For the last few days I have been on a modified bed rest, of sorts. I’ve been experiencing major lower back pains and considering my history with my son’s birth (my water broke 3 weeks early), my mid-wife has instructed me to ‘take it easy’ and to ‘not do anything that I don’t have to do’. Ha. Sooooo much easier said than done. I stay at home with my 3 year old and my job is to cook, standing up. I’ve spent the better part of the weekend on the couch with a heating pad behind me so that I can muster up the ability to get up and do the things that I arguably ‘have to do.’ I have a wonderful husband who is great around the house, which is a relief, only… he doesn’t exactly do things the way I do things when I’m captain of this ship. Not that I’m complaining… but, let’s just say that I’ve had to run an extra load of laundry because he didn’t know where all the dirty ones were kept and he made a delicious breakfast of scrambled eggs, bacon and pancakes this morning using a new bag of flour when directly in front of him in the pantry was the unopened, older bag. Not that I’m complaining…
As you all know, I cook most things from scratch in my house and try to plan fresh, exciting and new meals for my family as much as I can but I am not afraid of short cuts and easy dinners. I try to keep ingredients on hand that can save me a lot of time for those days or weeks that I just can’t manage to do things any other way. For instance…
-A package of onion soup mix and an egg is all you need to add to a pound of ground meat for a delicious and lazy meatloaf.
-Those pizza crusts in the blue tube? They’re delicious and make family pizza night super simple.
-Instant brown rice is a wonderful pantry staple as it allows you the benefits of brown rice without the 30-45 minute waiting.
-Frozen vegetables like peas, lima beans, corn and spinach are a huge time saver as they can help round out an easy pantry meal.
-Packaged gnocchi isn’t as good as homemade, but it’s still delicious and makes a super fast dinner when paired with your favorite marinara or some frozen, homemade basil pesto from the summer.
-Flavored bouillon cubes like onion, cilantro and chipotle are great to add to soups, stews and sauces when you either don’t have the fresh version on hand, or are just to lazy to chop it.
This week is certainly one of those weeks. Tonight we are having a meal that my mom created when I’m sure she was looking for a short cut with 2 wild kids running around, driving her crazy. The flavors bring me right back home and I’m excited to share it with all you other desperate and tired mothers out there who need a break. The recipe uses ingredients that I always have on hand, so it’s an extra easy meal for me. Chuck roasts go on sale regularly and when they do, I stock up and freeze them, everything else comes from my well-stocked pantry. I hope you enjoy it…
*Mom’s Beef Over Rice
Mix the following ingredients together and place into a dutch oven*-
–2 pounds beef chuck roast, cut into large chunks (remove any big pieces of fat)
–1 can of cream of mushroom soup
–1 can’s worth of dry, red wine
–1 package of onion soup/dip mix (Lipton is the brand name, but the generic is just as good and cheaper)
–1 can of mushrooms (although, when I have fresh on hand, I always use them. Portobellos cut into big pieces are great in this)
–a couple TB of dried or a few sprigs of fresh, minced tarragon
–freshly cracked black pepper
–Cover and cook for 3 hours on 350, then remove the lid and cook for another 15 minutes.
–Serve over rice (I always use brown, and it’s usually the ‘instant’ kind. I also throw in several handfuls of frozen peas so that there’s something green on the plate.)
(*I often just mix everything in the dutch oven itself, no need to dirty up a bowl…that just creates more work for you later. And you can mix everything a few hours ahead of time if you’d like, then just throw it in the oven 3 hours before you’re ready to eat.)