Sunday, June 22, 2008

Prep 101

** I thought this deserved a re post. The weather is hot, all the kids are home, make your life easier with Prep!
The key to cooking a hot meal every night or at least some nights is...
In my household, it is key to success.
I set aside about 2 hours every week, usually on Sunday Evenings when Desperate Housewives is on, to cut, chop and cook whatever I can ahead of time.
I, ideally, like to plan what I am cooking ahead... but sometimes life gets in the way, and I have to rummage through my freezer and pantry and plan from there. THIS is where real recipes come from.. necessity.
90% of the time... I know I will need at least a few onions, some peppers and celery, and some ground beef, chicken or turkey browned up.
So here is a typical weeks list of dinners. Now... I don't set aside which day each dinner is going to be on... I just do all the prep for the 5 or so dinners I know I have ingredients for...
Enchilada Casserole
Pasta and Quick Pea Sauce
Roasted Chicken
Okay... so I know what I am making... I look at the list and decide what I know I won't have time to prep the day of and do that in my prep time.
For example... for the Casserole...
I will grate the cheese, chop the olives,
slice the green onions and pre cook the chicken and pre shred it.
For the Pasta dish, I will just chop up the lettuce for the salad and all carrots, cucumbers and purple cabbage we like in it. Pasta takes only 10 minutes or so to cook, and the Quick Pea Sauce is just that... quick.
Roasted Chicken is 30 minutes so I do that the day of, but if I have some brown rice in my pantry, I will cook it up with some stock and put it in the fridge during my prep time on Sunday. When its time for making the meal, I just take it out, reheat it with a little Olive Oil in a big skillet, throw in some frozen corn, maybe some frozen peas and top it off with some fresh grated Romano Cheese.
For the Ravioli, that Costco Mozzarella and Spinach one is AWESOME, so that takes just a few minutes to cook the day of, and during my Sunday prep, I might make the garlic spread for garlic bread. Make a quick salad of cherry tomatoes and onion, and maybe a little feta cheese and a little olive oil and Balsamic Vinegar and you are in business!
My goodness I am a wordy girl. I need to learn to be more concise!
Tacos are the easiest if you prep ahead. Chop all the onion, tomatoes, cabbage or lettuce, shred the cheese, and cook the meat with your seasonings and bag it all up. The day of the meal, it is all ready to go with just the reheat of the meat and the shells! You can even jazz up some of that brown rice you made in advance and make it Mexican Rice with some black beans, salsa, cilantro and corn! Yummy!
I know, I know it sounds like a lot of stuff. But you would be amazed how much you can get done on one stove at one time. If all the veggies are right there in front of you and you have a bunch of either bags or containers to use, prep is a breeze and will make life SOOOO much more livable! You can have the meat going at the same time the rice is cooking and the chicken in cooking in the Rice Cooker Plus ,for those that know what that is, or your skillet!
I will be going into more detail about prep and how I do each thing, but I wanted you to get a general overview.
Even if you get all your onions and veggies done for the week, you are that far ahead of the game!
More soon!

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