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Thursday, April 30, 2015

Fast and Easy Meals

In one of my Facebook groups, folks often say, tell me something to fix for dinner. Now, I don’t know their ages, sex, or degree of cooking skills.  I assume they either have an outside job or busy home life, kids, or activities that require their time. So, thought I’d just list a few, fairly easy menus but no special diets. 

I make use of easy, quick helpers such as soups, broths, canned, and frozen foods. No apology. Yes, during the fifty or so years of cooking, I did a few elegant gourmet meals plus lots of real meals, using the freshest, beautifully prepared ingredients. Please use any fresh veggies or fruits available that appeal to you.

For Pete’s sake, omit anything you know your family won’t eat and add anything that you wish.  My kind of cooking is a work in progress.  A few recipes are at the end.

As you can tell, I am a sorry typist so will not place these in correct menu form.

          BBQ Pork chops: rinse chops under cold water, salt on both sides, spread BBQ sauce on top, a little water in the bottom of the pan, cover with foil, bake 30 minutes at 350 degrees, check - may need a little more water in pan to cook until tender. Serve with deli coleslaw, warm pasta salad.

        BAKED CHICKEN BREASTS: rinse in cold water, salt both sides, place in baking dish, cover with Cream Of Chicken Soup mixed with ½ can sour cream, cover with foil. Bake for 45 minutes at 350. Serve with rice, broccoli, fresh fruit.

        HURRY UP SOUP - Mix a can potato soup, a can of celery soup, a can of New England clam chowder, and a can of minced clams, drained. Stir, can add a couple cans water or a can of milk. Season to taste with pepper, tabasco, Lawry’s seasoned salt etc. This will stick so a double boiler is best --- or stir until piping hot but not boiling. Canned orange slices and pineapple in small bowls.  Saltines

        COUNTRY FRIED STEAK: take cubed steaks, salt and pepper,  dip in seasoned flour, brown in frying pan. Move to baking dish, one layer. In a bowl, mix a can of Cream of Mushroom soup, ¼ cup sherry, ¼ cup La Choy Soy sauce, 1 TBL onion powder, 1 TBL garlic powder, ½ can water. Pour over steaks. Cover with foil. Bake one hour at 300 degrees.  Mashed potatoes or biscuits, asparagus, sliced tomatoes.

       FRESH SHRIMP: boil until just pink, drain, allow to  cool. Mix about a cup of mayo, fresh lemon or lime juice, Lawry’s seasoned salt, Tobasco to taste. Cover a plate with a soft lettuce; place half an avocado OR peeled tomato sliced almost in fourths; fill with about a cup of shrimp. Place 2 halves of boiled egg, olives and/or pickles, cherry tomatoes around to make an attractive plate. Serve with crackers or hot rolls from the freezer section.

       HAM: slice big enough for 4 or 5 servings. Heat gently in frying pan on top of stove. Either Bush’s Pinto Beans or Black-eyed Peas, 2 cans. We think Bush’s is best and use most all of them. Stewed tomatoes or fresh, spring onions, Corn bread (White Lily cornmeal mix is best), Fresh fruit

        POACHED SALMON: poach in white wine and lots of fresh dill, mashed potatoes from freezer section, asparagus, fruit salad.

       HACKBRATEN: 1 lb. ground beef, slice of bread torn up, 1 egg, 1 tbl onion and garlic powders, salt, pepper -- mix as you would a meat loaf; form into ovoid shapes about the size  of candy Easter eggs. Brown in frying pan; cover with beef broth or bouillon and gently simmer a few minutes. You can season broth and make gravy. Serve with rice, green bean salad.
        PORK TENDERLOIN: 1 lb or less, boneless of course, Mix about half jar of peach or apricot preserves, soy sauce,  dash or two of sherry, black pepper. Spread over top of tenderloin [in baking pan]. Seal pan with foil, bake 30 minutes, check and cook longer if needed. AS WITH ALL ROASTS, allow to cool in pan at least 10 minutes before serving. Slice crossways.  Serve with canned sweet potatoes (Bruce brand is good), broccoli or lightly steamed cabbage.

      BLT SANDWICHES: [minus lettuce] Fry up about 1 lb bacon, leaving a tad under done [can do ahead]. Toast two slices bread per person, or more.  On large cookie sheet, place toast slices. Cover each with thin sliced tomatoes, a slice of cheese, then divide the bacon among the toasts. Place under the broiler til bacon kind of sizzles. Serve with fruit salad. Note: boy teens can easily eat 4 of these so guard yours or teach them to make their own.

        CHILI DOGS: Bush’s Baked Beans, green onions, chips. This is the  Varsity Hot Dog Chili recipe: 2 pounds ground beef, 2 cups water (I use more),  1 jar hot chili  powder, 1 tsp. salt    Mix all in sauce pan, bring to boil, allow to simmer until thick. Taste, adjust seasonings to your family’s taste … Freezes well.


      PASTA SALAD -----  Cook your favorite pasta [shells, macaroni etc] , drain, mix with half mayo, half sour cream, seasoned with salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder etc. Add whatever you like – for instance, thinly sliced green onion, celery, olives , pimentos, kitchen sink etc. Toss in some grated cheese if you like. Serve room temp but good cold too.

      DILLY BEAN SALAD ---- 2 cans Del Monte Blue Lake green beans, drained, 2 cukes peeled and sliced, 1 Tbl dried dill weed, 1 small onion or spring onion, thinly sliced,  Hidden Valley Ranch Salad Dressing [regular, not fat or sugar free]  … Mix all , chill, and try to leave time for the flavors to blend. Just coat the mix with the dressing -- measurements don’t have to be exact.    Great for pot lucks, always well received.

      FREEZER COLESLAW ---- 1 head cabbage, 1 green pepper, 1 carrot, 1 onion, 1tbl salt. Shred cabbage -- I just do this in the food processor, careful not to get it too fine -- Drain about 1 hour.
Dressing: 1 cup vinegar, 1 ½ cups sugar, ½ tsp celery seed, ¼ cup water, 1 ½ tsp. mustard seed. Combine in saucepan, boil one minute, COOL, pour over cabbage mix. Freeze. Delicious -- so good to have on hand.

      FRUIT SALAD- whatever you have on hand. Try about 1 or 2 cups miniature marshmallows, sour cream, pineapple, orange slices, berries, and fresh fruits such as bananas, seedless grapes,
toasted walnuts etc.  Mix up about ¼ cup sugar and fresh lemon or lime juice. Try to give time for the marshmallows to soak up some of the flavors.

Salads are nice to have on hand to fill in more meager offerings.

Obviously, there are tons of more complicated, delicious meal suggestions, but these are meals I’ve fixed and served many times. We have a bookcase filled with excellent cookbooks. I used to collect church, garden club, civic club cookbooks and have used many of their recipes. The Junior League of Augusta cookbooks are among the very best.

Hope these suggestions help a little.

below -- fruit salad with toasted walnuts