By Lorraine Allen
Less mess in the kitchen does not mean less flavor! It means less clean-up, and therefore more time for fun! Personally, there are few things that I dislike more than spending time scrubbing dirty pots and pan. And there are few things I love to make more for my family than one-pot meals. Here are a few that are super tasty recipes that kids will love.
Fried rice is a great way to use up whatever leftovers you have around. You can use leftover rice or even buy a couple of containers of plain white rice from a Chinese take-out as an added shortcut. Then simply heat some oil in a large pan or wok, and add your protein of choice (thin-sliced beef, shrimp or leftover chicken work well). Next, add sliced carrots, snow peas, corn, or mushrooms. Add a beaten egg or two and quickly scramble before stirring in the cooked rice. Add low-sodium soy sauce to taste, and serve immediately.
Mac and Cheese
A homemade version of the boxed-mix classic is totally easy. Just cook your kids’ favorite pasta (like small or large shells, rotini, fusilli, and elbows). Drain the pasta, mix together well with 2 tablespoons of butter, 3 to 4 tablespoons of heavy cream, and several cups of grated cheeses of choice (parmesan, mozzarella, cheddar, jack, fontina, etc.), and serve immediately! You can add chunks of ham or roasted mushrooms if you want to get fancy.
Clean Up Cooking Messes With Bounty
A roll of Bounty paper towels on the counter will help you tackle ingredient spills with ease!
Chicken soup is not just delicious, it’s comforting too. To prepare, brown an onion, some garlic cloves, carrots and celery, very roughly chopped, in a little oil in a deep stock pot for about 7 minutes. Place a whole raw chicken, well seasoned with salt and pepper, on top of the veggies, add enough water to cover. Add a handful of fresh herbs like rosemary, bay, and thyme, and simmer, covered, for 35-40 minutes until chicken is cooked through. Remove chicken and strain the broth, discarding the herbs. To serve, reheat broth (this can be frozen too, for later), and add even more veggies if you want. Cook a few minutes until tender. Add shredded chicken and cooked rice or pasta if you want an even more satisfying meal.
Chop a small onion, 2 celery stalks, 1 large bell pepper and three garlic cloves finely, and sauté in a little oil with a pound each of seasoned ground pork and beef. Cook until meat is no longer pink. Add 3 tablespoons of tomato paste, 2 tablespoons of sweet paprika, a tablespoon of chili powder if you like heat (watch the spice with kids!), and a teaspoon of ground cumin. Stir well and add a can of rinsed, drained kidney beans and a can of crushed tomatoes. Simmer for one and 1/2 hours, stirring often. Serve with toppings like shredded cheddar and sour cream, over rice or with bread for dunking.
Delicious roasted chicken and root vegetables are a perfect easy family meal. There is literally no cleanup for this one either! Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Season chicken pieces (thighs, wings, drum sticks or breasts) with salt and pepper and lay flat on a foil-lined baking sheet. Peel and cut root vegetables like carrots, turnips, and potatoes into equal-sized pieces, about ¼ inch thick so that they cook evenly. Toss these with a drizzle of olive oil and salt and pepper, and lay flat on pan with chicken. Add a few sprigs of fresh herbs like rosemary and thyme for extra flavor. Roast all together about 40-45 minutes or until done, tossing veggies once or twice in between.
French Onion Soup
Thinly slice 6 large yellow onions, and sauté in a large pot over low heat in a mix of butter and olive oil for 30-40 minutes, stirring, until caramelized. Add 7 cups beef or vegetable broth and two bay leaves; simmer 20 minutes. Grate gruyere cheese, and slice a baguette into rounds. Drizzle with oil and toast in a 350-degree oven about 5-7 minutes per side. To assemble, ladle soup into oven-safe bowls (discard bay leaves) and float a toast in each. Cover with a layer of cheese. Broil for a minute or so until cheese is melted.
What’s your family’s favorite one-pot meal?
Lorraine Allen is a writer and mom to one spunky first-grader and one squirrel-obsessed dog. You can follow their allergy-friendly cooking adventures at Feeding Lina.
Image ©iStock.com/Lauri Patterson