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ElainaA

Dinner when life is too stressful

37 posts in this topic

Right now work is taking over my life - as in 2:00 am wakeful list making. And it is still very important to have something satisfying for dinner to bring a stressful day to an end. Tonight I found some Italian sausage in the fridge, sauteed it with onions and garlic, added some (home canned) diced tomatoes and poured it all over pasta. A very basic salad and a glass of wine made things feel better - even though I admit to grading two term papers while the pasta water came to a boil.

So - what do you do when life comes down like a ton of bricks but you still want something satisfying for dinner? (I can use some ideas for tomorrow.)

Elaina


If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need. Cicero

But the library must contain cookbooks. Elaina

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Sounds good actually. Sorry to hear life is piling up.

Well I either want something effortless or something complicated to take my mind off things. Rarely though do I choose the latter option. For me though braised dishes or pasta like you've done. I can whip up short-ribs in the pressure cooker within 30 minutes of getting home. Follow it with potatoes and carrots. Or do a slow cooker/pot full of pork-chops, sliced onions and apples with mushroom soup as a sauce and have it ready 8 hours later when returning from work. Steamed rice can be ready in 20 minutes or about the same with egg noodles as an accompaniment.

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Nights like that, well, I had one tonight. We went out for a quick burger and a couple of glasses of wine.

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Things that don't require a lot of thought to put together -- carbonara, amatriciana come to mind. Dal, rice, chatni or pickles, with a plain sweet lassi or fruit lassi. Congee.

Notice there's a pattern? That's because I like carbs. :laugh:

Although sometimes, Korean fried chicken fits the bill but for that, I need to travel.

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Pasta definitely seems to be the theme here. My default is puttanesca, I nearly always have the ingredients in the house. I find that the olives can be whatever so long as the anchovies and the tomatoes are good.

I also recently found this orzo with sausage and peas and I think it's incredibly easy and satisfying.

Hope things ease up for you Elaine. This time of year can be stressful.

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A lot of 'steak and salad'-type things. Often with bread as the starch as I can't be fucked boiling potatoes or even washing rice. I will admit that an sv rig has been a life saver here. I mean, I come home and one of the big time sinks of prepping a meal is ready to go.

EDIT

There are also a lot of really basic pasta dishes that serve this. Pasta w/ eggplant that's been browned and then simmered w/ canned tomatoes. Pasta con sarde. Or with tuna, even. Simple.


Edited by ChrisTaylor (log)

Chris Taylor

Host, eG Forums - ctaylor@egstaff.org

 

I've never met an animal I didn't enjoy with salt and pepper.

Melbourne
Harare, Victoria Falls and some places in between

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When I can't spend a lot of time of meals, a stir fry is my first choice, and I try to keep roughly two days worth of prepped meat and vegetables handy. Another alternative, when I know a hectic period is looming, is to to make a good sized braise or stew, both of which reheat very well, and don't involve any real work to get on the table. I try to make sure that I've got some easily prepped vegetables (bell peppers, cherry tomatoes, carrots) around, too since eating no fresh produce does not work out well for me.

Still, if things land on me all at once with no warning, and no end in site, breakfast/lunch is usually frozen peas/maize (meaning, I don't even bother thawing), tinned beans, possibly some bresola actually earmarked for my boyfriend's lunch, and insane quantities of Wasa and sweets. My boyfriend then comes home, expresses amusement/mild horror at all the empty sweets packets, and makes dinner. I'm lucky.


Michaela, aka "Mjx"
Manager, eG Forums
mscioscia@egstaff.org

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A nice pot of leftover stew or split pea soup or some such. Or a quick small steak, nice piece of bread or micro'd potato, salad, glass of wine.

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I have the world's easiest and most delicious recipe for black bean soup. It is almost ridiculously easy, but I personally have rarely tasted a black bean soup I liked better. When life has wiped me out I often make it and a pan of cornbread, which can usually be into the oven in just about 5 minutes. Here's the soup recipe (my own -- it has been heavily adapted from an old cooking light recipe)

2 15 ounce cans black beans, drained

1 15 ounce can of low sodium chicken broth (I usually use homemade chicken broth from my freezer, but its not essential)

1 cup of good salsa, whatever spice level desired (I also use homemade salsa here, but its not essential.)

2 tsp cumin

1 tsp chili powder (look for salt-free chili powder, because otherwise with salt in the canned beans this can get too salty)

Handful of cilantro, if you have it in the house

Dump all the ingredients in a pot. Whee! Simmer for about 10 minutes, then partially puree with an immersion blender. Serve with shredded cheddar cheese or sour cream.

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My go to when I'm this stressed (as I am right now) is either to raid the leftovers or to have a giant green salad with plenty of chochos (lupini beans) on it, and possibly also a can of tuna.

Then again, if I'm feeling really stressed I go straight for the Volquetero, which is a carb-protein bomb. That's a layer of plantain chips, a layer of chochos, a layer of popcorn, a layer of tostado, a nice hit of encebollado (onion and tomato, finely chopped, with lime juice), and a whole can of tuna in olive oil overtop, oil and all. Takes about 5 minutes to assemble one, and it's crazy satisfying.


Elizabeth Campbell, baking 10,000 feet up at 1° South latitude.

My eG Food Blog (2011)My eG Foodblog (2012)

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Last night I poured some chicken stock into a small saucepan, added some chunks and shreds of rotisserie chicken, a handful of orzo, crushed and diced some garlic, and chopped a few vegetables. Bingo! Chicken vegetable soup.

Sometimes I'll take a handful of pasta and throw it into the same small saucepan, get it to where it's just about done, and then add whatever veggies are around and which seem apropriate. Dress it with sauce of some sort, and there y' have it.

It's easy to make a meal of salad and a baked potato ... likewise, whipping up some eggs is a no brainer.


 ... Shel

"... ya can't please everyone, so ya got to please yourself "

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I like the recipe for Teriyaki Chicken with Bok Choy.

It doesn't require any real hands-on time. (I LOVE my Zojirushi rice cooker).

Teriyaki Chicken with Bok Choy

1 clove garlic, chopped

1/4 cup Teriyaki sauce (or Yoshida sauce), plus 1/4 cup for glaze

4 bone-in Chicken Thighs

1 cup long grain rice

2 bunches baby bok choy

Combine garlic and 1/4 cup teriyakii sauce in ziplock bag. Add chicken, turn to coat and marinate several hours.

Cook the rice according to directions.

Meanwhile, heat oven to 450°. Place chicken on a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet and roast, basting with the reamaining 1/4 cup of teriyaki sauce, until cooked through, 25 to 30 minutes.

Ten minutes before the chicken is done, add the bok choy, pour the 1/4 cup saude over. Serve chicken and bok choy over rice.

In fact, this is what's on the menu for tonight.


Edited by lindag (log)

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Baked pancakes with nut can get me out of stressful life for dinner. And also, this Teriyaki Chicken recipe seems interesting!


"The way you cut your meat reflects the way you live."

Franchise Takeaway

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My go-to easy meals are spaghetti and rice stir fry. Nice and easy, doesn't take more than 20-25 mins to prep.

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Some of the things I do when I don't feel like cooking something elaborate: a big salad (with some nuts or cheese, or prosciutto to make it more substantial), a large bowl of soup with country bread, pasta (I keep a few frozen homemade sauces in the freezer - Bolognese, pesto, marinara), pressure-cooker risotto (you can easily customize it based on what you have at hand). Steamed clams or mussels are delicious and just take a few minutes. Anything that can be done quickly on the grill (sausage, steak, shrimp, or a nice piece of fish) requires little effort and minimizes cleanup. If I am really exhausted, I will just grab a rotisserie chicken from Whole Foods and eat it with white rice and a green salad.

Eggs in any form are also a life-saver - omelette (good way to use leftovers), soft-boiled (with mouillettes aka soldiers, topped with butter and ham), hard-boiled, poached (with a salad), fried with bacon and toast, scrambled, cocotte, etc...

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Our go-to don't have the energy or mental stamina to cook dish is something we call "Pork steaks ala Jewel". (Jewel is my wife.) You take a pork steak (they can be hard to find outside of the deep south. But are simply bone in Boston butt cut into 1/2 inch steaks.) and put it on a sheet of aluminum foil. On top of the steak you shingle sliced (1/8 inch thick) red potatoes to cover then on the potatoes shingle onions sliced the same way (a v-slicer is handy for this). On top of the onion put 1 TBS butter and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Seal the packets tightly and put in a 375 oven for 1 hour on a cookie sheet. The pork is meltingly tender and the potatoes and onions pick some of the "porkiness" Its lovely and I can put two together in 10 minutes and then leave them to cook!

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Here's my recipe for 'Poor man's osso buco':

Dust off your slow cooker, throw in a couple of beef shanks (sear them first, if you like), then throw in a bottle of passata, roughly chopped shallots, 2 or 3 cloves of garlic, a sprinkle of dried italian herbs, salt and pepper to taste. Leave on low heat for about 8 hours, will smell great when you get home from work. Serve with a risotto, save some of the sauce to go with pasta the next day...

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My go to when I work late or don't feel well are hot sandwiches, like a Philly cheesesteak, roast beef in gravy ,or I take roast pork and make Bahn Mi.I like to do quick stir fries with ground turkey,a bag of shredded coleslaw mix and Thai seasoning. The bottles of curry you add to chicken and throw in some vegetables ,serve with rice and bought naan is good for something different.

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My strategies are highly varied depending on hunger levels, time, and stress level. Range from fish & chips from the shop to prepackaged horrors. Actually we get some prepack Indian dal etc. that is decent and jars of butter chicken sauce.

But sometimes the best way for me to de-stress is to take the time to cook. It might not be cutting edge gastronomy, but some sous vide chicken breast in the fridge is really versatile for whipping up something from a salad to pasta.

You might want to look at Jamie's 15 minute meals for ideas.


It's almost never bad to feed someone.

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... or you could try a nourishing flip :smile:


It's almost never bad to feed someone.

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There are great ideas here.I wish I could be organized enough to have made multi-serving meals for too busy times.

I'm considering Charcterer's pork steak tomorrow. (My sweet husband is cooking tonight - salmon risotto, roasted broccoli and green salad. I'm de-stressing here before I go back to the paperwork while he stirs the risotto.)


If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need. Cicero

But the library must contain cookbooks. Elaina

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I 2nd (6th?) the pasta dishes. Carbonara happens in a flash.

Although, when under mega pressure (I do month long projects that are literally 16-20hrs/day), I'll take one day off in the middle and cook something ridiculously complicated and long that I've never cooked before. For some reason that kind of resets me...


PastaMeshugana

"The roar of the greasepaint, the smell of the crowd."

"What's hunger got to do with anything?" - My Father

My eG Food Blog (2011)

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quick chicken and rice. this can go curry or Asian with a marinade (bottle). I prefer thy meat, but breast work as well. slice into 1/2 inch or so pieces, add marinade or curry (or just s&p or...) and put in frying pan, cook rice. I often add a dash of Turmeric to rice, mainly for the nice color, not enough to taste it. It's actually what we'll have tonight.

In summer you can grill the meat.

Add a quick salad (usually arugula and/or spinach here). This can be put together in no time and varied easily.

Of course, there's also always the pasta with ketchup thing though :-)


"And don't forget music - music in the kitchen is an essential ingredient!"

- Thomas Keller

Diablo Kitchen, my food blog

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