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Super-easy recipes from the ‘Cowgirl Chef’ to rescue tired home cooks

  • Spinach stracciatella soup is a quick, dinner offering with minimal ingredients. (Ellise Pierce/Fort Worth Star-Telegram/MCT)

    Spinach stracciatella soup is a quick, dinner offering with minimal ingredients. (Ellise Pierce/Fort Worth Star-Telegram/MCT) Purchase photo reprints »

  • Red quinoa, cannellini beans and cauliflower with arugula pesto is a quick-to-make veggie dinner option. (Ellise Pierce/Fort Worth Star-Telegram/MCT)

    Red quinoa, cannellini beans and cauliflower with arugula pesto is a quick-to-make veggie dinner option. (Ellise Pierce/Fort Worth Star-Telegram/MCT) Purchase photo reprints »

  • Chopped steaks with grilled radicchio is a quick dinner recipe. (Ellise Pierce/Fort Worth Star-Telegram/MCT)

    Chopped steaks with grilled radicchio is a quick dinner recipe. (Ellise Pierce/Fort Worth Star-Telegram/MCT) Purchase photo reprints »

  • Chicken tinga is a spin on tacos that is quick and the whole family will enjoy. (Ellise Pierce/Fort Worth Star-Telegram/MCT)

    Chicken tinga is a spin on tacos that is quick and the whole family will enjoy. (Ellise Pierce/Fort Worth Star-Telegram/MCT) Purchase photo reprints »

  • Spinach stracciatella soup is a quick, dinner offering with minimal ingredients. (Ellise Pierce/Fort Worth Star-Telegram/MCT)
  • Red quinoa, cannellini beans and cauliflower with arugula pesto is a quick-to-make veggie dinner option. (Ellise Pierce/Fort Worth Star-Telegram/MCT)
  • Chopped steaks with grilled radicchio is a quick dinner recipe. (Ellise Pierce/Fort Worth Star-Telegram/MCT)
  • Chicken tinga is a spin on tacos that is quick and the whole family will enjoy. (Ellise Pierce/Fort Worth Star-Telegram/MCT)

The funny thing about being a food writer and cookbook author is that people think since I’m in the kitchen all day long, dinner must be a snap.

Right.

Thing is, I’m not always in the kitchen. And when I am, I may be testing appetizers or desserts all day long for something I’m working on. That doesn’t get me any closer to dinner than I would be if I worked in an office. In fact, I’m at a greater disadvantage because when my day is over, the last thing I want to do is cook.

But I can’t just untie my apron and dash out to dinner any old time I decide I’m tired of being in the kitchen. It’s expensive, for one thing, and going out also requires that an effort be made to spruce up one’s appearance — because let me tell you, it’s not all Food Network gloss and shine in my cramped little kitchen, and I usually emerge at the end of the day looking like I’ve been to war with the oven (which I usually have, and I have the burn scars to prove it). I’m also likely to be decorated with bits of whatever I’ve been cooking.

All of that’s to say that just like you, I’m wiped out at the end of the day, and I’m usually trying to figure out what I can make for dinner that will minimize my kitchen time.

I have some super-easy, go-to meals — avocado smashed on toast with a drizzle of pistachio or hazelnut oil; scrambled eggs and chevre in a tortilla, splashed with Valentina sauce; a heap of baby spinach or arugula topped with a poached egg and Parmesan — but even these get a bit boring after a while.

This year, I’m trying to mix it up. Make something new, something different, even when I’m tired and I just want to take off my cowgirl boots and sit in front of the TV and watch Downton Abbey reruns.

These recipes, fortunately, do not require the sort of time that will put off marathon Maggie Smith viewing, if you’re like me and cannot watch just one. And no servants required, either. Less than a half-hour, almost all of these, from start to finish.

Dum dum dum dum dum ... I can hear the open now.

Ellise Pierce is the Cowgirl Chef and author of “Cowgirl Chef: Texas Cooking With a French Accent.” Pierce blogs and makes cooking videos for her site, www.cowgirlchef.com.

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Recipe: Chicken Tinga Tacos

Friday, March 1, 2013

Serves 4 to 6 1 pound chicken tenders 1 celery stalk, halved 1 carrot, halved A couple sprigs of parsley About 10 peppercorns Olive oil ½ of an onion, diced 3 to 4 cloves garlic, minced 2 chipotles in adobo, finely chopped 2/3 cup canned corn, rinsed and drained 1 cup canned black beans, rinsed and drained 1 (14.5-ounce) can …

Recipe: Chopped Steaks With Grilled Radicchio

Friday, March 1, 2013

Serves 2 1 clove garlic, minced 1 teaspoon grainy mustard 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar Sea salt and pepper 4 to 5 tablespoons olive oil 1 tablespoon vegetable oil 2 chopped steaks, at room temperature 1 to 2 heads of radicchio (depending on the size; I used 1), cut into fourths About 2 ounces Roquefort, crumbled Make the vinaigrette: Put the …

Recipe: Red Quinoa, Cannellini Beans and Cauliflower With Arugula Pesto

Friday, March 1, 2013

Serves 4 Cowgirl tip: Toss roasted veggies with leftover arugula pesto, or use it as a sandwich spread or whisked into vinaigrette. Pasta works, too. 1 small head of cauliflower, florets removed About 2 tablespoons olive oil Sea salt and pepper 1 cup red quinoa Handful of wild arugula 1 cup (9.25 ounces) cannellini beans, drained, rinsed For arugula pesto: …

Recipe: Spinach Stracciatella Soup

Friday, March 1, 2013

Serves 2 to 4 4 cups vegetable or chicken stock 2 cups water Sea salt and pepper 4.5 ounces baby spinach ¼ cup grated Parmesan, plus more for serving 2 eggs, lightly beaten Warm the stock and water over medium-high heat, with salt and pepper to taste. When it comes to a simmer, add the spinach and Parmesan and let …

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