Lazy Chef Recipe: Pizza Rice

image

1 cup white rice (dry)

1 lb ground chicken, turkey, or beef

1 medium yellow onion, diced

1 green pepper, diced

1 clove garlic, diced

1 small can mushroom pieces, drained

1 cup pizza sauce (plain tomato sauce also works)

2 cups chicken broth or water

1 cup mozzarella cheese

1 T olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

  1. In a pot, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion, green pepper, and garlic, and cook until softened, 1-2 minutes, stirring frequently.
  2. Add the ground chicken (or turkey or beef) and cook until browned all the way through, stirring frequently.
  3. Add the chicken broth (or water), pizza sauce, rice, and mushrooms. Stir all the ingredients together and turn the heat up to high.
  4. When the liquid comes to a boil, cover the pot and turn the heat down to low. Simmer for 20 minutes.
  5. Turn the heat off and stir in the cheese. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  6. This is a really flexible recipe. Don’t like green peppers/mushrooms/onions? Leave them out! Looking for a vegetarian recipe? Make it without the ground chicken! Like olives or other ingredients on your pizza? Add them! It’s really easy to customize (and you only have to wash one pot!).

Servings: 4

Nutritional info (using ground chicken):

Calories: 487

Protein: 34 g

Carbs: 46 g

Fat: 19 g

 

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 30 minutes

Overall appropriateness for lazy chefs: Very Good! Upgrade to “Fantastic!” if you can find someone to chop the vegetables for you.

 

Lazy Chef Recipes: Guacamole

Guac

2 ripe avocados*

2 Roma tomatoes

1 small onion, peeled and quartered

1 small jalapeño, seeded and quartered**

Juice from half a lime***

1 garlic clove, peeled

1 tsp salt

  • Ripe avocados are soft. If the avocados at your grocery store are hard, you can ripen them at home by putting them in a paper bag on your kitchen counter for a day or two
  • I like mild guacamole, so I actually don’t add the jalapeño.
  • You can use 1-2 tablespoons of bottled lime juice instead of a fresh lime
  1. Put the ingredients into your food processor in this order: garlic, onion, jalapeño, tomato, salt, and lime juice. After adding each ingredient, pulse the food processor a few times.
  2. Cut the avocado: insert a knife into the skin near the top and draw a line down to the bottom and then up the other side. Be careful not to insert the knife too deeply or you’ll hit the pit in the middle.
  3. Now pull the avocado apart into two halves. Remove the pit with a spoon and throw it away.
  4. Using the spoon, scoop out the flesh of the avocado and add it to the food processor. Pulse the food processor a few times, until the guacamole is as smooth as you want it.

Servings: 1-12, depending on how much guacamole you eat at one time…

Overall Appropriateness for Lazy Chefs: Great! This recipe is super easy.

 

Fancy vs Lazy Recipe: Hummus

Fancy Hummus

Fancy Hummus

https://pixabay.com/en/hummus-chickpeas-appetizer-812675/

https://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/deed.en

2 cups dry chickpeas*

¼ cup tahini

Juice of 1 lemon

1 large clove garlic, minced

½ teaspoon sea salt

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

 

*For authentic hummus, DO NOT use canned chickpeas. Only lazy Americans use canned chickpeas.

 

  1. Put the chickpeas in a large pot and fill the pot completely with warm water. Let soak overnight.

 

  1. In the morning, drain the chickpeas in a colander and rinse with cold water.

 

  1. Put the chickpeas in a different large pot and fill the pot completely with water. Boil the chickpeas, uncovered, for 90 minutes.

 

  1. Reserve some of the cooking water for thinning the hummus later. Drain the chickpeas in a colander and rinse again with cold water.

 

  1. Rub the chickpeas as you rinse them to remove the outer skin. Discard this skin. Using chickpeas with the skins on will give your hummus an unpleasant texture.

 

  1. Put the tahini and lemon juice into a food processor and blend until smooth.

 

  1. Now add the chickpeas, salt, garlic, and olive oil, and pulse the food processor 3 or 4 times, or until the mixture has a creamy consistency.

 

  1. If the mixture is too thick, add some reserved cooking water 1 tablespoon at a time and pulse the mixture again, until the desired consistency is reached.

 

  1. Serve on a shallow platter with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkling of paprika. Eat with flatbread that you’ve purchased that day from a local Middle Eastern market.

 

 

Servings: a bunch

 

Prep time: 8 hours of soaking the chickpeas, which isn’t so bad because you’re asleep while that happens, then like 20 minutes of peeling the skins off the darn chickpeas, and another 10 or so pouring things into the food processor and pressing the pulse button. And then you’ll have to wash all the dishes, including not only the food processor, but also two pots and a colander.

 

Cook time: 90 minutes, but you don’t have to do anything during that time, so it could be worse.

 

Overall appropriateness for Lazy Chefs: Meh. Seriously, I feel like having slightly grainy hummus is worth not having to peel the skins off of every single frickin’ chickpea.

 

 

 

Lazy Hummus

Hummus

1 15-ounce can chickpeas, drained*

¼ cup tahini**

Juice of 1 lemon***

1 clove garlic

¼ teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon olive oil

½ cup water

 

*Chickpeas, also called garbanzo beans, are usually in the aisle with the beans at the grocery store.

 

**Tahini is roasted sesame seed paste. It looks kind of like very liquidy peanut butter. My grocery store has it, and since my grocery store is the most bare-bones, unfancy grocery store ever, your grocery store probably has it, too. At my grocery store, it’s in the kosher food section, since that’s where they stick everything Middle Eastern.

 

***If you want to be really lazy, you can buy lemon juice in a bottle instead of squeezing your own lemon. In that case, use 3 tablespoons of juice.

 

  1. Put the garlic in your food processor or blender and pulse a few times. Many recipes call for you to chop up the garlic before putting it in the food processor. This is silly. That is what the blades in the food processor are for.

 

  1. Plop all the rest of the ingredients in the food processor. Hit blend.

 

  1. Let the food processor run for about thirty seconds, until everything is smooth. Ta-da!

 

 

Servings: a bunch

 

Prep time: maybe 10 minutes. The biggest chunk of time for me is trying to scrape the last bit of hummus out of the food processor.

 

Cook time: none!

 

Overall appropriateness for Lazy Chefs: Great! It’s easy, it’s healthy, and it tastes good. Hooray!

 

Fancy vs Lazy Recipe: Pesto

Fancy Pesto

mortarandpestle

https://pixabay.com/en/plunger-herbs-crush-kitchen-mortar-317748/

https://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/deed.en

2 cups young, small Genovese basil leaves from a farmer’s market

½ cup extra virgin olive oil imported from Italy

3 garlic cloves from a fresh bulb, peeled just before making the pesto

½ teaspoon sea salt

½ cup pine nuts imported from Sicily

½ cup high-quality Parmigiano Reggiano cheese imported from Italy that you have only just grated

 

  1. Pluck the basil leaves from the stems and throw the stems away. Wash the leaves in cold water. Dry them thoroughly by placing them between two layers of paper towel and pressing gently.

 

  1. Place the garlic cloves and a pinch of salt in a mortar and crush them with a pestle. Add the basil leaves and crush with light, circular movements of the pestle. Add the pine nuts, cheese, and 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and continue to pound the mixture, adding olive oil from time to time, until a creamy paste is formed.

 

  1. Once this process is started, you must finish making the pesto within 30 minutes or the basil will darken and the sauce will be ruined.

 

  1. Toss with pasta and serve immediately. Pesto will not keep, so you must eat it all right away.

 

Servings: enough pesto to adequately cover 6-8 portions of pasta.

 

Prep time: 30 minutes of constant work (plus you’ll need to go out and get yourself a mortar and pestle, because if you’re reading this blog, I’m betting you don’t have one already).

 

Overall appropriateness for Lazy Chefs: You Have Got To Be Kidding. Sorry, Fancy Pesto—you lost me at “mortar and pestle.”

 

 

 

Lazy Pesto

Pesto

 

2 cups basil leaves, which you can get in the produce section of your supermarket

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 cloves garlic

¼ teaspoon salt

½ cup shredded parmesan cheese*

 

*the shredded stuff tastes better in the sauce than the grated stuff, so it’s definitely worth getting the shredded.

 

You might notice that I didn’t list pine nuts. Pesto traditionally has pine nuts, but they’re expensive and add a lot of calories and fat without (I find) adding a lot of flavor, so I leave them out.

 

 

  1. Rinse the basil leaves, then pull the leaves off the stems and throw the stems away. I never bother to dry them, which means that there’s a little water in the sauce. That’s a big no-no for Real Chefs, but an acceptable compromise for Lazy Chefs.

 

  1. I also once tried leaving the leaves on the stems and just putting the whole kit and caboodle in the food processor, but that didn’t turn out well. Definitely take the time to pull the leaves off.

 

  1. Put the garlic in a food processor (or a blender if you don’t have a food processor) and pulse until the garlic is chopped up. Some recipes call for you to chop the garlic before putting it in the food processor. That’s crazy talk. The blades in the food processor chop up the garlic just fine.

 

  1. Add the basil leaves and salt and run the food processor until all the leaves have been chopped up.

 

  1. Add the cheese and pulse a few times.

 

  1. Now scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the olive oil. Pulse the food processor a few more times until everything is well blended.

 

  1. You can now use the sauce on pasta, bread, rice, etc. It tastes best within a day or two of making it (but I’ve also refrigerated mine for most of a week).

 

  1. This recipe makes a pretty dry sauce. You can add more olive oil to make the sauce creamier if you want; just be aware that olive oil has 119 calories and 13.5 grams of fat per tablespoon and make sure you pay attention to how much you’re using.

 

Servings: a bunch

 

Prep time: 10ish minutes. The biggest chunk of time will be pulling the basil leaves off the stems, and then getting all the sauce out of your food processor.

 

Overall appropriateness for Lazy Chefs: Good! Find someone else to pull the basil leaves off the stems and you can upgrade the recipe to Great.

 

 

 

Lazy Chef Recipes: Zucchini Pizza

 

 

zukepizza

4 small zucchini from the grocery store or 1 giant zucchini from a friend’s garden

½ cup tomato sauce

1 cup mozzarella cheese

4 oz pepperoni or salami*

Dried oregano

Olive oil

Salt and pepper

 

*I like Applegate uncured Genoa salami.

 

 

  1. Preheat the oven to 425.

 

  1. Cut the ends off the zucchini and then cut them in half lengthwise. Brush both sides with olive oil and arrange on a baking sheet, cut side up.

 

  1. Sprinkle salt and pepper on the cut side of the zucchini.

 

  1. Spoon tomato sauce onto the cut side of the zucchini, and then top with dried oregano, cheese, and pepperoni (you can also add any other toppings you like on pizza: mushrooms, olives, etc).

 

  1. Bake at 425 for 15 minutes, or until the zucchini is tender and the cheese melted.

 

  1. Zucchini pizza doesn’t have enough carbs for a meal (unless you’re on a seriously low-carb diet), so you’ll need to have something with carbs to go with it, like fruit. Also, if you want more protein, you can substitute ground turkey for the pepperoni (or you can leave the meat off altogether if you want a vegetarian entrée).

 

 

Servings: 4

 

Nutritional info per serving:

 

Calories: 285

Protein: 18g

Carbs: 16g

Fiber: 6g

Fat: 18g

 

Prep time: about 10 minutes

 

Cook time: 15 minutes

 

Overall appropriateness for Lazy Chefs: Fantastic! It’s super easy, super tasty, and way healthier than normal pizza.

 

 

 

Fancy vs Lazy Recipe: Ratatouille

Fancy Ratatouille

Eggplant Family

1 medium yellow onion, coarsely chopped

3 medium Japanese eggplants, cut into ½-inch-thick rounds

4 small zucchini or other summer squash, scrubbed and cut into very thin slices

3 small, sweet red peppers, cored, seeded, and cut into ½-inch-thick chunks

1 ½ cups very ripe tomatoes*, peeled, seeded, and diced

2 cloves garlic, smashed and finely chopped

10 fresh basil leaves, cut into chiffonade

¼ cup finely-chopped flat-leaf Italian parsley

6 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil**

Fine sea salt

 

*The tomatoes are the foundation of the dish. You need to get full, red tomatoes that have been grown in rich soil and sun-ripened. Tomatoes grown in your own backyard garden are best.

 

**Low-quality olive oil will ruin your dish! Be sure to buy a variety that is cold-pressed in Italy and tells you the harvest and sell-by dates on the label.

 

  1. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a pan over medium heat. Lay one layer of eggplant slices into the bottom of the pot and sprinkle with salt. Cook for 7 minutes, then turn the slices over and cook for another 6 minutes, until the eggplant is tender.

 

  1. Place the finished eggplant slices in a colander to drain while you repeat with the remaining eggplant.

 

  1. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large, heavy pan over medium heat. Lay one layer of zucchini slices into the bottom of the pot and sprinkle with salt. Cook for 4 minutes, then turn the slices and cook for another 3 minutes, until the zucchini is tender.

 

  1. Place the finished zucchini slices in the colander with the eggplant while you repeat with the remaining zucchini.

 

  1. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a third pot over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook for 6-7 minutes, until the garlic is fragrant and golden brown, and the onion is translucent.

 

  1. Add the peppers and a pinch of salt. Cook for 4 minutes, until softened.

 

  1. Add the tomatoes and cook on low heat for 4-5 minutes, until the tomatoes have released their liquid into the pot. Then raise the heat to medium high and boil for 2-3 minutes, until most of the liquid has evaporated.

 

  1. Put a layer of the pepper/tomato/onion/garlic mixture into the bottom of a 2 1/2-quart casserole. Add a layer of eggplant and a layer of zucchini, and then sprinkle with basil and parsley. Repeat with the rest of the vegetables. Pour the remaining olive oil on top.

 

  1. Cover the casserole and simmer over low heat for 9 minutes. Then uncover the casserole, raise the heat to medium-low, and cook until the stew has properly thickened. True Provencal ratatouille should not be watery.

 

  1. Serve in ceramic bowls with crusty French bread that you have purchased from a family-owned French bakery.

 

Servings: 4

 

Prep time: 20 minutes in advance chopping all the vegetables, then 60 minutes dealing with the cooking vegetables, then another hour afterward washing all the frickin’ pots.

 

Cook time: 60 minutes, during which you will be slaving over pans the whole time, layering vegetables, turning them over, and sticking them in collanders.

 

Overall appropriateness for Lazy Chefs: You Have Got To Be Kidding. Did I mention how many dishes you would have to wash afterward? This is the kind of recipe that makes lazy people hate cooking.

 

 

 

 

Lazy Rattatooey

Ratatouille

 

1 onion, diced

1 large eggplant, cut into cubes

4 small zucchini, sliced into rounds

1 bell pepper, cut into strips

2 pints cherry tomatoes

1 garlic clove, minced

A dozen fresh basil leaves, chopped

½ teaspoon dried oregano

1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

Salt and pepper

1 cup shredded parmesan cheese

½ cup dry rice

 

  1. Plop all the ingredients except for the rice and parmesan in a slow cooker. Sprinkle in 1 teaspoon of salt and a little pepper. Cook on LOW for 8 hours.

 

  1. After 8 hours, turn the cooker to WARM, and leave it until you’re ready to eat.

 

  1. When you’re ready to eat, prepare the rice according to package directions in a separate pot.

 

  1. Divide the rice into 4 bowls and then top with rattatooey and ¼ cup parmesan per bowl. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper as needed.

 

  1. There’s not enough protein or calories in rattatooey for a meal, so you will also need to prepare a protein. I like grilling chicken on my George Foreman and then just tossing the cubed chicken in with everything else.

 

Servings: 4

 

Nutritional information per serving (without an extra protein):

 

Calories: 260

Protein: 14g

Carbs: 38g

Fiber: 8g

Fat: 6g

 

Prep time: about 20 minutes to chop all the vegetables. A couple minutes sticking rice in a pot and boiling water.

 

Cook time: 8 hours for the rattatooey, but you don’t have to be there!

20 minutes for white rice or 45 for brown.

 

Overall appropriateness for Lazy Chefs: Very Good! You hardly have to do anything, especially if you can find someone else to help you chop the vegetables.

Fancy vs Lazy Cooking: An Introduction

Chef

Clip art by Belthsazar_Liem, https://openclipart.org/user-detail/belthsazar_liem

I’ve never taken a cooking class, unless you count my year of home ec in middle school, where we did a semester of cooking and a semester of sewing. That was actually a lot of fun.

 

I’d learned the basics of cooking (and sewing) already from my parents, since when I was a kid we cooked at home every night, only going out to eat when we were on road trips. My parents were not what you would call foodies, however; they preferred home-cooked meals mostly because they were cheaper. We ate good, basic meals with plenty of vegetables and protein and not a lot of fancy prep. I always enjoyed them—eating has always been one of my favorite activities.

 

Then, when I was in college, I started cooking with my roommate Abbey in our dorm kitchen. Abbey and her mom were foodies, and Abbey had grown up cooking and baking all sorts of interesting things that I had only barely heard of. For a couple years, I served a sort of apprenticeship as Abbey’s sous-chef: she would buy cookbooks (this was before the internet) and pick out new recipes to try, and we would cook them together.

 

My parents had both been scarred as children by the southern style of cooking vegetables, which was basically boiling them until they were unidentifiable lumps of mush. It left them with an understandable distrust of turnip greens and Brussels sprouts. So, when we cooked together as a family, they tended to stick to a few tried-and-true favorites, like broccoli and green beans. With Abbey, I learned to cook and enjoy asparagus, spinach, stuffed green peppers, and all sorts of other veggies. It was like opening up a whole new, leafy green world.

 

Not that I was an instant convert to fancy cooking. Far from it! I discovered that I liked most vegetables if cooked properly, which was great. However, I was still, at base, a lazy person, and a lot of fancy cooking requires a ton of effort, including washing dishes, which I HATE. It wasn’t hard at all when I was cooking with someone else, especially someone who loved cooking, but it was a lot harder when I graduated college and was living on my own.

 

So my life as an adult has been a constant struggle between two opposing forces:

 

On the one hand, my desire to eat food that is not only tasty but healthy.

 

On the other hand, my complete hatred of anything resembling hard work.

 

I realized recently that there were other people like me out there, people who want to eat better and learn to love vegetables and balanced meals, but who hate labor-intensive recipes and, moreover, just don’t know where to start.

 

So I decided to post some of the recipes I use on my blog.

 

I think one of the things that turn people off from cooking is the fancy recipes that they print in newspapers and on cooking sites. A lot of those recipes are designed for people who love the intricate, involved crafting of a new medley of flavors and textures—people who are like artists where food is concerned, and who don’t mind hard work if it gets good results.

 

If you are one of those people, whom I will call Real Chefs, I just want to say I have nothing but the utmost respect for you. I love going to restaurants or your houses and tasting the amazing creations you put together. I love that YOU love the art you create in your kitchen. I wish I was more like you.

 

Unfortunately, I am a Lazy Chef, and I am perfectly willing to compromise (somewhat) on flavor, texture, and authenticity if it means that I can cook my whole meal in one pot in twenty minutes.

 

If that philosophy bothers you, then you probably shouldn’t read my posts.

 

If, on the other hand, you are a lazy person like me who is looking for ways to eat better while not spending all of your free time chained to the stove, read on!

 

Some of the recipes will stand alone, with just one recipe in the post.

 

Others will feature two versions of the recipe in a “Fancy vs Lazy” face-off, so that you can see how I convert the labor-intensive recipes of Real Chefs into better meals for Lazy Chefs. And I might poke fun at how seriously some people talk about cooking. Just a little.

 

Enjoy!

 

Lazy Chef Recipes: Stuffed Pattypan Squash

Pattypan 1

My mom often brings me recipes and ingredients out of the blue, and recently she brought me these strange white squash from a friend’s garden. They were round, hard, and shaped kind of like flying saucers. She said they were called pattypan squash.

 

I’ve never seen them at a grocery store (but, then again, my neighborhood King Soopers is so unfancy that there are 7-11s with a bigger produce section).

 

In case you ever see pattypan squash at a grocery or farmer’s market and want to try your hand at cooking them, here’s a recipe you can try. Tested for you by yours truly!

 

Stuffed Pattypan Squash

 

Pattypan Squash Bowl

 

4 adorably strange pattypan squash

1 lb ground chicken or ground turkey

1 onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 T olive oil

½ cup rice (dry)

1 cup chicken broth

1 cup shredded parmesan cheese

Salt and pepper

 

  1. Fill a big pot about a quarter of the way with water. Bring the water to a boil over high heat. Add the squash to the boiling water and cover the pot, but don’t turn the heat down.

 

Cook the squash for 10 minutes. Then uncover the pot and poke the top of a squash with a fork. If the fork goes in easily, the squash is done, and you can take it out of the pot and put it on a cutting board.

 

If the fork bounces off the top of the squash, or it feels like you’re trying to dig the fork through a rubber tire, the squash is not done. Recover the pot and cook for another 5 minutes.

 

Repeat as necessary until the squash is finally done.

 

  1. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a different pot over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, add the onion and cook until softened, about a minute. Then add the garlic and the ground chicken and cook, stirring frequently, until the chicken is browned. If the chicken starts sticking to the bottom of the pan, add a little more oil or a tablespoon of water.

 

  1. When the chicken is all brown, add the rice, chicken broth, and ¼ teaspoon of salt. Bring the broth to a boil, cover the pot, and reduce the heat to low. Cook for 20 minutes (unless you’re using brown rice, in which case set the timer for 45 minutes and go watch some TV or something).

 

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

 

  1. Now it’s time to cut the tops off the squash. Grab the squash with one hand and a sharp knife with the other. If you burn your hand, the squash is too hot and you need to let it cool off for a few minutes before cutting it.

 

Once the squash is cool enough to handle, cut a circle into the top of the squash, just like when you’re carving a pumpkin. Pry off the top and set it aside.

 

Now scoop out all the goopy insides of the squash with a spoon. The goop is all edible, so put it into a bowl to add it to the rice mixture later (unless the goop looks gross to you, in which case you can just throw it away).

 

Be careful while you’re scooping not to pierce the bottom or the sides of the soft squash. Also remember that any liquid inside is still really hot, so don’t touch it and accidentally burn your hand again.

 

Put the scooped-out squash bowls in a lightly greased baking pan and sprinkle the insides with salt.

 

  1. When the rice mixture is done, stir in the goop from the squash and cook for about 1 minute. Then stir in the parmesan cheese. Taste for seasoning, and add salt and pepper as needed.

 

  1. Put the rice mixture into the squash bowls. Cover the baking pan loosely with tin foil, then bake for 15 minutes until hot and bubbly.

 

Or, if all this has taken a really long time and your burned fingers hurt and you’re so hungry you don’t care whether the dish is bubbly or not, you could just pile the mixture into the squash bowls and eat as is. Everything is cooked all the way through, and it’s perfectly tasty as is.

 

Servings: 4

 

Nutrition information (per serving):

Calories: 434

Protein: 39g

Carbs: 36g

Fiber: 7g

Fat: 16g

 

Prep time: 10 minutes in advance, plus a ton of work in the middle checking squash, burning hands, cutting squash, etc

 

Cooking time: supposedly 35 minutes. Mine (what with my squash and brown rice refusing to cook) took more like 45 minutes, and that was without me putting the squash bowls in the oven at the end.

 

Overall appropriateness for Lazy Chefs: Meh. The squash bowls were tasty, but there was definitely work involved.

Pattypan 2