Category Archives: Quick and Easy Meals

Lockdown Meals – Barbecue Salmon and Potato Salad

Hey friends!  Sorry I missed last week’s blog segment because I had some business to attend to.  But I’m right back at you with another lockdown meal.  It looks like the country is opening back up, so I only have a few more of these blog segments that I will be doing; however, I will sprinkle segments like these into future articles in order to continue to give you tasty meal ideas.

Last time, we moved away from entrees and delved into desserts.  The last blog article, we discovered a cool way to make banana pudding.  This week, since it is summer, we are going to get into some outdoor cooking.

One of my favorite things to eat in the summer time – I’m sure it’s yours too — is barbecue.  One of my preferred barbecue items is salmon.  Yummy!  It’s easy to make and super tasty with or without barbecue sauce. We will pair the warm succulent salmon with a nice, cool side of potato salad.

Salmon Ingredients

  • Salmon steaks or fillets
  • Salt and pepper
  • Marinade (optional)

Potato Salad Ingredients

  • Potatoes
  • Dill Relish
  • Boiled Eggs
  • Mayonnaise or Miracle Whip
  • A little mustard (optional)
  • Salt (or seasoning salt)

You can get any cut of salmon you like but I prefer to have fillets because the steaks tend to have small bones in them.  But both are equally delicious.  I usually just salt and pepper my salmon because salmon has such a unique flavor that I don’t like to corrupt the flavor with too many different seasonings.  However, if you have your own marinades and such that you would like to use, feel free to use them.  After adding salt and pepper and marinade, set the steaks to the side.  The steaks are easy to prepare, so it would be best to start on the potato salad and complete it before making the salmon.  Some like the potato salad cool so this is another reason why you should start on the potato salad before grilling the steaks.

Cut the potatoes into cubes.  How big the cubes are depends on your tastes.  Also, if you want to keep the skin on the potatoes or at least some of the skin on the potatoes, it is up to you.  Place the potatoes into a pan of boiling hot water and let it continue to cook in the saucepan until the potatoes are soft enough to poke a fork through but not too mushy.  When they reach this point, they are ready to remove from the water.  Strain the water from the potatoes.  I usually let the potatoes cool all the way down before I add the other ingredients.  You can speed up the process by putting the potatoes in the fridge.  While the potatoes are cooking, also prepare your boiled eggs.  When they are ready, also let these cool.

Once the eggs and the potatoes are cool, remove the shell from the boiled egg and cut the boiled egg up over the potatoes.  Then add the dill relish.  You can use sweet relish instead of dill relish if you like but I use dill because I prefer a savory potato salad instead of a sweet tasting potato salad.  Add a little salt and then add 1 tablespoon of mayonnaise.  Again, if you prefer a sweet tasting potato salad, you may want to use Miracle Whip which is sweeter than mayonnaise.  You can add a little mustard if you like but it is not necessary.  Once all the ingredients are in the bowl, you can take a large spoon or spatula and start whipping everything together in the bowl.  If you notice that you don’t have enough mayo, then add more; however, you don’t want it soupy so be careful as you add more mayo.  Once everything is well incorporated, sit the bowl of potato salad in the fridge if you want it to continue to chill or just set it to the side.

Now move onto the salmon.  I prefer an old school charcoal grill but if you have a propane grill this is fine too.  Fire up the grill and place the salmon on the grill.  Cook it until it’s nice and juicy – not dry – and remove it from the grill.  It takes anywhere from 15 minutes to 30 minutes for it to get juicy (depending on the heat of the grill) but if you prefer to cook it longer, its up to you.

After the salmon is done, then take out the potato salad and put it on the plate next to the salmon.  The warm salmon next to the cool potato salad makes a delightful combo.  You can also add a little barbecue sauce if you like but I love the flavor of grilled salmon without the sauce.  Now, get ready to chow down!

I hope you like this segment of my blog. Check back for more food ideas during the lockdown.  If you have any questions about preparing this meal, leave them in the comments section or contact me directly here.

 

Image courtesy of ID 78570473 © Anton Eine | Dreamstime.com

Lockdown Meals – Banana Pudding

 

I keep talking to y’all about dinner meals, like the one I posted last week on crockpot beef baby back ribs, but we occasionally need to treat ourselves to some tasty desserts. One of my easy favorites is banana pudding. This dessert is effortless to prepare, but I do something slightly different with mine that you will find equally delish.

Ingredients

  • Belgian Waffle Crisps (4 or more boxes)
  • Bananas
  • Vanilla or French Vanilla Jello pudding
  • Milk
  • Whipped cream
  • Vanilla extract

So, I usually use the french vanilla or vanilla pudding because there will be enough banana flavor from the actual bananas used in the recipe. However, if you are a traditionalist, you can use the banana pudding flavor. Mix the french vanilla in the bowl with the milk that is required and then add a teaspoon of vanilla extra to intensify the vanilla flavor. Use a mixer to whip the pudding, milk, and vanilla extract together until it’s nice and creamy. Slice your bananas. I usually cut the bananas on an angle similar to the way that plantain is cut. I do it like this because I prefer longer banana cuts and not the circular ones.

Get out the dish that you plan to prepare the banana pudding in. I use a glass bread pan because it allows me to concentrate everything close together, but you can use a wider pan or even small glass mason jars. I like to start with a layer of wafers. You can use the traditional Nilla wafers, but I prefer to use Belgian waffle butter crisps because they are sweet, light, and flaky. You can find these at Kroger in the cookie section or order them online from Amazon. I usually get about four boxes because there are few in each box. They are a bit pricey, though. You may need more or less, depending on how you prepare your pudding. The next layer can be the sliced bananas, followed by some of the pudding mix. Then repeat for a few more layers. I usually end with the pudding layer on top and crumble all of the remaining Belgian waffle butter crisps and sprinkle them on top.

Place the dish in the refrigerator for about an hour or more so that it can be nice and cool. Letting it cool will create a nice blend of soft and crunchy all together. When you are ready to eat it, spoon some out into a dish and place a whipped cream dollop on top. Enjoy.


 

I hope you like this segment of my blog. Check back for more food ideas during the lockdown.  If you have any questions about preparing this meal, leave them in the comments section or contact me directly here.

 

 

Image courtesy of ID 173908252 © Elena Veselova | Dreamstime.com

Lockdown Meals – Crockpot Baby Back Beef Ribs

 

Are you still in lockdown? Are you still trying to navigate this “new normal?” Do you still like the recipes that I’m giving you? Well, I have another one for you.

Last week, we focused on planning meals for the month. This week, we are going to dive back into the food preparation.

This week we have beef baby back ribs on the menu. It’s warm enough outside that you can make this outside on the barbecue; but, I’m going to give you an equally tantalizing recipe that you can prepare in your crockpot in the house. This meal takes 8 hours to cook, so make sure that you start the meal preparation early in the morning so that you can have them by dinner time.

Ingredients

  • Beef Short Ribs
  • Water
  • Brown Sugar
  • Salt (or seasoning salt) and pepper
  • Barbecue sauce of your choice

These crockpot ribs are genuinely a hands-off meal preparation.  You literally don’t have to do much, but observe the meal cooking and turn the meat occasionally.  If you don’t have a crockpot, I  suggest you go out and get one because this makes easy meals, especially when you don’t want to be slaving it up in the kitchen over a hot stove.  They are relatively cheap too, and they come in different sizes to make all kinds of big and small meals.

Start with the beef short ribs.  Salt and pepper them and place them in an empty crockpot.  Then get one cup of water and add to the crockpot.  The water to meat ratio will depend on how big your crockpot is and how many ribs you place in the crockpot.  So add more or less water as you need to. One thing you don’t want to do is drown them in water.  Many types of meat make their own water as they cook, and in this instance, there will be a lot of water coming off the ribs, particularly if you have several stuffed into the crockpot.  Don’t worry if the crockpot is crowded with meat.  As I said, water will come out of the meat as it cooks, which will cause the meat to shrink a bit and provide more space for the meat to be moved around.

After loading the meat into the crockpot, add some brown sugar to the water.  I will let you discern how much sugar to add.  Some people only want a bit of sweetness on their meat, and others will go to the extreme of liking the meat extremely sweet or not sweet at all.  You can add a little butter or oil to make all the flavors stick to the meat, but it is not necessary.  Also, you can add a little bit of barbecue sauce (not too much) or some smoke flavor seasoning to the water.  The water should still be soupy and not thick.  The barbecue sauce or smoke flavoring will give the barbecue that fresh off the grill flavor we all know and love.  Then cover the meat with the top and let it cook.

In about two hours, you will notice changes in the meat.  It will start to brown, and at that point, you can begin to move and turn the meat so that it can cook thoroughly.  Keep checking every hour or two until the ribs have cooked for seven hours.  By this time, the meat should look tender and be falling off the bone.  In the seventh hour, remove most of the water from the meat by pouring it off.  Maybe leave just enough to coat the bottom of the pan.  Place the crockpot back into its position, and now it’s time the final true layer of barbecue sauce.  If you don’t like barbecue sauce, then go ahead and just let the meat continue to cook for the last hour.  Otherwise, add your favorite sauce and plenty of it this time.  The barbecue sauce can be store-bought, or you can make your own from scratch.  I usually get the stuff from the store, but I know there are some barbecue experts out there who have family recipes that they love to add to the barbecue.  Let the meat cook for its final hour until it reaches hour eight and then turn the crockpot off.  Let the meat sit for about 15-30 covered so that it can “rest” before you start to chow down.  This resting period will give it that last little magical amount of tenderness.  When it’s done resting, prepare to get messy!

You can add the sides of your choice to this meal, such as potato salad, mac and cheese, coleslaw, mashed potatoes, green beans, baked beans or whatever you feel would go great with the beef ribs.

I hope you like this segment of my blog. Check back for more food ideas during the lockdown.  If you have any questions about preparing this meal, leave them in the comments section or contact me directly here.

Image courtesy of ID 31375267 © Joey Swart | Dreamstime.com

Lockdown Meals – Meal Planning During Lockdown

 

This week, I am going to post about a different topic rather than the usual meal posts. This week’s article involves planning meals during this lockdown period.

Let’s face it. Thinking up and executing meals is a tough task. Wouldn’t you agree? Did you ever think that making sure the family and yourself are fed daily would be such a monumental nightmare? Well, this virus has put that task at the forefront, and yes, it is hard. It’s not hard only because cooking can be hard if you don’t know how to do it; but, it can be hard because you just don’t want to eat the same damn thing every day!

So how do you avoid food burnout during these times? Plan your meals.

One thing that I do is plan meals out for my family. Let me tell you; try not to plan meals without family input. That’s the key to making this work. Get the significant other and kids involved in the planning because after all, they will be eating the food you cook. Plan the meals out a month in advance. This is an excellent idea because this helps you to budget groceries, too. Instead of making random trips to the grocery store in these very contagious times, planning meals will allow you to buy all the groceries that you need. This meal planning is also a good idea because you can watch what you eat and this will lead to better health. Another fantastic reason that this is an excellent idea is because you won’t have to listen to your kids and spouse say, “What’s for dinner, what’s for breakfast, what’s for lunch?” Urrrgh! Now you can politely respond with “Go look at the meal calendar!”

When planning meals, work from easy meals to hard ones. The most leisurely meal to execute is going to be breakfast. I usually eat the same thing daily for breakfast and sometimes nothing at all. So, first go through every day of the month, week by week, and write down what you will be eating for breakfast. I usually do things like cold cereal, oatmeal, cream of wheat, or eggs and toast. Occasionally I may prepare a “royal breakfast” on the weekends, which includes lots of things: bacon, eggs, pancakes, hash browns, fried apples – the whole nine yards. The royal breakfast is rare because that is too much food to eat regularly early in the morning.

Now go through the entire month and plan your lunch meals. Again, my lunches are not extravagant. I’ll eat something simple – a salad, some soup, a deli sandwich, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, or sardines.  If you need to prepare things for the kids, do things like hot dogs, cheese and crackers, corndogs – you catch my drift – light but filling stuff.

Next are the dinners. This is where it gets hard. Start with the weekend meals. Plan your Sunday meals first. Usually, these are colossal family meal days that involve a lot of effort, so plan those first. I may do beef stew, baked chicken, roast – things like that on Sundays. Then, go on to Saturdays. This is usually a chill evening, so you don’t want to have to slave over a Saturday night meal when you know that Sunday is going to be the essential meal. I may do something like homemade pizza, burgers, chili dogs, or Philly steaks. Fridays are lazy days too. This can be a light day, or you can do like my family and I have agreed to do now that restaurants are opening back up – make it a fast-food Friday. It doesn’t have to be McDonald’s, but it can be. Maybe you can stop by curbside restaurants like Olive Garden or Red Lobster if you don’t want typical fast food. This is a way to treat yourself to a relaxing evening since you have been cooking all week and, trust me; preparing food all the time is hard!

Now that the weekend meals are done, it’s time to move on to Monday – Thursday meals. I usually make Monday nights a light night for things like beans and weenies or chopped beef over Raman noodles; or, even easier, Sunday leftovers night. This saves time and energy so that you can focus on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. Go through each day each week and write down what you want to eat. I usually do things like casseroles, steaks, rice, pasta, Mexican, Caribbean, Indian, and a variety of other types of big meals. If you need to search for meal ideas, surf the net for some to fill in the blanks on the calendar. Maybe you can be adventurous and make Tuesdays an experimental night where you try a meal that you would never usually make just to spice things up.

This all seems boring or annoying at first, but once you get into the habit of meal planning, it will be fun and beneficial. Remember, having other family members’ input will keep things from being redundant.

Would you like to start planning your meals? Click the link below or the calendar image above to get a free copy of the blank calendar. If you want to get updated blank calendars, just type “blank calendar” in the search engines like Google or Yahoo.

Free Blank Calendar

 

I hope you like this segment of my blog. Check back in the future as I resume posting food ideas for lockdown.  If you have any questions about preparing this meal, leave them in the comments section or contact me directly here.

Image courtesy of ID 35392393 © Msphotographic | Dreamstime.com

Lockdown Meals – Homemade Hamburger Helper

 

If you are reading this article, chances are we are still experiencing lockdown.  You may be going back to work but maybe the bank account still isn’t what it used to be; so, you need to prepare an economical family meal, just until restaurants are fully back up and running.

Last week, we made homemade shrimp fried rice.  This week, we are going to focus on making hamburger helper from scratch.

Ingredients

  • Ground Beef, Turkey, or Vegan Crumbles
  • Chopped Onions
  • Chopped Bell Pepper
  • Lipton Onion Soup
  • Elbow macaroni noodles
  • Tomato sauce
  • Olive oil (or vegetable oil)
  • Salt (or seasoning salt) and pepper
  • Chilli powder
  • Cheese (Chedder and mozarella)

Start by preparing the elbow noodles.   Once they cook, drain them let them cool, then set them to the side.  Grab a skillet and place about a tablespoon of oil in the pan and let it get hot.  Start to fry the meat or meat substitute (I say meat substitute because with this meat shortage, we may all become temporary vegans).  You don’t have to do this but I usually add a little Lipton onion soup to the ground meat because it just adds a sensational amount of flavor to the meat.  If you would like to use this, use half of a packet.

Scramble the meat as it browns.  Add a little salt and pepper if you like.  Then start to add the chopped onions and chopped bell peppers to the mix and keep tossing the meat in the skillet with the vegetables.  You can add additional types of vegetables like mushrooms or zuccini squash if you like but I usually just stick to bell pepper and onions.  As the meat is almost completely brown, add some chili powder.  Once the meat is completely done you can drain it if you like.  Otherwise, continue by adding tomato sauce.  I usually use Ragu or Prego brand but if you have another preference, add it.  When you add the tomato sauce, make sure that you only use enough to cover all the meat in the pan.  This is usually about only half of a standard sized jar.  You are not making spaghetti so you don’t want to use a lot of the sauce.  If you like, you can add just a teaspoon of sugar to the mix (some like savory flavored sauce and some like a little bit of sweet in their tomato sauce, so you decide if this step is necessary). Then add the cheese and stir the meat and the sauce.  Make sure that the burner is not too high because the cheese may burn.  Once the cheese, tomato sauce and meat seem to be well incorporated, add the elbow macaroni noodles and continue to stir.  If you like, you can turn the burner down low and cover the skillet and let all the ingredients warm, stirring occasionally.

Once all of the ingredients are hot and everything seems to be evenly incorporated evenly, put the food on your plate or in your bowl and chow down.  You can add some Parmesan cheese on top and heat up some french or garlic bread with the meal if you like.

I hope you like this segment of my blog. Check back for more food ideas during the lockdown.  If you have any questions about preparing this meal, leave them in the comments section or contact me directly here.

 

Image courtesy of ID 35392393 © Msphotographic | Dreamstime.com