How I throw together a great meal at the last minute from whatever I have on hand.
Basic Recipe Goals
- It should only take 15-20 minutes of my time
- It should only use 1-2 dishes
- It should be healthy
- It should be delicious
Three Easy Steps
- Pasta, Soup, Salad, Rice, Pizza, Sandwich, etc.
- Alternatives include: Couscous, Quinoa, Polenta, “Veggie Pasta”
2. STAR INGREDIENT
- Meat, Beans, Eggplant, Cheese, etc.
3. FLAVOR & FILLERS
- Herbs, Spices, and Aromatics
- Basil, Parsely, Sage, Cilantro, Garlic, etc.
- Paprika, Anise, Nutmeg, etc.
- Onion, Lemon, Peppers, Coconut, etc.
- Veggies and Fruit that add bulk and flavor
- Carrots, Peas, Broccoli, Corn, Olives, Raisins, etc.
Now, let's tackle how to create your own recipe on the fly using these three steps. It doesn't matter which one you start with only that you cover all three steps. An example would be that I'm really in the mood for something lemony so I know that for step 3 I'm going to be using plenty of lemon as my main flavor then thinking about lemon gets me thinking about the nice fish fillets I happen to have in the freezer so I go get the fish and put it in a hot water bath to thaw and since I love rice with fish I can either pull some I've already cooked from the freezer or if I don't have that and I don't have a lot of time then I pull out the couscous instead. After about 30-60 minutes of letting the fish thaw it should be defrosted enough that I can turn on the oven to preheat while I season the fish. (NEVER prepare ANY meat without seasoning it with at least salt and pepper, it makes a world of difference in how the dish comes out.)
So, since I know I want it to be lemon fish I'll grate some lemon zest and juice over the fish with a little of parsley and some onion, garlic and a dash of paprika, just because I like it, and throw it in the oven. When I know I have about 15 minutes until it's done I out a pot of water, or stock, chopped onion and frozen peas on the stove and play with my kids for about 10 minutes while I wait for it to boil and then I add the couscous and plenty of parsley, maybe some pine nuts, and some garlic and pepper and let it sit for 5 minutes off the heat to cook the couscous.
Now it's all done and ready to dish up.
Another way is to start with the potatoes that I need to use up, I love rosemary roasted potatoes so I might chop them up into large chunks and throw some other veggies that are good roasted like squash, onion, tomatoes, etc. and toss them all in a little oil and garlic, plenty of rosemary, salt and pepper and maybe some parsley and/ or paprika. Throw them in the oven to bake along with a simple meat, like chicken, or saute the meat on the stove a few minutes before the veggies will be done and it's ready!
Here are a couple bonus recipes from a class I taught on Wed:
I know that Couscous sound exotic and technically it is but since it's a pasta that cooks up in 5 minutes it's also a real lifesaver when you realize that it's either something really fast at home or running to the nearest fast food place for dinner.
1-2 packages of Near East Roasted Garlic Packaged Couscous
Mixed frozen veggies
1 can Cream of Mushroom Soup
diced cooked chicken
(I usually don't use the package of couscous instead I quickly saute some chopped onion, throw in the stock along with garlic, pepper, parsley, and any other herbs and spices that sound good to me to boil instead of the water.)
Put the water on to boil
Once the water is boiling add the couscous and veggies, stir, turn off heat, and cover for five minutes
In another pot add the soup, 1/2 can of water or milk, or however much you want to thin it down to, and the chicken, Stir until it's heated through, about 3-5 minutes.
Fluff the couscous and veggies with a fork and serve with the chicken and sauce poured over the top.
Avocados are under used in my opinion, they are full of healthy fats and other nutrients and super creamy, I use them in smoothies in place of yogurt, the peas add cholesterol fighting fiber and the soy, protein, I promise you won't taste them, only the yummy strawberries and fruit nectar.
@ 1/2 cup frozen peas
@ 1/2 cup frozen shelled edamame (soy beans)
1 small bag of frozen Strawberries
2 cans of fruit nectar (any flavor, pineapple juice is great too)
1/2 -1 cup of water
Blend until very smooth.
If you can still tase the veggies at all throw in a few frozen cherries or more pineapple juice.
What are some of your ideas? If you use these basic steps the possibilites are endless.