Cooking Shortcuts

Island Epicure


We all have times when we need to get a meal on the table in a hurry or with the least expenditure of energy. Spraining my ankle earlier this month brought that home to me. Here are some of the ways we created quick meals without stressing my injured foot. For instance, dinner last night was a ready-roasted chicken from the deli, a simple salad of red lettuce, diced tomato and chopped walnuts, plus microwaved potatoes.

Our lunches usually consist of a soup and a salad, plus whole-grain toast and butter, often with a cheese plate on the side or cheese instead of butter on the toast. Sometimes at lunch we add pickled herring or bits of leftover cooked salmon to a simple vegetable salad.

Two of the soups below have calories added with potato. True, potatoes score 85 on the Glycemic Index, but they contain resistant, that is more slowly digested, starch that does not cause blood sugar to zoom up.

2 servings
1 can Hunt’s tomato sauce
1 can whole milk
Pour the tomato sauce into a small saucepan. Refill it with milk. Add to pan. Stir. Heat to steaming. Serve with wholegrain toast and sliced cheddar or Jarlsberg cheese. This is a mountain-high improvement over store-bought canned tomato soup and just as easy.

3 to 4 servings
2 Tablespoons butter or canola oil
½ onion, diced
1 Tablespoons dried parsley, optional
½ cup water
1 1 ounce can cream style corn
1 red potato, skin on, scrubbed and diced
1 cup milk—dairy or other
Dash red pepper flakes
Heat the fat in a 6-cup saucepan. Stir-fry the onion and parsley if using until the onion gets glossy and somewhat wilted. Pour in the water. Continue cooking until it boils away, half-cooking the onion. If really in a hurry, skip that step. Add the potatoes and enough water to cover. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cover. Cook 10 minutes, until a fork stuck into the largest potato piece reveals the potato to be done.
Add the remaining ingredients. Stir. Increase heat somewhat. Cook until the chowder is hot and steaming.
Serve with crackers or buttered toast.

2 to 3 servings
1- 10-ounce can Campbell’s condensed Cream of Chicken Soup
1 potato, thinly peeled and coarsely diced
1 ½ cups water
¼ teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon dried parsley
Scant ½ teaspoon dried tarragon leaves
¼ cup milk or ½ and ½ cream
Dash cayenne or red Tabasco sauce
Put the potato, salt, and water into a 6-cupsaucepan. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium, cover, and cook 15 minutes. Add the canned soup and stir. Bring it to a low boil. Add remaining ingredients. Taste and add salt, pepper and more red pepper or Tabasco sauce if desired.
Serve with rye crackers or other crackers or toast of your choice.

2 to 4 servings
½ bag baby spinach
1 tart-sweet apple such as Jonagold or Braeburn
3 Tablespoons chopped walnuts or walnut halves
2 Tablespoons dried cranberries
Crumbled blue cheese as desired
Ranch style dressing or cranberry vinaigrette

In a large bowl of water acidulated with a tablespoon or two of vinegar, wash the spinach, pulling out any leaves past their prime. Drain well. Pat dry between clean dish towels or paper towels. Put in salad bowl.

Peel apple thinly. Halve, quarter, and cut out seedy interior. Dice apple  and give them a short bath in salted water, about ¼ teaspoon salt to a pint of water. This keeps the apple pieces from browning. Drain and add to salad bowl.

Scatter walnut pieces and dried cranberries on top. Scatter as much blue cheese among the walnuts and cranberries as looks good to you.  Serve the salad dressing for each dinner to anoint his or her salad with it as desired.

2 generous servings
1 head Bibb lettuce
1 juice orange, peeled and diced
1 slice red onion broken into rings or diced
Sesame salad dressing
Break the head of lettuce apart into separate leaves. Arrange on individual salad plates or on a small platter.
Top with the orange pieces and red onion.
Pass the sesame salad dressing.