Help me find some new staple recipes!
May 11, 2007 12:33 PM   Subscribe

Can you guys help me add some new staple recipes to my dinner repertoire? I have about 3 things that I cook, and I'm sick of 2 of them. I have a few ... issues ... with the kitchen that I'm trying to work around, which I've noted inside.

I live with my husband so I cook for two. I like to be in charge of the cooking because I am watching what I eat (I'm on Weight Watchers, so it's just basic calorie/fat restriction) and my slender husband is happy to go along with whatever I make.

My staple recipes are:
1) Dhal soup
2) Turkey-veggie chili
3) Chicken fajitas

I want to get some new recipes into my repertoire that take into account the following:
  • I tend to let produce go bad, so I want a few recipes that I can rely on frozen goods & pantry goods to make.
  • Absolutely no bell peppers or seafood.
  • I prefer vegetarian meals, but we do eat chicken, turkey, beef & pork at times.
  • I'd like my staple recipes to include ingredients that can be easily found in a standard supermarket.
  • I find meals consisting of grilled [insert meat] + steamed vegetables depressing and boring.
  • I like one-pot dishes and comfort food
  • I would especially like some salads to try for the summer (but I already know how to make regular tossed green salads).
Please help me - I have scoured old "help me cook healthy easy delicious meals that are cheap" and had a few good ideas, but I'm looking for a handful of things that I could easily fit into my lifestyle to make ALL THE TIME and not really get sick of them easily.
posted by tastybrains to Food & Drink (37 answers total) 91 users marked this as a favorite
My indian friend recommended to me the books by author Tarla Dalal. I have her Pleasures of Vegetarian cooking and I've only made 3 recipes from it, and it was very easy. The tough part was just getting all the spices.
posted by spec80 at 12:42 PM on May 11, 2007 [1 favorite]

I really like the recipes on the Whole Foods website. Some go a little crazy trying to be organic or vegetarian, but it's easy to tailor them to whatever you have around.
posted by olinerd at 12:44 PM on May 11, 2007

There's a ton of good soups in the Moosewood cookbooks, which your library should have. Moosewood cookbooks are vegetarian. I'll post recipes that I've made up when I get home.
posted by SpecialK at 12:45 PM on May 11, 2007

Pierogies! Yum! Sautee them with some butter and onion, fix a salad on the side and you're good to go. If you want a little meat in the dish, I usually cook up a premade kielbasa.
posted by Sassyfras at 12:47 PM on May 11, 2007

Seconding the Moosewood cookbooks. Not only are the dishes delicious, but they're easy to prepare and well-tested.
posted by Mercaptan at 12:49 PM on May 11, 2007

This pasta salad recipe is GREAT and super easy.
posted by jenfu at 12:51 PM on May 11, 2007

This may be obvious, but have you checked out the Weight Watchers recipes online? They are surprisingly really good and you can narrow your search by all kinds of different factors until you find recipes that mean your requirements.
posted by slowfasthazel at 12:52 PM on May 11, 2007

posted by slowfasthazel at 12:52 PM on May 11, 2007

I've been making a bunch of roast vegetables lately. Granted, it's produce, but it's the more tolerant kind like winter squash (I tend to let salads etc go bad too). I think it's awesome comfort food and tastes richer than it is. You can throw some meat in too if you want (I use lamb or duck) but it's not essential. This is what I do:

1) Cut up a bunch of carrots, summer squash, winter squash (butternut is the best) sweet potatoes, parsnips, fennel, red onion, anything else you can think of, into roughly equal sized pieces. Harder things in smaller pieces than softer things.

2) Add anything you like for flavor, some big chunks of garlic, thyme, rosemary (fresh or dried), sliced lemons.

3) Toss all this stuff around in a big bowl with olive oil and salt and put in a (pyrex) roasting pan.

4) Put it in the oven for about an hour at about 350. Take a piece out every so often and see how tender it is. I like to let things get really caramelized.

5) THIS IS THE IMPORTANT PART. This is the part that takes this from bland to incredible, trust me. When you serve the veg, pour a lot of white wine vinegar all over it. You won't be able to taste the vinegar, but you'll be able to tell there's a difference.

Yum. Good luck!
posted by crabintheocean at 1:02 PM on May 11, 2007 [15 favorites]

My favorite thing to make because it's so easy is stir fry. I am very picky about vegetables (and I also don't like to buy too many because I also tend to let them go bad) so I just use zucchini. I just stir fry some chicken and zucchini in my wok. I keep an assortment of stir fry sauces around, but it's great with just some spices and soy sauce too.
Then I either serve it with rice, or I make some noodles (udon, stir fry noodles, or just plain spaghetti) and stir fry the noodles in the wok too.

It's a really simple meal and I love it. I've also been known to just leave out the chicken and stir fry up a huge mound of zucchini. It's wonderful.
posted by Becko at 1:03 PM on May 11, 2007

Call me weird, but The Moosewood cookbooks made me hate vegetarian cooking. So flavorless, ugh!

I share some of the restrictions you mentioned, and our current favorite cookbook for making us eat lots of vegetables is Deborah Madison's Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone. She covers an astounding array of vegetables and the recipes are delicious and unexpected. For example, one recipe we tried recently was essentially a cauliflower and tomato casserole, but the tomatoes were flavored with oregano, cinammon, honey and capers. The recipe let us use up about a pound and a half of vegetables that had been sitting in the freezer for a while - frozen cauliflower, broccoli and asparagus spears - and survived this substitution quite well.
posted by needled at 1:05 PM on May 11, 2007

I tend to let produce go bad

Seconding crabintheocean on hard "winter" squashes. A butternut squash is extremely versatile and will keep for ages. One of my favorite recipes for it is this pasta sauce (they recommend penne but this is very good with cheese ravioli).
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 1:12 PM on May 11, 2007

2nding stir fry - you can just pick up a bag of stiry fry veg on the way home and you're on to a winner...

Soups of any kind - you can make them more filling by adding starchy veg and protein

Stews - no fat other than what comes from the meat

a lot of supposedly hot dishes based on couscous, bulgur, rice, pasta are actually really nice cold and can be eaten as part of salad - eat hot one day, be sure to do a bit more than you need and on the next day add some leafy things and have a mixed plate of salad!
posted by koahiatamadl at 1:20 PM on May 11, 2007

Have you ever made a curry? Your repertoire sounds similar to my SO's and mine ... a while back we discovered the joy that is low fat coconut milk and curry paste. We love it, and we do them at least once a week.

The basic recipe is really easy, and doesn't require anything perishable aside from the meat you want to cook. Only thing you need is coconut milk and curry paste. Coconut milk really isn't that hard to find (usually it's in the Asian food section but sometimes the Goya brand stuff is in with Mexican/S.American foods). We use low-fat because it's about 1/2 the calories. The curry paste you can find in most big grocery stores (Harris Teeter and Wegmans in the DC area both carry it) as well as places like Trader Joe's and actual Indian groceries. In the fridge it lasts a long time so you can get it and not worry about it going bad. We keep a few types around (red, Panang, etc.).

Anyway, you just heat about 3/4 of a can of coconut milk in a skillet to a low boil, then add the curry paste. (You have to experiment with this based on how spicy you like your food, you can go from mild to searing depending on how much you add.) Dissolve it, bring it back to a boil, then add your sliced meat (chicken or pork both work, although shrimp is really the best IMO) and once it's mostly cooked, another 3/4 can of coconut milk (so you have 1/2 can leftover). Simmer uncovered until you get to the right consistency -- you can 'cheat' by adding cornstarch although it's usually not necessary.

We tend to serve it over rice. All in all it's probably a 30-minute recipe, and the jars of curry paste seem to keep indefinitely in the fridge. You could probably play with the porportions and only use 1 can of coconut milk at a time if you wanted to, too.
posted by Kadin2048 at 1:25 PM on May 11, 2007 [2 favorites]

My favorite cookbook is Lorna Sass' Short-Cut Vegetarian.

One staple I have out of it is "Chickpea Curry in a Hurry," which is basically a can of diced tomatoes, a can of chickpeas, a block of frozen spinach, garlic and curry powder -- plopped in a big pan, heated up 10 min. and served over basmati rice. I eat it all the time with my own variations (different lentils, frozen green beans instead of spinach, curry sauce from Trader Joes, etc.)

The book breaks down what to have on hand in your pantry to be able to whip together something, and the recipes are simple and good.
posted by limeswirltart at 1:27 PM on May 11, 2007 [3 favorites]

I love the Moosewood cookbooks too, especially the New Classics one. I've found that a lot of the recipes in the MW Low-Fat book are less flavorful, unfortunately, but most of the recipes in their other books are still relatively low-fat and low-cal due to the high reliance on veggies to form the bulk of the meal.

Weight watchers also makes a vegetarian cookbook, if you want to have the WW numbers all spelled out for you in print. I'm not super-inspired by any of the recipes, but it all looks pretty tasty and simple.

Have you tried homemade pizza (easy on the cheese, choice of veggie toppings)? Quiche/frittata/scrambled eggs for dinner? Pretty much anything you'd put in a tossed salad is even tastier (IMHO) when wrapped in a lowfat, whole-grain tortilla - a "wrap" feels more satisfying to me than a salad. Also, pasta and veggies with almost any variety of low-fat salad dressing can be good.
posted by vytae at 1:28 PM on May 11, 2007

Casserole, the way mother made it-- start with a white sauce (about 4 T. flour & butter roux, slowly add 1 1/2c. hot milk to create a creamy sauce base) Add tuna, or cheese, or chicken, or anything you like to eat in a casserole. Mix it together with noodles (I like to use rotini). Cook the noodles with sliced carrots, and add any kind of frozen veggies either to the last couple minutes of noodle boiling, or directly unthawed to the casserole mixture. (I can't tell you how much nooodles, as I eyeball it)

If you like onions, saute diced onions in water til the onions are transparent and the water is gone, then make the roux over that. Celery is nice too. Salt and pepper is plenty of spice, but you can also use dill, fennel or caraway.

Bake it 25 minutes in a 350 oven. You can top it with breadcrumbs, or bread crumbs and cheese, but PLEASE don't use crumbled potato chips, no matter what Betty Crocker says.

If you really don't know how to make a white sauce, I will let you use a cream canned soup like mushroom or chicken (dilute it to 2 cups with milk). Just don't tell me that you've done this.

This tastes better the second day, and even better the third.
posted by nax at 1:36 PM on May 11, 2007

I also like rice pilaf. It's easy to make from scratch, but there are also some great out-of-the-box ones in the World Market sections of big city supermarkets these days. I like to add pine nuts or sliced almonds.

Also be sure to check out the Every Day Foods site. I know it's Martha Stewart, but really, it's great.
posted by nax at 1:39 PM on May 11, 2007

I like the old pasta+vegetable+sauce one-dish cookin' - of course, there should be some kind of protein thrown in there, too. You can increase/reduce the amount of pasta (or any ingredient) to meet your dietary preferences.

So, here are two examples of pasta+veggie+sauce+protein:

rotini+frozen broccoli+marinara+frozen meatballs:
Cook rotini as usual, but about 3 minutes before it's done, put in the frozen broccoli to cook with it. Follow directions for cooking frozen meatballs in microwave, and heat a saute pan with the sauce in it. (Or make fresh meatballs in pan, and add sauce to heat and simmer). When pasta and broccoli are cooked, drain and add to saute pan with sauce and meatballs. Combine and serve with parmesan cheese.

medium shells+canned artichoke hearts+olive oil+canned cannelini beans:
Start water for pasta, and cut the artichoke hearts into quarters. Add shells and artichokes to water at the same time. Drain and rinse beans. Heat olive oil in saute pan with some garlic and whatever herbs you like, and get the heat up around medium high. Pour beans into oil and let fry/sear a little, to get a bit of crispiness to them, then reduce heat. When pasta is ready, drain and add to saute pan. On low/med heat, toss it all together with parmesan cheese and black pepper to taste. You could add chicken to this recipe, I think, too.

Check out How to Cook without a Book. It has techniques instead of straight-up recipes, and allows for mix-and-match variations.
posted by Sprout the Vulgarian at 1:43 PM on May 11, 2007

tacos or burritos made with black beans or tempeh are quick and don't require a bunch of fresh veggies. I use the cheater seasoning packets (IMHO McCormick are the best) just heat the beans (canned, drained and rinsed) or tempeh (cut into bite size pieces) and follow the package directions. Roll or fold the seasoned/saucey beans into torillas with some salsa, lettuce, onions, olives, low fat sour cream (really what ever sounds good or you have on hand) and enjoy. to get better flavor from the tortillas toast them over a burner or in a skillet.
This also works for a taco salad just use more lettuce and omit the tortillas and add a few chips for crunch (or leave them out if you are concerned about the fat/calorie count)
posted by estronaut at 1:50 PM on May 11, 2007

To add to what Kadin2048 said with the curry - you can add all sorts of frozen vegetables in there and it tastes really good. I often make a green curry and shove in french cut green beans, cauliflower, peas (all frozen) and then a chopped zucchini (fresh). Yum!
posted by gaspode at 1:59 PM on May 11, 2007

Chickpea Curry - simple, quick, healthy
Mexican vegetable casserole - you can substitute other vegetables, including frozen for the fresh and use low fat cheese

someone said stir-fry? I would avoid that if you are counting calories, although you can approximate it with a non-stick wok and teaspoons rather than tablespoons of oil

These are recipes I like but not necessarily my recipes as I don't really use formal recipes, except as perhaps rough guides. I also like a corn, black bean and jalapeno casserole but I couldn't find you a representative recipe. Just mix equal quantities of frozen corn and rinsed and drained black beans, grated cheese (about 2/3 as much as the corn but vary to your taste) chopped jalapenos to taste and optionally chopped drained tomatoes. You can add cumin and other Mexican type spices like cumin, but I just use a lot of jalapenos.

add salads if you like to give you some greens
posted by caddis at 2:37 PM on May 11, 2007

When fresh corn is in season, I make a dish that's easy, quick, healthy, and delicious. So far, everyone seems to love it. The only fresh ingredients you need are corn and onions, and you can probably do without the onions and use frozen corn if you wanted.

The central ingredient is quinoa -- google it if you're not familiar -- which may sound exotic, but can be found at just about any grocery store. It's usually either near the rice or in the health foods section.

Here's the recipe:
1. Upend a bowl and put it on a plate, hold the corn cob with the tip on the bowl and slide a knife downward to remove the kernels (there are other ways to do this of course). I like to scrape the cob to be sure you get all of the sweet stuff. Put the kernels aside for the moment. You won't need the cobs anymore.
2. Dice about half of a large onion. Put aside.
3. Fill a measuring cup or anything else with the amount of quinoa you want to cook. Pour that into a fine strainer and rinse with water for a minute. If you don't have a fine strainer, you can was the quinoa in a bowl, just pouring the water off carefully to avoid losing too many grains. Put the quinoa aside (I usually just balance the strainer over the sink).
4. Fill whatever cup you used to measure the quinoa twice with chicken or vegetable broth. (To avoid setting too many things aside or using too many extra bowls/cups, you can do this right before step 7)
5. Cook the onion in a saucepan over medium heat in a little oil for a few minutes -- basically until you really smell the onion and it's gotten a little soft.
6. Scoot the onions to the outside of the pot and throw in the quinoa. You're looking to toast it for about 2-3 minutes, but you can skip the toasting if you want and go straight to the next step once the quinoa's in the pot.
7. Pour in the broth and the corn, plus a few generous dashes of soy sauce. Stir. Turn the heat to high.
8. When it starts to boil, cover it, turn the heat to low. Check it in 15 minutes. If it's still liquidy, let it go for another five minutes without the cover.
9. Eat.

You can, of course, play with this by adding/subtracting. Just keep in mind that if you add something with a lot of moisture, you'll want to reduce the amount of broth. Better to err on the side of a little too much -- you can always just serve with a slotted spoon.
posted by lionelhutz5 at 2:57 PM on May 11, 2007 [4 favorites]

One of my all-time favorite summer salads is a tomato bread salad, especially if you live near a farmer's market w/ really good tomatoes. You can usually buy just the tomatoes you need so there aren't any just hanging around. And the yellow tomatoes aren't a requirement -- they just make it look extra pretty.

It's definitely a comfort food salad, if there is such a thing. I've never used marjoram as recommended here, but you definitely need the basil. I also like to throw in some roasted pine nuts (you can save extras in the freezer) and some sort of cheese (either shredded parmigian or cubed fontina).
posted by awegz at 3:12 PM on May 11, 2007

Chicken soup is an excellent choice. You can make it with carrots, onions, and potatoes--all of which are pretty hard to spoil like normal groceries--and still have good flavor.

Plenty of chicken soup recipes out there. I just like throwing some potatoes, onions, carrots into some oil, brown them, then throw on the chicken and add some water.

One trick I learned from an Egyptian guy -- cardamon actually makes an excellent flavoring for chicken soup. Just add a few whole green pods to the soup.

I'll nth the pasta+vegetable+sauce. You can make pasta friendly sauces with nearly anything. When I run out of tomatoes, I've found that carrots, shredded finely and cooked with water, make a fine (if unusual) pasta sauce so long as you can add just a bit of tomato paste.

A lot of people above have mentioned grains. You don't list any in your list of doable recipes. You should be able to cook the two basic "grains" -- rice and pasta -- and have at least one simple dish each.

You don't mention fish. Do you eat fish? If so, fish soup is a good choice. Again, carrots, onions, potatoes, then add some frozen fish and whatever other flavors you want.

Here are some excellent salads:

Cucumber+Tomato -- it sounds so simple but if you haven't done it yet it's marvelous. You can add a bit of raw onion or garlic if you like it a bit spicier. Some people like to add parsley or cilantro (I HATE cilantro myself).

Slaw -- so many different kinds of slaw you can make, and they are wonderful. When you make them yourself they'll have a lot more flavor and texture than the kind you get in diners (although I love that slaw as well). Actually, what I often do is simply slice some cabbage up into thin strips, then toss with vinegar, a small amount of oil, a little salt, and a lot of fresh pepper. That's really delicious and simple, albeit a bit colorless. Cabbage also keeps for a nice long time (although you may have to sacrifice a few of the outer leaves).

If you do eat fish, you should establish yourself a nice signature tuna salad -- take a recipe and make it your own. You can easily make it without mayo to cut out the calories. Mine always has lots of black pepper, a bit of spicy mustard, and finely chopped onions. I spoil produce too, so I never have celery around, but it is a signature addition to tuna salad. I figured this out when I smelled tuna salad being made in my brother's kitchen (he's a vegan, so this was odd) but it turned out to just be celery being chopped...

Summer is an excellent time to get your hands on fresh herbs. They make wonderful additions to salads. If you can get your hands on Anise Hyssop, that is wonderful, as is Lemon Verbena. Both of them are more commonly associated with being dried for tea, but both of them add a wonderful flavor to salads.
posted by Deathalicious at 3:21 PM on May 11, 2007

Here are some salad variations:
- Greens, fruit, toasted walnuts. Personal favourites include spinach/[orange|canteloupe|mango]/walnut and [baby romaine|greens]/dried cranberry/walnut.

Simple tomato salad:
- 1 tomato per person
- fresh basil
- fresh mozzarella
- olive oil and balsamic vinegar
Chop tomatoes, basil, and mozzarella, combine with vinaigrette, and serve. This can also be served over greens.

Simple cole slaw:
- 1/2 head red cabbage
- 2 carrots
- raisins
- coconut flakes
- premade salad dressing (there is a nice ginger/miso dressing at the Whole Foods I use for this, you can sub in something along these lines from another grocery)
Shred cabbage (or chop into thin strips). Grate carrots. Add raisins and coconut flakes to taste. Pour dressing over top. This keeps well prepared as-is.

Add salt and fresh ground pepper to all salads!

Thai peanut sauce is your friend. Again, this is findable at the Whole Foods and may be available at another standard grocery. I like this over rice noodles (udon or vermicelli) with green onions and red pepper (you can skip the peppers, obviously). Fried tofu would go well with this. You can eat the noodles hot or cold. This may not meet your weight-watchers requirements (read the label), but it is tasty. Keep a light hand with it (you don't need much!) and you might find it meets your requirements.

Curry is your friend. Again, if your standard grocery has a decent selection, you might find Pathak's (or Patak's?) curry in a can. You combine the curry with a can of tomatoes, an onion, and meat (you could sub in eggplant). I add frozen peas to mine too. This also may not meet your weight-watchers requirements (read the label), but it is tasty.

Pasta is your friend. A quick sauce can be made with tinned tomatoes + garlic + onions + italian seasoning + whatever vegetables you happen to have on hand (I would try broccoli and cauliflower over peas and beans, though). Pesto's great, if oily and not calorie conscious in large quantities; it can be used for pasta salad too. You can cook basically any kind of veggie in olive oil with garlic and onions and serve over pasta and it will taste good (adding chicken helps).

Grilling vegetables makes them less depressing, but you need fresh vegetables for that to work. Zucchini and eggplant keep a while, though.
posted by crazycanuck at 3:24 PM on May 11, 2007

Black beans and rice with sliced mango, or fruit salsa
The beans are super-simple:
1. soak beans (I'm lazy and often use canned rather than dried, but the dried are much healthier)
2. sautee chopped onions and garlic in olice oil until clear
3. add beans and stir, cover on medium heat for at least 15 minutes or longer if you like. Season to taste (cumin? black pepper? basil? fresh cilantro?).
4. Serve over rice, with sliced mango or fruit salsa, or as part of huevos rancheros (with eggs and tomato salsa).

Risotto (with mushroom, or asparagus, or fresh green peas, depending what you like). Easy to make vegetarian, and an awesome comfort food. Most recipes call for lots of parmesan cheese, you can adjust as needed.

Potato-based "creamy" soups can be super low fat and comfort-foody; eg split peas+sliced potato+carrots+celery. Can add cayenne and lime to make it spicier.

Fresh pasta (ie the kind that comes soft) linguine with extra virgin olive oil, broccoli, pine nuts. (or whatever toppings you like)

Omelettes with whatever you like.
posted by LobsterMitten at 3:51 PM on May 11, 2007 [2 favorites]

pasta with veggies, olive oil, and parmesan cheese. this works with peas, broccoli, cauliflower, string beans, grape tomatoes, spinach or arugula. mix it up with low fat goat or feta cheese instead, or mix some lowfat ricotta into marinara sauce and top with that.

couscous salad with cucumbers, tomatoes, raisins, olives, chickpeas, lemon, and parsley. add scallions, replace the chickpeas with lentils, whatever you like.

salade nicoise: spinach tossed with olives, tuna, green beans, tomatoes, capers, olive oil, and lemon

fritattas: scramble some eggs and pour over sauteed veggies of your choice (potatoes and ham for a spanish flavor, or potatoes and cod would be good, too, or just leftover broccoli, whatever you have in the fridge). for more substance, toss in some pasta (no sauce). top with a little cheese and pop under the broiler for a few minutes.
posted by thinkingwoman at 4:00 PM on May 11, 2007

Just a few suggestions:

- Pasta with oven-roasted asparagus and tomatoes (just asparagus, tomatoes, and a little olive oil into the oven at 400F until the tomatoes are deflating a little and the asparagus is limp), plus a little cheese of some sort. I do this a lot, pasta + veg + tomato + cheese. (It's nice with some caramelised onion, too.) Eggplants, summer squash, winter squash, and artichokes have all been done like this at my table. Other times I just roast tomatoes toss some spinach in with the pasta near the end of the cooking time, and then it's pasta with spinach and roasted tomato.

- Buckwheat noodles (soba noodles) with chopped cucumber, carrots, green onion, and oranges or strawberries, dressed with a combo of orange juice, rice vinegar, sesame oil (just a bit) and soy sauce.

- Quick pickled salads -- radish, carrot, cucumber, and sometimes a little onion. Make this a little ahead of time -- maybe an hour for carrots/radish, 30 minutes for cucumbers. Just toss the thinly sliced veggies with rice vinegar and a little ginger, and then let them sit in the fridge until you're ready to eat. They're delicious.

- Corn and black bean salad -- dump a tin of (drained) corn, a tin of (rinsed and drained) black beans, some chopped-up tomato, and a chopped-up avocado into a bowl. Make a dressing that is mostly lime juice and a little olive oil, plus loads of cumin and garlic. Serve as a salsa or over rice or on pita. Because of the lime juice, it'll keep well in the fridge for a day or two if you want. Sometimes I add rice to this, as well.

- Couscous with toasted garbanzo beans is big around here. Cook couscous as per package directions, and in a skillet, put a bit of olive oil and some garlic. Add a rinsed and drained tin of garbanzos, sprinkle with cumin, cayenne, and paprika. Toast them until they're browned and hot. We do this a lot with tomatoes, spinach, and onion -- you can cook the onion with the beans, if you want, and just toast the tomato and spinach a bit in the pan once the garbanzos are done.

- Quesadillas with low-fat cheddar, black beans, green onions, and whatever other vegetables you can think of.
posted by meghanmiller at 4:25 PM on May 11, 2007

There's a terrific variation on this lentil and rice dish in "How to Cook Everything" (which btw has great recipes, many of which are or can be v*gan) that uses cumin and a bit of garlic. The most expensive ingredient is onions, which take a quite a while to go bad if they are stored properly.

Same book has lots of great soup recipes, most of which are easily adapted for the crockpot (fill in the morning, come home to a hot dinner).

I assume you are familiar with resources like vegweb? I can personally vouch for recipes like Garbo Burgers, and in fact I'll be starting a batch in a little while.

And a couple of things to serve with a pot of rice:

Stir Fry with Almonds: Mix about a quarter cup of soy sauce and about a half cup water, add a heaping spoon of corn starch, stir and set aside. Put a little veggie or peanut oil in the wok, get it hot. Add some almonds, remove them when they start to brown. Now toss in some defrosted snow peas and green onions (sliced on bias, about 1" long). Let them cook a little while before removing them. Toss a can or two of mushrooms in the wok, cook them. Stir up the soy mix and put it in. Once it thickens up, return everything to the pan. When everything is hot, it's ready to serve.

Veggie Curry: Defrost a package of California Blend veggies. Fry a nice big onion in melted butter. Add the veggies, some almonds, a handful of raisins. Stir in the curry powder/paste of your choice and a big dollop of plain yogurt (or veggie broth if you prefer). My kid *loves* this stuff.
posted by ilsa at 4:47 PM on May 11, 2007 [2 favorites]

Thank you ilsa for vegweb. I am not a vegetarian, but I eat a lot of vegetables and love to find good vegetarian recipes, restaurants, etc. I could easily tip vegan, but I have zero family support, and I am not ambitious enough to go it alone, and love them way too much to push such an extreme life change on them. I cook a lot, so one thing is to make a one pot type dish that serves as a side dish for them and a main dish for me and let them eat the dead animal.
posted by caddis at 6:36 PM on May 11, 2007

Lots of yummy pasta suggestions, but if you're on Weight Watchers, that may cut into your allotted "points" for the day. One alternative is to substitute the pasta w/ spaghetti squash. Here's a how-to. It's really easy and tasty.

Baked potatoes w/ broccoli and some good cheddar (avoid the low-fat orange stuff) is one of my favorite, quick meals, as is whole wheat pitas stuffed with hummus, feta and spinach with a side of cucumber.

For a sweet treat, get some frozen fruit and some low-fat yogurt, add a little honey, and throw it in the blender for a smoothie.
posted by pfafflin at 7:16 PM on May 11, 2007 [1 favorite]


Summertime: tomato, fresh mozzarella (if too fatty, try feta, but it's a totally different sammich), basil, olive oil, bread, salt and pepper if you like. Delicious, takes thirteen seconds to make.

Wintertime: tuna melts! Tuna salad, made with onion, sweet relish, apples or grapes, crushed pecans or walnuts, light mayo, lemon juice, brown mustard and dill, open-faced and with a piece of Swiss melted atop.

And crock pots rock. If you are makin' chili you should be makin' gumbo, and you can make chicken gumbo. It's easy. Make a roux. Add chicken stock, okra, and entire contents of freezer. Voila. Gumbo.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 9:46 PM on May 11, 2007

You cant really go wrong with pasta and rice, they're good staples that you can pretty much put with anything, dont know if that counts as a recipe though.

Surely you dont just eat those 3 meals every day?

One of my favorite meals is a cottage pie/shepards pie - I'm a vegetarion so its not really either of those but I think the technical difference is whether you use lamb or beef - I use quorn but any mince will do.

All it really is, is mince (and I like to add frozen mixed veg) held together with gravy, topped off with mashed potatoes then oven cooked till the top is nice and brown and crispy. You can make a big tray of it and stick it in the fridge, it will last all week - great for when you're in a hurry

Another childhood favorite of mine (which is apparently quite a local dish to where I grew up) is Potato Hash and it looks as disguisting as it sounds, its basically potatoes, onion and beef boiled up in a pan til its slop but it tastes really nice. Proper winter comfort food - goes great with a bit of ketchup.

....hmmm, now I understand why english cooking is not exactly internally renouned

They dont look or sound all that much but they're nice simple meals full of old fashioned goodness ;)

You might also consider Lancashire Hotpot (you can probably skip the liver if you dont like it) or even Casserole - there are tons of casserole recipies online

If you want something a little less 'homely' a really simple recipe I love is rice + mixed veg + scraps of smoked salmon ( I get the value trimmings but you could use the nice stuff or sub in anything else you like) just mix it up in a bowl and serve - add soy sauce to taste if rice is too bland for you
posted by missmagenta at 12:35 AM on May 12, 2007

Try this easy and delicious pasta recipe adapted from Patricia Well's "Trattoria".

Garlic Pasta with Oil and Crushed Red Peppers
3 boneless skinless chicken breasts
6 cloves of garlic
1/2 cup of chopped parsley
1/2 cup plus 3 tblspn olive oil
1/2 tblspn crushed red peppers
1 lb pasta

Preheat oven to 350
Boil water in a 3.5 qt saucepan
When oven is preheated, put in 3 boneless skinless chicken breasts. Set timer for 25 mins.
Mince 6 cloves of garlic.
Put in large (10-12 inch) skillet, with 1/2 cup of olive oil and 1/2 Tblspoon (or to taste) of crushed red peppers and a pinch of salt.
When there is 10 or so mins left on the timer, and water is rollicking, toss in 1 lb of pasta (i like Barilla plus rotini) with a handful of salt. When there is 5 mins left on the timer, heat the skillet over medium heat. When the timer goes off, turn off the oven, drain the pasta and toss in the skillet with the oil. Add about 3 tblspns more of olive oil and toss again. Cover and rest off the heat for about 2 minutes while you chop up 1/2 cup of fresh parsley to toss in with the pasta before serving. Chop up chicken breasts and add to pasta or serve on the side. Easy, healthy and delicious.
posted by AceRock at 9:33 AM on May 12, 2007

Pea (can be replaced with asparagus or really any veggie) Soup! Not split pea, yummy fresh pea.

Make a roux from even parts flour and butter, throw some chopped onions in there too if you like. In another pan boil some broth or even just plain hot water. Slowly add the hot water to the roux while stirring a lot. Get the water back to a boil, and add a bag of good frozen peas (or like I said, pretty much any veggie). Let it go until the peas are cooked through, and then blend it in a food processor or blender. You can add cream at the blending stage, or put a zucchinni in the cooking stage to make it creamier.

Also, what about a roast chicken? You can throw potatoes and other root veggies in with it, add a salad and you've got a yummy meal.
posted by Packy_1962 at 11:39 AM on May 12, 2007

A nice (and easy) summer salad is drained black beans and frozen (or fresh) corn kernels. I usually mix mine up with garlic, shredded roasted chicken, red pepper or tomato, and avocado, and serve with toasted tortilla or pita triangles.
posted by taz at 3:16 PM on May 12, 2007

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