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Wednesday, August 14, 2013

2 tips for quick weeknight dinners and 2 quick recipes

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What excuse can one have for a dearth of posts lasting months and months and months.....

I'm not sure if there is a good excuse.  I could call it a combination of lost appetite, lack of energy, lack of time and just plain feeling tired.  Or I could just say I'm sorry and move on....let's do that, shall we?

Now that I'm back at work and wrangling two mini-foodies out the door every morning, I am finding things busy - still working on getting into any sort of routine that will allow a reasonable balance.  It really wouldn't be an overstatement to say that trying to keep meals, the house, etc., all on track can end up feeling more than a little chaotic.  Oh, and did I mention that we decided to sell our house and move to the country? (by country, I actually mean about 1 km from my current house, except instead of being surrounded by houses, I'll be surrounded by critters).

Anyway, life being what it is, I'm honing my expertise in REALLY quick meals - meals that can be on the table in 15-20 minutes.

I don't have photos of this meal, but I can tell you it's ridiculously simple, and relatively balanced.  And I use a cheater ingredient.

I have a couple of little tips when it comes to making weeknights less disastrous...

1. Batch cook, even on a weeknight.  Cooking something in the crockpot?  Roasting/grilling chicken breasts?  Always cook twice as much as you need, and keep the seasoning very simple.  That way, you can take half and use it for that night's dinner (and season appropriately), and use the other half for something completely different.

2. Find convenience foods that work for you.  You all know I"m no fan of processed crap, but there are sneaky little convenience products that can be huge timesavers when you haven't had the foresight to prep ahead.  Yes, it IS better to pre-cook a big pot of brown rice on the weekend.  But if you weren't that smart (and most of us aren't), there's still hope for you.  Hope that won't take 45 minutes to cook.  Check out these bad boys - (pre-cooked wholegrain brown rice, ready in 30 seconds).  It's WAY more expensive than cooking your own, but it's really fast.  But hey, when you get home and you have no idea what to make, it's not a bad idea to grab a bag or two at the grocery store and keep it in the pantry.

Easiest Pork Roast Ever
1-2 centre-cut pork loin roasts
bbq sauce

1. Put the pork roast in the crockpot.  Cook on low all day.  That's it.  No extra seasoning, no fussing.

2.  When you get home, remove the excess fat from the roasts, discard the liquid and shred.  I used half in this ridonkulously simple dish, and used the other half in my favourite enchiladas with salsa verde.

3. Mix in your favourite (or homemade) bbq sauce and enjoy.

Fibre-in-15 minutes side dish
2 T olive oil
1 onion
8-10 large mushrooms
4-6 cups baby spinach leaves
1 can chickpeas
1 package bistro express brown rice (or about 1.5 cups cooked brown rice)
1/3 c pesto

1. Preheat olive oil in a large heavy pan on medium heat.  While it's heating, dice onion.   Throw it in the pan.  While the onion is sautéing (stir it occasionally), Slice/chop the mushrooms.  Add them to the pan.

2. Once the mushrooms have released most of their liquid (about 5-6 minutes), add in the spinach, and cover, briefly, so the spinach wilts.

3. While spinach is wilting, drain and rinse the chickpeas.  Add the chickpeas and the rice to the pan and mix around for 2-3 minutes so it can all heat up.  Add in pesto (I like Kirkland Signatures pesto).  Combine.  Enjoy.

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