Maybe the economy plays a role, but people crave home cooking right now. The trouble is, few have the time to make the stuff that grandma made and get dinner on the table before Jay Leno comes on the air. We are all so busy that the evening meal frequently ends up being frozen pizza.
But convenience doesn’t have to be so blasé.
You can make roasted vegetable sauces and rich stocks and freeze them in usable portions. You can freeze leftover salmon and roast an extra chicken. Or you save time and buy grocery store rotisserie chicken, keep canned salmon on hand, and stock up on pre-washed, pre-cut veggies. It’s all tasty. It’s all good.
If I don’t make this recipe at least once a month I hear about it. You can use a pressure cooker to make it fast, or cook it in the oven. I include both methods. This recipe can be doubled or tripled. Just make sure the meatballs are partially covered with sauce.
- 1 pound ground round
- 1 small onion, diced
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 2 teaspoons Mrs. Dash’s Extra Spicy seasoning or 1 teaspoon of seasoning salt
- ¼ cup uncooked long grain rice
- Cooking spray
- 1 can condensed tomato soup or 1 cup of homemade roast tomato sauce.
- 2 tablespoons water
Mix the ground round, diced onion, Worcestershire, seasoning, and rice. Make meatballs about the size of golf balls by patting the ground beef into a square about the thickness of a golf ball. Using a bread knife, cut the square into a grid of equal-size pieces, then roll the pieces in your hand to form balls.
For the oven version, spray a 1½- to 2-quart casserole dish or square baking pan with cooking spray. Place the meatballs in a single layer in the bottom of the dish. Mix the water and soup and pour over the meatballs. Cover with a lid or aluminum foil and bake for an hour.
For the pressure cooker version, pour the tomato soup and water into the pan. While the soup is heating, drop the meatballs into the soup mixture, shaking the pan to distribute the meatballs over the bottom of the pan. They will not be totally covered by the sauce. Cover the pan and bring the pressure to 15 pounds. Let the pressure stay at 15 pounds for 10 minutes, then remove the pan from the heat source and let the pressure come down naturally. This usually takes only a few of minutes.
Grandma’s Chicken and Rice Revised
Grandma never used canned cream of mushroom or chicken soup in her chicken and rice; she relied on the seasoned chicken stock and herbs to give it her flavor. Although I use boneless, skinless chicken here, you can substitute a whole chicken, cut up, for more flavor. To make this more convenient, use frozen chopped onion (you can find them in the freezer section of the grocery store), canned chicken broth, and chop up ready-to-eat celery.
- 4- 6 boneless, skinless breast pieces
- Lawry’s chicken seasoning, any variety
- Cooking spray
- 1 cup chopped onion
- 1 cup chopped celery
- 1½ cups uncooked long-grain rice
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 3 cups chicken broth
Spray the chicken breast pieces with cooking spray and press on chicken rub. Set aside about 15 minutes. Preheat the oven to 350°. Spray a 13-by-9-inch baking dish with cooking spray and cover the bottom with the onion and celery. Sprinkle rice over the vegetables and shake the dish well so the rice is spread evenly. Lightly season the rice with salt and pepper. Pour broth over the rice, and then nestle the chicken pieces on top of the rice mixture. Cover well with foil and bake for an hour.
Chicken & Dumplings 2011
This was always a Sunday dish when I was growing up. Grandma would start the chicken simmering on the stove before church then come home, throw on an apron, and be elbow deep in the floury dough within minutes. For the same results in less time, use Purdue Short Cuts chicken strips already cooked or a grocery store rotisserie chick. Simply Potatoes, in the dairy section, has pre-cooked cubed potatoes you can just bring to a boil. Grated carrots, ready-to-eat celery, and frozen chopped onion complete your short cuts. You can get this dish to the table in 30 minutes.
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 2 cups cooked chicken, chopped
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- ½ cup celery, chopped
- 1 cup potatoes, cubed
- 1 cup carrots, grated
- 2 teaspoons of Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning
- 1 can peas
- 4 cups chicken broth
- 1 can refrigerated buttermilk biscuits
- ¼ cup of flour
- ¾ cup milk
- Parsley (optional)
Heat Dutch oven with about a tablespoon of cooking oil. Add onions and celery, sautéing until onions are transparent. Stir in the chicken, potatoes, carrots, and Creole seasoning. Add the liquid from the can of peas and set the peas aside. Add the chicken broth. Bring to a boil and cook until the potatoes are tender — about 10 minutes depending on the size of your cubed potatoes. Meanwhile quarter each biscuit. Blend milk and flour together and add it and peas into cooking liquid and return to boil. Drop the biscuits on the top, cover, and cook for 10 to 15 minutes. Uncover and check that the biscuits are firm, not doughy, and keep warm until ready to serve. Sprinkle with chopped parsley.
Quick Salmon Patties
Canned red salmon has all the goodness of fresh salmon. Although a little pricy, it’s worth keeping a couple of cans on the shelf. It’s great for tossing with pasta and a cream sauce or making into a salmon loaf.
- 1 can of red salmon
- 3 ounces cream cheese, softened
- 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
- 1 tablespoon dried parsley
- 2 tablespoons scallions, chopped
- Lemon pepper to taste
- 3 slices of bread pulsed in the food processor to fine crumbs
- Fine dry breadcrumbs or cracker crumbs (optional)
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 lemon, cut into eighths
Drain the salmon, reserving the liquid. Place the salmon in a large bowl and remove any of the silver skin or large bones. (Salmon bones are edible and the tiny ones actually dissolve into the meat when cooking, but the large ones just make the patty unappetizing.) In a separate bowl, mix the cream cheese, mayonnaise, 2 tablespoons of the reserved salmon liquid, and parsley. Stir this mixture, the scallions, and lemon pepper into the salmon, then add the fresh breadcrumbs, stirring with a light hand so the mixture remains somewhat loose. Form into patties that fit into the palm of your hand. Then, if desired, dredge in dry breadcrumbs. Sauté patties in melted butter and olive oil. Serve with lemon.
by Heida Olin