Friday, February 17, 2012

When the Meal Plan is Ignored We Must Improvise: Creamy Mushroom Sauce with Chicken

I plan out my meals every week.  I made a chart in a word processing program, and every Thursday night or Friday morning I sit down and type in all the meals we will have for the week, and then I make a grocery list.  This is not because I'm super organized.  In fact, I wouldn't even classify myself as a little organized, but people who know this about me seem to be impressed and wish they could do the same (you can, it's really easy).  The reason I do this is because (1) if I go shopping without a list all hell breaks loose.  I end up with $80 worth of groceries and nothing that really constitutes an entire meal.  (2) This allows me to go through my pantry, refrigerator, and freezer and use up anything before it goes bad.  I really hate to waste food, and once again, I'm not organized so every little bit helps.  (3) It saves time because I don't have to figure out what I will make each day.  A lot of times I can prep meals the night before, or I can make sure I have enough time for complicated recipes.  So, the menu plan is a lifesaver for me, and I think it would be even more so if I had a bigger family.  I did this when I lived by myself, and it was helpful.  

The point to this long explanation of why I do a menu plan is that last week I ignored it.  I took an unexpected trip, which meant that I didn't get groceries, so I didn't have the stuff to make what was on the plan.  This threw the entire week off.  We ate some meals from the freezer, but eventually I needed to cook.  I looked through the shelves for something to make and then inspiration hit.  I came up with Chicken and Creamy Mushroom Sauce over Couscous.  This is a really great method, and if you don't like mushrooms use something else.  You could use broccoli, cauliflower, onions, spinach, or nothing at all and just have a cream sauce.  You could use canned cream of mushroom soup if you're in a hurry, but really this doesn't take long at all, and it's so much better than the canned stuff.  If you don't like couscous use rice, potatoes, pasta, or bulgar.  I will continue making this, but next time it will be on plan.

Creamy Mushroom Sauce and Chicken

1lb. boneless, skinless chicken breast
2 tablespoons butter
1tsp. seasoning salt
4 oz can chopped mushrooms, drained
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
1 cup milk (you may need a few more tablespoons depending on the thickness of the sauce)

1. Melt 2 tablespoons butter and place in bowl with seasoning salt.  Coat chicken breasts in butter/salt mixture.  Place chicken breast in hot pan and cook through, adding remaining melted putter to pan.  Place cooked chicken on cutting board to rest.
2. In a small sauce pan melt 2 tablespoons butter.  Whisk in 2 tablespoons flour and cook for about a minute whisking constantly.  Slowly add milk while whisking constantly.  Add mushrooms to sauce.  Cook over low heat, adding salt and pepper and stirring until sauce thickens.  If your sauce is too thick, add a few more tablespoons of milk.  I needed to add about 2 more tablespoons when I made my sauce.  Keep in mind that the sauce will thicken even more as it cools.   (I add a lot of pepper to mine because we like really spicy white sauces in my house)
3. Slice cooked chicken breasts.  Place chicken in saucepan and cook for 2 minutes over low heat to incorporate flavors.  Serve over couscous, rice, pasta, or potatoes.

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