Here are a few things I've done. One night, I flavored pan-fried lamb sirloin with strips of red pepper, and served it with mustard, a few tomato wedges and sprigs of cilantro, and a side of steamed broccoli.
For dessert we ate fruit: cut-up cantaloupe, and strawberries. The cantaloupe was unadorned, but I glazed the berries with a mixture of 1/3 cup apricot jam (initially destined for PB&J) and 2 tablespoons of my wonderful wine vinegar made from Italian Pinot Grigio. I heated the glaze in a pyrex cup in the microwave so that it would melt together and be able to coat the strawberries. Sugar would be easier -- but bulk items like sugar or flour weren't on my very short list of pantry staples.
Another day, I made meatballs with sweet-sour sauce from some moderately low-fat ground beef.
To make the meatball mixture, I had no flour or prepared bread crumbs, but I crushed a few AkMak sesame crackers to serve that purpose. Besides fixing the texture, this gave the meat balls a bit of sesame flavor. Other ingredients: an egg, some chopped onion, and of course my Spanish smoked paprika and Trader Joe's salt, the two trusty spices I brought with me. The meatball mixture also had a tablespoon or two of the sweet-sour sauce I made. In this: a can of prepared organic tomato sauce, a drizzle of my wonderful vinegar, a shake of salt and paprika, and 2 purloined packets of brown sugar from a cafe (yes, that's cheating, I know, but I did buy a cup of coffee). I sauteed the meatballs in a bit of olive oil and added the sauce, which I'd heated in the microwave. Garnish again: tomato and fresh cilantro. On the side: fresh pineapple chunks also from the supermarket.
Not all restaurant cooking is that much different, though it frequently has considerably more added fat and salt. Here is an admittedly delicious restaurant salad at Mezzaluna restaurant that wasn't that much more complex than my concoctions:
The restaurant salad did contain quite a few more ingredients than most of my productions. The price was also a lot higher than cooking at home -- the overwhelming cost of restaurant meals is another motivating factor here in Aspen more than most places.
I'd say you achieved your goal -- and it all looks delicious!
I think I would say that too :) Looks good. Would you mind if I included it with the recipes on mydish.co.uk?. They always love more recipe ideas like this :) and i think the community there would love it :)
Anyone is free to republish my recipes. I'd like a link back if you do.
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