Posts filed under ‘Recipes’
School is almost upon us, and for many of us, sports practices and tournaments have already begun. I don’t know about you, but that spells M-E-A-L S-T-R-E-S-S to me! I start formulating in my head all of the quick or make-ahead meals I can think of for the onslaught of nights about to hit where we are running this way and that.
My friend (thanks, Ann!) shared a wonderful recipe with me that is going in my “Recipes to Keep” binder, for sure. You can make it ahead and keep it in a crockpot on warm, reheat from the fridge in the microwave or skillet, or eat fresh. It is also very versatile in that you can add just about any veggies you like or have on hand to spruce it up, and can be served with rice or pasta.
It is called Tex-Mex Chicken and Black Bean Stir-Fry:
1-2 Tbsp mild olive or vegetable oil
1 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts (it calls for you to thinly slice them, but I just chunked mine up, and I also only used a 1 lb. package of chicken)
1 medium onion, diced (about 1 cup)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin, or more to taste
2 tsp regular or mild chili powder or to taste
Pinch of smoked chili poweder, such as chipotle powder or Spanish smoked paprika (I just used regular paprika)
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth (I might add a little more than this to make more sauce)
1/2 cup strained or pureed tomatoes (I used crushed, and I think I would double this to make more sauce)
1 1/2 cups canned low-sodium or no salt black beans
Leaves from 2 or 3 stems of cilantro, chopped (3 Tbsp.) (I left this out)
Add enough oil to coat bottom of large skillet or wok; heat over med-high heat. When oil is simmering, add chicken in batches (I added mine all at once). Stir fry for 3 or 4 minutes until chicken loses its raw look and some of the pieces are lightly browned. (The chicken will not be cooked through.) Transfer to a platter and repeat to use all of the chicken, adding a little oil before each batch as needed.)
Reduce heat to medium; add onion & stirfry for 3 or 4 minutes, until softened. Add salt, cumin, chili powder & smoked chili pwder; stir-frey for 2 minutes, then add broth and tomatoes. Return chicken to skillet, then add black beans; mix well. Increase heat to med-high and bring just to a boil, them reduce heat & partially cover (w lid slightly ajar). Cook for 6-8 minutes until chicken is done, then uncover and add cilantro, if using. Remove from heat.
I served over Trader Joes frozen brown rice (cooked, of course). Delish and made leftovers, which I froze.
Tip: Next time, I would add some sweet red pepper, zuchini, corn, and/or carrots when I added the onions to ramp up the veggie content.
This is so easy that it’s not even really a recipe.
Sauteed chicken cutlets served over pasta sprinkled with Italian cheese topped off with a little marinara sauce
Sauteed zucchini with onions
I already had cooked noodles and cataloupe (cut into chunks) on hand in the fridge. I then diced up my zucchini and onions. I tossed the onion into a nonstick skillet with a little olive oil and sauteed until nice and brown. Then I tossed in the zucchini. Meanwhile, I sauteed thin chicken cutlets in a nonstick skillet with a little olive oil, S & P. This only takes a few minutes per side. Very easy to overcook, so watch carefully.
I dished up some pasta on plates, sprinkled with some Italian cheese mix from a bag, and blobbed on some marinara. Cover with a paper towel and microwave for about 45 seconds until cheese and sauce are warm. I topped with a chicken cutlet, plated up the zucchini and melon. Ta da!
A great summer meal on a budget!
OK, I’m feeling a little bit back to normal now that our new puppy, Baxter, is settling in. We had the need for a speedy dinner last night with two travel soccer tryouts, and this is what I came up with in a flash.
I had thin steaks that I panfried in a nonstick skillet sprinkled with a little bit of my favorite Trader Joe’s seasoning grinder. While those cooked, I washed and steamed broccoli in the microwave, and prepared Trader Joe’s Instant Garlic Mashed potatoes. The whole shebang was ready in about 10 minutes flat. We rounded it out with some banana chocolate chip bread I had made earlier in the week.
- Thin steaks
- Mashed potatoes (I use TJ’s Instant Garlic Mashed, but you could use the refrigerated Simply Potatoes kind for a quicky substitute)
- Dinner rolls, if you like
Had to go simple and cozy with dinner tonight. This cold, damp night made me want to turn on my oven, so here’s what I came up with on the fly: Sort-of Homemade Pizza Trader Joe’s Style served with salad.
- Trader Joe’s Rustic Ciabatta Flatbread
- Trader Joe’s Fireroasted Yellow and Red Peppers (in jar)
- Trader Joe’s Tomato Basil Spaghetti Sauce
- Precooked bacon (the kind you microwave…Trader Joe’s makes a fantastic natural, preservative-free version of this in the refrigerated section)
- Bag of lowfat Italian cheese
- Olive oil
Preheat oven to 425 degrees, microwave 3 slices of bacon on papertowel per directions on box and then break into pieces, lightly brush edges of flatbread with olive oil, dump some sauce on flatbread and spread evenly, sprinkle desired amount of cheese over sauce, slice yellow and red roasted peppers and sprinkle on top of cheese, scatter bacon crumbles on top. Bake for about 10-12 minutes until done.
Serve with a salad (I used a bag of spinach, sunflower seeds, and Italian dressing).
Sorry, I don’t measure anything when I come up with it on my own. I just dump a little of this and a little of that. You know how much sauce and cheese you like on a pizza. Just wing the amounts to your taste!
OK, I admit it. I struggle with meal planning. I’ve printed out blank charts, searched my cookbooks, made binders filled with recipes by category, listed out meals by meat-type, side dishes, and bread choices. And you know what? I still haven’t developed a great monthly meal plan yet.
So, I figured out an easier way. I took a blank monthly calendar I printed off the Internet and have added in meals on random squares each time I make dinner. Somehow something always gets prepared and on the table, so I figured instead of struggling to come up with a list of choices, I just jot down each dinner that I make that I’d actually like to eat again. (Not always the case.) So don’t get freaked out that you have to make up 30 new and unbelievable gourmet meals for the month in order to create a meal plan…it’s just not true.
My blank chart is quickly becoming filled in with meals that are easy and quick to prepare and that I’m already familiar with. Even though they are no-brainers, I usually have the ingredients laying around because I have made them on the fly. Sometimes, I have to preplan a little for ingredient shopping, but for the most part, I can prepare them with just a little preparation and planning.
In fact, do you know what we had tonight? We had a box of Annie’s Cheeseburger Macaroni (I know, I know. It screams the 1980′s for many of us, but don’t knock it until you try this brand. Just brown a pound of lean ground beef, dump in some water and milk and seasoning packet and noodles, and boil), steamed broccoli, and homemade pumpkin muffins (I make huge batches of these and freeze them). Who says you can’t eat muffins with chocolate chips for dinner once in a while (they are practically a vegetable since they have pumpkin in them, right)? My youngest declared it to be the best noodles he’s ever eaten and wants it for his birthday dinner. So, I figure why slave over making unique, special dishes when all-natural hamburger macaroni makes you a goddess in your child’s eyes. I didn’t plan this meal at all…just grabbed what I had in the pantry and fridge and morphed it into a tasty, quick nourishing meal that will get added to my meal list.
Don’t get me wrong…I still love perusing my magazines for new ideas, and I am a complete sucker for a good cookbook. When I have time, I try new dishes, but for now with soccer season in full swing for both kids, it is time to rely on tried and true favorites. Jot them down…you’ll be surprised how many meals you already have in your head!
I think I might start posting what we have for dinner so you can see that you can feed your family mostly-healthy meals on the fly almost every night of the week. With a small amount of preplanning and keeping staples stocked, you can do it, too!
“Enjoy an organized life!”
While I’m on a French Toast kick, I might as well post this one, too (from Sam The Cooking Guy: Just a Bunch of Recipes by Sam Zien). This sounded so good…maybe this one could be served on a Sunday since it seems a little special to me. I’d serve it with a few slices of bacon and some fresh orange slices. Yum!
Banana Bread French Toast (serves 4)
- 3 large eggs
- 3 Tbsp milk
- 2 Tbsp Grand Marnier (I’m wondering if you could sub OJ for this)
- 1 Tbsp sugar
- 2 Tbsp butter
- 8 1″ thick slices of banana bread (make one from a boxed mix…easy-peasy!)
- 1/4 c. maple syrup, warmed
Beat the eggs in a flat bowl. Stir in the milk, Grand Marnier (or orange juice if you feel bold to alter this a bit and don’t have Grand Marnier), and sugar. Melt the butter in a nonstick pan over medium heat. Dip the bread slices in the egg mixture and cook until golden brown on the bottom. Flip and cook on the other side. Serve with the warm maple syrup.
Have a great weekend!
I found this recipe in my Sam the Cooking Guy: Just a Bunch of Recipes cookbook (by Sam Zien). I thought it sounded like a fun weekend breakfast idea for the kids!
French Toast Mountain (serves 2)
- 2 large eggs, beaten
- 1 Tbsp granulated sugar
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 2 Tbsp milk
- 2 Tbsp butter
- 5 slices bread (white or wheat)
- Powdered Sugar
In a large bowl, beat the eggs with the sugar and cinnamon and stir in the milk. Preheat a nonstick pan or griddle over medium heat. Add the butter and spread around. Dip the bread in the egg mixture and transfer to pan to cook (cook as many at a time as will fit in pan). Cook until golden brown and beginning to get slightly crispy around the edges, then turn and cook on other side. Remove from heat, cut the bread into 1-inch squares, and mound squares in a pile on two plates. Drizzle with syrup and sprinkle powdered sugar on top.
There you have it! A creative way to serve French Toast. I’m sure it won’t last long!
Here are a few recipes from Better Homes and Gardens that enable you to cook once and eat twice. These recipes tell you exactly how to prepare, cook, freeze, and thaw the main ingredient. Save time and money!
Chicken Noodle Toss w/Greens (uses frozen Spice-Rubbed Chicken)
Smoky Calzone (uses frozen Basic Beef Bolognese)
Let me know how these work out for you!
“Enjoy an organized life.”
Here’s a link to a super fast Chicken with Lemon-Caper Sauce recipe from Cooking Light. Enjoy!
Here’s a link to a tasty, light chicken-orzo soup recipe from Cooking Light. Enjoy!