My creativity with cooking has been slightly challenged, but at the same time made so simple. I at least have an idea what ingredients I have to incorporate into a side or main dish. I have found that in trying to use up canned and packaged ingredients I am best off making a few different sides and purchasing fresh meat as the main course from the grocery store.
One discovery I made that I hadn't tried previously is cooking plain white rice in my rice cooker (one cup rice, one cup water, one can beans). This was great for three meals.
The first meal I cooked this with went with a hot roasted chicken from the grocery store and some mashed potatoes.
The next day I re-heated the rice and beans and cooked a polska kilbasa in the skillet for a few minutes to heat and brown. I opened a can of vegetables and voila a nice quick lunch.
The third meal has not yet actually been cooked and consumed, but certainly planned for. I took the left over rice and beans and put it in a zip lock bag in the freezer. The next time I make chili I am going to add the rice and beans about thirty minutes before I plan to eat. This will be a great time saver and will keep my kitchen clean because I won't have to prepare anything else!
The next major food that I have bought far too much of is pasta. My family is working hard on trying to eat less carbs and bread, so I need to find dishes that use pasta, but don't make it the main feature.
One idea I have is to use up some of the whole wheat lasagna noodles. If you have ever eaten these in lasagna you know they just aren't the same as white enriched pasta noodles. Unfortunately I didn't specify to use the wheat noodles to my husband when he boiled them for me, so I ended up using white for the first time trying it.
I have a recipe invention that is so crazy it just might work:
Lasagna Tacos (serves 8-10)
10 Bratwurst (spicy or Italian, your preference)
20 full-sized lasagna noodles
1 large container of ricotta cheese
2 tbs Italian seasoning (to ricotta if you like extra flavor)
1 jar of spaghetti sauce
2 cups mozzarella cheese shredded
Boil bratwurst in boiling water for 10-15 minutes to cook nearly all the way. At the same time in a different pot, cook lasagna noodles per the directions on the box. After the bratwurst have been boiled, cut them in half lengthwise.
In a small bowl, combine ricotta and 1/3 jar of spaghetti sauce (italian seasoning if desired). Lay out the lasagna noodles and spread the ricotta/sauce mixture evenly on all 20 noodles. After the noodles have been covered, wrap each 1/2 cut bratwust in a noodle by itself like the strip on a candy cane. It is really slippery at this point but after it cooks it will hold together much better.
In a baking dish, just cover the bottom of the pan with spaghetti sauce and position the wrapped bratwurst pasta rolls across the pan. Spread remaining spaghetti sauce on top of the roll-ups and sprinkle the mozzarella cheese across the pan evenly. Bake for 15-20 minutes uncovered in a pre-heated 350 degree oven. I turned mine up to 425 for the last 10 minutes to expedite cooking and it gave the top a nice crisp!
This was a very tasty meal. We will have it again. It was a bit more time intensive than I thought it would be to put together the noodles, ricotta mixture, and wrap the brat within it! Allow 10 minutes for that step.