Sunday, May 31, 2009

Good eats and not so good eats

This weekend has been interesting for the eats.

I'll start with the not-so-good.

And I might make some people really annoyed.

Last night, we found ourselves out and in need of food. We had gone to the mall to get me some maternity clothing that fits (not so easy, but we managed and got some great deals). Having recently found ourselves with some extra money, we figured a dinner out might be in order, since it had been so long.  And so we found ourselves at the Cheesecake Factory.

I'm going to say it right here and now and in public for everyone to see. And for me to remember. Because I keep forgetting. Here it is: I DO NOT LIKE THE CHEESECAKE FACTORY.

There, I said it. I keep forgetting and then I think "well, the menu is so big there has to be something I'll like." And I order something and I don't like it. 

But aside from all the food that I don't like, I hate the conspicuous consumption of it all. Do you really need an appetizer to have the amount of food that should be on a main dish? More even? Do you really need for every meal to be two meals' worth of food? I was sickened by the bill--$50 for the three of us to eat, and no one finished. There's no kid's menu, so you have to order an appetizer for the kiddo to eat anything, or share with an adult. And truth be told, neither option is that great (surprisingly, they are awesome with small children, say 6 months to a year, and provide snacks of bananas and bread for those kids, so it's not like it's intended to be completely unfriendly to kids. They just have nothing appropriately kid-sized. That said, they have nothing appropriately adult-sized either). 

When my chicken sandwich came out, I was actually appalled at how much food was on my plate. Trust me, a chicken sandwich does not reheat well, and I knew I would be eating about half of it. 

At least our $50 paid for two nights' worth of crappy food. Even my son, for whom we got the "sliders" appetizer, didn't really like the burgers, and burgers remain one of his favorite meals. I had heartburn last night, have it again tonight. I spent last night sleeping awash in the stench of garlic, which my husband could not rid himself of no matter what he tried (I look forward to a similar experience tonight). And the kiddo ate a half a hamburger tonight, which is completely unlike him. 

All in all, no one had a particularly good meal, and everyone felt compelled to eat the not-particularly-good meal for a second night in a row, because it was so damned expensive.

I will remember. Never again. We're done with that place. I don't even like cheesecake, and we never get around to ordering dessert anyway.

Now, all that said. Some Good Eats.

Yesterday we went to the farmer's market, and we got strawberries. Now, most of the farms at the market have been selling their strawberries for a few weeks, and they are, no doubt, better than any strawberry you can get in a grocery store. 

But this one place, that grew strawberries for the first time this year, had strawberries for the first time ever yesterday. I tasted one from the "tasting" box, and at first I was confused. This did not taste like a strawberry! So I tasted again. And I realized what it tasted like. These strawberries tasted like STRAWBERRY CANDY. No kidding. It was the sweetest, most delicious strawberry I had ever had in my ENTIRE LIFE. They were small--not the giant things that people think are the awesome strawberries. They were probably under an inch across, and completely red all the way through.

We bought two boxes. As soon as I get this heartburn to stop, I am going to have a bowl full of them, because a bowl full of these strawberries can fix any awful dinner. It's true.

That's it for now. This week I look forward to two things, or rather three things: getting more of those strawberries (hope hope), my farm share starting up on Wednesday, and getting to go to Dinner Zen to make a month of freezer food next Saturday. Wish me the best.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Another Husband Travel Week

I tend to dislike Husband Travel Weeks, not just because I'm home with a toddler without a break, but also because cooking is pretty much cooking-for-one-and-a-half. Let's face it, cooking when single wasn't so much fun, and cooking for one plus a toddler isn't much better. 

We did something of a large staple-shop right before he left, so at least I have some options. This week, thanks to the holiday on Monday, he is gone from Tuesday through Friday. That leaves 4 days of breakfast and lunch and 3 days of dinners for me and the kiddo.

Day 1 was pretty easy. Breakfast was fruit and milk. Then we joined a friend for lunch at McD's (I know, so unhealthy but we were out and it was there). For dinner we had leftover salmon fajitas. Done.

Yesterday, repeat breakfast (the kid likes fruit & milk), and we met another friend for pho at lunchtime. So much for saving money, but truthfully, pho and a spring roll is probably as costly as a meal at McD's. Last night, I had planned to make tacos. They are pretty simple to make, after all, but we had already had fajitas two nights in a row. Instead, I got ambitious and made meatballs.

Now you might not think that meatballs are ambitious. But I'm really not supposed to work very hard right now. Browning meat for tacos? Simple. Mixing/rolling/baking meatballs takes a lot more effort. I may not be on bed rest, but I'm also really supposed to be taking it easy. The only reason we were out of the house at all was for doctor appointments. 

We had gotten 2 pounds of ground beef, and since I had it out, I browned 1 lb of the meat with taco seasonings (we'll eat it tonight). With the rest, I made 16 medium-sized meatballs. The good thing is that between the two of us we ate 5, so there are now 11 in the freezer for next time! I'm fairly certain we'll use about 1/3 of the taco meat tonight, so that's even more for saving in the freezer. 

In the end, I was very tired. But our pasta and meatballs were delicious, we have 11 meatballs in the freezer, and we have enough taco meat for 3 meals without the Husband. And tonight I get to not work so hard on dinner, so that's a win.

Also, the meatballs were delicious!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Salmon Fajitas

Salmon was on sale tonight, and we decided to get a couple of filets for dinner. I started thinking about how we were going to end up wrapping Micah's in a tortilla to make an "egg roll" and it occurred to me that Salmon Fajitas might be awesome. I mentioned it to my husband, who was a bit resistant, but who went along with it for the sake of something new.

Not only was it a winner with the kiddo, but it was a winner with us as well. This is officially on our list of favorites. We ended up with way too much salmon for two adults and a toddler, but I will list the full recipe here since a lot of people cook for a larger family anyway. I, for one, am looking forward to left overs tomorrow. Here's the recipe:

Salmon Fajitas (big ones. They're burritos really when it comes to size :-))
2 salmon filets
1 cup sliced peppers (I use frozen sliced tri-colored. If you do this, defrost them)
1/2 of a large onion or 1 small onion, sliced thinly
1T Smart Balance and 1T olive oil, or 2 of either
juice of 1 lemon
chili powder
Jane's Krazy Mixed Up Salt (or plain kosher salt if you don't have it)

Sour Cream
Shredded Mexican Cheese
flour or corn tortillas of your choice. We gave small ones to the kiddo and used large sized ones for the adults. 

Slice salmon filets into 1/2 inch slices, leaving on the skin, and season with chili powder. Melt Smart Balance with the olive oil in a cast iron skillet, and coat the bottom of the skillet with the mixture. Keep heat on high. Place salmon pieces skin side down.  Add peppers and onions to pan and season with a little more chili powder and some Krazy Salt. Add lemon juice over the whole thing.

Once the skin gets crispy, turn salmon pieces and turn heat down to medium. While the salmon is finishing off, microwave tortillas to soften them. 

We served the salmon/peppers/onions in one bowl, guacamole in another, cheese in a third, and sour cream in a fourth. Everyone made up their own fajitas and the consensus was YUM. Even the toddler kept saying "mmmmmm yummy!" 

Yes, it has fat. But with the exception of the cheese and sour cream, it's all good fats. The salmon has Omega 3's, the olive oil and Smart Balance are all good fats, the avocado is yummy monounsaturated fat. We did use reduced fat cheese and sour cream, but we're not fooling ourselves that this was a low-fat meal! I just wanted to point out that as high-fat meals go, this one was pretty darned healthy. And uh, yeah, really tasty too. 

Bonus recipe: Quickie Guacamole
1 avocado, mashed
1 tomato, diced
1 very small onion (we used the white part of a spring onion), diced
1/2 a jalapeno pepper (take out the seeds if you have a toddler), diced
juice of 1 lime

Combine well in a bowl. Yum.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

How to cook on Bedrest, also, how not to do the Farmer's Market

So I'm on modified bed rest, which completely stinks to high heaven. I'm probably going to go to Dinner Zen to make 24 freezer meals in 2 hours, which will not involve doing any chopping of anything or prep work other than dumping stuff into ziploc bags. (Supposedly you can make 12 meals for 6 people in 2 hours, and you can split them into 2 if you're a smaller family, which we are, so that's 24 meals for 3 in 2 hours. That's doable.) I'm kind of under orders to not do any house work, etc., and with my husband gone for the next week, that's going to be an issue. I'd really love to do Dinner Zen before he leaves, but I'm too late to get in this weekend. Next week is going to be hard. I'm thinking we'll be eating a lot of pasta.

On another note, if you hit the Reston Farmer's Market at 11:00 AM, most of the vendors will be out of the good stuff. We did manage to get a box of strawberries and some spring onions, and the jam lady had some amazing spice mixes so we took her up on one of those (as well as a jar of blueberry jam). Also, we got a dozen eggs from Potomac Vegetable Farm; we'll start our CSA share from them in another week, so this is our last week buying eggs at the market. Other than that, though, most of the good stuff was gone. 

Oh by the way, the jam lady is awesome. Last week when we were so short on cash, I ended up two dollars short to get a small jar of strawberry jam (not even a big one! Gosh we were broke last week). She let me take a large jar and pay her this week. I was so grateful. 

Anyway. We got there so late because I have a prenatal yoga class in the morning at 9:15. So in the future, I guess we'll have to get up early and hit the market before my class. Oh the horror! The good news is that with our farm share, we'll mostly be looking for fruit, meat, and cheese in the coming weeks. Vegetables and eggs will be taken care of through the CSA. 

Speaking of the CSA, we got our instructions for picking up our shares! Apparently I will have to walk either up or down a hill from the car, which is going to be an issue. I may end up having to send the husband to pick up the shares on the way home from work. It's a shame, because I wanted to take the kiddo to see the farm, but I just can't do all that walking. 

It's going to be an interesting 12 weeks.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

The kid likes an egg roll, also, What to Make for Dinner

First of all, the lovely TJ over at In Search of a Minimalist Existence recommends Supercook! and so do I! Like many "what should I make for dinner" sites, you put in the ingredients that you have in the house. Unlike others, it asks you if you also have additional ingredients. A few minutes putting in random spices, meats, and other items into my account brought up over 2000 recipes. (OK, Apples and Cinnamon were on my list so 1/3 of those are desserts!) I'm really happy with how it works so far, and I plan to use it for dinner tonight.

OK, now for the main subject of today's post. How to get the toddler to eat when he decides that everything has to be one thing.

Example. When Micah was about 13 months old, he decided that everything should be a meatball. He didn't expect them to taste like meat, mind you. They just had to be meatball shaped. Of course, at 13 months, he was still mostly eating baby food. So, how to get the baby food into a meatball? We mixed his cereal with veggies, added an egg and some bread crumbs, and made meatballs that we then baked and had ready to go in the freezer. It's all about being creative.

Right now, Micah likes Egg Rolls. They don't have to *taste* like egg rolls. They just have to be some kind of food wrapped in some kind of wrapper. They don't even have to be fried! 

So last night, after going through the refusal-to-eat thing, I suggested that he might want an egg roll. Yes, he wanted an egg roll. Into the fridge I went and returned with a corn tortilla. I wrapped his mango curry chicken in the tortilla and he went to town. 

I don't get it, but it worked. It's worked before. In fact, we've wrapped beef stew, stir fry, and re-wrapped chicken enchiladas that apparently didn't look *enough* like an egg roll for him in the past. 

So I guess when it comes to toddlers, the big idea is to work with the kiddo's crazy ideas and hope that he grows out of them soon!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Turkey Pinwheels = Toddler Lunch WIN

So we're on Day 2 of Turkey Sandwiches for Lunch, and I thought that I might try to make it more exciting for the kiddo.

"Micah, do you want a turkey sandwich?"
"How about a CIRCLE SANDWICH?"
"I help!"


Here's how we made Turkey Circle Sandwiches:

1 burrito sized tortilla, microwaved for 15 seconds
some cream cheese
some turkey
1/2 a tomato, sliced really thinly
a few leaves of spinach

I spread the cream cheese over the tortilla and then let the kiddo have at it placing the turkey, tomato, and spinach. Then he watched as I rolled it up and was fascinated as I sliced it into 7 pinwheel pieces. We shared it--he had 3 and I had 4 (I took the ends since they are less pretty). 

Result? a Fabulous meal. He ate 2 and a half pinwheels and gave me the end of the last one (he is into sharing his last bite for some reason these days). He also requested more tomato and some cheese for dessert, which was fine with me. 

I was rooting for turkey and bacon in the pinwheels but he said no to the bacon, so that was ok. Probably healthier. But I think these would be delicious with a slice or 2 of bacon in the mix in the future. We might even grate some carrots in as well for even more color. 

Monday, May 18, 2009

Money, Food, and a Plain Lunch that Still Works

It's pretty amazing, but no matter how much you may plan, things happen in life that can leave you suddenly wondering, "HOW am I going to feed my family this week?"

For us, it was a grand combination: the tax bill, followed by a sick cat with $1500 in vet bills and counting, a broken Air Conditioner on the hottest day of the year so far, a preschool payment due. It's been a long time since I looked at our bank account and wondered how we'd make it to the next paycheck.

Fortunately, we had freezer meals in the freezer. So at least dinners were mostly taken care of. It may be boring (we were down to 3 packs of pork chops with peppers, 3 packs of curry chicken, 2 packs of stew, and 2 packs of butternut squash soup) but at least we can have dinner. For everything else, I've been selling off some Mary Kay discontinued items at half price for some cash flow. We'll be fine next month. Thank goodness. But it's leaving me thinking that we need to get cheaper somehow, learn to eat and live on a tighter budget in case something like this happens again.

Micah, for one, is used to having pretty awesome meals three times a day, or at the very least two times a day. This week has been a bit of a shock for him, but he's adjusting. We did some shopping for staples for breakfast and lunch yesterday, and turkey was on extreme sale. 

So today for lunch, I made turkey sandwiches, something that, I guess, Micah has never actually had. I gladly cut his into squares as requested, and he immediately became adamant that this is NOT what he wanted. 

Now, we've been having some eating issues at dinner time. If, for example, we put in front of him meat, veggie, carb, he will eat the carb and demand more. We've finally gotten to the point where he knows that if he wants more rice, he has to taste something else. 

Since Turkey Sandwich was creating tears, I went to the fridge and found what I hoped would be my big savior: a 1/4 of a yellow pepper. I sliced it up onto the same plate as his sandwich and watched him go at the pepper. Of course, he finished it, and then turned to the sandwich because he knows now, taste the other thing before you can get more of the thing you want.

Fortunately, the next thing I heard was "Mm, it's good."

Oh thank goodness.

So, Micah's lunch was a 1/2 a turkey sandwich (cut into squares) and some yellow peppers, with water. When he was done he asked for dessert, and he got a small bowl of strawberries. Perhaps not gourmet, but if I've just gotten my kid to appreciate a sandwich instead of a gourmet meal for lunch, I may be saving myself some serious money in the long run.

Tonight, by the way, we're having Pork Chops with Peppers (and onions and tomatoes) and probably some kind of rice or pasta on the side. Like I said, it's nice to have the freezer meals, even if we had the same thing a few nights ago. 

And in the coming weeks I am going to learn about coupons, and getting our weekly bills down as much as possible. I know LOTS of people who never pay full price for anything! I just have to figure out what they do!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

More Recipe Results

Last night, we had the Pork Chops with Good Stuff for dinner, and it worked out Beautifully!  About 40 minutes before dinner time, I put the frozen chops into a baking dish along with all the stuff, and threw it in the microwave to defrost for ten minutes. 

Then, 1/2 hour in the oven on 350 and another 5 probably-unnecessary-minutes at 400, and we had dinner. I served it with cheesy rice on the side, and it was a HUGE hit. The pork was so tender and moist, you'd never know it had been frozen. It didn't feel casserole-like at all because it wasn't! 

It's now on our "must make" list for future months! 

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Recipe Results

Today we tasted the results of two recipes, my dream salad  and the Mango Curry Chicken.

So first, the Mango Curry Chicken results. I remembered at around 4:00 today that I hadn't started anything for dinner, and I decided to take out a bag of the stuff and throw it in the crockpot on high for a few hours. I figured if it was not done by the time we wanted dinner, I could finish it off in a frying pan.

We actually left the house for a short time and when we came back the sauce was bubbling away and the house smelled awesome. We turned it down to low, and I started the rice and salad. (Rice was basmati rice with a little chicken bullion and some saffron threads, which is a great match).

The result? OH MY GOSH soooo good. In the future I would cook it on low for a little longer, because the chicken got a little dry. It seems like the kind of dish that needs to be cooked either very quickly or very slowly, and I'd rather go slowly. So, next time, 4 hours on low instead of 2 on high and I think we'll have an even better meal. But it was fabulous.

Now for the salad.

Yesterday was the farmer's market. They had (1) spinach, (2) strawberries, (3) goat cheese, and (4) Kiss of Kerala jam (which I already had but it was worth noting that I could have gotten it yesterday if I had needed it. 

Adam washed and broke up the spinach. It was something between baby and grown up spinach, and I wanted it a little smaller. I had already bought the almonds so I started them glazing. Once the spinach was ready, I added in the strawberries and cheese, and made the dressing. Altogether, it was really 5 ingredients: the spinach, strawberries, cheese, glazed almonds, and dressing.

Can I just say OMGWTFBBQ. Best Salad In The Universe. Part of it has to be attributed to the cheese, which was from a local farm and must have had real gold in it or something because it was crazy pricey. But worth it. Worth it in a "we have to get to the market early every week now because otherwise we will miss out on that cheese" way. The flavors melded in a way that I can only describe as .... synergistically. I'm so glad I made extra almonds because I think I'm going to eat this salad for every meal until I'm out of spinach. Well maybe not that often. But definitely for lunch tomorrow. 

So yeah, make the salad. Make the chicken. Eat a lot. YUM.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Farmer's Market!!

The Reston Farmer's Market opened today! YAY! 

We did not buy a ton as it was mostly plants for gardening (which I don't generally speaking do) but we did get most of the ingredients for my salad! 

We got spinach, strawberries, eggs, goat cheese, and, uh, maybe that was it. Like I said, not a lot but definitely a good start, and I'll be having my salad TOMORROW. I can't wait. 

The best part about the market was seeing everyone. My friend Mary, who owns one of the farms, is pregnant too. Her first was born right after my first was born, and her second will be born right before my second. How cool is that? The Jam Lady has some new jams this time around. The Honey, meat, cheese, and bread people are all back too.  And of course everyone was out shopping and socializing and having a great time.

What a great morning. So excited for the rest of the summer!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Mango Curry Chicken

I've been meaning to post about my Mango Curry Chicken freezer cooking. I felt weird because I didn't actually cook it yet so I don't know how it came out! But for ease of freezer cooking, you can't beat this recipe.

So here's what makes the recipe so easy. You measure out your spices, mix them up, split them in 2 and dump into 2 freezer bags. Then you cut up your onion and dump into the bags. Then add the store-bought mango chutney to the bags and then the tomatoes. You cut up your chicken, throw it in last, seal it, smoosh everything around, flatten it out as best you can and throw them in the freezer. Easy peasy.

Now, as I had said earlier, I bought a giant package of chicken breasts at BJs. My plan was to make 2 recipes and freeze them for 4 meals.  I figured I'd make 2 one evening and 2 the next, just to make sure that everything went right the first time. So I measured out the spices, chutney, etc., split into the two freezer bags, and opened the package of chicken only to discover OMG MUTANT GIANT CHICKEN BREASTS!!

Yeah, so I didn't need six. I cut up four instead and it was plenty for two meals for three people.

I guess I'm really used to buying organic chicken breasts from Trader Joe's, which are normal sized and where one feeds one person. 

Anyway, the next day I made a second batch, and then I froze the rest of the breasts because I had no plan for them. They will likely become enchiladas. My husband will be home next week so I expect we'll cook up the mango chicken curry while he's here. To cook, you just partially defrost, throw it in a crock pot, and cook on low for several hours. I can't wait.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Two Pork Chop Recipes

We had 12 pork chops from our shopping trip today, and they became 4 meals out of 2 recipes. Three of the same in the freezer and something different for tonight.

First, the freezer recipe:

Pork Chops with "Good Stuff"
I call it "Good Stuff" because of this one time when my friend Maggie came over for dinner. I asked her if she wanted pork chops with applesauce or baked with tomatoes, peppers, and onions. She said, "yeah! Make it with the Good stuff!" Here is my recipe, which makes 3 freezer meals. You can add or subtract pork chops to divide it well for your family.

9 thin pork chops
2 large peppers (I used one yellow and one red but whatever you have), Chopped into chunks
1 very large onion, sliced 
2 cans of diced tomatoes with the liquid
4 cloves garlic, minced
salt, pepper, garlic powder, italian seasoning

Season pork chops on both sides with salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Brown on both sides in a large frying pan (I use a cast iron and it works really well). Once they are browned remove them to a plate. In the same pan, add the onion, peppers, garlic, and tomatoes with their liquid. Add additional salt, pepper, and italian seasoning. Heat through so that flavors mingle well.

To freeze, divide pork chops into freezer bags, and divide the mix into the freezer bags with the pork chops. Be sure to use all of the liquid. We made 3 bags. Freeze flat. 

To finish, defrost a bag of pork chops with good stuff, transfer into a baking dish, and bake at 350 degrees for about 40 minutes.  It goes really well with rice or pasta. 

So I spent some time making that, and had 3 pork chops left over.  So here's that recipe

Oven baked breaded pork chops
I don't usually make breaded anything because it generally involves deep frying, which isn't so terribly good for you. I had a brain storm tonight and tried it, and it worked! 

3 thin pork chops
1 egg + some milk to thin it, mixed well
unseasoned bread crumbs, salt, pepper, garlic powder, paprika, all mixed
1 cast iron pan
cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Place cast iron pan on burner on medium heat and spray with cooking spray
Prepare pork chops by dipping into the egg mix and then into the bread crumb mix. When the pan is hot, add breaded pork chops to the pan. Pan fry for about 5 minutes and flip. Spray the tops with additional cooking spray and transfer to the oven.

After about 2o minutes, flip the pork chops again and return to the oven. Bake another 10 minutes. 

We served this with instant mashed potatoes (yes, I was lazy after all that cooking!) and sauerkraut and olive salad (just take fresh sauerkraut, add chopped black olives and a bit of olive oil, and mix). I had to tell my husband that the pork chops were not deep fried. He never would have known!

Food (and other) shopping trip

We did a BJ's run today. Usually our BJ's runs are boring. Diapers, Cat Litter, Coke Zero, Cereal, and we're out of there. But today we decided that we were going to look for some good food bargains and set me up for making a few freezer meals (I'm going to be going to Dinner Zen with a friend later in the month so I am not doing a full month's worth of cooking at home this month!)

Well, our impetus for this was that we figured pork would be cheap right now (because people are stupid) and boy were we right. So I have a pack of twelve pork chops which are mostly going to become baked pork chops with peppers, onions, and tomatoes. They also had our center-cut bacon, which we usually buy at Safeway for $5/pack. BJ's had them for $10 for a 3-pack so we picked that up, too. Nearby there was some chicken, which probably ended up costing us slightly less than Safeway prices, though I will have to go back and check. 12 boneless, skinless chicken breasts will become mostly mango curry chicken, another freezer meal. We also managed to get some of the other ingredients (onions, peppers, canned tomatoes) fairly cheaply, and I felt like it was a good way to spend much of a rainy afternoon.

We also got diapers. In fact, someone left a $5 coupon for our brand of diapers in the cart that we ended up with, so that was even more of a win! They also had my brand of Orange Juice for about 2/3 of what we regularly pay (I hate orange juice, unless I'm pregnant. Don't ask me why but it's true).  I suspect some of that orange juice might become orange cranberry muffins, since I am still sitting on 1/2 of a giant bag of cranberries in my freezer as well. 

Speaking of which, my freezer is getting filled again, and I haven't even cooked for the month! I must figure something out! My kid loves perogies so I bought a giant bag of them also. I've taken everything out of boxes where possible to save room as well. I think we might just have to come down to buying less ice cream and packaging more in bags and less in casseroles. Or I'm just going to have to get a deep freezer. 

So anyway, my original OAMC plan was changed thanks to Dinner Zen having a fantastic menu this month, but it's all good. I'm getting some done, plus we still have stew, soup, and a baked ziti in the freezer from April. And I really can't wait to try some of the new recipes we'll get!

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Easy Dinner: Trader Joe's Korma Simmer Sauce

We were wandering around Trader Joe's today and I thought to pick up their Korma Simmer Sauce. I am often wary of such sauces as they tend to have peanut ingredients, but I was pleasantly surprised to see that this sauce was made with almond butter instead! Fantastic!

After tossing it in my cart, I noticed that they were actually sampling the product in the store! I gave it a taste and decided it would be dinner.

Now, according to the package, you use it by pan-frying some chicken, adding the sauce and a cup of water, warming through, and serving over basmati rice. We decided that this presented a lack of vegetables. So here is what I did instead:

Prepare basmati rice according to package directions (I also added a small amount of bullion and 2 pinches of saffron)

In a handy Pampered Chef Covered Baker, throw in 2 chopped stalks of celery, 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (frozen), and about 1/3 of a bag of frozen tri-colored pepper strips. Microwave covered for 10 minutes. Remove from microwave, chop chicken, return to baker. Add the whole jar of sauce and a little less than a cup of water (there was already be liquid at the bottom of the baker, so I estimated how much water was needed to bring it up to one cup total in addition to the sauce) Return to microwave and cook for 5 more minutes. Serve over rice. 

It was extremely good. In all it took less than 20 minutes to prepare and that is because the chicken was frozen. We are all quite full right now and expect to try this again on a busy weekday evening some time. Delicious.