This is the time of year when I wander around the store looking for anything fresh. I am big on farm stands, shopping the outside aisles of the store (away from all the processed stuff) and cooking from scratch. This is the difficult time for creative cooking in my kitchen. I fight the urge that long cold nights provoke: heavy, carb-laden meals. But there is no getting around it, there is more pasta, more bread, more potatoes, more cookies (!!) and less fresh, raw veggies as the winter days wear on.
But I do have my go-to vegetable broth that is the base to almost all my soups. It is rich, creamy and satisfies that need for hearty comfort foods without all the guilt. Because I have a Vita-Mix, I just throw in celery, carrots, corn, green beans, spinach, tomatoes, green or red pepper, onion, dash of lemon juice , and water, blending until smooth. Spices vary depending on what type of soup I’m making, but a dash of lemon juice really brings out the flavors. It’s great on its own, or as a base for hearty vegetable soup, chicken tortilla soup, tomato-spinach soup and more.
Lately, besides soups, I’ve been making a lot of one-pot meals. I throw a few items into the pressure cooker and 20 minutes later, open it up and there’s a nice dinner. Not gourmet, but flavorful and good for a quick supper. Tonight’s feature recipe is one of those that can be cooked in a pressure cooker or saucepan. Put it together, cover and a bit later, dinner.
Let’s start with some other quick and easy recipes:
In the photo above, JeffreyW takes leftovers and makes a whole new awesome dinner. That’s why I always try to make extra sauce and freeze leftovers for quick meals.
A Vegetable Pasta Toss (recipe here) is a friend of mine’s go-to meal on busy school nights. She varies the vegetables and spices to change it up.
Crispy Potato Chicken (recipe, full dinner menu and shopping list here) is easier than it sounds and a great way to shake up that typical chicken and potato dinner. Also you can easily substitute fish or pork chops for the chicken.
If you are like me and received pears for Christmas, here are two fresh and easy recipes with pears as the centerpiece:
Asian Pear, Cabbage and Grape Salad (click here)
Walnut Pear Salad (click here – there is also a dinner menu, Beef and Pepper Sub recipe and shopping list at that link)
I messed up the settings on my camera over the holidays (fixed now), so I’m a little short on photos this week. But here is a cell phone shot of my walk yesterday with the Bixster:
Tonight’s feature recipe is truly one-pot. I’ve made it in the pressure cooker successfully, but unless you’re confident with your pressure cooker, I’d stick with the saucepan. Unless you have an electric pressure cooker, like JeffreyW’s new one. I’ve paired it with an easy vegetable side.
Spicy Chicken & Rice
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
- 4 boneless chicken thighs (breast if you prefer)
- 1 green pepper (substitute yellow or orange if you prefer)
- 1 red pepper
- 1 onion
- 1-2 tbsp pickled sliced jalapeños
- 1 cup uncooked rice
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 14 oz can diced tomatoes
- 2 oz sliced black olives (opt)
large saucepan or dutch oven
Heat ½ tbsp oil in pan, add chicken and cook until browned on both sides. Remove and set aside to cool enough to cut into large pieces. Add remaining oil, onion, peppers & jalapenos to pan and sauté. Stir in uncooked rice and stir for 1 minute. Add water, chicken broth, tomatoes, & chicken to pan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and let simmer, covered, until rice is tender, about 20 minutes. Add olives and serve.
Peas w/Mushrooms & Onions
- 8 oz pearl onions (fresh or frozen)
- 4 mushrooms, washed & sliced
- ½ tbsp olive oil
- ½ tbsp butter
- 16 oz frozen peas
- salt & pepper to taste
saucepan with lid, bowl
In the saucepan over medium, heat oil and butter. Add onions, mushrooms and stir until onions are softened. Remove to a bowl. Add peas and a splash of water to the saucepan and cover. Let simmer until peas are heated through. Add more water as needed – but you want them to steam, not boil. Once they are heated through, add mushroom mixture back to the saucepan and toss, adding salt and pepper to taste.
That’s it for this week. Next week I’ll continue to try and highlight what’s fresh and easy to combat the winter blues – TaMara
Remember, only 42 days until spring training. 87 until opening day.