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Life Lessons of a Military Wife (overseas in Europe!): Tired of cooking...that's me...solutions are here

Life Lessons of a Military Wife (overseas in Europe!)

My goal here is to make your life easier, especially those who are in the unique situation of being a military spouse. Yes...I've been around...but in a good way...and hopefully can share those tips, tricks and shortcuts with you too. I've been on this military bus for over 40 years now. My goals in life are to have a well-run home, few money worries, well adjusted children, money socked away and whatever happiness I can scoop out of life.

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After life as an Army brat, being in the Army myself and marrying a soldier, I can honestly say I have a bucket full of life lessons I can share to help you make your everyday life easier and enlightening. Don't waste your time making unnecessary mistakes and benefit from others who have come before you on your journey through life.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Tired of cooking...that's me...solutions are here

I don't know if you're like me.  I'll go to our local library and check out half a dozen cookbooks with mouth watering pictures (cause those without just won't do).  I dutifully go home, mark the pages, buy the ingredients and then end up cooking  maybe....2-3 recipes per cookbook with mixed results.  Then, fresh out of motivation for the rest of the week, the dinner rut begins to rear its ugly head!  Family's hungry...always hungry (I have two boys plus hubby), so now what?  How about some easy "cheats" that look like you made a meal and put a lot of effort into it too?

Here are some ideas that have saved me and made my family belly-full happy:

  • French bread (I LOVE Belgium for this as it is EVERYWHERE), roast chicken from the grocery store (they do that here too), raw cut-up celery and carrots (with choice of dips), olives (younger son lives on these) and a few rounds of cheese (we tried a wonderful light textured cheese from Brugge last week).
  • Anything you can fry up on a raclette grill!  My kids love this thing and it's fun for company.  Get a few types of smoked sausages (even a few hotdogs will do)...cut that stuff up beforehand.  Also slice up peppers, onions and whatever vegetables taste great grilled.  I also have pre-cooked baked potatoes which will be sliced at the table.  Don't forget condiments and sauces and dressings for dipping.  Many stores now have raclette cheese, but we usually bring home a few different kinds too.  The gist is you layer a slice of potato and whatever cheese in your little tray and put it in the slot under the grill.  Up top you'll lay out sliced sausages, veggie slices and watch it sizzle and cause tongues to water.  What a fun dinner!  I sometimes make a few cold salads the day before to also go with this meal if we are having company.
  • Boboli-type pizza, sauce (any spaghetti sauce will do), cheese, veggie and leftover lunchmeat toppings.  Kids get to make their own and will then be more inclined to eat their own creations!
  • Deli meat platters, macaroni and potato salads from the deli.  Don't do this too often though, as they can be expensive.
  • Breakfast for dinner.  We'll fry up some omelettes, and I always keep bacon and pre-cooked sausage in the freezer.  I will also slice up some potatoes and cook them in the microwave a few minutes before I pan fry them in butter and seasonings.
  • If you just have pasta and whatever tomato sauce, add cream cheese (the flavored varieties work well) as you heat up the sauce.  It looks and tastes like a rich vodka sauce.
  • Sandwiches for dinner.  Grab some fresh rolls before coming home along with some lunchmeats and cheeses.  Try different sauces.  I discovered Andoulous sauce here in Belgium and have been using that instead of mayo lately.  You can even use that great French bread again, layer it with meat and cheese and then put it under the broiler for a few minutes...hot, bubbly and crispy!
  • Tortilla wraps in the microwave can be a real lifesaver.  Kids like these as snacks too.  What do you put in there?  You can add heated, mashed refried beans and cheese and serve with salsa or gaucamole or how about prepared chili or Sloppy Joe canned offerings?  We sometimes add whatever cut up veggies we have too.
  • If you've got a bag of veggies and frozen chicken breasts or tenders in the freezer, you can put the frozen chicken in the oven after sprinkling whatever seasonings on there.  Once it starts to get light brown, it's done. Stir fry those frozen veggies with the cooked meat and throw in some soy sauce, Asian sesame oil and rice wine vinegar to taste.  Make your rice at the same time in a pot with water.  I boil my salted water (2x water vs. raw rice, so 2 cups of water and 1 cup rice).  I then put in the rice.  Put a lid on it and turn down to the lowest setting.  Set your timer for 15 min and serve with your stir fry.
  • A big green salad with my homemade dressing and bias cut pieces of chicken nuggets...yes, chicken nuggets taste and look great in a green salad and it is different enough to make your dish..different.  I even served this once at a luncheon and everyone kept asking how I did the chicken....sssshhhh.
And those are my cheats.  Do you have any dinner meal cheats?

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3 Comments:

OpenID unexpectedtraveller said...

Use a tortilla wrap and fill it with slices of cold meats (left overs, anyone?). Use a few veg slices for colour and if you like it, try adding some cranberry sauce if you're using chicken or turkey.

November 11, 2010 at 5:07 PM  
Anonymous Evleien said...

Hello,
In belgium you can find excelent meat for raclette at the delaize ( it's prepacket with littel sausages, meatbals, steaks , brochettes... . Theu also have a great choice in different racklet cheese.

November 22, 2010 at 11:43 AM  
Blogger ****Veteran Military Wife at Life Lessons of a Military Wife**** said...

Thanks all! I have seen those pre-packaged meats...just have been too cheap to buy them....but plan to at some time! I've noticed that some are even marinated.

November 23, 2010 at 7:50 AM  

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