The world is spinning faster than ever. People are literally falling off the edge of the Earth like riding a playground merry go round twisting out of control! Centrifugal force is pulling us off the planet and hurling us into space every single day, or so it seems. The idea that the 24 hours in a single day is enough time to accomplish everything on that every growing to-do list is just plain silly. We are just flat out busy.
Along with the everyday routines and unexpected events, we are programmed to make breakfast, lunch and dinner for the family. Without these meals, there is no energy to hit the office, the gym, the playground or even make it to the living room without fainting. We have to eat.
Slow and low has been preached in previous articles enough that you should be mumbling it in your sleep by now. Meat gets tender, juicy and more flavorful the longer you cook over low heat. It releases itself from the connective tissues and allows the spice rubs and sauces to intermingle like a food orgy. They complete each other in a yin and yang of sort of mantra.
The dilemma is that D-I-N-N-E-R is written in bold letter on that inevitable to-do list. What to do, what to do? Well, try one of these quickly made dinners and be sure to utilize those items previously barbecued, baked, broiled or cooked and then frozen. That’s why you stuff the freezer with Tupperware and Ziplocs, right?
- Breakfast Egg Bake – Preheat oven to 350ºF. Butter a casserole dish and line the bottom with slices of bread (crusts optional). In a small bowl, beat 6-8 eggs and ½ cup of milk. Season with salt and pepper. Layer with a handful of shredded cheese, some chopped leftover barbecued ham (or leftover breakfast meat), and whatever diced veggies your family eats. Pour egg/milk mixture over bread and slide into oven for 30-40 minutes. Now go and feed the cat, get the newspaper off the porch, make a pot of coffee and relax while this bakes. Be sure to test the middle of the casserole with a toothpick. When it comes out clean, holler that breakfast is done. Slice into squares and serve with toast and jelly. (Serves 4-6)
- Quick Tuna Lunch Melts – In a large bowl, add two opened and drained cans of tuna fish. Add some diced celery, onions and tomatoes to the bowl. Season with 1 tsp of dill, then salt and pepper to taste. Add 3 tbsp sweet pickle relish and 4 tablespoons of mayonnaise. Mix well. Top 4 slices of bread each with a slice of Swiss cheese. Spread some of the tuna mixture onto the cheese and top with another slice of cheese. Top this with another slice of bread to complete a sandwich. Butter both sides and cook on low in a Teflon pan or black skillet till golden brown on each side. Serve with chips and pickle spears. Now go balance the checkbook, replace the toilet paper roll and organize the silverware drawer. (4 sandwiches)
- Meatball-Jalapeños Lunch Poppers – Preheat oven to 375ºF and find a cookie sheet. Thaw out a bag of precooked meatballs from the freezer. Open a tube of crescent rolls and separate the triangles. Open a jar of jalapeños. Whittle off some thin slices of pepper jack cheese or unwrap your favorite and cut into quarters. Now assemble accordingly: Place an appropriate sized slice of cheese on each crescent roll triangle. Place a jalapeño slice on top of the cheese. After thawed, place a meatball on top of each slice of jalapeño. Flip the edges over to enclose the meatball entirely. Put on cookie sheet 2-3 inches apart and brush each with a little BBQ sauce. Place in oven and cook according to crescent roll packaging. For a side dish, open a can of corn and heat in a small pot. Remember, the meatballs are already cooked and if thawed to room temperature before placing in oven, these will come out piping hot, cheesy and sauced to perfection. Hell the kids can do this one while you vacuum or go and change the oil in the truck!
- Pulled Pork Dinner Tacos – Thaw out that Ziploc full of pulled pork from the last BBQ. In a black skillet, sauté up some sliced green or red bell peppers and some onions in a little butter. Toss in that bag of pork and add a shot or two of liquid (beer works great here). Stir and then add a couple more shots of your favorite salsa, or barbecue sauce, or even just hot sauce. Let in go uncovered to reduce liquid for a few more minutes on low. Chop some lettuce and tomatoes, open a bag of shredded cheese and a jar of jalapeños. Warm some soft tortillas in the microwave under a damp paper towel for no longer than a minute. Keep covered until serving. Open a bag of nacho chips, a jar of salsa and ring the dinner bell. Be sure to leave the tongs by the pork skillet and a spoon in the salsa! Time to catch up on some DVR’d shows or go and caulk the tub!
- Speedy Dinner Chili – In a large pot, brown 1 lb of ground beef on medium heat. Dice one onion, half a green pepper and two fingers of garlic. Add it all to pot. To build flavor, stir in 1 tsp of cumin, 1 tsp chili powder and a tablespoon of brown sugar. Open and add one decent sized can of stewed tomatoes and a 20 oz bottle of V8. Let simmer for 5-10 minutes. Open and add one decent sized can of chili beans. Season again with 1 tsp of cumin, 1 tsp chili powder and a tablespoon of brown sugar. Stir, cover and let simmer till heated through. This can be simmering while you fold some laundry or give the dog a bath! Serve with oyster crackers, shredded cheese and a dollop of sour cream. (Makes 3-4 big bowls)
Look, the sun is setting. You’ve accomplished a ton work and cooked 3 great clean the fridge meals for the family. Obviously, we’d all love an additional few hours each day to finish crap. Maybe a magic wand that does it for us, however, this isn’t Hogwarts and you are not Harry Potter. So, play with the cards you’re dealt and always look for that Ace in the hole to help you out.
Healthy, quick and cleaning out the freezer are all bonuses with these recipes.
Smoke ‘em if you got ‘em and don’t forget your bib!