Shannon’s “Works For Me Wednesday” today is a themed one, asking for quick, easy meal ideas for “those nights” — like when you’re not feeling well, or errands took longer than expected and you have something to attend at church or for school that night, or you get back from baseball practice late and everyone starving, etc. I am really looking forward to getting a lot of ideas today!
I try to keep a couple of quickie meals in the freezer for those times. One is Banquet chicken nuggets and chicken tenders and Ore-Ida frozen french fries (I like the Pixie Crinkles best, but we try different kinds for variety). Pop them in the oven for about 10 minutes while you rustle up a vegetable side dish, and you’re set. I also love Contessa brand chicken fried rice — add a little oil and microwave (or stir-fry) long enough to heat through. Wonderful!
But frozen stuff can be expensive and take up a lot of room in your freezer plus increase your sodium intake exponentially. So we can’t do that too often. Though I’d have chicken fried rice once a week if I could.
Other quickie staples are:
- Grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup
- Tuna sandwiches and some other kind of soup
- Wraps: tortillas with a squirt of honey mustard, topped with a slice of ham, turkey, and provolone and a little lettuce or baby spinach leaves, then rolled up.
- English muffins sliced in half, spread with Miracle Whip (or your favorite condiment), topped with tuna which has been drained and mixed with a little Miracle Whip (plus anything else you might want to add) and cheese (we like to do a few each with different kinds of cheeses. We always have American and cheddar and sometimes Swiss, provolone, or Monterrey Jack). Bake in about a 350 oven until cheese melts, serve with tomato soup or macaroni and cheese or carrot sticks or whatever
- English muffins sliced in half, spread with pizza sauce or spaghetti sauce, topped with pepperoni and provolone or mozzarella cheese, baked until cheese is melted and edges of muffin are slightly brown. (I don’t usually have pizza sauce or spaghetti sauce in hand, but I open a can of tomato sauce and add [right in the can] minced onion, garlic powder, oregano, basil, and Parmesan cheese and stir, and it works just fine. I prefer it, in fact, to the jars of sauce).
- Canned crescent roll dough unrolled and separated into wedges with pepperoni and provolone or mozzarella placed on the wide end; roll up, bake until browned, serve with pizza/spaghetti sauce or ranch dressing for dipping.
- Breakfast for dinner: scrambled eggs are pretty quick. I add ham lunch meat to mine and sprinkle with shredded cheddar cheese when it’s done.
- My kids like hot dogs cut up into tomato sauce and warmed through, served with macaroni and cheese and a vegetable.
- Fully cooked link sausage links (like kielbasa or other varieties) cut up into barbecue sauce, heated through, served with macaroni and cheese and green beans. Though I like the bottled barbecue sauce on other things, it seems a little strong or harsh for this, so I make up my own with 1 cup ketchup, 1/2 cup vinegar, minced onion, 2 Tbs Worcestershire sauce, 1 Tbs mustard, and garlic powder: mix together, add sausage, and the sauce will thicken as it cooks.
I have a friend who sometimes will brown 5 lbs. of ground beef all at one time with onion and then separate it into five portions and freeze it. Having the meat browned is half the battle: just thaw for a few minutes in the microwave (if you’re making something like a soup or casserole. you probably could just thaw it enough to break it up and let the rest of it warm through in the dish you’re cooking).
My very first works-for-me-Wednesday entry (and one of my most often searched-for posts) was about chicken tenderloins. Love those things because you can take them straight from the freezer to the oven or microwave. Several ideas for using them are here and here.
Tuna is one of those things that no one gets real excited about, but the family does enjoy it when they do eat it and it does stop hunger. 🙂 Here are my quickest tuna meals:
Quick Tuna Casserole
2 1/2 cups Minute Rice
1 can tuna, drained
1 can cream of chicken soup
Shredded cheddar cheese
Prepare rice with 2 1/2 cups water according to package directions. Mix in tuna and soup, top with cheddar cheese, and microwave for 3-4 minutes.
1 pkg. (7-8 oz.) angel-hair pasta, cooked
1/4 c. (1/2 a stick) butter or margarine
1/4 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 c. chicken broth or 1 c. boiling water + 1 tsp. chicken bouillon
1 c. milk
1 T. snipped parsley (optional)
1- 1 1/2 tsp. minced onion
1 small can tuna, drained
Grated Parmesan cheese
Melt margarine in a glass casserole dish in microwave (about 1 minute). Add flour, salt, and pepper; blend well. Add broth and milk gradually, stirring constantly. Cook uncovered in microwave 4-5 minutes on high, or until thickened; stir after 2 minutes, then every minute (a wire whisk works great to make sauce smooth). Add onion, parsley, and tuna to sauce; mix well. Mix in cooked pasta. Heat uncovered in microwave 3 minutes on high. Stir mixture well and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Microwave uncovered on high 3-5 minutes. Makes 6-8 servings.
I’m one of those weird people who actually likes spam (the food, not the junk). I sometime like to cut it in slices and fry it, then make a sandwich with it. This casserole is a comfort food from my childhood:
1 can Spam or Treet
1/2 box rotini (or other) noodles
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 can cheddar cheese soup
Cut spam into cubes and brown in melted margarine while noodles are cooking. Drain noodles, add soups and spam and stir well: Heat through.
And here’s another fairly quick favorite:
4 slices bacon
2 Tbs margarine
6 ounces frozen hash browns
1/4 cup chopped onion (or about a tablespoon minced onion)
1/4 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese
Fry or microwave bacon: crumble and set aside. Put margarine, potatoes and onion into an 8-ounce round glass cake dish or pie plate. Cook uncovered in microwave on high 6 minutes or until vegetables are tender, stirring once. Mix eggs, milk, salt and pepper. Flatten potato mixture and pour egg mixture over the top. Cover with waxed paper and microwave 6-7 minutes at medium-high or until egg mixture is almost set, stirring once. Sprinkle bacon and cheese over egg mixture: microwave uncovered 1 minute at medium-high or until cheese just starts to melt. Remove from micrwave oven and ket stand 5 minutes. Cut into wedges. Makes 4-6 servings.
Optional: you can add 1/4 cup or so of chopped green pepper to cook with the potatoes and onion mixture, though why anyone would want to do that, I don’t know… 🙂
I’m hungry already. I’m going to be drooling by the time I read the other posts…