This morning I woke up faced with a giant quandary: I didn’t have a kick ass idea for this week’s post, and also I needed to get started making dinner… lunch… and breakfast.
And then it hit me: what kind of a maniac makes dinner at the same time as breakfast and lunch? The answer is me… you… and all of us. After all, there are only so many precooked chickens one can eat before sprouting feathers, and ordering in adds up.
In the great buffet of life, capturing and cooking food is a heaping portion of angst served up daily on our collective and overflowing mental plates. Today we want things healthy but quick, easy but complex — and it all feels so oxymoronic… emphasis on moronic. And it explains why we’re all prone to have massive existential crises while in line at Trader Joe’s.
So what’s a bitch’in Betty Crocker to do?
First off, you fill your kitchen with cheap yet time-cutting tools:
– A mini- prep food processor (you can find ’em in cute colors for $40 or less)
– A garlic press
– A crockpot
– If you really don’t give a shit about the environment, get pre-prepped food like salad in a bag, peeled garlic and/or chopped, pre-chopped veggies, etc. (For the record, I try to ignore the siren song of these wasteful, over packaged items, but some weeks it’s too damn hard and I find myself tossing together a Caesar Salad in 3 seconds flat.)
Next, fill your mental pantry with the following fresh, 15-minute meals — it’s a week of time-cutting dinners that’ll spice up your life! Unless otherwise indicated, these recipes serve four people or three kinda hungry people or two totally starving people.
1) Awesome Artichoke Chicken
1 to 1 1/2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken (make it one good sized breast per person), cut into chunks
1 12 oz. jar of marinated artichokes — keep the juice, chop the artichokes a little bit
1 onion, chopped (use your mini-prep – saves a ton of time and tears!)
1 box of white button mushrooms (even faster if you buy ’em sliced)
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
1 lemon, juiced and zested a bitty bit
White wine (a cup for the recipe, and more for you)
2 tbsp. olive oil (optional)
Salt and pepper or lemon pepper to taste
Parmesan cheese (optional)
Serve with: Pasta, rice, or cooked spaghetti squash, whichever you prefer — you’ll prepare while you are making the artichoke chicken (Here’s a relatively fast way to prepare spaghetti squash in the microwave — 10-12 minutes to cook, plus 10 minutes to rest. Slightly out of my 15 minute range but faster than roasting.)
Pour the juice from the marinated artichokes into a large saucepan, and add the extra olive oil if you’d like.
Add the minced garlic, and sauté over medium heat for a minute or so.
Throw in the onions and the mushrooms, and cook for about five minutes, so they are nice and soft, but not brown.
Add the chicken, and cook until it’s almost fully done.
Just as the chicken is finishing cooking, add the cup of white wine, the juice of a full lemon, a little zest from the lemon if you’re feeling extra culinary, and salt and pepper or lemon pepper to taste.
Let that simmer for a couple of minutes, so the sauce thickens slightly.
Add the artichokes last, tossing the whole shebang just enough to warm the chokes.
Try hard not to eat most of the food out of the pan before you serve the peeps – it’s not easy cuz this is so yummy!
Morning prep hint: If you want to get a jump on the prep work, you can always cut up the veggies and the chicken and store in the fridge till you get home from work.
2) Bitch’in Beef Stew (Crockpot): Note: This recipe actually cooks for 8 hours or so, which is of course outside of the 15 mins. But it only takes 15 minutes to prepare in the morning AND you have the benefit of coming home to an old fashioned home-cooked meal! It serves 4 people, but if you want more cuz you’re serving more people or want to freeze some to get two meals out of this, then just double the recipe
2 lbs. or as many lbs. as there is in one package of stew meat
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
A few tbsp. olive oil cup olive oil
1 large onion, diced (if you like onions a lot, which I do, you can do 2 onions) (use your mini-prep!)
1 6-ounce can tomato paste
1 cup dry red wine
1 small bag red potatoes, cut in halves or thirds, depending on the size of the potatoes (approx. 1 lb.)
Half a bag of baby carrots, more if you’re super into carrots
2 cups beef broth
1 tbsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. dried thyme leaves
1 bay leaf
Half of a bag of frozen peas, thawed
Serve with crusty bread to mop up that Bitch’in Beef Stew sauce if you’re fancy!
Coat the beef in the flour.
Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the meat and brown it on both sides (approx. 5-7 mins.). Transfer to your crockpot.
Throw the onions in the pan, and cook over medium heat until they’re soft, around five minutes. Toss in the tomato paste and stir until the onions are coated; add the tomato/onion mixture to the crockpot.
Pour the wine into the skillet and scrape up any flour that’s stuck to the pan; throw it in the crockpot. (If you don’t have wine, just use more broth.
Add the potatoes, carrots, broth, salt, thyme, and bay leaf all in your now nearly full crockpot!
Cover and cook on low heat for 7 1/2 hours, or on high for 4 hours.
About 10 minutes before serving, add the peas and heat through.
3) To Die for Shrimp Scampi
1 1/2 pounds peeled, cleaned, and deveined medium shrimp, rinsed, drained and patted dry (Trader Joe’s sells a nice bag of frozen shrimp that you can defrost in the fridge all day or defrost quickly under cold water before you toss them in the pan)
1/4 cup olive oil (If you like your scampi more buttery, you can use a couple tbsp. unsalted butter and a couple tbsp. olive oil)
A half dozen garlic cloves, minced
3 or 4 lemons, juiced and maybe zested a bit
White wine (a cup for the recipe, and more for you)
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley, or a couple of tbsp. dried parsley leaves
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper, or more if you’re a spicy bitch
Kosher salt (to taste, up to a tbsp.) and pepper or lemon pepper to taste
Parmesan cheese (optional — I clearly just like to throw cheese on everything I possibly can)
Serve with: Angel hair pasta, rice, or cooked spaghetti squash, whichever you prefer — just like Awesome Artichoke Chicken. Cook the starch while you’re making the scampi. You can do it — you multitask like a mo’fo’, don’t kid yourself.
Warm the olive oil (medium heat) in the pan, and add the minced garlic.
Before the garlic browns, toss in the shrimp.
Cook for about five minutes, so the shrimp turns pink.
Turn the heat to low, and add the lemon juice, lemon zest (if you felt like zesting), the white wine, red pepper, salt, and pepper or lemon pepper. Let the sauce warm up, but don’t over cook the shrimp. Nobody enjoys rubbery shrimp!
If you’re serving this with pasta or spaghetti squash, I’d recommend tossing it in the pan with the scampi and mixing it up real good. YUMMMMMMM!
4) Terrific Turkey Fajitas
1 1/2 lbs. uncooked turkey breast, sliced in strips
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/4 tsp. ground coriander
1 lime, juiced
2 tbsp. + 2 tsp. canola oil (or whatever oil you have – olive is fine, too)
2 large onions, thinly sliced
2-4 green and red peppers, sliced
8 small flour tortillas
Salt and pepper to taste
Sour cream or plain yogurt (I like greek yogurt)
Guacamole or sliced avocados if you don’t feel like making guac (you can always buy the guac, too)
I’d serve this with brown rice and black beans on the side if you want a heartier meal. Or just the fajitas for a nice light supper!
Turn the oven on to broil OR heat up the grill.
Rub the turkey with the cumin and coriander and put it in a shallow glass bowl (not aluminum). Add the lime juice and 2 tsp. oil, and turn the turkey pieces until they are well coated. Let sit for 5 minutes or so.
Put the 2 tbsp. oil in a large saucepan, and add the onions and peppers (medium heat0. Stir occasionally, as you cook the veggies until caramelized, about 10-12 minutes.
While the veggies are cooking, either toss the turkey pieces on the grill and cook (about 5-8 minutes) OR put them in the oven under the broiler for 2-3 minutes. Flip the strips over and broil for another minute or two.
When the turkey is done, heat the tortillas however you like to heat tortillas – put in foil and pop in the oven for 5 or 10 minutes, heat in the microwave, or warm on your stovetop (with a pan or not — I’ve seen it done lots of ways)
To serve, put a few turkey strips and some of the caramelized peppers and onions on each tortilla — everyone can add their own lettuce, salsa, guac, and sour cream or yogurt. Delish!
5) Kick Ass Curry – This one requires Trader Joe’s Curry Simmer Sauce or a like one from the India section in your local grocery story. Also, you can make this dish with or without meat. If you go full-on veggie, I’d recommend adding some other vegetables like cut up zucchini or carrots, whatever you dig. There are other suggestions on the TJ’s Curry Simmer Sauce bottle that sound good, but I’ve not made yet.
I jar Trader Joe’s Curry Simmer Sauce
I lb. boneless chicken, cut in chunks OR 1 1/2 lbs. bone-in chicken (optional)
1 cup water
1 onion, chopped
1 tbsp canola or olive oil
I head of cauliflower, cut into small florets
1 can of chickpeas, liquid drained
Fresh cilantro (if it’s easy and you enjoy cilantro)
Serve with: Basmati rice and if you’re feeling fancy, naan. Trader Joe’s has amazing garlic naan in the frozen section that’s so good, you might just eat the whole bag yourself. Not that I’ve ever done that…
Heat oil in a large skillet on medium heat, and add the onions. If you are adding other veggies like zucchini or carrots, add now as well. Sauté for a few minutes until soft.
Empty jar of Curry Simmer Sauce and cup of water into a large skillet.
Add in the chicken (if you’re using) and cauliflower.
Cover and simmer on medium heat for 10-15 mins. until everything’s cooked through and tender. Stir occasionally.
Just before it’s all done, maybe 12 minutes in, add in the chickpeas. That adds a little special something to the texture, if not the flavor.
So if you see me sipping some wine, tasting a little Kick Ass Curry, and kicking back, just know I got this 15-minute meal thing down to a science. Hope you enjoy these quick recipes for Busy (BIS-y) people!