* yes, there should be FIVE sets of boots but Allen ignored my advice to get adequate rain gear...

Friday, August 9, 2013

Quick and Dirty Cooking: 7 Meals for when the tough get going

I thought I would start passing along my quick and dirty cooking tidbits.  It's the sort of thing that sees you through when the baby has colic, the toddler is potty training, the preschooler is melting down and you thought you might break out in hysterical tears when you saw it was still 4 hours until bedtime.  They won't win awards or be quite as good as you could do but they will get you fed and sometimes that's all that matters...  

If I were a very good blogger, I would start in an organized fashion, first advising on meal planning, then freezer stocking, then doing yourself a favor (what Leila calls "save a step") and then the 7 meals but I am obviously the sort to Live On The Edge!  ;-)

All 7 meals rely on your pantry and freezer, contain ingredients that go on sale frequently and require little time or thought to throw together.

Stir Fry - dump 1-2 tbls oil/butter, 1-2 bags stir fry veggie mix, 1-2 cups cooked chicken and soy sauce to taste in skillet.  Cover until everything starts to thaw.  Throw 1-2 cups frozen rice into microwave safe bowl, add 1/4 cup water and microwave on high for 3 min.  Add to skillet and saute with another tablespoon of butter.  Perk up with a little lemon juice if you have it on hand.

Tortellini Soup- cook frozen or dried tortellini in ½ chicken broth ½ water according to package directions.  Add fresh or frozen veggies like spinach, peas, or carrots as desired as well as dried parsley flakes.   Alternatively: Sauté veggies and cooked tortellini in butter/olive oil mix.  Add slices of sausage if desired and make a quick pan sauce by adding a little chicken broth.  Top with paprika and dried parsley.  This looks impressive, tastes filling and is so very simple!

Fake-a-dillas- dump 1-2 tbls oil, 1-2 cups chicken (preferably shredded), 1-2 packages fajita veggie mix, 1 can rotell or salsa, ¼ c water.  Cover and let steam for about 10 minutes or until everything is thawed.  Saute an additional couple of minutes to allow excess liquid to cook off.  Serve with tortillas and shredded cheese.

Spaghetti and meatballs- Brown meatballs, dump on sauce, cook spaghetti and mix.

Kielbasa- dump 1-2 tbls oil, sliced kielbasa (or other sausage), frozen fajita mix, and frozen rice or diced frozen potatoes in skillet.  Cover until everything is thawed and sauté off excess water.  Season with paprika.

Pizza- I make my own crust.  The pizza yeast packets are especially handy for difficult nights but premade crusts will work as well.  Add sauce and cheese.  I top with peppers, caramelized onion (easy to make in slow cooker), deli meat ham, and mushrooms but no toppings or just ham are also good!

Pepped up pasta salad: I start with a premade boxed pasta salad- usually a ranch or herb type and add tuna and cannellini beans to add protein and add frozen corn and peas to the pasta in the last 3 minutes of cooking.  When I mix the seasoning packet, I add more mayo than called for or sometimes add sour cream instead if I have it on hand.

For those wanting a grocery list, make sure you have the following on hand.  It's helpful to stock up when there is a sale.  All of these keep well.  Note: I usually try to avoid processed ingredients but there is a time and a place for everything...  And, at some point, I'll write up how to make several of these convenience foods yourself- such as freezing beans you cooked yourself.

boneless, skinless chicken (bake in bulk in oven and cube, cook in slowcooker and shred, freeze in 1-2 cup portions)
chicken broth
dried pasta/spaghetti
boxed pasta salad
spaghetti sauce
pizza sauce or tomato paste
frozen fajita veggie mix
frozen peas
frozen corn
frozen stir fry veggies
frozen diced potatoes
diced seasoned tomatoes and/or salsa
shredded cheddar
shredded mozzarella
meatballs (premade or make your own)
pizza bases or pizza yeast
cannellini beans

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