If your personal chef just happens to be on vacation right now, (like mine is, said tongue-in-cheek), then it's time to make some super easy quick meals for those really busy days.
Food has become way too complicated these days I think. We can make quick nutritious meals for ourselves at home that are not that difficult. I started learning to cook and bake when I was about 8 years old, so trust me, this is easy, even if not gourmet!
Bonus: You'll be using up things you have in your fridge and pantry so that no food goes to waste.
Here's how I winged it recently, with excellent results.
In the dish above, I had some leftover white rice, a can of mushrooms, a half jar of kalamata olives, as well as a jar of salsa that needed to be used up. I just dumped it all in a 9x13 pan, added some onion and garlic, stirred it up well, covered the pan with foil, and baked at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes. The easiest "Spanish Rice" dish you could ever make! Serve it with a homemade muffin and you have a nice quick lunch or dinner. Bonus: if you live where winter is cold right now, the oven helps heat your home.
Steve made cornmeal muffins using gluten-free flour and they were yummy with the rice dish and are also great with soup. We make 12 and freeze them in four-packs for those busy nights. There are many recipes for these on the internet so you can find one that suits you best. I sub out gluten-free flour and a "flax egg" instead of real eggs for ours and they turn out fine. For the flax egg, all you do is put 1 T. of ground flax seed in 3T. boiling water for one "egg" and let it sit for about 10 minutes til it gets kind of thick-ish. That's it!
I had some leftover stir-fry with rice and veggies in my fridge that I turned into a "veggie tortilla" by adding some shredded vegan cheese to the mix and doing a quick heat in my new frying pan. We love these gluten-free almond flour tortillas. They are not inexpensive but they are so good!
Potato soup is a great way to use up potatoes that might be a little shrivel-y, but still good enough to use. Here I used my crockpot with diced potatoes, celery, and frozen white beans I had cooked before freezing, along with some onion, garlic, and Dash. You can use broth as your base or water with a broth cube too. Cover your crockpot with foil and turn on high for about three hours for quick cooking time (for a crockpot.) I don't use an instant pot, but you could. You could also make this in a soup pot on your range. Once the soup is done, I added a little oat milk and flour at the end to thicken it to a sort of stew consistency, like thick white clam chowder you get in a restaurant. You could also make this at night in your crockpot, put in the fridge, and take it out in the morning and turn on low as you work all day long. I used to do that often when I worked full-time outside the home. When you get home you will have a wonderful hearty soup awaiting you. We had ours with our fave homemade bread.
I made this soup in the crockpot using the same m.o. I just mentioned. I had some leftover potatoes to use up, so I took the chance to just add black beans that I had already cooked and frozen, along with one can of diced tomatoes, broth, spices, and then again at the end I added some flour w/ water to thicken it. I had no idea how this one would turn out, but my husband Steve came out of his den where he ate it while he worked on his computer, and said, "That soup was killer!" (I think that means really good.) :)
Much as I enjoy setting a beautiful table, that just can't happen every day in most households these days, including mine. After all, we are up to our eyeballs busy in dealing with things like climate change now, ya know?! So some days I just make the entree and set it out on the stove and it's "help yourself." One of my favorite things to do that way is baked potatoes with beans, salsa, and cheese. We also had sweet potatoes with butter along with it. I make both my baked potatoes and the sweet potatoes in the crockpot. Just put a little water on the bottom, cover the pot with foil, and turn on high. They cook really fast. Again, you could use an instant pot too I would think.
And of course, some hot tea in a pretty cup on a cold winter's day after a warm meal is the grand finale to make simple everyday meals feel a little special.
May you have warmth in your tummy and in your heart!