Monday, November 17, 2014

Meals in 20 Minutes or Less

Welcome to another speedy edition of The cherry On Top!

I've seen by number of views that fast meals are what you all are looking for and I couldn't be happier about that.  I too, do not like spending my life in the kitchen and I'm on the hunt for fast meals that are healthy and won't break the bank.  So, let's see what we've got this time that can be whipped up in less than 20 minutes?!

If you are going to skimp on the time, then don't skimp on the ingredients.  Use good, fresh pasta and sauces with fantastic reputations.  A few cents means a world of difference.

Meatless Monday:  spaghetti  (This is one that can be made in less than 10 minutes!)

FRESH pasta cooks between 2-4 minutes depending on what kind of pasta you buy.  If you simply cook your pasta and heat up a jar of spaghetti sauce, you'll have dinner in under 10 minutes.  I've been checking out the ingredients in jarred spaghetti sauce and there is a huge difference.  Look for a sauce where you can actually read and know what every single ingredient is.  Look for one with NO sugar.  You may be surprised just how many sauces out there are pretty heathy.  Yay!  Take the time to check.  Of course you can sauté some hamburger meat or chop and sauté Italian sausage, then add your sauce and that won't take, but another 3-4 minutes.  Still easily done under 20.

If you are looking for healthier brands of jarred sauce check to see if you can find these in your local store:  Click on the link to read more about why these are some of the best.  That Trader Joe's is just over $2!  Ya gotta love that.  Healthy and affordable.


Tuesday:  fish, salad and bread

Another staple ingredient that takes under 10 minutes to cook, is fresh fish.  Whoo hoo!  I always keep frozen fish in my freezer, too.  Once thawed, most fish, depending on how thick it is filleted, will take 2-3 minutes each side.  That's no more than 6 minutes total.  Before you slap that puppy in the pan, sprinkle some Old Bay or your favourite  Blacked or Cajun Seasoning on it and you're set fast. Any time you can use olive oil, or coconut oil, use it.  It's the healthiest.

The fastest way to get a salad prepped is to buy the ingredients all ready prepared for you.  There is nothing wrong with that.  As long as it's washed and it's fresh you are good to go.  Pick up some nice fresh bread from the baker or grocers and dinner will be reading in under 15 minutes.

Heads up!  These babies do not have the best reputation.  Click on the image to find out more.  WASH them no matter what.  Even if they say they are washed, do it again.

 fresh salad

Wednesday:   Take In Chinese

Chinese is cooked in a flash. However, the preparation can take me forever.  It all depends on just what kinds of veggies you want in there.  If you want it as fast as possible, here are two suggestions.  The first, buy a bag of fresh, prepared, wok veggies like you may have done for your salad above.  Clean them as well.  Another speedy manner is a bag of frozen, prepared wok veggies.

A slower, more healthy method is to choose veggies that don't take as long to prep.  Snow peas, mushrooms, baby corn, green onions...These take a lot less time to prepare.  I like washing a carrot then taking the potato peeler to it and making ribbons.  Also really fast, colourful and cooks a lot quicker than the chopped version.  The smaller you chop or thinner you slice your ingredients, the shorter it takes to cook them.

I've got a recipe for a fabulous Asian inspired sauce.  It is my hubby's all time favourite and your family will love it, too.  It's very easy and will be made in under 1 minute.

Choose a starch, if need be, that cooks quickly.  I love those Ramen style noodles that are a mile long.  My kids go nuts over these and they cooked in well under 10 minutes.  Glass noodles are also cooked really fast.  Under 5 minutes!  Wow!  Shrimp and fish will cook the fastest, but if you chop your chicken fairly thin or small, then it will cook quickly, too.

Something I want to focus on here, is the kind of chili sauce you should use for this recipe.  Use a not too fiery, sweet chili sauce.  It means the world to your sauce!  I love Sriacha sauce, but that's even too much fire for me!  If you want to put a touch of it in it's ok, but don't use 3/4 cup of it.  If you can't find this, try plum sauce. The rest is just 2 Tablespoons of honey, 1/4 cup soy and 1/4 teaspoon of dried ginger or a few slices of the fresh stuff.  If you like sesame seeds add a nice handful to your dish right before it's finished.  You could add a 1/2 teaspoon of sesame oil if you like, but only put it in at the last minute of cooking.  This stuff can kill your meal if you get too much in it or you leave it in too long.

Here's a different recipe.  The rice is typically the longest part of the cooking process.


Thursday:  quesedillas

Another family favourite that's made in minutes as long as you don't make the tortillas yourself.  No store brand version comes close to the deliciousness of fresh prepared tortillas, but it take some time and practice as well.  To save time and keep this meal under 20 minutes, follow these steps:

Lay a tortilla in a lightly greased pan.  Sprinkle the cheese over the tortilla, add your choice of meat if desired,  some prepared, chopped or sliced chicken, ham or shrimp, then cover with another tortilla and cook for a minute or two on low heat.  Flip, let it cook a minute or two more, just so that everything is heated through and the cheese is melted.  BAM!  Ready to eat!

Quesedillas are very versatile. There are so many things you can put on there.  Check out another recipe if you like, by clicking on the image.


Fun Food Friday:  Wings, Fries and a Raw Veggie Tray

Wings can be cooked very quick depending on your method.  Throwing them in the frier is the fastest!  Wash, rinse, dry and throw them in the fat for the quickest method.  When they are finished, toss them in your hot sauce.  We simply melt butter and mix in Texas Pete hot sauce.  That's it!  Your fries will also fry up in 5 minutes or less.  We have two friers!

The longest part of this would be your veggie tray if you went traditional, but you could save some precious minutes by choosing veggies that are already set like olives, artichokes and baby carrots.  You only have to wash and put them in a serving dish along with whatever dip your family likes.

The image is hooked up to a traditional Buffalo recipe.


Saturday:  hot dogs

It's my son's birthday this weekend and hot dogs are at the top of his list.  So, I'll be making them.  Go for all beef franks or even a German style bratwurst.  Hot dogs are cooked in less that 5 minutes and ya just have to cut your rolls open and put out all of the goodies your family likes.

Think outside of the bun with these crazy recipes!  Hit the image to get linked up.


Sunday:  crock pot

It may seem like we are kind of cheating here with this one.  However, most crockpot recipes take literally, 5 minutes or less to prepare.  Make breakfast, prep your crock pot and dinner is served with no work except set'n the table!  Sweet!!!

I actually made this last Sunday.  I used parsnips in place of celery and rubbed the meat like it said, but I didn't use the seasoning they have, just plain old  Italian dried herbs, salt, pepper and garlic from the mill.  I also added beef bouillon to two cups of warm water and put that over the veggies.  Another thing, hehehe...I rarely precook before I put it in the crock pot.  Here's my view on it.  I want this stuff to cook for hours so that it just falls apart and it does, without pre cooking and dirtying all of the dishes.  I also always put my veggies first and the meat on top.


7 more meals made in 20 minutes or less.  It's what you want and it's what you got!  The Cherry aims to please.

Have a healthy, happy week!

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