Chelsea, my summer intern, returns to college this week. It hardly seems possible that we've been cooking together for three months, or that we've made dozens of great recipes with only two toss-in-the-compost failures. This slow cooker green chile chicken typifies the budget-friendly recipes we've created with college students in mind. Throw a few ingredients into the slow cooker on the way to classes in the morning, and come back to a ready-to-eat dinner at the end of the day. We paired this chicken with quick and easy black beans and rice, and rolled everything in a tortilla with a bit of salsa on top. It's nutritious and economical, as a small bit of chicken is all you need with rice and beans, and you'll have plenty of time left to do homework -- or play with your kids, or read a book, or watch reruns of The Good Wife on television.
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A week of recipes designed for easy cooking, in or out of a burrito. Viva Mexico Week, Day One.
Except for the little sprigs of cilantro (from my herb garden), every ingredient in this quick and easy rendition of classic black beans and rice came right from the pantry. The quick comes from pre-cooked rice, which could be leftover rice from Chinese takeout or from a big batch you've made in the rice cooker. Canned black beans and store-bought sofrito speed things up, too. Sometimes black beans and rice are served side by side (as in moros y cristianos, "moors and christians"), but I figure it's all going to get tossed together in your tummy, so why not cook everything together from the outset? You can double or triple this recipe, or make a huge batch for a crowd, to serve with grilled chicken or fish, or rolled up in a burrito.
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My friend Mary, the queen of kitchen improvisation, can take any random things she finds in the refrigerator, freezer and pantry, and fearlessly mix-and-match them into amazing soups, stews and chili. When she and her husband Matt lived in the town next to ours, they built a bread oven in their back yard and began to keep a batch of basic bread dough from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes A Day in the refrigerator. Put at-the-ready bread dough and a few leftovers together, and voila! Frying pan pizza! Mary generously shared her recipe, below, as well as step-by-step photos that show how easy it is to make stovetop pizza using your favorite pizza dough (homemade or store-bought) and what you find in your fridge.
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The older I get, the more I understand the importance of breakfast. Eating first thing in the morning never has come naturally to me; when I was younger, I seldom ate before noon, and even now, I usually need to work for a few hours before I can face anything more substantial than coffee. Egg and cheese breakfast muffins, made ahead and stored in the refrigerator, give me the protein boost that sees me through the day. And, like quiche or frittata, these muffins taste delicious with any mix-ins: green chiles, slow-roasted tomatoes, bell peppers, fresh herbs, smoked salmon or bacon or turkey sausage. Raid the fridge and have fun. Some day, I might learn to love breakfast. After all, I already love breakfast muffins.
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