11 March 2009

Last Minute Meals

I am a bit of a Last-Minute Larry, especially when it comes to meals. On any given day, come 4.50pm, you will most likely find me in the kitchen with my head in the freezer pondering, "What on earth will I cook for dinner?" Bear in mind I also have one very fussy eater, so I have to think of meals that he will eat without too much drama.

So this post is dedicated to all you busy mummies out there who, like me, don't plan your meals far enough ahead to defrost meat early in the day. (I use the defrost function on my microwave to defrost the meat).

The trick to successfully having a meal on the table at 5.15pm when you don't know what you're cooking until 10-to, is to have versatile ingredients.

In my cupboards, fridge and freezer at any one time you will be guaranteed to find:
  • mince
  • chicken, trim pork and/or schnitzel (whatever is on special)
  • garlic (and a garlic press)
  • basil pesto
  • Soy sauce
  • Tomato based pasta sauce e.g. Dolmio
  • tinned chopped tomatoes
  • chilli beans
  • sweet fruit chutney
  • jasmine rice
  • Plain tortilla chips or soft tortilla wraps (in the freezer)
  • packets of pasta (various shapes & sizes)
  • grated edam cheese
  • Baking Paper
From these humble ingredients I can pull together a meal in 20 minutes - the length of time it takes to boil some pasta or microwave some rice!

Family favourites include:

Spaghetti and Meatballs: While you boil a packet of pasta, make the meatballs. Add to 500g of mince: one egg, a handful of flour, a splodge each of soy sauce and tomato sauce and some ground back pepper. Mix with your hand and then form into small balls. Place balls on an oven tray lined with baking paper, bake at 180oc for about 15 minutes.
For the sauce, warm a jar of Dolmio in the microwave, add a can of chopped tomatoes and 2 spoons of pesto. Pour over the cooked meatballs. Serve on spaghetti pasta and top with grated cheese. Serves 4-6 hungry people.

Nachos: Brown 500g of mince in a little oil; add a can of mild chilli beans, a can of chopped tomatoes, a cup of frozen corn kernels and a splash of soy sauce. Arrange tortilla chips on each plate and sprinkle grated cheese; microwave each plate for 30 seconds or until cheese is melted. Spoon chilli mixture onto each plate and top with a dab of lite sour cream. Serves at least 6 hungry people (all the veges are hidden in the chilli, which is very mild).
Alternatively you can serve the chilli mince on rice (see below for details on how to easily cook microwave rice)

Microwave Rice: In a microwave bowl put 2-3 cups of uncooked jasmine rice and top with water, so that when you touch your finger to the top of the rice, the water level is up to your first finger joint. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and cook on high for 20 minutes (or until rice is cooked and all water is absorbed). Too easy!

Burrito Bake: You need a packet of 10 soft tortillas. Brown 500g of diced chicken meat. Add a can of mild chilli beans, some grated carrot, a cup of frozen corn kernels, 2 Tablespoons of sweet fruit chutney, a spoon of pesto and a splash of soy sauce. Place a good spoonful of the chicken mixture into the middle of a burrito and then wrap to form a rectangular packet.

Place in a roasting dish lined with baking paper. Repeat until the tray is full. Sprinkle the top with grated cheese. Bake at 180oC for 10 mins or until cheese is golden and bubbling. Serve with a side salad. (Leftovers are yummy for lunch the next day). Serves 5-6 hungry people.
Alternatively you can make this recipe with chilli mince instead of chicken. It tastes a little like mexican lasagne!
Simple Stir Fry: Put the rice on to cook before you start the stir fry. Brown 400-500g of diced meat (chicken, schnitzel or trim pork) in a little oil with 2-3 cloves of chopped garlic. Add 2 Tablespoons of sweet fruit chutney, a good splash of soy sauce, a 220g can of pineapple chunks (in juice), plus the juice, and a can of water. Add whatever veges you have (fresh or frozen). I like to use frozen corn kernels, carrot sticks, capsicum, broccoli and frozen beans. Cook until veges are just done and then serve immediately on top of rice. Serves 4-6 hungry people. (Fussy eaters can pick ou the bits they don't like)
What are your last minute favourites??

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1 comment:

meg said...

I might have to try those chicken burritos (hold the cheese till after it's cooked so the littlest one doesn't get sick), they sound yummy. I do the stirfry thing a lot with frozen stir fry vege mix - super easy. I use the slow cooker a lot because I really can't be bothered cooking or thinking at dinner time!

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