Do you cook? We used to cook a lot until both of our jobs got really busy, but I’ve recently challenged myself to get in the kitchen more. It’s been fun finding ways to make it work. Here are a few tips for other busy home cooks who are tired of eating cereal every night 😉
1. Cook a big meal on Sunday and have leftovers until Tuesday. One thing I’ve discovered is that cooking on Sunday is really relaxing. It’s just me in our little kitchen, listening to the radio and chopping and dicing, sautéing and boiling. Cooking on a lazy afternoon feels so different than cooking after work when I’m tired and just want to plop down and relax. I made a huge pot of this amazing cajun chicken pasta (seriously, so good!), and we had leftovers until mid-week. Eating delicious leftovers and not having to worry about cooking every night is glorious.
2. Spend an hour or two on Saturday meal-planning. I’ll spend some time online looking for good recipes and making a list of what I need to pick up at the store later that day or on Sunday morning. I’ll aim to make 2-3 different things during the week, which is way easier to stick to when I already have all the ingredients in the fridge. My criteria for a “good” recipe is simple: It has to be easy, not entirely bad for me (sorry, you tasty deep fried foods, you), and delicious! A few of my favorite recipe sites that fit this bill are The Pioneer Woman and Smitten Kitchen.
3. Don’t forget about your favorites. By the end of the week, I want to cook really simple things that don’t take a lot of time but still taste good. We love: grilled cheese on sourdough with caramelized onions and kale, scrambled eggs and quesadillas with black beans.
Nothing beats a good home-cooked meal, don’t you think? Are there any other cooking tips you have? What are your favorite recipe sites? I’d love to hear.
Ooh, and here’s that delicious cajun chicken pasta recipe I was telling you about.
Cajun Chicken Pasta
(Adapted from The Pioneer Woman)
3 whole Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts, Cut Into Cubes
1 1/2 tsp cumin
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 pound Fettuccine
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
2 Tablespoons Butter
1 whole Green Bell Pepper, Seeded And Sliced
1 whole Red Bell Pepper, Seeded And Sliced
1/2 whole Large Red Onion, Sliced
3 cloves Garlic, Minced
4 whole Roma Tomatoes, Diced
2 cups Low Sodium Chicken Broth
1/2 cup White Wine (optional)
3/4 cup Heavy Cream
1/4-1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated (If you don’t have Parmesan on hand, you could just add in an additional 1/4 cup of heavy cream instead)
Cayenne Pepper and Red Chili Flakes To Taste
Freshly Ground Black Pepper, To Taste
Salt To Taste
Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain when pasta is still al dente; do not overcook!
Combine cumin, chili powder, garlic powder and salt in a small bowl. Sprinkle 1/2 of the spice mix over chicken pieces. Toss around to coat. Heat 1 tablespoon oil and 1 tablespoon butter in a heavy skillet over high heat. Add half the chicken in a single layer; do not stir. Allow chicken to brown on one side, about 1 minute. Flip to the other side and cook an additional minute or two. Remove with a slotted spoon and place on a clean plate. Repeat with remaining chicken. Remove chicken, leaving pan on high heat.
Add remaining olive oil and butter. When heated, add peppers, onions, and garlic. Sprinkle on remaining spice mix, and add salt if needed. Cook over very high heat for 2-3 minutes, stirring gently and trying to get the vegetables as dark/black as possible. Add tomatoes and cook for an additional 30 seconds. Remove all vegetables from the pan and add to the plate with the chicken.
With the pan over high heat, pour in the wine and chicken broth. Cook on high for 3 to 5 minutes, scraping the bottom of the pan to deglaze. Reduce heat to medium-low and pour in cream, stirring/whisking constantly. Cook sauce over medium-low heat for a few minutes, until cream starts to thicken the mixture. Taste and add freshly ground black pepper, cayenne pepper, red chili flakes and/or salt to taste. Sauce should be spicy!
Once the sauce has thickened a bit, add chicken and vegetables to sauce, making sure to include all the juices that have drained onto the plate. Stir and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, until mixture is bubbly and hot. Add more pepper if the sauce isn’t spicy enough. Add drained fettuccine and Parmesan cheese and toss to combine. The sauce will start to thicken over the new few minutes.
Note: This dish gets even tastier overnight, so it makes for perfect leftovers.