15 Minute Meals and 3 Minute Abs
Dinner-time comes at roughly the same time each night – so can you tell me why there are some nights we look at the clock in complete and utter shock, “Oh my god! It’s dinner-time, what are we going to do?!?”. Imagine waking up one day, “Oh no! It’s Christmas Eve and I haven’t bought a single present!”. The shock of dinner-time sneaks up on all of us and it happened to me tonight. So I looked in my freezer and whipped this up with just a few ingredients in just 15 (not 30) minutes. I guarantee it was faster than chicken nuggets and mac n’ cheese and required the same number of dishes. I just wish I could get the same amazing results with 3 Minute Abs.
Pasta with Chicken/Sausage
- Cook ¾ box of gluten-free Pasta (add lots of salt to the water). Reserve about 1/2 cup of pasta water.
- Take the meat out of the casing of 4 Italian Chicken Sausages (I only had 3 so I cut up a single chicken breast and added it in).
- Fry the sausage/chicken breaking into small pieces until it is cooked through.
- Add meat to pot with cooked pasta. Add about ½ cup of pasta water and ¼ cup of parmesan cheese (fresh basil if you have it). Stir and serve!
Note: You can cook some veggies with the meat (e.g., mushrooms, peppers, tomatoes). Add salt/pepper and herbs to taste (e.g., parsley, basil). The flavor from organic Italian sausage alone was amazing!
How the Kids Can Help
- Choose the pasta you will cook
- Add salt to the pasta water
- Identify some veggies to add to the meat
- Taste the pasta to see if it’s cooked
- Set the table/fill the drinks
Did You Know?
- The family meal helps pre-schoolers develop better language skills (they may hear different words used at the table than they heard during the day).
- The link between processed foods and cancer is being proven more every day.
- Create Food Flexibility in your Family! Life is so much easier when everyone eats the same healthy meal.
The New American Dream
I cannot tell you how many smart, educated and all-together fabulous moms, who enjoy food themselves, succumb to the “short order cook” syndrome. If you are not familiar, this is the person who cooks something different for her spouse, each of the kids, and herself (if she has any energy left). This amazes me. Did your grandmother do this? My favorite show growing up was Little House on the Prairie – I am pretty sure that Caroline Ingalls did not offer multiple choice dinner options. Bear with me, I am on a roll….do starving children in Africa or flood victims in Haiti turn away broccoli with melted cheese or sweet potatoes with brown sugar/butter. Hell no! Why? Because they don’t have the luxury and most likely, they are malnourished. However, isn’t it ironic that studies show that our children (with all the options in the world) are also lacking in basic nutrition? Sometimes, more choices do not result in a better outcome. The new American Dream – less is more, go figure.
The Laziest Soup:
My kids weren’t feeling great so I cooked this soup in 10 minutes. It works with or without meat.
- Heat up 2 boxes of organic broth (I like to mix 1 chicken and 1 vegetable).
- Pour about 2 cups of pasta in the broth (I like the mini shells but whatever works).
- Slice some baby carrots and put them in the broth with the pasta and boil for about 10 min. (you can add any other veggies you have if you want i.e., celery, mushrooms).
- If you have some leftover turkey or chicken breast you can cut it up and add it in the last 2 mins.
- I sprinkled some parsley and a little black pepper on top for color (but skip if you want).
- Serve with some crackers or bread and of course, a big hug.
Did You Know?
Posted in Chicken
Tagged chicken, soup
The Less Food the More Leftover
A very sweet older couple in our neighborhood invited us over for dinner when we moved into our house years ago. We arrived (hungry of course) and saw 3 of the smallest bowls of salads I have ever seen on the table for dinner. We sat around commenting profusely on how lovely and delicious it looked. We sat down and all took tiny portions as not to empty any of the bowls. As you know, there is an unwritten rule never to take the last serving of food when you are in a group. We were all so afraid to eat that there were tons of leftovers. It was a modern day loaves and fishes miracle.
If you were at the dinner table with my mother and nobody was eating the last piece of food on the plate, she would say with attitude, “What, are we going to POSE with this piece of chicken?!”. Most times people would rather leave food on the serving dish (to be thrown away) than take the last portion. This was true at my pizza party on Friday night. The kids ate so much pizza that there were only 7 slices left for 5 adults. What happened? There were still 2 slices left after dinner. I guess my mom was right….smile for the camera!
Chicken Orzo Salad: Grab a rotisserie chicken for this recipe. I like to use mostly just the breast but you can use it all or save the dark meat for chicken salad. Use a butcher knife to cut chicken into pieces (gives a cleaner cut).
- Cook 2 ½ cups of orzo. Drain (drip a little olive oil on it so it doesn’t stick together).
- Cup up 1 rotisserie chicken (chunky bite-size) and place into large bowl.
- Dice a variety of veggies (about ½ cup each) and add into bowl (I used peeled celery, yellow pepper, cherry tomato halves, and a little scallion)
- Chop some fresh parsley and zest one lemon and toss into bowl with vinaigrette
- Vinaigrette (use a small jar to mix): Mix ¼ cup of red wine vinegar, 1 tsp mustard, lemon juice (1 lemon), 1 tsp honey. Add 3/4 cup of EV Olive oil and salt/pepper — Shake!
Seeds n’ Sprouts Salad
- Cut up orange pepper into slivers and toss into big bowl of salad (baby romaine/mixed greens).
- Sprinkle sunflower seeds on salad.
- Toss some sprouts on top.
- Use vinaigrette from Chicken Orzo and mix all together.
How Can the Kids Help?
- Let them watch you take the chicken breast off the bone and explain about white and dark meat. Ask them to try both and tell you which they prefer.
- Clean seeds out of peppers
- Zest the lemon and squeeze the juice
- Measure honey and mustard for dressing
- Peel and cut extra celery for snacking
Did You Know?
- The University of Texas Cancer Center found that cancer cells were “99 percent inhibited” by the mix of live sprouts (mainly broccoli seeds). How’s that for a positive link between food and cancer?
- Nuts and seeds have high levels of essential fatty acids. These are good fats and when eaten in moderation will help you lose weight!
When I lived in Germany 10 years ago, they didn’t have any shopping bags to carry your food out of the grocery store. EVERYONE brought their own. They also separated their recycles into at least 6 categories which had to be carried and dropped in the neighborhood bins (clear glass, green glass, brown glass, plastic, newspaper, and aluminum). The Germans made fun of America’s apples, they told me that our apples were waxed and shined to look “pretty” and that it made our apples look fake (they thought we were fake too). How preposterous, I thought! So many years later, I often think about my German experience. I wonder why Americans feel the need to cut ugly carrots down into 2 inch segments and repackage them into much prettier “baby carrots”. I wonder why did our grandparents feel the need to cover their furniture in plastic (and never take it off)? Why does everything have to look so perfect? Everybody knows that even if it looks perfect on the outside, things are never what they seem. So look out next time you bite into your juicy, waxed, perfect-looking apple – you just might find a worm.
Chicken Roll-ups: This is one of our favorite chicken dinners. You can make this is in any quantity and prepare ahead of time (just bake when ready).
- Stir a little olive oil and salt into about 1 cup of Italian bread crumbs in a bowl (should be crumbly but not wet).
- Cut (pounded) chicken cutlets in half on an angle. Spread breadcrumb mixture on chicken, roll it up and fasten with a toothpick. Space chicken out onto baking dish.
- Mix broth and pour on top of chicken: 1 cup of chicken broth, 1/2 cup of dry white wine, 1/4 cup of lemon juice. Sauce should cover about 1/2 inch from bottom of dish. This will thicken after cooking.
- Bake at 475 for 15 minutes. Baste chicken and sprinkle a little more breadcrumb mixture on top and bake for another 5 minutes.
Roasted Butternut Squash and Brussel Sprouts:
- Wash Brussel Sprouts, cut off the end and cut them in half. Cut butternut squash into cubes (you can also buy them cleaned/cut).
- Toss veggies in a baking dish with EV olive oil, rosemary, salt/pepper.
- Roast on 400 for approximately 45 mins.
Israeli Cous Cous
- Cook 1/2 onion in a drop of olive oil until soft.
- Add 1 cup of Israeli cous cous and mushrooms (any kind) and stir for a few minutes – add some parsley for color and salt/pepper.
- Add 2 cups of water (and/or chicken broth) and cook for 10 minutes.
- Boil some red beets and cut them into cubes.
- Add grape tomatoes and mozzarella balls (both cut in half) to beets and toss with a drop of olive oil, salt/pepper and rice vinegar.
How Can the Kids Help?
- Pour the EVOO into the breadcrumbs used in the chicken dish.
- Find and push the toothpicks into the chicken. Count the number of chicken pieces in the dish and the number of toothpicks you will need.
- Help measure and pour the sauce over the chicken.
- Sprinkle spices on veggies and help toss in the baking dish.
- Try using a “chopper” to chop onions for the Cous Cous.
- “Did You Eat Your 5 a Day?”http://foodservices.brevard.k12.fl.us/Wellness-Pdf/5AdayStudentActivities.pdf
Did You Know?
- You can bake and mash butternut squash and add a little butter, brown sugar and/or maple syrup- YUM!
- Butternut squash is one of the best-keeping vegetables – you can store it for 3 months in your kitchen!
- The tradition of lighting candles inside a carved pumpkin at Halloween is originally from Ireland where lit vegetables were hung in the window to ward off Jack O’ Lantern, a wayward soul condemned by the devil to walk the earth for all eternity.
The Butcher, The Baker, The Candlestick Maker…
Remember the days when you got your meat from the butcher shop, your bread from the baker, and your fish from the fishmonger? Maybe not, but I do remember my mom getting her meat from “Sam, the butcher” (no his girlfriend was not Alice) and her bread from another Sam at the Italian Market. Today we have Walmart and Target where you can purchase camping equipment, a new TV and of course, frozen chicken nuggets.
I changed my entire purchasing philosophy. Fresh Market has an old-fashioned butcher at the back of the store with EVERY type and cut of meat laid out fresh in front of you. They grind their own Turkey meat on demand if you need more and nothing comes in pre-packaged quantities shrink wrapped with extra god knows what. They have thin chicken cutlets with almost NO jiggly white stuff on them which is terrific because it saves me the step of vigorously scrubbing them like a scene from a prison shower or radioactive decontamination.
I know that most people don’t think they have the time or money to shop at specialty shops these days. However, when I focus my purchases on primarily fresh organic ingredients (fewer boxed¸ processed items), I actually spend less overall. Once a month, I go to a superstore or shop on-line (free shipping) for all my bulk/cleaning items which greatly reduces my impulse purchases. I also buy a lot of meat at once (preferably on sale) and freeze it. The only guy left out is the Candlestick Maker. Oh well, what about, “The Butcher, The Baker….Starbucks”.
This is very similar to the ‘Lemon Chicken’ but I add mushrooms at the end.
- Salt and pepper chicken cutlets then dip chicken in flour (of any kind).
- Heat a drop of EV olive oil and fresh garlic and cook chicken until brown on both sides. Move to the serving platter.
- Pour some (1/2 cup) chicken broth, (1/4 cup) white wine (if desired), and a squeeze of lemon juice into pan and bring to a boil. Add mushrooms and sauté for 6-7 minutes or so until they are cooked and sauce thickens. Any kind of mushroom works (baby bellas, white, shitake).
- Add chicken back into pan to finish cooking. You can cover and put on low until you finish rest of meal. You can serve the mushrooms on top or along the side of the chicken if not everyone likes them.
RED POTATOES (small):
- Wash and peel only as needed. Leave most of red skin for color and nutrition.
- Boil in pot of salted water until cooked through.
- Toss with EV olive oil, salt/pepper and herbs (I like the ‘Fine Herbs’ from Penzies spices but even just parsley is good).
- Peel and boil the carrots. Toss with a drop of butter, salt and splash of orange juice (a drop of maple syrup works too).
- It’s nice to splurge on carrots on the stem sometimes, they look so pretty (although usually too thin to roast).
CORNBREAD: Bought it from Fresh Market – YUM!
SALAD: Used the romaine and yellow pepper from last night.
How the Kids Can Help:
- Dash salt/pepper on chicken and shake the chicken in a Ziploc with flour or toss around in the bowl
- Help wash the mushrooms
- Roll the lemon to loosen up all the juices
- Rip pieces of romaine into salad bowl (depending on age, use a butter knife to cut peppers, celery, etc.)
- Learn about using the peeler (try peeling carrots if ready)
- Set table, get drink orders
- Fungi for Kids Pictures and Coloring Sheets: http://www.northamptonshirewildlife.co.uk/nfungi/fungiforkids.htm
Did You Know?
- 4600 years ago, many believed that mushrooms had properties that could produce super- human strength, help in finding lost objects and lead the soul to the realm of the gods, therefore no commoner was allowed to eat them!
- ‘Magic mushrooms’ seem to have been the subject of ancient rock art in caves, proving that this inspiration has been around for over 7000 years.