Last night my son -- he moved into our building as part of his nefarious plot to never buy groceries again -- came in from work and announced that he was over whatever bug had plagued him for days and he was hungry.
I have 16 credit hours and a job, and all my classes are Monday through Thursday. I wasn't really planning on cooking so much as I was planning on having them fend for themselves. But I'm a Mom, his Mom, first and foremost, so I fed the boy.
I went into the kitchen with no idea what the hell I was going to make, I just started cooking. I started with a Near East Rice Pilaf -- Garlic and Herb, to be exact, and I cooked it in the automatic rice cooker. If you don't have one of these, get one. It will change your life at least as much as the Shins.
While the rice cooked, I looked in the fridge and on the shelves. I had quite an assortment of veggies...I decided that I would bake chicken and rice and veggies, and that it would be hearty enough to fill him up yet not too rich and heavy after he had been feeling puny for a few days.
Now, I try to keep my life simple. So I pretty much always have chicken breast marinating in some sort of acid-based dressing, because it keeps for days and just gets more flavorful the longer it soaks. But I also pick up a rotisserie chicken in the deli at Price Chopper when they have a special, and it just so happened that I had one of those in my fridge as well. While I chopped veggies, Tom cleaned most of the white meat from the breasts and put it aside for me.
I started by ever-so-slightly steaming a couple of cups of cauliflower, and while it steamed I sauteed half an onion, three stalks of celery, twelve baby bellas and half a yellow bell pepper in one tablespoon each of butter and olive oil. I chopped a couple of cups of broccoli into smallish florettes and left them raw.
When the rice was almost done, I put it in the bottom of a deep, covered baking dish and spread it evenly, and in a large mixing bowl I combined the raw broccoli, a can of water chestnuts (drained), the sauteed veggies, the steamed cauliflower and the chicken breast that I had chopped into cubes. After thoroughly mixing the chicken and veggies, I covered the rice with the mixture.
Then I set that aside while I made the sauce...
Three cups of veggie broth
Three tablespoons corn starch
two tablespoons of cream cheese
dash of soy sauce
Thicken the broth with the corn starch, blend in the cream cheese to make it creamy and the soy to add salt and a tiny bit of color. Pour the sauce over the veggies and rice and bake for about a half hour at 325-350. The objective is to get it hot through, and for the sauce to barely boil, but the veggies to be hot but remain slightly crisp.
It was one of those necessity-as-mother-of-invention meals that turned out better than I anticipated and I will definitely make again, and before I was finished with dinner I was kicking myself for not taking a picture.