Shortcuts and Time Savers: Weekend Meals

Happy Hump Day! It may be Wednesday, but Ms. Foodie is already working for the weekend…

Ms. Foodie prefers quick and dirty for the weekend–that’s meals, not… get your mind out of the gutter!

As much as Ms. Foodie loves food, and loves the kitchen, I don’t want to spend all weekend there. So easy, one-dish meals, particularly ones that can be planned ahead of time, are always on the list. And as always, I’m not opposed to using other recipes as my launch pad.

My friend Terri Gibson posted this Pizza Casserole recipe on her Facebook page, and I immediately snagged it so that I could make it on Saturday. It looks complex, but like Pizza, it is sooo easy to prepare, and can even be prepared the night before, placed in the refrigerator, and cooked the next day. That might even be preferred, as the flavors get to merge and meld to make this already flavorful dish even better!

Pizza Casserole Collage

The original recipe is from Jinkyfer on her WordPress blog, “Recipes that Look and Sound Good“.  Jinkyfer doesn’t play, and all the recipes had me drooling. The only thing Ms. Foodie adjusted was the cook time. The recipe calls for 25 minutes, but I like my pizza and cheese crispy, yet gooey, so 45 minutes was a better measure.

For Sunday, AllRecipes.com was my go-to site, and Cheesy Pork Chop Casserole was on the menu. No measuring, no mixing, just real easy fixing, as the commercial goes. The most time took was peeling and slicing the potatoes–otherwise, gravy!

Desserts are also packaged into my weekend (unless I get a particular craving during the week), and this Banana Bread Bars with Brown Butter Frosting from “Life’s Simple Measures” Blog could not be resisted.  Like the Pizza Casserole, it is extremely easy, even down to the Browned Butter Frosting. Ms. Foodie miscalculated on the Powdered Sugar, so I just added a bit of cornstarch to help the thickening.

Banana Bars Collage

Turned out beautiful, and the taste was scrumptious! It was moist and light, yet had that denseness that I love in Banana breads.

What’s for Dinner: Skillet-grilled Salmon with Pineapples and Quinoa with Petite Peas

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Summertime… and the livin’ is easy.  As far as Ms. Foodie is concerned, so should the cooking.

With the help of my rice cooker, Ms. Foodie was able to mount this dinner in 30 minutes. The salmon was grilled in a cast iron skillet with a tablespoon of Sesame Oil, then spiced with Sea Salt, Cayenne, Ginger, Minced Onion, and basted with Pineapples and a bit of the juice.

Easy, filling, and Ms. Foodie didn’t even break a sweat. My kind of Summer meal!

Quickie Meals: Honey Sriracha Chicken with Jasmine Rice, Sweet Corn and Spinach

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Honey-Sriracha Chicken with Jasmine Rice, Sweet Corn and Spinach

While Ms. Foodie loves to mount elaborate meals from time-to-time, for the most part, I depend a great deal on Kitchen Cabinet Cooking: what’s in the Store (my cabinet/fridge), and what can be made quickly.

This meal has several quick and dirty components:

  • Chicken Thighs: The easiest part of the Chicken to grill and bake, because thighs they require so little maintenance, while still retaining their moisture and flavor. You can cook eight chicken thighs in a 400 degree oven in as little as 45 minutes.
  • Frozen Vegetables: Look, I grew up in the Midwest, and fresh vegetables were only possible in the late Spring and the Summer—or you paid a lot of money for shipped produce which didn’t retain half the nutrients. Frozen vegetables, especially the flash frozen variety we find today, retain much of the nutrients of their fresh counterpart, and they make for an easy meal accompaniment.
  • Pre-cooked sides: Ms. Foodie adores her Rice Cooker, and when I cook rice, I always make an extra cup or two. Cooked rice refrigerates for up to five days; so that means you can focus on the meat or veggie part of your meal, and simply heat up or nuke the rice to go along with it.

Thanks to this extremely easy recipe from Healthy. Delicious., frozen Spinach and Sweet Corn, and pre-cooked Jasmine Rice, Ms. Foodie was able to crank out dinner in less than an hour.

When you have so many things to do, wherever you can save time makes a huge difference.

Honey + Sriracha Chicken.

 

What’s for Dinner: Salmon Stir Fry in Sweet Chili Sauce

In a quest to find different things to do with Salmon fillet, Ms. Foodie decided to try a stir fry. After combing a few recipes, and coming up empty, Ms. Foodie decided to play around with what was in the Store.

After foraging in the refrigerator, I discovered Mushrooms, Baby Carrots, Snow Peas, and Kale. Ms. Foodie chopped those up, along with Onions and Garlic, then sauteed the lot in a base of Sesame Oil and dried Basil. Ms. Foodie then chopped up the Salmon fillet, and added it to the veggie mix. Then I added a tablespoon or so of Soy Sauce, and a cup of Sweet Chili Sauce to complete the transformation.

Served over a bed of Jasmine Rice, this quickie meal was just the ticket!

Simple Fare: Pan-fried Salmon with Onions, Garlic, and Kale accompanied by Cilantro-Jasmine Rice

Ms. Foodie is finding that it is often the simple things that turn out to be the best. This would be especially true of tonight’s dinner.

Ms. Foodie took less than 45 minutes (thank you, Rice Cooker!) to make this meal, and if I put my foot in it, if I must say so myself!

Ms. Foodie rubbed down a large Salmon Fillet with Sea Salt and Red Pepper Flakes then let it sit for about 20 minutes.

While the Salmon was marinating, Ms. Foodie added chicken boullion and Cilantro to the Jasmine Rice to create a flavorful and refreshing rice dish in the Rice Cooker. I added equal parts water to the cups of rice (I did two), hit the “Cook” button, and forget about it.

Ms. Foodie then chopped a bit of White Onion (about 1/4 cup), 2 cloves of Garlic (sliced), and some Kale leaves (about a 1/2 cup) and sauteed the mix in a tablespoon butter until the onion was clear and the Kale was vibrant and a bit tender. I removed this mix from the skillet, added another tablespoon of butter, and threw on the Salmon Fillet, skin side down. Ms. Foodie cooked it for about 5 minutes, or until the skin was crisp, then flipped the Fillet and cooked it for another 5 minutes until it was cooked through.

Mr. Foodie gave it the thumbs up and said “It was delicious!” I’m inclined to agree with him. 😉

Comfort Breakfast: Grits with Parmesan Rock Fish and Seaweed

Ms. Foodie has been feeling a bit under the weather, so comfort foods are in order not only for nourishment, but for pampering.

Grits are my go-to breakfast comfort food. Ms. Foodie had some leftover Parmesan Rock Fish, so that added some protein and flavor, while Seaweed flakes added some chew and spice.

Along with some Peppermint Tea with LOTS of honey, and Ms. Foodie is feeling better already!

Ground Pork, Orzo, Artichoke Hearts, and Carrots tossed with Gorgonzola Cheese. Sometimes, I impress myself… #foodie #ieatthereforeiam #kitchencabinetcooking

Ms. Foodie surprised herself with some Kitchen Cabinet Cooking magic.

Fish Friday: Rock Cod and Sour Cream Cabbage

Rock Cod and Cabbage

Ms. Foodie knows Lent is over, but fish on Friday is still an easy, go-to meal after a long and busy week.

For this Fish Friday, I took the yummy and hearty Rock Cod and marinated it in Trader Joe’s Sweet Chili Sauce, Cayenne, Salt, and a bit of dried Cilantro, then let the mix ruminate in the refrigerator for a couple of hours.

For the Cabbage, I followed a recipe at Group Recipes for Sour Cream Cabbage–simple, with nice flavor and texture. Cabbage is an excellent go-to vegetable that’s packed with Vitamin C and other nutrients, fiber, and is a perfect detoxifier.

While the Cabbage was cooking, Ms. Foodie heated up a couple of tablespoons of Olive Oil in a cast-iron skillet, took out the Rock Cod from the refrigerator, dredged it in flour, and lightly fried both sides of the fish until golden brown and done.

 

Breakfast from the Heart…

“Cooking is like love, it should be entered into with abandon or not at all.”

Harriet Van Horne, Vogue, October 1956

Heart-shaped Pancakes (use)

Happy Valentine’s Day! The Foodie family aren’t huge romantics, so this day often whooshes by with just a greeting of acknowledgment, and attended to like any other day.

But this V-Day, Ms. Foodie decided to be different (shocker!) and made Mr. Foodie his favorite meal: Pancakes. But these ones came straight from the heart, in the shape of a heart!

Ms. Foodie has tried lots of pancake recipes, and they never live up to the hype. So I came up with a few of my own. This simple Pancake Mix Recipe uses the following ingredients:

Dry:

2 cups Flour
1/4 cup Sugar
1/2 tsp Baking Powder
1/2 tsp Baking Soda
1/4 tsp Salt.

Wet:

1/3 cup oil (Canola, Vegetable Oil)
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
2 eggs (lightly beaten)
1 and 1/4 cup of milk (you can substitute Buttermilk or Almond Milk).

Ms. Foodie sifts the dry ingredients together, then I mix the wet ingredients in a separate bowl.  I create a little well in the dry ingredients, then lightly pour the wet mixture in stages, mixing well at each pour. You don’t want to over mix the batter though–lumps are good!

Ms. Foodie does not own a heart-shaped mold (that lack of romance thing), so I carefully placed the batter into a non-stick skillet to form little heart shapes. Ms. Foodie found that this got easier and more precise with each heart.

Heart-shaped Pancakes (Naked-use) Aren’t they pretty? And a bit rustic–definitely a reflection of us. We’re simple folks who enjoy Simple Fare!

Ms. Foodie threw some frozen berries (minus strawberries–Mr. Foodie is allergic) into Maple Syrup, and warmed it, then melted some Butter in a separate server. Nothing makes homemade Pancakes happier than warm Butter and Syrup!

So from this non-romantic, to the romantics of the world, have a loved-filled day, and Eat Heart-ty!