Monday, May 23, 2011

Quick Cooking Ideas

It’s “Q” day and as I was thinking about what I could write about for the letter Q, I realized I was eating something that fit perfectly into a Q concept – quick cooking. I was supposed to go shopping this morning, but my ride called and said they couldn’t make it until this afternoon, so I decided to cook something to eat. I didn’t want it to take too long because I was really hungry. So, I threw a handful of tater tots into the pan with some oil, put some hot tea in the microwave, got two eggs out to scramble and sliced some thin pieces of cheddar. When the tots were done, I smashed them into the hash browns they used to be and poured the scrambled eggs over them. When the eggs were set, I put the cheese on top and put a lid on the pan to help melt the cheese while I was getting my tea and getting the tortillas out of the fridge. I put my newly cooked eggs and potatoes into a bowl, set my tortilla on top of the bowl (the steam from the eggs helped to soften it) and came in the dining room to eat. Less than 10 minutes and I was ready to go. Having eaten a perfectly quick meal, I realized it was the perfect Q topic for today’s entry.

And, here I am.

I was reading my current copy of the Food Network magazine (really, you didn’t think I’d subscribe??) when I saw what I thought was the perfect pasta salad in its “Fun Cooking” section. The concept is Mix & Match Pasta Salad and the first salad just grabbed me. It consists of medium sized pasta shells, small slices of steak, bell pepper, green beans, bacon and creamy Parmesan dressing and it looks WONDERFUL! In fact, they lay out a formula where you can you can make any number of pasta salads in five easy steps: 1) Choose a Pasta; 2) Pick a Protein (optional); 3) Pick the Vegetables; 4) Pick a mix-in and 5) Dress the Salad. With all the choices in each of those areas, you could theoretically have a different pasta salad every day for over 56 years (assuming my math is correct). And, pasta salads are very easy to make. I’d provide a link, but this issue of the magazine is not online yet. But, here’s the link to the last issue: Food Network Magazine. I’m sure the one I’m looking at will be online soon.

Speaking of Food Network, here’s a quick recipe for Chile-Rubbed Pork Chops that looks pretty good (if you like to kick up your chops, that is). One note, though – New Mexico Chile Powder is NOT the same as the chili powder you use when you make chili. Do not use regular chili powder in this recipe. This would be great served with a salad and maybe some fruit.

Then there’s this Honey-Mustard Chicken and Apples recipe that really does look pretty spectacular. I’m not overly fond of honey because of how sweet it is, but I think this would be a good meal. In fact, when I do get to the store today, I’m planning on picking up 10 lbs. of chicken quarters for $5 on sale at our new local grocery and I may have to make this with some of them. This is another Food Network recipe.

Giving both chicken and Food Network another nod is this Broiled Lemon-Garlic Chicken recipe. Holy cow, does this look good or what? And, your total time for prep and cooking is only 40 minutes. (Of course, that doesn’t include my forgetting to open windows and turn on fans to keep the smoke alarm from going off, but you understand.) Even though this calls for half-chickens, I think those chicken quarters would work great in this. Add some boiled new potatoes or baked with a green veggie and you’ve got a meal.

Beef needs to play a role somewhere in this quick cooking roundup, so here is one from Guy Fieri that even I should be able to do. If you like beer and coffee, this’ll be right up your alley (although I’m sure you could leave out the stout and use another sauce if you chose). It is Java Crusted New York Steak with Stout Sauce. It calls for reducing the stout in a saucepan and then adding the juices from the cutting board, but I’m wondering if you couldn’t also reduce the stout in the pan you seared the meat in to add even more of the meat’s flavors to the sauce.

Finally, there is a recipe by Rachael Ray that should satisfy both meat eaters and vegetarians alike. That is Rachael’s Three-bean Chili. This one has a five-star rating with 137 reviews, so it must be pretty darned good. That doesn’t mean everyone will like it, but a very substantial number of people did. Even I would enjoy this one. It incorporates refried beans into the blend (as one of the beans) as a thickener, so you can’t get any beanier than that! She suggests serving in a bowl on a plate and surrounding the bowl with tortilla chips and having shredded cheese and other condiments available. I think this would be good served ON the tortilla chips, myself with sides of cheese, guacamole and sour cream like having dinner nachos. Make sure you have a green salad to go with this; or shredded lettuce like they serve in Mexican restaurants. It just seems to go together to me.

That’s it for Q’s quick cooking ideas. You might have noticed that everything in today’s post is Food Network related. I am nothing if not a dedicated foodie fan. And, yes, I also subscribe to Rachael’s magazine! But, rest assured, if I don’t like the looks of something I share or don’t think I’d want to be bothered making it myself, I wouldn’t share it. I like real food that tastes good and is easy to make. I try to share just that.


  1. The honey-mustard chicken and apples sounds really good! By the time that I'm done working for the day, quick & easy are pretty much requirements for dinner.

    I’m blogging my way back from Z to A, and I’d love for you to take a peek at my “Q” post: Quelling our Emotions.

  2. I like the hash browns idea. This sounds like an easy recipe.