Put some zowie-bow-dow! on your plate

There are days when the task of creating flavorful and diverse meals seems just too much. So you poach some chicken breasts, slap a few boiled potatoes on the table and call it good.

But it's certainly not great, is it? Not by a long shot.

Great is color, flavor and texture joining forces in the center of your brain for a zowie-bow-dow! experience. Great is when unusual and exciting new flavors throw a hoedown on your tongue.

Of course, great is also having the time to put such creations together. And that's where weekends come in handy. These are the times when you can gear down, put a log on the fire and pad into the kitchen for a bit of leisurely cooking that will readjust everybody's meal-time attitudes because the foods are just a little bit less ordinary than what you usually eat.

For example, I love twice-baked potatoes but rarely give myself time to make them. These could be a meal unto themselves, alongside a hearty green salad with a fabulous homemade dressing. Feel free to customize these potatoes with chunks of smoked salmon or cooked crab meat

Now, be warned. I consider the weekend a time when — in a small way, at least — we call a moratorium on the concept of bad food vs. good food. On weekends, if you're lucky, you can take time to pamper the inner self with really great meals that would only be bad for you if you ate a whole lot of them, too much and too often.

So, moderation, my friend, moderation. That's the ticket.

With that in mind, why not peruse the recipes inside and see if something strikes your fancy? Keeping in mind that March Madness has hit its stride, this just might be the right weekend to settle into the kitchen to produce some tourney-worthy grub. If so, reach for a pair of scissors, do a little clipping, a little shopping and prepare yourself for some really great cooking.

Jan Roberts-Dominguez is a Corvallis food writer, cookbook author and artist. Readers can contact her by e-mail at janrd@proaxis.com or obtain additional recipes and food tips on her blog at www.janrd.com.

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