Embracing the Weeknight Supper

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!



Filed under Food

2 responses to “Embracing the Weeknight Supper

  1. I love my slow cooker! Hopefully you’ll find recipes that work for you. When I know I’m going to have a busy week, I’ll spend a few hours on the weekend making meals and freezing them for easy use later. When making soups, I always make a double batch and freeze half of it.

    Good luck!

  2. Marylyn Williams

    First thing after coming through the door, turn your oven on to 400 – 425. While it’s warming up, chop some veggies up (can do the night before), toss with sea salt and olive oil and roast them for 20 – 30 mins. Curry on cauliflower is great. A quick and favorite way to deal with leftover roast chicken or store bought rotissorie chicken is to make curried chicken. You’ll need 2 c of shredded cooked chicken. Dice 1 small onion and saute it in 2 T butter. Add 2 T flour, 2 -3 t curry and 2 T sugar, Stir this for a couple of minutes then slowly mix in 1 c chicken stock. Cook over low heat until smooth and creamy, about 10 mins. Fold in meat and cook long enough to warm the meat. This works well with turkey and lamb, too.

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