Mixing Up Flavor Combinations: Three Changeable Dishes
It's easy to fall into a routine when making dinner, to the point where you find yourself making the same things every week. You can change things up by switching out ingredients. Lately, I've realized that I keep making the same low-maintenance dishes over and over again. I could learn how to cook different things, or I could use different flavors; I chose the latter. The following is what I currently have to offer in my current situation.
The surprise is what you put in it. I use Four Cheese Ragu, though you can use any brand or variety of cheese sauce. I also use Purdue Shortcuts, specifically the grilled chicken, but it's up to you. Any type of macaroni is fine, but I've found that shell pasta meets my needs perfectly. You can also add any type of vegetable, canned or otherwise. I prefer peas. A popular dish to make is chicken alfredo with broccoli, which is great. However, it can get boring after a while, so you can change it up with different ingredients. As stated, I make either what I like to call chicken mac and cheese or macaroni and peas. I suppose you could add meatballs and mixed vegetables to macaroni and cheese for a sort of Hamburger Helper cheeseburger mac, only better for you because of the vegetables. The standard spaghetti and tomato sauce with sausage and/or meatballs is an all-time favorite, but I hope the chicken/cheese/vegetable combo will give it a run for its money. I couldn't decide between the two at Olive Garden, and they even serve them pot pie style. Speaking of which...
Stir Fry Pot Pie
Stir fried vegetables (standard fare for a high school cooking class) is a dish that can also be boring. In a style reminiscent of Shepherd's Pie, you can use the stir fried veggies as filling in between two layers of mashed potatoes. It's more interesting than serving the potatoes as a side dish (not that I don't love a good potato salad, especially when combined with egg salad). If you are adept at stir frying meat in addition to vegetables, it's even more like a pot pie. I have yet to determine whether or not boiled vegetables would be just as good. For you non-vegetarians, take a bowl of mashed potatoes, add gravy, breakfast sausage (for best results, the same flavor sausage as the gravy), and shredded cheese. You will get a savory dish that's just as good.
Grilled Cheese Pizza
Put your favorite pizza toppings between two slices of cheese, grill yourself a sandwich, and deliciousness will follow. Previously, I'd only tried it with bacon, tomato, or pickles. However, I recently tried it with pepperoni since I like pepperoni bread so much. It was almost the same thing. You can put anything between two slices of bread, depending on what you like. It's like making your own paninis if you don't own a panini press. Grilled cheese is a favorite comfort food, and anyone can make it. Don't forget to pair it with whatever soup or other side that you want. And maybe check out The Whey Station.
So there you have it: three dishes that I make over and over but not always in the same way. I apologize for naming specific brands or restaurants, but doing so seemed appropriate. Quality ingredients are the building blocks for quality meals. Experimentation should be encouraged, especially as people's tastes tend to change as they age. Keep it fresh!