Browsed by
Category: save time

Quick and Easy Cold Green Beans and Bacon

Quick and Easy Cold Green Beans and Bacon

This cold green bean recipe takes about one or two minutes to prepare. You eat it right out of the dish you make it in and store your leftovers in. A simple, one-person snack that’s not crap. It’s also a nice, refreshing dish when the weather is hot. Of course, you could make this as an easy side dish for two or more people. You could even serve this as an alternative to a salad.

Here’s how it came about…

When I get really hungry and have to eat something right this minute, one of the easiest things to do is open a can of French style green beans, drain it, and eat them right out of the can standing in the kitchen.

It works, and I actually like them that way, but a couple of weeks ago I decided I wanted a little more substance. So, I added bacon bits. The real bacon kind. I stirred them up in a container I could eat them from and then just seal up and put in the fridge to save the leftovers for tomorrow. Oh, and I actually sat down to eat them. At my desk, but I was sitting.

Today I decided I wanted to do something a little fancier. I wanted more flavor, but I didn’t want to alter it to the point that it was no longer a really fast and easy thing. I decided to look up recipes for ideas of what I could add, and everything I found started with fresh green beans! NOOO!!!

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for starting with fresh vegetables most of the time, but in this case it completely defeats the purpose. All of the recipes I found require cooking. That means too much time, too much effort, and it uses dishes.

This is about as quick and easy as it gets.

Ingredients:

  • One can French style green beans
  • Bacon bits – real, fake, or homemade if you have them*
  • Olive oil
  • Garlic salt

Equipment:

  • Can opener
  • Bowl or container with a lid
  • Fork

Instructions:

  • Open your can of French style green beans.
  • Drain it.
  • Dump it in a bowl or container that has a lid.
  • Drizzle with a little olive oil. Sprinkle with garlic salt.
  • Toss in a couple handfuls of bacon bits.
  • Stir with a fork and eat.

When you’ve had enough, put the lid on it and put it in the fridge. Now you’ll have an even quicker snack waiting for you tomorrow.

* When it comes to the bacon bits, you have options. The very best are homemade from nitrate-free bacon. Of course, that only works if you’ve already got some in the fridge. Short of that, real bacon bits work great. Fake bacon bits will work, but they will get soggy if you don’t eat it all right away.

 

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail
Don’t Throw That Out!

Don’t Throw That Out!

Leftovers don’t have to be boring and ruined dishes can be rescued. Both can be turned into something entirely different. Reusing food that you have already cooked is a great way to save time and money. Soup, sandwiches, casseroles, pizza, shepherds pie, fillings, and sauces are all good revivals for leftovers. Many people complain that one or more of their family members refuses to eat leftovers. A little creativity can change leftovers into something they will never recognize as last night’s dinner. An easy solution to repetition is simply to freeze leftovers the same day that the meal is cooked and serve it the next week. In fact, I strongly recommend cooking more than you need for one meal and freezing the rest for later as a time saver. When entrees and side dishes are frozen separately they can be mixed and matched for more variety. Try making extra gravy to freeze for mashed potatoes and gravy to go along with meals that do not lend themselves to gravy making.

The key to making leftovers great is your approach. Rather than asking yourself how you can re-serve that dish, think of meals that you would like to cook that call for those ingredients. Now you have saved some time by already having them cooked. This is great for pizza and soups. You may have to expand your horizons on pizza to make this work, but it is well worth it. I once made a filling that consisted of feta, garlic, and spinach. I wound up with more filling than I needed so a couple of days later I thawed out some leftover lemon chicken, whipped up a garlic cream sauce and made pizza with the leftover filling and some mozzarella on top. Any leftover meats and veggies can go on pizza or into a shepherd’s pie. Leftover meats go great in sauces, too. Burritos and enchiladas can always be filled with leftovers.

On another occasion I tried making mashed sweet potatoes, but decided I did not care for the flavor. So, I looked up recipes that called for sweet potatoes for some inspiration. I found one for pasta filling. I read through the recipe for a guideline and then improvised with my own ingredients. I made sweet potato ravioli with a garlic and sour cream sauce that became an instant favorite.

There are many wonderful alternatives to throwing food out. Be creative and have some fun with it. Never think of leftovers as just leftovers again!

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail
Light and Easy Sauce for Asparagus, Brussels Sprouts, and Other Steamed Vegetables

Light and Easy Sauce for Asparagus, Brussels Sprouts, and Other Steamed Vegetables

I originally mentioned this sauce in response to a comment on Asparagus and Hollandaise Sauce.

This is the easiest sauce I’ve come up with for steamed vegetables. I used to serve them with Ranch dressing, which is a tasty way to eat them, but it can clash with other sauces, and it tends to overpower the vegetables. Some things I love about this sauce are:

  • You don’t actually have to do the work of making a sauce
  • It does not dirty another dish
  • It is very versatile – you can adjust the flavors to compliment your main dish
  • It is not a heavy sauce, which is nice sometimes especially if your main dish already uses a thick sauce

Here is how to make it.

After you put the vegetables in the steamer basket, before you turn on the heat, place some pats of butter and some spices (whatever you like!) on top of the vegetables and splash them with a bit of lemon juice. When it has finished steaming you will have a tasty sauce in the bottom of the pan that you can spoon over the veggies.

That’s it! Very easy.

Usually I use garlic powder and salt (I like that best for Brussels sprouts) but you can go crazy with the spices. When I make asparagus, I usually add dill. If you don’t like or don’t want the lemony flavor, you can skip the lemon juice. Adding a little soy sauce instead might work. I haven’t tried it, so I don’t know if it will try to stick to the pan, but you could always add it after the steaming is done.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail
Cooking Tools: My Friend the Food Processor

Cooking Tools: My Friend the Food Processor

For years I refused to spend money on a food processor. What a shame. I now have a full sized, a miniature, and a “chopper” – a hand operated version. The “chopper” was my first. I used it for making guacamole and salsa. I loaned that out and did not get it back soon enough and got desperate for an aid in making my salsa. So, I purchased a mini food processor. The mini works great for your everyday stuff like cutting up a little garlic or onion. With onion it helps to minimize crying! Later I was making salsa weekly for a local restaurant and gave in and bought a full sized food processor. Now, I use all three and have found that they each serve a unique purpose.

If you are willing to donate the elbow grease, the chopper is best for guacamole and salsa because the motorized types can cause a foamy effect, particularly with guacamole. If you can only purchase one I recommend the mini food processor. This is purely personal choice, but when you are just working with small amounts, such as garlic for one meal, the full size just throws it around, and most of it is stuck to the sides. If you make a lot of creamed soups, you will want the full sized. You may still have to work in batches, but it will go much faster.

The reason I recommend food processors so highly is really convenience/quality. The food processor saves so much time and effort that you are more likely to use fresh ingredients, and therefore produce higher quality meals. If I did not use the food processor, I would get lazy and use powders more often than fresh.
Then, there are salads, etc, which can be made without cutting all those ingredients by hand, if you just slide them through the food processor. Once you establish the habit of using a food processor, you will naturally revert to using fresh ingredients. You and those you cook for will notice a huge difference!

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail
Ground beef – Cooking Ahead

Ground beef – Cooking Ahead

I do this with 3 to 5 pounds of ground beef at a time, then freeze it in portions. You can make any amount that works for you, and of course the amount of seasoning will depend on personal taste. These are the seasonings I normally use, but you should use whatever you like best.

Ground beef
Worcestershire sauce
Onion powder
Garlic powder
Cayenne
Oregano
Salt
Pepper

Preheat oven to 350-400. Place ground beef in a large glass baking dish and break up some with a fork. Add Worcestershire sauce and seasonings. Cover. Bake for 15 minutes. Stir with fork. Drain if it has produced a lot of grease. Cover. Bake until done. If you have a meat thermometer (and you should) check the temperature in the center of the meat. It should be at least 165. Drain. Allow to cool. Separate into meal-sized portions and freeze for later use.

I will post my method of draining the meat soon.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail
Cooking Ahead

Cooking Ahead

If you’re like me, you don’t always have the time or energy to cook a big meal. Cooking ahead and freezing food can mean having food on hand whenever you need it, but for some that sounds like spending all day, or at least several hours, in the kitchen. It doesn’t have to be that way!

You can simplify and save time by making several versions of one thing at a time. I like to use chicken as an example, but you can use this for other foods. Instead of just making one chicken dish, try making throwing together 3 or 4 (in separate baking dishes) and baking them all at once. It will add a few minutes to your prep time, but save you several hours. Try a combination of any of the following.

1. Lemmon & Pepper chicken (see recipe June 27, 2007).

2. Teriyaki Chicken – just place the chicken in the pan and cover with teriyaki sauce.

3. Chicken with tomato and mozzarella – placed chicken in the pan, cover with a can of diced tomatoes, add some garlic if you like, and top with shredded mozzarella.

4. Spicy herb chicken – place chicken in the pan and add salt, paprika, oregano, basil, garlic powder, cayenne, and any other spices that sound good!

5. Onion and garlic chicken – place chicken in the pan and add sliced onions, fresh garlic, and a few pats of butter.

6. Quick raspberry jalapeno chicken – scaled down from my more time consuming recipe, place chicken in the pan, top with some raspberry jelly or preserves, sliced, fresh jalapeno, a little onion powder, brown sugar, and some salt.

7. Other fruity chickens – if you have cans of fruit that you’re not sure what to do with, fresh fruit that needs to be used up before it goes bad, or fruit juice, put it in there with the chicken! You can add onions, peppers, and/or molasses, for a nice twist.

All of these can combine well with quick and easy accompaniments and sides. In the summer, it’s nice to serve chicken on a bed of salad. Pasta, rice, couscous, or baked sweet potatoes make nice additions, with or without the salad. Or, you can always use chicken in a sandwich.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail