Who doesn’t like a quickie?
Meal people MEAL. One of the trials I face every day is trying to make get dinner on the table before 7:00. It’s tough. Lots of folks I talk too tell me that it’s too hard to make stuff fast and resort to high salt, prepackaged solutions to come up with quick meals.
I don’t buy into that idea. With just a little bit of planning it’s very possible to come up with healthier and tastier home cooked meals.
I like to use Sunday afternoon to do a little planning and cook some proteins for my upcoming week, that way we’re ready to go. I also have a few shortcuts in case plans change.
Shredded chicken is a great start for a ton of different quick meals, from simple chicken and sliced strawberry salad, to chicken tacos, the ideas are endless.
– Most every weekend I bake a whole chicken and then shred it. I have a oven chicken roaster that works fantastic, gets my highest recommendations. You can find one at Amazon here. Norpro Chicken Roaster. These things really make baking a perfect chicken easy as pie. I use a whole chicken, pat it dry, cover with Paula Dean’s House Seasoning (see last weeks entry) and put some sliced garlic cloves under the skin. Garlic is optional, but I like the some garlic flavor in just about everything I make. Bake the bird at 350 for about an hour typically for the smaller birds I seem to find at my grocery store.
– Another option, poached chicken breasts. Most stores sell bags of frozen chicken breasts. Those are handy, although they’re typically frozen in salt water. I like to poach these in low sodium chicken broth.. fill a big pot with about two cups of broth, bring to a boil. Gently add the frozen breasts, I usually place them in the liquid with a spoon, and cook for about 15 minutes. Remove the breasts from the liquid, allow them to cool a bit and shred with a couple forks.
– One must have for any kitchen, a meat thermometer. Cook chicken until it gets to 180. The more you cook the better feel you’ll have for when it will get there.
Lean Ground Beef
– Cooked lean ground beef, well seasoned is easy to reheat. If I know we’re going to be in a rush I’ll make up some taco stuffing. Frankly ground beef cooks up pretty fast so you don’t HAVE to make it ahead of time.
– Meatballs- A good meatball is really little meatloaf. They can certainly be made ahead of time and put in the fridge with some homemade pasta sauce for a fast meal. My favorite way to make these, 1lb ground beef, ½ cup seasoned bread crumbs, 2 tbl spoons chopped fresh oregano, and same amount basil, 3 cloves chopped garlic, 2 eggs beaten. Mix the ingredients in a bowl, by hand. You might want to let the meat sit out for 15 minutes to avoid hand cramps from the cold. To make these really good, and different, buy a tub of the mini-mozzarella cheese balls. Form the meat around a cheese ball. You should have enough for about a dozen. Bake the meatballs on a oven tray lined with foil for about 15 minutes or until they reach 160 degrees. When you make your pasta sauce, add the meatballs and let the simmer in the sauce for a half hour or so. Delicious.
– There some other stuff you can use. One family favorite is my version of chiliquillias. If you’re familiar with chilliquillas, or if you have Mexican friends, don’t serve them this, at least don’t call it chilliquillas. The real chilliquillas is a Mexican dish with meat, beans and tortialla’s that most people use for using up left overs. My version has no meat, and it’s not quite the right consistency, but it’s tasty enough, family likes it. It also falls into my category for quick as the whole thing can be assembled the day before and thrown in the oven when I get home.
– BTW this one is a special favorite for leftovers. Mrs S will eat off this casserole carcass all week.