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Posts Tagged ‘garlic’

These little guys are incredibly easy to put together – so easy that they are perfect if you happen to be looking for ways to get your kids engaged in the cooking process. Here’s my little helper putting potatoes in a bowl:

I usually pull up a chair for him to stand on while I prep ingredients. He knows that only adults can touch knives, and reminds me each time I use one that they are “very very sharp” and can “give you owies.” Once I’ve chopped everything up, I let him put ingredients into a bowl and/or stir them together. For this recipe, which involves dividing the potato mixture into four parts and putting each part into its own foil packet, I also let him spoon the mixture onto each piece of foil, sprinkle with parsley, and put a dab of butter on top.

Sure, maybe he insisted on putting one potato piece at a time into each packet. And maybe it took much longer than if I had done it myself. But he loves cooking, and I love that he is excited about it. Plus, it’s nice to be able to channel some of that toddler “I do it!” mentality into something constructive.

Anyway, this recipe only uses a few ingredients and is easily customizable. I used parsley because I had some, but I’m thinking a rosemary/thyme combo would taste great. If you have some of those individual foil sheets (like these), they work perfectly here. If not, use pieces about 12″x12″ so that you have ample room for the potato mixture.

Simple Potato Packets

1 lb roasting potatoes, cut into 1/2 inch pieces (I used purple potatoes, but red ones would be perfect, too)
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 bell pepper, diced
1/2 cup green onions, chopped
1/4 cup parsley, chopped
4 tsp butter
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Combine potatoes, garlic, bell pepper, and green onions in a bowl and season with salt and pepper. Place 1/4 of the mixture onto each of four foil sheets. Top each with a sprinkle of parsley and teaspoon of butter. Draw up the sides of each foil piece and pinch at the top to create a packet. Place on a baking sheet and cook about 25 minutes, until potatoes are tender.

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I’ve had some people ask how they can make weeknight cooking easier. Boy, I understand that. I have a two-year-old and a full-time job. It’s hard to come home from work and get dinner on the table in a reasonable amount of time. Here, I try to provide recipes that can be cooked on a weeknight (most of the time), and if the recipe isn’t inherently fast, I try to come up with modifications that make it quicker to prepare. Just so we’re on the same page, “fast” to me means getting dinner cooked and on the table in under an hour, including prep time.

My advice for weeknight dinners is this: First, plan ahead. Use the menu plans I provide on this blog, or make your own. Either way, take a day a week to look through your pantry and your fridge and figure out what you need to buy at the grocery store to make enough food for the week.

Then, as you plan your week’s menus, pick one element of each meal to concentrate on, and make the rest of it easy. By that I mean, if you are serving a side dish that takes some preparation, like this summer squash gratin, fix easy grilled chicken or pork as the entree. You get the idea.

This recipe should help your weeknight dinners come together quickly. Some foods just lend themselves to fast preparation, and green beans are one of them. This stir-fry only has six ingredients, plus some water, and cooks in less than 10 minutes. It’s also really tasty. I used some of the baby onions and leeks I had on hand in place of the 1/2 onion in the original recipe, and the oyster sauce adds some salty depth to the beans’ flavor. If you don’t have it, just season with soy sauce at the end instead. Be sure to have all of your ingredients prepped and ready to go when you start cooking.

Easy Garlicky Green Beans (adapted from Kalyn’s Kitchen)

1 lb. fresh green beans, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces
2 tbsp peanut oil
2 tbsp chopped garlic
2 baby onions, cut into slivers about the same size as the green beans
1 leek, cut into slivers about the same size as the green beans
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup water (plus a bit more if you check and the pan seems dry)
2 tbsp oyster sauce (comes in a bottle near the Asian foods in the grocery store)

Heat the wok or a heavy frying pan over high heat for 1-2 minutes, until it’s too hot to hold your hand over it. Add the oil and heat about 30 seconds more, then add the garlic, onion, and leeks and cook for 20-30 seconds, stirring the whole time.

Add beans and salt and cook about 2 minutes, stirring several times. Then add water, cover wok, and let beans steam for 5 minutes. Check about halfway through to see if the pan is dry, and added about 1 tsp more water if necessary.

Uncover the pan and add oyster sauce, then cook 2 minutes more, stirring so all the beans are uniformly covered with the sauce. Beans should still be slightly crisp when they’re done. Serve hot.

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