Sometimes I get inspired by my parents’ cooking, sometimes I watch a Tasty video on Facebook, but very rarely do I venture out of my comfort zone and really get creative with my recipes. This week I forced myself to use the bottom-of-the-barrel groceries in my kitchen and make a recipe from my own imagination. It was a scary task, and the whole time I kept thinking, “God, this is going to be terrible and I have just wasted all this food.” In the end, I made two dishes that I am pretty proud of and would likely recreate again.
Breakfast Carbonara (serves 2):
1 8-oz tub of cream cheese (non-whipped preferable)
2 take-home cups of salsa roja from Super Cuca’s
¼ tsp. of your favorite hot sauce
Pinch of red pepper flakes
Leftover pulled pork or bacon (for toppings)
Start by boiling your noodles until a perfect al dente. Leave them resting in the water until needed. At the same time, put your leftover pulled pork and a light drizzle of olive oil into another pot and turn the heat up high. Cook the pulled pork for roughly 5 minutes or until crispy. Remove the pork from the pan and place it on a paper towel to remove extra grease.
In the same pot that the pork was cooked in, take your cream cheese, salsa, hot sauce and red pepper flakes and turn the heat up to medium, stirring constantly until you have a light orange and smooth cream sauce. Add 2 tbps. of olive oil and mix until homogenous.
Once the sauce is ready you can remove a serving or two of your noodles and stir them into the cream sauce mixture until the noodles are evenly coated and warm.
While allowing the noodle to sit in the sauce for each serving, you should prepare a sunny-side up egg, ensuring that the yolk stays runny and intact.
To serve, plate a serving of the noodles and top with the crispy pork. Serve with a sunny-side up egg. When eating, break the yolk and mix with the pasta for a rich velvety sauce, and enjoy.
The recipe had a nice heat to it and the pork and egg really pulled it all together. I happened to use whipped cream cheese, which caused my sauce to separate much more quickly, but the flavors all worked well together. However, don’t try and eat this recipe without the egg; it is a key element of the dish, and the sauce is much too rich to be consumed without that extra element.
Cream of Broccoli Cheesy Chicken with Roasted Potatoes (serves 2):
2 skinless chicken thighs
½ cup cream of broccoli soup
¼ cup cheddar cheese (cubed and shredded) or more to taste
Handful of sundried tomatoes
2 cloves garlic
Salt and pepper
Paprika and garlic powder
5-7 small potatoes
Begin this recipe by seasoning your chicken with salt, pepper, paprika and garlic powder. Then, place it in a hot pan with a drizzle of olive oil. Allow it to cook almost all the way through.
While waiting for your chicken, chop up your onion and garlic. Once the chicken is nearly cooked through, add the sundried tomatoes, onion and garlic into the pan. Allow the chicken to keep cooking. Once finished and browned, add in a ½ cup of cream of broccoli and a ¼ cup of cubed cheese. Stir often and bring heat down to a simmer. Keep cooking until the chicken is perfectly cooked through and all the cheese has melted.
For the potatoes, cut them into quarter wedges and blanch them until they just start to turn soft. Place the drained potatoes in a sauté pan with a hefty drizzle of olive oil and salt, pepper, paprika and garlic. Cook until your desired texture; some people prefer them mushy and soft, others prefer them crispy. Whichever you choose, they should be packed with flavor.
To serve, plate chicken with a hefty topping of the extra sauce and shredded cheese on top for an extra bite.
The potatoes were okay. I preferred them crispier, but due to time constraints I had to make a sacrifice. The chicken, however, was stupendous. The flavors worked well together, the cheese added just the right amount of guilty pleasure and the chicken remained incredibly moist. This recipe could be translated into any creamy soup you have on hand and works well for all seasons.
I encourage you to ignite your inner chopped champion and take those random groceries you’ve had for a while and make something you can be proud of. Although these weren’t the most impressive meals I have ever manifested, they came entirely from me and I still enjoyed eating them very much. This is a time in your adult life when you can experiment and figure things out, and hey, if your meal ends up tasting like garbage, there’s always pizza.