Tag Archives: broccoli

Dinner in a Pot

17 Sep

This is the story of an easy, savory, nutritious one pot dinner. Why one pot? A simple reason: it was a busy weeknight and I did not want a lot of dishes. Keeping a well stocked pantry and freezer is key to quick easy meals. I also like to keep fresh produce on hand so I can pull meals together without those pesky after work visits to the grocery store.

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For this dinner, I started out with broccoli and cauliflower in a bowl. Then I tossed it with some olive oil, salt and pepper. I put it on a parchement lined baking sheet (remember…few dishes!) and roasted that for 20 minutes at 400 degrees.

Then I put some sweet little cherry and grape tomatoes into a pot, again with a little olive oil, salt and pepper. I then let that simmer a bit. These cook down to a creamy delight. I also added a clove of chopped garlic.

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As that was simmering, I chopped up some fresh spinach and arugula. When the tomatoes were thick and bubbly, I added the greens. I like to mix arugula into my spinach because of the sharp peppery flavor it adds. I gave all of that a good stir.

Now dinner was really smelling delicious. Savory fragrance was wafting through the house, and I was getting really hungry! I took the veggies out of the oven when they were a little brown on the edges, and let them rest not the counter (on a hot pad) for a few minutes. Next it was time to add the pasta.

Angel hair pasta was going to be my pasta of choice because of its short cook time. I wrapped the pasta up in a clean dish towel, then ran the towel over the edge of the counter. This broke the pasta up efficiently and neatly.

Then I added chicken broth to the tomato mixture. After that, in went the pasta. It was that simple. Again, a couple of quick stirs and I let this cook on medium heat. I then went to  pour a glass of wine to accompany this delicious dinner.

When the pasta was al dente (firm to the bite) I was ready to complete the meal. I added the roasted vegetables along with shrimp as the protein. The shrimp was raw, and it only took about 3 minutes for them to cook-any longer and they would become rubbery.

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And Voila! Dinner was ready. It was a complete meal in a bowl. I grated some fresh parmesan cheese on top, grabbed my glass of wine, and enjoyed a healthy weeknight meal. And my one pot meal left me with very few after dinner dishes.

This meal is customizable. Don’t like cauliflower? Try zucchini. Shrimp isn’t your thing? Add some leftover cooked chicken. Want a more robust flavor? Add red pepper flakes and a pinch of cayenne pepper. Want a vegetarian meal? Use vegetable broth and leave out the shrimp. Craving an italian twist? Toss in some fresh parsley and basil. The possibilities are endless-but the after dinner dishes aren’t!

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No Labels Please.

22 Jun

Labels. I loathe and reject them! They are so limiting. The smart one. The athletic one. The workaholic. The baby of the family. Breakfast. Lunch. Dinner. That’s right. I hate labeling everything including meals. Boring! And limiting!

Breakfast does not have to be oatmeal. eggs, toast, bagel, or cold cereal. These foods can be eaten any time of the day. And if it’s last night’s leftovers for breakfast who cares? There is nothing wrong with chicken, rice, and broccoli for breakfast. If that is what sounds good, go for it.  Dinner has to be a big hunk of meat and a couple of side dishes?  Nope.  Not in my book.  Sometimes a bowl of cereal is perfect for dinner. Sometimes eggs and toast work. My youngest son’s favorite dinner is breakfast! For many years his special birthday dinner request was breakfast, or what some would label as breakfast food.

I am going to tell a story through pictures. It is the story of a meal. But I will not label it. And I will not reveal what time of day I enjoyed this meal (which, by the way, features several servings. I only had one!). I will toss a caveat in saying that it is not a story for the faint of heart. It is of adult nature….it features…dare I say it….bacon and bacon fat. Totally obscene! Outrageous! But it is moderation in the use of the fat that allows my conscience to let this dirty little secret out.

Fresh!  Beautiful!

Fresh! Beautiful!

Lucky for me I have friends who have what I lack…namely a green thumb. This bowl is full of fresh peppers and tomatoes. I was the lucky recipient of this lovely fresh bounty, and I let it inspire me. It took me to a very unexpected place.

Bacon.  Decadent!

Bacon. Decadent!

I began my homage to these fresh ingredients by frying up some bacon in my beloved old cast iron skillet. While the bacon was crisping, I started cutting up the peppers and tomatoes.  When it was done, I scooped out the bacon to drain on  paper towels and disposed of most of the bacon fat in the skillet.  I  left a bit of the grease in my skillet though. The aromas in my kitchen started deepening, layering. Man, was I hungry now!

Pepper mania!  yes!!

Pepper mania! yes!!

I tossed those fresh peppers and tomatoes into that bacon fat. Yes, that’s what I said. Right into the fat. Well here is where I kind of compounded the naughty factor. While the peppers were frying up I went to the fridge and hung on the door. Hunting. Digging. Then I popped to the pantry. Nope…nothing there…went back to the fridge. Here comes more of the naughty…I was seriously misbehaving with that bacon grease!

Peppers to the side...eggs in front!

Peppers to the side…eggs in front!

I pushed the veggies aside and tossed in eggs. Frying eggs in bacon fat. Yup…I warned you! Totally obscene! And completely delish! But my conscience would not allow this dish to be totally devoid of some sort of nutrition. So I made some whole grain toast. No butter.  Next I just  tossed eggs, peppers and tomatoes on the toast. The bacon was on the side.  Fabulous!

YUM!

YUM!

I will not label this meal, nor will I reveal the time of day that this meal was consumed. Let me just say that it was amazing! I cook with bacon grease maybe once or twice a year. I love great food cooked in different ways. And in moderation, I think that everything can be enjoyed. As I said, I only cook with bacon fat occasionally. This dish was certainly worth the wait..and totally label free.

 

Grab the Cans!

5 Apr

Short on time? A nutritious dinner can be made quickly with a little creativity and by opening a couple of cans. Keep some good staples in the pantry as well as the freezer, and dinner can be a snap. Grab the can opener and let’s go!

Here is a super easy pasta sauce. Put the sauce together, get a big pot of water boiling, microwave some frozen broccoli, grab some olive oil, balsamic vinegar and some crusty bread. Dinner is ready. Here is the sauce recipe:

Amy’s Clam Sauce

3 cans minced clams, 2 cans drained
1 28 ounce can of diced tomatoes
1 8-12 ounce can tomato sauce
1/2 t. red pepper flakes
1-2 T. basil
1 T. parsley
Salt and pepper to taste

Also, 1 lb. fettucine, 1 large bag frozen broccoli, 1 loaf crusty french bread, olive oil, balsamic vinegar. This easily serves my family of 4.

Mix together all sauce ingredients except clams (include the clam juice from 1 can of clams, drain the others) in large sauce pan over medium heat. Turn heat to a low simmer after sauce begins to boil. Stir occasionally. While sauce is simmering, boil large pot of water for the pasta. Cook pasta. Slice bread. When pasta is nearly done, add clams to pasta sauce to heat through and microwave broccoli.

Voila! Dinner is served! I serve crusty bread with olive oil and balsamic vinegar to dip the bread into, and sometimes sprinkle a little cheese onto broccoli while it’s hot. This is a quick and easy dinner. Try it! Let me know what you think! Bon appetite!

 

Dinnertime…with leftovers

12 Feb

My last post outlined the challenge of making a quick dinner with items out of my fridge and pantry.  I was too tired to fuss, and ended up with a big batch of tomato roasted red pepper soup.  It was belly warming and delicious.  After dinner I tossed the leftover soup into the fridge.  That was a lucky move!

The next day, I dashed out to a class at my local gym after work.  Walking in the door at home, I was greeted by an equally busy but hungry family.  It was 6:00. I was pinched for time.  I had to think fast.  So I pulled the leftover tomato soup from the fridge and then foraged through my kitchen for the rest of dinner.  In addition to the leftover soup I had:

  • Frozen tortellini
  • Frozen broccoli cauliflower mixture
  • Refrigerated biscuits
  • Canned tomato paste
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Butter

This became dinner.  I put a big pot of water on to boil.  Next, I took the leftover soup, put it in a saucepan and added some tomato paste (to thicken the soup), oregano, parsley, and basil.  After a big stir over medium heat, that began simmering  into a nice sauce.  The frozen veggies went into the microwave.  The bread went into a 350 degree oven for 13 minutes.

The pasta water boiled, so in went the tortellini and cooked in a quick 5 minutes.  By then the vegetables were cooked, and the bread was ready.  As the pasta drained, I pulled the bread out of the oven, split and buttered the biscuits.  The veggies went into an oven safe bowl with a little butter and parmesan cheese.  I put it back in the microwave for a minute.  Dinner was on the table in a snap.

You can’t hit it out of the ballpark every night.  It wasn’t a perfectly healthy dinner, but much more nutrient dense and economical than any drive thru meal.  Not bad for a home made family meal tossed together in about 30 minutes.

The best part, and you may use this if you like,  is the “dinner rule” in my house.  The person or people who make dinner don’t do the dishes or clean up the kitchen.  At first this was a hot button issue with whining teenagers arguing their point of why they should not have to do the  dishes.  I turned a deaf ear to it, so the whining did not last long.  But this rule, held tightly from the get go,  changed the thinking in my household.  Others wanted to cook dinner.  And who am I to argue?

What’s for dinner? (the next night!)

6 Aug

Think you don’t have time to cook?  Think again.  I truly believe that a well planned nutritious meal can be on the table in less time than going to the drive thru.  Sure it takes some planning, but running a good meeting, a good press conference, a well run home takes planning.  If I can do it, anyone can!

As most of you know, meals made from my fridge are among my most creative, flavorful, and easy.  I am a busy working mother, so time is my most precious commodity these days.  I need to use every moment to my best advantage to get things done.  Spending 5 minutes digging things out of the pantry, fridge and freezer, and another couple of minutes cooking is a great way to bring a budget friendly meal to the table.

This morning as I was getting ready for work, I took a minute and grabbed a pork tenderloin out of the freezer.  I put it on a plate, popped it into the microwave, and started defrosting it.  When I left for work, I took it out of the microwave and put it in the fridge to finish defrosting.  It was going to sit in there all day, so it had plenty of time to finish defrosting.  It was ready to use when I got home.

Fast forward to 6:00.  I came in from work and started to oven, setting the temperature to 400.  While chatting with my children, I grabbed an oven safe  skillet, sprayed a little non stick spray in it, and turned the burner onto medium high.  I took the tenderloin, drizzled it with olive oil, salt and pepper, then quickly browned it up in the skillet.  I sprinkled it with a little herb de Provence as it browned.  Then I popped it into the hot oven.  It would only need about 20-25 minutes to cook.  Next,  I poured a glass of wine and changed into comfortable clothes.

Now relaxing, it was back to the kitchen to start some wild rice.  I added 2 cups of vegetable broth, 1 cup of wild rice, and a little pepper to a sauce pan.  I put it on  a high heat until it started boiling.  Down to a low simmer, lid on, that would be ready in about 15 minutes.  Now for the vegetable.

I like to keep frozen and canned vegetables handy to use when time is short.  This was such an occasion.  I got a family size bag of frozen broccoli/cauliflower out of the freezer and put it in the microwave to begin cooking.  The tenderloin came out of the oven.  I put in on a plate and tented it with foil.  It is critical to tent meat and let it rest for a few minutes before serving.  The juices flow back into the meat, assuring it will be juicy.

The rice was ready, the tenderloin had rested, and the veggies were good and hot.   The children had set the table while dinner was cooking, so onto the table it went.  We were having a wonderful family dinner in no time!  Simple, fun, and delicious!