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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Quick & The Read - Recipe Schmecipe

I love to cook. I love to cook healthy for myself & my family.

I don't always have as much time as I'd like. (Okay, yes, I might have more if I interwebbed less, but whatevs.) There are plenty of great shortcuts that allow you to put a (semi-)homemade meal on the table & still have time to do fun stuff like this:

... and still get through the shower before bedtime!

Two recent success stories for us:
  1. Spinach Tortellini with Peas & Pesto - That's right. Prepared tortelli (in this case, spinach pasta with ricotta filling), frozen peas, prepared pesto. We had it with Caesar salads, by which I mean - romaine lettuce from a bag + lite Caesar vinaigrette & Parmesan shavings. Munchkin's new thing is "more salad?" --- Enough to melt a dietitian mama's heart.
  2. Beef Stir-fry - I chopped an onion, sauteed it in a bit of olive oil for a few minutes, then added lean "stew meat" (the stuff pre-cut for you) and cooked till it was mostly done. Then I added a bag of pre-chopped stri-fry veggies. I poured over all that a "sauce" I'd made while the onion cooked (approx: 2 tablespoons soy sauce, 2 teaspoons ground ginger, 2 teaspoons minced garlic, 2 big squeezes honey), but you could certainly use a marinade or salad dressing. I served it over 90 second Uncle Ben's whole grain medley. This I actually took a second to photograph: 

No one said it was a good photograph.

Another thing about my cooking? I tend to take recipes as suggestions or inspirations, rather than strict instructions. If I don't have this, that or the other, I improvise. Here are 2 recipes I recently took great liberties with, either by choice or necessity.

  1. Roasted Butternut Squash over Farro by the Vintage Mixer - I saw the picture on Pinterest and thought it looked delicious. I read the title, decided I'd toss in some spinach & my own spice ideas. I further decided to use barley, because I had some & because I wanted to try ...
  2. Slow-cooker Barley Risotto by Dietitian on a Mission - In this case, I started cooking and realized I didn't have a number of things I thought I did. I knew I didn't have a shallot and used a third of so of an onion. I thought I had far more chicken stock than I really did --- I used extra water with plenty of salt. 
I smashed them together & it turned out GREAT! My hubben liked the whole thing. The Munchkin actually said yummy over some spinach & squash before deciding all she wanted in the world was "rice." I did sneak a few chickpeas in her little face too.

Take home messages:

  1. There are healthy short-cuts out there. Keep looking till you find ones that work for you. Then take variations on them to avoid "taste fatigue."
  2. Don't be afraid to experiment. What's the worst that will happen? No one will like it? You & they will either suck it up & eat it. Or you'll make PBJs or have chips'n'salsa or somesuch.
  3. Eating at least moderately well doesn't have to cost a fortune or exhaust you. It only requires a little thought on the front-end.
    • I made the following analogy to a patient today: I have a basket of clean laundry waiting to be put away. If I took the 15 minutes one evening to just do it, it would save me the 5 minutes every morning looking for socks (by which I meant underwear).
    • That basket is still waiting ....


  1. (by which I meant underwear). My favorite Angie quote of the blog. :)

  2. I have to say that after 4 years of parenting, working full time and blogging, I feel I have mastered the ability to serve homemade meals for us at least 75% of the weeknights and lunch times. It takes a LOT of planning and prep. I love to rely on the freezer!

    That stir fry looks delish!! Hope you all have a happy Thanksgiving!

  3. That stir-fry looks just delicious - now I'm hungry!