Many of the foods you buy to store, prepare and consume at home are packaged.
Think about it. That pound of butter comes in four sticks, each wrapped in waxed paper, marked off in eight tablespoon portions. The wrapped sticks are in a colorful cardboard box.
Ready-made, dried spaghetti noodles are in either a box or clear, sturdy plastic that allows you to see the product.
How about cans? My pantry has stacks of them along with bottles, aseptic packaging (waxed heavy cardboard boxes with spouts or heavy plastic pouches), jars, bags (think flour, sugar, rice), and boxes of dry goods (cereal, crackers, cake mixes).
If you’re like me, as dinner time approaches your head is into meal prep. The packaging that’s between you and the food you’ll prepare and serve is a minor nuisance to be disposed of as soon as possible (hopefully in a recycle bin).
Do you ever take time to read what’s written on your packaging? The nutritional info alone is an eye opener. I watch my serving sizes, as well as percentages per serving of carbs, for example, so I’m used to glancing at labels for that.
What I sometimes fail to remember is that a lot of that pesky packaging holds pure gold in the form of recipes. It’s reasonable to assume the companies who make all that food available want you to come back and keep buying their products. Therefore, recipes that food experts are paid to come up with to promote specific products are going to taste good and leave you wanting more.
I recently had the opportunity to remind one of my daughters that the recipe for my southern-style dumplings (as in “Chicken and Dumplings”) is printed right on the Bisquick box — technique and all. And it’s the best.
That package of butter I opened not long ago had two recipes printed on the inside of the box. Here’s some pure deliciousness from Land o’ Lakes.
Warning: there’s a ton of fat here. The way to enjoy a dish like this is in reasonable portions, with a big green salad or sliced raw vegetables.
CREAMY PARMESAN PASTA
(Recipe from Land O Lakes. Suggestions from mom)
12 ounces uncooked dried gemelli pasta
2 tablespoons salted butter
3 cups broccoli florets
1 cup whipping cream
1/4 cup salted butter
1 cup finely shredded Parmesan cheese
6 ounces cooked chicken strips
1/2 cup chopped cooked bacon
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
shredded Parmesan cheese for garnish, if desired
Cook pasta in 4-quart saucepan according to package directions. Drain; return to saucepan. Keep warm.
Melt 2 tablespoons butter in 10-inch skillet over medium heat until sizzling; add broccoli. Cook, stirring occasionally, until crisply tender (4 to 5 minutes).
Meanwhile, place whipping cream and 1/4 cup butter in a 1-quart saucepan. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring frequently, until butter is melted. Stir in Parmesan cheese until melted and smooth (5 to 6 minutes). Remove from heat.
Pour Parmesan sauce over pasta; add broccoli, chicken, bacon and garlic salt. Gently stir until well mixed. Spoon into serving dish. Sprinkle with additional Parmesan cheese, if desired.
Makes eight servings (1 cup each).
Tweaks: Vary the green veggies; add 1/2 teaspoon of your favorite herb; slow-cook the chicken for tenderness; switch fresh garlic for the garlic salt.
Linda Conway Eriksson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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