Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Making Weekdays Work: Tips, Tricks, and Short Cuts

This post is going to be some practical tips you can use to make homemade meals in minimal time. Some are mine and some are from friends or readers who shared them on my facebook page! Check out these tips and shortcuts!

My Tips and Shortcuts

1- A rotisserie chicken is your best friend. I never serve rotisserie chicken as it comes, instead I slice all of the meat off and store it in a Ziploc. I then use the cooked meat in any and all recipes that call for cooked chicken. It removes a step from recipes like chicken marsala casserole. I have used it in sandwiches, in pasta, in quesadillas... you name it, I've used it.

2-  Pizza comes together super quickly and the options are limitless. You can buy crust from your local pizzeria, your food store, or make your own. Most pizza is done from start to finish in under 20 minutes. Also, I love adding chicken to my pizza. I'm about to share one of my biggest cheater tips with you- frozen precooked chicken is what you need for pizza. Every single pizza recipe I've made in the past year that calls for chicken has been from frozen precooked chicken strips. I buy the grilled variety from Trader Joe's. Tyson also makes one. I throw the frozen chicken strips in a skillet with some oil until it's heated through, then dice it up and put on top of pizza. Examples? Pizza ItalianoBBQ chicken pizzaAsian chicken pizza.

3- Bake your rice. Now, this might seem nuts, but I swear I will never make rice on the stove again. Pour 1 cup of white rice to 2 cups of water in an oven safe dish, cover tightly with foil, and bake 35-40 minutes at 375. You will have perfectly cooked rice and you don't have to stir it, look at it, or worry about it. It takes a bit longer than the stove top but it's the perfect method for perfect rice.

4- Many meals can be made ahead of time and thrown in the oven when you get home from work. Anything that is assembled and then baked is a perfect example of this. Assemble up to the point where it goes in the oven and then throw it in the fridge while you work. It'll be ready for the oven when you get home. Here are a few recipes that work well for this:
Bacon pierogie bake
Italian Macaroni and Cheese
French toast souffle (breakfast for dinner is always fun!)
Baked ziti with mascarpone

Readers Tips and Shortcuts

- "I like to use a quick staple, like Trader Joe's Orange Chicken, rather than stress a lot about having a lot to do...I allow myself to do something more elaborate and special on the weekends." - Lisa P.

-"Choose a one pot type meal with 5 or fewer ingredients."- Angela L.

- "For casseroles use a shortcut like precooked meats, frozen veggies, and a simple sauce that all goes in one dish."- Angela L.

-"A crockpot with crockpot liners... saves you a TON of cleanup time!"- Heather S.

-"Pampered Chef's deep covered baker. Tons of one pot recipes can be thrown in for faster cooking!"- Kelly W.

-"On Sundays I chop up things I know I'll need- onions, garlic, carrots, celery. Having these things already cut up makes it so much easier!"- Kristi

-"Cook up several servings of grilled or breaded chicken. You can use the breaded for chicken cutlets one night, chicken parm another, paninis another, etc."- Jenn

-"Repurpose your leftovers. Grilled chicken can become burritos, salad, etc."- Melissa

-"Grill two london broils (some even come marinaded if short on time!) Then use them for regular steak one night, steak salad another, Chinese style pepper steak stir fry another. It also works well in wraps and fajitas."- Jenn

-"Throw cooked chicken breasts in the Kitchenaid and turn it on. Shredded chicken in a minute!"- Jenny

-"Uncle Ben's ready rice and Alexa brand frozen mashed potatoes rock!"-

-"When chopping up veggies like onions and carrots I'll chop the whole bag, then freeze it. So many recipes call for these, so I just measure out from the freezer what is needed."- Veronica

-"Use your pizza cutter to cut fresh herbs. Also, I use my salad chopper to shred pork and chicken for tacos, carnitas, etc."- Vicki D.

-"When shredding cheese put the grater and cheese in the freezer for about an hour. It will keep the cheese from sticking."

-"Pour unused chicken broth, beef broth, etc. into ice cube trays and store in the freezer for later use."

-"I always bake bacon in the oven. No mess and you don't have to stand over it."- Melissa C.

-"I buy frozen chopped onions and bell peppers to have on hand."- Andrea

1 comment:

  1. I can't wait to try cooking my rice in the oven. I hate cooking rice, but love eating it!