When I am hungry and I really need food, I want it quick. Speedy. With rapid fire. I want it immediately, and I want it ready in a snap. Because I know that I am this way quite often, I have come up with a few different food options so I don’t have to wait. A hungry person is not a patient person.
An easy and fast meal is Swedish Meatballs. Well, technically these are not exact replicas, yet to me they are close enough. It makes sense to always have some of your favorite frozen meatballs on hand. These can be either your own homemade ones, ready to go. Or they can be premade by a manufacturer or the deli or meat department of your favorite supermarket. I use wide egg noodles. While the water is getting ready to boil, put your meatballs in a pot. If you want to cut down on “pot time” you can microwave them for 1 1/2 minutes to soften them a bit (this is what I do). After they are in the pot, cover them with a can of Beef Gravy – depending on how many people you’re cooking for, you may need more than one can. Recent additions to the gravy that have turned out to be delicious have been the leftovers in containers of dip from parties we’ve had – I have used both Ranch and French Onion. Bring them to a boil on a medium flame, and reduce it to low once they’re bubbling. Finish your noodles. Pour your meatball mixture over the top and get ready to eat. PDQ!
You can make a Chicken Dumpling Dinner dish fairly fast. The key to this though is having chicken ready and prepared in advance – if it’s frozen, defrost it quick (microwaves are a great thing). You can also use canned chicken, which is always a good item to have in your house. Decide how much chicken you want to use, and use a can of cream of chicken soup. Again, depending on how much is in your pan will determine how many cans of vegetables to use – the mixed vegetable variety is good. Then add a can of chicken broth, or 1 1/2 cups of chicken bouillon (hot water). Mix all of the ingredients together, and spread the mixture in the bottom of the greased pan you’ve decided to use. Have your oven preheated to 350. Before placing your dish into the oven, take a can of refrigerated biscuits – I think the standard size gives you 8-10 of them (the regular not Grand size). Again, you need to take into consideration the size of the dish you’re cooking. I prefer to use clean kitchen scissors to cut the biscuits into quarters – placing them all over the top. You don’t want to use too many because they’ll expand as they cook and it will be a mess. Place your dish in the oven, keeping watch to see the biscuits browning. Once they’re browned to your liking, remove the dish from the oven and you’ve got your meal!
A really quick but good meal is Tomato Soup with Rice. Get your favorite kind of Tomato Soup into a sauce pan and heat it slowly. If your soup is condensed and calls for milk or water – if you don’t want it too rich, do half water and half milk. While the soup simmers, make white rice in your microwave. It’s fast. Follow this guideline – for 3/4 cup of rice, use twice the amount of water (or broth to perk it up) and cook for nine minutes. For 1 cup of rice, use two cups of water (again, or broth) and cook for twelve minutes. Adjust up accordingly. Once the rice is done to your liking, add it to your soup. In no time at all, you have a fast yet stick-to-your-ribs meal.
The key to a quick meal is to have things on hand that makes your cooking job easier. For this recipe, I will use either cooked chicken or canned chicken. I make rice the way I do above. As the rice cooks, I will get my vegetables ready – for this dish, I usually use either canned or frozen peas and carrots. If I have chopped frozen onions, or if I feel like taking a bit of time to chop some fresh ones – I’ll brown and soften them, and then sort-of stir fry the vegetables with them, soon adding the chicken. By this time, the rice is usually just about done and then I combine everything together. I will put in a splash or two of soy sauce. I will have a few packets of hot mustard and duck sauce if the mood strikes to use these. I always have a hefty supply of these things from takeout times.
You can make quick Chicken Parmesan sandwiches. To make these you will need precooked chicken patties, spaghetti sauce, mozzarella cheese (the slices work really good for this) and rolls (hamburger type rolls are what I usually use). Put your chicken patties on a plate, and microwave them for a little more than the instructions say. Take them out of the microwave, turn them over and then put the sauce on and the cheese on top of that. Microwave for at least the total of required cooking time. You might need to melt the cheese more. You might not. Eyeball it. Take the melted cheese and chicken goodness out and transfer to your rolls. Easy. Quick. Really good.
A very quick and easy meal is Macaroni and Cheese. I am talking about the boxed, prepared kind. For recipes I like to use Shells and Cheese. I will begin to prepare according to the directions. Making Macaroni and Cheese this way usually doesn’t even take fifteen minutes. The key to making this more of a meal is add-ins. There are so many things you can add in to make your Macaroni even better. You can cut up pieces of ham. You can add a can or package of frozen peas (those should be already cooked/warmed up so they don’t throw off the heat and warmth). Try adding a can of canned tuna or chicken. Try bacon bits. If you want something with more of a Mexican type feel and taste, add a half can of diced tomatoes and sprinkle with some chili powder. You can put Rotel in too. If you want it simple yet with something a little extra, sprinkle a sizable topping of bread crumbs or crushed croutons. Broccoli mixed in with Macaroni and Cheese is delicious.
A quick meal is a Baked Potato. It is not just the potato but what you put on top of it. Baking potatoes in the microwave doesn’t take that long. While they are cooking, you can get out whatever toppings you might want. The standard stand by is butter and sour cream. And to that, you can add grated cheddar cheese and bacon bits. It’s never a bad thing to have a can of whatever kind of canned chili you enjoy and drizzle that over the top. You can do the same thing with cream of whatever kind of soup – prepare the soup, using about half of the liquid and pour over your potato. Though it might be a bit gassy, canned baked beans over the top is good too.
My last quick go-to meal is pasta. With spaghetti sauce. This is not a deluxe meal. It is plain, yet there are ways to make it more substantial. My personal way to perk it up is to cook the pasta, pour warm sauce on and then put a lump of ricotta on top. I love that, it’s SO good. You can also add shredded mozzarella cheese. Adding just grated parmesan cheese is good, too – using a substantial amount makes it really good. If you have frozen cooked shrimp, adding them to the pasta with sauce and mozzarella cheese gives you (almost) Shrimp Parmesan.
The key to all of this is to use your imagination. I do have to say though that in times of hunger that needs to be satisfied immediately, a large bowl of your favorite cereal or a quick peanut butter jelly sandwich is never out of line!