Saturday, August 19, 2017

Leader Enterprise - August 16, 2017 - Tips for Easy Meals

As you all know by now - I love simple and easy recipes.  I've been thinking about my third cookbook, FORK FAVORITES, that's recently been delivered to my door, and decided I should share some suggestions for making quick, easy meals. Even if you are just learning to cook, these ideas can help save you some time when you want to get a meal on the table quickly. 

1. Always read through a new recipe before starting. It's too tough to adjust mid-way through it. Check the size baking dish needed and the oven temperature. 

2. I like to get all my ingredients out on the counter, then place them in a different spot as I use them.  That way, if the phone rings and I forget what I was doing, I know where to begin again. In order to avoid confusion, I think it's easiest to add ingredients as listed in the recipe. 

3. We keep cleaned and cut up veggies on hand in the fridge. They're great for snacking. If your recipe calls for chopped onions, celery and/or carrots, chop them ahead of time. You can even freeze this combo. That's one less step you have to do when throwing your meal together. You don't have to do a week's worth of prep at once. Anything you can do ahead will help when mealtime rolls around. 

4. Keep cooked chicken and beef on hand in the freezer. Feel free to season your meat with taco seasoning, ranch dressing or whatever your family prefers. 

Here's a great recipe for preparing cooked chicken for the freezer, along with ideas how to use it.  


5 frozen chicken breasts
1 (16 ozs) jar salsa or picante sauce (your favorite) 
1 (1 oz) pkg. taco seasoning mix (= to 3 Tb.)
1/4 c. milk
1 tsp. cilantro
1/2# (more or less) Velveeta cheese, chunked
(cheddar or pepper jack would be great too) 
taco shells or tortilla chips
GARNISHES: chopped tomatoes, shredded lettuce, chopped green onion, sour cream and/or guacamole 

Spray 4-qt. crockpot with nonstick cooking spray.  Lay chicken breasts (still frozen!) in the bottom; cover with salsa or picante, then sprinkle taco seasoning over top.  Cook on high for 3 - 4 hours or low for 5 - 6. When cooked, remove breasts and shred with 2 forks.  Return to crockpot and stir in milk and cilantro.  Place Velveeta over top and heat (on low) until melted. Stir before serving in taco shells, warm tortillas or on tortilla chips with garnishes of choice. Cool before freezing. Yield: 6 - 7 servings 


1 lb. beef stew meat
3 cups (24 ozs) V8 juice
1 cup (8 ozs) beef broth
1/2 onion, sliced
1 tsp. worchestershire sauce
1/2 tsp. dried marjoram
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1 bay leaf
1 cup (8 ozs) frozen green beans
1 cup (8 ozs) frozen whole kernel corn
1 cup chopped carrots
(To save time and effort, I opted to use a bag of frozen stew vegetables instead=)

Pour all the ingredients, with vegetables still frozen, but broken apart as much as possible, into a 10-cup freezer container (gallon ziploc freezer bag works fine).

To serve, thaw.  Pour into a slow cooker.  Cook on low for 6 - 7 hours. Serves 8

(I suggest you always use fresh meat before freezing...refreezing meat that has once been frozen, is not a good idea) If you want to thicken sauce, mix some cornstarch with water then stir into stew before serving. Serve with biscuits for a filling meal. 

Instead of a sharing a quote, I thought I'd add a couple of jokes for the kids.

Q: How do you get a tissue to dance?
A: You put a little boogie in it

Q: How does the ocean say hello?
A: It waves

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