NaNoWriMo isn’t easy. To get your words done, you get up early, or go to bed late–or both. On top of that you ingest vastly inappropriate amounts of caffeine. And in the midst of all that there isn’t a lot of time for good home cooking.
The key to putting 30 days of meals on your table as you type 50,000 words is making fast, easy meals–hopefully make enough for leftovers–without resorting to fast food and frozen dinners.
Spaghetti, stew, and Chile are perfect, but you can only have so much of them. Here are a few of my favorite recipes to help fill in the gaps:
Fast Steamed Fish 🐟…all wrapped up and ready to go
Fish fillets, any white fish (mahi mahi is a fav)
salt and pepper
carrots, washed and sliced (peeling takes way too much time and unpeeled carrots are more tasty)
sprigs of green onion (and/or other fresh herbs)
Preheat oven to 400 degree. Place each fillet in a square of aluminum foil, sprinkle with salt & pepper, top with lemon slices, surround with carrot and top with sprigs of onion/herbs. Wrap up the foil to create a packet. and seal it tightly. Place on a baking sheet in the over for 25 minutes. Which is just enough time to cook up some rice for the side. Serve the fish in packets, the steam smells great when the packet opens.
Chicken 🍗 & Dumpling Soup…flour, baking powder, and a magical transformation
4 cups Chicken Broth (just boil chicken bones in water with salt, pepper, herbs, onion, celery, carrots for a few hours–or use the instant stuff if you must)
Carrots, washed and sliced
Chicken breast, cubed
Dumplings: 1-1/2 cup flour, 1 tbsp baking powder, 3/4 tsp salt, 3 tbsp oil, 3/4 cup milk
Bring chicken broth to a boil, add chicken and boil until cooked. Mix the dumpling ingredients into a paste. Add carrots to the boiling broth, then drop the dumpling paste in a spoonful at a time. Turn down heat and cover. Simmer for 15 minutes. (The bigger the pot the better because this will tend to foam up and spill over as it cooks.)
Tuna A La King 👑….the roux is king!
1/2 cup of margarine
1 green pepper, sliced into 1/2 inch pieces
1 cup sliced mushrooms
1/2 cup flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1-1/2 cups milk
1-1/4 cup chicken broth
1 can tuna, drained
1-2 oz jar pimentos, drained (optional)
Melt margarine in a sauce pan over medium high heat. Cook the green peppers and mushrooms in the margarine until pepper is crisp-tender. Stir in flour, salt and pepper. Stir constantly over medium heat until bubbly and pasty. Remove from heat and add milk and broth. Heat to boiling, stirring constantly until it thickens. (Congratulations you just made a roux, one of the most essential cooking skills you will ever learn–this is basically like adding a can of cream soup to a recipe–and you can change the veggies to almost anything as long as you take into account the different cooking times). Stir in the can of tuna and pimentos, cook until heated through. Serve over noodles, rice, or toast. Yumm!
Easy Mods: You can make this with chicken or turkey too. Or if you skip the pimentos, swap out the mushrooms and peppers for onions and frozen peas (add the peas near the end), then pour it in a double pie crust, and throw it in the oven at 425F for 35 minutes you have a pot pie.
Pasta, Eggs 🥚, and Cheese 🧀….the three ingredient miracle
1/2 cup of grated parmesan, or Romano cheese
1 lb spaghetti (thin works really well)
salt and pepper
Put a pot of salted water on to boil. Heat oven to 200F and put a large oven proof bowl in for 5 minutes. Take the bowl out of the oven, crack the eggs into it and whisk until they are well blended. Stir in cheese. When the water has a good boil going, stir in the pasta and cook (here is a secret tip: if you stir in the pasta, put a lid on the pot and turn it all the way off or down to the lowest temperature for 10 minutes, the pasta will cook just the same as it would if you boiled it the whole time, but won’t stick together as much.) When the pasta is cooked set aside 1 cup of the cooking liquid and drain the rest. Then toss the hot pasta into the egg and cheese mixture, stirring it around really well (this cooks the eggs so you don’t want them to be a lump on the bottom of the bowl). Add salt and pepper to taste, more cheese if desired, and if it seems a little dry you can add some of the reserved cooking liquid.
Shrimp 🍤 Scampi…those little scamps!
1/3 cup olive oil
1tbsp minced garlic
1-1/2 lbs. raw peeled shrimp
salt and pepper
2 tbsp lemon juice (or white wine if you are fancy)
2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
Add olive oil to large skillet over low heat. Add garlic and stir for 2-3 minutes until golden. Turn heat to medium and carefully lay out shrimp in an even layer. After about 2-3 minutes when the shrimp is pink on one side turn each of them over and cook another 2-3 minutes. When cooked they will be pink all over but still barely translucent inside. And they will taste like heavenly sea butter. So do yourself a favor and be super careful not to overcook them. Stir in lemon juice. Turn off the heat stir for 30 seconds more, and add parsley. You should have a nice little sauce. I like to stir this into a batch of thin spaghetti or angel hair pasta.
I have so many more recipes I could share, but it’s NaNoWriMo and I can only spare so many words for blog posts. I hope these recipes help you get those awesome meals on the table and get back to writing as quickly as possible–and maybe convince a few people you are super human at the same time.
Wishing you luck and many words!