4 Meals to Shake Up Your Dinner Routine

Thursday, September 12, 2019

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Jodi Ann Mullings is just like the rest of us. She takes care of her daughter Jasmine, she works hard and right now, like the rest of us, she's trying to figure out how to get 28 hours out of a day. “Between Jasmine, housework and work, my day is pretty packed, so I'm always looking for ways to save time,” says Mullings. In reality, “saving time” is often a gateway to getting into a rut — shopping for and cooking the same meals. “I know it's the easy way out, cooking the same thing week in, week out. It's safe, but it is dull, for sure,” she says.

Open to new ideas, Mullings tested four recipes to add to her dinner rotation and scored each meal on the parameters of availability of ingredients, ease of preparation, and of course, five-year-old Jasmine's response.

Reggae Jammin' Franks Fried Rice

Availability of ingredients – 10

Ease of preparation – 10

Jasmine Factor – 8

“This was very easy to prepare; it had a lot of colour and various textures. I had all the ingredients in my pantry, and I used some leftover rice that was in the refrigerator. Jasmine is used to having Reggae Jammin' Franks in a bun, so it took a little cajoling to get her to try this, but once she did, it was great. I enjoyed making this as it was a hearty meal without too much fuss. I can definitely add this to my meal rotation,” says Mullings.

Ingredients:

3 Reggae Jammin' Franks, cut into half lengthwise and then sliced

3 tbsp oil + 1 tbsp oil

1 large onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 carrots, chopped

cup peas

2 cups Basmati rice, cooked/leftover

2 tbsp light soy sauce

2 eggs

Salt to taste

Freshly ground black pepper

Escallions, chopped

Method:

Heat oil in a wok or heavy-bottomed pan and add the onions. Once they turn translucent, add the garlic and stir. Add the carrots, peas and franks slices and then cook for 5 minutes. Stir in the rice and soy sauce and let heat through. Push the rice to one side of the pan. On the empty side, add 1 tbsp oil and crack the eggs in it. Season with salt and pepper and scramble the eggs for 1 minute and then mix with the rice. Add the spring onions and stir.

Hamilton's Smokehouse Black Forrest Ham And Cheese Quesadillas

Availability of ingredients – 7

Ease of preparation – 10

Jasmine Factor – 10

“I had to shop for the tortillas and the Mexican cheese, but outside of that I almost felt guilty making this for dinner. It was so incredibly easy and delicious. I added a salad to this, and I was quite satisfied. Quesadillas were a hit with Jasmine. She thought it was cool to eat dinner with her hands,” says Mullings.

Ingredients:

2 slices of Hamilton's Smokehouse Black Forest Ham

3 9-inch round tortillas

1 cup shredded Mexican cheese

Method:

Using a medium-size pan, lay one tortilla in the pan. Place the slices of ham on top. Sprinkle with cheese. Add another tortilla on top.

Allow to cook on medium heat for about 3 minutes or until the bottom starts to get golden brown. Flip and cook for another 2 minutes or until the bottom is golden brown and cheese is melted on the inside.

The Best Dressed Chicken Fajitas

Availability of ingredients – 9

Ease of preparation – 10

Jasmine Factor – 10

I had the tortillas from the quesadillas, so it's good that that purchase did double duty. I didn't have cumin, so that required a visit to the store. I loved this recipe because the leftovers stood up well for lunch the next day. One thing I will change is I'll probably use The Best Dressed Chicken Boneless Thighs the next time I make this because thighs are moister, especially if I'm going to microwave leftovers at work the next day,” says Mullings.

Ingredients

1 lb The Best Dressed Chicken Boneless Breast

cup plus 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

cup lime juice, from about 3 limes

2 tsp cumin

tsp crushed red pepper flakes

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

3 bell peppers, thinly sliced

1 large onion, thinly sliced

Tortillas for serving

Method:

In a large bowl, whisk together cup oil, lime juice, cumin, and red pepper flakes. Season chicken with salt and pepper, then add to a bowl and toss to coat. Let marinate in the fridge at least 30 minutes and up to 2 hours.

When ready to cook, heat remaining tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add chicken and cook until golden and cooked through, 8 minutes per side. Let rest 10 minutes, then slice into strips.

Add bell peppers and onion to skillet and cook until soft, 5 minutes. Add chicken and toss until combined. Serve with tortillas.

The Best Dressed Chicken With Orange Honey Sauce

Availability of ingredients – 10

Ease of preparation – 8

Jasmine Factor – 10

“This was Jasmine's favourite. She loved the sweetness of the chicken; it reminded her of her favourite Chinese restaurant. This took more time than the other recipes but it was worth it. I'll do this one on Friday nights when I have more time and don't have to think about homework or getting ready for work the next day. These recipes will raise my game. Now I think I'll be an even more 'super' mom in Jasmine's eyes,” says Mullings.

Ingredients:

Chicken:

4 The Best Dressed Chicken Boneless Breasts cut into bite-size pieces

3 eggs whisked

1/3 cup cornstarch

1/3 cup flour

Salt and pepper

Oil for frying

Orange Honey Sauce:

1 cup orange juice

cup sugar

2 tablespoons rice vinegar or white vinegar

2 tablespoons soy sauce

teaspoon ginger

teaspoon garlic powder or 2 garlic cloves, finely diced

teaspoon red chilli flakes

Zest from 1 orange

1 tablespoon cornstarch

Escallions, chopped

Method:

To make orange honey sauce:

In a medium pot, add orange juice, sugar, vinegar, soy sauce, ginger, garlic, and red chilli flakes. Heat for 3 minutes.

In a small bowl, whisk 1 tablespoon of cornstarch with 2 tablespoons of water to form a paste. Add to orange sauce and whisk together. Continue to cook for 5 minutes, until the mixture begins to thicken. Once the sauce is thickened, remove from heat and add orange zest.

To make chicken:

Place flour and cornstarch in a shallow dish or pie plate. Add a pinch of salt and pepper and stir. Whisk eggs in a shallow dish. Dip chicken pieces in the egg mixture and then flour mixture. Place on a plate. Heat 2-3 inches of oil in a heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat. Using a thermometer, watch for it to reach 350 degrees. Working in batches, cook several chicken pieces at a time. Cook for 2-3 minutes, turning often until golden brown. Place chicken on a paper towel-lined plate. Repeat. Toss chicken with orange sauce. Save some of the sauce to place on rice. Serve it with a sprinkling of escallion and orange zest.


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