The Rainbow Connection

Do you ever come home and say, “What can I cook tonight?” Do you then dig into your pantry or freezer to see what you can find to cook? Or are you a meal planner that has a calendar with that night’s meal listed on it?  I prefer to plan meals, but I must confess I have an unusual way of going about it.  Most people probably wouldn’t opt for my plan.  Let’s look at last week as a typical example of how meal planning goes in my house.

On this particular day, I was about ten minutes away from needing to leave my house in order to arrive at my massage appointment on time. The massage was a much needed gift from my husband and children. Coincidentally, the appointment happened to be next to the Trader Joes in my area. Since this would be my opportunity to go grocery shopping child free, I put on my coat and scarf, grabbed a pencil, paper, and started writing down the items I needed in order to make one or two meals that I’ve made so frequently that I know exactly what I need off the top of my head.  I also picked out three cookbooks from my very crowded recipe book cupboard, and opened the books I picked on the kitchen counter.  I flipped through the pages, and waited for recipes to say, “Make me!”

This haphazardly menu planning is my way of trying new recipes, and it is also why my husband says that he rarely sees the same thing twice on our table unless it becomes part of the coveted “What can I fix quickly” menu file.  Those are my "Go To" recipes that I can recite by heart.  With just six minutes to spare before I needed to leave, I came across a recipe that my friend, Betty Crocker, had given me when I got married, but never made.

I thought, “This is perfect! I can find all of these items at Trader Joes.  And I’m going to add this and that."

If you have ever read any parenting food websites or even nutritional sites, it will tell you that you need to try to eat a rainbow color of fruits and vegetables daily. I’m really optimistic and all, but it’s hard for me to see a rainbow daily on our table.  At one given time, I may have blueberries, bananas, apples, frozen green beans, kiwi, broccoli, carrots, and some corn in my house, but I certainly don’t serve them all in one day. We tend to eat two or maybe three colors in a rainbow a day, and sometimes, some colors are totally left out weeks at a time. I feel as if I"m denying my family a whole rainbow.   Shame on me!

I’ll be the first to tell you, I love fruits and vegetables.  My Grandma Powell, whom you heard about earlier this week, had a large garden.  She would cook about eight to ten vegetables a day. No joke!  Her spread of turnips, turnip greens, eggplant, sweet corn, field peas, green peas, and carrots daily created a table rainbow like something in the "Wizard of Oz."

I don't cook like grandma so you can imagine my excitement when I found the idea for a “rainbow connected” meal. Since I created this meal by taking ingredients from several sources,  I  renamed this colorful dish , “Rainbow Inspired Capellini with Alfredo Sauce. ” Isn’t that chic?  It’s basically my version of pasta primavera with alfredo sauce bought from Trader Joes, but for those who know me well, know that I like to name things from my daughter’s baby dolls to random stray cats that I see on my travels so renaming a recipe is only natural in this case. 

I must warn you now that when I put my new culinary rainbow in front of my five-year old, he said, “That looks YUCKY!” Sometimes you just want to put tape over a food critic’s mouth!!

However, I quickly said, “Well, it is Kermit the Frog’s favorite meal.”  If you’re old enough to remember the Muppets then you may just be humming his little famous song.  Am I right?

My strength may not be in food presentation, but this pasta dish tasted good.  JH ate most of it, and my daughter liked it, too. The Alfredo sauce may have been a little rich for her, but I did buy a lighter version that had about 90 calories per ¼ cup. Since it came from Trader Joes, it was free of preservatives, and healthier than some other processed versions, but you can use any store bought sauce of your choosing. If you’re really savvy then you can easily make your own sauce, but I was short on time, and really didn’t care to go to the effort.  I started this meal at 5:20 pm, and we were eating at 6:00 pm on the dot. Quick and Easy!

Unfortunately,  a pot of gold wasn't found when our forks twisted that last piece of pasta on our plates, but the good news is I’m no longer chasing rainbows in meal planning.  I found the Rainbow Connection!

Until next time…..I’m off to get a cup of tea!

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