For Christine

You know what’s the best? Little babies. They take over your world, and the only thing you want to do, the only thing you should do, is snuggle them and do the laundry necessary to keep them in (temporarily) clean clothes. A friend of mine from college, Christine, now lives in Florida and has a beautiful little boy. Even though I’ve never met the little man in person, I know he’s beautiful because she does the right thing and shares pictures and videos galore. Thanks Christine!

Back to business. Little humans don’t stay little for very long, so here are some strategies and recipes to spend less time cooking and more time snuggling.

  1. Get a rotisserie chicken
    1. First night: Bring it home, but keep it in the bag. Microwave potatoes or reheat some cooked ones, heat up some broccoli and cheese. Split your potato, add some salt and pepper, top with the veg, then open up the still warm chicken and carve off a few pieces. Put the lid back on the leftover chicken & leave it on the counter while you eat. When you’re done with dinner, it should be cool enough to put in the fridge without making your other food warm.
    2. Skip having chicken two meals in a row. Brown some ground beef, add a jar of sloppy joe (less work than packets- I like this one, but others work), then slop it on pre-made buns have have some pre cut veggies and dip on the side. Give yourself some potato chips too if you’re feeling it.
    3. Second night: Make an entree salad with shredded leftover chicken! Get a bagged salad, add dressing, croutons or other crunchies, whatever veg you like and some kind of cheese or get a salad kit.
      1. I like making ‘greek salad’ by adding feta cheese, greek dressing, tomatoes, cucumbers and olives if you like them. Pita chips and humus on the side!
      2. Add balsamic dressing, cheddar cheese, and craisins some time. It’s so so good! If you’re feeling fancy, have the hubby pick up a crunchy baguette that some store made fresh that day, slather some butter on it and call it a side dish.
  2. Make a beef chuck roast, about three pounds, in your slow cooker overnight.
    1. Get a steak seasoning blend, put more than you would think is ever necessary all over the meat, then sear it in a hot non stick pan till dark brown on both sides.
    2. Pick up the pan and plop the meat directly into the slow cooker, then set the still hot pan back on the stove. Pour in two cups of water, and stir it around to get all the bits off the bottom of the pan. Dump in more steak seasoning, stir it around, then pour into the crock pot.
    3. If you have a bigger ceramic mixing bowl, put it in the fridge (so you make sure there’s room for the cooked meat, and get it cold).
    4. Cook the roast on low for 8-10 hours (overnight).
    5. In the morning, put the now tender roast in the cold mixing bowl, shred it with two forks, and dump the liquid in too. If it seems dry, add a bit more water. It should look about like the picture that says “Use two forks to gently pull the meat apart. It should be very tender and easily shredable. (Yes, I know shredable is not a word.)” (that’s a great website by the way), but a bit drier is ok too. Add a few ice cubes, then cover it in plastic wrap, and stash it in the fridge until that night.
      1. First night: there will be a lot of fat that has risen to the top of the meat. Scrape off a bunch of it, but not all. That stuff is tasty! the liquid will now look kind goopy if you can see it at all- that’s ok! And good! First night, I say have a taco night. Get soft of hard shells, sour cream, or a few other fixins. To taco-ize this meat, put it in a pan with pre-made salsa, add cumin, then heat through and taste for seasoning. If it doesn’t seem right add extra salt and cumin til it does.
      2. Second night: Take the night off! Order a pizza! Or get one of those “take and bake” ones!
      3. Third night: You could serve this on buns, but I like to use microwaved potatoes to make mashed potatoes. If you’re doing potatoes, get them started now. Heat a good amount of the beef. Make a small cornstarch slurry, but putting a few tablespoons of cold water in a cup, and adding about a teaspoon of cornstarch. Mix til it looks milky in the cup and there are no chunks, then add it into the meat to thicken up the juices. It will thicken as it cooks, so just stir it around a bit and let the cornstarch do it’s magic. Taste to see if it’s salty/flavorful enough. If not, add more steak seasoning Serve with salad or other veggies.
      4. You’re sick of shredded beef now! Put any leftovers in quart sized freezer bags, and freeze em (lying down flat at first makes them easier to handle, I sometimes put em on a cookie sheet if there’s room). Then when you want to use them, put em in the fridge the night before to thaw.
  3. Get another rotisserie chicken!
    1. First night: treat yourself to some pre-made biscuits, and serve it with a salad or veggies and dip
    2. Second night: Preheat your oven for garlic bread, and get water boiling. Cook cheese tortellini from the refrigerated section, cook it according to package directions. Get the garlic bread in the oven at some point- timers are your friend so you don’t forget about it! Heat and add tomato sauce, then top with Parmesan cheese. Serve with garlic bread.
    3. Third night: Shred up leftover chicken, add BBQ sauce (taste for seasoning after it’s heated, then add more salt if needed- or hot sauce!). Serve on buns. If you like coleslaw then go for it- but! If you have it available and like broccoli, I really recommend trying broccoli slaw. I mix in some shredded cheddar cheese and ranch dressing. Yum!
  4. Sausage with peppers and onions.
    1. You can either mix this in buttered pasta when you’re done, or serve it over a baked potato. Both are good, get em started now cause this takes no time at all. Season that part of the meal with salt and pepper to taste when it’s done, which should be after your sausage is started.
    2. Using one of those smoked sausage rope thingies, slice and sear it. After it’s brown on both sides, put the sausage on a plate.
    3. Slice and cook onions and sliced bell peppers in that same pan. Season with your steak seasoning and cook til they’re almost tender. Add about a half cup of water to the pan and stir it around to get the bits off the bottom of the pan and create your “sauce”.
    4. Blast the heat to reduce down the liquid (leave it a little soupy if you’re adding it to noodles, cook it down a bit more if you’re putting it on a potato), then add back the sausage. If it seems like there’s no sauce now, add a splash or two of water.
    5. If you’re doing noodles, add em directly to the pan and stir. If you’re doing potatoes, top em with this. Serve with other veggies if you feel the need, if not it already has some in there!
  5. French bread pizzas. I love The Pioneer Woman. Thanks Ree! I sometimes do this on the soft (not crusty) “baguette” they have at the big grocery store’s bakery section. It’s really not at all authentic but the softer crust really works for these!
  6. Spring for fancy burgers once in a while. Most meat counters have pre-made burgers with all sorts of cheese and/or other goodness in them. They’re already in patties, so all you have to do is put em on buns, and put some veggies or salad on the side.
  7. We usually have some kind of frozen/baked fish weekly. It’s not a lot of hands on time, and if you put parchment paper on tray you bake it on, clean up goes really quickly. Add some of those “steam in bag” veggies from the produce aisle, seasoned with butter salt, and pepper. Serve with a wedge of fresh lemon to squeeze over the fish, and that’s dinner!

I hope this helps. I like cooking, so if this is too much work let me know and I’ll think of other less stuff that takes less effort. It also helps if you take a few minutes to plan out your week’s menu so you can get most of it in one trip to the grocery store, even if you don’t end up sticking to it.

Enjoy that baby Christine, and keep the pictures coming!

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Author: Liz in St. Paul

A good crust, with many tender layers. Marketing, mothering, and butter to name a few.

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