We love a good challenge. There are times when my husband and I tell each other we have nothing in the house for dinner and it just means we are lazy and/or we feel like ordering. But, most times it is a challenge, kind of like the show Chopped to use what we have on hand to make something tasty! Although we might not want to do this for Sunday Dinners that we hold oh so dear, we have been known to throw together some pretty interesting things just by utilizing what we have.
The best way to start is by walking around your kitchen. Open the fridge, check out the freezer, take a look in the pantry, whatever may be growing in the garden, etc.…. As you do this, pay attention to how certain things might go together. Any favorite flavor combinations? How about something that calls your name when you look at it? If you have macaroni, you can totally do anything. How about tortillas? A burrito filled with whatever you have on hand always is a good easy option as well. Think outside the box, a burrito doesn’t have to have a Mexican flair; macaroni doesn’t have to be an Italian inspired dish; “meatballs” don’t have to be made with meat- think roasted veggies, beans, anything that could be pureed and rolled together!
We often get started by taking inventory of anything we have to use before it goes bad (especially if it isn’t something that can be frozen). Do you have any seafood or meats that need to be used? Usually fresh veggies are considered next. Then work from there. Roasting veggies with olive oil and garlic is a great way to get something that needs to be used at least cooked and then think about where you want to take it from there if you want to take it a step further. Or just use as is on pizza, macaroni, etc.
Yesterday we had mushrooms that needed to be used and open wonton wrappers. I cut some mushrooms up, sautéed with garlic, onions, and fresh tarragon from the garden. Fresh herbs make everything taste better. After this cooled down, we mixed it with grated cheese in a food processor with a little more salt and pepper. The filling for our wonton cups was then ready to go. If we had blue cheese or goat cheese it would have been awesome too.
We sprayed a muffin tin with cooking spray and maneuvered the cups in the tin, spraying again. We cooked these at 375 for only about 3 minutes just to get them a little solid before filling them. Then the mushroomy goodness was spooned into the little cups. You really just want them hot so they won’t need to be cooked too long when you are ready to make them.
This is just an example of ways to use things you have on hand. We are on a tapas kick so kinda like a few appetizer type dishes for a dinner. We love sharing and sampling so it’s perfect for us! I think the more you try to challenge yourself to come up with different ideas, the more natural it comes. And, if you do it with someone else that likes to cook, it really is fun!
Go take a look in your fridge and get cooking!