In the past, we’ve discussed favorite recipes and particularly tasty meals. (Some of those recipes are well worth checking out). This thread will take a different tack: Let’s talk about some quick and easy recipes that the cook of the house can fire up when he needs ideas.
As I’ve mentioned elsewhere in the nacle, one staple around my own kitchen is baked chicken. The details will vary from day to day, but the basics look like this:
1. Take three or four chicken breasts, and put them into a baking pan. (They work fine frozen; you can buy frozen chicken breasts in the store, or buy the packages and freeze your own).
2. Add one of the following:
-1/2 cup(ish) cooking wine
-1/2 cup(ish) italian (or vinagrette) dressing
-1/2 cup(ish) of any of a number of the relatively inexpensive pre-made marinades you can buy in the store.
-Or just drizzle them with olive oil and sprinkle them with seasoned salt. (Not too much salt!)
-Or add oil, a bit of cayenne pepper, some curry powder, and some cumin seed.
-Or otherwise season, as your imagination takes you.
3. Add other items as desired:
-Onions are great; garlic is great.
-Mushrooms are great. (From the can is just fine, though fresh is better).
-Artichokes are very good.
-Capers, asparagus, peppers, will all do nicely.
(Don’t clash too badly between your seasonings and your veggies, obviously. If you’re going with a teriyaki marinade, you probably want to avoid the capers).
4. Bake at 350 or so for ~40 minutes, depending on your oven and how much chicken you’ve got in there.
If you’ve got a big enough pan, cook up six or eight breasts this way (adding a bit more marinade, of course) and you’re set for a few days. Chicken breasts keep nicely — you can heat them up for lunch, or cut them up and have them over salad.
Total time: 5 minutes to toss it all into the pan, 40 minutes of baking time (while you are free to do other things). It’s a classic fire-and-forget, which are always great.
Note — be sure to set a timer. This recipe doesn’t do so well if you bake it for, say, two hours instead of 40 minutes. Yes, that is the voice of experience speaking.
Couscous is so easy to prepare, it ought to be illegal. It’s also a very tasty pasta base for your main dish. This is the sum total of how to prepare couscous.
1. Put the couscous into a bowl.
2. Add boiling water.
3. Wait 5 minutes.
That’s it. You’re done. Easiest food on earth. Serve that with your baked chicken, and you’re set to go.
You can always do more, if you’d like. But when you need a quick basic food to go with your main dish, simple couscous is the easiest, quickest option around.
You can buy couscous at some grocery stores, at middle eastern food stores, or at places like Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s. In New York City, you can buy it at Fairway, and they have a nice selection of varieties (regular, tomato, tricolor, and so on). Don’t let your four-year-old near tricolor couscous; he may mistake it for birdseed and decide to take it out front and dump it out on the sidewalk. (It has no noticeable negative effect on pigeons, though — at least, none that I observed).
Edamame is the world’s second-easiest food. Here’s how you make it.
1. Boil water.
2. Add edamame to boiling water.
3. Wait 5 minutes.
4. Drain it and add a bit of salt.
That’s it, you’re done. Edamame is healthy and tasty. It’s also a fun food — kids have a blast with it. You can buy it frozen at Asian food places and at many grocery stores.
Okay, everyone. What are your favorite quick-and-easy recipes?