Thursday, April 23, 2015

Tips for Being a "Quick Cook"

I’ve been writing a food column for a small town newspaper for about a year and a half. In the spring, summer, and early fall, I write one column a month. In the winter, I post every other month. You can take a peek at current and past issues by going to The Pinewood News  

I called my column “The Quick Cook” because DH, before he was DH, told me he’d never seen someone put a meal on the table as fast as I could. Well, I am pretty good!

A big part of being a quick cook is prepping and knowing which nutritious pre-prepared foods are worth the money. But there are some other ways to meet my goal. I want to feed people nutritious food but quickly and cheaply.

Each column includes a QC Tip and at least one recipe. Here are my QC Tips to date and a little bit about the column it appeared in.

The Quick Cook Tips:

QC Tip#1
Always keep some basic mixes in the fridge for quick cooking.
You can slather these basic mixes onto food you’re cooking or food already cooked. Flavorful and savory, these easy spreads fancy up a meal
Recipes for Savory Butter and Cream Cheese Spread

QC Tip #2
Keep basic seasoning mixes in the cupboard for quick cooking.
Don’t buy pricey seasoning blends. Make your own.
Recipes for Poultry Seasoning, Taco Seasoning, Chinese Spice Blend, and Pumpkin Pie Spice

QC Tip #3
Use seasoning blends in new ways
Ideas for different ways to use the five seasoning spice recipes I gave
More D-I-Y recipes for Seasoned Salt and Italian Seasonings

QC Tip #4
Keep basic mixes in the cupboard for quick cooking.
Measure out ingredients for a double recipe. Bake one and bag one to mix up fast another day.
Recipe for Cran-Pecan Oatmeal Cookies

QC Tip #5
Use your kitchen gadgets and appliances
Using appliances in unexpected ways is one way the quick cook gets food on the plate fast
Recipe for TQC Risotto

QC Tip #6
Develop a kitchen-awareness of foods on hand.
Know what foods you have on hand and play the TV cooking show, “Chopped”
Recipes:  I give several suggestions for combining foods or stretching them

QC Tip #7
Organize your pantry
Look at the foods in your pantry like matching new clothing combos in your closet. Try new things together.
Recipes: I give six suggestions for food pairings like what to do with cream cheese or leftover black beans

QC Tip #8
Clean out the refrigerator before shopping
We have some odd food pairings before I go grocery shopping. Sometimes it’s an archaeological expedition as I uncover that bit of roasted veggies (So that’s where it went!). I want my fridge and cupboard to have space for the new stuff so I make all kinds of un-replicable dinners.
Recipe for Garbage Soup

QC Tip #9
Wow ‘em with dessert if dinner is ordinary.
Let’s face it, some meals are just good, and that’s good enough. But if you’ve got company make their last memory of dinner a spectacular but easy dessert.
Recipes for Salted Caramel Dark Chocolate Avocado Pudding, One-Minute Chocolate Microwave Cake, and Frozen Chocolate-Nut Bananas

QC Tip #10
Make menus before and after shopping.
I survey my food reserves, make menus, create a shopping list. After shopping I make more menus for the bargains I found that weren’t on my list.
Recipe for In-a-Hurry Pumpkin Soup

QC Tip #11
Make quick breads and store in freezer for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.
When making muffins, mix up one batch; package dry ingredients for a second batch to speed up making them again.
Recipe for Cran-Nut Oatmeal Muffins

QC Tip #12
Make convenience mixes so you never run out
It’s a pain to need yellow cake mix, cake flour, baking mix, or self-rising flour and you have none. Make your own with my recipes.

QC Tip #13
Cook foods in small sizes for faster cooking
Serve dinner faster by cutting down on cook times.
Recipe for my meatloaf which I form into small football shapes for single serving.

QC Tip #14
Be in charge of portion control for the health of family and friends
Mini-desserts are one of my “things”.
Recipe for Mini Nutella Cinnamon Brownies

QC #15
Minimize kitchen time for large-gathering breakfasts
I give ideas for cooking for a crowd in a way that doesn’t take you away from your guests.
Recipes for Omelets in a Bag and Waffle Iron Hash Browns

Down the road, when I have another batch of these Quick Cook Tips, I’ll do another column of them. For now, happy quick cooking!


  1. Good tips. I wish the links had worked

    1. Hmm. The only link is to the Pinewood News current edition. Sorry if that was misleading. I am re-running some of those columns here so you can get the recipes when they pop up. I'll also see if I can go into the paper's archives to get some hot links. But it is a little paper, so they may not store the old issues.