Hi! Elizabeth here. I hope everyone stayed safe during the storm on Friday and Saturday! I planned on finishing this post on simple 20 minute meals on Friday during the nor'easter. Kept finding myself wondering if our power would hold out so I could finish this post. Well, our power never went out, BUT a neighbor's tree fell on part of our house. It sounded and felt like an earthquake!
Thankfully, no one was hurt.
I'm grateful to our neighbor for finding a tree removal service that was able to come out Saturday afternoon.
Next step is to schedule the repairs. Since we'll be coordinating those this week (hopefully!), I'll definitely make these super simple 20 minute meals: Trader Joe's Mandarin Orange Chicken, green beans, rice; and spaghetti with jar
Both these meals are so quick and easy, you might worry they don't count as real meals. They both only take 20 minutes to make. As I mentioned in my last post, meals don’t have to be perfect to be “real.” As much as I love to cook, opening packages, jars, boxes, and heating up food and putting it on a plate counts as cooking. Just like with life it’s not black and white. Cooking also falls on a spectrum. There are times someone else cooks your food. Sometimes you cook frozen meals from a bag. Other times you have a sandwich and sometimes you make a 3 course meal. Well, you likely only do that if you like to cook and definitely not on a weeknight!
Simple 20 Minute Meals
Trader Joe's Mandarin Chicken with rice and green beans
Thankfully, everyone in my house eats this!
Frozen rice takes 3 minutes. Don't forget to salt it! If I have any left over coconut milk I will stir a little into the cooked rice.
Keep frozen green beans or any frozen veg your family likes on hand.
Preheat your oven to 400 F and then place the chicken on a parchment paper lined sheet pan. Put the pan in the oven for 18-20 minutes.
Next fill a medium size pan with water and a teaspoon of salt. Don't skip salting the water because the beans absorb some of the salt while they're cooking which helps season them.
When the beans are done (I cook them for less time than the package suggests), season them with a drizzle of olive oil and some Crazy Jane's mixed up salt. I have a fondness for this stuff because it's what my grandmother seasoned her green beans with.
Cook the rice in the microwave according to the package instructions. Then heat up the sauce for the chicken.
In my house, we like to dip the chicken in the sauce, so we serve it on the side. You might like to drizzle the sauce over the chicken and then serve it. Enjoy!
Spaghetti and Meatballs with Broccoli
I tend to buy DeCecco brand pasta because it's the brand we served in the restaurant where I first worked as a line cook and then baker. Yes! I do serve regular pasta, as opposed to whole wheat pasta. It's completely OK to eat regular pasta if that's what you prefer! Think of your nutrition over the course of a week. You'd get more fiber and protein from whole wheat pasta that's for sure. But if you want to have regular pasta, you'll get the fiber and protein from some other food you eat during the week.
As for frozen meatballs, Anna's family likes Trader Joe's brand. No one in my family likes frozen meatballs, so I've stopped serving them. I decided it was time to reintroduce them! I bought Mom Made Meals Turkey meatball bites to try. Chad and I loved them! The girls opted not to try them. Maybe next time.
Fill a large pot with water and generously salt it. The pasta will absorb some of the salt which helps season it.
By-the-way, this is one of my favorite pots! You just lift the colander out when the pasta is done instead of having to wrangle with pouring out a big pot of pasta and boiling water. I think it was from Williams Sonoma. My dear friend Amanda gave it to me and Chad as a wedding present.
Once the water comes to a boil, add your pasta.
Give it a good stir with tongs.
Put a jar of your favorite (or my favorite) pasta sauce in a pan large enough to hold the sauce and a bag of frozen meatballs. Bring the sauce to a simmer.
Add the meatballs and stir.
Cook until the meatballs are heated through (follow directions on the package). Or you could heat the meatballs in your microwave and add them to the pasta sauce.
Cook your pasta for about 10 minutes. I take a piece out and take a bite to make sure it's cooked the way I like it.
Next cook whatever veg you have around either in your microwave on on the stove. I usually keep frozen broccoli, green beans, and peas on hand. I tend to cook them less than the instructions advise to prevent them from being mushy.
Yes, frozen vegetables are great. They are typically frozen at the same location where they're harvested, so they are frozen when they're at their freshest.
Season your broccoli with a pat of butter and some salt and pepper.
Finally, don't forget to grate some fresh parmesan cheese over the pasta. I also love it on broccoli. Dinner is served!
What are your favorite simple 20-minute meals?
What to keep on hand to make both these quick and easy meals:
- Pasta sauce
- Meatballs, frozen
- Broccoli, frozen (or any frozen vegetables you like)
- Green beans, frozen
- Rice, frozen
- Trader Joe's Mandarin Orange Chicken
- Parmesan cheese