Archive for the ‘Meals In Minutes’ Category
It’s been a long time since I have posted, so I have a lot of stuff to share with you. I’m pretty sure I didn’t invent the taco, so I won’t claim to have, but I did bring taco night home. Put one pound of chicken in your crock pot (with seasoning mix and 2/3 cup water). Let it cook on low for 4 hours (2 on high). Take the chicken out of the crock pot and place on a plate. Use two forks and shred the chicken. Put it back in the crock pot and keep warm.
Get your toppings ready. We use: salsa, shredded cheese, sour cream, lettuce, and tomatoes. (Guacamole if I made it!!)
The best part of taco night is that it is easy to clean up. You can even serve your toppings in tupperware. Just put a lid on them and throw them in the fridge. Ok, I said the best part of taco night was the easy clean up, but the REAL best part of taco night is that you can easily make fajitas the next night and use the same toppings. You could also make nachos, taco salad or an omelet!!!! In our house, we try to not let anything go to waste.
Enjoy taco night. It stimulates conversation- even if it is just “please pass the lettuce.”
|2||slices extra-thick cut bacon, dice|
|1||small onion, chopped fine|
|1||stalk celery, chopped fine|
|1||carrot, peeled and chopped fine|
|2||plump cloves garlic, peeled and minced|
|1||cup brown lentils|
|1||14.5 ounce can plum tomatoes with their juice, cut or torn into pieces|
|Chunk of parmesan rind (optional)|
|1||cup cooked al dente, drained and rinsed ditalini or other small pasta shape|
|2||Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil|
|Best-quality fruity olive oil|
|Coarse grindings black pepper|
- Heat a large soup pot over medium heat. Add the bacon pieces and stir to coat in the oil. Allow to cook until softened and translucent. Add the onions, celery and carrots; stir. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt and sauté until softened. Add the garlic and sauté until fragrant. Tip in the lentils and stir to coat. Add the tomatoes, their juices, the water, a pinch of salt and optional Parmesan rind. Bring soup up to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the lentils are just about fully tender, 20-30 minutes. Add the ditalini and cook an additional ten minutes until the pasta is cooked to taste. Correct seasoning with salt.
- Serve in bowls with a drizzle of good olive oil, grated Parmesan and black pepper.
This hearty lentil meal goes over very well in my house. My kids and my husband LOVE when I make it. It is relatively quick and easy to make and I typically have the ingredients around. I found this website on TLC.com a few weeks ago and I have made it about once a week since. Special thanks to Buddy and Kitchen Boss for this awesome recipe.
This healthy recipe is a great “dip” that your kids will enjoy. 3 ingredients/2 minutes or less and all you need is a food processor or blender.
1 container of fresh salsa (you can make your own salsa if you prefer)
*Make sure you get mild salsa so your guacamole is not spicy
Take avocados and remove skin and pit. Add green fruit to blender or food processor
*With older kids you could use a fork or potato masher to mash up avocado, but for younger kids I recommend a blended smooth texture.
Add salsa to food processor as well. Blend well. Add the juice of 2-3 limes (to taste) blend again.
There are many different uses for this healthy “dip.” It is perfect for dipping tortilla chips in (I use multigrain). It is also a great substitution for mayonnaise on sandwiches. It can be used on tacos or salads.
Avocados contain more potassium then bananas. They are also rich in B vitamins, as well as Vitamins E and K. They are high in fiber and help promote healthy cholesterol levels. This power fruit is also rich in health promoting fats.
This recipe idea came from a very rushed day where I couldn’t seem to get anything done, (when in fact I got most of my list completed that day!) and I was heading from one task to another when I remembered that I hadn’t eaten yet. Like I said, it was a busy day, and I was stuck with the choice of soup or Mac N Cheese, and as much as I have often professed to love Mac N cheese, the idea of heavy noodles with basically no real nutrition did not appeal to me. I remembered a block of frozen chopped spinach in the freezer, thought about how much time I had to give to making lunch, about ten minutes, and decided that Spinach Mac would work, or I would starve.
This recipe is incredibly simple.
Boil the four cups of water in a medium sized saucepan. Add your noodles, stir a few times, then unwrap your block of spinach, and drop it in the pot as well. Let both items cook together according to the Velveeta package directions, or about 9 minutes. The block of frozen spinach melts and the spinach tenderizes and even adds a buttery spinach flavor to your noodles. Drain the noodles and spinach carefully and thoroughly in a colander, squeeze the cheese into the bottom of the saucepan, pour the hot noodles and spinach over it, and stir until fully combined. Make a serving and sprinkle the Parmesan and salt and pepper over the top.
Delicious, and a great last minute idea. Just had to share that one with everybody. Way better than soup, and filled me up and kept me going for the rest of the day, with that little vitamin kick from the spinach. Pretty tasty. This meal is also an ode to the great Velveeta cheese, which has been making meals awesome since my Mom was a kid. You can make almost anything with that cheese, or just dip pretzels or veggies into it. Scrumptious.
Try adding cut up hot dogs, a sprinkle of bacon bits, or other chopped veggies to the mac mix, and you’ll be pleasantly surprised how quick and easy dinner can be.
When you are a mom, your time and energy are incredibly important, and nothing requires more time and energy when baking than bread made with yeast. That pesky little organism is often the reason that many moms don’t bake bread as often any more, unless its in a bread machine that you simply add ingredients too and press a button. (An incredible invention, by the way! Second only to the Crock Pot!)
Anyway, the mishaps, blunders, and bloopers that accompany the trials of yeast breadmaking have been recorded since the early days of yeast, around 4000 to 3000 BC, when the Egyptians first discovered the amazing powers of yeast, and added it to their baking recipes for a lighter fluffier bread. Breads up until that time had been simply a paste of water and flour, chewy and kind of bland to say the least. Breadmaking spread like wildfire over the European continent, with yeast leading the way, French artisan breadmakers making better lighter and tastier breads, all thanks to yeast! Unfortunately the power of yeast is only held back by its difficulty to work with, especially in the days before the little packets with instructions written on them. Bakers continued to experiment with other ways to add the reaction that created CO2 bubbles necessary for a light and fluffy bread, adding things like lye and sodium bicarbonate to their recipes. Baking soda was the most poular option until the 1800′s, but bakers and foodies alike were thrilled about the invention of baking powder, a reactive substance that not only helped the texture of their bread, but was not as bitter as baking soda. Baking powder was faster, more stable, and did not affect the taste of sweet breads, nor did it call for a starter batch like sourdough bread.
Thus heralded the invention of the quickbread recipe, a slightly denser usually fruit or veggie based bread that used baking powder or soda as its leavener, and was made faster,as it needs no rising time or kneading time. Squash type veggies are perfect as the main ingredient in a variety of quickbread recipes, as well as bananas, apples, corn and pumpkin.
Quickbreads are easily made into healthier recipes, as they require no butter, like some yeast based breads need for lightness, texture and stability, you can easily swap butter for applesauce in a quickbread recipe. You can also use artificial sweeteners with no detriment to the finished product. You can swap the standard all purpose flour for whole wheat, for extra fiber and nutrition, or if you are looking for a gluten free recipe, try a rice based or corn based flour. Even the orignal corbread popularized by the Mayan Indians in the days of Christopher Columbus is considered a quickbread!
Some tips for the best quickbreads:
- Never add baking soda or powder directly to liquids all by itself. It reacts with the liquid and you don’t want to waste the CO2 bubbles, so mix it in with your dry ingredients, until you are at the very lat step of mixing your wet and dry ingredients.
- Use the “well” method when adding your liquids to dry ingredients. Sift your flour and dry ingredients into a little pile on a cutting board or butcher’sblock, then using a large spoon, press a well into the center of the mound. Add your wet ingredients into the well, then gently mix to combine.
- Avoid overmixing your ingredients. Mix until just combined, leave a couple of lumps. The CO2 reaction only lasts so long, and you need those air bubbles to live as long as possible until you get the bread in the oven. Killing them by over-kneading or mixing them will result in dead bread, or chewy, thick, kinda gross bread.
- Remember that quick breads are usually very wet recipes, and are poured into a pan more often than shaped into a ball of dough. For uniform sizes and shapes, fill your bread pans about halfway, or muffin pans 2/3 of the way up, so that you don’t end up overflowing.
- Times vary for cooking based on oven temperature, density of your bread recipe, age of your baking soda, way to many variables to list here. So use the toothpick method when checking your bread, insert a dry fresh toothpick into the center of your bread, then pull it out the same way it was put in. If the toothpick is clean and still looks pretty dry, your bread is done. If it comes out with chunks, goo, or looks wets, leave your bread in the oven just a little bit longer, until the toothpick comes out dry.
- When cooling your quickbread, let them cool in pan until you can handle them, then pop them out and cool the rest of the way on a wire rack until they can be stored, wrapped, or eaten. The air circulating around the bottom of the bread will keep the crust from getting soggy.
Search “quick bread recipes” on Google, Cooks.com, or Allrecipes.com for a great recipe to add to your holiday baking! Quick breads are faster, more reliable and easier to make than yeast breads, and a homemade bread tastes and SMELLS much better than a store bought one.