Monday, April 26, 2010

Quick Meals for those tough days

I was talking to my sister today. Badgering? Chatting? driving her crazy...about switching her food options to less processed food and lower carbohydrates. Her take was that I had heaps of time and therefore was able to keep and maintain the life-style we have chosen.

I was thinking about that... but the reality is that I don't.

However, I love to cook, it relaxes me and re-connects me to what I feel is important in life. And, I am lucky that we aren't tied to eating times and the BF is very flexible on when and what we are eating. I've had days where all of a sudden I've decided that I just don't want what I had planned for dinner and go out shopping. And, we've eaten at 10pm. I know this is not possible when one has children.

And, this particular posting isn't about those days where no one cares how long it is going to be before one ea. It is about the days where I come home and all I want to do is eat and sleep.

And, here is what we do on those days.

Hamburgers (sans bread) with a side salad (avocado and tomatoes)

Tuna with green goddess dressing on a salad

Scallops in cream sauce with salad

fish (grilled or pan fried) with a salad

...ummm.. .I think there is a theme here. ; )

Steaks with green beans (or salad, I'm sure that will work too. *grin*)

Chicken strips with veggies. I use chicken pieces so that it cooks fast but if you have time chicken cooked on the bone is much tastier. But, I've never cooked the chicken recipe below with chicken on the bone - as you may recall, this is my "OMG! I just wanta go to bed recipes." :)

As for veggies, we steam or stir fry in butter the following: broccoli, carrots, green beans, mushrooms. Other options that just don't make it into the house because of the BF (but I may find ways in the future to sneak them home!): eggplant, cauliflower, cabbage, bok choy...etc. The list of veggies are endless - and most cook up fast. Unless, you are trying to be sneaky with the veg in question - in which case we are back to "work" :) Well, at least until you have found a recipe that may or may not be quick and easy. I'm just saying that while I may think that butter makes everything taste good, not every one agrees with me. *shocking* I know.

OK.. so here are some recipes.

Scallops - ok.. fine... this isn't the one from the picture because....well, that one isn't so quick. but it looked and tasted too yummy for me not to put it up. I'll put up the recipe in the future.

However, here is a quick scallop recipe which is very yummy as well.

Scallop Provencal

  • 1 lb. fresh bay or sea scallops
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, divided
  • ½ cup chopped shallots (2 large)
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • ⅓ cup dry white wine (optional)
  • 1 lemon, cut in 1/2
If you're using bay scallops, keep them whole. If you're using sea scallops, cut each 1 in half horizontally (or not). Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
In a very large saute pan, heat 2 tablespoons of the butter over high heat until sizzling and add the scallops in 1 layer. Lower the heat to medium and allow the scallops to brown lightly on 1 side without moving them, then turn and brown lightly on the other side. This should take 3 to 4 minutes, total.
Melt the rest of the butter in the pan with the scallops, then add the shallots, garlic, and parsley and saute for 2 more minutes, tossing the seasonings with the scallops. Add the wine (or not), cook for 1 minute, and taste for seasoning. Serve hot with a squeeze of lemon juice.


  • 1/2 pound or so strips of chicken (you can cut up a breast of chicken or buy chicken already cut up into strips)
  • 3 tbs butter, melted
  • 1 tbs basil and oregano (dried)
  • salt and pepper to taste
In a small bowl mix herbs, salt and butter. Toss in the chicken and mix to coat. In a skillet, add enough butter to coat the pan. Once hot, add chicken and cook through.

See how fast that is? you are done! I love to make this on a grill pan - which I was very lucky to get this past Christmas. If you are lucky enough to have one, heat it up while you are preparing the chicken.

This is also one of those recipes which you can add or remove ingredients on what you feel like or have on hand. I've tossed in some grated cheese. Used rosemary instead of or with the basil and oregano. You can add whatever flavors you like at the time and I think it will turn out good.

Green Goddess Dressing

  • ½ avocado
  • 3 tablespoons mayonnaise (optional - we don't use it because I can't be bothered to make mayo and well, I don't like the stuff from the stores)
  • 3 tablespoons plain yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 2 scallions, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped (well, if you feel like chopping - I just toss it all in)
  • 1 tablespoon parsley, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon tarragon, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ⅛ teaspoon pepper
In blender, combine avocado, mayonnaise, yogurt, water, scallions and garlic. puree until smooth. Add basil, parsley, tarragon, lemon, salt and pepper. blend until combined. Or, if you couldn't be bothered to chop the herbs (like me) just blend it for a bit longer so it's all nicely chopped up for you.

There are so many quick and easy options. It isn't a case of not having time because a lot of processed foods take as much or more time. And, if you are a planner - you could do so much better than I do about getting dinner done up in no time.

And, I love stews, roasts and soups - which take a lot of time but little work. So, if you can stick something in the oven or in a crock pot and do whatever else you need to do. Those are great options as well.

I think the most important thing is to break the cycle of processed fast food. Of thinking that real cooking takes time and more energy than a tossing of pasta with some sauce. Or a pizza in the oven. OK, perhaps a bit more energy than the pizza in the oven. ;)

But, honestly, I have gained so much more energy by removing processed food and high amounts of carbs from my life. I feel better about what I eat, knowing where it comes from and how it was treated/grown/cared. Versus, eating a box-o-meal, where I know nothing about the product. Where, I do not know all the ingredients or how it was made (aside from in a factory).

Do I eat carbs? yes, sometimes. Nothing like I use to do. Which, when I was a vegetarian was every day, multiple times a day. And, the highs and lows were so extreme. If I forgot to eat on a regular schedule, I would randomly tip over. I kid you not! The BF had gotten so use to me tipping over that he thought it was normal behavior for me. And, it didn't matter the type of shoes I wore or the terrain. It was my blood sugar levels - which were spiking and falling.

Do I eat out? yes, sometimes. And, while I will try to eat at sustainable restaurants. Or, choose better options at regular restaurants (however, not fast food restaurants - they are still plain nasty). Some days, a pizza is just too good to pass up. (like tonight! although I do stick the toppings from a few slices on to 1 pizza crust. The BF, just eats it sans crust --- which is yummy too).

The thing for me is not giving up everything - just not eating it often. I find that I don't want bread or cake or pizza (ok, maybe not pizza) as often as before. And, that by giving up changing the food I eat on a daily basis, I am in better health now than I have ever been.


  1. And, that by changing the food I eat on a daily basis, I am in better health now than I have ever been.

    Here here! I've convinced my severely diabetic father of the same thing, and he shares this mindset as well! Good stuff, all around. =)

  2. Yea! congrats on getting your father to change his mindset. Sometimes I feel that I'm pushing people to change -- I don't mean to do so, but I hate to think of all that time I did all this "work" to be healthy and ended up with larger issues. And now, I do little to no "work" - and am so much happier and healthier. I keep hoping that just by doing what we do, we can help prove to our loved ones that this is the route to go. Or, something along the lines of real food. Where-ever that line might be drawn for them.

  3. My super-quick meals often involve eggs and/or spinach. But, as you point out, having some good ingredients around for a simple cook (steak, burgers, fish) is really quick and easy.

    I get pre-washed baby spinach from the store (I get lazy with vegetables, I don't know why. I can buy a whole chicked, carve out boneless cutlets, butterfly them, section the legs and confit those, roast the breastbone, wings, and back, eat the meat off then make stock from them, without it seeming too much work. But the thought of washing some spinach seems tedious and troublesome.) Anyway, chopped spinach mixed with tuna (packed in olive oil), put in a ceramic dish, covered with shredded cheddar, and popped under the broiler. Or spinach + eggs (+ cheese). Or fried halloumi. We also make large batches of the slow-cooked and then freeze it in small batches for microwaving. Got several containers of jalapeno-cooked pork belly in the freezer now.

  4. ummmm.. jalapeno-cooked pork belly. Save a bit for us when we visit in July! Ok - at least some for me. :)