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Feb 8, 2002 12:55 AM

Cooking at Home -- Anyone Cheat with Prepared Foods?

  • k

If so, and I find it a huge help when preparing many courses, what are some of your favorite prepared foods to buy, then maybe doctor up? Or simply prepped raw ingredients -- already washed, chopped, etc.

For ex, in Cleve I found a Lebanese grocer who sold me washed, chopped parsley; another restaurant sold me some veal stock for my osso buco; another some of their fabulous red wine/shallot sauce for my filets. It saved me hours and hours!

Anyone have some good prep secrets?


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  1. If you take Five Brothers brand Fresh tomato and basil spaghetti sauce and add a splash of milk and a bit more spice to it, it makes a reasonable approximation of pasta sauce.

    1. Since I became a Mom just over a year ago I've had to
      take short cuts in the kitchen. I find that a roasted chicken from any decent supermarket can be doctored up in a variety of ways......taking it off the bone & adding it to salads makes a nice lunch......rolling it up in a warm tortilla w/some prepared salsa & cheese is yummy & fast.....
      Also most markets sell cleaned and chopped veggies & meze dips (hummus etc) which make a nice app......
      Thank God for triple washed & bagged baby green salad from trader joes (although I still insist on making my own dressings, I make a batch & keep it in the fridge for about a week).
      As far as a terrific store bought red wine sauce I have not found one although whole foods sells demi glace & adding reduced rd wine, shallots & thyme to this doesn't take long & is a terrific accompanyment to lamb/beef.
      I never use to think much about short cuts but now it's a must.....I also try to prepare one large roast (lamb, pork, beef) per week so we have leftovers for lunch & quick dinners.
      Lastly I always keep frozen shrimp (peeled & deveined but NOT COOKED) in the freezer to make a quick pasta...not having to clean the shrimp saves tons of time & the shrimp thaw in the time it takes to boil water for pasta. If you have a bit more time, Trader Joes sells frozen shrimp raw, deveined but not shelled & the shells make for a great shrimp stock (cooked w/a bit of water, white wine, carrots, onion, celery for about 30 minutes) that really adds a wonderful layer of flavor to pasta sauce for the shrimp.

      hope this helps.


        Chino Wayne's Mashed Potatoes

        Betty Crocker instant mashed, add extra butter, add sour cream, and add grated Romano cheese and a few
        grinds of real pepper corns. Outstanding, easy mashed potatoes.

        Chino Wayne's Thanksgiving Dressing

        Saute chopped celerey and onion in butter, prepare Stove Top Stuffing per instructions, add the sauteed celery and onion, thrown in a bunch of sage. Turn it all in to a baking dish and heat until the top gets crunchy. Outstanding "homemade" dressing.

        Short cuts, when executed well, are good things.

        1. I braise pork chops or chicken in Frontera Grill bottled salsa. Serve with tortillas. (I have used several salsas, including but not linited to the ones specifically for cooking.)

          1. Saw an interesting "cheater recipe" this weekend...
            forlasagna: substitute layers of frozen cheese ravioli for the cooked lasagna noodles & ricotta. Layer sauce,ravioli,defrosted & drained spinach, mozzerella etc. Shouldn't take long at all especially if you use grated cheese & jared sauce. I haven't tried it yet but it sounds good & I imagine it would save you tons of time. Recipe from Real Simple magazine......