QUICK & EASY RECIPES FOR THESE CRAZY TIMES

I’VE GOT TO TELL YOU: 2020 HAS BEEN *AHEM* CHALLENGING.

What a Shit Show.

I’ve learned I am nowhere near as patient and my family nickname is now “The Beast.” I’ve fully remembered how teachers don’t get paid near enough. That after this stressful year of SIP and staying close to home, I married really well. We haven’t killed each other yet. I’ve never been more frustrated, scared or anxious for our Country, Planet, and Children. And that my kids are growing up way too fast even though days move like molasses. We’ve made some big changes to the speed of family life and I can honestly say, I hope to never be that ferociously busy again as pre-Covid. But I’ve also learned to start the evening with Dean and a 5:00 PM porch cocktail and cook waaaaayyy less complicated dishes as this year really takes it out of you…

Two new friends (who I’ve met only remotely via Zoom) were talking about the exhaustion of learning to cook 90% of their family meals during these crazy times, and I thought to my dinner arsenal and realized the ones I’ve been cooking most this year are my family favorites. And importantly, easy to make after a stiff drink. Spending 15-20 minutes on a delicious dinner (with great leftovers) seems more doable these days and I wanted to share my recipes.

Here are my personal favorites. Easy Recipes that so many of you have loved on IG and I’m codifying them here for you. I cook to taste so you’ll see measurements only where necessary.

All you need is some pantry staples and you’re good to go!

Quick Weeknight Staples

  • Good Olive Oil (I use cheaper to cook with and a fancier one to drizzle)
  • Balsamic Vinegar (thicker the better)
  • Red Wine Vinegar
  • 10-20 Whole Garlic
  • Yellow, Red, and White Onions (2-3 each)
  • Lemons
  • Limes
  • Carrots
  • Asparagus
  • Peppers
  • Broccoli or Broccolini
  • Potato (Brown and Red)
  • Fresh Ginger
  • Aborio, Basmati, and Wild Rice
  • Chicken and Veggie Stocks (2-3 of each)
  • I try to have Chicken (2 whole, wings, and thighs), pork chops, ground turkey, fish, and ground beef in the freezer
  • Tater Tots in freezer
  •  Coconut Milk
  • Coconut Oil
  • Sesame Oil
  • Tamari or Soy Sauce
  • Mirin
  • Sambal Oelek Chili Paste
  • Firm Tofu
  • Mayo
  • Dijon
  • Kosher Salt & Iodized Salt
  • White Pepper Powder
  • RAINBOW Peppercorn Medley and a GREAT grinder — Love this one from Cole & Mason.
  • Garlic Powder
  • Dried Oregano
  • Red pepper Chili Flakes

EASY GREEEN PESTO

  • Spinach (alone) and/or Kale, Parsley, Basil (any and all).
  • Good quality Olive Oil
  • 5-7 cloves garlic
  • Juice 2-3 lemons
  • Salt, White pepper, & Garlic Powder (Red pepper chili flakes if using)
  • Shredded Parmesan Cheese
  • **You can add nuts or not. Toasted walnuts is a nice touch or just plain pine nuts.
  • Process until smooth. Freeze in small or medium container.
  • Pour a light film of olive oil over the top before freezing so the top won’t brown while it freezes.

This is great on toast, stirred into rice (see Baked Risotto recipe below), or for a quick weeknight Pasta. 

ROAST CHICKEN:

  • Preheat oven to 450
  • Grease a dutch oven or roasting pan with Olive Oil.
  • Toast some bread (crusty is the best. You can skip bread to be GF) and place in the center of pan.
  • Place whole roasting chicken breast side down.
  • Rub Olive oil over the whole chicken (3 lbs or less ideal. Bigger and add cooking time).
  • Put any fresh herbs (rosemary, thyme best or not) and 2 cloves garlic in the cavity of bird and then half a lemon, lime, or orange facing inward to seal. 
  • Glug 1/4 cup or so of dry white wine into the well.
  • Dust chicken with hearty amount of salt (think 2 tablespoons bc salt = brown skin / I add iodized salt here too), dry oregano, white pepper, garlic powder, and if you have it, chopped fresh rosemary and thyme. If you have Poultry Seasoning, that works too.
  • In a bowl, toss 2 whole garlic and 2 half lemon in olive oil and dust with a bit of salt before arranging around the chicken.
  • Roast covered for 45 minutes.
  • Toss chunks of carrot, potato, 1 halved lemon, and onion in olive oil and garlic pwder while bird cooks.
  • Remove from oven and scatter veggies around chicken.
  • Its okay if they stack up around the bird.
  • Drizzle dregs of the oil over bird top. Don’t disturb the crusting salt and herbs.
  • Cover and roast 45 minutes more.
  • Take lid or foil off pan to brown bird.
  • Remove from oven and let stand 10 minutes.
  • Carve up bird and serve with your veggies, buttery soft garlic (you suck out the cloves) and drizzle with hot lemon juice.
  • My kids and husband fight for the soppy bread or the “Skank” as Dean calls it. (Men.)
  • TIP: Save the Juices in the Pan and use it when cooking Rice the next night. Divine.
  • TIP: Chop up leftover chicken and toss with lemon, mayo, dijon, chopped onion, apple, and celery for Chicken Salad the next day. I add dried cranberries, curry, tumeric, and ground ginger too.
  • Asian Style: You can also roast this chicken coating it in Coconut Oil, Sesame oil, Tamari, and dusting it with salt, chili flakes, and garlic Powder. Use Limes instead of lemon and use curry or kaffir leaves in the cavity instead of French herbs.
  • This Recipe was born from the ever incredible Dorie Greenspan‘s indefatigable cookbooks “Around My French Kitchen.” She’s a goddess.

BAKED RISOTTO

  • Preheat oven to 400F
  • In a dutch oven or oven proof pan with lid or foil, half sautee chopped aspargus, broccoli, zucchini, and yellow onion.
  • Add 3 cloves chopped garlic at the end so they don’t burn.
  • Add salt, white pepper, garlic pwder, and pinch chili flakes (+ fresh chopped rosemary if you have it.)
  • Mix in splash white wine (think 1/2 a cup) and one cup Aborio rice — scraping up the blackened bits and letting rice get coated.
  • Mix in 3 cups stock (chicken or veggie) and bring to a boil.
  • Cover and move it immediately into the oven.
  • Cook for 30 or until rice is finished.
  • Remove and stir in shredded parmesan cheese and that Green Pesto (if you like). Otherwise, it is ready to serve.
  • ** Store bought artichoke hearts are also good. Add them before your stock if using.
  • Serve dusted with shredded Parmesan
  • Leftovers are killer with fried eggs in the morning. I mean, divine.

SESAME ASIAN CHICKEN + COCONUT RICE + ASPARAGUS 

  • Preheat Oven to 280′
  • Grease your Dutch Oven or Roasting pan with Coconut oil.
  • Coat a package of Chicken Thighs or Whole Legs (pat dry first!) in hearty glugs of Sesame oil, Tamari, and Mirin.
  • Arrange flat in pan.
  • Nestle 1/2 a yellow onion quartered, one whole clove garlic, and halved limes or lemon.
  • Dust everything with salt, white pepper, ground ginger, garlic powder, and and red chili flakes.
  • Bake for 20.
  • Raise heat to 350′ and bake (still covered) for another 20.
  • Remove cover and crank heat to 450F and brown up the skins.
  • While cooking, start your rice and once cooked, then stir in 1/3 can Coconut Milk and let stand covered until ready to serve.
  • Serve with chicken, spooning any juices from the pan and drizzle with hot lime.
  • We like a quick side of asparagus with this dish (remove the minute it starts to boil and drain!) They will continue to cook on your serving plate. Drizzle with whisked Tamari, Mirin, and Sesame Oil. Dust with sea salt.

TURKEY ASIAN LETTUCE CUPS

  • Start your Rice.
  • In a wok or non-stick pan, melt coconut oil, a pat of butter, and a pinch of sugar (so onions caramelize not burn) and cook chopped yellow onion. Stir often as they begin to brown. 
  • Add chopped fresh ginger, pinch red pepper flakes, and 3-5 cloves garlic. 
  • Add Sambal Oelek Chili Paste (if using), Mirin, Tamari, and Sesame Oil.
  • Stir quickly and add ground turkey (or chicken).
  • Cook through.
  • Serve over Rice in clean, cold Romaine Lettuce “Cups”.
  • Garnish with chopped lime, Sriracha, avocado (if you have it), and toasted sesame seeds.
  • TIP: Make more than you think because there is never leftovers and your kids will want more and more.
  • This “recipe” comes from my best friend (& healer) Annalee Huber and is a staple in our home. If anyone needs help with self care, I can’t recommend her Mystic & The Monk services enough.

MEATLOAF + POTATO

  • Preheat Oven to 350.
  • Scrub your baking potatoes and poke 5 holes on each side with a fork. Place on oven rack. (You can also coat with olive oil and salt).
  • Mix Ground Lamb or Beef (or Turkey), one egg per pound meat, chopped yellow onion, chopped garlic, squirt of ketshup, handful oatmeal to be GF (or crushed Ritz crackers), salt, white pepper, pinch red pepper flakes, and frozen peas or chopped aspargus (if using).
  • Grease bread pan or roasting pan with Olive Oil.
  • Spread out meat mixture evenly.
  • Spread light layer of ketshup over the top.
  • Roast 45-50 Mins and check center for doneness.
  • Let stand 5 minutes to cool.
  • Serve with Tater Tots (kids’ fave) or baked potatoes + sour cream and a crisp green salad (Dressing could be 2 cloves garlic, olive oil, white or black balsamic, and olive oil + salt and cracked pepper).
Simple, straight forward. Served at room temp or warm from the oven. Always a favorite.

FRITTATA

  • Preheat oven to 350
  • Butter a pie pan or frittata plate. Eyeball it. If you’re worried, bake over a lined cookie sheet.
  • Whisk 8 eggs, 1/2 cup sour cream, 1/3 cup milk, salt, white pepper, and garlic powder.
  • Choose the following genre: Mexican (salsa, taco cheese, Taco seasoning, Hatch green chilies), Italian (halved cherry tomato, sliced Bell or Sweet Peppers, Italian seasoning), or Garden (Slivers or Chopped Asparagus (4 stalks), Spinach, Goat Cheese).
  • Top with Cheese to taste: Mexican (Cheddar or Cojita), Italian (Mozzarella and Parmesan), and Garden (Swiss, Muenster, Cheddar, Goat, etc…) The dust with salt, fresh cracked pepper, and pinch red pepper chili flakes.
  • Bake 35-40 minutes until cheese is golden.
  • Let stand 5-10 minutes to cool. Then serve.

THAI CURRY SOUP

  • Preheat Oven to 375
  • Toss Chopped Vegetables (think bite size) in Chili Paste and Sesame Oil** You can also use the Thai red or green curry paste from store (1/2 jar)
  • I use 2 Carrot, 1-2 Red Potato (peeled), 1/2 White Onion, Bell Pepper, Broccoli, Firm Tofu, & Mushroom
  • Spread coated veggies on a pan lined with parchment paper.
  • Dust with salt, garlic powder, and pinch red pepper.
  • If using fish, coat fish in same mixture. (Shrimp can go right into the pot later).
  • Roast fish for 10-15 depending on type and thickness (it will continue to cook in soup) and veggies for 30 mins or until a bit brown.
  • While that roasts, in a soup pot, melt coconut oil and sesame oil, tamari, and pat ghee or butter. Then sautee 1/3 chopped white onion and 5-7 cloves chopped garlic. 
  • Add Chili paste (or the other 1/2 of curry jar) and mix into the hot liquid until it is fragrant (a bloom of warm spice will lift from the pan). 
  • Then add one can coconut milk. Stir.
  • Use this same can to keep the residue and fill with water to add to pan.
  • Add 1/3 bottle white wine. Stir.
  • Add one box or 4 cups Veggie stock (not chicken if using fish).
  • Add fresh lime (lemon okay) to taste — usually juice 2.
  • Bring to a boil then turn quickly off and let your stock stand.
  • When veggies are done, just add them to the liquid and all their roasting juices. Chop up fish (if using) and add.
  • Bring to a simmer then turn it off.
  • Add chopped cilantro if using.
  • Cover. & Let stand — even 2 hours.
  • Reheat when ready to eat.
  • Serve with white rice and fresh lime.
  • Its even better the next day…
  • This recipe stems from friends Adam & Ryan from Husbands That Cook and their delicious Vegetarian Cookbook. A total keeper!

One condiment in our house that elevates any meat is my friend Teri’s No Crumbs LeftMARINATED RED ONION recipe.

  • Just slice up one red onion and put into a bowl or tupperware. 
  • Dust with salt and dried oregano (about a tablespoon).
  • Add olive oil 1/3 of the way up then top with Red Wine Vinegar.
  • Toss to Coat. And let stand all day. Its divine on sandwiches, eggs, any protein and vegetable, really.
  • Pitch after three days. Cover with foil when not using. Don’t let it get hot.
  • Makes a great salad dressing too.
  • Teri has a great cookbook out too!

HAPPY EATING! I hope these family favorites bring you happy dinners and yummy leftovers… HAPPY EATING!

Love, Abi

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