bake at 325 for about 20-30 min.
Oh, and I made some chicken salad because I had a bunch of cooked white meat chicken to use up. I was inspired by a Trader Joe's recipe but eyeballed everything.
TRADER JOE'S HONEY MUSTARD CHICKEN SALAD WITH CRANBERRIES...THE HALF ASS VERSION :)
Dressing (equal parts TJ's Garlic Mustard Aioli, apple cider vinegar, and honey)
I served it on TJ's Sprouted Multigrain Bread with some thinly sliced red onions and baby kale leaves. Those are TJ's Everything Pretzel Crisps on the plate, too.
This was way too long and I probably sound crazy. Sorry!