The Evolution of Dinner

“I hope dinner turns out ok,” I said to my husband just now.

“How could it not?” he asked.  Rarely do I serve yucky food.  I mean, I like to eat, and I like to eat good-tasting stuff.  I really avoid food that doesn’t taste good.  My kids haven’t figured this out fully yet, and still actually turn up their noses at dishes like Apple Crisp.  There is some hope: Fritz has proven that, as they age, they get more daring (or just hungrier) and are willing to actually try different things.  Frequently, he will say something like, “Wow.  This is really good,” in reference to some dish I have been making for 15 years.

But tonight is an experiment in leftovers and things from the pantry.

First off, I had gotten a big pork loin on sale a while ago, and happily served it to a guest this past week.  The loin was huge – over 4 pounds – and we had more than half left over.  We ate some as leftovers, but that gets boring quickly.  I googled “leftover pork” recipes and found lots of stir fry type dishes.  I’ve done that before and wasn’t overly interested.

We also had a lot of mashed potatoes leftover, so I googled “Pork shepherd’s pie” and found a recipe that I used as a base for what is in my oven now.

Although we had a big pile of potatoes, I know that Fritz, who loves mashed potatoes, won’t be thrilled with the shepherd’s pie.  I had to reserve some potatoes from the casserole.  But I didn’t think there were enough potatoes to feed both my teen boy and make the shepherd’s pie.  I do have some more red potatoes, but…I also had two sweet potatoes that I’ve been trying to use up.  They came in the veggie box from a local farm I support.  We’re not huge sweet potato fans here, and my husband, especially, prefers them with tons of brown sugar and other things designed to completely disguise the taste of the sweet potato.  But I decided to risk cooking one and mashing it in with half the regular mashed potatoes to see how that tasted.  It seemed pretty good when I licked the beaters.  We’ll see what he thinks in a little bit.

Next, the recipe mentioned drippings/gravy.  I have a jar of turkey gravy in the pantry that I have had since, probably, Thanksgiving.

“There’s not much difference between turkey gravy and beef or pork gravy, is there?” I asked my husband.

He raised his eyebrows, wondering if, for once, my dinner would disappoint.

Lastly, I have a bag of mixed veggies in the freezer that needs to go.  I managed to get half the bag added in, even though the recipe doesn’t call for anything like that.

Oh, and I used up all my dijon mustard recently, and refuse to buy more until after we move, so I substituted some brown deli mustard I want to get rid of.

And so this is how dinner evolved.  I’m going to go clean the kitchen now and check the oven, and we’ll see how things taste in just a bit.

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6 thoughts on “The Evolution of Dinner

  1. Every night, as I am preparing dinner, my 5 year old son will inevitably wander into the kitchen and ask what I am cooking. I will tell him and then he always asks the same thing…”Do I like it?” I say “yes, you do” and he responds “oh, good!” and runs off. Every night.

  2. Enchilada casserole is one of my favorite ways to get rid of leftovers. Meat, veggies, onions, whatever get stirred with 1 tbs chili powder and 1 tsp cumin (or thereabouts) Then I use canned enchilada sauce and start layering like lasagna but use corn tortillas instead of lasagna noodles. Sauce just to cover bottom of pan. Then corn tortillas (cut if necessary to fit pan) seasoned mixture, and grated cheese (monterey jack, cheddar, or both). Repeat tortilla, mixture, cheese. Top layer is tortilla. Then cover with enough sauce to moisten tortillas. Sprinkle a little cheese on top. Cover with foil and bake until heated through and cheese melts.

  3. Oh man, you can't leave us hanging like this…

  4. So, how did it turn out? Sometimes I think the best meals are those when the cupboard is bare.
    I might have held the turkey gravy for the guys with the mashed potatoes if they wanted gravy. All the rest sounded just fine.
    Two ways I serve sweet potatoes (I'm the only one who eats them). Bake a sweet potato and use soften butter that I add cinnamon to. Left over baked sweet potato that's in refrigerator, slice thin and make sweet potato chips with sea salt – great snack (which everyone eats) Yes, I do fry them in canola oil!

  5. Oh, of course it was good. Only one kid ate it, but Bill and I both had seconds. I really liked mixing the sweet potatoes in the the regular white ones, and Bill ate it, but still prefers his mashed potatoes to be unadulterated. I have also made my usual potato salad using just sweet potatoes or a mixture , and I thought it was great.

    Denise, the enchilada idea sounds good, too. I will have to do that next time. I still have about a pound of pork left…and I already have corn tortillas and a can of green childish I can use.

  6. Oh, of course it was good. Only one kid ate it, but Bill and I both had seconds. I really liked mixing the sweet potatoes in the the regular white ones, and Bill ate it, but still prefers his mashed potatoes to be unadulterated. I have also made my usual potato salad using just sweet potatoes or a mixture , and I thought it was great.

    Denise, the enchilada idea sounds good, too. I will have to do that next time. I still have about a pound of pork left…and I already have corn tortillas and a can of green childish I can use.

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