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Slumming it in the Kitchen

Father Kitchen Oct 14, 2011 06:13 PM

It was my turn to cook yesterday in our monastery and I had a nice meal planned around French onion soup using Michael Ruhlman's brothless recipe from Lyon. A change in meal time sabotaged plans, as I had only a short time after evening services to get the meal on the table. I opted instead to slum it and, horrors, cook chicken breasts in a crock pot with the old standards of cream of mushroom soup, mushrooms, and wine. The community loved it--but all I could taste was MSG. And the carrots from frozen on the side tasted weird to me. (Do frozen carrots always taste weird?) I wished I had made Kraft macaroni and cheese and had fried slices of Spam with brown sugar and cloves--takes me back to Guam in the late forties, or Mom's "slum gullion" sloppy Joes made with ground chuck and chicken gumbo soup. It made me wonder, what are the fall back menus for people when there is no time or desire to do anything really good. How do other busy cooks go slumming in the kitchen?

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  1. TrishUntrapped RE: Father Kitchen Oct 14, 2011 06:23 PM

    Father Kitchen you aren't alone, I've made that same chicken dish you made in the crockpot only I threw in a cup of rice and baked it in the oven. Back in the day when my kids were little this was my "emergency no time to cook and watch them" dish.

    Another popular favorite is what folks in Massachusetts call "American Chop Suey." This was my mom's "crazy day feed the kids" meal, and I have to admit I like it too: Brown ground beef, drain, add stewed tomatoes. When you're getting ready for dinner, add cooked elbow macaroni, and yes it MUST be elbow macaroni. Pour into a casserole dish and top with whatever cheese you have lying around. Bake till bubbly.

    6 Replies
    1. re: TrishUntrapped
      chowser RE: TrishUntrapped Oct 15, 2011 05:20 AM

      My family loves American chop suey--but even easier, I brown the meat and onions, add tomatoes, add box of pasta uncooked, a little extra broth (or water) and cook and stir occasionally. This was my friend's Boston version.

      1. re: chowser
        TrishUntrapped RE: chowser Oct 15, 2011 05:59 AM

        Ya gotta love Yankee ingenuity...

        1. re: TrishUntrapped
          k
          Krislady RE: TrishUntrapped Oct 15, 2011 08:27 AM

          Oh my gosh! My mother used to make American Chop Suey all the time when we were kids - I'd always wondered why no one else had ever heard for it - I was raised in Wisconsin and now live in New York. But my mother's from Massachusetts. THAT explains it! :)

          1. re: Krislady
            TrishUntrapped RE: Krislady Oct 15, 2011 05:47 PM

            That's funny Chris! American Chop Suey was one of the few school lunches I liked. Even the cafeteria workers couldn't mess it up.

      2. re: TrishUntrapped
        EWSflash RE: TrishUntrapped Oct 15, 2011 09:25 PM

        Thank God I learned to love it as hamburger casserole rather than American Chop Suey- the name weirds me out. It really does.

        1. re: EWSflash
          eclecticsynergy RE: EWSflash Oct 16, 2011 07:52 PM

          Around Albany they have the nerve to call the stuff goulash! When I first moved here I was surprised to find "goulash" on the menu in a diner. I ordered it and what arrived was not a happy surprise. It wasn't that it was terrible- but it sure wasn't goulash.

      3. Veggo RE: Father Kitchen Oct 14, 2011 06:25 PM

        Late night rotisserie chicken at the market, still under the heat lamps but not yet chicken jerky, a dollar off, $4.99. One large sweet onion, a couple poblanos and jalapenos, half a jar of mole sauce, pint of chicken broth, garlic, hamburger buns. You'll figure out the rest for sloppy jose's. I'm not a busy cook but I can still slum it.

        4 Replies
        1. re: Veggo
          mattstolz RE: Veggo Oct 14, 2011 06:33 PM

          the rotisserie chicken is one of my favorite "oh crap outta time!" go tos as well

          1. re: Veggo
            Father Kitchen RE: Veggo Oct 14, 2011 06:56 PM

            Now that sounds interesting!

            1. re: Veggo
              j
              jlhinwa RE: Veggo Oct 15, 2011 08:55 AM

              Another fan of the rotisserie chicken here. It has saved me a number of times and no doubt will do so again!

              1. re: Veggo
                eclecticsynergy RE: Veggo Oct 16, 2011 07:54 PM

                I agree, the old rotisserie chicken can be a lifesaver. Gets me dinner for that nite, chicken salad for the next day, and a soup carcass for the day after.

              2. ipsedixit RE: Father Kitchen Oct 14, 2011 09:54 PM

                Rice, Chinese pork floss, Chinese pickled cucumbers, fried egg, Sriracha.

                In that EXACT order -- from bottom to top.

                Slum away!

                2 Replies
                1. re: ipsedixit
                  EWSflash RE: ipsedixit Oct 15, 2011 09:26 PM

                  What's Chinese pork floss? I picture long-cooked long shreds.

                  1. re: EWSflash
                    ipsedixit RE: EWSflash Oct 15, 2011 10:36 PM

                    Info here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rousong

                    Pictures here: http://www.google.com/search?q=chines...

                2. e
                  escondido123 RE: Father Kitchen Oct 14, 2011 10:01 PM

                  Pasta with whatever is hanging around--arugula, garlic, eggs, cream, onions, peppers, zucchini, proscuitto ends, herbs/parsley--could any or all end up in it with romano or parmigiano grated on top. Of course, leftover tomato sauce could take it in a different direction. Have not had canned soup of any kind in my pantry for 20 years--at least not one you would add to another dish as liquid/sauce.

                  1. DuchessNukem RE: Father Kitchen Oct 14, 2011 11:06 PM

                    For emergencies where I want it to be filling and satisfying: garlic/olive oil pasta; add whatever veggies available: onions, tomato, fine-chopped broccoli, zucchini ribbons, snow peas, canned green peas, carrot julienne, etc.; and/or chicken, ground turkey, or sausage if available. Toasted buttered bread alongside.

                    Or grilled cheese and salad; "fancy" ingredients on the sandwich such as basil, brie, arugula, etc.

                    (And I know that some on this board have a horror of the canned soup, but I've got a couple laid back in there. It's highly unlikely that the Michelin-star people are going to stop by my house and downgrade me for it.)

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: DuchessNukem
                      EWSflash RE: DuchessNukem Oct 15, 2011 09:27 PM

                      +1

                    2. n
                      nemo RE: Father Kitchen Oct 15, 2011 01:16 AM

                      You're totally right about carrots. They, unlike spinach, corn or peas, do not take well to freezing. For frozen carrots in the future -- since they have a lot of inherent water, try cooking them from the frozen state in a minimum of stock (chicken or vegetable) so it's not too soupy, then puree everything, add lots of butter, grated cheese (whatever you have -- parm, cheddar, even mozz, or a combination). Serve as a side.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: nemo
                        EWSflash RE: nemo Oct 15, 2011 09:30 PM

                        Frozen carrots are sweet and spongy- a gross combination. Pureeing them is the only salvation I can think of for them because the taste isn't that bad.

                      2. o
                        odkaty RE: Father Kitchen Oct 15, 2011 02:59 AM

                        My quick go-to meal is always a frittata. Get home late, head to the kitchen, assemble and stick in oven, 10-15 minutes for other stuff, and dinner's on the table within 30 minutes.

                        It's a meal we actually look forward too, and it's easily dressed up with sriracha, sides, sauces, fancy cheeses, etc.

                        Mourn the loss of the planned meal, but don't feel dirty about the quick meal — nourishment important too.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: odkaty
                          m
                          megjp RE: odkaty Oct 15, 2011 06:08 AM

                          It's funny, your last sentence. I've been killing myself at work for 2.5 months, and I still plan as though I had so much time when I get home.

                          Last night (Friday, right? Woo!) I had planned to broil some tofu and make a peanut sauce, and to serve this with roasted tamari carrots and sauteed sesame bok choy. I ended up buying pho because I got home feeling grumpy and achey at about 8.

                          The slow cooker is great for nights like that, and also who doesn't like walking into an apartment cozy with the aroma of dinner?

                          1. re: odkaty
                            e
                            ErnieD RE: odkaty Oct 15, 2011 09:20 AM

                            I agree on the frittata. They are great for using up odds and ends of leftovers, too-you can put almost anything in them. I like veggies and cheese in them, bu I've even made them with leftover sloppy joe meat for my husband. Not my personal cup of tea but he liked it. Add a salad or even some frozen peas on the side and you've got yourself a meal.

                            1. re: ErnieD
                              goodhealthgourmet RE: ErnieD Oct 15, 2011 06:08 PM

                              Add a salad or even some frozen peas on the side and you've got yourself a meal.
                              ~~~~~~~~~
                              no need for extra veggies the way i load them into a frittata. and as a bonus, fewer dishes to wash!

                          2. chowser RE: Father Kitchen Oct 15, 2011 05:21 AM

                            Rice, broth, frozen veg into rice cooker, top w/ sausages, turn on.

                            1. danionavenue RE: Father Kitchen Oct 15, 2011 07:51 AM

                              same as you but with pork chops, toast with cinnamon sugar and butter if no one else is home ha ha, hot dogs of any sort but especially wrapped in Pillsbury croissants (hey I have not had those for a long long time) ha ha, canned lentil salad with veggies olive oil & balsamic vinaigrette, most things topped with crushed cornflakes.....

                              1. mattstolz RE: Father Kitchen Oct 15, 2011 09:12 AM

                                this one is probably a little (ok... probably alot) of the bodybuilder coming out in me, but one of my favorite in a pinch meals is:
                                Can of tuna+cottage cheese+whatever condiments i have laying around (mustard or salsa are good ones!)+chopped veg (especially bell pepper and onion)
                                mix all that together, spread on some good whole grain bread, top with some cheese, and toast or broil. mmmm

                                oh, and yes, i make my "tuna salad" with cottage cheese and not mayo. like it much better that way!

                                14 Replies
                                1. re: mattstolz
                                  p
                                  pine time RE: mattstolz Oct 15, 2011 11:13 AM

                                  A can of water packed tuna, real mayo, celery, dills. When I'm in a funk, 1 can of tuna = 1 giant sandwich (toasted whole wheat bread, plenty of lettuce for crunch). Hmm, want one right now.

                                  1. re: pine time
                                    mattstolz RE: pine time Oct 15, 2011 01:50 PM

                                    definitely agree on the celery and dills. love the crunch from them. thats also why i choose bell peppers in mine

                                  2. re: mattstolz
                                    Terrie H. RE: mattstolz Oct 16, 2011 03:47 AM

                                    I've never heard of tuna with cottage cheese, but it sounds great to me. I love cottage cheese and am not such a big fan of mayo. I'll add Old Bay...

                                    1. re: Terrie H.
                                      goodhealthgourmet RE: Terrie H. Oct 16, 2011 04:26 AM

                                      it's an old bodybuilding trick to cram in extra protein. and matt's method is spot-on, a quick run under the broiler turns it into a treat.

                                      if you like your food with a kick, try it with a dash of cayenne or sriracha.

                                      1. re: goodhealthgourmet
                                        mattstolz RE: goodhealthgourmet Oct 16, 2011 08:15 AM

                                        haha not only to cram in the protein, but also to lower the fat (significantly if you are talking real mayo vs low fat cottage cheese). normally its also just a good way to take the cheap, dry-your-mouth-out tuna from a can that we eat so often and add something to moisten it up and kick it up a little!

                                        def with you on the addition of sriracha too!

                                        1. re: mattstolz
                                          p
                                          pine time RE: mattstolz Oct 16, 2011 08:24 AM

                                          Had a friend who always added a finely chopped boiled egg to the tuna mixture--that "more protein" thing--tasted fine, but have never heard of anyone else doing that.

                                          1. re: pine time
                                            m
                                            magiesmom RE: pine time Oct 16, 2011 08:26 AM

                                            I do, it was alway the way my mother made it. It is really good. But I like a little mayo, too.

                                          2. re: mattstolz
                                            goodhealthgourmet RE: mattstolz Oct 16, 2011 01:21 PM

                                            normally its also just a good way to take the cheap, dry-your-mouth-out tuna from a can that we eat so often and add something to moisten it up and kick it up a little!
                                            ~~~~~~~~~~
                                            vinegar. lots of vinegar. ;)

                                            1. re: goodhealthgourmet
                                              Veggo RE: goodhealthgourmet Oct 16, 2011 01:29 PM

                                              in tuna? really? for a moment I thought this must be the swiss chard thread..

                                              1. re: Veggo
                                                mattstolz RE: Veggo Oct 16, 2011 01:31 PM

                                                I gotta agree with ghg (like always). I really like sherry, balsamic, and red wine vinegars in tuna

                                                1. re: mattstolz
                                                  Veggo RE: mattstolz Oct 16, 2011 01:57 PM

                                                  I'll try it. I usually resort to Worcestershire, garlic powder, diced red onion, mayo, and dill with canned tuna. And I'm having difficulty finding Bumble Bee solid white albacore in oil lately.

                                                  1. re: Veggo
                                                    goodhealthgourmet RE: Veggo Oct 16, 2011 03:22 PM

                                                    a drizzle of good olive oil & a healthy splash of vinegar (sherry, balsamic or red wine). fold in chopped capers, artichoke hearts & sun-dried tomato, minced shallot or red onion & fresh herbs (parsley and/or basil). season to taste with freshly ground pepper.

                                                    you can also toss in sliced black olives or roasted red peppers, or even some crumbled feta if you really want to go crazy.

                                                    trust me on this.

                                                    1. re: goodhealthgourmet
                                                      Veggo RE: goodhealthgourmet Oct 16, 2011 03:40 PM

                                                      All that together would make a good salad or sandwich even without any tuna!

                                                      1. re: Veggo
                                                        goodhealthgourmet RE: Veggo Oct 16, 2011 04:50 PM

                                                        you've got a point :) BTW, white beans go really well with the tuna and all those flavors.

                                    2. emglow101 RE: Father Kitchen Oct 15, 2011 10:03 AM

                                      Keilbasa or polish sausage boiled with potato and cabbage. Garnish with a little mustard or sour cream. Very simple and tasty.

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: emglow101
                                        mattstolz RE: emglow101 Oct 15, 2011 01:52 PM

                                        haha for some reason this made me think of a friend of mine in college who literally survived off of premade frozen perogies from sams club for an entire month.

                                        that cant have been good for her.

                                        1. re: emglow101
                                          agoodbite RE: emglow101 Oct 16, 2011 02:47 AM

                                          This menu was in my mother's rotation back in the 70's and I still make it on occasion. She boiled each item separately and both cabbage and potatoes got a good dose of margarine (don't forget, it was the 70's). We skipped the sour cream/mustard. It's simple, satisfying, quite comforting and dirt cheap to boot.

                                        2. rworange RE: Father Kitchen Oct 15, 2011 10:24 AM

                                          As someone who only slums in the kitchen because I detest cooking ... can you freeze?

                                          I will spend one day doing the dreaded cooking and then freeze the meals for the week(s).

                                          This doesn't seem your style, but maybe you could freeze a few meals for situations just like you experienced the other night. Then you don't need to resort to canned soup and frozen carrots in an emergency. The stuff still may be frozen, but at least it is something you made from scratch and has quality.

                                          1. Savour RE: Father Kitchen Oct 15, 2011 02:40 PM

                                            Quick -- salad with vinaigrette, bacon, and a poached egg on top. Especially since I learned about poaching eggs in the microwave.

                                            Another standby favorite is this hamburger dish my dad used to make - crumble and cook with worcestershire sauce and cheddar cheese

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: Savour
                                              s
                                              shaebones RE: Savour Oct 16, 2011 02:28 AM

                                              How do you poach eggs in a microwave?

                                            2. l
                                              lsmutko RE: Father Kitchen Oct 15, 2011 02:44 PM

                                              Spaghetti (or fettucine or whatever we got) carbonara. I always have eggs, parmesan and pancetta or bacon. Easy, fast and still feels like dinner.

                                              1. j
                                                jvanderh RE: Father Kitchen Oct 15, 2011 03:06 PM

                                                Egg drop soup
                                                Pho (without browning the meat first, everything just cooked in stock with a pinch of pre-ground pumpkin pie spice)
                                                Grits or oatmeal with an egg cooked in it (I like sriracha, garlic oil, and sesame oil drizzled over the top).
                                                Fake tibs: beef cut in small peices, onion, and some kind of mild hot peppers, just sauteed together. If I'm feeling ambitious I'll also make fake injera: flour, salt, yeast, and add tap water to pancake consistency, cooked like a pancake.
                                                Crepes with something pre-made (ham, or ricotta, or cottage cheese and jam)
                                                Pasta with peas and shrimp, everything cooked together, drained, with Parmesan on top
                                                Sauteed onion and/or garlic mixed with canned beans, chopped ham, and a little tomato
                                                product
                                                Fried rice if I've got cooked rice
                                                Pasta carbonara, as mentioned, bacon cooked in the toaster oven while the pasta cooks

                                                I got many other fantastic suggestions over here: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/786727

                                                1. alliegator RE: Father Kitchen Oct 15, 2011 04:33 PM

                                                  Boboli crust for me! I always keep one around. And I can always scrape up some toppping. Cheese is always in the house, maybe there's some red alfredo sauce, maybe just olive oil. Then whatever combo of meat and veggies and herbs that are around that suits me. Chicken and mushrooms, or ham, bacon and pineapple, etc... There's always a new way to top a pizza, and it's all ready in 15 minutes.

                                                  1. s
                                                    suburban_mom RE: Father Kitchen Oct 15, 2011 04:38 PM

                                                    Frozen potatoes O'Brien with sliced kielbasa. Fry it up all together. My mom mad this growing up and it was a regular meal for me in college.

                                                    1. goodhealthgourmet RE: Father Kitchen Oct 15, 2011 06:44 PM

                                                      you're not alone re: frozen carrots. they've never tasted "right" to me.

                                                      as for my personal "slumming" habits, it depends on who's eating. if it's just me, there are nights i can make do with a protein shake...or a jar of almond butter and a spoon ;)

                                                      but i did actually slum it one night last week when i made dinner for Mom & Sis for the first time since July. Mom doesn't cook anymore, and the only thing my sister makes is reservations, so i'm in charge of the kitchen and of course the pantry here is stocked with all sorts of things i can't or won't eat - prepared & frozen foods, jarred sauces, pasta & bread. someone's gotta use it all, so one night last week when Mom & Sis actually wanted a meal (as opposed to noshing on junk) and i was finally feeling up to throwing something together for them, i defrosted some store-bought Kobe meatballs i found hiding in the depths of freezer, browned them in a bit of garlic oil, doctored up a jar of tomato sauce from the cupboard, cooked the meatballs in the sauce, seasoned & roasted some fresh broccoli, cauliflower, mushrooms & zucchini...and dinner was served. i hated giving them something i hadn't prepared from scratch - particularly since i couldn't even taste the meatballs for seasoning since they contained breadcrumbs - but they enjoyed it.

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: goodhealthgourmet
                                                        mattstolz RE: goodhealthgourmet Oct 15, 2011 07:21 PM

                                                        jar of almond butter and a spoon:

                                                        my kind of dinner!!

                                                      2. s
                                                        Sam D. RE: Father Kitchen Oct 15, 2011 09:03 PM

                                                        Surprised that none has mentioned Top Ramen. (6 pkgs./$1). Just add some chopped veggies and chopped leftover beef, pork, chicken, or seafood.

                                                        Also fideo soup made with diluted tomato sauce spiced with salt, chile powder, cumin and garlic powder. Add some sauteed finely chopped onion and other veggies. Lightly fry the fideo and boil it in the sauce mixture for 4-5 minutes and it's ready.

                                                        1. m
                                                          magiesmom RE: Father Kitchen Oct 16, 2011 06:48 AM

                                                          I always keep beans frozen , mix em up with a pot of any grain and a few chopped veggies, voila, Dinner!

                                                          1. eclecticsynergy RE: Father Kitchen Oct 16, 2011 08:03 PM

                                                            One of my favorite go-to meals when I'm tired, lazy, or short on time is Hungarian noodles.
                                                            Egg noodles with canned mushrooms, cottage cheese, a little sour cream & smoked paprika. Easy, satisfying comfort food. Sometimes I'll add some sauteed onions, or green onions & half a red pepper chopped. Or leftover rotisserie chicken.

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