Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Three Kitchen Shortcuts

If I could, I'd make everything from scratch when I cook, but you know what?  Sometimes I just can't.  Sometimes life, time, toddlers, dogs, and winter colds get in the way, and mama needs a shortcut.  Here are three newfound current favorites:

1) Love Beets
I, well, love beets.  I love to eat them, especially chopped over salads with a sprinkle of feta, but I don't so much love the laborious process of roasting and peeling them, subsequently staining your hands, cutting boards, and half your kitchen a bright fuchsia. So, I was especially excited to find these prepared beets at our local Whole Foods.  Unlike jarred or canned prepared beets, these have that same fresh, earthy flavor as if you had just prepped them yourself.  They also come infused in four different flavors (three vinegar variations and a honey ginger).  I bought the mild vinegar infused ones last weekend and have been enjoying them on my lunch salads all week.  I love how much more accessible Love Beets makes this nutrient-packed food, and the little gems are so gorgeous that they add a restaurant-quality element to the plate as well.  And I must add that while prepared food sticker shock usually prevents me from making purchases like this one, Love Beets are very reasonably priced at around $2.50/package... less than what I'd pay for a whole bunch of fresh beets!  Score.

We are fools for Mexican food, and it won't shock you to know that I used to be something of an enchilada sauce snob.  In the pre-baby days, I always prepared it myself from scratch using fresh tomatillos and cilantro.  That sauce is still pretty incomparable, but I just can't pull it off most weeknights anymore, which means we've had an enchilada dry spell, despite the fact that this is one of both of our favorite dinners (I just can't abide by the tinny tasting stuff in the can, I'm sorry).  However, enchie night has now joyfully and deliciously been revived by the adorable Rick Bayless and his incredible line of gourmet Mexican sauces.  His green chile sauce is the closest thing I've ever tasted to my fresh stuff, and makes weeknight enchiladas even easier than ordering pizza.  Nuke a pile of corn tortillas wrapped in damp paper towels, roll your favorite filling (this week we did shredded leftover chicken and black beans, but black beans and cheese would be even easier), stick 'em in a dish, pour a pack of this sauce over the top, and 15 minutes later... enchie night!  We love it.  And at $2.50/pack these sauces are well worth the slightly more than the cheap stuff in the can... the flavor is just night and day.  I'm really excited that we found this product, and would encourage any busy household to give these a try in the weekly menu rotation; they're weeknight gold!

Lastly, this isn't a product, but a genius idea I picked up on Sous Style this week.  Next time you have the juicer out, squeeze a bunch of extra lemon or lime juice and freeze it into ice cube trays.  You'll instantly have a "squeeze of lemon" for your favorite cocktail or mocktail even if your fruit basket is bare.  These would be delicious in a glass of iced tea, or just to have on hand for when a recipe calls for a bit of citrus.  I'd even just serve them in sparkling water for their lovely sunny yellow pop on a winter day.  Beauty.

What's your fave kitchen shortcut these days? 
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1 comment:

  1. These are all great time-savers, especially the beets. You are so right, perfect on a salad, but awful roasting and peeling.