Making Dinner Even Easier
by Leanne Ely, C.N.C.
Being in the middle of lacrosse season, I have had the opportunity to think and rethink my usual kitchen routines. Sometimes the mother of invention is necessity! I’ve come across some timesavers that have been big helps for me and I think will help you in the kitchen, too. Right now, every minute counts as we sprint all over Charlotte and beyond, trying to get to practices and games!
Of course, I would be dead in the water if it wasn’t for my crockpot. That thing has been very busy with soups, stews, taco/burrito meat and anything else I can think of. By noon most days, it’s a busy machine making dinner while I can do more important things, like play with recipes and do my Dinner Diva thing! If you haven’t remembered to pull out your crockpot, get it out, because it is like having your own private cook.
Another thing that has helped me is chopping about 5 onions at once in the food processor. After I’ve done all the onions, I put them in a gallon-sized zipper bag and lay the bag flat in the freezer. Once the onions have frozen, I just open the bag and break off a big piece for what I think I need to use for that particular recipe. I know you can buy onions already chopped in the frozen food section at the grocery store, but fresh is better and honestly, these taste fresh, not frozen. This has saved me a lot of time, believe it or not because so many dinner recipes start with chopped onions!
Another great tool is a big skillet. You can get dinner done in about 30 minutes, start to finish with two burners, one for the steamed broccoli, one for the skillet with your main dish. Toss a salad, add some bread and you’re good to go with a healthy meal. It’s a snap to time it all so it’s ready at the same time, too.
And don’t forget—sandwiches work great for dinner. Tonight, we’re having turkey burgers and I put them on the grill frozen! Awesome stuff. I think Jennie-O makes them. I got mine at Costco. These burgers are low fat, high protein, served on whole wheat buns with low fat mayo, honey mustard, red onion slices, tomatoes, lettuce…you get the idea. Basically, that’s salad on a bun, with protein. My son will probably eat 3, husband 2, my daughter and I will eat 1. So I will make 8 and guess what I am having for lunch the next day? Easy button!
My last trick is breakfast for dinner. Yeah, I’ve told you about that one before, but it’s easy to forget how filling and easy breakfast for dinner can be. Scrambled eggs with a sprinkling of shredded cheese and some salsa and warmed tortillas works great and takes all of 10 minutes to prepare.
The last thing you want to be singing at 5:00 is the, I-don’t-know-what’s-for-dinner-blues! Statistics show that 90% of Americans don’t know what’s for dinner at 4:00 PM each night! Let’s all be in the minority and KNOW!
And here’s a great recipe that will save your budget as well as your sanity–
Crock Cuban Beans and Rice
1 pound dried black beans – presoaked, rinsed and sorted
1 large onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
6 cloves garlic, pressed
5 cups chicken or vegetable broth
2 tablespoons olive oil
5 teaspoons cumin
2 teaspoons jalapeno chili, finely chopped
1 (14 oz.) can diced tomatoes, undrained
2 cups brown rice, cooked
Mix first 8 ingredients together in a crockpot (beans to jalapeno).
Cover and cook on high for 6 to 8 hours or until beans are tender and most of the liquid is absorbed. Add tomatoes and stir in to incorporate. Cook another 15 minutes. Serve atop brown rice.
Per Serving: 327 Calories, 6g Fat <16.3% calories from fat>, 17g Protein, 53g Carbohydrate, 13g Dietary Fiber, 0mg Cholesterol, 17mg Sodium. Exchanges: 3 Grain, 1 Lean Meat, 1 Vegetable, 1 Fat.
SERVING SUGGESTION: You can garnish to your heart’s content: sour cream, chopped cilantro, salsa, chopped green onion, cheese or sliced avocado. YUM! Easy, delicious and good for you too. Enjoy! A big spinach salad on the side.