Category: Quick and Easy


 Whether you are from Italy, New York, or Timbuktu; a pepperoni and cheese traditionalist or a gourmet creationalist, most people can appreciate a good pizza. And a home-made one is even better!

Now everyone knows that the crust is the hardest part to get right when making a home-made pizza. What if you could remove that part all together? I know what you’re thinking…. “Come now! You are not suggesting that we buy store-bought pizza dough/crust are you? That stuff is disgusting!” And OF COURSE NOT!  I would never suggest such a thing! It is blasphemy to pizza everywhere! What I am suggesting is to not use pizza crust at all!

I have a made a wonderful discovery. It is called Naan bread! You can buy this in both original or garlic flavored. (as you have probably guessed, garlic flavored is my favorite). It is a premade, flat bread that is sold in a roundish shape and it comes with a recipe for pizza right on the back of the package! It is delicious by its self, so why wouldn’t it be just as yummy with cheese? Here I have gone the traditional route with mozzarella and pepperoni. Next I believe I am going to try mushrooms, greek olives, and feta cheese. The sky is the limit! Even play around with the sauce. I suggest trying pesto, alfredo, or even an avocado paste (such as guacamole) for some extra creative fun!

Where can you find this amazing pizza crust substitute? Well I bought this at Target, but I’m sure it can be found in the bakery department of many national grocery chains. Brookshire’s is always a good place to go for unique and international ingredients. But the best place to find things if you have access is a farmers market or local bakery. :)

 

Five star dining is great, but sometimes you just want a nice, juicy burger. Am I right?

ideally you’d be throwing these bad boys on a charcoal flame grill on a nice sunny afternoon. Unfortunately, we don’t always have that luxury. Don’t lose hope though, because a good quality grill press or grill pan can get the job done just as well but with out the mosquitos and sun burn. :)

Here I made both full-sized burgers and slammers to accommodate the little ones. I premade the patties the night before and coated them in a mixture of Hidden Valley ranch dip mix and steak dry rub. Even though they were cooked in the kitchen this really helped give them that fresh from the grill flavor. “Liquid Smoke” can help with this effect as well.

As a side I made steak fries. Now there are several ways to make french fries and everyone has their favorite. Mine might be a little fancier than most. I like to cut up my potatoes in thick slices and fry them just enough to get a slightly crispy edge. Then I lay them over a baking pan and lightly coat them with extra virgin olive oil and season with garlic, sea salt, rosemary, and a little Cajun seasoning. Then I bake them until they turn a nice golden brown. Find your own happy place when it comes to things that have no set path, even if it means throwing some frozen fries in the oven because you are short on time.

I’m Irish, and if you don’t know, I love to add an Irish flare to food when ever I can. French fries, or “chips” is always a perfect opportunity for a little flare. Here I have made a malt vinegar dipping sauce. It’s really simple and easy to make. Just a little malt vinegar, fresh garlic, sea salt, ground sage, and just a pinch of ground mustard. Always seasoned to taste. And don’t just limit this to the fries because it can really give that burger an extra kick too! :)

Given the prep work that I am putting into my ribs for the Fourth of July tomorrow, I wanted to make something quick, easy, and requiring very little prep work for dinner tonight. What you see here is a steak fajita on a garlic and herb tortilla, topped with lettuce, tomato, cheese, sour cream, guacamole, salsa and garlic butter. Left over steak or chicken or store-bought precooked meat can make this a VERY easy meal.

Throwing tortilla chips in the microwave for about 30 seconds can heat them for serving and revive stale chips by releasing the moisture. Toss chips with a little sea salt and serve alongside a good thick salsa and home-made queso.  You can easily make a home-made cheese dip with a little Velveeta cheese and a can of Ro-Tel. I recommend “On the Border Restaurant Style” thin chips. They are super thin and crispy and when heated they really have that restaurant quality.

Top off with an ice-cold beverage of choice and you have a wonderful meal with very little preparation or work.

 

********************************** Sneak Peek********************************

For being awesome followers here is a sneak peek for tomorrow’s Independence Day Ribs :)

The modern world is amazing and full of things that actually do make cooking on a busy schedule more convenient. I used to think that using many of these time saving techniques was “cheating”. But I’ve come to realize that I prefer to cook a great tasting meal and have time to enjoy it than to claim to cook everything from scratch. So here are just a few of my time saving tips. Please feel free to comment or respond with your own tips!

 

 

 

Plan ahead~ defrosting and marinating the day before doesn’t just save prep time when you start to cook, it will also make your meat juicer and more tender. Then it’s just a matter of throwing it in the oven/skillet/crock pot.

Oven bags~ a recent favorite of mine. Cooks evenly, keeps meat juicy and moist, locks in flavor, and cuts WAY down on clean up time. For extra time saving, throw veggies straight into the bag with your protein and you kill two birds with one stone.

Crock Pot/ Slow Cooker~ a crock pot can be the busy cook’s best friend. Most recipes can be converted for use in a crock pot and it requires little to no attention for several hours. You can toss in meat and veggies, cook on low for the eight hours that you are at work, come home and a hot meal is waiting! For extra time saving, use slow cooker liners and premixed seasoning packs.

Premixed Seasoning Packs~ from chili seasoning, gravy mix, or marinade mix. Little packets of premixed seasoning can save you time and money! There are some seasonings that are universal and you should have in your kitchen at all times. For the ones that you may not use too often, premixed packets are cheap and easy to use. Even something as easy as making gravy can be tedious when preparing a large or detail oriented meal. Jars of gravy or premixed packets can cut down on time. *use broth or stock instead of water and season well with premixed packets to add flavor and make it your own. Also, you can find seasoning packets that come with an oven roasting bag all in one.*

Focus on one thing~ If one thing in your menu requires a lot of work or attention plan for the accompanying food to be quick and simple. A five star restaurant has several cooks to get all of those amazing dishes out…. it’s much more difficult for you to make four courses from scratch. If your main dish is slightly complicated, pair it with something simple like mac and cheese or minute rice. It does not matter how long it took to make everything if it all tastes delicious.

Quick and Easy~ Cooking wonderful, complicated meals every night can burn you out. Decide on a few quick and easy meals that you can implement a couple of nights a week. Whether that is a default take out place or a various collection of frozen or microwave meals that everyone enjoys, make sure you give yourself a break. I highly recommend frozen broccoli stuffed chicken breast or Birds Eye Voila frozen pasta meals.

Make it your own~ No matter if its a recipe you stumbled upon or a quick and simple meal like minute rice find a way to make it your own. Not every recipe has to be followed to a tee. Play around with spices and seasoning. Throw in some fresh garlic or a hand full of sliced almonds. You’ll be amazed at how completely a hand full of bacon bits and a little garlic and transform Kraft mac and cheese. When it comes to recipes, never go with the first one you find. Google it! Take your top five favorite. Mix and match ingredients. Discover your own style. The main thing to take away from recipes is an appropriate cooking time and temp…. everything else is art.

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