I have been swamped of late. New clients, computer problems, more computer problems, tax season, spring fever… It's really hard to find time to cook for myself and to work up the gumption to care about cooking. It's not unusual for me to order a pizza or buy a burger once a month, but I did it three times in April. However, I still managed to make the rest of my meals myself.
1. Leftovers & MoreI made several casseroles (great for leftovers) but mostly got by on my clients' scraps (by making five servings instead of four) and by making a lot of these quick and easy main dishes. Add a salad or zap some frozen peas and you've got a basic but delicious and homemade meal. Here are a few of the things I made when I didn't feel like cooking.
A long-time New Orleans treat, barbequed shrimp aren't - barbequed that is. Barbequing is a slow process of smoking and would result in tough, inedible shrimp. In fact, barbequed shrimp aren't even grilled, they're baked. So I have no idea why they're called barbequed. Nevertheless barbequed shrimp are mighty good eating and quick and easy enough for a week night meal.
Egg salad has long been one of my favorite sandwich fillings. In fact, as a kid I never like peanut butter and jelly, but loved egg salad. Every now and then I get a powerful yen for it again and will make up a batch then eat egg salad sandwiches for a week. Sometimes I add capers, chopped dill pickles, chopped celery or chopped green or red pepper to it. I like it on whole wheat, white bread and, my favorite, croissants. I'll make the sandwiches with or without tomatoes and lettuce depending on season and mood. Whatever you prefer, it's good stuff.
Hawaiian Pork Chops are one of my favorite quick meals. I hadn't made it in years and then it popped back into my mind when I was trying to come up with something to do with a couple of boneless pork chops. I've made it with fresh pineapple and love the fresh taste, but the juice in canned pineapple is important to the sauce. Because I've usually got a small can of chunk pineapple in my pantry so that's what I generally use. This is excellent with rice.
Broiled trout with Fines Herbs is one of my favorite last-minute meals. This is a near perfect quick, weeknight dinner. Total cooking and prep time shouldn't be more than 20 minutes, and that's only if the filet has a lot of pin bones you want to pluck. In fact this meal is so quick there's barely time to microwave some Brussels sprouts or make a salad before it's done. The Fines Herbes complement the trout perfectly. (Note: salmon also works for this meal.)
Chicken Parmesan is another of those great quick-and-easy weeknight dinners. I keep chicken breasts - individually wrapped - in my freezer and I make double-sized batches of Marinara Sauce that I freeze in plastic bags in one-cup portions. So I can come home, quickly thaw a pair of breasts and the sauce in hot water in 30 minutes* and eat 15 minutes after that.
Cabbage is one of those few things that actually cook well in the microwave. It's a dish I've always loved and using the microwave means making it is a breeze. It's a great quick and easy side dish.
This is hardly worthy of being called a recipe, and yet it's one of my favorite dishes, not least because it's so quick and easy. You can also do this with steamed asparagus, but broccoli is really the best - the blue cheese complements the broccoli perfectly. I've also used the Marie's Blue Cheese dressing (available in the produce section at your supermarket) but it's not the same as my dressing recipe.
Couscous and dried fruit? I've had more than one eater draw back from the idea of pasta (and couscous is a form of pasta) and something as sweet as fruit. Nevertheless, over the years I've been making and serving it I've only had one or two people not like it and, in fact, this is a very Arabic recipe in character even though I made it up. It is particularly good with chicken or Cornish hens.