Monday, October 20, 2014

20 Minutes or Less Menu Planner From The Cherry On Top

Welcome to this week's menu planner.  I'm on #31.

I'm eating one of these meals as I'm typing this up.  Ha!  The Cherry On Top's Menu Planners are all about efficiency and healthy cooking.  In most menu's you'll find them to be very easy to cook.  You'll also note that most ingredients are easily accessible at a typical grocer and inexpensive as well.  For most people, we want it fast.  I choose healthy first, but with fast a very, very close second.

This week I've got seven, healthy, easy to prepare meals that will be ready in 20 minutes or less.  The average for these meals are between 13-18 minutes.  Isn't that awesome?!

Yes!  Let's dive right into it, shall we?

Monday:  shrimp scampi with pasta

I could not believe how easy this was to make when I made it for the first time. As a teenager, it was my all time favourite dish and my family today really loves it. If shrimp ain't yo' thang, then add some cubed chicken or fish or go vegetarian and add some cherry tomatoes.

A key ingredient, that you should always have on hand is fresh pasta.  Do you know that fresh pasta takes 2-4 minutes to cook?  It tastes incredible, too.  I wouldn't blame you at all for not going back to the dried assortment.

I've got a recipe for ya, but you could go mega basic and just sauté olive oil, garlic, your shrimp or meat and herbs.  Really, that's it!


Tuesday:  potatoes and blue cheese soup

Even folks who do not like blue cheese go crazy over this recipe.  This soup is one of my most famous recipes and I'm asked to make it over and over again.  It's really easy to make and there's nothing better to comfort and nourish you on a cold autumn or winter's day.  I serve this with fresh baked bread and butter. For you bacon fans, you can always fry some up and sprinkle it over the top when it's ready to eat.

In a medium sauce pan combine 3 medium potatoes (peeled if you like and chopped, keeping in mind, the smaller they are chopped, the less time they will need to cook), 1 cup of water, 1 small chopped onion,2 teaspoons instant chicken bouillon granules and some black pepper.  

Cover this up and let it simmer until you have the table set and while you're making this:

Combine 1/2 cup of milk and 2 tablespoons of flour into a shaker and start shake'n.  Check your potatoes for doneness.  When they are how ya like'm take your hand held potato masher and gently mash it all up a bit, add your milk mix to the sauce pan.  Check out your consistency.  If it's way too thick, slowly add some more milk until you get it just how you like it.  I like this soup a little on the thick side, like chowder.  Let your liquid cook in and warm through then add the crumbled blue cheese.  How much you add depends on just how cheesey you want your soup.  My hubby is crazy about blue cheese, so I add quite a bit.  start off with 1/4 cup and keep tasting and adding until you get it right.  I also like this soup with a lot of black pepper.

To make it easier for you, I've created a nice recipe card.  Click on the image, download it and print or take your tablet to the kitchen and start cook'n.  Hey!  Why not print out a couple of these cards and give them to people who you think will love this recipe, too?!

 free recipe card

If you're want'n a fabulous fresh bread recipe. Click here and get THE most awesome bread recipe you will ever find.  Seriously!  Hehehe...

 best bread recipe

Wednesday:  sausage, potatoes, veg

I'm asked to make this meal every single week.  My kids go ga ga over mashed potatoes.  I realise that not everyone can whip up a meal like this, from scratch in 20 minutes.  My best time is 18 minutes for this one.  I have a gas stove and I'll tell ya, there ain't nothing better.  My water is boiling in a jiffy and the control of your fire just dosen't get better.  If you really want to save time in the kitchen, having the right appliances can have a huge impact.

I have a few suggestions to save you some time on this one.  Keep on hand, frozen potatoes.  I'm a client of one of those freezer food delivery services.  I only buy frozen potatoes, vegetables and croissants (they are better than the bakers).  This is a huge time saver and the food is frozen fresh.  You can get a lot of these products at the grocery store as well.

Save time by not making a sauce.  This used to be my time suck, but not any more.  I've made it so many times, I could do it blind folded.  In Belgium, folks eat their potatoes with mayonnaise.  I use this as my sauce at times or ketchup.

Frozen vegetables are also something you should keep on tap at all times.  Though not THE healthiest way to eat veggies, they come darn close and they are ready in a snap.  Canned corn is without a doubt, the fastest veg to whip up.

Click here to go back to another week and get a gravy tutorial and check out the day's menu for chipolata, stump en in sausje.

Thursday:  tortellini and creamed herb cheese

Get ready to be blown away with how fast this meal is ready!  Choose any kind of FRESH tortellini.  Boil it the typical 3-4 minutes.  While it's boiling, grab a sauce pan and put in a nice pad of butter in.  No more than 2 tablespoons.  Take a package of your favourite herbed cream cheese or two and slowly stir as it melts.  If it's too thick, add a tea spoon of milk at a time until you get the consistency you like.  Your pasta is probably already finished, strain it and add it to your sauce.  Voila!  This meal literally takes 5 minutes!!!

Fun Food Friday:  super nachos

Grab your biggest oven pan (lightly cover in olive oil), put your bag or two of tortilla chips on it, choose from cooked bacon, cooked hamburger or to save even more time, use chopped chicken or turkey that's already cooked,sprinkle a variety of cheeses over it and voila!  You could add some jalapeños too.You only need to bake them about 8 minutes which is just the right amount of time to grab your sour cream, salsa and guacamole to put on the table with the rest of your table setting.

Click on this image to go to another week's menu and grab the recipe if ya need it.


Saturday:  grilled ham and cheese

Don't forget how easy this is to do!  Don't bother trying to spread butter on your bread.  Put your pad of butter right in the pan, grab your slice of bread and sop it all up that way.  So much easier and faster.  If you want it even faster, use a toaster to toast your bread, slap in your sliced cheese and ham and bake it or nuke it for a couple.

Think of other kinds of meats you can put in there, too.  Sliced chicken or turkey or maybe some Serrano ham and Manchego cheese.

This image is linked up to some incredible sandwich recipes.


Sunday: fish, couscous and veggies

Another fabulous benefit of seafood is how fast you can cook it.  I learned to buy moderate size fish in relation to thickness.  If you want easy, get fish that isn't too, thick.  Of course, it cooks a lot quicker as well.

This is what I'm eating.  I wanted to make my couscous and time it for exactness.  Wow!  So easy and fast. 

First, boil some water.  I always use my tea kettle.  It does it the fastest. Grab a nice size bowl that you can cover.  Pour in the recommended serving amount of couscous.  When the water is boiling (which took 2 minutes and of course you can consider the microwave as well) pour the same amount of water as your couscous over the couscous, stir, cover and let sit for 5 minutes.  In the mean time, get your fish started and stir fry some of your favourite fresh veggies along with garlic (I milled dry garlic to save time.) and some interesting spices like Sherwood's. I used zucchini, yellow pepper and scallions.  Your fish is cooking/sautéing or grilling at the same time.  I used a bit of the Sherwood's on my fish, too. When your veggies are done to your liking, add a generous amount of butter, let it all melt in and then mix this all in with your couscous.  (I used 2 tablespoons just for me.  Naughty, I know.)  

I've read a few recipes and some prepare it like risotto.  It just takes longer that way.  Here's my picture from today.  I was eating just the couscous recipe from today, with some chopped chicken.  Dee-lish!

That's one week's worth of meals under 20 minutes!  You know a lot of people who would love to have this arsenal of 20 minute meals, so by all means, share the link!

Thanks for coming by and make sure ya do it again!

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