A Real Mom’s Guide to a Quick Meal

Posted: March 13, 2009 in family and friends, food

If you’re anything like me when you log on to your yahoo/msn/or other random home page you would be drawn to the enticing link promising quick and easy meal ideas at the click of your mouse. But so many times it all turns out to be a sad sad lie. For instance: breakfast pizza.

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/follow-that-food/breakfast-pizza-recipe/index.html
Who wants to eat breakfast pizza anyway… unless it’s the straight from the fridge ice-cold piece of thin crust pepperoni from the night before??? This recipe is like so many other false promises I’ve clicked on, ie: not quick, not easy, not worth the forced feeding to my children. Not to harp on some one else’s ingenuity… I might be wrong, it might not take an hour of prep time to cook bacon, make dough, cut and roll said dough into tightly formed balls and then cook the dough and then fry an egg on it. OK, say for all of those normal people out there… this is how we do it in my house! (That was me presuming that I am normal.)

My quick and easy meals consist of a blend of home cooking AND cheating. I LOVE Birdseye Steamfresh frozen veggies! I buy them for lunches especially because it’s so easy to turn a turkey sandwich into a square meal at lunch time… and even though it’s less green than buying fresh produce for dinner, it IS a huge time saver. 4 and a half minutes and they’re done. Tonight, for instance, I cooked meatloaf, mashed potatoes, and microwavable steamed veggies in 45 minutes. Yes, 45 minutes may be a long time in today’s world of 5 minute meals… but that’s where the home cooking comes in. Meatloaf in tradition should take over an hour and a half. And Peter’s mom’s mash potatoes takes over an hour. So I’ll cut to the chase and let you in on a few of my little secrets.

Hunts makes the most delicious meatloaf sauce in a can. With a quick change of the label directions you have 45 minute meatloaf with time to prepare my grandmas own yummy mashed potatoes, and handy dandy steamed veggies from a bag. This is what you will need:

Meatloaf/Mashed Potatoes/Steamed Veggies

4 Yukon gold or white potatoes

4tbs margarine or butter
1 1/2 cups milk
salt and pepper to taste
1 can Hunt’s Meatloaf Sauce
1 egg
1 sleeve of Saltine Multi grain crackers
1 bag Birdseye Steamfresh veggies

First, to save time, skin your potatoes and then slice and quarter them. Put potatoes in a large pot and cover with water. They boil in half the time (30 minutes.) After you have started your potatoes take half a can of Hunt’s Meatloaf Sauce (reserve the last half) and mix with 1lb beef (I use 93/7 percent fat), one egg (beaten), and 3/4 sleeve Multi-Grain Saltines (crushed in the bag.) Then if you half the meat mixture into two thin loafs and cook in a pan or cookie sheet at 400 degrees it cooks in half the time! 35-40 minutes. Then cover loafs with remaining sauce and cook for 10-15 minutes and you have 45 minute meatloaf and potatoes ready to mash and serve. Meanwhile, you have already shoved your bag of veggies in the microwave for 4 minutes and voila! You’re done!

If you don’t know how to make mashed potatoes: boil until potatoes easily cut through with a fork, drain out all but a little water and then place in a bowl, mix butter and mash with a fork, then add milk and beat them to a pulp (or the consistency you like) and add salt and pepper to taste.

Also a fave:
Roasted Chicken/Pasta Salad/Spinach (FROM A CAN!)

1 roasted chicken (all grocery stores have them fresh already cooked and ready to reheat in the oven)

Suddenly Salad Pasta Mix
1/2 container grape tomatoes
zucchini (use 3/4 of a zucchini – sliced and quartered)
spinach (I use Popeye’s Chopped Spinach… I know it’s from a can but I love it anyway!)

Cook chicken according to the label… usually 25 minutes to reheat if thawed, maybe more if frozen. Prepare pasta according to box (12-15 minutes.) And then add sliced tomatoes and zucchini. Microwave spinach from the can 3 minutes at power level 7 (I always add 1-2 tbs Smart Balance Margarine.) And then it’s done! Total time: 25 minutes (if done right!)
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