Before moving on to Switzerland and the “Travel Tales”, I thought I would take a moment to acquaint you with what I’ve been up to since returning from my break. Unfortunately, upon my return, the weather has been less than ideal most days. Yet, life continues to flourish as the trees have just starting to grow back their leaves and color is returning to the world once more.
Academically, my schedule is winding down. In fact, I only have two classes a week to attend at this point! I have been working on papers – one down, two to go – and will have two exams, as well. But come May 23, I will be done! So what have I been doing with all of this free time (when not writing those papers, of course)? The answer may not surprise you…at all. Cooking! Yes, I’ve had more time to plan out my meals, and my travels truly inspired me to use more fresh foods. So I documented some of the meals I’ve been making, most of them quick and easy, to share!
Upon my first grocery shopping excursion when I returned, I picked up some zucchini, an eggplant, fresh tomatoes, peppers, and the usual slew of fruit. Once I bought those, I needed to find a way to use them – namely the eggplant and zucchini. (Did you know that eggplant is referred to as “aubergine” here and zucchini is called “courgette”?) Here’s the first meal of which these veggies were put to good use:
Now my sister discovered a few years ago how great Dijon or honey mustard work in a quesadilla; it was a stroke of genius and I would recommend trying it! A little goes a long way, but I decided to spruce up my quesadilla even more by adding some sauteed eggplant and zucchini slices. So we have mozzarella and cheddar cheese (while I’d normally use others, the choices are rather limited at the moment), a thin layer of Dijon mustard coating one half of the tortilla, and then the sauteed vegetables spread around on the cheese. Cook for a few minutes, flipping it over, and voila! The outcome? A success, I’d say! Though simple, it added just that little bit more to make lunch a little more special.
The next meal featuring our key ingredients of the week was a simple pasta dish, basically like a noodle stir fry. I had decided to boil the chicken I had left over from making some chicken salad the previous week. So one of these precooked half of a chicken breast was tossed in a pan with some cut up slices of eggplant, zucchini, red and yellow bell peppers, and a dash of olive oil, salt, and pepper.
After a few minutes, I added some sweet chili sauce to the pan. I had happened upon this small packet of sauce quite perfectly at the beginning of my grocery trip. After another minute or so of mixing these ingredients together and letting the sauce get hot, I tossed it all in the pot with some cooked and drained spaghetti noodles.
Then, after mixing and adding a dash more sauce, I heaped some onto a plate. I grabbed some (fresh!) bread from the small loaf I had also purchased and ta-da! A perfectly easy, cheap, and wholesome meal.
Finally, for this post at least, do you recall ever eating “rice bowls” (of Uncle Ben’s creation, I believe)? My sister, in particular, always loved getting those when the parents went out – it was the step up from the t.v. dinners (yes the kind with the awesome penguin who sometimes played hockey in the freezer aisle). Well the leftover sauce and thoughts of those days gone by had me inspired.
By the time I had gotten back from Stratford-upon-Avon, it was already 8:30 when I got to cooking. The great thing was that I had some leftover boiled chicken in the fridge, plain rice, and all the colorful leftover vegetables I needed. I diced up more of “the stars” of today’s post as well as more of the red and yellow pepper while the rice cooked on the stove. Once more I cooked these in a little bit of olive oil before added the sweet chili sauce to the skillet. Once tossed and warm, I combined this by scraping it all into the rice pot and mixing. It turned out a little something like this:
My homemade rice bowl was perfect after a long day of exploring. I even decided to take it easy and watch some British cooking shows (one featuring some greedy Italians , the other bake-enthusiast bikers) as I enjoyed my warm, simple, and happy memory inducing meal.
Well readers, that’s it for now but you can expect another update like this soon! There is much more to tell, which includes some more recipes, but also some non-food related things such as my first official night out in Brighton! And we can’t forget the day trip to the Isle of Wight, either. But I hope you’ve enjoyed this post and maybe find some inspiration yourselves to cook with some fresh ingredients. And then I’ll look forward to hearing about these new ideas! I hope you’re all having a wonderful week so far. Thanks for reading, cheers! Until then…