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Quick & Easy Meal Ideas

Quick & Easy Meal Ideas @MJ's Kitchen | mjskitchen.com

 

We all have the need for a variety of quick & easy (Q&E) meals to fall back on for those nights when we just don’t have the time or the energy to put together an elaborate or time-consuming meal.  However, because we still want to eat good food that tastes like we did put a lot of effort into it, our quick & easy meals need to be delicious.

Today I’m sharing some of my favorite meals and meal ideas that I’ve been using for many years. They all take less than 45 minutes from start to finish and most take less than 30 minutes. I’ve also included links to some Q&E meals that I have on my list to try. I hope you find a few that you too, can use to make your life a little easier.

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Cranberry Orange Steel Cut Oats

Steet cut oats with cranberries, orange and nuts. It tastes like cranberry bread! | mjskitchen.com

 

These Cranberry Orange steel cut oats were inspired by my favorite Tried and True Cranberry Bread recipe.  Like the bread, three simple ingredients – dried cranberries, orange zest and nuts – transform a boring bowl of oatmeal into a creamy, healthy, nutty, and tasty breakfast.

If you’ve ever made steel cuts, you know they take 30 to 45 minutes to cook, unless, you pre-soak them.  I used to soak them overnight, but since I found myself forgetting most nights, I’ve gone to a pre-soak in the morning.  While I’m steeping my first cup of tea, I boil some water, pour in the oats, cover and let them soak until I get hungry.  It only takes 30 minutes but they can soak as long as you want. Once pre-soaked, the oats only take about 15 minutes to cook up.

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Spiced Chocolate Atole

Spiced Chocolate Atole: Chocolate almond milk with atole (blue corn flour), red chile and other spices | mjskitchen.com

 

One of my favorite breakfasts when I was a kid was a pop tart and a glass of chocolate milk made with Bosco.  Now that I’ve grown up a bit, I still like my chocolate milk, but I’ve made the switch from Bosco to chocolate almond milk and instead of pop tarts, I prefer a slice of banana bread or cranberry bread.  Also, instead of just plain chocolate milk, I whisk in a little atole (toasted blue corn flour), a dash of ginger, and a few other spices, for a spicy hot beverage that is quite satisfying on a cold morning.

This Spiced Chocolate Atole is a version of champurrado, but is lighter (not as thick) than most champurrado recipes and is also lighter than my winter atole smoothies I shared back in 2013. It is also much easier to make.  Nothing to blend, just a little whisking.  In the winter, I like it hot, but it can also be served cold for a summer beverage.  Just make it the day before and refrigerate.

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Grits with Red Chile and Cheese

Grits with red chile paste, roasted red chile and cheese | mjskitchen.com

 

As many of you already know, grits and chile is one of my all time favorite breakfasts.  At least once a week I’m cooking up a pot of grits and in the cooler months, we could be eating them 2 to 3 times a week.  With all of the great chiles out there it is pretty easy to keep our grits exciting by changing up the flavor with different chiles and cheese.  In previous years, I’ve shared my chipotle, feta and grits and my grits and green chile.  Now it’s time for Grits with Red Chile and Cheese.  These grits are just as easy to make as all of the others and can be made in less than 20 minutes; however, you do need some kind of red chile paste and either some roasted red chile or roasted red bell peppers.

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Green Chile Home Fries with Leeks and Carrots

A spicy stovetop winner with country fried potatoes, leeks, carrots and New Mexico green chile. mjskitchen.com @MJsKitchen

 

It is personally a challenge for me to make a potato dish without adding green chile especially during green chile season, and a challenge for which I gladly accept failure.  Potatoes and green chile are two ingredients that are just meant for each other and that’s all there is to it.

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Hash Brown Cakes with Andouille Sausage

Hash Brown Cakes with Andouille sausage and red chile pepper flakes. mjskitchen.com

 

There are potato cakes and then there are hash brown cakes.  Hash brown cakes are made with grated, uncooked potatoes, where as potato cakes are made with mashed potatoes.  My preference – hash brown cakes – any day of the week.  The Hash Brown Cakes that I’m dishing up today have it all.  They have andouille sausage, some diced vegetables, Pecorino Romano, and last, but not least, a very special red chile flake all the way from Turkey.  Serve these cakes with a vegetable side, some pinto beans or top with a fried egg for a complete meal.  See the Kitchen Notes for more side suggestions.

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Fruit and Nut Yeast Bread

A slightly sweet and delicious yeast bread with dried and candied fruits and nuts. mjskitchen.com @MJsKitchen

 

My friend Giulia at Alterkitchen is always teasing me about the savory breakfasts that I and other Americans seem to like.  She has mentioned several times, that Italians like their sweet breakfasts – rolls, croissants, muffins, sweet cakes, and such.  Well, there are days that I, too, like something a little sweet to start the day.  Sometimes it’s just a slice of toast and jelly and other times I go all out and fix my favorite pancakes – Lemon Cornmeal Ricotta.  But for the past few week, it’s been this Fruit and Nut Yeast Bread.  A wonderful breakfast bread that makes a light and tasty breakfast.  Cut a thick slice, warm in the toaster and top with a touch of butter – no jam or jelly needed!

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Persimmon Cranberry Parfait

A simple persimmon parfait made with granola and yogurt. Nothing fancy, just good.

 

Next time you get a craving for something sweet and healthy, delicious and easy to make, give these Persimmon Cranberry Parfaits a try.  They’re nothing fancy but they definitely will make you feel like you’re eating something fancy.  Fresh persimmons and dried cranberries are heated in orange juice and a splash of liquor, then layered with yogurt, granola and a few chopped nuts.  A delicious little treat in less than 15 minutes!

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Migas (Eggs, Green Chile and Tortillas)

Southwestern style migas is a dish that consists of scrambled eggs, green chile, and fried corn tortillas

 

Migas (Spanish for “crumbs”) is one of those dishes that is different in different countries.  In the southwest, migas is a simple scrambled eggs dish with, at the very least, some fried corn tortillas (the “crumbs”) and chile pepper. Southwestern migas and Tex-Mex migas are basically the same dish with a variety of possible ingredients. Sometimes you’ll see additional ingredients like onions, cheese, tomatoes, chorizo or avocado.  Here in New Mexico, you’ll still find different versions of migas, but the one constant is, yes – you know what it is – New Mexico green chile.

Today I’m sharing the southwestern style migas I have been making for years.  I normally fry my own tortilla strips but have been known to use store bought tortilla chips, especially when I’m hungry and I don’t want to spend the time frying the tortillas. The ingredients and process for migas are simple and the final dish goes great with a side of beans, Spanish rice, or potatoes.  The migas below are being served with leftover Roasted Fingerling Potatoes.  If you feel like jazzing the eggs up even more, I’ve provided you with a list of additional ingredients or toppings.  Experiment, have fun, and eat well.

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