Monday, June 11, 2012

5 Quick & Easy Meals

Cooking is something I really enjoy.  It is a way for me to make sure that healthy food is going into our bodies. But I try to minimize the heat being poured into my kitchen from the stove and oven during the summer.  I don't need to be any hotter than I already am down here!

These are a few of my family's favorite meals that don't take too long and create little or no heat!

1) Bean Salad Wraps (from Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook)
    4 8-in tortillas
    1 15 oz can black beans, rinsed and drained (look for lower sodium to reduce sodium intake)
    1/2 c chopped green sweet pepper or 1 fresh jalapeno (I have added green bell pepper, cucumber, any veggies I wanted)
    2 T snipped fresh cilantro (or cumin or coriander instead.  I play around a lot)
    1/3 c light mayonnaise dressing or salad dressing
    1 T lime juice
    Leaf lettuce

- Stack tortillas and wrap them in foil.  Heat in oven for 10 min at 350 degrees.
-In a medium bowl, mash black beans slightly; add pepper and cilantro.  Stir in mayo and lime juice.
-To serve, spread bean mixture over tortillas, top with lettuce and roll up.

2) Broccoli Cheese Soup (courtesy of my best friend in Minneapolis!)
    1/3 c chopped onion (I use onion powder if I'm in a REAL hurry)
    1 stick butter (don't judge...)
    3 c. broccoli cuts
    1/2 c flour
    1/4 t salt
    1/2 t dry mustard
    1/8 t pepper
    2 c milk
    10 3/4 oz can chicken broth (I use reduced sodium bouillon)
    1 c cubed American cheese

-Cook onion and broccoli. (I microwave frozen broccoli)
-In pan, melt butter.  Stir in flour, salt, mustard & pepper.  Gradually add milk.  Cook until thick.  Stir constantly.  
-Add broccoli & remaining ingredients.
-Cook until cheese melts
I recommend having EVERYTHING ready before you start this one, because once the milk thickens, it goes really fast.

3) Black Bean Soup (from Minnesota Department of Health cookbook)
    2 cans black beans with liquid (again, look for reduced sodium)
    1/2 c salsa
    1 T chili powder (I sometimes add cumin, cayenne, Arizona Dreaming from Penzey Spices)
    2 c chicken broth or vegetable broth or bouillon

-Mash beans slightly in pan.
-Stir in salsa, chili powder and broth.
-Heat to boiling over med-high heat.
-Serve with shredded cheese, sour cream, green onions, cilantro, avocado
My kids LOVE this with chips.

4) CROCK POT RECIPE: Creamy Chicken and Noodles (from Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook)
    2 c sliced carrots (4 med)
    1 1/2 c chopped onion (3 med)
    1 c sliced celery (2 stalks)
    2 T snipped fresh parsley (I used dried)
    1 bay leaf 
    3 med chicken legs (about 2 lbs)  I have always used chicken breasts. I just prefer them to legs.
    2 10 3/4 oz cans reduced fat & reduced sodium condensed Cream of Chicken soup (I've substituted Cream of Mushroom and Cream of Celery as well)
    1/2 c water
    1 t dried thyme
    1/4 t black pepper
    10 oz dried wide noodles (I've served over brown rice also)
    1 c frozen peas

-In a crock pot, place carrots, onion, celery, parsley and bay leaf.  Place chicken on top.  In a bowl, stir together soup, water, thyme and pepper.  Pour over chicken and vegetables.
-Cover and cook on low heat setting for 8 -9 hrs or on high setting for 4 - 4 1/2 hrs.  If using chicken legs, remove chicken from cooker and let cool.  Remove bay leaf.
-Meanwhile, cook noodles or rice.  Stir peas into soup mixture in cooker.  Remove chicken from bones (if using legs).  Cut meat into bite size pieces and return to cooker.  I use a fork on the breasts while they are in the crock pot, so I don't have to dirty more dishes.
-Serve over noodles or rice.

I recently heard a tip (I can't remember whom) but place your crock pot outside to cook if you want to avoid all heat in your house.  I'd just make sure the lid was on good and tight!  :)

5) Smoothies with Popcorn or Chips and Salsa
    1-2 c Yogurt (I use nonfat plain yogurt, but you can choose any flavor)
    4-5 c Juice (100% Apple juice is what I usually use)
    Frozen fruit - I have used bananas, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, peaches, pineapple, mango, you get the idea.  :)
    Flax Seed Meal (I love adding a couple of tablespoons o this if I have it.)

-Combine everything in a blender and blend.  
-Serve with popcorn or chips and salsa, or whatever you want!

I hope these recipes help you keep your home a little cooler, healthier, (minus the stick of butter in the broccoli cheese soup, but it's SO good!) and spending more time together as a family!



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