I have always been disdainful of the 30 minute meal. Not that I have anything against Rachel Ray, but when I say that I like to cook, I mean that I really enjoy the process of making meals. There is nothing so relaxing and wonderful to me than peeling, chopping, stirring and kneading. Instead of “weeknight suppers” or “20 minutes or less” listings, I’ve often wished cookbooks, blogs or websites had sections for most ingredients, most elaborate, most time consuming recipes possible.
A few things you should know: I don’t have children and until very recently, my schedule was such that I cooked most of the meals for the week on Sunday evening, allowing for a relaxing end to the weekend. Now, on a regular weekday schedule, I don’t have to do that. Great, I thought, when this first started, I can make fresh dinners every night. Realistically, that hasn’t worked out as well as I hoped…
I get off work at 5:30, and after hitting the gym or going for a run, it’s usually 7 by the time I get home. That leaves about three and a half hours to see my boyfriend, walk the dog, call friends, work on the novel I’ve been trying to finish, catch up on Netflix, write blogs like this one, do laundry, wash dishes and relax. And, oh yeah, cook healthy, delicious meals with fresh ingredients.
So for the first time, I’m looking for easy, speedy recipes. Over the weekend, I made a batch of gumbalaya (my own version of Creole shrimp, sausage, okra and tomatoes) with a yummy olive oil and flour roux that really gave it an interesting flavor. During the week, I’ve just thrown some basmati in water, and by the time it’s cooked, the stew is heated and tastes even better than it did the day I made it.
I’ve never been much for the Crock Pot, but I realize the value of it for having warm meals ready when I walk in the door. I tried a take on Tom Kha Gai, the Thai soup with coconut milk, chicken, lime and cilantro, to pretty disastrous results (rubbery meat, tasteless broth), and the Swedish meatballs I attempted just weren’t very good. My grandmother’s roast recipe may be next, but I fear the same results. Any slow cooker ideas or tips?
Last night I put together a recipe my mother calls Chicken Glasboro, though I have no idea where that name comes from. It’s really easy: a box of wild rice prepared then mixed with a can of cream of mushroom, a can of cream of chicken, and a can-full of dry white wine. Place 3 or 4 boneless chicken breasts on top, and marinate overnight. Tonight, I’ll only have to stick it in the oven for about an hour, and voila: a yummy hot meal, albeit with quite a bit of sodium.
So I’m learning, but I’m still trying to figure out how to incorporate more fresh, healthy foods in quick-cooking recipes. I am starting to embrace the 30 minute meal, but I have to admit, I miss my marathon cooking sessions.
Do you have any time-saving advice that you find helpful? Would love to hear any tips you have!