Though not a craft, food is one of those necessary things even a regular guy or gal needs to make. Planning and executing a cooking power hour is quick and easy and a little domestic sport I'm calling power cooking. It's like power walking, without the suburban mom stigma and the need to actually work out. Whoop here it is:
All food needed (I made healthy lasagna, pasta and bean salad, salmon with roasted sweet potatoes, and chicken marsala)
Several pans: frying pan, wok, pot with lid, cookie sheet, casserole dish, stiring spoons
Plastic wrap and aluminum foil (and/or food storage containers)
Apron or old clothes (no need to create laundry!)
Something interesting to listen to (in my case Fresh Air with Terri Gross)
White wine (optional)
1. Pick out the recipes you want to make. Choose two recipes that can be cooked on the stove and two that can be cooked in the oven. This way, you'll have enough space (and burners) for your project. Feel free to pick one recipe that requires assembly, like enchiladas or lasagna. Too many of these recipes and you'll feel like Lucy in the chocolate factory. (I had an abnormal obsession with Lucille Ball when I was twelve so if you don't get my joke, it's ok to move on and not feel like you're missing anything).
2. Get the food you need. Try to use ingredients you already have at home. Dig in your pantry and freezer for fun stuff you forgot about. (Yay! Flavor-ice!) And get clever with substitution: rather then buy a spice jar for one teaspoon od stuff, try a handy chart like this one.
3. Set up the prep station for the lasagna/other assembled food.
4. Pour yourself a crisp col glass of wine. You don't have time to make a cocktail tonight but that doesn't mean you shouldn't enjoy a little liquid refreshment.
5. Preheat the oven and heat pans (water for pasta and fry pan with oil) at the same time. Heat from the oven will travel up and offset some energy use. Go planet!
6. While things are heating, chop all veggies, then chop meats. A different cutting board (or washing the cutting board after each meat) should be used when you change the meat. Sanity first!
7. Prepare dishes using a timeline like this one. Essentially, pay the most attention to anything on fire though a very close second priority is to get the lasagna into the oven ASAP so it can cook as your evening meal (since it takes 45 minutes to an hour to heat up and you're commiting to be in the kitchen anyway, you might as well eat it tonight).
8. During time you don't have any direct cooking to do, get your other kitchen chores done. Clean out the fridge, do some dishes, sip some wine and peruse your new magazine. Remember as long as something productive is happening (however passive) you can relax a little and still feel you are multi-tasking.
9. Eat your lasagna/baked dish preferably with family and/or friends. Let them tell you how wonderful you are and offer to do the dishes.
10. Let food cool before putting it in individual containers. To keep things freezer ready that can't go into a plastic bag, put plastic wrap then tin foil on top. Less freezer burn!
And cheers to you for making the bulk of your week's meals in one hour. You rock!
And now as promised yesterday my four recipes.
Lasagna noodles (if you can find whole wheat, awesome)
Ricotta cheese (skim)
1 lb spinach
1 lb ground turkey
Layer the following: Pasta sauce, noodles, ricotta, turkey, spinach. Repeat. On top layer, add a little more tomato sauce. Remember canned tomatoes have nutrients that fresh ones don't so it's good for you!
1 tsp cooking oil
1 chopped onion
1 lb chicken breasts, cubed
2 c. chicken broth
12 oz. frozen peas
Jane's Crazy Mixed Up Salt
Cook onion over low-medium heat for ten minutes (really brings out the flavor). Add chicken, cook several minutes. Add broth, paste (horray for condiments!) and peas. Simmer, add crazy salt to taste. Add a little flour to thicken the sauce if necessary.
Bean and Pasta Salad
Edamame or other bean deli salad
stray veggies from around the house (cook them a little first though in the George Foreman grill to make 'em tender)
Cook pasta according to package directions (I always go one minute less then they tell me…I'm a rebel). Toss with bean salad. Add extra veggies to round it out (who doesn't have zucchini to get rid of?). You want a 1:1 mixture of beans and pasta.
Salmon with Roasted Sweet Potato
1 cut salmon (the size of a deck of cards is one serving)
Jane's crazy salt
1 big sweet potato
spray cooking oil
Coat the salmon in brown sugar, salt, and ginger. Put in fridge. I'll be nice and juicy when you cook it.
Cut up sweet potato and roast it in the oven (while something else is cooking ideally). You can reheat the potatoes when you are going to eat the salmon. (Twice baked potatoes are always better anyway.)