Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Works for Me Wednesday: Last Minute Meals

Shannon over there at Rocks in My Dryer has a cool topic for this week's "Works for Me Wednesday." What do you do when you have a headache, the kids and husband are hungry, it's dinnertime--and there are 3 ingredients left in your pantry? There are quite a few fun and interesting solutions over there, so please visit!

Here's mine:

Ground beef
Jarred spaghetti sauce
Pasta--usually spaghetti

Yeah, this is an Italian house. And my husband makes 'from scratch' sauce that would knock your eyes out. But that's for Sunday. It simmers all day long and is generally loaded with sausage, beef, meatballs, brasciole or any combination of these. Definitely not a last-minute meal!

Another easy one:

Cut up chicken or pork--brown it first, please! Or use leftovers
Gravy a la Alton Brown*

Alton Brown makes the easiest gravy on earth. It wasn't until I saw this on "Good Eats" that I could make gravy. All you need is: 1/2 stick butter (2 oz.)--1/4 Cup flour (2 oz.)--1 can broth (about 2 cups.) See the 2-2-2 theme? Just keep that in mind if you want to double this! Melt the butter. Add the flour and stir with a whisk for 2 minutes or so to make a roux. Dump in the broth and stir until thick. Dump in the meat. Cook about a half hour, maybe less. I rely on my meat thermometer for everything.
Serve over noodles.

Both of these meals assume you either have salad or vegetables in the house!

Now...the real trick to surviving last-minute meals? Prepping ahead! If you bring home ground beef, don't put the package in the fridge. Brown it first, then bag it according to how much your family would need in a recipe. I even add my spices and label the bags (Taco Meat or Chili Meat, for example). The only time I don't brown my g.b. is if I plan to make meatballs with it. Meatballs are more of a production, since I also add freshly ground pork tenderloin to the mix. I make those when I'm ambitious.

If you bring home chicken, clean and trim it! Mike brought me home 2 nice Top Round steaks this week, and I picked up 2 more on the way home from the doctor yesterday. (Half price, btw!) One went into last night's dinner. The others I cut up for stew and chili, then put in the freezer.

Take a tip from Rachel Ray: Prep your fruits and vegetables ahead of time, too. (I don't know why, but I hate the word 'veggies.') Just don't do this with berries, since they'll get moldy.

Believe me, in this past week when I was sick, it was a blessing to take things out of the freezer and have them 85% ready to go! You don't have to prep the moment you get back from the grocery. Hey, I'm a mom--I know you're tired! Just make sure you do the meat within a day or two.

PS--we eat pizza almost every week. And there are nights that mom's line is: "if you can find it and make it yourself, you can eat it." Believe me, much as I like to cook--I don't cook every night!


Susan Ramey Cleveland said...

I love those quick meals. Here's one I do a lot if I have leftover pork or beef roast. It's sort of a hash.
Saute some chopped onions and frozen southern style has browns, then add chopped left over roast. Serve with a salad or veggie.

4urpets said...

I see you love Food TV. I am going to try the alton brown gravy idea. Thanks for the tip.

Mom2fur said...

Hi! Susan, I commented over on your blog. 4urpets, I don't see a link. Thanks for visiting here!

Italy Bound said...

Maybe you can help me out with something…? I want to order all of my food online from now on because of various reasons, but I don’t know where to go for quality food. I have tried 2 companies so far, Fresh Dining, and and Celebrity Foods, but I wanna get others I can try out. Do you know of any? The main thing I’ve ordered so far is steak. I guess you can say, I’m a steak junkie. LOL!!! From what I have found out (from what I have ordered so far) I think I am able to regulate the quality of beef I buy. I hate going to a store and getting that crappy slab of beef that I have to cut down until there is like nothing left. Hahaha!!!! (its so true though) Anyhow, sorry that I made this comment so long. If you can help me out or point me in a direction where I might find more quality foods online, I would greatly appreciate it. Have a good day or night! (depending on when you read this) LOL!!!!

BittersweetPunkin said...

We had pasta, canned sauce and frozen meatballs tonight...I had a migraine today myself.


Mom2fur said...

Punkin, I hope you feel better now!
Italy Bound, I don't know of any on-line places to buy food. But I'll tell you a hint my mom taught me, that she learned from a butcher: if you're buying top round (London broil), look for pieces that most resemble a kidney shape. These are the most tender. I've found this to be true!

littleorangekitchen said...

I agree about the word veggies completely!