(March 27, 2020) Ocean City Today and Bayside Gazette food columnists, Deborah Walker and Paul Suplee, have provided some recipes that are simple to prepare with minimal ingredients that can feed the entire family.
Grilled Chicken Kabobs
“Social distancing is very important, but at the same time, one needs fresh air,” Walker said. “Grilled kabobs are a great way for the family to enjoy being outside and yet in the privacy of their yard. Fresh air is not only great for the body, but also helps relax the mind.”
4 boneless chicken breasts
1 each red, orange, yellow and poblano peppers
12 baby portabellas
12 compari tomatoes
2 small red onions
2 yellow squash
1/3 of a fresh pineapple (optional)
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1. Cut chicken into 1 ½-inch to 2-inch cubes. Skewer all the chicken on the same skewers. This way the chicken cooks at the same time.
2. Trim the stems of the peppers and remove any seeds. Cut the peppers into uniform bite-sized pieces. Again, skewer the peppers on the same skewers.
3. Remove the stems of the mushrooms and place mushrooms on the same skewers. Repeat this process with the remaining vegetables.
4. Grill all of the kabobs, starting with the chicken.
5. In the meantime, cook jasmine rice according to instructions on the package.
6. Presentation: Use your creativity when plating this dish. Remind your children that chefs are not only cooks but also artists. Season with salt and pepper.
The following recipe is based on a family of four.
4 small plain frozen pizzas
1 (8-ounce) package shredded mozzarella
2 (8-ounce) packages of shredded Italian mix
1 (8-ounce) package of shredded taco mix
“Toppings vary according to personal preference,” Walker said. “Have it set up as a buffet and everyone can help themselves as they make their own personal pan pizza.”
Following are some suggestions outside the traditional toppings: pineapple, sliced cherry tomatoes, pepperoncinis, olives, capers, artichokes, pickled onions, spinach, feta cheese, smoked salmon and goat cheese.
Do not forget the possibility of a breakfast pizza. Eggs, roasted garlic, peppers, shredded home fries, ham, bacon, sausage, and fried apples. Enjoy!
School is out of session and the kitchen can be a source of education, Walker said.
“Who says fries have to be savory? Fruity fries are a healthy alternative to sugary desserts and at the same time, teach children how fun expanding one’s imagination can be,” she said. “Baked, low-fat pound cake fries, sugar-free strawberry ketchup and a light dusting of powdered sugar (salt) are finger-licking good.”
Pound Cake Fries
1 Sarah Lee Light and Dreamy Pound Cake
1 cup fresh strawberries, finely diced
1 cup sugar-free strawberry fruit spread
(can be found in the jelly section at your neighborhood grocery store)
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground allspice
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
2 pinches kosher salt
2 pinches McCormick Chinese Five Spice (optional)
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Cut cake into ½-inch strips. Arrange fries on baking sheet so they do not overlap. Bake until golden brown (approximately 5 to 7 minutes). Remove from oven.
3. In a small pan, heat fruit spread over low heat for 3 minutes. The purpose is to thin the fruit spread so it has the consistency of ketchup. Remove from heat.
4. In a medium bowl, combine all strawberry ketchup ingredients.
5. Place French fries in a take-out French fry container. Add strawberry ketchup and garnish with a light dusting of powdered sugar.
Serves 4 to 6
“Meal prepping is now a thing for a lot of us as we try to navigate through the new normal,” Suplee said. “Below are some simple ideas that you can utilize to get you and your family through this mess. And if you are cooking for one or only a couple, these still work, as you can then pack the first two up and freeze to thaw and eat later.” Even the quesadillas can be saved for future meals, he added.
“With our newfound ‘time off’ in our homes, it is important to utilize our freezer space and save energy, as many people will be out of work for a while,” Suplee said.
Easy 5-cheese Mac ‘n Cheese
makes about 5 quarts
3 ounces AP flour
3 ounces butter, melted or margarine
1 tablespoon onion powder
a few shaves of nutmeg (a dash)
1 quart whole milk
2 cups heavy cream
2 cups buttermilk
½ pound shredded cheddar cheese blend (3 cheese)
½ pound Velveeta (I know, I know)
4 ounces shredded Parmesan
Salt, pepper and granulated garlic to taste
1. Make a roux by putting the flour and butter in a pot large enough to handle all of the ingredients.
2. Cook on a medium heat until it is ‘blonde’ or lightly browned.
3. Add the onion powder, nutmeg and garlic, stirring well.
4. Slowly add the dairy, whisking all the while. Assuming the roux is hot enough it will thicken immediately.
5. After the dairy is incorporated, bring your mixture (a variation of a classical Bechamel), add the cheeses and whisk until incorporated.
6. Adjust seasoning and cool and pack until ready to use.
“I like this sauce because it can be used on Mac ‘n Cheese, cheesesteak subs, on rice and with vegetable,” he said. “Plus, it will freeze well. Add pasta, and you’re done.”
2 pounds meat of your choice
2 packets frozen vegetable blend
1 can water chestnuts
soy sauce, teriyaki, or another soy-based sauce
1. Brown the meat in a wok or any pan large enough to hold all of the ingredients.
2. Add the vegetables and cook until they are tender, but still have a bite to them.
3. Add the chestnuts and the sauce and heat through.
4. If you are using a thin sauce, you may add a slurry of cornstarch and water to the boiling liquid (a small amount at a time as it will thicken immediately) and adjust the sauce to make it coat your ingredients.
5. When you reheat this, the cornstarch will break down a little as it doesn’t reheat as well as arrowroot, but there’s nothing wrong with it. It’s just thinner.
Makes 4 quesadillas
8 shelf-stable tortillas
2 tablespoons melted butter or margarine
1 pound grilled chicken or canned chicken (thinking pantry-mode)
1 pound shredded cheese blend of your choice
1 cup salsa, either homemade or jarred
Lime and cilantro, if they are available
1. Brush the tortillas with the butter and place butter-side down on a baking sheet.
2. Cover the tortillas with cheese and chicken.
3. Add the salsa on the inside (will be hot) or outside (cold after cooking).
4. Fold the tortillas over and press down lightly.
5. Either bake at 375F or cook on a griddle until they are golden and the inside is molten and gooey.