Favorite 2fer: I’m the self-proclaimed queen of 2fers: meals made from leftovers. The art of the 2fer is to make the leftovers appear new. If the 2fer begets leftovers then you have 3 meals in 1! Fewer meals to plan, less work, and less mess equals one happy momma. For the last two years, we’ve made Ultimate Tomato Basil Soup around the holidays. It comes together in no time, can be reheated, and is the perfect compliment to grilled cheese. But when sickness struck and the soup no longer appealed, Cheesy Tomato Soup Pasta was born, and it’s glorious. Mix pasta with a creamy mascarpone sauce, top with a cheese combo and garlic croutons and voila: a pasta reminiscent of tomato soup and grilled cheese but so much better.
Favorite Stir-Fry: My children love rice so stir-fries are perfect for quick and easy meals. Though Chicken with Garlic Sauce, Spicy Asian Noodles, and Beef and Peapods rank high on the yum scale, we turn to Kung Pao Tofu when we don’t have time to defrost proteins. Tofu lasts weeks in the fridge making it the perfect little buddy to have on hand for an easy meal. Tofu not your thing? Try Everyday Kung Pao Chicken, or for something decidedly more Americanized, try Yummy Chop Suey or Honey Orange Chicken Stir-Fry. We are equal opportunity eaters over here and will gladly eat authentic Chinese stir-fries or American-style stir-fries, though I keep the sugar content down and tend not to batter the proteins. Take a quick trip to an Asian grocery store to stock up on some essential Asian condiments and bask in the glory of delicious homemade stir-fries for months to come.
Favorite Quick and Easy: Quick and easy is the way to go on weeknights. They’ve saved me from full-on meltdowns many a night. And when you have something as easy to throw together as Super Easy Pork Chop Meal, meltdowns are a thing of the past. (I wish) Sprinkle a fantastic homemade spice mix on the pork and potatoes. The potatoes cook on a sheet pan with corn on the cob. Meanwhile, the pork fries to glorious crispy goodness. Serve the dish alongside Peach and Blackberry Salad for a lovely dinner. If corn on the cob is out of season, the dish is also great with Basil Parmesan Corn Medley or Pressure Cooker Green Beans (cooked separately). Don’t eat pork? Try Incredibly Easy Maple Dijon Chicken for another quick and easy win.
Favorite Vegetarian/Vegan: Tofu Sofritas. We eat meatless meals at least once a week. As noted above in BOSS Part 1, we eat a lot of lentil dishes, a great “meaty” choice for those hesitant to give up their meat. All the lentil dishes above can easily be prepared vegetarian. Tofu is another great vegetarian protein we eat on a regular basis. Flavored with bold seasonings and cooked alongside black beans and corn, there’s not a lot of tofuness in Tofu Sofritas except for a welcome lightness that’s not present in a meat-laden taco. Top the sofritas with hash browns and a copious amount of cheese and you have Tofu Sofritas Casserole. Sure, it negates the lightness of the tofu but, man, is it good. If you’re on the fence about tofu, try Tofu Sofritas Casserole. Meatless Monday and Lent will never be the same.
Favorite Thai: Thai Red Curry Tofu. Tofu in two categories?! That’s probably two too many tofus for some people but this glorious dish deserves some love. This dish came about when my youngest was toothless, and she loved it. Now, my sister, who had never eaten tofu, serves Thai Red Curry Tofu on a regular basis to her family, which includes my baby nephew, cementing it as a lovely dish for tofu newbies old and young. Thai Curry Peanut Tofu and Cabbage is another dish we have on permanent repeat in our household. It’s homey, comforting, and delicious. Need meat? Try Thai Red Curry Ramen. I love Thai food and have lots more recipes to come. Can’t wait!
Favorite Crispy Goodness: Parmesan Chicken. Sometimes crispy goodness is all that you want (need). This Parmesan Chicken has saved me from many a fried chicken craving even though it’s far healthier than typical fried chicken and it’s not fried. Do you need something fried? Try Fried Pork Chops. Something truly magical happens when you fry pork; I can’t get enough. For an all-out Southern feast include Fried Green Tomatoes, Black-Eyed Peas and Beans, and One-Pot Sorta Cajun Dirty Rice to the menu. Southerners know how to eat.
Favorite Trader Joe’s Cheat: Prosciutto-Wrapped Pork. This recipe can easily be made without the help of Trader Joe’s. It will still come together in no time and be delicious. You can serve the pork alongside Rosemary Roasted Potatoes and a salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette. The pork marinates in a Herb Vinaigrette (or store-bought Italian salad dressing) and picks up additional flavor from the prosciutto. It’s delicious as is and doesn’t need a sauce. That being said, I like using Trader Joe’s prepared bruschetta mix to make an easy side and sauce for the dish. I buy prosciutto, fresh basil, prepared pesto, and prepared bruschetta mix at Trader Joe’s. I use the pesto and bruschetta to make an easy pasta side, then I add the bruschetta mix and heavy cream to the pan juices to make a quick sauce for the pork, a totally indulgent and unnecessary addition, but sometimes that’s how I roll. Tomato, Basil, and Mozzarella Salad is another Trader Joe’s cheat that uses bruschetta mix, and it works great alongside the pork for a carb-free, gluten-free meal. Any way you serve it, Prosciutto-Wrapped Pork looks and tastes much fancier than the sum of its parts.
Favorite Put an Egg on It: Al Pastor Pork Enchiladas with Fried Egg. I hardly discriminate when it comes to putting eggs on leftovers, and it’s a great way to clean out the fridge. Despite my propensity to throw an egg on practically anything and call it breakfast, Mexican dishes are my absolute favorite leftovers for breakfast with an egg on top. Few things beat flavorful meat covered in flavorful sauces topped with cheesy, eggy goodness. I could eat Mexican-inspired dishes every day for breakfast and be entirely happy.
Favorite Dessert: I served Amazing Chocolate Mug Cake to someone who hates cake. He ate it up. This cake is moist, flavorful, and extra chocolaty. It will solve all chocolate cravings in minutes. Yup, MINUTES. This cake is absolutely amazing because it’s made in the microwave. Mix it in a mug, pop it in the microwave, then moments later: CAKE! I love that it comes in single servings. There’s no need to break out the cake pans next time a cake craving hits. But the absolute beauty of the dish is that it can singlehandedly solve chocolate cravings without being overly indulgent or store-bought.