Easy Gourmet Meals

Most of us love dishes that are simple to make. We are tired from work or other activities and are very hungry. Fast food may be the most convenient option in these situations, but of course, they are not the healthiest. So we try to make something simple and tasty at home. However, we often run out of ideas and get tired of the same dishes over and over again.

Below are some tips to create gourmet meals that are quite simple:

Homemade Style Chicken Soup

Ingredients

  • Chicken Noodle Soup (1 standard size can for 2 people or 1 family size can for 4 people)
  • Celery, chopped (approximately 1 stalk per person)
  • Carrots, chopped or shredded
  • Red Pepper
  • Parsley, optional

Instructions

  1. Take any can of chicken noodle or similar chicken based soup. Or take a packet of instant soup (like the Lipton kind) and add water as directed. If you use instant soup, you’ll need some precooked chicken – the kind you find already cut up for you.
  2. Add chopped celery and carrots as desired. As a shortcut, you can find shredded carrots in the store. Add red pepper flakes to taste.
  3. Cook until carrots and celery are nice and tender.
  4. Add parsley if desired.

Potato Wedges

Ingredients

  • Oil (preferably vegetable or olive)
  • Potatoes (approximately 1 medium potato per person)
  • Adobo or your favorite seasoning

Instructions

  1. Grease baking sheet with oil or cooking spray. If using oil, be careful to use just enough to thinly coat the bottom of the pan.
  2. Cut potatoes into wedges approximately ¼ inch thick.
  3. Lay potato wedges in a single layer (try not to put them on top of each other).
  4. Sprinkle with Adobo or your favorite seasoning.
  5. Bake until crispy and tender. If cut thin like described above, 20 minutes should be reasonable. You may want to check the tenders at least halfway through cooking time.

Sauteed Asian Style Chicken

Ingredients

  • Peanut Oil
  • Chicken Breast or Tenders (1/4 -1/3 pound per person)
  • Soy Sauce
  • Teriyaki Sauce (optional)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oil in wok or similar style skillet.
  2. While oil is heating, cut chicken into pieces.
  3. Carefully toss cut up chicken into skillet. (Be careful, as peanut oil can get extremely hot.)
  4. Immediately add enough soy sauce to coat all the chicken. You may add more during cooking as desired.
  5. Cook chicken until thoroughly cooked. If adding teriyaki sauce, add now, and then heat a few extra minutes until piping hot.

Honey I.P.A.

sweet ipa india pale ale

I’m not a big fan of most India Pale Ales (I.P.A.) since most are extremely bitter and to me most don’t have offer anything to balance it out.  My husband is a big fan of them so we’ve brewed a couple of batches. We mused around with a few recipes and one that we both enjoyed was from Brooklyn Brew Shop. They have an Everyday I.P.A. that is hoppy and smooth if you can believe that.

Honey I.P.A.

After the first batch was done and gone, we started on another one, but this time we modified it just a bit to make it more of our own. Here’s our take on an I.P.A. It’s for an all grain 1 gallon batch, but you can use a tool like BeerSmith to convert it to an extract recipe or for a bigger brew. sweet ipa india pale ale

Grains

  • 1lb 12oz American 2-Row malt
  • 6 oz Caramel 20 malt
  • 3 oz Victory malt
  • 2 oz Munich malt

I think if you want to go a bit sweeter to balance out the hops you can add some more Caramel malt in it.

Hops

  • Columbus
  • Cascade
For the yeast, you can use Wyeast America Ale II. Brooklyn Brew Shop also recommended Safale S-05, but our local brew shop didn’t have it in their inventory.

 Thoughts on Brewing I.P.A.s

For those of you who love to homebrew, do you enjoy making India Pale Ales? What are some of your favorite recipes?

Photo Credit: Moor Beer Company

Vegetable and Sausage Skillet Supper

one pan meal sausage and vegetable skillet

One of my favorite ways to scrounge up a meal on a busy night is to prepare a skillet dinner. It’s easy prep, easy cooking, and with one pan, it’s easy cleaning. If you’re looking at a delicious skillet dinner, here’s a great one that I found online.

Skillet Supper Ingredients

one pan meal sausage and vegetable skillet
Variation of Sausage and Vegetables Skillet

Even though this recipe calls for kielbasa, it can easily become a vegetarian meal. Simply remove the meat from the ingredient list. Personally I’d swap out zucchini for carrots. As for the hot sauce, we like to use Raw Heat. It has a lot of heat and flavor and you don’t need much.

  • 8 oz low‐fat kielbasa, cut into ½ inch thick slices
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 medium onions, finely chopped
  • 2 medium zucchini, cut into ½ inch dice
  • 1 large red bell pepper, seeded and diced
  • 2 jalapeño peppers, seeded and diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • ½ tsp. ground cumin
  • ½ tsp. salt, or to taste
  • 2 c. cooked brown rice
  • ½ cup water
  • hot sauce, to taste
Actually you can mix and match the vegetables and meat as you prefer, making this recipe versatile as you can simply grab what you have in the fridge and pantry.

Preparation

What makes this an easy meal is that how you only need one pan to get dinner ready.

  • Cook kielbasa in a large nonstick skillet over high heat, turning from time to time, until lightly browned, about 2 minutes.
  • Transfer to a plate.
  • Add oil to the pan.
  • Add onions, zucchini, bell pepper, jalapenos, garlic, cumin, oregano and salt; cook, stirring, until the onions are tender, 4 to 5 minutes.
  • Stir in rice, beans and water; cook, stirring, until heated through, about 4 minutes.
  • Add the reserved kielbasa and season with hot sauce.
  • Serve hot.

Thoughts on Skillet Dinners

I’d love to hear from you about your meal ideas. What are some of your favorite meals to make when you’re pressed for time?

Photo Credit:  HatM

Making Fried Wontons at Home

Looking to mix it up next time you have friends over for dinner? Having fried wontons  as the appetizer or main entree can be the answer.  It’s certainly different than the regular old pizza and wings party!

They are also extremely easy to make, so you can get a batch ready before your guests arrive and still have some time to relax.

Easy, Tasty Fried Pork Wontons

Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients 

  • Vegetable oil for deep frying
  • 1 cup of minced pork
  • 1/4 cup of minced scallion
  • 1/2 finely shredded cabbage
  • 1 Tsp of minced garlic
  • 1 Tsp of grated fresh ginger
  • 1/4 cup of stemmed, seeded, and minced red bell pepper
  • 1 Tsp of soy sauce
  • 1 Tsp of dark sesame oil
  • 1 egg
  • 48 wonton wraps/skins (no big difference- I’ve seen both used)
As far as wraps go, there are thin, medium, and thick options. Go for your perference, but I’d stick with medium and thin to avoid getting a doughy feel with my wontons. If you have an wrapper leftover, then toss them in the freezer, they should last for about a month.

Preparation

  • Fill deep saucepan with vegetable oil until 2 inches deep.
  • Turn the heat to medium-high.
  • With the exception of the wonton skins, combine and mix all the ingredients.
  • Fill the center of the wonton skin with 2 Tsp of your filling.
  • Fold into a triangle and seal with a bit of water.
  • After you’ve filled all the skins, go ahead and place your wontons into the pan a few at a time. Cook for about 3 minutes or so, turning it once during the process.
  • Dry on paper towel.

My tip on folding the wontons is to keep it simply and fold it diagonally to get the triangle shape. If prepared right, they’ll be gone quickly anyways, so no need to stress over folding like the restaurants  The recipe makes enough for about 10 people, give or take their appetites.

Thoughts on Frying Wontons

I’d love to hear from you. How do you like to prepare your wontons? What other dishes do you serve with them?

Photo Credit: jeferonix

Mediterranean Stew for the Slow Cooker

slow cooker stew

One of favorite ways to prepare a meal is with our slow cooker. We can put in all of the items in the morning and when it’s time for dinner we have the one pot meal all ready to go. It’s a simple way to prepare something tasty without doing a ton of work.

A healthy option with the slow cooker is making a Mediterranean Stew. With this recipe you don’t need meat, though some variations include adding some lamb. I’d also recommend making a side of rice to go with the stew.

Ingredients slow cooker stew

  • 3/4 butternut squash – peeled, seeded, and cubed
  • 1-1/2 cups and 2 tablespoonscubed eggplant, with peel
  • 1-1/2 cups and 2 tablespoonscubed zucchini
  • 3/4 (10 ounce) packagefrozen okra, thawed
  • 3/4 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 3/4 cup and 2 teaspoons chopped onion
  • 3/4 ripe tomato, chopped
  • 3/4 carrot, sliced thin
  • 1/3 cup and 1 tablespoon vegetable broth
  • 1/4 cup and 1 teaspoon raisins
  • 3/4 clove garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika

Preparation

The great thing with this stew is all you have to do to prepare it is throw in the  butternut squash, eggplant, zucchini, okra, tomato sauce, onion, tomato, carrot, broth, raisins, and garlic into the crockpot. Season with cumin, turmeric, red pepper, cinnamon, and paprika.

Cover, and cook on low for 8 or so.

Thoughts on Slow Cooker Meals

What are some of your favorite meals to make in the crockpot?

Photo Credit: Girl Interrupted Eating