Tag Archives: easy meals

Easy Meal: Chicken Marbella

Chicken marbella

This is an amazing recipe out of the Silver Palate Cookbook–it’s one of those dishes that I can’t believe I waited so long to try. If dishes could be icons, this would be an icon–there are no imitations, it has stood the test of time, and everyone who’s tasted it, loves it.

I made it for the first time last year, wondering how on earth the ingredients would meld together. I mean really–capers, olives, prunes? But I was game; so many people rave about this recipe, I didn’t dare balk.

And it was amazing–such an easy to dish to make, with results that belie its simplicity. It immediately went into my meal rotation.

So when I had a baby, chicken marbella was one of the first meals I got together. It does take some time, as you need to marinate the ingredients overnight or at least 8 hours, but prep and cooking are straightforward and easy: throw everything into a ziploc bag with a bunch of chicken thighs, kind of shake/mash the bag so all the ingredients are mixed up together, and then stick the bag of chicken in the fridge overnight. The next day/evening, empty out the bag into a baking pan, top with brown sugar and add white wine, and pop into an oven.

No chopping. No open flames. And if you’ve got a rice cooker, you’ve got an easy mechanism with which to serve the chicken. It tastes great atop basmati rice.

Great also to send over to a new mom, too. 😉

Recipe after the jump…

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Quick and Easy Meal: stovetop lasagna

Bowtie lasagna

Another Quick and Easy Meal for new mothers/beginning cooks/harried-people-with-no-time-but-desire-for-a-hot-meal…

This meal made my husband’s eyes light up (we were in dire need of a home cooked meal). It makes both my meat-lover husband and pasta-carb-loving me, satisfied; my husband is not the kind of man who takes seconds of pasta dishes, but I caught him going for seconds, immediately. And then eating the leftovers the next day. We made this TWICE in the same week, it’s that simple and filling.

It takes about 15 minutes to cook–and even if you don’t time everything perfectly, the prep (what prep? there’s pretty much zero prep) and cook time is definitely under 30 minutes. There is no chopping involved, and minimal sautéing (aka exposure to spluttering oil). Again, I was able to cook this meal in its entirety with my 5 month old in a sling. Yes, even the past-draining part, because what I did was scoop out the pasta into a big bowl, drained the pot, and then scooped the pasta back into the pot. You could also set the baby down for about a minute while doing this step. And if you’re using a big-enough skillet/frying pan for the meat, you can just scoop the pasta into the pan holding the meat. This isn’t baking, so you can fudge quite a bit.

I think you could dress this up as you please–add some chopped black olives or a dash of red chili peppers or parmesan or whatever else you like in your pasta or lasagna. Make it your own!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 box (16 oz) bowtie farfalle pasta (or rigatoni)
  • 1 jar (3 cups) spaghetti sauce or marinara sauce
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • salt
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 Tbsp basil
  • 2/3 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup sour cream

MATERIALS:

  • 1 skillet/frying pan
  • 1 dutch oven/chef’s pan
  • optional: colander
  • wooden spoon for stirring

DIRECTIONS:
Salt and boil water in a dutch oven (enough to cook a box of pasta). When water comes to a boil, add pasta (farfalle takes about 11 minutes to cook).

Heat up about a tablespoon of olive oil in a frying pan. Add ground beef. Add a dash of salt (about 1-2 tsp) in the beef. Cook until meat is browned. Set aside unti noodles are cooked through.

When noodles are cooked, drain water (either with a lid on the pot and tipping the pot to drain–or drain in a colander and then put the pasta back into the pot–or scoop it out with something like a Chinese spider utensil, drain the pot, and then scoop the pasta back into the pot).

Start adding things to the pot of cooked pasta:
Add the ground beef.
Add garlic powder, basil, and oregano.
Add spaghetti sauce.
Add sour cream.
Add cheese.

On low heat, mix up all the items, until the cheese is melted.

DONE. This makes a healthy amount of pasta–so you’ll have enough for leftovers and meals the next day (always a good thing for new mothers).

Quick and Easy Motherhood Meals (aka welcome to motherhood)

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I had a baby recently. About five months ago, in fact. And what used to be a life filled with elaborate desserts and meals is now a desperate struggle to get food on the table. In our first few months of parenthood, we’ve had our fair share of McDonald’s, delivery food, and sandwiches, so I’m now raring to get hot, home cooked food on the table and in my belly.

But I’ve a few challenges now: I’m either fighting time (baby might wake up from a nap or scream to be picked up) or negotiating safety (baby is in a sling on my body). And I can’t be babysitting a dish on the stove, because well, I’m actually babysitting. (I’ve ruined many a batch of rice while failing to watch the stove and so I finally bought a rice cooker–and it has made a huge difference).

So I’ve been turning to Quick Cook, Easy Prep Motherhood Meals–which are either adaptations on old favorites of mine or recipes I’ve encountered.

The criteria for my Quick and Easy Meals (QEMs) are such:

  • Any knife work has to be minimal (I have decent knife skills, but even then I can’t be chopping for longer than 15 minutes). I can’t chop with my baby on my body, and I don’t know if I have longer than 15 uninterrupted minutes at any one point in my day as a new mom. I have been making good use of pre-prepped salad lettuces these days.

  • Meal prep has to be simple (not a lot of dishes used up, again not a lot of chopping, no fancy gear that I then have to wash).
  • Cooking time is preferably very short or if long, very straightforward (i.e., stick in oven for an hour or simmer on very low heat for an hour). Basically, nothing I must have to guard/watch. There will be no caramels for my QEMs.

Also, these recipes will be reported on this blog under time crunch, too–so forgive the slapdash nature of the posts. Right now, the baby is napping–so who knows how long I have to finish this post? But I thought I’d post them here so I can look them up easily for my own purposes–and so I could share them with you; when I asked my Facebook friends if there would be any interest in such recipes, I got such an enthusiastic response, I thought I’d revive this food blog. 🙂

And no–you don’t have to be a mom to appreciate these recipes. Anyone who doesn’t have a lot of time and doesn’t want to do a bunch of work to get food on the table would enjoy this, whether you are a beginning cook, have come home after a long workday and aren’t up for making beef wellington, or someone who’s got a kid strapped to them and is freaked out about cooking and slicing/burning their baby.

Stay tuned. I’ve already got a couple recipes to share, like quick stovetop lasagna, baked french toast, and of course, the ever awesome classic, chicken marbella.