Marriage Artifacts…First Meals

I love discovering artifacts, don’t you?  

This was a post first written when I returned from our honeymoon, almost a year ago.  Before I decided to write this blog and before I even knew what culinary adventures and misadventures would be fired off.  I’ve kept most of it the same – save some atrocious grammatical or spelling fixes. Enjoy!!

Written July 2013 

First, we just got married.  Yay!  Had an amazing weeklong honeymoon in the NC Mountains. Yay!  Returned home and to reality.  Uh, Boo.

Grateful our trip home was easy, packing/unloading/re-vamping the homestead was only slightly nails-on-chalkboard painful.  However, my biggest challenge was in the form of the innocent – Dinner.

Raise Curtain

Husband:  (ALL too kind and encouraging)

“Wow, honey! Our first dinner at HOME!

Wife: “Oh…GREAT!!!”

True Wife: (aside) CRAP! THIS kitchen is EMPTY!

WHAT TO DO?!

(Curtain Crashes to the Ground for Dramatic Effect)

I was SUPER-SMART when we left and used up ALL leftovers, made sure all possible items which might spoil were cleaned out of refrigerator, and essentially left an immaculate kitchen even the Virgin Mary would be proud to walk into.

Well, semi-immaculate. But that is for another day. I digress…

We both tried the grinning assurance and encouragement cheer.  He was so helpful, just like a good coach – “It’s ok, we can just use what is available.”  Sigh.  Uh, how do I explain this?  There is N-O-T-H-I-N-G!  My usual cornucopia of Farmer’s Market veggies were all used up, my bounty of sauces and spices and herbs were “in limbo” (frozen!)

Translation: I had given most away since we would be gone AND in a philanthropic moment wanted to “share” my cuisine of wealth.  Smooth move, girl.

However, thank the Lord for the foresight and lovely invention of a freezer.  I went on a cold, Arctic trek and discovered a bag of “fabu freeze-ahead chicken” (or so it said on the label) PLUS rescued a half-filled bag (no freezer burn!) of Gumbo Vegetables.  A quick Google search yielded my favorite words Ridiculously Easy Vegetable Gumbo and we were in business.  Score.

I also managed in my dashing effortlessly (NOT!) around the kitchen defrosting, prepping, and cooking to channel one of our new FAVORITE restaurant’s dishes at Wicked Weed Brewing and roasted a few chickpeas to liven things up.

First Dinner as a Married Couple – Or, as I will affectionately refer:

Honeymoon Hungover Goulash:  Easy-Peasy Freeze-Ahead Fabu Chicken w/ Roasted Chickpeas and Vegetable Gumbo…

Ridiculously Easy Vegetable Gumbo (from The Fat Free Vegan Kitchen)

Ingredients

  • 2 cups Cajun-style Mirepoix onion-pepper-celery blend (roughly equal parts of each)
  • 2 12-ounce packages frozen vegetable gumbo mix or other mixed vegetables
  • 1 15-ounce can diced fire-roasted tomatoes
  • 1 15-ounce can kidney beans (1 1/2 cups), rinsed and drained
  • 1 15-ounce can chickpeas (1 1/2 cups), rinsed and drained
  • 4 cups water
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • 1 teaspoon smoked hot paprika or cayenne to taste
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce or wheat-free tamari
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 servings vegetable bouillon (enough to flavor 2 cups of water)
  • 1/2 teaspoon granulated onion
  • 1/2 teaspoon filé powder, optional
  • 1/2 teaspoon hickory salt or other smoked salt
  • salt and hot sauce to taste

Instructions

  1. Heat a non-stick stock pot and sauté the onion, pepper, and celery over medium heat until completely thawed (if frozen) and softened. Add all remaining ingredients EXCEPT the filé powder and hickory salt. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until vegetables are tender, about 40 minutes, adding extra water as needed to form a thick stew. Add filé powder and smoked salt and adjust seasonings as needed, adding salt and hot sauce to taste just before serving.
  2. Serve alone or over rice or other grain with additional hot sauce.

Preparation time: 2 minute(s) |Cooking time: 45 minute(s)

Number of servings (yield): 6

Nutrition (per serving): 239 calories, 13 calories from fat, 1.6g total fat, 0mg cholesterol, 1071.6mg sodium (mostly from canned beans and bouillon), 547.4mg potassium, 47g carbohydrates, 12.2g fiber, 4.9g sugar, 11.6g protein, 6.9 points.

 

Link to http://blog.fatfreevegan.com/2012/01/ridiculously-easy-vegetable-gumbo-and-cooking-from-your-pantry-and-freezer.html 

The chicken is like its title:  Step 1: Easy. Step 2: Peasy. Step 3: Eat.

Take 2 Chicken Breasts + Dash of Herbs + (Oil/Marinade/Tamari/Broth/Sauce) X (Good Faith x “Sling Action” into a Ziploc Freezer Bag) =Freeze-Ahead Fabu Chicken 

AND

Roasted Chickpeas w/ Spices (aka attempt at Wicked Weed Brewing’s Roasted Chickpeas)

– 1 can of chickpeas (you can be all FANCY w/ FRESH or dried prepared; however, I gave up the ghost this time…see above about Honeymoon Hungover*)

– Assorted spices (basil/oregano/garam masala/cayenne/chili powder/cumin/cilantro…the world of spices – and what’s in your garden or spice rack – is ruled by YOU)

– Coconut/Grapeseed/Olive Oil (You choose your own adventure here! I am loving the coconut best at the moment)

Drain chickpeas and begin to sauté oil and some spices in pan on stove.  Don’t burn.  Add chickpeas.  Feel free to exclaim your kitchen fabulousness with a “BAM!” or “KAPOW!” if you want to be like Emeril or Wonder Woman at this stage. Saute in oil until the little darlings turn a toasty, darker color and crisp up.  Be careful to not overcook.  This is one of those “watch and wait” dishes.  It also helps to taste test – just don’t burn your fingers sampling!  The result is a nutty aromatic scented kitchen and a hungry throng of adoring public cheering your name in the stadium (or one starving husband in the living room yelling, THAT SMELLS FANTASTIC!)

Despite my grousing, the meal was a success.  The only mistake I made was tossing the chickpeas in the chicken sauce at the end.

1) I was a little too FREE with the cooking spirit and thought I had been crowned “Emeril-a” or “Nigella”– SO, I had to “rinse” them a bit since they soaked up the delish sauce and were a little salty generous.  yuck.  Once rinsed and a little lemon juice, solved and served.

(Thankfully, fixed AND as a bonus round I didn’t maim my new husband with pre-meditated high blood pressure)

Check!  Now, on to planning the next menu…

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