Cooking on the Go
By Janet Groene, F47166
Reduce your time in the kitchen with these easy-to-prepare meals.
The slow food movement is gathering momentum, but that doesn’t mean you have to eliminate shortcuts. These recipes were chosen for their traditional taste yet time-shaving appeal to motor coach chefs.
Thanks to Judy Nelson, F144141, for sharing this delicious soup. Serve it as a quick lunch on a cold day, or add salad and whole wheat rolls spread with honey butter and serve it for supper. Instant bouillon is preferred to cubes, because you can measure exactly what you need.
Judy Nelson’s Creamy Celery-Zucchini Soup
3 stalks celery
3 green onions cut into 1-inch pieces
3 tablespoons margarine
2 medium zucchini, cubed
2 cups water
1 tablespoon instant chicken bouillon
1 ½ cups milk
1 tablespoon cornstarch
3 slices bacon, cooked crisp, drained, and crumbled
Cook the celery and onion in margarine over medium-low heat for five to 10 minutes until it is tender but not brown. Add the zucchini, water, and bouillon; bring to a boil; reduce heat; cover; and simmer for 10 minutes. Combine the milk and cornstarch; add to the pan; and cook, stirring, until it’s bubbly. Cook and stir for an additional two minutes. Season to taste. The bacon can be stirred in during the last minute of cooking or sprinkled on top. Judy didn’t mention servings, but this makes approximately 5 cups of soup.
Tuna “˜N Tortillas
If you’re trying to get more fish into your diet, here’s a twist on the standard taco.
2 cans, approximately 10 ounces each, solid pack tuna in oil
1 bunch scallions, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon minced garlic
8-ounce can peaches, drained and diced
8 6-inch crisp corn tortilla shells
Drain the tuna, saving 2 tablespoons of the oil in a skillet. Heat the oil and stir-fry the scallions and garlic, gradually stirring in the peaches and a tablespoon of the marinade. Stir in the tuna. Using a draining spoon, spoon the hot tuna mixture into crisp tortilla shells. Top with shredded lettuce and serve at once. This recipe makes four servings. Leftover filling can be warmed in the microwave oven the next day to make more tacos.
Variation: Use crushed pineapple instead of peaches.
Spicy Italian-Style Chicken Thighs
This slow-cooker recipe is from Cooking Light Superfast Suppers (see below). It also can be adapted for a skillet or pressure cooker. Its galley-friendly ingredient is tomato paste, a wonderful shortcut that allows you to carry more flavor in less space than almost any other pantry staple.
12 chicken thighs, skinned
14.5-ounce can Italian-style diced tomatoes
6-ounce can tomato paste
½ cup chopped onion
1 tablespoon bottled minced garlic
1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
Put the chicken in a slow cooker. Combine the remaining ingredients; pour over the chicken; stir well; and cover. Cook on high for one hour. Reduce heat to low and cook for four to five hours until the chicken is tender. This recipe makes six servings, allowing two thighs and 3/4-cup sauce each. The book suggests serving this with spinach fettuccine or mashed potatoes.
White Chocolate Shortbread Bars
A variation on Scotch shortbread and a nice change from brownies, these buttery bars contain no eggs.
1 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar, packed
2 cups flour
6-ounce package white chocolate chips
Let the butter come to room temperature and cut in the brown sugar and flour with two knives or a pastry blender. Stir in the white chocolate chips. Press into a sprayed 8-inch cake pan and bake at 300 degrees for 55 to 60 minutes or until firm to the touch. Cool until just warm to the touch. Turn out onto a cutting board and cut into 16 squares.
Variations: Use white sugar instead of brown. Use butterscotch chips instead of white chocolate chips.
Crock “˜O Shredded Beef
Serve this succulent, melt-in-your-mouth beef on buns or spoon it onto fluffed baked potatoes. It takes as little as four hours when cooked on high or, if you want to forget it all day, as long as eight hours on low. This recipe makes enough for eight servings, so prepare it for company or freeze it in batches. If you add the optional vegetables, it makes 10 servings and is a good way to sneak vegetables into picky eaters. The vegetables disappear into the sauce as the meat cooks. Canned, diced tomatoes come in regular, Italian, Mexican, and other flavors. Take your choice.
2 pounds lean beef for stew
1 large onion, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 red sweet pepper, diced
2 large stalks celery, diced (optional)
1 large carrot, peeled and diced (optional)
Half a small head of cabbage, coarsely cut up (optional)
1 tablespoon minced garlic from a jar
14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes
6-ounce can tomato paste
Put the beef in a slow cooker, salt and pepper lightly, and cover with the other ingredients. Cover and cook on high for four to five hours or on low for seven to eight hours, stirring once halfway through the cooking time. When finished cooking, use a pair of forks to shred the beef.
Mideast Spinach Soup
When you pour beaten eggs into soup in a slow, steady stream, they cook in noodle-like strings. If you’re using broth that is already seasoned, add little or no salt and pepper to the egg mixture. If you decide to use fresh spinach, you’ll need approximately two cups packed.
1 tablespoon butter
1 medium carrot, finely diced
1 medium stalk celery, diced
8-ounce package washed spinach, chopped
1 quart chicken, beef, or vegetable broth
1 tablespoon instant-blend flour (i.e. Wondra)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon salt, dash pepper (if needed)
Dried dillweed or parsley (optional)
Melt the butter in a saucepan and stir in the carrot, celery, and spinach. Gradually add the broth, reserving approximately 1 cup. Cover the pan and simmer the soup for 10 minutes or until the carrots are tender. In a small bowl stir enough cold broth into the flour to make a paste, then add the remaining broth. Stir the flour mixture into the soup over medium heat to thicken. In the same bowl beat the eggs, lemon juice, salt, and pepper until the eggs are smooth and frothy. Ladle some of the hot broth into the egg mixture and stir. Then, while constantly stirring the soup in a circle, pour the egg mixture into the soup in a small, steady stream. Do not boil. Ladle into soup bowls and sprinkle with dried herbs. This recipe makes two large servings.
Family Thais Meatballs
Buy regular or tiny meatballs from the frozen foods section and thaw as many as you need each time. This recipe makes enough sauce for four servings.
4 servings meatballs
1 package beef-flavored ramen noodles
2/3 cup coconut milk
1 tablespoon Thai-style red curry paste
1 tablespoon smooth peanut butter
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 teaspoon soy sauce
½ cup petite frozen peas, thawed
Thaw the meatballs. Prepare the noodles according to package directions and set aside, keeping them warm. In a small saucepan, heat the coconut milk and whisk in the curry paste, peanut butter, fish sauce, and soy sauce until smooth. Stir in the peas and meatballs; cover; and simmer over low just until everything is heated through. Divide the noodles into four bowls; top with meatballs; and apportion the sauce among the four servings.
Note: For larger appetites, use two packages of ramen noodles to serve four.
1 pork tenderloin (not marinated), approximately 10 ounces
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1/4 cup pine nuts (also called pignoli)
1 head escarole, cut into 2-inch chunks (7 to 8 cups)
1 cup halved grape tomatoes
Cut the pork into bite-size pieces and sizzle in the hot oil, gradually stirring in the garlic. As the pork firms up and loses its pink color, keep stirring over high heat as you add the pignoli and escarole. When the escarole is limp and crisp-tender, stir in the tomatoes to heat through. Season to taste. Spoon over hot rice to make four servings.
Note: Escarole also is known as curly endive or chicory.
Vegetarian Barley Lentil Soup
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 cups lentils, rinsed and picked over
1 cup quick-cooking pearl barley
1 large onion, diced
3 stalks celery, diced
1 large carrot, diced
8 cups water
1 tablespoon cornstarch
Vegetarian sausage crumbles, prepared according to package directions (optional)
Heat the oil in a roomy saucepan or kettle and stir-fry the lentils, barley, onion, celery, and carrot. Gradually stir in seven cups water. Bring to a boil; cover; reduce heat; and simmer 20 to 25 minutes until the barley is tender. Make a paste with cornstarch and a little water, then keep stirring to add the entire last cup of water. Stir the cornstarch mixture into the soup over high heat until it thickens and clears. Season to taste. Ladle the soup into bowls and top with vegetarian sausage crumbles. Pass a cruet of sherry to splash into the soup. This recipe makes six servings.
Nesting pots. As a new bride I paid four times more for a set of pots and pans that were only half as good as a new, nesting cookware set I just added to our galley. Until now I wasn’t sold on nesting cookware, because I didn’t trust the handles, and the pots seemed flimsy. Now Fagor, best known for its pressure cookers, offers a nesting set of pans and a skillet in high-quality, commercial-grade stainless steel. Lids are included.
The entire 15-piece set fits into a neat, compact, space-saving stack. Cleverly designed clamp-on handles have a tight grip I can rely on, yet they snap on and off quickly. Included with the set are snap-on plastic lids that turn pots (which also can be used as bowls) into storage containers. Find Fagor Multifunctional Commercial Cookware at www.fagoramerica.com or in camping supply stores such as Camping World.
Books for cooks. Speedy solutions for dinner dilemmas are promised in Cooking Light Superfast Suppers ($34.95, Oxmoor House). My first impression of this cookbook was that nobody needs a recipe to put greens and grapes in a bowl and toss with vinaigrette, or to put green pepper rings and lettuce atop a soy burger in a bun. Then I realized what a help it is to have complete nutritional breakdowns for quick, simple recipes. If you need to know the exact amounts of calories, exchanges, protein, sodium, and/or carbohydrates in everything you prepare, you’ll love this book. The recipes are basic and easy, and, for those on strict diets, knowing the content is worth the book’s weight in gold.