Why has life been so busy lately? There's a freakish amount of activities, socializing and general out-of-houseness that's been going on the last couple weeks. It seems too early to be "the holidays", but I guess they love to creep up ever earlier and earlier. I barely got to enjoy Halloween as the red and green bunting, glass balls and twinkle lights crept in on the spooky aisles.
We've been getting home late and grabbing something easy way more than I'd like to admit. It's not something I'm fond of: it costs way too much (that $30 Thai could've been a Christmas present!) and makes me feel gross (too salty and fatty). I want to get home and unwind in the kitchen, but creating something super-ambitious isn't very practical. I find myself saving all my gorgeous, fun recipes for the weekend.
Otherwise, one-pot and simple dinners are my best defense against the grab-something glut. Pasta sauces, casseroles, skillets - all good stuff. One of my favorites, consistently delicious and comforting and a little different, is curry. I've made it from scratch, but it tastes just as good with this excellent shortcut - enter Trader Joe's! Red or yellow, for just a couple bucks you get this magical glue that turns whatever ingredients you have in your pantry, fridge and freezer into a flavor-saturated supper.
On Monday, we were both busy setting up a new 55" TV and cabinet we stayed up late the night before buying. Not a chore to complain about, but it did make that Pizza Hut online ordering system sound good. But knowing I had Trader Joe's plump little frozen shrimp waiting for a curry bath, I left Matt to the HDMI cables and headed into the kitchen.
I always start with basics: carrots, onions, garlic and potatoes. I boil the potatoes on the stove, and soften the rest of the veggies in a skillet. If I'm using pork or chicken, that gets cooked too - but you don't want the shrimp to get rubbery, so those get added last in this version. If you have fresh green beans, bell peppers, pineapple, sweet potato or squash, or some other random thing you feel like getting rid of and taking a try at - well, that's the beauty of it. It's a great kitchen-cleaner. Basil and especially cilantro are wonderful served freshly torn on each serving. I grabbed some Thai-seasoned cashews at New Seasons a few days ago, and I thought, hey. Why not? It added a nice extra crunch, one that peanuts would do just as nicely.
From jar to plate, it takes about 45 minutes. That's including cooking up a pot of rice, chopping your ingredients and letting the sauce simmer on the vegetables and meat (or tofu, veg friends!) in a generous soak. And no driving, or tipping, required. Although I would totally accept tips.
Red shrimp curry, and Dexter chasing a creepy-as-fuck John Lithgow in full HD. Mondays don't get much better than that.