Foodie Friday- Skillet Supper

Meat and Greens

Growing up, Mom made something she would call Skillet Supper. Usually it was a way to use up leftovers, or maybe just throw something together really quick with shelf stable ingredients. I find myself questioning now, what makes something a skillet supper? When I started this job we would have a Saute of the Day in the employee dining room and the buffet. In a lot of ways those were similar to the  things we had growing up. Maybe it would have some pasta or some rice. Maybe some veggies or some sauce. Maybe it would have some beans or maybe the beans were what got thrown in so it would have some sauce. If you look at them from the point of view that Skillet Supper is something done to use up leftovers and a saute basically got prepped as needed and is a coherent mix of things that could be chosen from it starts sounding like a capsule wardrobe…. And that doesn’t sound appetizing.  Obviously I need more sleep before I try writing these things.

Anyway, if you have a fairly standard set of things you wind up with for leftovers, and you keep some basic foods in the pantry, you have a wide array of options for your next Skillet Supper…. And if it was standard-ish on what you had you could maybe have a base set of sautes you could schedule into your meal plan rather than the way I learned to do Skillet Suppers with a hope and a prayer that they would turn out yummy.

If you have been on my Instagram for very long you probably realize that I do this a fair bit with odds and ends I got from marked down produce. Mom would often throw chili beans or baked beans in the pan with some rice…. Maybe mushrooms if my brother was gone that night. Back then I was a vegetarian, so I honestly don’t know if they ever had meat in them, and if she added that it was at the end(after mine was pulled out).  My guess is that she started with beans and rice so that there was a complete protein and then didn’t worry about meat.

What the kids and I have done the last few years  that would fit  this concept of a formula of ingredients would be Meat and Greens.  The meat we start with might be pepperoni, or salami, or pork chops (I am making this for the first time this year tonight with chicken, previously we would often use pepperoni, but it also has pork and wouldn’t be in our normal choices now).  Julienne some onion, and toss that in.  I used to also use butter with the meat and onions as well.  Tonight I am using rendered chicken fat.  Throw in some cut up root veggies. Carrots, turnips, potatoes, sweet potatoes are all good.  After that stuff is all heated up and most of the way cooked through you toss the stems of your greens in, and then a minute or two later (or whenever you get them cut down) you add the strips of kale, collards, turnip greens, swiss chard, or whatever other greens you have on hand to the pan and let them get wilted down.  Salt/Pepper as desired and serve.

Buttery Ranch Brussel Sprouts with Mushrooms and Onions
Buttery Ranch Brussel Sprouts with Mushrooms and Onions

The other night I didn’t have the kids and I made one that was a take on my Buttery Ranch Brussel Sprouts that I had been working on as an alternative to the Bacon and Brussels recipe that got my kids to finally eat Brussel sprouts that weren’t coated in some sort of yellow sludge out of a box.  I did the Brussel sprouts the way I had been, but then tossed in mushrooms and onions to go with it.  This did change the flavor quite a bit, but that very well may have been because I used way more mushrooms than I probably should have.

You might notice a trend that I don’t really have the rice, beans, or pasta in there like my Mom did.  Over the years I have occasionally made things that could fall in the Skillet Supper category with these ingredients, and my kids just really don’t care for them.  Now maybe I should have listened to them sooner, but we are eating a lot less rice these days, and pasta pretty much went away with the gluten free thing.  We will still have the occasional bit of pasta with spaghetti sauce, but since it just isn’t the same and for the last few years I hadn’t been able to find a GF spaghetti I liked, we went with Penne pasta and the little spirally one whose name I don’t remember.  I don’t know if this was because of the urging from so many doctors to go paleo, or if we just quit fixing that type of stuff, and maybe it was both.  Either way, I know that I feel better the less I eat grains…. processed or not.  I still do, but if I can pair meat and veg and be satisfied, that is usually our best bet.  And if I am just feeding me I will often just take one thing and cook it somehow, and eat that.

Wishing you the best of luck in your hope and pray supper experiments,

~Going Green Mom

Pantry Support…. because sometimes things are more fun in groups.

For the month of May I joined a pantry challenge on Happy in the Hollow.  This isn’t the first pantry challenge I have done, but many times I don’t join a group.  I tend to do them when either space or money is tight.  We have a local store that does a Buy 2 Get 3 free sale 3 times a year, and I will typically stock the freezer at that time.  It always helps if there is room in the freezer to do so.

So what is a pantry challenge?  It is a period of time when you make a conscious effort to eat down your pantry instead of buying groceries as you normally would.  This may be in an effort to reduce spending if your budget is stretched that week or month, or it may be to clean out old and forgotten items before they go bad.  Food does eventually do that even if it keeps for a long time, so in order to get the most nutrient value out of it, you want to cycle through the food in your pantry on a regular basis.  Even if you have long term food storage it is a good idea to regularly use that food in your cooking so that you know how to prepare it, and this should be done in a First In, First Out fashion.  This keeps a cycle going so that you are always using the oldest food first, and as you (or if you) replace something it will go behind the oldest of the item you already have.  They make rotation shelves for this, or there are lots of different ways to do it on pinterest…  or you can just pull the old to the front and put the new in the back on your shelf.  Do whatever works for you.

Most people will probably start a pantry challenge by looking at what they have.  Pull things off shelves or out of cupboards, or if you have certain things you know you keep moving around to get to other things— those are prime targets.  The next thing is to set your parameters. Will you buy any groceries during the challenge?  If so, will you limit your budget? Only buy certain items? Only buy things if they are needed to finish a recipe to use something up? In my experience, I will almost always still need to buy milk.  I may or may not need to buy bread or tortillas for the kids (I am gluten free, but they do some cooking for snacks or food while I am at work).  I have tried the buying to recipe approach, but found that it is usually better to ask google for substitutes so that I don’t wind up with another ingredient I wouldn’t normally use for the next challenge.  You also want to think about how long you will do the challenge for.  If you are doing it for financial reasons that might be until you get another paycheck, or the next month.  I will often do a month at a time, unless I am trying to clear a particular location out.  Then I go til the food is gone (hopefully with enough time to clean it before refilling it with the food that has gone on sale).  After you have set your parameters, and you know what you have that needs used up, you are ready to start planning.

Are there obvious meals your family likes you can make with those ingredients?  Can you throw in an extra item in something you know you like to get it used up?  Maybe those last few stalks of celery could get tossed into a sauce or a soup you wouldn’t normally have celery in.  Maybe that canned salmon that you accidentally bought can turn into salmon patties instead of the hamburgers you would normally fix.  Make sense? Great! I will be writing more in this series over the next few weeks, so make sure to check back to see what I am working on. Let me know what you are using up in the comments below!

Wishing you clean shelves and good food,

Going Green Mom