Weekends are funny things. We spend all week looking forward to having a few days off, only to find that those few days fly by so fast, we’re left wondering what in the world we did with all the extra time. Saturdays are especially rascally that way. It’s typically the one day a week that we let ourselves sleep in (which anymore seems to mean sleeping until about 8 a.m. — sad reality of being a bona fide grownup I suppose). Then after some lazing around and Food Network watching (Pioneer Woman premiered this week. Weeee!), it’s already well past 10 and our tummies are wondering why we’ve been so careless and neglectful. Those rumbling tummies then lead to a rousing discussion that usually goes something like this:
“Are you hungry?”
“Yep. We should probably eat something.”
“Should we have breakfast or lunch at this point? It’s already past 10.”
“Hmm, I don’t know.”
I know, we’re a regular TV sitcom over here. So after another 30 minutes of couch sitting while pondering this mealtime dilemma, we finally reach some sort of conclusion, usually in the form of a gigantic brunch that satisfies the need for the missed breakfast and impending noontime nosh. But here’s the kicker. Because Saturday also coincides with the typical end to our weekly grocery stock, that means that in order for those gigantic brunches to actually materialize, we have to get a little creative. It’s often a matter of whipping up whatever we can find in the pantry and refrigerator. Sometimes that’s great news (pancakes are conveniently derived from the on-hand type ingredients). Sometimes that’s not-so-great news (I can think of a few egg-based experiments gone terribly wrong). This weekend, we returned from our pantry raid with two bunches of asparagus and an unopened package of cornmeal. Quite a combo, no doubt. But we’re Southern folks now, so we decided to embrace it. And as it turns out, our make-do meal of roasted asparagus and homemade cornbread looked (and tasted) much lovelier than either of us expected.
Adapted from Bob’s Red Mill recipe
• 1 cup cornmeal (fine, regular or course grind; I like the added texture of course cornmeal, so that’s what we went for)
• 1 cup whole-wheat flour
• ½ teaspoon kosher salt
• 4 teaspoons baking powder
• 4 tablespoons sugar
• 1 egg
• 1 cup milk
• ¼ cup unsalted butter, melted
• 2 teaspoons vanilla
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Mix dry ingredients in a medium bowl. Add egg, milk, butter and vanilla. Beat just until smooth. Bake in a greased 8-inch square pan for 20 to 25 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.
• fresh asparagus
• olive oil
• kosher salt
• freshly ground black pepper
• onion powder
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cover a rimmed baking sheet with foil (not totally necessary but great for easy cleanup). Spread asparagus (washed and trimmed) in an even layer on the baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil, then sprinkle with kosher salt, black pepper and onion powder to taste. Roast for 20 to 25 minutes or until asparagus is tender. We tend to like our asparagus a little on the crispy side, so after 25 minutes at 400, I usually up the temperature to 425 and leave it in for an extra 5 minutes. Dish it up, and enjoy!
I suppose we should have rounded out this meal with some sort of protein, but a spoonful of peanut butter (about the only protein our cabinets had left to offer) didn’t seem fitting for such a picturesque plate. So consider this a Choose Your Own Adventure version of a meal (remember those Goosebumps book? Soooo good). We’ll guide you with the sides, but the main dish is up to you. Exciting, right?
How do your mealtime menus come together on those lazy weekend days? Do you plan out things ahead of time or search the pantry for inspiration? Have you whipped up any amazing throw-it-together meals lately? Let’s hear it!