Your favorite "everyday" recipes
My boyfriend and I recently made the decision to be adults and start cooking for ourselves. Well, I love going out to eat, so really my boyfriend and my often empty checking account decided.
I've gone back to college and I'm doing a workstudy while maintaining a second late night job, he produces a 11pm newscast. So, when we end our days we don't have a lot of time to work with to make meals. I've been looking around the internet for tasty sounding quickly made dishes but I'm never sure what I can trust. That's why I've come to you, my fellow chowhounds, whom I respect and admire.
What are your favorite "daily" meals? I'm looking for satisfying chow that you could make after a hard day of work and classes. Say, no more than 45 minutes prep time.
I love leisure cooking but I just don't have the time for it. If you could help me out it would be so greatly appreciated. full recipes, hints, ideas, direction. I'd love any kind of help you could provide.
When I was in law school, living alone, I always cooked a bunch of stuff on Sundays so that I would have food available all week - roast chicken either stuffed with lemons or kasha; meat loaf of some kind to eat hot or make sandwiches and some kind of stew, beef, lamb or pork. I love cold chicken but all of these dishes could be reheated served with different vegetables. My Mom who was a single Mother used to do this to some extent - its such a relief not to have to think about what you are going to eat if you are overwhelmed by school or work.
Don't think anyone has mentioned my favorite way to get a fresh dinner on the table quickly--angel hair pasta. I can make dinner in about 10 minutes. I buy deCecco capellini, which cooks perfectly in two minutes. After getting the water on to boil, I prepare one of the following:
* leftover fresh cooked artichoke hearts in a puddle of cream with fresh-cracked white pepper ... you're just reheating them. Optionally serve with grated parmesan. (Artichoke hearts are from a previous meal where only the leaves were eaten.)
* Wash, break ends off, and slice in bite-size pieces asparagus, 4-5 stalks per person. Steam in water in a small skillet till bright green. Toss pasta with butter, add asparagus and grated parmesan, optionally ham or turkey (I roll up deli slices and slice again into rounds).
* Of course, there's always tomato sauce--I really like Seeds of Change organic brand--best bottled sauce I've ever had, really needs no doctoring.
For risotto, I prepare a very small dice of carrot and celery (including the heart and leaves!). The celery may add enough sodium that you don't need to salt. Serve with baby greens and a sweet vinaigrette with ginger and fresh-grated white pepper + either mandarin oranges or (when being fancy) sliced fresh blood oranges. I serve this to "company."
I have a thing about freezing due to all the freezer-burned food I was served as a child, but I don't mind cooking on the weekend and eating leftovers for a few days. I make my own dog food, so when I get tired of whatever it is, I recycle it.
Here's a guilty pleasure ... prepare Kraft mac & cheese (preferably 3-cheese shells which I can't seem to find anymore) with plenty of milk and a bit extra cheese (like 2 slices of "Swiss" American cheese). Cook ground beef with salt, pepper, and Worcestershire, making sure you get a small crumble. Add to M&C. Slice scallions and add at the last moment so they still have some crunch. Serve with a heaping dish of grape tomatoes.
Oh, my tuna casserole ... deCecco pasta shells, tuna, Hellman's, a bit of cream, diced Swiss American cheese, diced onion, diced celery (again, the heart and leaves), fresh-cracked white pepper. I bake for about 30-35 min and prefer for the veggies to still have a bit of crunch to them. I use a lot ... the veggies should be prominent in this casserole. For more formal occasions ;) I top with fresh buttered bread crumbs (torn by hand from an unsliced Pullman loaf).
If you're lucky enough to have a Central Market, I use their diced onions and grated imported Parmesan. They also have wonderful produce.
Here's a meal that works well if one is home well before the other. Get a McCormick's Bag'n Season Originl Chicken package. Have enough chicken for two (I like a breast on the bone, my wife likes two drumsticks), one small white cooking onion, some button mushrooms, and fresh stringbeans. Trim the stringbeans and rinse them in a strainer along with the mushrooms. Drop them into a plastic bag still damp.
Roll the chicken in about half the McCormick's seasoning blend and save the rest for a later meal. Place the chicken in the McCormick's bag resting on a cookie sheet. Dump whatever seasoning didn't get on the chicken into the bag with the vegetables and shake well. Dump that bag into the bag with the chicken and spread around. Peel the outer layers off the onion and quarter it placing the pieces in the bag with everything else. Follow the rest of the McCormick instructions.
It takes about 20 minutes prep and 55 minutes oven time so it works well if one person is home sooner than the other to get started.
Try some rice on the side with the drippings from the bag drizzled over it.
And if you like the basic idea try different vegetables. I've used brocolli instead of beans, also fresh corn broken in half and placed around inside the bag.
Reynolds makes Oven Bags (large size) that are good for the same meal with the unused seasoning so you get two meals out of each $2 bag of McCormick's.
Wow there's a lot of replies! I hope nothing similar to this has been mentioned.
My favorite, easy meal is green Thai curry. So few ingredients yet so much flavour!
In a deep wok/pan heat some oil. Throw in a generous amount of diced garlic. Add a tablespoon of green curry paste (more/less to taste) and fry for a minute. Add to pan whatever substance you have around - diced chicken, shrimp, beef, pork, tofu or veggies. Add a can of lite coconut milk, a huge splash of fish sauce and fresh whole basil leaves and cook the meat/veggies to your liking. Just before it is done, add more basil and you're done!
You can also add chili sauce or sriracha if you have it for extra kick.
Some fast, brainless meals:
Quesadillas/Burritos - Using canned refried beans, Costco guacamole (frozen in bags) and the Costco packages of pre-cooked pork in verde sauce (it is excellent, and keeps for a month or more in the fridge and forever in the freezer).
Costco also carries similar packages of pre-cooked pot roast which is also delicious. Great with mashed potatoes, or again in tortillas for great burritos.
I save all ends of bread, dry them out, and keep them in plastic bags. Then when I cook tilapia filets, I throw some dried bread in the food processor with salt, pepper, whole cloves of garlic and any spices I feel like, and process into crumbs. You have to overseason the bread crumbs for the flavor to come through. Sometimes I add a lot of curry powder or garam masala to it for an Indian flavor. I just make sure the tilapia is wet with water, dip it into the crumbs, and saute it up in a big pan in butter or olive oil until golden browned. If there are any leftover crumbs, I use them to top whatever vegetable I have going.
My family loves Whole Foods' or Cost Plus' packaged dried tortellini or raviolini filled with squash or pesto, with whatever sauce looks good and easy, whether homemade or jarred. Also the packaged somewhat dried out gnocchi keeps forever on the shelf, and cooks up in a breeze for a fancy pasta dish. I usually make a gorgonzola sauce with white sauce with added gorgonzola stirred in at the end.
A similar sausage skillet meal to the one above, using sliced cabbage, chunked sausage, chopped onion, and diced raw bacon, sauteed all together until browned, is very easy. Can add chopped apple to it.
Clam Chowder with bread.
Safeway Deli has very good pre-baked meat loaf for not much more than it would cost me to make it myself. Good meat loaf sandwiches.
Can't go wrong with grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup - add a little chili powder (the mixed seasoning) to the soup, and a dab of sour cream on top. I like sliced tomatoes in the grilled cheese sandwich.
Don't forget about hamburgers. Also frozen meatballs make great meatball sandwiches, with spaghetti sauce and mozzerella cheese.
Chicken and Spinach
We ate this for dinner and brought the leftovers for lunch.
1 lb of boneless chicken sliced cut in strips
6 or 7 cloves of garlic
1 cube or packet of chicken broth
red pepper flakes
salt and pepper
box of frozen spinach
1/2 lb of angel hair pasta
Saute shallots and garlic in significant amount of olive oil, add chicken strips, chicken broth and red pepper flakes, saute a few more minutes, place frozen spinach in pan and cover, simmer on medium low. Salt and Pepper. Once chicken mixture is cooked, add cooked angel hair to pan and saute for a few minutes to absorb flavors. Serve with Parm. We love this!boil for pasta.
i do a very easy korean-style chicken stew.
1 whole chicken, cut into 10 pieces (or if you only want to use dark meat or just breast whatever...)
10 new red bliss potatoes, whole (you can use whatever potato you have on hand)
2 carrots, peeled, cut into large pieces
4 small yellow onions, peeled and cut in half
1⁄4 cup soy sauce
1⁄4 cup sugar
3 T rice wine vinegar
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1 T red pepper flakes (optional)
1 cup chicken stock (can substitute water)
Salt & Pepper, to taste
2 tsp roasted sesame oil (optional)
Put chicken and veggies in a pot. Mix together all of the rest of the ingredients except the semsame oil. Braise, covered on top of the stove until the potatoes are done (usually, they take longer than the chicken). Finish with a small amount of sesame oil. Done. It's easy and tastes even better the next day.
We love Kabob boats in our house. Take cubed chuck and marinate it with Arnold's meat marinade (if you do this in a large zip-loc bag it's less messy) Figure about a pound to a pound and a half. Make boats from foil about 6-8 inches across. Fold a square of HD foil in half and then double fold the edges about 1/2-1/2 inch. fill the boats with your favorite kabob veggies and the marinated meat. we like mushrooms, canned potatoes and pearl onions. place on the grill or in the oven for about 1/2 hour to 45 minutes. Serve over rice or just dump in a bowl!! A great summer meal with a salad and some good bread to sop up the juices!!
I'm a big fan of quick meals using pita bread. There's a great middle eastern grocer near my place so I'm spoiled when it comes to the quality of the pita but that's neither here nor there.
I've made many a dinnertime meal with pita. Favorite fillings include:
• Boca chicken patty with hummus, tabouli, veggies and hot sauce (the hummus and tabloui are purchased from said middle eastern grocer but you can find these products just about anywhere these days)
• Boneless, skinless chicken breast prepared just about any old way. I've seasoned mine before with curry, coriander, tumeric, etc, and stuffed it in the pita with various sauces and veggies. Delicious.
• Tossed salad filing - just as it sounds. Fill a bowl with chopped lettuce and veggies, add cheese or meat (I like tuna in this case) and a little dressing, toss and stuff. Perfect for summer.
I've also used pita to make parmesan crisps for a carby side dish for other meals. Slice pitas in half the long way (it's a little tedious but well worth it). Spread lightly with butter and sprinkle on parmesan cheese, garlic salt and any mix of herbs you prefer. Stick under the broiler until the pita starts to crisp and the cheese and butter are melted. Yummah!
Warm peanut butter and jelly pitas make a great late-night snack, too.
I could go on and on but you get the idea. I do the same often with flour tortillas - either the plain ones or the newer flavored ones you can get these days. I recently made the following wrap recipe from Cooking Light:
California Crab Wraps
1 1/2 cups diced plum tomato (about 3 tomatoes)
1/2 cup prechopped red onion
1/2 cup diced avocado (about 1/2 avocado)
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 1/4 cups lump crabmeat
1/2 cup (4 ounces) 1/3-less-fat cream cheese
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
4 (10-inch) whole wheat flour tortillas
4 romaine lettuce leaves, trimmed
Combine first 7 ingredients in a small bowl; set aside.
Combine crabmeat, cream cheese, and cilantro in a small bowl; spread evenly down center of each tortilla. Place 1 lettuce leaf over crabmeat mixture. Spoon tomato mixture evenly over lettuce, and roll up.
Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 1 wrap)
One pot bean stew is also one of my lazy comfort food recipes (and clean up is easy because of the one pot-ness)
5-6 slices of bacon
One can of white beans (cannellini), drained
One can of crushed tomatoes
A carrot - diced
A few sticks of celery - diced
A white onion - diced
3 cloves of garlic, lightly smashed
1 cup White wine
Cut up the bacon and sweat until the fat renders and the bacon is getting brown. Throw in the onion, saute until transclucent, then throw in the carrot, celery and garlic, and the bay leaf and thyme. Cook until al dente, then add the white wine and cook out the alcohol. Put in the white beans, stir until bubbling again, then throw in the tomatoes. Add water if it looks dry, and bring to a boil. Simmer - you can serve this at any point.
By far the most important thing when I'm super tired is my rice cooker. You can also make short grain rice ahead of time, make rice balls about 2 inches in diameter, then wrap them in plastic wrap and throw them in the freezer. They defrost in the microwave in a minute and a half. Fluff them up and you'll never know they were frozen.
In my opinion, once you have hot rice, your meal is more than half done! :)
Stuff to eat with rice:
Any vegetables chopped up small and stir fried with garlic and oyster sauce. My favorite - brocolli florets, sliced shiitakes and bacon.
When I'm feeling extra lazy, I've even eaten just the rice with some soy sauce drizzled on, wrapped in a sheet of nori or laver, with whatever little pickled or salted thing I have lying around (century eggs, pork floss, pickled bamboo shoots etc.)
This is my husband's favorite thing I make. You'll have enough leftover for another meal and it reheats (and freezes) beautifully.
1- 11⁄2 lb lean ground beef
1⁄2 c diced green peppers
1⁄2 c diced onion
1 package low sodium taco seasoning
2/3 c water
1 14oz can diced tomatoes, undrained
1 small can green chiles, undrained
1⁄2 small can corn niblets, drained
6 burrito size tortillas (flour or whole wheat)
1 can refried beans
3 c reduced fat cheddar or mexican blend cheese
Brown ground beef with onions and peppers. Drain any fat.
Add taco seasoning and water and simmer for 2 minutes. Then add tomatoes, corn, and chiles and simmer 10 minutes.
In a 9x13 pan, sprayed with non stick spray, place 2 flour tortillas, overlapping in center. I like to cut the edges to fit, but you don’t have to. Spread with half the can of beans and top with half the meat mixture. Sprinkle with 1 cup of cheese. Repeat the layers. End with 2 tortillas and top with last cup of cheese.
Bake at 350F for 20-25 minutes or until cheese is melted. Cut with a very sharp knife.
*If you’re a bean fan, you can also add a drained can of black beans to the meat mixture with the tomatoes.
Chili is a great option, because you make it the night before, turn on the crockpot on your way to work, and come home to a yummy smelling house.
My Favorite Chili
1 1/2 lb ground beef, browned & drained
1 green pepper, diced
1 yellow pepper, diced
2-3 jalapeño peppers, seeded & diced
1 small yellow onion
5 cloves garlic
1 large can crushed tomatoes
1 small can corn, drained
1 can black beans, drained
Heavy sprinkle of chili powder, cumin, and paprika
Salt & pepper
Mix and cook on low for 8-10 hours
Another great crockpot recipe:
1 whole chicken (or chicken parts)
8 oz (or one small can) of V8
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
Dip chicken in marinade and cook on low for 6-8 hours.
Here are a few more:
I take this to the office a lot for breakfast meetings and everyone loves it! I got the original recipe off the back of a package and made changes to it.
Southwestern Breakfast Potato Bake
1 package (1 LB. 4 oz) Simply Potatoes Southwest Style Hash Browns (found in the refrigerated section of stores. Use frozen if you'd like but thaw first)
2 C shredded Cheddar and Monterey Jack blend
2 cans Rotel (diced tomato and chilies)drained
1 jar or package (3 oz) real bacon bits or pieces
(Oscar Mayer and Hormel make these)
1 c milk
Preheat the oven to 350 and spray either an 8 inch square baking dish with cooking spray. In baking dish, layer half of the potatoes, half of the bacon, half of the Rotel and 3/4 c of cheese; repeat. Combine eggs and milk and beat well. Pour evenly over the mixture and press lightly. Cover with foil and bake 45 minutes. Uncover and add remaining cheese. Continue baking 10 to 15 minutes until knife inserted in center comes out clean. Let stand a few minutes before serving. This can be doubled using a 13x9 and baking an additional 10 minutes. This is on the spicy side so if you don't like too much spice use a milder Rotel.
Now for a couple of desserts:
If you like banana splits you will fall in love with this pie.
1 graham cracker crumb crust (I just buy one)
1 8 oz package cream cheese
2 c powered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
Beat the cream cheese, sugar, egg, and vanilla until combined and pour into the pie shell.
Slice four bananas
drain a 15.5 oz can of crushed pineapple
top the cream cheese filling with the fruit
top the pie with 12 oz Cool Whip (I don't like cool whip so I whip up fresh whipped cream with around 1/4 c of sugar and a 1/4 teaspoon vanilla)
top the whipped cream with about a half a cup of each:
chopped walnuts or pecans
chopped maraschino cherries
mini chocolate chips
then drizzle with chocolate syrup
I like this very old recipe for chocolate cake because it's so fast and easy. Really good and dense too!
1 c self rising flour
1 stick butter
1 c sugar
16 oz can Hershey's chocolate syrup
cream the butter and sugar, add the eggs and flour alternately on slow. Mix well then add the chocolate syrup. Bake in a greased and floured 9x12x2 baking pan at 350 for 30 minutes.
1 c sugar
1 stick butter
1/4 c cocoa
1/3 c milk
put all ingredients into a pot and boil 3 minutes stirring frequently. Remove from heat and add 1 tsp vanilla.
Pour over cake when it comes out the oven.
Another standard chocolate cake recipe.
1/2 tsp salt
2 c flour
1/2 c sour cream
2 c sugar
1 tsp baking soda
2 sticks butter
4 tablespoons coca
1 cup water
Boil the butter, cocoa, and water. Mix the remaining ingredients and stir the boiled mixture. Mix well and pour into a greased and floured cake sheet pan 13x9x2. Bake in a preheated 350 oven for 20 minutes.
1 box powered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 c pecans
4 tablespoons cocoa
1 stick butter
6 tablespoons milk
Boil butter, milk, and cocoa. Pour into a mixing bowl and beat in the sugar. Stir in the nuts and vanilla. Frost the cake while it's still warm.
Frozen Florida Key Lime Pie
1 deep dish graham cracker crust
Prepare the filling:
7 large egg yolks at room temp.
1/4 c sugar
14 oz. sweetened condensed milk
2 tablespoons grated lime zest
3/4 c fresh key lime juice (hint. you can purchase key lime juice already squeezed at the grocery.)
beat the yolks and sugar on high until thick (five minutes). Lower the speed and add the condensed milk, lime zest, and key lime juice. Pour into the graham cracker crust and freeze for three hours or more.
To serve, let the pie sit at room temperature for around twenty to thirty minutes. Whip a small carton of heavy cream with 1/4 c of sugar and 1/4 teaspoon vanilla. Serve pie with a large dollop of whipped cream. It's delicious!
If you have a gas grill (or don't mind firing up some charcoal) this is a good simple chicken recipe. Get some wings and/or legs. Create a basic rub by sprinkling them with kosher salt, freshly ground black pepper, some garlic and onion powder, hit them with a dose of ground thyme and rosemary, finally dust them with a bit of paprika. Toss them on the grill over low heat. They take about 5 minutes to prepare but need to grill for about 40 or 50 minutes. Turn them occassionally to avoid burning. They will come out nice n tasty. Better than anything the Colonel has to offer and way less fat.
What a great thread!
These are a few of our favorite weeknight meals, some quicker than others:
Thomas Keller's "FAVORITE SIMPLE ROAST CHICKEN"
Sarah Moulton's Cobb Salad
Chicken with Olives & Feta
Chicken (Grilled or Sauteed) with Greek Salad
Lish Nelson's Meatloaf (with lots of leftovers
Your favorite grilled or sauteed meat or fish with balsamic tomato relish (good tomatoes, shallots, basil, EVOO, balsamic)
My favorite easy stir fry: stir fry diced chicken, beef, or pork, add equal parts diced carrots & celery, then add equal parts hot bean paste, hoisin & sherry, then finish with peanuts.
And finally, grilled chicken salad with mangoes: grill boneless chicken breasts, cut into bite sized pieces, and add bite-sized pieces of mango, grapes, red pepper, red onion, chopped basil & cilantro, and peanuts. Dress with lime, chiles, fish sauce.
thinner cuts of meat are the way to go - here's a really satisfying Korean-style BBQ recipe:
take skirt or flank steak and marinate it in a combo of soy sauce, brown sugar, mirin, scallions, garlic, ginger and red pepper flakes. You can adjust this marinade to suite your tastes - for a Thai theme, I'll use lemongrass and sriracha instead of scallio and red pepper, and ass some fish sauce instead of all soy. Reserve a little bit of the marinade.
Throw the steak in the marinade at the beginning of the day and it'll be ready when you get home. Toss it on the grill and slice it thin - serve wrapped in lettuce leaves, dip in reserved marinade.
You can pre-slice the steak before marinading and stir-fry it to make the actual dinner prep even faster.
As long as we are talkin' sausage I know of another skillet version. One pound of smoked sausage or kielbasa, garlic, sliced red and yellow peppers, sliced onions, sliced mushrooms, and chopped broccoli. You heat up the pan, add the sliced sausage and brown it, turning once, add the garlic and cook a couple of minutes more. Add the rest of the ingredients and pour in a half to a whole cup of stock. Cover tightly and heat until the vegetables reach the desired "doneness". In the mean time make some spaghetti and drain it. Over the drained noodles add the sausage/vegetable mix and top with grated Parmesan cheese. I got this off the back of a Hillshire Farm package and like it because it's pretty fast and taste good.
Here's my easy meal...
Heat the oven to 375 degrees...
Slice up some sausage (we get the turkey sausage at NYC's Greenmarket, but you can use anything really - chicken sausage, chorizo, italian sausage, veggie sausage, kielbasa, a mix, whatever) and potatoes, place in a single layer in an oven-proof pan, generously drizzle with olive oil, add salt, pepper and dried herbs (again, you can mix it up, but we like Herbes de Provence here), toss mixture and put in oven for about 20 minutes...
Meanwhile, slice (don't dice, you want some nice chunks) some peppers (hot and/ or sweet) & onions and add to the pan (along with more salt, pepper, herbs, oil if needed) after the initial 20 minutes and cook entire mixture for an additional 20-25 minutes.
It's a one-pan dish that includes your veggie/ meat/ potatoes... so yummy too.
1)Home-seasoned American style tacos:
chop one onion each for ground beef and can of rinsed, drained beans (black eye peas or black beans work).
fry the onions in separate pans in canola oil. use one pan for the beef and one pan for the beans. after the beef has cooked somewhat then add a dash of worcestire, a dash of soy sauce, and a decent amount of ketchup. cook until no longer tastes of ketchup.
serve w/corn tortillas warmed over your stove flame. add cheddar cheese/sour cream/avocado/lime/tobasco as you like.
2) basic mushroom risotto:
boil us some broth or good quality bouillon.
chop one onion and two garlic cloves very fine,add to skillet w/2-3 tbs butter. salt and pepper the mix. after onions are translucent, add vialone nano rice and stir coating over med-high heat for 2 min. do not brown.
add enough broth to cover the rice. stir continuously and continue adding broth. as broth evaporates you can take some time away from it.
towards the end (when the rice tastes almost thoroughly cooked) turn down the heat adding mushrooms, shitake work well, and dried porcini and their broth.
at the end add 1 egg yolk, a little more butter, and parmesan cheese.
Here are a three tried and trues from my mother's kitchen. These are recipes for the 1950's.
Saturday Chicken serves four to six
6 pieces of good-size chicken
1 can condensed cream of mushroom or chicken or celery soup
1 cup of cream (do not cheat and use milk, although I have used evaporated milk and half and half and it was still good)
salt and garlic salt
Salt, garlic salt, and pepper the chicken pieces, then paprika them thoroughly. Spread the pieces in a shallow baking pan. Dilute the soup with the cream, pour it over the chicken, and sprinkle the top with parsley. Bake uncovered at 350 for 1.5 hours (for bone-in chicken) or 45 minutes for boneless chicken breast. Serve with rice and a vegetable. Real comfort food and great when it's a little chilly outside.
You can reduce the number of pieces of chicken if it's too much.
Then there is...
Dr. Martin's Mix
Crumble 1 pound of hot breakfast sausage into a skillet and brown it. Pour off the fat but don't completely drain it. Then add:
1 green pepper chopped
2 green onions chopped
2 or 3 celery stalks, chopped
2 cups chicken consomme or bouillon
1 cup of raw rice
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon salt.
Put a tight fitting lid on the pan and let it simmer at the lowest possible heat for around 1 hour.
Really Retro Tuna-Mushroom Casserole
7 oz can of chuck tuna
2 to 3 cups of cooked noodles
1 can of mushroom soup diluted with 1/2 can of milk
1/2 c of frozen peas
Put it a greased casserole dish,sprinkle some cheese (your call) on top and bake at 325 for half an hour.
And one of my all time favs and really good as a left over:
1 pound ground beef
1/2 c chopped onion
1/4 c chopped green pepper
1 jar (15.5 oz) spaghetti sauce
8 ounces hot cooked spaghetti, drained
1/2 c grated Parmesan cheese (please don't used the canned stuff!)
2 eggs beaten
2 teaspoons butter
1 c ricotta cheese
1/2 c shredded mozzarella cheese
Cook beef, onion, and green pepper in a large skillet over medium-high heat until meat is brown, stirring to separate the meat. Drain the fat. Stir in the spaghetti sauce; mix well. Combine spaghetti, Parmesan, eggs and butter in a large bowl; mix well. Place in the bottom of a 13x9-inch pan (which I would first spray with no-stick cooking spray). Spread Ricotta over top and then pour the sauce mixture over the ricotta. Sprinkle with shredded mozzarella. Bake in a 350 oven until cheese melts - around 20 minutes. If ya hate green pepper - I do- omit it and sub a small can of sliced mushrooms if ya like and add it with the spag sauce.
One of my most requested...
Grilled Garlic-Lime Chicken
Marinate 4 boneless chicken breast for 20 minutes in:
1/2 c lite soy sauce
1/4 c lime juice (I prefer fresh squeezed)
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
fresh ground pepper to taste (1/2 teaspoon if you're not a big fan)
2 garlic cloves minced
Remove chicken from the marinade
Grill covered over med/high heat 3 minutes per side (if you are using boneless breast) or until firm to the touch. (you don't want raw chicken but you also don't want to over-cook them either!) Top each breast with a slice of Colby cheese, cover until cheese bubbles. I also like to top these breast with diced fire-roasted tomatoes (by Muir Glen available in most grocery stores) I serve this with black beans and rice and a tossed green salad.
A really good cheese rice recipe is:
Hellzapoppin Cheese Rice
4 eggs beaten light
1 c milk
4 c cooked rice
2 tablespoons minced onion
1 tablespoon Worcestershire
2 teaspoons salt
small pinch of thyme and marjoram
1 pound grated sharp cheddar
1 package chopped frozen spinach, drained
4 tablespoons melted butter
Add milk to beaten egg and add all of the seasonings.Fold in the cheese, spinach, and rice and pour into a greased casserole. Pour melted butter over the top and bake at 375 for thirty-five minutes. Or you can crush a half of a sleeve of butter-garlic Ritz and mix with two tablespoons of the melted butter. Pour the remaining butter over the top of the rice, bake for twenty five minutes, remove the rice from the oven and top with the Ritz and continue baking for another 10 minutes.
You could also sub frozen chopped broccoli for the spinach.
My grandmother's recipe for potatoes that I love so much is one of those tin foil deals.
Slice two baking potatoes
Slice a large sweet onion
Slice or shred a carrot
Take an 8x10 square of foil and layer potatoes, onion, and some carrot. Add some salt and pepper to taste. Top with a good amount of butter or a mix of Olive Oil and butter. Close the foil around the potatoes. Bake for at least 1 hour or more in a 375 oven. The potatoes should form a nice crust on the bottom. Ohhh these are sooooo good paired with pork and beef. I use a lot of fresh ground pepper on these - but I love pepper.
Rachel Ray had a great recipe for a hot tomato salad that is super easy and tasty. Bear with me - this one is from memory!
Heat 1/4 c of evoo (what else!)
couple cloves of chopped garlic
get that going in a 2 quart pot - after around 3 minutes lower the heat some and add a splash of good Balsamic Vinegar and a basket of grape or cherry tomatoes. Throw in some chopped fresh herbs - whatever ya got - let it go, stirring until the tomato skins begin to break. Salt and pepper as desired.
You can never go wrong with a pork tenderloin. They cook super fast and you could use any marinade for twenty minutes before roasting. Or just salt and pepper the bejesus out of it- throw some chopped garlic on it and roast according to package directions. It's a lot cheaper than take out and you will have leftovers too! Pair it with those foil potatoes that you could roast along side the meat (although I would start the tators first and get them going in the oven).
And one more for the road....
Parmesan Chicken with Lemon-Caper Sauce
6 chicken breast - boneless and skinless
1 stick butter
1 c breadcrumbs
1/2 - 1 c grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons capers, drained and rinsed
3 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
Salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 350. Mix breadcrumbs, parmesan cheese, salt, pepper, and parsley on a plate. Put melted butter in a bowl. Rinse and dry chicken, then dip in butter and roll it breadcrumbs. Place in a baking dish and bake 35- 45 minutes, depending on size of the chicken breast. Meanwhile prepare the sauce. In a small saucepan, melt butter until slightly brown and nutty. Add capers, cook three minutes. Remove from heat and add lemon juice, parsley, salt and pepper to taste. Keep warm and serve over chicken. I serve this over pain orzo pasta.
It's really good.
I have so many recipes as I have been head chef for one family or another for over thirty years now. Let me know if you'd like more and let me know how these worked out for you! I've got some pretty fantastic dessert recipes too.
Our total staple is roast chicken, we make it at least once a week and the greatest thing is that it can make up to three meals, here's how:
Take an 8lb chicken or so and drizzle olive oil and sea salt over the top...no stuffing required as it dries out the chicken. It should cook for about 2 hours with no checking, so you can do your homework or unwind from the day while cooking.
I use the chickens that have the pop up thermometers, and they are pretty accurate.
The addition of sea salt to the chicken produces one of the most flavorful and tenderest chickens I have ever eaten. You can pick the leftovers the next day and add a bit of yellow curry powder, some celery salt and may to make a tasty curried chicken salad for sammies.
Chuck the bones in a pot of water with curry powder, garlic powder, salt and pepper, and celery salt for a great stock. Let it boil away for about 20 minutes to 1/2 hour, take the carcass out and boil down the water / stock until reduced by 1/2 and you have a tasty base for soups.
All this for about $6 bucks at the store
Read more everyday recipes here:
My quick meal solution:
Halve a squash, prick with fork a few times, place cut-side down on a baking sheet that has a teaspoon of olive oil spread over it, and roast in oven between 350-375 for about 35 minutes.
In the meantime in a baking dish, prep chicken breasts or salmon steaks with lemon, olive oil, oregano, and salt and pepper. Place in oven next to squash for about 20 minutes for chicken, 15 minutes for salmon (if you time it right, the squash and the chicken/salmon will be done at the same time). Sometimes, I place a whole tomato on the baking dish to roast at the same time the protein is cooking - I love roasted tomatoes.
While the protein is cooking, I cut broccoli and place the florets in one of those Corningware casserole dishes that has a lid (but really, any microwave-safe cookware will do for this). You can "steam" the florets in the microwave on high for about 3-5 minutes (again, I time this so that everything is ready around the same time).
To put it all together:
Take squash out of oven and scoop out cooked flesh onto dinner plate. Add salt and pepper to taste. Sometimes I will toss the squash with some maple syrup, butter, and whole grain mustard before plating.
Toss broccoli florets with grated parmesan or crumbled blue cheese before plating.
Plate protein (and tomato, if you included it).
And you're all set to go within 45 minutes.
The best part is that most of these ingredients keep for a long time. A squash can last a few weeks on your counter or in your pantry. Broccoli usually keeps for about 2 weeks in the crisper of your fridge. And the chicken breast/salmon steak can be frozen to start.
One time saver I have used a lot is to buy fresh veggies on my weekend shopping trip and chop them up the same day. I keep them in a large tupperware container and then make stir fry's throughout the week. Most of the veggies keep well for the week (red peppers, carrot, summer squash, zuccini, onion, etc) and you could even keep some canned baby corn and water chestnuts in the cabinet. TJ's sells bags of frozen asian veggetables for stir fries, but I find most get soggy. Heat a wok or large saute pan over high heat and throw in as many veggies as you want to eat. I usually slice up some chicken breast or throw in some shrimp for protien. A little garlic, ginger and soy will make it taste good, but you can even opt for a pre-made sauce if you wish. By the way, green onions and bean sprouts seem to spoil fast, so i try to use them within a day or 2.
The curry options are a great alternative to the stir fry and can be made out of the same chopped veggies. Just keep some cans of good coconut milk in the cabinet, fish sauce and a can of your favorite curry paste. Here is the method I use:
Heat the wok on high and put in a scoop or two of the thick coconut paste that sits at the top of the can. Scoop some of the curry paste and stir it in with the coconut milk. Once it starts to fry and smell nice, pour in the rest of the coconut milk. Make sure it all mixes well and then add some fish sauce (I add to my taste). You may also want to add a little brown sugar to smooth it out - it's that spicey, salty, sweet thing that makes Thai food so good. Once your sauce tastes good, toss in the veggies and meat according to how you think they will cook and simmer. Very easy and very tasty. I think the trick is getting a good paste and good coconut milk. No "lite" milk please.
re: Ali G
My mom and I do this with meat! When we get home, we prep the meat. For example, beef will be cubed for future stews or sliced for future stir fries. We portion it and put it in freezer bags. Then, when we want to cook something, we just pull it out, let it thaw or just throw it in. Same thing with chicken breasts.
By the way, I also recommend allrecipes.com. It's a really good site. I like it because the recipes have reviews and ratings so you have an idea of what to expect.
Chicken (and/or pork) Adobo
1# Chicken, cut up or parts (I like legs & thighs)
1/2 C Soy sauce
Garlic, crushed (lots, more then 5 cloves)
1/2 C Vinegar (any kind, I prefer rice wine vinegar)
2-3 bay leaves
Throw it all in a pot and simmer until cooked, about 30 minutes. Serve w/ rice. This recipe is REALLY forgiving and can pretty much add as much of these ingredients as you want. I actually prefer my adobo with lots of vinegar so I usually cook mine with about a cup instead of the 1/2c. If it's too salty, you can always thin it out with water. Sometimes I will also add onion and the last time I made this, I added potatoes.
If I want to make a very speedy dinner, I usually make tacos. You can be done in 15 minutes:
- I warm veggie crumbles, but you could brown your meat/etc. with a taco mix in a skillet. I usually doctor this up with a half a diced chipotle pepper and a little extra cumin.
- Warm a can of refried beans.
- Chop a bell pepper, onion (brown it if you're feeling ambitious), strawberries or bananas, tomatoes, etc. Grab some pre-washed greens, like arugula. Shred some (soy) cheese. Throw it all on a large serving platter and put it in the middle of the table; easy to make, looks nice, but keeps the prep work fast.
- Throw the taco shells in the toaster oven for 4 minutes.
- If you have time, quickly toss some pre-washed greens with salad dressing, maybe throw some of your already-chopped peppers or some pine nuts in there.
- Put some Thai or chipotle hot sauce out on the table.
Voila! Tacos (self-assembled by your diners), with a side of refried beans (cheese on top optional) and a side "salad", 20 minutes tops. And somehow they still manage to impress, mostly because of the chipotle and strawberries/bananas.
The key to quick-easy cooking after a long day is planning in advance. You need to map out several days' worth of meals at one time, do the shopping & basic prep, then you can put together hot meals at the drop of a hat. When we're pressed for time, we often have breakfast-for-supper at my house. Bacon in the microwave, a quick omelette made with whatever's in the fridge (veggies, leftover meats, cheeses), and pancakes or waffles takes just a few minutes and is always satisfying.
Dare I suggest that you try one of Rachel Ray's "30-minute" cookbooks? If you're new to cooking on a regular basis, her books offer some solid tips for being organized in the kitchen, as well as how to vary the flavors of a dish built around a particular cooking technique.
re: Hungry Celeste
While Rachel Ray does have some tasty recipes to offer, I'd caution you that many of her recipes are not really "30 minutes" and some of 'em just don't come out right even if prepared to the letter of the recipe.
For quick stuff, I have MUCH more faith and much better luck w/the recipes in the Everyday Food magazine - can't tell you how many "keepers" we've gotten out of that mag.
If you love Mexican food (as I do), this recipe for chillaquelles is easy and tasty. I based this on one of Elena Zelayeta's: Cut up 6 tortillas in strips. Melt 2 T. butter in a non-stick skillet and add the tortillas. Mix until they're limp. Add 4 beaten eggs, 1/4 cup (or more!) of grated parmesan, and red salsa (or salsa fresca) to taste. Also add salt and pepper to taste. Mix it all around in the skillet until eggs have just barely set. Serves 2.
I serve this for dinner with a green salad and a side of either Mexican rice or refritos.
A few suggestions:
Saute garlic and shallots (two of each chopped) in a tablespoons of olive oil, add in a 28oz can of diced tomatoes with juice and simmer for 20 minutes. Cook pasta while that cooking. When the sauce is done, stir in 2 T of butter and a can of tuna (we actually use two) in olive oil. Salt and pepper to taste and mix with pasta - top with parmesan. So yummy!!
If I'm in a big hurry I'll make a cold tuna/macaroni salad with canned tuna, pasta, chunks of cheese, bit of dijon, maybe some cold peas, garlic powder, salt, pepper, mayo or olive oil, lemon juice. I always make that one up as I go along.
Chicken breasts: pound thin, sprinkle with salt, pepper, garlic, onion and a teensy bit of sugar. Saute 2-3 minutes per side in olive oil and butter, turning ONLY ONCE. When cool, slice and freeze in individual baggies. Great for salads and pasta. (For a different flavor try cinnamon and nutmeg with the other spices and layer a pita with chicken and store bought tahini or hummus....soooo good. Cumin is also good.)
I make a big pot of vegetable soup and freeze it in small baggies: I take a ton of veggies, put in a pot, cover with chicken stock and bring to a simmer until flavorful. That's it. Eat that with your meals and you're getting all your veggies, vitamins and nutrients.
Potatoes are always easy. Scrub them and cover in a little olive oil and kosher salt and pop in the oven (no foil!) for an hour (I honestly can't remember if I do them on 375 or 450). You could do that when you walk in the door and then have baked potatoes with that fabulous chili you're going to make. Or layered with the frozen chicken and some steamed brocoli and cheese.
We have a local grocery delivery service here that has wonderful pre-packaged meals (all fresh) - a bit of research might turn up something similar in your area.
I'm sure there are more I'll think of after I post this....
I agree with the soup suggestion. Endless possibilities.
And stir-fry! Once you've prepped, incredibly quick. This one from Pleasures of the Vietnamese Table:
1 1/2 Tbsp lime juice
1 Tbsp Fish sauce
1 Tbsp sugar
2 Thai bird Chilies or 1/2 Serrano chili, chopped
1 Tbsp oyster sauce
2 tsp soy sauce
2/3 lb flank steak in 1/2" cubes
2-3 Tbsp Vegetable oil
2 cloves garlic, sliced
1/2 c pineapple cubes
1/2 c Asian basil leaves, halved
1/4 red onion, thinly sliced
3 c watercress, torn into pieces
1 ripe tomato, cut into thin wedges
Stir lime juice, fish sauce sugar and chiles together. In another bowl toss the beef with the oyster sauce and soy sauce. Stir the garlic in the oil briefly then add the beef and stir-fry until just done . Through it in the lime juice mixture and mix in the pineapple, basil and onion. This entire mixture is served on the watercress and tomatoes.
I coat some salmon with hoisin sauce and then broil a few minutes per side until browned and crisp. Serve with steamed rice and a simple vegetable.
My mom mixes up Hellmans mayo (she says it must be Hellmans, not Miracle Whip, not any other brand) with sugar, slathers it over a salmon fillet. Then she bakes in her convection oven (a regular oven would work too I'm sure, just turn up the heat a bit) until the mayo browns all over. We don't actually eat the mayo topping itself, but it keeps the salmon extremely moist, even when well done, and the oil it creates at the bottom of the pan is delicious.
Miso Soup is also quick and easy: take water, add instant dashi powder (or not - the dashi powder makes it better, I think, but miso is so strongly flavored it doesn't matter that much). When the water comes to a boil, add miso to taste (about 2 T per cup, less if you are using dashi) and simmer a bit until the miso dissolves. Add any/all/none of the following, depending on what you have in the house: chopped scallions, small cubed tofu, seaweed. For a simple meal, sometimes I'll add some chunks of fish and serve with some steamed rice. I like to add a scoop of rice into the soup. But most of the time, I make it as a quick accompanyment to round out a meal.
Thai curry is actually very quick and easy, and can be varied infinitely according to the stuff you have on hand. Heat 1 T oil in a big skillet, add 1-2 T of curry paste (depending on brand, they vary in spiciness) and fry for a minute or two until fragrant. Add a can of coconut milk (I use light), a big spoonful of brown sugar (like 1 1/2 T), and about 2 T of fish sauce. Let is simmer together while you slice up a pound or a pound and a half of protein (thinly sliced beef, chicken, pork; peeled shrimp;) or cubed tofu). Add the protein, stir it around to separate the pieces and disperse it evenly in the liquid. Then add a bunch of of veggies, say a pile about the size of a head of cauliflower. You can use anything: snow peas, green beans, broccoli, cauliflower, eggplant, zucchini, etc. You can also use asian vegetables from the pantry: bamboo shoots, straw mushrooms, water chestnuts, whatever. Simmer together for about 5 minutes until the veggies are tender and the meat is cooked. Take it off the heat, stir in a big pile (maybe 1/2 cup) of fresh basil and/or fresh mint (or even better, Thai basil, but my local supermarket doesn't carry that) and squeeze in the juice of one lime. Actually the last time I made it I was out of basil and mint and I forgot to squeeze in lime juice. It was still tasty. Serve with lots of rice. It sounds complicated, but it only takes about 1/2 hour. Do it once and you realize it is basically 1) fry curry paste, 2) add curry base, 3) add meat and veggies, 4) simmer, 5) add herbs and lime.
For a really, really simple meal, I take chicken thighs, sprinkle them with salt and pepper, pour on some barbecue sauce (try some of the gourmet brands - I like one made by Butternut Maple Farms that I found at Whole Foods) and bake for until the chicken is done (20 minutes or so for boneless pieces, longer for bone-in).
My default way of cooking vegetables is roasting them. Preheat oven to 425 or so. Chop up vegetable of choice into bite size pieces. Toss with salt, pepper, and olive oil to coat. Roast until caramelized and tender. I do this with cauliflower, green beans, asparagus (or use the broiler), potatoes, carrots, fennel, sweet potatoes, bell peppers, onions, garlic ... almost anything, except for leafy greens. Vary the seasoning with different herbs and spices if you've got them. It takes about 5 minutes to get the vegetables in the oven and then you can ignore them until you are done.
I make quick Thai curries all the time. I have red and green curry pastes made by "Taste of Thai" and they are terrific. quite spicy, too. I throw in whatever meat and veggie I have on hand and it always tastes wonderful. I also like to make the curry base (sauteed curry paste + 1 can light coconut milk) and pour over fish fillets then bake in the oven. 400 for 20 min for thick salmon fillets. Red curry is my favorite for the fish. I often don't have fresh basil on hand to throw in at the end. While the basil makes it better, don't sweat it. it's great without it too.
I also have gotten much better about making things ahead and freezing them --- premixed meatloaf mixture, enchilada filling, anything really. It makes quick cooking so much easier. Good luck.
I make a sausage and leek pasta that is quick and easy. The whole thing takes less than 30 minutes.
Brown 1/2 lb fresh sausage (remove it from the casing) in a large saucepan. Drain off excess fat, add some butter (2 T or so) and 2 leeks, white and light green parts only, cleaned well and cut into long, thin strips. Season with a little salt and cover, sweating the leeks with the butter and sausage until the leeks are tender, about 15 minutes (add a little bit of water if it's too dry). Meanwhile, boil a pound of pasta (linguine, fettuccini, or the rotelle that are curly and look like telephone cords, or the short rotelle, or penne rigate all work well). While the pasta cooks, remove the lid on the leek/sausage mixture and boil off any excess liquid. Taste for seasoning. When the pasta is almost al dente, throw it in with the leeks and sausage (save some pasta water). Toss it on low heat with the leeks and sausage and add some pasta water to loosen it, if necessary. Serve with grated parmigiano-reggiano.
I make quesadillas a lot too. Other easy, healthy, use-up-whatever's-in-the-fridge meals we like to make are calzones and frittatas.
For calzones, you can use refrigerated pizza dough (I like the TJ's kind), stretch it into a rectangle, spread some combination of ingredients along one edge (veggies, meat, cheese, anything you have on hand), and roll up. I brush it with egg and cut slits into the top before sticking it in the oven at 350 for about 20 minutes.
For a frittata, preheat your broiler. Mix up 3 eggs + 2 egg whites with veggies (or meat) and cheese. Pour into a pan and cook over low heat on the stovetop for about 5-8 minutes, until it's solidified. Sprinkle some more cheese on top, wrap foil around the handle of the pan and broil for a minute or two. Remove, unmold on to a plate, then flip over on to another plate.
One of my personals favs is something that I call Mayonaise Fish. Cooking Light refers to it as Easy Baked Fish Filets. You take whitefish filets (I prefer Orange Roughy, Cod, Grouper) and coat them with a mixture of mayonaise, lemon juice, onion powder, salt and pepper. I also like something for a little kick like Tabasco or wasabi mixed in with the mayo. Then you sprinkle some panko on top of that, drizzle the filets with melted butter and bake. I usually do couscous or a rice pilaf as a side.
Have you ever used Dijon mustard for the mayo?...it's excellent and lends much more flavor without the fat. Epicurious has a great Dijon Fish Fillets recipe that uses a little melted butter, dijon mustard, fresh lemon juice and worcestershire sauce for the "glue" and then bread crumbs or you could definitely use panko, then it's baked...very tasty!
I combine the two: I mix together dijon and mayo (or thick yoghurt), use it to coat either fish fillets or pieces of chicken, shmush on bread crumbs or dried herbs, and place on a bed of frozen corn or spinach. Then bake. The coating helps keep the flesh moist, and definitely adds flavour. I imagine the worcestershire sauce helps, too.
My favorite fast dinner..........
Preheat oven to 425
Take your boneless/skiknless chx brst, cover with cling wrap and gently, but firmly, pound him with a meat tenderizer or rolling pin till it is about 1/4 inch
Get rid of the cling wrap
Down the middle put your favorite cheese, seasonings, roasted peppers, sauteed mushrooms, whatever. Then roll it up, small, pointy end first and put it seam side down in lightly oiled pan. Then pour spag/marinara sauce over top for Italian or salsa for Mexican. Shove in the oven and cook for exactly 20 mins and Ta Da! Serve over pasta or rice. If it takes more than 10 mins to make....I'll come over and make it for you!
OK, this may not sound all that good, but it is DELISH, easy, filling and healthy! Either buy "log o' polenta" or make your own which I let set up in a glass baking pan - then cut into portions and brown in a skillet with a small amount of olive oil. While it is browning: Take one can beans (I use either pink or kidney- size doesn't really matter - I usually use the big ones) rinse and drain then put in a blender. Add an equal ammount of salsa (I often use a combo of mild/medium). Puree in blender (I more often do this in a large measuring glass and use an immersion blender.) Heat in Micro for 3 minutes. Put portion of polenta on a plate. Pour bean/salsa mixture over it. Top with sour cream and shredded cheese.
This is a very quick/almost always have the stuff on hand dinner for weekend dinners, but would be great anytime.
My initial reaction, too, when I friend recommended it. It's now one of our "too tired to really cook" recipes.
Trader Jo's is mentioned above. One of our favorites is their Thai red curry sauce. comes in a jar. I add chicken breasts, the entire jar of sauce and a little water. Simmer until chicken is cooked through. Serve over rice. Really good additions are potatoes and some sliced carrots.My husband thinks this is as good as the Matsuman Chicken he gets at our favorite Thai restaurant.
Quesadillas have got to be my go-to meal when I'm exhausted but hungry.
I keep both whole wheat and corn tortillas in the fridge at all times. I use any protein leftovers (chicken, fish, sausage, meatloaf, roast beef, pot roast, shrimp, etc)as a filling supplemented by cut up veggies (green beans, edamame, corn, mashed potatoes, sweet peppers) and CHEESE. Lately I've been using 'Casera'-a Mexican cheese. It doesn't melt all gooey, but gets soft and has wonderful flavor.
Lightly oil a heavy fry pan and heat on medium. Lay tortilla in pan, put in cheese and then top with about 1/4 c mixed ingredients on one half of tortilla. Cook a minute, flip uncovered tortilla half over the filling and turn over to toast the other side.
Dinner in 5 minutes. Kids love these and you can sneak in all kinds of veggies where they can't see them. Add hot sauce and crema for more adult palates.
Given your lack of time, I'd suggest that you cook in large batches and freeze portions. My freezer is small, but I keep a stack of frozen meal-size containers of chili, chicken, taco meat, etc.
When you freeze, mark the package with the date you stored it. 1-2 days before you want to eat, put the frozen container in the refrigerator. It will thaw slowly and safely.
If you are particular about flavors, consider ordering good quality spices and herb mixes from a company like Penzeys.
Things that freeze well:
There are a zillion recipes. I brown 2 lb ground beef in a big pot, add a big can of diced tomatoes, chili powder, cumin, oregano, chipotle powder (or a dried chipotle chile). Let it simmer for ~45 minutes. Add a big can a drained rinsed beans (black beans, pintos, kidney...). Simmer a bit more.
Ways to serve chili:
-In a bowl with rice.
-As a topping for baked potato, or even a sweet potato.
-Wrapped in a tortilla with cheese.
-Mix with leftover cooked pasta, sprinkle with cheese and heat in the oven.
-Top chili with with fried eggs.
-Topping for hot dogs.
Buy chicken parts in large economy packages. I like skinless chicken thighs. (Of course, skin-on is more flavorful.)
Rinse fresh chicken thoroughly. Shake the water from each piece and drop in a large ziploc bag.
Sprinkle with some seasoning mix into the ziploc. (This could be cajun mix, fajita mix, greek seasoning, turkish seasoning...)
Seal the bag and mush the chicken parts around to make sure they're all coated with seasoning.
Leave in refrigerator overnight, The wet seasoning mix will soak into the meat.
Lay chicken parts on broiler pan.
Bake at 350 degrees ~15 minutes. Turn the pieces with tongs. Bake ~15 more minutes. (Baking time will vary. Small pieces, like drumsticks, take less time. Chicken should be almost cooked through with no pinkness visible on the surface.)
Turn on broiler and place pan so chicken is about 3" from heat source. Broil on both sides, monitoring carefully so that chicken is browned, but not burnt. (If chicken is not cooked through after broiling, you can return it to the 350 degree oven until done.)
For the freezer: Pack cooled chicken pieces in small ziplocs, carefully sealed, with excess air squeezed out. I keep the small ziplocs sealed in a larger ziploc - to prevent freezer-burn.
re: val ann c
Agree with making ahead and freezing. We eat well every night, but I only cook about 1x/week (in multiples). Over time there becomes quite a variety to choose from out of your freezer.
(For you Zuni fans, I even dry-brined then froze the famous Zuni Chicken. I defrosted, then roasted as usual. Very good.)
re: val ann c
I'm not sure exactly what my schedule will look like once I have the work study but I'm pretty sure I will have at least one free evening while the boyfriend is at work. I think that night will be the "cook in advance night" great idea.
Scott (the BF) loves chili and I never really thought about how elastic it is. We've been thinking of staples that we always want to have around and availabe, chili will be one of those. Thanks for the recipe too.
"Joe's Special": Sauteed ground meat, onions, mushrooms, and spinach with egg scrambled in, topped with grated cheese.
Pasta with raw tomato sauce: diced tomatoes, chopped green onion, minced garlic, grated mozzarella and parmesan, olive oil, soy sauce and fresh basil if you have some on hand.
Baked chicken breasts, fish, pork or veal chops: Mixture of equal parts panko and freshly grated parmesan cheese, salt, pepper and just enough melted butter (NOT margerine) or olive oil to hold the mixture together. Sprinkle on top of meat or fish and bake at 450. Thin fish fillets take about ten minutes, everything else about twenty. Cover loosely with foil after ten minutes if getting too brown. If you like mustard, a light coating of Dijon under the crumbs is nice.
My family has a similar recipe called smith special. Joe's and Smith will surely enter my repertoire. The pasta idea sounds tasty too, and damn cheap and easy to make. It'll probably end up being a once a weeker.
Trifecta with the baked chicken/fish/pork/veal It sounds tasty and versitile ideas are always the best for daily meals
I'm sure your budget is a consideration but fish is a very good value because there's no waste (bones & gristle) nor fat...it cooks quickly, too. Depending on where you live, there are some good bargains. I live in Florida and fresh cod is on sale frequently for $7.99 per pound, tilapia is always pretty inexpensive, and mahi-mahi, while I've seen the price steadily go up over the past few years, also goes on sale for $6 or $7 per pound. A quick way to bake it is to mix olive oil and fresh lime juice together, pour it on the fish and sprinkle with Creole seasoning...bake at 400, basting every few minutes, and you have some tasty fish in about 15 minutes, depending on the thickness.
While tilapia is pretty cheap (and nutritious), it's also pretty boring, but I adapted my favorite sole/sand dab recipe to it and it works really well. Just pat the fillets fairly dry, season them with salt and pepper, then dust them with some flour. Put some fresh salsa (I use Trader Joe's Picante) in a bowl, about 1 soupspoon per piece of fish, and mix in some capers and maybe some chopped fresh basil. Preheat the oven to 400o. Heat a blob of butter or cookable margarine in a skillet over high heat until it stops foaming, and sautée the fish in that for two minutes on one side, then turn the fish over. Spread the salsa mixture over each fillet, and then put the pan into the oven for two more minutes.
Tilapia's also a good candidate for simply dipping in some seasoned beaten egg, rolling in cornmeal and frying. A good shot of Tabasco in there helps a lot, too...as usual ;-)
Eggs, bacon, baby spinach, sharp cheddar cheese, cherry or grape tomatoes and good canned tuna (in water) are weeknight staples. Canned chickpeas or white beans are also good add ins.
With eggs, you can have hardboiled/fried/poached eggs for putting on spinach salad, or make a frittata or omelet w whatever cheese, vegetable (frozen spinach, frozen green beans, etc.), or protein you have lying around.
Bacon makes for my current favorite, the BLT salad, dressed w mayo/olive oil/pepper/cider vinegar or a quick crustless quiche lorraine. (6 eggs, 1/2 c. cream, and a well greased pan) I sometimes make that bacon/broccoli/grape/scallion/mayo salad that seems totally 1955, but which I can't resist, and bring it to work with me to add cubed or sliced smoked turkey to for lunch.
Cheddar and tuna for tuna melts-- or a tuna frittata w cheddar and whatever else you feel like tossing in.
Spinach salads of every stripe...
Quick wilted spinach with pine nuts, raisins, and garlic as a side dish to a supermarket roasted chicken. Quick wilted spinach w garlic, sesame oil, soy sauce and lime juice is also a favorite.
I saute halved cherry tomatoes w garlic and serve as a side dish with italian or curry seasonings.
Other non-staple ideas:
Risotto, surprisingly, is a less than an hour dish once you've gotten a grip on the method (you don't have to stir as often as Marcella Hazan says), and like eggs, almost endlessly adaptable. Vary your veggies, protein, cheeses, seasonings, sauces-- Jamie Oliver's cookbooks are full of ideas.
I like the wild salmon filets from Trader Joe's and will throw them, frozen, covered in Soy Vay teriyaki sauce and lemon juice into the oven to roast at 425F in about 30 minutes. In the meantime, I can make sticky rice by cheater's method (soak sushi rice 15 minutes in pan, then cook, boil another 10-15 minutes, turn off heat, stir in salt and rice vinegar to taste immediately before) and cook some baby spinach. The salmon is also good slathered in a whole grain mustard/lemon juice/olive oil/thyme bath, accompanied by steamed broccoli.
If this seems like a lot, well, it's from my "what's for dinner" list on the side of the fridge-- to help my husband when I am running late and I ask him to get things going...
re: Notorious EMDB
Thank you so much! Trader Joe's keeps coming up so now a visit is imminent.
I'm actually eating Risotto my roommate made a day ago for lunch. It know it not known for keeping well but I really like it as a leftover. Great idea for somethine to make ahead of time and heat up later.
I'm copying the BLT salad to my list of things to make too.
you know, risotto is very good after a day or two when it is rolled in flour then egg then breadcrumbs and fried. arancini i think is what its called. its good to roll it into a ball and stuff a treat in the middle. i think fresh mozz is used most often, but capers, procuitto (sp.), olives, sharp provolone etc . . . would be great. oohh, maybe hot peppers. a nice drizzle of balsamic over it would be the perfect ending. you could make these and top a salad with them. somce nice baby greens or field greens with a simple balsamic vinaigrette.
I am a huge fan of Trader Joe's. They make cooking so incredible easy. Pick up some fresh Tilapia, a bag of Panko(rice flour crumbs) and their frozen garlic cubes. If you're into spinach grab a bag there too. Saute the spinach with a bit of unsalted butter and a garlic cube or two. I also have their salt and pepper grinds and use these to season. Drown the fish in an egg bath then dip into a little flour. Redip into egg, then the panko. I add season to the panko. Sometimes salt and pepper, sometimes sweet curry powder, or grated asiago cheese. Then I saute in the garliced butter. I buy potatoes at a discount market but T'J's has too. Cut into chunks and boil 'till soft -15/20 minutes. Then smash. Add butter, salt, pepper and a little cheese. Enjoy!
Also get their organic pasta sauce and the rice pasta. My BF loves their already made turkey meat balls. - I don't eat meat. I love to make this too. Easy and fast. I complement w/their pesto pizza. Yum!
Third thing I make often: Buy the ovolini mozzerella cheese. I think now they are even made smaller. In a bowl add chopped tomatoes, chopped cucs and the cheese. Toss w/ T'J's pesto- the one in a plastic container found in the fridge w/other sauces. Salt and pepper to taste. Can use as a main meal w/ garlic bread or what I did last week was marinate for several hours chicken breast in the pesto then grilled (on the barby). The chicken was succulent and flavorful.
Make extra and freeze the left overs. That way you'll have in the future when You don't feel like cooking or dont have time to cook.
re: Kitchen Queen
We thought Trader joe's would be a good idea, ecspecially since there is one on my street. We hadn't thought of what to buy though. Thanks for the suggestions!
Freezing things for the future is a great idea. The kind of pragmatic, common sense that I have trouble coming up with hehe.
My default dinner meal is crepes w/ whatever I have on hand that's tasty thrown in.
My crepe recipe:
1 1/4 cups unbleached all purpose flour (can use some whole wheat, if you prefer, but you get a chewier crepe)
1/2 teaspoon o' salt
3 large eggs (2 eggs work, too, just add an extra 2 Tablespoons of water)
1 cup milk (you can use nonfat, but whole is better)
enough water to get a nice pourable consistancy (from 2 Tablespoons to 1/4 cup or so)
2-5 Tablespoons of melted butter
throw ingredients into a large bowl and blend completely w/ a stick blender OR put the ingredients in a blender and whir until mixed completely.
Pour one standard ladel-full of batter onto a hot crepe pan (use a little butter on pan if it is not non-stick). If you don't have a crepe pan you can use any medium-sized nonstick frying pan.
Cook until edges curl slightly. Flip. Add filling to middle of crepe and fold or roll edges inward.
You can eat 'em plain. you can dessert 'em up (cinammon and sugar= oh so good! Don't get me started on Nutella, ice cream or jam, but any and all is fabulous. Savory ideas: cheese, sauteed mushrooms, fresh herbs, olives, on and on world without end.
Save extra batter in the fridge. You have a fast breakfast or dessert for tomorrow night.
Many thanks your majesty!
I never thought of crepes! I mentioned your reply to the boyfriend and he got really excited and told me stories of making crepes in french club.
Now I'm listening to stories about French club though and high school YAY! (scarcasm)
We'll definitely be using your recipie. It's really appreciated.
1 cup sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
2/3 cup lemon juice
5 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled
3 teaspoons grated lemon rind
1 9-inch pie shell, unbaked
1. Heat oven to 325 degrees F. In a large bowl, combine sugar and cornstarch. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. 2. Blend in the lemon juice and butter; stir in the lemon rind. 3. Pour mixture into the pie shell. Bake pie until puffed and golden and a thin knife inserted into pie comes out clean--about 50 minutes. Cool completely on a wire rack.
I take chicken breasts, salt and pepper them, lay each on a piece of foil and put onion slices, crushed garlic, carrots slivers, celery pieces, green peppers and mushrooms on them. Then I pour a little white wine over it and fold up the foil into packets. Place in the oven @ 350 for about 30 minutes.
Use a crockpot, I cook chuck roast, whole chicken, pork chops and throw in veggies with them. Easy and good.
Sprinkle pork chops with lemon pepper and saute in a non stick skillet. Serve with applesauce and asparagus.
when I was in school, the foil packets were a regular staple in my house. you can nearly do anything in a foil packet and because it steams itself you keep in a lot of moisture and seal in all the flavour.
not exactly from scratch, but for something a little comforting i'll take one of those foil roasting pans and put porkchops over raw rice with water/wine/mushroom soup and any other veggies you like. if you don't have a steamer this would be a fantastic way to do fish with soy sauce and ginger as well. i really like it because you just pour in all your ingredients and then forget about it until the oven beeps.
to continue on the oven theme, i might take advantage of the broiler to do up steaks or other slabs of meat and vegetables at the same time. it's really quick because you'll only need around 10 minutes per side and even less for the veggies which can go on a lower rack.