Thursday, January 15, 2009

Time Saver Ideas

Image courtesy of Kitchen Illiterate

After spending 8 hours at work the last thing I want to do when I come home is spend an hour or more in the kitchen cooking dinner (takes away from my wine drinking time. Don't cha'ya know). To remedy this problem I cook up a bunch of items ahead of time on the weekend. Since I batch all this together it takes about an hour tops.

Some people like to cook whole meals but to tell you the truth that seems a little limiting to me. Call me flighty (you know you want to) but I just can't commit to any one thing at any one time. (pretty ADD, huh)

Here's my weekend list of things that I cook that saves me from slitting my wrists at the end of the day. These are staples only. I won't even mention the tofu. Most people don't like it. JR can't get over the texture. The Boy loves it breaded and fried. Go figure! I'll eat it any way I can get it.

Eggplant: I love this stuff so when it is on sale the Boys are forced to eat it at least once that week. The problem with eggplant is that if you were to just chop it up and cook it you'll end up with a bitter mushy mess. It needs to be salted and drained for about an hour. Too much time for a week night dinner.

My solution 1: salt, rinse & drain it, place in a ziptop bag with a couple of pieces of paper towel and store in the icebox.

My solution 2: salt, rinse & drain it, bread it like I would chicken, tofu or fish, fry until brown in olive or vegetable oil, cool & drain on a baking rack over a piece of paper towel. Store in the icebox in a ziptop bag.

Recipe 1: There is nothing that goes better with eggplant than pasta. Eggplant Parmesan, the eggplant recipe I post the other day (cuz damn it was even better warmed up the next day) and any of a other dozen recipes.

Potatoes: I bake several, in which I mean at least 6, on the weekend.

My solution 1: there is really only one. Bake these puppies, let them cool then stick them in the icebox. Don't wrap them up; just put them in the produce crisper.

Recipe 1.: OMG! too many to list. One of our favorites is to cut them into home fries, baste them with pesto, and broil until hot and bubbling. And that's just pesto try olive oil and Southwest seasonings, creole, curry, you name it. (rolls eyes and heads for the kitchen)

Recipe 2: No brainer here. Twice baked. Duh!

Recipe 3: Scoop out the insides, warm up with milk, butter and sour cream. Mash. Please don't throw those skins away. Stuff them with just about anything.

Recipe 4: potato salad. Enuf said.

Rice: I cook up about 3 cups of rice per weekend. That's 3 cups of rice to 6 cups water. Makes like a billion cups of rice.

My solution 1: cool then stuff in a ziptop bag. Scoop out the amount you want into a saucepan. Add a couple of tablespoons of water. Heat up on the stove.

Recipes 1: The possibilities are endless. Add 3 beaten eggs, some frozen thawed and squeezed dry vegetables, and a cup of rice top with cheese (or not) and bake 20 minutes at 375 degrees. Top with salsa, sour cream, avocado (my mouth is watering right now).

Recipes 2: Do all of the above but stir in a couple of teaspoons of curry. Or Dijon mustard. Or Italian spices topped with roasted tomatoes. (to roast tomatoes= line cookie sheet with foil, spray with vegetable spray or grease with oil, spread out 1 can of tomatoes, bake at 350 for about 20 minutes).

Recipes 3:
Image courtesy of

Dump 1/4 chopped onion, 1 clove garlic, 1 can green chillies, 1 cup cilantro leaves into food processor. Run processor into smooth. You will have to scrap this down a couple of times. Warm up rice, add mixture, let sit on stove on warm for 5 minutes. Serve. I made this on Tuesday night. OMG!!!!! The leftovers will be stuffed in tortillas with black beans, lettuce, and Pico de gallo.

Image from Wikipedia

Pasta: I cook up a couple of pounds (different types, doesn't really matter which) until it is not quite al dente.

My solution 1: Drain. Put back into pot. Add a couple of tablespoons of olive oil to coat. When totally cool place in ziptop bag and place in the icebox.

Recipe 1: See eggplant

Recipe 2: See Monday's post.

The rhythm of the make ahead dance goes like this:
  1. preheat oven to 400 degrees
  2. start eggplant draining
  3. coat potatoes in vegetable oil put in oven
  4. boil pasta
  5. boil rice
  6. make a batch of scones put in oven with potatoes
  7. everything should be done around the same time, follow directions above to store.
  8. Voila! Your done!
  9. Go play!
That's probably enough for now. Nessa is freaking out that I'm not throwing the ball at the correct rate of speed that she requires. She is totally obsessed.



  1. Michele -- Super ideas! And saves so much time for wine-drinking. Thanks for the inspiration. Sweet-potato oven fries are my favorite -- I'm going to try your bake-now-cook-later technique. Thanks so much for sharing.

  2. One of my favorite things to do is wait for a big turkey to go on sale (usually after the holidays). Since there is only two of us, a 18lb turkey goes along way. I roast it and then make tons of stuff from the meat. Turkey salad, turkey pot pie with puffed pastry crust (I could eat this every day), soups, shredded turkey tacos etc. Most of the time I freeze all this stuff and pull it out over the next 2 weeks.

  3. Having peppers and onion chopped ahead of time is a huge time saver. And then you use them too which takes the place of salt most of the time.

    I so hope he does not contest it. I would think he has that option tho. His knotheadedness backfired on him again. He really is a slow learner about that! Part of me even feels kinda sorry for him even after 5 yrs of his crap!

  4. Cathy: We love sweet potatoes fries here also.

    CCG: I do this too. I even go so far as to boil the carcass, strain the broth and freeze in ice cube trays for use later.

    Kath: at my Krogers I can buy in a bag a sliced peppers and onion blend frozen for about $1. Saves me a ton of time.

  5. I'm pretty sure we need to cut out the middle man (Jamie) and just have you make a little extra every week. Do you think it would survive the trip on some dry ice? Man, you eat good stuff.

  6. Do I dare admit that even though I am vegetarian I never really knew how to prepare eggplant. Thanks!

  7. I just try to drink and cook. I'm too disorganized to do that sort of prep.

  8. thanks for the tip on Eggplants. It happens to be one of my favorites although when it gets all mushy like that it can be pretty gross.

  9. What the hell is an icebox? Freezer? Fridge? You old people and your weird words. Say what you mean woman.
    Had to call you OLD to get you back for that post where you whined about your camera :)

  10. Um...I am not following on the eggplant advice, but desperately want to. Salt? Rinse? Drain? Please explain in details a 2 year old will understand.

    I'm not sure if you mean cut it up and put salt on it, run it under water? Or boiling in salted water?


  11. Hmm, I bet my son would like these time saving ideas. He and I like to cook together.

  12. Um... grilled cheese, instant noodles, macaroni & cheese...

  13. I do the same and make my own stock! I also do the ice cube tray!

  14. Great ideas. I love these posts!!!!!!! I so want some eggplant now. With fries.

  15. Another thing you can do with eggplant...put it on a cooling rack and salt both sides to sweat out the bitterness. After adding the salt, let it sit for an hour or so...then you can grill it with olive oil and it's yummy! I love your "cooking segments"!!

  16. Thanks for the ideas.

    Easy stuff is key during the week when I get lots of "help" from my toddler.

  17. Thanks for the eggplant ideas. I am just starting to like those purple orbes and knowing how to fix them for a week's worth of use is really nice.


  18. Popped over from K's blog after I saw your comment.. what phenomenal ideas. True thanks, from those of us who are considered remedial in the kitchen (even with SAHM tags.)

  19. Nothing, and I mean NOTHING, should get in the way of wine. Food, shmood.;)

  20. This is a wonderful idea and I just don't know why I never thought of it!