Friday, October 2, 2009
Sausage and White Bean Casserole and Two Buck Chuck to the Rescue
What a week. So glad it's almost over. Yesterday was a rough one. By the end of the day I found myself at Trader Joe's, Two Buck Chuck in hand, blankly staring at the freezer case looking for something heat and eat.
I chose the Mandarin Orange Chicken because I knew I had some rice and broccoli at home to make it a complete meal without much effort. I also picked up roasted red peppers and pumpkin butter - my TJ's staples. Oh, and peanut butter pretzels because, in a moment of weakness, salty crunchy goodness sounded like a fantastic idea.
"You've bought five of our most popular products," register dude informed me.
"Oh, I did?" I asked.
"Yeah, people actually buy 10 bags of the Mandarin Orange Chicken at a time. It's really good," he promised.
At that point in my day I didn't really care what it tasted like, I just wanted hot food that didn't take much effort. But I was glad others liked it. Always a bonus if it tastes good.
By the time I actually heated it up and ate it, I realized I'm nothing like "most people." It just didn't rock my world. It was just fried nuggets of chicken with some thin, somewhat flavored sauce. Not my most favorite by a mile, and certainly not good enough to buy TEN bags.
But it certainly passed the hot food that didn't take much effort test. If anything, that's a reason to keep some around. The Two-Buck Chuck on the other hand — oh how I love thee. And the pb pretzels? You were the salty crunchy goodness I craved. If I was feeling more gluttonous I would have slathered extra peanut butter on you.
Has anyone else tried this Mandarin chicken from TJs? What didja think? The reviewers on this site mostly raved. I tend to think they've just never had good Chinese takeout.
Anyhow, even though yesterday wasn't exactly my finest nutritional moment, Wednesday I made this Sausage and White Bean Casserole dish that was really just beans and greens with a turkey sausage link. Yum, yum, yum.
It was hearty, fallish and tasty — exactly what I've been craving this entire gloom-tastic week. Next time, though, I might remove the sausage from the casing and cook it, crumbling as I go, then add in the beans and such.. and simmer it down with a little chicken stock on the stove top rather than throwing it in the oven.
I kept wishing the beans had just a hint more of sausage flavor. The other way to accomplish more sausage flavor would be to use a regular sausage that would let off more fat when you brown them up. But that's not exactly the healthy route. Crumbling the sausage would also allow you to use less if you're so inclined. (I'm not.)
Don't have swiss chard or just scared of it in general? Use spinach or any other green for that matter. I used the chard, though, because they had some good-looking organic rainbow chard at the store this week.
Today's another nasty weather day, so I'm thinking tomato soup and grilled cheese for dinner tonight.
Do you have a favorite rainy day meal?