Saturday, November 16, 2013

Sunday Supper

Different people have different Sunday dinner traditions. There's the classic roast and potatoes with Grandma and company. Or the milder fancy dinner without all the crazy extended family (note: my extended family is not crazy--well, not too much, but they all live far away). And then there are the people who try to keep it simple, so they have a soup night or a breakfast-for-dinner. Kip and I land in a strange and wonderful place in the middle. When we get home from church (at the odd hour of 2:00 pm) we feed our kids a quick lunch and then tuck them away into quiet time while Kip and I eat a nice meal together. People, it's the BEST THING EVER. We started doing this when Mark and Elizabeth were young and picky (now they're older and picky) because I just wanted a meal where I didn't have to listen to people whine about how they didn't like this and didn't like that. But at this point it has evolved into a peaceful, grown-up, even (gasp) slightly romantic thing to do. Kip and I talk. We eat at a clean table. Usually no one spills milk on the floor. (If they do, they clean it up themselves and don't burst into a puddle of tears and whining.)

Then later that night when people get hungry, I usually make popcorn (a tradition I stole from a friend) and smoothies. Sunday dinner (alone and quiet) and then popcorn and smoothies (easy and fun) is one of the few things I enjoy just about every single week. The only slight problem with it is that occasionally by the time I've made a nice meal for me and Kip I'm a little pooped. Oh, I still enjoy it, but it's nice when I have recipes that are easy and awesome. 

So here you go. 

My friend (the same one, incidentally, who has the popcorn tradition) introduced me to this meal. Her friend introduced it to her. He made it every Sunday. And never got bored. Why? Because you can make it with different ingredients and spices every single time and it's still awesome. When I first had it (the pepper, onion, sausage version scooped out with corn chips--oh, man), I had already eaten, but just couldn't stop--it was so good.

Here's what you do:
-You take vegetables and sometimes meat or beans. You cook that up in a skillet and then you throw in a block of cream cheese and a small can of diced tomatoes with juices. You can eat it alone or with chips or rice or probably even on pasta or wrapped into a tortilla. I just can't stress enough how versatile and delicious it is. 

So far I've made three versions: 
1. Chicken, corn, and spinach (plus cream cheese and tomatoes)

2. Onion, red pepper, and sausage (plus cream cheese and tomatoes)

3. Mushroom and spinach (plus cream cheese and tomatoes)

All were incredible. Just incredible (although I did wish for a little meat in my meatless version). The first time I made it I also sauteed some peppers and asparagus for myself (Kip doesn't like those things) and placed them on top of my dish. I'll be darned if I didn't feel like I wasn't sitting down at a fancy restaurant. 

It makes for a perfect leftover meal to use things up you've got. But from scratch it's just as easy. It's a whole food meal that takes 20 minutes. You could mix meats. You could add fresh herbs. You could throw in a handful of beans. You could use Rotel instead of tomatoes to add some heat. It's just really the perfect anything recipe. And if you double it it can feed a crowd.

Here's the template with examples of the real life things I used for my two favorite versions:

Sunday Supper
serves 4
Cook and prep time: 20-30 minutes
Cost: $5.00
cream cheese: 1.00, tomatoes: 1.00, meat: 1.50-2.00, vegetables: 1.00-2.00)

Cheapskate tip: Cream cheese freezes pretty well (if you're going to cook it after you thaw it; it's a little wonky after you thaw it if serving it raw--then you'd probably want to beat it to get the consistency back to normal). I buy a bunch when it's .99 and freeze it. 

olive oil--just a bit
2 C vegetables (1 pepper, 1 onion OR 1 cup corn, 1 C spinach--chopped)
1 C meat (1/4-1/2 pound of sausage OR 1 large chicken breast--diced or shredded)
8 oz cream cheese
1 15-oz can diced tomatoes with juice (I like it especially with Italian seasoned tomatoes)
seasonings as needed or wanted

Heat oil. Add meat if it's raw. Cook. (Take meat out and set aside.) Add vegetables to pan. Cook until they've softened. If using a green like spinach, wait until everything is almost cooked and then throw it in. 

Add meat back to veggies. Add a block of cream cheese (it helps if you chop this into cubes). When it's melted, add the can of tomatoes (juice and all). This will loosen up the cream cheese to make it saucier. Heat.

Taste. Add salt and pepper if needed (it'll depend a little on your meat--sausage is saltier for example).

Then serve. I really like it over rice. I also really like it with some good tortilla chips. But seriously, any type of grain will likely work with it.  

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