Back in November, I made an amazing squash gratin casserole
for Thanksgiving and it was a huge hit. However, it was also a huge pain in the tuchas (Jewish accent!) and so I knew that it would be a WHILE before I was able to make it again. A while was apparently a little over 2 months and I had to do it when I was on my staycation in early February. I actually forgot to buy onions and went without them and using the George Foreman Grill was a huge improvement over a grill pan (because the veggies grilled on both sides at once and I could walk away from it and it didn't fill my apartment with smoke and set off my smoke alarm!). What I love about this is that it's healthy with all sorts of veggie/fiber goodness and still so tasty (thanks to the Italian cheeses: Parm and Mozz). Also, for a 6-8 serving platter, it came out to be pretty cheap and there was plenty of leftover cheese to use elsewhere. I also wound up with quite a few leftover tomato slices, which I eventually put to use elsewhere.Click the link above for a list of ingredients and instructions
Well, the casserole turned out great and I learned to do a few other things. For example, I did some research and read some other blogs and found out how to deal with all my leftover basil. I can never manage to use all of mine. First, I started to add it to snack salads (this one was cucumber, some red bell pepper and some chopped basil dressed with balsamic vinegar). On the left is a big piece of bell pepper loaded with fat free cream cheese by the way.
Then I started to do some research and found that some bloggers out there have been freezing their basil. Some froze it in oil (so not my thing, feel that oil adds unnecessary calories ) and some processed it into puree, also with oil (doubly not my style). The thing I found that required the least amount of effort was simply chopping up the basil, dumping it into an ice tray and freezing it with water into ice cubes.
The reviews said that it wouldn't really be suitable for use as "fresh" basil garnish but would be fine in sauces etc. I have yet to find out if this is the case, but promise to try soon!
Also, never having been one to put all my eggs in one basket, I realized that the casserole is well....more of a side than a main for most people. It was time to start defrosting a few more of my hand-removed chicken breasts. I never posted this but I accidentally bought bone-in chicken breasts at the supermarket and was surprised at how cheap they were. Well, like Ikea, they required some manual input, though it was more like disassembly =) Anyway, I coated them with a spice mix (any store bought spice rub will do, but probably S+P+Italian Seasoning would be fine too)
Above are 2 chicken breasts, butterflied and seasoned. I grilled these guys on the George Foreman Grill then I chopped them up very finely for a chicken salad.
To the chopped chicken I added the remainder (1 cup?) of a frozen and sauteed veggie mixture (this was peppers and onions), also chopped and about 1.5-2tbsp Fage Greek Yogurt 0%. Of course, some more S+P went in too. I bet some cumin or paprika would have been perfect here, but it didn't come to me at the time.
Here's a shot of the ensuing dinner: 1 bowl of chicken salad (1/4 of the total) surrounded by PopChips with approximately 1/6 of the casserole on the side.
The "his" plate had a bigger bowl and I gave him some extra gratin casserole.
The chicken salad was later to be portioned onto toast and topped with cheese for chicken salad melts by the Boyfriend, who does not take pictures of his food like I do =)
So, I know a lot of people don't love to eat leftovers. I happen to enjoy leftovers, but even I sometimes get bored of them. My favorite thing to do is to adapt leftovers to salads, sandwiches or side dishes. It's easiest to throw anything on top of a bed of lettuce, add a few fresh veggies, a sprinkle of dressing and call it a salad. And it's amazingly tasty. I find salads to be one of the most satisfying meals because you can make it into whatever you want. Buffalo chicken salad, burrito salad, tropical salad, hearty veggie salad...you name it. Plus every single bite tastes just a bit different. You get a crouton with one, a protein with another, a bit of a jalapeno there, a bite of cheese somewhere else....how can you go wrong?
So far, the things that I've found go best in salads are 1) frozen/sauteed veggie mixtures 2) any yogurt-based salad: tuna, chicken, salmon 3) shrimp dishes 4) meatloaf-like dishes.
Also, you can portion almost anything into a snack or side and put anything between bread. That being said, that casserole was divvied into 6 portions and I ate each a little differently. The chicken salad was stretched into two types of meals too. It's harder to do the same with leftover ingredients, but not impossible =)
So kids, I hope we learned something today: cook in multiple servings, while you're already in the kitchen, cook 2 dishes. Or if you're REALLY good at multitasking, cook 3 or 4 =)