This post is in response to a recipe search thread I read on one of my online parent networks and as was typing it, I thought it would be helpful to share this with a larger audience:
Easy Peasy Recipes:
I have two words for you, “Slow Cooker”. I got mine ( Hamilton Beach Set ‘n Forget Programmable Slow Cooker, 6-Quart) less than a month ago for $49.99 and it is such a lifesaver. My girls giggled as I exclaimed, “I feel like I just discovered fire! ” My 9-year-old who is enthralled with Greek Mythology calls me Prometheus as I want to share this wonderful new device with parents everywhere.
Learning has been slow as I am an ex-vegetarian (having shunned meat for 7+ years) and have only recently experimented with meat recipes – translation = you can eat a lot of meat if you’re not careful. It’s so easy to throw in chicken/red meat, veggies, garlic and other herbs and arrive home after work to an aromatic dinner but after a few days of this, I was starting to feel the heft of too much meat in my system. All in moderation I say.
But digress, here are a few of my recipes (sides, additions to instantly brighten a meal and main dishes):
My trinity: bell peppers, onions and garlic. Sauteing this three together make everything better and bonus points for being able to chop up a lot of it beforehand and save in ziplock bags for grilling/sauteing/boiling (soups) during the week.
Avocado with sliced tomatoes sprinkled with lemon juice, black pepper and sea salt: again this is always a yummy refreshing and healthy addition to almost any meal. Also aesthetically pleasing, toss it over a taco or on top of a side of quinoa.
Canned black beans (unsalted) = great source of protein, sprinkle dried oregano, dash of cumin powder, garlic powder and salt to taste. If you eat dairy, the “quezo fresco” from Los Altos is a welcome tasty addition for Mexican food night. You can find it at El Rancho Supermarket on Willow in Menlo Park, CA. I buy all of my Hispanic food items there. (Any Mexican supermarket / mercado will have this)
Quinoa = you can pre-soak on Sunday and let it dry out or buy a brand that has been pre-rinsed.
Family of 4: 2 cups of quinoa, a third of a capful of virgin oil, garlic powder, oregano, basil, Italian seasoning, salt to taste or chicken boullangaise.
1. Heat pan to mid heat (5), add olive oil, angling pan to cover as much of your surface area
2. Add quinoa and shake pan to make sure that the quinoa gets equal access to bottom of pan.
3. Add seasonings (enough to coat a layer over surface area).
4. Add 4 cups of water.
5. Once it boils, reduce heat to low simmer (2) and cover. 20 minutes later = fluffy yummy nutritious quinoa. We eat quinoa almost daily and it keeps really well for packed lunches for our girls who attend Laurel Elementary.
For “main sides”, I alternate from tofu, Morningstar crumbles, shrimp, carne arrachera asada (grilled skirt steak), chicken breast and whole chicken (with innards and extremities removed).
Tofu: cut into length wise into 1 inch wide blocks. Season with curry, sesame seeds, garlic powder and tamari. Coat the seasonings on and add tamari to taste (don’t douse it).
Grill (heat level 6 – 7) on your Cast Iron Skillet ($29.99 at Crate & Barrel) over enough olive oil to lightly coat the surface. Serve on top of quinoa, noodles (soba/udon) with side of steamed broccoli, cauliflower and carrots.
Morningstar Crumbles (Mexican food recipes) - I love this product, it takes the guilt out of eating actual ground beef (Morningstar products can be found at your local Target frozen groceries aisle)
Heat your pan with olive oil (always just enough to coat surface, don’t over do it, it shouldn’t be creating a puddle on your pan)
Add chopped onions, bell peppers (red/green/yellow/orange = interchangeable but add some variety so the color pops)
Add garlic powder (or if you have oodles of time, chop some fresh garlic cloves and brown for a minute as your stir)
Once onion and bell peppers have softened (~ 2 minutes), add your bag or crumbles
Stir, mix and add oregano, basil and more garlic powder (Can you tell I love garlic?)
Add chopped tomatoes, mix, add half a cup of vegetable broth and cover.
Less than 5 minutes later = Voila
Serve in tacos topped with fresh avocado/tomato mix (see side dishes above), quezo fesco (if you love dairy), and your salsa of choice
Side of your canned beans recipe and quinoa to make it a full dish
To turn the above into nachos:
Same steps above but after you add vegetable broth, sprinkle with lactose-free Daiya Cheddar Style Shreds which can be found at your local Whole Foods or Amazon.com. It’s healthier (plant-based), easier on sensitive tummies and lower on the calories but note that they do not market themselves as vegan s there may be traces of animal protein.
Cover and you will have gooey delicious cheese mixed in with your “meat” to enjoy as your very own healthier nachos. Top it off with guacamole if you really want to go wild.
“Home-made” Corn Chips – Notice the quotations, this is a partial DIY chips
1. Package of corn tortillas (without lime or added flavor as flavor additives will cause the same reaction as adding water to hot oil = not fun, trust me – any my burn scars)
2. Cut tortillas length-wise along the lines of the tortillas into thirds, turn 90 degrees and cut width side three times.
3. Use your trusty cast iron skillet and heat at mid-high heat (6), add enough olive oil (1/3 inch) to allow for frying
4. Once oil is hot (test it with one tortilla strip, if it doesn’t start bubbling and rising to the top, have some patience )
- Once heat is high enough, add a layer of cut corn tortillas, flip over with your tongs as soon as your done adding tortillas, starting with the ones you added first
5. Once light golden brown, remove and place on a colander lined with a paper towel and lightly add sea salt to taste
6. Repeat until you have desired amount
7. Serve immediately or place in microwave oven (uncovered – you don’t want them to sweat and get soggy)
These are fantastic for your nachos (above), guacamole and/or salsa as your guests/family wait for the main dish to be done. Also great as a side-addition (6-8 chips next to beans).
Carne Asada – Easy recipe
Use Chef Merito Steak & Meat Seasoning, 1 (mid to large size) lemon, oregano, garlic, half an orange, (Mexican beer optional)
I like using the higher grade Carne Arrachera (skirt steak) found at any Mexican/Hispanic supermarket
In a small mixing bowl, add your Chef Merito seasoning, oregano, light amount of garlic and mix well
In a large mixing bowl add one piece of steak at a time and sprinkle seasoning over entire surface area, front and back
Repeat until you have all meat in large bowl
Squeeze half of an orange on top of mix, squeeze 1/4 lemon on top, if desired add 1/4 of Mexican beer and mix all meet well, rubbing in seasoning into the meat
Let sit while you prepare your beans, quinoa, avocado mix or guacamole
Heat cast iron skillet, brush on olive oil (mid to high heat 6 – 7)
Add meat to skillet and flip with tongs after 30 seconds. Squeeze a little lemon juice on each piece to keep from sticking to pan as you progress in your cooking. You can either keep flipping until a nice deep brow coloring to serve whole or cook until light brown and separate onto other bowl (if you want tacos and have more time on hand)
In a clean cutting board, slice meat length wise, turn and cut into small pieces width size. Toss back into cast iron skillet and cook until deep brown. This is perfect for tacos.
And now I must really get back to my studying as I have a history midterm this Thursday! I will add recipes for shrimp, chicken, soups and slow cookers soon!
I’m a mom of two (2nd and 3rd grader), pack their and my lunches M-F, cook dinner, work full-time as a business development professional in an international law firm and am taking 9 units of classes at our local community college. It helps vastly that I have a supportive partner but you can imagine that time flies in our home!