The weather lately has been bringing visions of warm homes full of the delightful smell of food, beef stew lingering for hours in a slow oven, pot roast with vegetables, citrus marmalade slowly simmering in a kettle. And if this adds a little heat and humidity, well that’s all to the good. However, in this modern world most of us can’t spend hours watching over cooking food. That does not mean we have to forgo delicious hot meals. With a good plan, and some advance prep, we can have it all.
The slow cooker is the workhorse of the quick hot meal. Here are a few tips to consider.
Even though your dish will be best if you brown the ingredients before dumping them in the pot, your dish will still be good if you don’t have time for that step. They say not to use frozen vegetables in the slow cooker, but pop them in the microwave for an instant defrost.
Another approach to the quick hot meal is the ‘sheet pan dinner’. This is a fairly new technique involving roasting various combinations of foods in a baking pan or roasting pan. To get the fastest results cut up all the ingredients beforehand, maybe in the morning or the night before. Most of the time you’ll want to serve a starch like rice, noodles or maybe quinoa. Just be sure to include that in your planning. The recipes usually give you all the information you need to insure that all the components are done at the same time.
Of course the fastest way to go, when you only have 20 or 30 minutes would be to combine some already cooked items with some freshly cooked. The Deli Chicken springs to mind, (on sale at Safeway this week for $4.99 each) but there are other choices. You can buy pulled pork, turkey carnitas and other useful items at our local stores. Add some parboiled rice, some roasted vegetables, a salad—and you’ve got this.
Special sales this week include the continuation of Fry’s Buy 5 Get $5 off. Safeway has a Fab 5 Mix or Match sale—buy 5 or more participating items, get $1 off each one. Sprouts has more than 300 items from their featured brands on sale at 35% off.
Don’t forget that next Wednesday, March 7, will be Senior Day at Safeway and Fry’s.
February 28: National Chocolate Souffle Day
March 1. Fruit Compote Day
March 2. Banana Cream Pie Day
March 3. Mulled Wine Day, Canadian Bacon Day
March 4. Pound Cake Day
March 5. Cheese Doodle Day, Absinthe Day
March 6. Frozen Food Day, White Chocolate Cheesecake Day
March 7. Cereal Day, Crown Roast of Pork Day
Links & Definitions:
Crusty French Bread
Optionally, you could also cook this in a 225º oven for 3-4 hours, until the meat is tender.
Items On Sale
Beef Chuck Roast $2.88/lb @ Sprouts
Beef Cross Rib Roast $4.49/lb @ Fry’s, $3.99/lb @ Safeway
Russet Potatoes $1.99/ 5 lb bag @ Fry’s $2.98/5lb bag @ Sprouts
Roma Tomatoes $.77 @ Sprouts—Tomatoes-on-the-vine $1.99/lb @ Safeway
Grape Tomatoes $1.98/box@ Sprouts, $3/box @ Safeway (organic)
Romaine Hearts $3/3 ct OR Salad Blends $3 @ Safeway (organic)
Kroger Salad Blends $2.50/each @ Fry’s
Sheet Pan Chicken Dinner
Steamed Brown Rice
Sheet Pan Balsamic Chicken and Vegetables
Items On Sale
Chicken Parts Bone-In $.87/lb @ Safeway (if using thighs in sheet pan, remove fat)
Chicken Breasts B/S $1.77/lb @ Sprouts—-Buy 1 Get 2 Free @ Fry’s
Bell Peppers, Red, Yellow, Orange $.98/ each @ Sprouts $.99/each @ Fry’s
Yellow Onions $1.99/3 lb bag @ Safeway
Dark (85%) Chocolate $6.99/lb @ Sprouts, In Bulk Foods
Crock Pot Pork Shoulder
Roasted Mixed Vegetables
More of a Method Than a Recipe
Recipe: Roasted Mixed Vegetables
I always line the sheet pan with non-stick or heavy aluminum foil.
My favorite combination is Baby Carrots, Mini Peppers (mixed colors), and Baby Yellow Potatoes. Everything should be as dry as possible the carrots frequently are pretty wet so I usually put the carrots in first for 10-15 minutes at about 300º without any oil and stir to help them dry.
The goal is for everything to come out cooked and browned at the same time.
While you are finishing the prep raise the Temperature to 375º. (This is My oven’s temp, you may have to experiment a little to find out what works best in your oven.)
Cut the baby potatoes into halves, or quarters. Place on the pan with carrots and peppers. Try to keep smaller pieces in the middle and larger pieces around the outside. This will help them cook evenly. It is best if you keep everything in one layer; if you crowd in too much the veggies will steam instead of browning.
Drizzle with olive oil and use your hands or a spatula to make sure everything is coated. then place uncovered in oven.
It usually takes about 30 minutes. After 15 minutes, check. Stir. Use a fork to check potatoes and carrots for doneness and to help turn pieces for browning. If some pieces are done before others, take them out.
When you are satisfied with doneness and color, remove from oven, let cool slightly. Place in a shallow bowl, sprinkle with coarse salt and a little pepper. Some like to add some Balsamic vinegar, but I like them as crisp as possible.
Make lots—2 pans full, they make great snacks.
Items On Sale
Pork Shoulder Roast $.99/lb with coupon @ Safeway
Mini Sweet Peppers $1.98/pint @ Sprouts
Grapes Green $.77/lb @ Sprouts & Fry’s—Red or Green Grapes $.88/lb @ Safeway
Strawberries, Blackberries, Blueberries $1.50/box @ Sprouts
Blackberries and Blueberries $2.50/box @ Safeway
Blackberries $.77/box. Strawberries, Blueberries $2,50/box @ Fry’s
Pineapples $1.49/each @ Safeway With Coupon, $2.99/each @ Fry’s (organic)
Whole Cantaloupe, $1.50/each @ Fry’s, $1.98/each @ Sprouts
Chili with Pork & Beans
Very Berry Pie (easy)
Recipe: Chili With Pork and Beans
1-2 lbs. Pinto beans (I buy them in bulk at Sprouts for around $1 lb.)
Remaining pork roast and bone
2 cans diced tomatoes
2 cans chopped green chilis
2-3 cloves minced garlic
1-3 tsp. Chili powder
Salt & pepper to taste
Fresh chilis, optional
Water to cover meat & beans
Grated cheddar cheese
Soft corn tortillas
Chopped green onions
This makes a rather basic chili, but then you can 'dress it up' in a variety of ways.
The day before you plan to make your chili, soak the beans in water. (If using "Day 3" above, start your beans soaking then.) I like to soak mine at least overnight, but prefer 24 hours. Make sure you have enough water for the beans to expand, probably 2-3 inches above the beans. When you are ready to start your chili, pour the water off the beans and rinse well. This will help prevent gassiness.
I like to start my chili the night before I plan to eat it. Add the pork roast and the bone to a crockpot. Use as much pork as you like. Pour the beans over the roast. Add the cans of tomatoes and green chilis, and the garlic. Sprinkle in as much chili powder as you like. You can also use fresh chilis. (Here is a great reference for chili peppers.)
Turn crock pot to low and head to bed. In the morning, stir well, and remove any bones if you like. Cover again, and continue cooking on low. When the beans are soft (usually late afternoon) you can turn your crockpot to 'warm'.
Eat plain, or serve with grated cheese and sour cream. If you like, make a cilantro garnish. Remove the cilantro leaves from the stems. Take a slice of onion and chop it with the cilantro leaves. Add a little salt. Chop a little more. Use as a garnish on the chili.
You can also serve with flour or soft corn tortillas.
Finally, I use pinto beans. But that’s not sacred - use any kind of beans you like. Kidney beans are also good, as are black beans. If you want to be adventurous, mix 'em up. Some people recommend you soak your beans in salted water.
Items On Sale
See Fruit under Day 3 above
Choice of 3 Different Sheet Pan Dinners
Pineapple Spears and Citrus Sections
3 Sheet Pan Suppers, 2 fish, chicken fajitas
Items On Sale
See Chicken Breasts under Day 2 above
Salmon Fillets, $8.99/lb @ Sprouts, $9.99/lb @ Safeway
Rockfish Fillets, 6.99/lb @ Sprouts
Ahi, Tuna, Swordfish Steaks, $7.99/lb @ Safeway
Halibut, $5.99/5 oz portion @ Safeway
See Pineapple under Day 3 above
Valencia Oranges and Grapefruit $2.98/4 lb bag @ Sprouts
Quinoa, White or Tricolor, $2.99/lb @ Sprouts, in Bulk Foods
Pork Chops and Rice
Recipe: Pork Chops and Rice
This is my Mom’s recipe, we had 6 people to feed, so she always made 6-8 chops. But I usually only do 3-4, so I use a smaller baking dish and less rice.
4-6 bone in center cut pork chops, not extra thick—remove excess fat, but leave a little on
(other types of chops will work, but watch for excess fat.)
Parboiled brown rice (like Uncle Ben’s)
1 small onion, 1 inch dice
cooking spray or oil
salt and pepper
Cook rice according to package directions. You will need 4-6 cups of cooked rice depending on the size of your baking dish. You need a bed of rice 2-3 inches thick. Do not let rice cook all the way—turn off heat when about 1/2 done. Add onion.
Set oven at 350º Oil your dish, 9x13 inch works well. Pour in rice and onion.
Season pork chops with salt and pepper. Arrange on top of rice. Cover, bake 1/2 hour. remove cover, bake additional 10 minuses. Pork is now considered done at 145-150º. so if you have an instant read thermometer let that be your guide.
Items On Sale
Salad Fixings, See Day 1 above
Pork Sirloin Chops, $1.99/lb @ Safeway, Pork
Broccoli, $.99/lb @ Safeway
Halo Top or Party Pails Ice Cream, $2.99/each @ Fry’s (Buy 5 Get $5 off)
Blue Bell Ice Cream, $4.99 @ Safeway (Buy 5 or more )
Dreyer’s Ice Cream, $3.99/each @ Safeway