Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The cheat foods I use.

I love cooking. Sautéing onions and garlic in a pan of butter and olive oil is almost on a par with getting a pedicure (weird, I know). Stealing the first slice of meat off a roasted chicken or beef is like swimming in an outdoor pool with a view of the ocean. Okay, not quite that great, but you get the picture: I love cooking.

But, and it's a BIG BUT (I said "but" not "butt"!), I have two young kids, school work, and a job I'm about to start. Therefore I have little time to indulge in this thing I love to do.

And so, sometimes, I cheat. Because I like easy and easy likes me.

I thought I'd share some of my cheat foods with you. And maybe you could tell me some of yours.

Spiced Couscous

This is so yummy and easy - you just add a cup of hot water and it's ready in five minutes. I serve it with roast chicken, vegetables and plum chutney.

Steak Seasoning

I've used this on chicken, fish, vegetables, as a body scrub (kidding) - everything except, um, steak. I know, it's not refined, it's not classy, but do I care?

Pasta Sauce.

It's a pantry staple - because in a pinch you can just heat it in a pan and pour it over some pasta.


I like prepared ravioli because it's good for kids and adults and you just need to add sauce and salad.

Cake Mix.

Can I just recommend one thing? Get a vanilla, yellow, or white cake mix, and add a tin of pumpkin pure in place of water. It's not healthy and it's not low fat, but it is SO tasty! (I can't remember where I found this recipe - it may be from another blog, so apologies if it was yours!)


I'm not sure whether it's because I secretly enjoy it, or whether it's because I enjoy watching my fourteen-month old smear it all over his face, but I like pudding.

I was not paid for any of the product mentions in this post. They're just my opinions.

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Christine Macdonald said...

Mmmmm. Pudding. :)

Jana Burrow said...

Pesto in a jar...you can put it on SO many things!

RainSplats said...

Sometimes we add whole milk or cream to make a nice pink sauce...just to mix it up a bit...or spread it a bit farther.
It's good.
I can't even think of how much you add. yOu don't want it too thin. Just do it til it looks right ...haha :)

Lady Mama said...

Jana - Pesto! I forgot about that. I adore pesto.

RainSplats - Great idea - I'll have to try that.

Mwa said...

I also love the bags of pre-cut and peeled mixed vegetables they now do. (It's a relatively new development over here.) Not for every day, but it sure saves a lot of time.

Anonymous said...

There was a time when cooking was just such the blissful experience you describe. Then I had kids...and they don't eat, and so now it has become a chore.

My best cheat item, cream cheese. I like creamy sauces, but rather than always worry about a roue and heavy cream, I just melt cream cheese in a pan. I sue it in homemade mac & cheese for example and just a little cheddar cheese and then, voila you have a creamy sauce.

Also, light Italian dressing makes a great healthy alternative for frying. It also helps to make dry rubs stick, it's so yummy on chicken and then rubbed with parmesan cheese. Quick, easy, delish.

Lady Mama said...

Mwa - we use frozen mixed vegetables occasionally too if we're in a rush.

Christine - cream cheese is a great idea! And Italian dressing? Never even thought of that - thanks!

Anonymous said...

That classico sauce is GOOD! (We have it in Mexico... yay!)

I've tried a version of the ready-made ravioli, but the "filling" was really dry and flaky. Maybe it was the brand.

LisaDay said...

Yah President's Choice products. Good luck with your new job.


Bear and Bones Mama said...

frozen pizza crusts, tomato paste, and whatever cheese is in the house. Frozen taquitos. We make a big batch of pesto and freeze it in little containers to use all winter long (basil from our garden). We also freeze a lot of soups and chilis when we make them to pull out when I need something NOW. Smoothies, my boys love fruit smoothies. My 3yo actually loves SPINACH smoothies, and I can tell you the recipe for the best one ever if you're interested....

Lady Mama said...

Bear and Bones Mama - what is a taquito? I'm thinking some kind of taco thing but not sure. Love the idea of making a huge batch of pesto, and I plan to grow basil in my garden this year. Love soups too. And yes, please, I would be interested in the smoothie recipe - we're BIG veggie eaters here.

Metropolitan Mum said...

Angel's Delight. I think I could live on that stuff.

Elaine A. said...

I LOVE couscous and it's like SUPER healthy (low cal, low fat). And man does that chocolate pudding look good. This from a woman who has not had chocolate in any form for over a month...

Bear and Bones Mama said...

Yes, taquitos are rolled up taquitos. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taquito) We can find decent ones in the frozen food section, without extra ingredients. If you have leftover meat and some corn tortillas you can make your own too, pretty quick. My boys love eating them. Here's the smoothie recipe:
1/2 grapes (red or green seedless)
1/4 yogurt (vanilla or plain, whatever fat content you like)
1 cup fresh spinach
1/2 medium peeled banana
1/2 apple, halved again (sometimes I use a pear)
1/3 cup pineapple chunks (I use frozen, frozen mango works well too)
1 cup ice cubes
Put all ingredients (in order listed) into the blender, increase speed to high. blend until desired consistancy. YUM!!! Sometimes we throw in protein powder. The kids love this for breakfast, with toast with peanut butter.

Bear and Bones Mama said...

Oh! I made this last night and you may like it too: tortilla soup. so easy when you have leftover chicken. Throw some salsa into some veggie or chicken broth and heat it up. Salt to taste. Shred leftover chicken (all you need is one breast. If you need to cook it, I just boil for about 15 or so minutes). Cut up red pepper, cilantro, limes, tomatoes, avocados, and crumble up queso fresco cheese (or chedder if you have that). Put each ingredient into a separate bowl and set them on the table. Fill each soup bowl with the broth, then let everyone make their own soup. Easy, fun, and cheap! oh, forgot the tortillas - toast corn tortillas and then crumble them into the soup.

Miz Dinah said...

Oh there's no shame in that. Nobody makes EVERYTHING from scratch. Especially busy moms. It's just an accomplishment to get something into their bellies sometimes! I love the boxed couscous too. I bought some plain unflavoured stuff once and it was horrid. The roasted garlic is my fave. I have ALL the same stuff in my cupboards. If you can mix it up with some fresh/frozen fruits or veggies I think that's pretty damn good.

Lady Mama said...

Bear and Bones Mama - thanks for the smoothie and soup recipes! They both sound delicious.

Nikosmommy said...

Everybody uses short-cut boxed foods. Who has time to cook from scratch Everyday?!?! Not moi! I love Montreal steak spice...I think it's a canadian classic. It just makes beef taste wayyy better!

Luschka said...

Nothing like a bit 'o cheating! But I do prefer a home made pasta sauce!