One-Pot Winners

slow_cooker_with_foodWhat’s more precious in your home? Time or Money? Likely the answer is both!

One-pot meals are a busy, budget-friendly family’s answer to calm through the chaos and keeping the bottom line intact. Grab a bagged salad and some crusty bread, and you are good to go!

Beef Stew

One of the oldest and heartiest of comfort foods, beef stew gets you all of your food groups in one delicious, convenient spot. Additionally, the slow, moist cooking environment allows for you to use cheaper quality cuts of beef, saving you money.

Stew also freezes very well or keeps and reheats nicely a few days after- especially after the flavours have all had chance to meld together, so makes for an excellent, Sunday afternoon, prep-for-the week, kind of meal.

There are numerous variations, including different spices and ingredients to give it things like a Southwestern or French flair, but the basics are consistent throughout recipes. Here is a traditional one:

Cube about  2 or 3lbs of cubed stewing beef (sirloin tip, flank steak, or eye of round are good, inexpensive cuts) and roll on all sides with a dusting of flour.

Brown the beef with a minced onion and a couple of gloves of minced garlic. Continue to cook until beef is browned on all sides and onion is translucent.

Add seasonings like thyme, marjoram, pepper (one tsp of each and a bay leaf). Add about 4 cups of beef stock (low-sodium, preferably). Bring to a boil.

Meanwhile, add a selection of hearty root veggies (carrots, celery, potatoes and turnips are some faves). Add tomato paste (probably about a couple of tablespoons), but adjust as you go, based on consistency).

Simmer on med-low until ready to eat. Smells wonderful too! Don’t forget to take the bay leaf out!

Bruschetta Chicken

You need about a pound and a half of diced boneless chicken (breasts are good, but less expensive boneless thighs work just as well).

Preheat oven to about 400. In a bowl, combine a can of tomatoes, with juice (I prefer diced), a box of prepared stuffing, a couple of cloves of finely minced garlic and a tsp of basil.

In a greased baking dish, layer together the chicken with the stuffing mix and top with mozzarella cheese and another sprinkle of basil.

Bake until cooked through (probably about 30 mins).


Mac & Cheese

What dish holds more appeal for the young and old at the same time? The beauty of Mac & Cheese is that you can have the old tried-and-true, or you can sass it up with variations- whatever pleases your food audience most.

To start, cook about three cups of elbow macaroni according to package directions. Drain and set aside.  Meanwhile make a roux paste (combine equal parts butter and flour 2tbsp each) melting the butter over medium heat and stirring until the flour and butter looks like a paste.

Add in two and half cups of milk and two cups of your favourite grated cheese.  Stir until melted. Pour over cooked macaroni. Stir in about a quarter cup each of sour cream and cottage cheese.  Top with more grated cheese. Cook at about 425 until heated through, likely 30-40 mins.

Kick this up, and make it Southwestern, by substituting salsa for the cottage cheese, and use Monterey Jack cheese.

Make the meal a little heartier by mixing in cooked ground beef and cooked chopped veggies.

Try Pizza Mac by substituting pizza sauce for the cottage cheese and by stirring in pepperoni and diced peppers and onions, topping with Mozza cheese.