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Thread: Shortcuts and quick meals

  1. #1
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    Shortcuts and quick meals

    So, I tried something new this week - I have a homemade pizza recipe that involves making the crust. The crust has to rise for two hours. On Thursday I made the crust first thing in the morning so that I had time to bake it before I left for work. I left the finished crust in the oven. I chopped up all the toppings and tossed them all together in a container in the fridge. So when I got home, I just had to set the oven to preheat, start the fire, unload my car and hang up my coat, take the crust out, top it with sauce, cheese, and topping mix, and stick it back under broil. Dh got home half an hour after I did, and we ate.

    now I am looking for additional reasonably healthy vegetarian ideas that can be assembled and cooked in 30 minutes or less that are not entirely hands on. - basically alternatives to “microwave leftovers, soup, or frozen dinners”

    although, actually, i’m Not opposed to a healthy homemade “frozen dinner” that is actually ready to serve in 30 minutes or less - something that isn’t pasta/cheese based.

    my pizza has whole wheat crust and only a light sprinkling of cheese. It’s about 50% veggie toppings.

  2. #2
    Senior Member SteveinMN's Avatar
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    Any stirfry would fill that bill. Most of the cooking time is spent in prep, but that does not have to be onerous. Loaded baked potatoes could work, too, if you either microwave the potatoes or par-cook the potatoes themselves in an oven to be "loaded" just before dinner time. Frittatas/omelettes...
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    Senior Member herbgeek's Avatar
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    When I make pizza crusts, I typically make 4 at a time, and partially bake them (5 minutes at 450). This way, I'm "amortizing" the mess and prep time over more meals. Weeknight dinners typically include a pizza or flatbread of leftover vegetables and cheese.

    I often will do whole grains in a big batch and freeze (like farro or brown rice). This winter, I did a big batch of root vegetables in a gravy and packed that into dinner size portions. I also make pie crust and freeze that, so pot pie for dinner involves thawing both the vegs and pie crust in the morning, and then assembling and baking for dinner.

    I make vegetarian tacos with lentils instead of ground beef. I start with 1 cup of lentils, mostly cook them, then add the taco seasoning I would add to 1 pound of ground beef. Again I make a big batch and then portion those out into dinner size portions. Dinner is then heating tortilla, chopping lettuce/tomato/other veg and grating some cheese.

    Quesadillas are another quick weeknight dinner: typically some sort of bean, maybe corn, onions, pepper and cheese inside a whole wheat tortilla. Most of the time is chopping the veg, but that's still less than 10 minutes.

    Beans and rice is in the rotation: either with Mexican spices or with Indian flavorings. I do cook beans in big batches and freeze those so I can just pull out what I need, but this also works with canned beans.

    In the summer/when produce is good, its typically a quick stir fry of a bunch of colorful vegetables.

    Most of weeknight dinners involve components that I've cooked in big batches over the weekend, with something fresh added when heating/assembling. Over time, I have a good selection in my freezer and can come with a dinner idea fairly quickly.

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    Senior Member catherine's Avatar
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    This is not 30 minutes--probably more like 45, but most off that time is cooking/simmering time. It's my latest favorite recipe: Mushroom bourguignon. Nothing complicated about making it. It has a rich depth of flavor and leftovers preserve well.

    https://smittenkitchen.com/2009/01/m...m-bourguignon/

    And I know you don't want soups, but throwing stuff like lentils onions, carrots, celery, broth, diced tomatoes and herbs and spices in a small crockpot in the morning and letting it stew for 8 hours is about as easy as it gets.

    Lately DH have enjoyed cooking green, yellow and red bell peppers and onions in a pan and then throwing in a couple of eggs--kind of a messy frittata/omelet.
    "Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it--every, every minute?" Emily Webb, Our Town
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    So, I don’t have a crock pot and likely never will. Dh is opposed to the idea of leaving things that heat on when we are not home. And honestly, after 30 years of not having one, they don’t appeal to me enough to be interested in storing and washing one. My mother has a crockpot that she has only ever used for keeping things warm....

    i have an oven, a cooktop, a microwave and a toaster.

    trying stir fry appeals to me (I have always been reluctant to cut things up ahead of time out of fear that they wouldn’t be “fresh” due to my experience with precut grocery produce, but the pizza was fine.) but i’m concerned that it would be 30 minutes totally hands on, plus, fresh rice is hard to get done in 30 minutes (from measure to boil, to finished)and dh complains about reheated rice - he says the texture is different.

    the 30 minutes is a hard limit for me. I know myself well enough that if I walk in the door at 7:00 and dinner isn’t going to be ready in 30 minutes (20 would be better) or if I have to actually be in the kitchen hungry and tired for that whole time - I will eat bread and fruit and nuts and there is no point in making dinner.

    Herbgeek, were the root vegetables mushy when you froze and reheated them?

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    I make long grain rice in less than 30 minutes. A quick meal I make is grilled cheese and soup. I love our crockpot and have never heard of one causing a fire.

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    Senior Member herbgeek's Avatar
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    Herbgeek, were the root vegetables mushy when you froze and reheated them?
    No, they were soft but I wouldn't say mushy. Although when I stir fry I like my veggies a little underdone/crisp. when I have pot pie I want everything soft.

    I rarely use the crockpot these days since I work from home. It was great for meat stews. But I don't eat much meat since hub went vegetarian, and I found vegetables in the crockpot got too mushy for my taste. If you haven't had one until now, there probably isn't a lot of use in getting one now.

    I use basmati rice primarily. It cooks in 15 minutes or less. I agree with your husband that reheated rice isn't the same. You could however use it to make a fried rice with bits of leftover vegetables and egg.

    Are there things that you already cook where you could make a big batch of (like 3-4 meals worth) and freeze the leftovers? Then you would just have to heat when you got home, and maybe have a salad with it.

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    A long time ago I used to freeze soup, but I felt like the carrots and potatoes and such always ended up too soft after reheating. We like to be able to stick a fork in them and not have them split apart - more like stir fried veggies. If they crush when you press down on them with a fork, they are too soft.

    i usually cook basmati by bringing it to a boil and then turning it to low for 20 minutes - i rinse it first and it takes a while to get to boiling. How do you cook it?

    most of what I cook doesn’t seem to freeze well.

  9. #9
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    In the freezer I have: pinto/red beans in 2c servings, black beans 2c, rice, rice/barley mix, cooked ground beef/turkey and ground beef/italian sausage, corn, gr beans, blanced kale, peas, simmered tomato/garlic/onion mix and my garden ratatouille.

    What to make: get out a combo in the morning so it thaws while you're working. once home, pull the assortment, mix with a great salsa and some cheese and put in greased 7x9 glass dish. into a 425 oven with foil over top for 30".

    The rice difference wont' be noticeable. This is one of our favorite too-tired meals and it yields lunch leftovers.

    Another option is to thaw those veggies, heat in a skillet with some garlic/ginger/soy and put over rice noodles (which cook very quickly). Dinner in 20".

    The meat can be added to any of these for you. Remove half and use 2 separate baking dishes.

    The tomato mix or ratatouille can be a soup w/crusty bread. Can add more veg for a stew. Can add meat for a bolognese. It will heat up in 10-20m depending on how long you want to simmer it.

  10. #10
    Senior Member iris lilies's Avatar
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    I find a rice cooker of more value than the crockpot although I DO use crockpot for cooking beans all the time. DH grew lots of dried beans two years ago and we are still eating them.

    For me, the rice cooker is easy peasy because I can set it and do not have to watch it, no boiling over on stove. While it is cooking rice, I can cook the topping. Most all of the dishes I make are less than 30 minutes. Generally, I make two kinds of dishes to go on top of rice:


    1. Vegetables and meat in a stir fry


    2. Tomato/ meat mixture in an Italian sort of sauce

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