Quick and easy

In the past, we’ve discussed favorite recipes and particularly tasty meals. (Some of those recipes are well worth checking out). This thread will take a different tack: Let’s talk about some quick and easy recipes that the cook of the house can fire up when he needs ideas.

As I’ve mentioned elsewhere in the nacle, one staple around my own kitchen is baked chicken. The details will vary from day to day, but the basics look like this:

Baked Chicken

1. Take three or four chicken breasts, and put them into a baking pan. (They work fine frozen; you can buy frozen chicken breasts in the store, or buy the packages and freeze your own).

2. Add one of the following:
-1/2 cup(ish) cooking wine
-1/2 cup(ish) italian (or vinagrette) dressing
-1/2 cup(ish) of any of a number of the relatively inexpensive pre-made marinades you can buy in the store.
-Or just drizzle them with olive oil and sprinkle them with seasoned salt. (Not too much salt!)
-Or add oil, a bit of cayenne pepper, some curry powder, and some cumin seed.
-Or otherwise season, as your imagination takes you.

3. Add other items as desired:
-Onions are great; garlic is great.
-Mushrooms are great. (From the can is just fine, though fresh is better).
-Artichokes are very good.
-Capers, asparagus, peppers, will all do nicely.
(Don’t clash too badly between your seasonings and your veggies, obviously. If you’re going with a teriyaki marinade, you probably want to avoid the capers).

4. Bake at 350 or so for ~40 minutes, depending on your oven and how much chicken you’ve got in there.

If you’ve got a big enough pan, cook up six or eight breasts this way (adding a bit more marinade, of course) and you’re set for a few days. Chicken breasts keep nicely — you can heat them up for lunch, or cut them up and have them over salad.

Total time: 5 minutes to toss it all into the pan, 40 minutes of baking time (while you are free to do other things). It’s a classic fire-and-forget, which are always great.

Note — be sure to set a timer. This recipe doesn’t do so well if you bake it for, say, two hours instead of 40 minutes. Yes, that is the voice of experience speaking.



Couscous is so easy to prepare, it ought to be illegal. It’s also a very tasty pasta base for your main dish. This is the sum total of how to prepare couscous.

1. Put the couscous into a bowl.
2. Add boiling water.
3. Wait 5 minutes.

That’s it. You’re done. Easiest food on earth. Serve that with your baked chicken, and you’re set to go.

You can always do more, if you’d like. But when you need a quick basic food to go with your main dish, simple couscous is the easiest, quickest option around.

You can buy couscous at some grocery stores, at middle eastern food stores, or at places like Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s. In New York City, you can buy it at Fairway, and they have a nice selection of varieties (regular, tomato, tricolor, and so on). Don’t let your four-year-old near tricolor couscous; he may mistake it for birdseed and decide to take it out front and dump it out on the sidewalk. (It has no noticeable negative effect on pigeons, though — at least, none that I observed).


Edamame (soybeans).

Edamame is the world’s second-easiest food. Here’s how you make it.

1. Boil water.
2. Add edamame to boiling water.
3. Wait 5 minutes.
4. Drain it and add a bit of salt.

That’s it, you’re done. Edamame is healthy and tasty. It’s also a fun food — kids have a blast with it. You can buy it frozen at Asian food places and at many grocery stores.

Okay, everyone. What are your favorite quick-and-easy recipes?

39 comments for “Quick and easy

  1. Are you saying that you don’t defrost the chicken, Kaimi?

    Here are some of my standard bearers:

    (1) Make couscous the way Kaimi described and then add two cans of diced tomatoes and a lb. of cooked sausage (any kind).

    (2) Black bean burritos: black beans, cheese, tomatoes in a tortilla. Perfect color and flavor.

    (3) Put several chicken breasts in crock pot with a jar of salsa and a can of pinto beans. Eight hours later, shred and mix it. Use as burrito filling.

    (4) Combine a bag of coleslaw with a bag of defrosted stir-fry vegetables and some green onion. Sauce: peanut butter, soy sauce, garlic, a little sugar, sesame oil, and vegetable oil. This is wicked good.

    (5) Fake pad thai (kids love this): same peanut sauce as above, omit veg oil, and serve over linguine.

    (6) This sounds weird and I created it out of desperation, but it works: jasmine rice, garbanzo beans, feta chunks, diced purple onion. (no sauce, but it isn’t dry)

    (7) Pizza crust (made in bread machine) with spag sauce, spinach, feta, and tomato slices.

    (8) Run a can of diced tomatoes with Italian seasoning (undrained) through a food processor. Drain, rinse, and run a can of white beans through food processor. Put in sauce pan with another can of diced tomatoes (undrained) and another can of drained, rinsed white beans. This is the easiest and best soup.

  2. Questions/comments:
    1. What is Edamame? I’ve never heard of it or seen it before. What does it look like or taste like? Is it fish or fowl?
    2. After feeding 0-5 year olds couscous, it’s much easier to clean up the mess on the floor if you let it dry out first. Trying to sweep it up when wet just doesn’t work.
    3. I have no problem eating food which is cooked with wine, but the thought of keeping cooking wine around or using it myself sets off a nasty case of Mormon allergies. Call me irrational, but I have no intention of losing my aversion to cooking with wine. Are there any reasonable substitutes? Grape juice is often too sweet, for example.

    My recipe, for a dessert to please 4-year olds:

    1 12-oz. package chocolate chips
    1 6-oz. package pecans
    1 to 1 1/2 packages (10-16 oz.) marshmallows

    Melt the chocolate in the microwave, stirring every 30 seconds. Pour over mixed marshmallows and nuts until thoroughly coated, using more chocolate if necessary. Spread evenly on a pan lined with wax paper and chill in freezer. Prep time: 5-10 minutes; 20 minutes to chill.

  3. Julie,

    You _can_ defrost the chicken, but it works just as well tossing it in frozen. It will defrost just fine at 350 degrees.


    Edamame is a type of soybean. It’s typically harvested green, and eaten from the pod. Here’a a link to some edamame pictures: http://www.evergreenseeds.com/evergreenseeds/edsoyed.html

    As for the wine, feel free to leave that out. If I’m not making a base with wine, I’ll often use vinagrette dressing. Alternately, you can’t go wrong using chicken broth and some olive oil.

  4. Heat some olive oil in a pan, and saute a little garlic. Then add 2 cans garbanzo beans (drained and rinsed), a can of diced tomatoes, a can of tomato sauce, and about 1/2 tsp oregano. Let it simmer for about 20 minutes, and serve over rice, pasta, or couscous. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese if you like. Very quick and delicious.

  5. A yummy way to use leftover rice. Brown works as well as white, and people who hate brown rice don’t mind it in this recipe. But don’t use a sticky, clumpy rice. Separate kernels work best. Adapted from the Fanny Farmer cookbook’s recipe for Parched Rice:

    4 cups cooked rice
    1 small can tomato sauce
    2 cups grated mozzarella or cheddar cheese

    Start heating the tomato sauce. Put the rice in a skillet with a little olive oil. Heat and stir until slightly toasted. Put the hot rice into a bowl, stir in the warm tomato sauce and cheese to coat. (The cheese melts pretty much on contact.) Total prep time: 5 minutes.

  6. Make a big pot of your favorite pasta. While it’s cooking, chop whatever veggies are in your frig–broccoli, peppers (if you have Trader Joe’s nearby, your freezer should never be without the frozen three-colored peppers), squash, carrots, whatever. Throw the veggies in with the pasta for the last 2-3 minutes of cooking time. Drain. Add a little olive oil, basil, garlic, salt and any other seasonings you like and some parmesan or feta cheese.

  7. Oyako domburi

    Put just the right amount of Japanese rice in your rice cooker.

    While it’s cooking,

    Put 1.25 cups of water and 1/4 tsp of dashi in a saucepan, and heat. (If you don’t have dashi, use chicken broth instead.

    Add 6 tablespoons of soy sauce, and 1 tablespoon of sugar.

    Bring to boil, and add 3 or 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cubed.

    When the chicken is cooked (about 5 minutes) add 4 scallions, cut crossways.

    After a minute, add 4 eggs, which are stirred (not beaten).

    Turn off the heat as you add the eggs, stir enough to mix (not much, in other words) and let stand 1 minute.

    Put the rice (which should be done by now) into bowls, and ladle the stuff from the pan onto the rice.

    Eat with chopsticks.

  8. Ramen Noodles are both quick and easy, and also easy on my college student budget. Are there any “fancy” recipies out there that are under 50 cents a serving?

  9. Beijing: if you use oriental rice (shorty grain and relatively stick, but not super sticky) letting it set, covered, in the refrigerator overnight almost always dries it out enough that it will work as well or better than long-grain rice (the kind that doesn’t stick together). I suspect that’s why the recipe recommends left-over rice, because is is then dry enough to separate when you cook it. The advantage of short-grain rice is that it has better flavor than long grain rice.

  10. Oh Mark! Now I’m craving oyako domburri. It’s on the top of my list of comfort foods. I ate it often with my mostly native missionary companions in Tokyo. Funny thing, it is almost never on the menu in Japanese restaurants. I always have to make a special request of the chef. If the server is Japanese, he or she always looks at me indulgingly like I’m a kid in a fancy steak house who’s just asked for a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

    As a breadmaker and a serious baker it is sometimes hard for me to remember to get enough protein especially since I’m not a fan of beef. Here are my latest efforts to improve:

    Wild Alaskan Salmon—(Don’t buy farm-raised. Just don’t do it).
    Sprinkle salmon with salt and pepper. Place in the oven (275) for 12 minutes. Take it out, rub a slab of butter, 2 tsp. lemon juice and some garlic on it and place it back under the broiler (500) for 3 minutes. Voila! Serve with steamed asparagus or carrots and Kaimi’s couscous. Dinner in less than 15 minutes!

    Rice and Beans—a complete protein for pennies!

    2 cups raw long basmati brown rice (I use organic)
    2 cans (15 oz) black beans (again I use organic)
    1 small yellow onion (saute in olive oil until golden brown)
    4 cups vegetable broth (I haven’t yet found an organice vegetable broth I can stomach, but Swanson’s vegetable broth is yummy—it’s because of the high sodium content but who cares)

    Mix rice, beans, onion and broth in an 8×8 glass baking dish. Bake for an hour at 350. Sprinkle with fresh basil and fresh parm. (If you don’t use Swanson’s broth it will need salt). Serves 6-8, but keeps well if you don’t happen to have a table full of hungry baby birds. Serve with a spinach salad.

    Scrambled Eggs—-ah, the incredible, edible egg: nature’s perfect food

    Saute some veggies (whatever you have, but onions and peppers are my favorite), crack some eggs in the pan, grate some cheese on top (you can’t go wrong with sharp cheddar) and serve on whole wheat toast.

    *Don’t worry about cholesterol. The “science” on eggs is always changing, but the latest is that our bodies make cholesterol on their own and the amount of cholesterol in our diet has very little impact on reducing the amount we’re genetically prone to produce. If you can’t shake that cholesterol worry though then use two egg whites in place of every yolk.

    Whole Wheat Spaghetti and Tuna—–Necessity is the mother of invention

    I was once scheduled to feed the missionaries and clean forgot about it until half an hour before they arrived. I didn’t have time to pick up anything from the market so I had to improvise. This may sound less than appetizing, but here’s what resulted from my “food storage”

    Whole wheat spaghetti (organic)
    Canned Tuna (white tuna in water)
    Olive oil based salad Dressing (something balsamic in nature)
    red onion

    That’s it. No joke. Simple and cheap. It was so good that it’s become a regular part of my recipe repetoire, but I usually break little pieces of steamed broccoli into it too.

    Homesteader’s Stew—-this is a favorite on cold nights

    1 large can (28 oz) diced tomatoes
    2 small cans (15 oz) dark red kidney beans
    1 small can light red or pink kidney beans
    1 small can garbanzo beans
    1 chopped yellow onion
    1 chopped green pepper
    2 Tbsp chili powder
    2 tsp. garlic powder

    Fill the pot with ingredients and 2 large cans worth water. Some like this soup with a 1/2 pound browned ground beef, but I prefer it plain. This soup also keeps beautifully—the chili powder makes it better over time.

    The following is another good feed-the-missionaries meal because it seems to remind them of home-cooking.

    1 cup cubed cooked chicken breast
    ½ cup chicken broth
    1 small can of diced green chiles
    ½ cup chopped onion
    1 can of cream of chicken soup
    1 cup grated medium cheddar cheese
    1/4 tsp. pepper

    Mix it all together (you can add sour cream if you want) and set aside. Soften 4-5 tortillas in the microwave for 1 minute. Spoon chicken mixture into warm tortillas and place in shallow baking dish, pouring the rest of the mixture over the top. Bake at 375 for 10- 15 minutes. I usually serve these on a bed of lettuce with lots of fresh tomatoes. If I have an extra couple of minutes I’ll make some “Mexican rice” to go with these (just reduce the water when cooking the rice and add chunky salsa as a substitute)

    Homeade Macaroni and Cheese—-for children who adore the stuff and parents who would rather die than feed their children artificial colors and flavors for dinner

    2 Tbsp. butter
    2 Tbsp. flour
    2 ½ cup milk (don’t use skim. 2% works better)
    10 oz. medium cheddar cheese, grated
    8 oz. macaroni, cooked 6 minutes and drained (organic whole wheat macaroni)

    Melt butter over low heat. Stir in flour until smooth. Gradually add milk until smooth. Add grated cheese and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until cheese has melted. Remove from heat and add drained macaroni. Pour into 2 quart casserole dish.
    Bake at 375 degrees for 25 minutes or until top turn light brown.
    (I sometimes put thin tomato slices on top before I bake it.)

    Quiche–I’ve served this at parties and gotten raves. Everyone thinks quiche is hard, but they’re wrong. Pie crust is hard. Quiche is easy. Easy enough for a typical weeknight family dinner. This recipe is a keeper because the little bit of bisquick in it (or flour if you prefer) gives it enough body that you don’t need the saturated fat or hassle of a pie crust.

    10 oz. spinach (I’ve also used shredded zucchini)
    1 medium onion
    1 cup cheddar cheese
    3/4 cup Bisquick (for the easy but less healthy version)
    1 ½ cup milk
    1 tsp. salt
    1/4 tsp. pepper
    3-5 eggs (depending on size)

    Mix it all together, pour mixture into a pie plate and bake uncovered at 400 degrees for 35 minutes.

    A simple recipe that tastes better than any other.

    3 cups chocolate chips (milk chocolate, semi-sweet, mint chocolate)
    1 can sweetened condensed milk
    1 tbs (or more) vanilla extract
    (optional) 1 cup chopped nuts – pecans, walnuts, whatever

    Put in pan, stir and melt on low heat, eat.

    Spread on paper plate for giving to neighbor, HT/VT families, teachers, taking to office potluck, etc.

    The most insidious aspect of this recipe is that a tablespoon gob of sweetened condensed milk and a handful of chocolate chips nuked in a cup for 45 seconds, then stirred makes a great single serving for TV or for blogging.

  12. Oyako domburi! My dad makes that every time I go to visit — he learned it, as well, on his mission in Japan, and it became a staple of my younger diet. Of course, I hated it until high school — onions, iew! — but I’ve since grown to love it.

    A favorite quick recipe of mine (and one I make a couple times a week) is as follows:

    1/2 cup mayo
    1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
    2 T. prepared mustard
    4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts halved
    2/3 cup fine cornflake crumbs

    Mix mayo, cheese and mustard in a small bowl. Measure out 1/3 cup and refrigerate. Brush both sides of chicken with remaining mixture. Coat well with crumbs. Place chicken in lightly greased shallow pan. Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes or till golden brown. Pass refrigerated mayonnaise for dip for chicken. Serves four.

    That sounds like a real recipe because I made my college roommate find it for me after we improvised so many, many nights for a quick dinner at school. It takes as long to prepare as the oven takes to heat, and then it’s sit-back-and-relax time.

    Also, good for a gluten-free diet!

  13. Melissa reminded me of another desperation idea that turned out well:

    In a frozen pie crust, put a handful of seasoned french fries (still frozen) and a handful of diced ham. Pour in beaten eggs and bake.

  14. As my husband and I both work, we have no kids, and are pretty much totally broke (we just finished school so maybe our food budget will get to grow a little, we’ll see), I’ve made an art at fast recipes that require very few ingredients – and cheap ingredients at that. And ingredients that don’t go bad as I cannot go to the store that frequently…I have seriously considered making a cookbook with all these ideas as the “cheap and easy’ ones out there are rarely cheap or easy, and never convenient. Edamame and Cous Cous are big time staples. You can buy it at just about every grocery store out west, but, the stuff at the ethnic markets is cheaper I have found. Another staple is rice, the rice cooker is my best friend. Cheap and filling. Get brown rice and its healthier (my husband won’t tolerate it unfortunatly). Once every couple of weeks I get out the crock-pot and throw in some combination of the following:
    -lentils (so cheap and soooo yummy and sooo good for you)
    -sweet potatoes (ditto – remember one potatoe goes a long way) I use reg. potatoes too, which I buy when we’re REALLY broke…at $1 for a couple pounds, this is the cheapest food ever.
    -garlic (usually minced, if I dont have it just add some garlic powder which I buy in bulk at Costco)
    – curry powder – this can be expensive if you just buy the little tins in the spice section of Kroger – but, if you go to an ethnic market and buy a big ol bag of it its super cheap and usually better! I find indian/mediterrean markets all over, you can ask at a local indian restaurant if you dont know where one is. Buy all your spices, lentils, rice there is much much cheaper.
    – Red pepper
    – Ginger (dried or fresh, but I find when I buy fresh it goes bad before I use it all, hence I usually have a bag of dried ground around)
    – Whatever vegetables, frozen, canned or fresh I have around (this is how i use up all the fresh veggies I have that are about to spoil – cabbage, mushrooms, peppers, tomotoes, okra anything. You can’t go wrong.)
    – vegetarian low-fat low -sodium broth (those couple of cans hidden on the back of the shelf by the chicken and beef varieties)
    – And if my husband persuades me, ground turkey, turkey sausage, or chicken in its various forms. For this, boneless is easier (i usually buy thighs cause they’re cheaper than breasts).

    So, dump it all in, cook on high for like 10 hours or until lentils and potatos are nice and soft and any meat is cooked through. I put it in individual serving tupperwares (those throw away kind) and put it in the freezer. We use them for lunch at work and dinner when we don’t feel like cooking or have no other food (which usually happens a few days before payday). I will make rice to put it over or just it eat plain like soup. Sometimes I make it spicy, sometimes not. Sometime I’ll boil eggs and put those in there as well, which is delicious. Other good spices to add: cumin, tumeric, garam masala, lots of basil (I buy dried in bulk) and low-fat coconut milk is delicious. This is good with 3 ingredients or 13…it rocks.

  15. Home made calzones

    Like Julie, I like the bread machine pizza crust. Roll very thin (thinner than a pizza crust), place mozzerella, spread some ricotta cheese, and your favorite pizza toppings (I like lots of pepperoni and black olives), fold over and pinch the seam together and cook at recipe recommended temp and time. Serve with some heated canned spaghetti sauce.

    I think the larger recipe for bread machine pizza crust will make 4-5 good sized calzones.

    Another easy favorite of mine is…

    Tamale Pie

    Layer in a 9×13 pan the following:
    1lb taco seasoned cooked ground beef
    1 or 2 cans diced green chiles
    1 can sliced black olives
    1 can golden corn
    shredded cheddar cheese (as much as you want)

    make enough cornbread for a 9×13 pan, usually double the recipe on the back of a cornmeal box. Spread batter over layers, cook the whoel concoction according to the cornbread recipe. Serve with cold salsa and sour cream. Serves 6-8.

  16. Favorite chicken topping in our house:

    4-5 Frozen breasts in pyrex pan (totally ok frozen)
    In a bowl mix to combine:
    1 can artichoke hearts packed in water, drained & diced up
    1/2 cup parmesan cheese
    1/2 cup mayonaise
    1 small can diced green chiles, drained
    black pepper

    Spread mixture over top of breasts
    Top with shredded cheddar cheese.
    Bake at 350 for about 50-60 minutes.
    Serve with rice.

  17. Ok one more – this is my absolute favorite thing ever –

    BLT’s –
    Turkey bacon (I bake it on a stone and it gets a little crispier)
    slice tomatoes marinated in balsamic vinegar & basil/oregeno
    Red leaf lettuce
    Fat-free mayonaise – mix in a tad garlic powder, lots of basil, and black pepper
    Mozzerella (or whatever cheese i have around)
    whole-grain bread (i just use the store-brand whole wheat or multi-grain)

    I toast the bread than stack up the cooked bacon on one side and put the cheese on top of it – I put this open faced in the oven until cheese has melted. Put mayo, lettuce, tomatoe on other side and then just put together after cheese melts. Soooo yummy, takes 10 minutes, and very healthy. Of course you could make the same thing with pork bacon, or with meatless bacon and it would be good also.

  18. Hummus (3-5 minutes)

    1 can drained garbanzos
    (reserved liquid)
    2T tahini paste
    juice of a lemon
    1-3 crushed cloves of garlic

    Whirl in food processor til pasty. Add 1T ex. virg. olive oil. Keep spinning. Add bean liquid til mixture is the consistency of thin peanut butter. Add salt and cayenne pepper to taste.

    Eat with pita bread, corn chips, or whatever.

  19. This is a recipe that should not be read from bottom to top, as I did:

    Favorite chicken topping in our house:

    4-5 Frozen breasts in pyrex pan (totally ok frozen)
    In a bowl mix to combine:
    1 can artichoke hearts packed in water, drained & diced up
    1/2 cup parmesan cheese
    1/2 cup mayonaise
    1 small can diced green chiles, drained
    black pepper

    Spread mixture over top of breasts
    Top with shredded cheddar cheese.
    Bake at 350 for about 50-60 minutes.
    Serve with rice.

  20. Here’s the quickie pantry meal we had last night.

    Vegetarian Mini Pizzas

    4 whole wheat pitas
    1-2 Roma tomatoes (if it’s winter) or garden tomato (if it’s summer)
    1 small zucchini
    canned white beans, such as great northern
    canned olives (pick your favorites)
    fresh, chopped basil
    salt and pepper

    Heat oven to 350. Place pitas on large baking sheet. Layer on vegetables, beans, basil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Top with cheese. Bake until hot and melty. I think this took about 12 minutes, but that’s just a guess. (Optional: Leave vegetables and beans off for pickypoo kids and still fight them to get them to eat bread and cheese.)

    Bonus: noshing on leftover beans and olives while waiting for pizzas to bake!

    Veritas, Mexican markets are also a great source for cheap spices, legumes, etc.

  21. Well Kaimi, I’m making your chicken concoction for dinner tonight, so I’ll post my results. :-)

    My favorite quick-and-painless dinner, and one that I ate a LOT in my bachelorette days:
    Lazy Girl Chili
    White rice (4-6 servings)
    1 can black beans
    cheddar cheese

    Cook rice. Stir in black beans and some salsa (3/4 cup? eyeball it) over low heat. Let sit 5 minutes or so to mix together. Serve with chunks of cheese or shredded cheese and some salt. Mmmmmm….

  22. Wow- this might be the best post ever (especially as a grad student who hates to cook).

    I made Kaimi’s chicken w/ italian dressing tonight (and onions and artichokes) and it was really good. I love that you can put the chicken in frozen!

    Thanks so much to everyone’s for all the ideas and hints. I’m sorry I don’t have any of my own to add. I just eat cereal or microwave meals when left to my own devices.

  23. I’m glad that the recipe worked for you, Laura. And I hope that you have similar success, Marian.

    Mark, now I’m hungry for a chicken omelette over rice.


    Thanks for the recipes so far. I’m going to be sampling many of these over the next several weeks. It’s a tough job, but someone has to do it. :)

  24. One note, Kaimi: If you want it the way the Japanese eat it, it won’t be an omelette. The eggs shouldn’t end up cooked hard.

    Try it. You’ll like it!

  25. Some red-and-green recipes when you’re eating on your own (easily multiplied if you’re feeding others)–

    Quick quesadilla:

    2 tortillas (white or wheat) or 1 pita
    fresh basil leaves
    sliced roma tomato(es)
    sliced fresh mozzarella
    olive oil (drizzle before sandwiching)

    Put it all together and stick it in the George Forman until at desired level of crispiness. I love this and it’s so fast and tasty; good for a snack or dinner. It’s good with spinach too.

    I also love scrambling eggs with mozzarella, pesto, chopped sun-dried tomatoes (blanched or not–usually I skip that part), and basil leaves and/or fresh spinach. Yum. Also fast. And good as an omelette too.

    Finally–pork chops with black bean salsa: Grill/saute the chop(s) with Caribbean jerk or similar “island” spice; serve with couscous or rice pilaf and top both with salsa–black beans, corn, and pico de gallo (tomatoes, onions, cilantro). Delish.

  26. Not-quite-as-lazy-girl chili

    One can of pinto beans
    One can of black beans
    One can of navy beans
    One can of stewed tomatoes (with Mexican flavors if you wish, but plain old stewed tomatoes work fine)
    I can of corn
    1 pound of hamburger
    1 package of taco seasoning

    Empty the beans, corn, and tomatoes into a pan. Warm through.
    While the beans are warming, fry up the hamburger with the taco seasoning and drain.
    Mix the hamburger with the beans and corn.
    Garnish with an combination of cheese, cilantro, and hot sauce, or with nothing at all.

    Alternative: Sweat some garlic and onion in the pan in which you’ve cooked the hamburger and when the onions are transclucent, add them to the beans, tomato, and corn mixture.

  27. Since a lot of these recipes use beans, here’s something I do that doesn’t necessarily make things quicker, but does make them a lot cheaper. Instead of canned beans, I use dried. I throw a bunch of one kind in a crock pot one day that I’ve got a few extra minues and add a lot of water – enough to cover them by at least a few inches. Turn it on high and when you start to smell the beans, about 4 or 5 hours, test to make sure they’re tender. Drain, and freeze for when you need them – just put them as they are in some tupperware or jar. I use old yogurt containers. I always have a few kinds of frozen beans in the freezer. It isn’t much work at all, and is a good way to use the beans in my food storage.

  28. Faster than the slow cooker: a pressure cooker. I think one of the small ones is an essential part of anyone’s kitchen equipment, especially if your are interested in quick and easy things. Follow th manufacturer’s instructions for cooking beans (or anything else), or check with your extension agent.

  29. 31
    To second Jim’s recommendation of a pressure cooker, I bought a one made in 1955 on eBay for $15 that works like a champ. Dried beans take 15-20 minutes to be table ready. Frozen chicken breasts don’t take much longer.

    I use this venerable pressure cooker (PC in Coveyspeak) it to make “sludge,” which is whatever combination of dried beans & rice (for complete protein), fresh veggies, and spices that sound good when I make it. It usually tastes a lot like chili because I toss in some tomato sauce/puree/paste and cumin. Adding a good portion of olive oil turned out to be a healthy way to satisfy my craving for fat. Freezing it in single-serving containers gives me a tasty and healthy lunch choice to grab on my way out the door to work — just toss it in a desk drawer and let it thaw until nuking for lunch

  30. Oyako Donburi… drool.

    We’ve become recent devotees of the “101 things to do with a Slow Cooker” book. This morning just before running out the door to work I took the slow cooker, lined it with one of these new slow cooker liner bags (they rock!), put in a frozen 2.5 pound roast, poured 2 cans of beef consomme over the frozen meat, put the cover on and set it to low. Allegedly this will be ready to become shredded beef for French Dip sandwiches (using the consomme as au jus) once I get home. Wednesday is Cub Scout day and the only hope we have of not defaulting to fast food is a slow cooker meal on Wednesdays.

    And apropos a comment made earlier, my experience is that use can use frozen meat (beef, chicken, pork, etc) in just about any slow cooker recipe as long as you have plenty of liquid to cook in and add one-hour to the recommended cooking time.

    Also good, take a jar of spaghetti sauce, some italian sausage links, and a bag or two of frozen ravioli and throw them together in the slow cooker set on low just before leaving for church on Sunday. Assuming you’re one of the lucky ones who actually gets to come home soon after Church, the ravioli are perfect. I sprinkle some mozzarella on top and serve with some salad-in-a-bag and fresh parmesan cheese on the table.

  31. “my experience is that use can use frozen meat (beef, chicken, pork, etc) in just about any slow cooker recipe”

    I have heard, however, that it is not safe to put frozen ground meat (cooked or raw) in the slow cooker. I’m not sure how accurate it is, but I did want to mention it.

  32. Kaimi,
    Just when I had lost all faith in the nacle, certain no good could come of it, you go and post this. This post is going to change my life. I had no idea I could cook chicken breasts right out of the freezer! My children never have to eat chicken nuggets again! This is the best cooking tip I have ever heard. I am telling everyone I know.
    Thank you!!

  33. I’m a longtime lurker, first time poster, and it figures my first post would be about food! Here are my favorite quick and easy meals.

    Alfredo Chicken:
    Boneless, skinless chicken breasts (frozen)
    1 jar Alfredo sauce
    1 bag mixed frozen veggies

    Put chicken and sauce in crockpot in the morning and cook all day on medium low. About an hour before dinner, dump in the veggies and stir. One hour later you have a yummy meal, with saucy veggies that even your kids will eat. Theoretically, you could probably throw some rice in at some point and make it a full meal deal. I haven’t tried that yet!

    6 Can Soup:
    1 can diced tomatoes (I like to use half a can of reg. diced tomatoes and half a can of Mild Rotel)
    1 can kidney beans, drained
    1 can black beans, drained
    1 can chicken (or use a can of your cannery turkey chunks!)
    1 can refried beans
    1 can chicken broth

    Combine all ingredients in a pot and heat until refriend beans are ‘melted’ and soup is hot. Serve with salad and bread for a quick, yummy meal. If you like more of a kick, use a whole can of Rotel instead of just half. And if you REALLY love hot and spicy soup, use the regular Rotel instead of the mild.

    Thanks for this thread! Lots of great ideas here.

  34. I haven’t had homemade macaroni and cheese since before my grandmother died when I was six years old. I saw Melissa’s recipe in comment # 12 and tried it last night. All I can say is – delish! What is it about food that can elicit such strong memories?

    I can contribute two quick and easy recipes, both guaranteed to offend purists.

    Clam linguini

    1. Cook linguini
    2. Heat 1/4 cup olive oil in a pan. Open a can of chopped clams and pour into the oil, juice and all.
    3. When the oil and clam mixture is heated, serve it over the pasta.

    New Orleans style beans and rice

    1. start cooking rice
    2. Empty two cans of red beans (drained) and 1 can of refried beans into a pan.
    3. Heat and stir occasionally. The mixture will be too thick at first, but as the dish warms, the refried beans will give a gravy-like consistency.
    3. Add ground black pepper and crushed red pepper flakes to taste, or use a favorite cajun style seasoning.
    4. Add sliced smoked sausage if desired.

  35. Parmesan Crust Pork Chops (takes about 15 minutes tops and they’re delicious):

    1. Fill one bowl with freshly grated parmesean, one bowl with two eggs (beaten), one bowl with store-bought bread crumbs.
    2. Season chops (I usually do four) with salt and pepper.
    3. Dip pork chops in parmesean, then egg, then bread crumbs
    4. Cook in large frying pan, over medium heat with a few tablespoons of olive oil, about 6 minutes per side.
    5. If you want it to be fancy, add lemon wedges

    Soooooo yummy.

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