Sunday, February 12, 2012

A Few 30 Minute Meals: Swiss Chard, Broccoli, Thai Chicken Stir Fry, Greek Lemon Chicken Soup with Organic Spinach and Red Quinoa & French Lentil Soup with Sausage

Why does the cold weather make me crave Chinese take-out?  Is the thought of getting up from my cozy spot on the couch that irritating?  Yes, the truth is that the winter months make me feel completely inert which is usually bad for my waist and my wallet.
 Recently, I discovered a solution.  Since I seem to be much more lazy after dark, I cook dinner before the sun sets(usually between 4pm...just after I pick the kids up from school...and 5).  What occurs when we eat early are two very important things.  First, the kids are able to concentrate on home work.  If you've ever been hungry during an exam or while working on a project at work you understand the importance of feeding your belly so it may feed your brain.  The next thing that occurs if I cook early is that I am far less likely to succumb to the convenience of a take-out meal. So my tip this week is, cook early!  What if, like so many Americans, you happen to be at work till well past 5 every weekday?  The answer is quite simple really, all you do then is select meals that take under an hour to prepare or prepare your meals days in advance so that you can reheat and eat. Here are some 30 minute meals that you can prepare either straight after work or a few days ahead.  If you're interested in sharing your favorite 30 minute meal ideas leave a comment below! 

                Swiss Card, Broccoli, Thai Chicken Stir Fry

* Note: This recipe is a variation of a recipe that can be found on the Thai Kitchen Roasted Red Chili Paste bottle.  I haven't reinvented anything, just used the simple principle of waste-not, want-not to create a yummy and easy meal.  

For this simple and versatile recipe, add any veggies you have on hand. I just happened to have some beautiful Organic Swiss Card I had picked up at Ward's early in the week that was starting to wilt and a bit of broccoli that was about to turn.  Also, any meat you select is fine too. I had some poached  chicken breast handy which made this dish a fast and easy dinner to put together.  So here's what you'll need...

1 tbsp coconut or vegetable oil
1 large minced yellow onion 
3 cloves of minced garlic
2 tsp fresh minced ginger
3-4 cups of cut veggies(in this case,  Swiss Card and Broccoli)
1 lb of poached chicken breast, cubed 
2 tbsp of red chili paste
1 tbsp of brown sugar, agave, honey or brown rice syrup
2 tbsp of fish sauce

4 cups of brown rice for serving

1. Saute onions in coconut oil for 2-3 minutes.
2. Add garlic and cook down for 1 more minute.  Throw in protein, veggies, red chili paste, sugar and fish sauce and cook for 5 minutes on med heat.  Serve over brown rice and enjoy!

     Greek Lemon Chicken Soup with Organic Spinach &                                                      Red Quinoa

*Note: While having lunch with my friend Inge a few weeks ago, I gave into an impulse and stole this recipe from her copy of last month's issue of Cooking Light.  I did not tear up her magazine to take the recipe, I simply googled it and took it off have to admit that I have made a few improvements on the eliminating the rice and replacing the starch with quinoa.  I've also added spinach to the soup.  I hope you enjoy it and send me some of your favorite modified stolen recipes! Remember, as is written in the big book, "There is nothing new under the sun", so relax..take a little and give a lot!

3-4 tbsp olive or coconut oil 
1 large organic yellow onion
 3 garlic cloves, minced
6-8 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup red quinoa
2 large eggs
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice(roughly, the juice of one large lemon)
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
2 tsp corn starch

1 lb poached chicken breast , coarsely chopped
8-12 oz organic spinach

 1.  Heat soup pot over medium-high heat. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add onion and garlic; saute 2 minutes. Add Chicken Stock; bring to a boil.

2. Stir in quinoa; reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes. Meanwhile, combine lemon juice, cornstarch, salt, pepper, and egg in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk. Slowly pour egg into broth mixture, stirring constantly with a whisk.

3. Add chicken to broth mixture; cook until mixture thickens and rice is done (about 3 minutes). Turn off the heat, add spinach and stir till slightly wilted and serve.

                           French Lentil Soup with Sausage 

 *This is a variation of a recipe that I swiped from Ina's book Barefoot in Paris...thanks Ina!

1/4 cup olive oil, plus extra for serving
4 cups diced yellow onions (3 large)
4 cups chopped leeks, white and light green parts only (2 leeks)
3 tablespoon minced garlic (6 large cloves)
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon ground cumin
3 cups medium diced celery (8 stalks)
3 cups medium diced carrots (4 to 6 carrots)
1 pound fresh sausage, casing removed and crumbled  
1 pound French green lentils (Organic Green Lentils can be found in the bulk section of your favorite health food store)
3 quarts chicken broth or 1-2 bouillon cubes
1/4 cup tomato paste
2 tablespoons dry red wine or red wine vinegar
8 oz of fresh organic spinach
 Freshly grated Romano, for serving

1. Coat soup pot with oil,  add the next 6 ingredients(stopping at cumin) and saute for 5 minutes.  Next add celery, carrots and sausage and saute for another 5-10minutes or until sausage no longer appears to be pink.

2. Add the chicken stock, tomato paste, and lentils, cover, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer uncovered for 25 minutes, or until the lentils are cooked through and tender. Check the seasonings. Add the red wine, spinach and drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with grated Romano cheese.

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