My own 30 Minute Foods
My War on Fast Food
I have children, critters, a small farm with a big house, a job, college classes 70 miles away... Try finding time to cook! I spend a fortune of money that wasn't really there to buy Fast Food, but after a while that stuff gets boring.
When you eat at the same places over and over again you start judging value and taste... They All started losing! A Big burger looked small, mayonnaise gets old, french fries start tasting like grease and salt... and nothing else.
But how in hell am I suppose to still squeeze time to cook in a already filled day? Simple hot dogs and Rahmen soups are getting old too! Sandwiches, no matter how much I love Nutella, are starting go down like a bitter medicine. So I would spend minutes just sitting in my car, trying to figure out what to eat to get some variety, some healthier food; and something I hadn't eaten a hundred times before!
I once worked at a restaurant and one of my favorite things there were Quesadillas. Having worked against a ticking clock, one of my favorite foods can be done in a matter of minutes!
Things you need:
- Large Tortillas
- Meet of your choice, cooked and diced (I had it with chicken, beef and even pork.)
- Shredded Iceberg lettuce
- Shredded Cheese (get a mix)
- Diced Tomatoes
- Sour Creme
- Guacamole (Yak, but some like it)
- Pico de Gallo
- A little Oil or Butter
- Choice of fresh Herbs or green Onions, chopped
Quickly fry the tortilla in a large pan (pancake pans work great), ensuring you don't get it too crispy. Turn the stove down a bit (while you are frying the second side of the tortilla), add cheese, tomatoes and meat and fold in half when the cheese is melted.
Cut the 'sandwich' in slices of your choice and arrange on a large plate. Place some shredded lettuce in the middle; using a ice cream scoop add sour creme and guacamole (if you like it), sprinkle some more cheese, tomatoes and fresh herbs/green onions on top. Add a small bowl of Pico for taste/decoration.
Variations from your Fast Food place:
Small Tortillas, seasoned (like that Taco Seasoning from Sam's Club) Ground Meat or Italian Sausage (love it), diced Tomatoes, shredded Lettuce, Sour Creme, shredded Cheese.
Slap it all together into the Tortilla and there is your Taco.
My kids will take anything and everything and slap it on a Tortilla (three were born in Texas!). I like to mix a spicy, melted Cheese with diced Tomatoes and cooked Sweet Corn. Love that Queso Cheese.
Non-Boring Hot Dogs
I've been in the United States for 16 years and never had a hot dog with Sauerkraut before until recently at a certain gas station; me, the German 'Kraut'!
- Hot Dog or Chili Dog with a 'Kick'!
Take a bun, a hot dog and your choice of 'additions' such as chili, mustard, onions and else and add some spicy cheese to it. I love the 'Queso' cheese a certain gas station offers as a dip. It has a good amount of kick to satisfy a Texan used to Tex-Mex food. But Pepper Jack can do good as well.
- Taste-test Mustards!
American Yellow Mustard is right there with the lame American Beer and the soapy tasting H... Chocolate. But on the other side Americans have come up with a wide variety of Mustard flavors that I love to collect for use at home. Some of my favorites are the Raspberry Mustard (can't find it anymore. SUCKS!), Six Pepper, Horse-Radish (did I mention that Mustard is suppose to be spicy!!!?), Dijon, Southern Style (only found it in Texas so far, but WOW! Lots of 'Kick'!) and, of course, German Mustard!
I take some slightly warmed Hot Dogs (when I don't have the time to grill them.), a large plate full of different Pickles and other 'sour' stuff and a few squeezes of each Mustard. Especially the Six Pepper and the German Mustard will add a great 'Kick' to everything and the variety will make it more interesting. Sorry, I don't like Ketchup. But you can also use different BBQ sauces with the Hot Dogs.
- The 'WOW'
My favorite hot dog at a certain hot dog place has pepperoni slices, Italian sausage chunks, lots of cheese and even more Parmesano on it! Hmmmh!
Its a German thing, but soooooo gut (German for 'good')!
In lack of 'Rindswurst', you can use any 'red' sausage such as Polish- or Smoked- Sausage. I rather like it cooked than 'nuked'.
Take some of that horrible red stuff kids seem to like that much (Ketchup) and mix it with Curry Powder for taste.
Lay your Sausage on a plate, cover it in that Ketchup/Curry mix, sprinkle some more Curry on it and ...enjoy.
Love it! Miss it!
'Kartoffeln und Quark'
This is the German version of Jeff Foxworthy's "Macaroni and Cheese-Broke" type food!
All it takes is some cooked salt Potatoes, some Sour Creme (Quark is translated 'Curt', but my Mom swears that Sour Creme is so much better than Quark!) and some fresh Herbs such as Parsley, Dill, Chives and Chervil (Can't figure out how to spell it!). I personally don't cook with salt, but love all kinds of different Pepper mixes such as the Six Pepper mix Sam's Club used to sell.
Mix the Sour Creme with the chopped Herbs and season for taste. Get as many of your quartered cooked Potaoes as you like and cover them with the 'Quark' (Sour Creme) mix. I go for 70% Sour Creme and 30% 'Quark', but I always loved that stuff.
There are two ways to cook similar and very yummily sweet foods my kids will kill for. One is with Rice and one is with Creme of Wheat.
This is quick and easy, as long as you don't let the milk burn. Supposedly there is a trick about adding water before the Milk, but I am not that good of a cook anyway.
You cook the Rice or Creme of Wheat in Milk until it is soft. Mix regular sugar with cinnamon. You can also warm up Cherry Pie Filling.
Fill a bowl with the Milk-Rice or -Creme of Wheat, cover it with the Sugar/Cinnamon mix and/or add the hot Cherries.
Bowl of Goodies
Its called something else at a certain Chicken place, but I call it Bowl of Goodies.
Cooked corn, God's gift of Mashed Potatoes and Gravy (I even tried it with Pepper Gravy! OH MY GOD! SO GUT!), any form of fried Chicken bites. Mix it, serve it, love it!
Similar but as good:
Cooked Pasta, Iceberg Lettuce, Italian Sausage, Gravy (I am a fan of Turkey Gravy.) Pile it up, cover with Gravy, enjoy!
You can do the same with Mashed Potatoes instead of Pasta. Especially since you can't find the Pasta called Maccaroni (like hollow Spagetti) in the U.S..
Even better: Have my Mom make you her famous Bratwurst Gravy and use that over anything! OH MY GOD! ...No, I am not sharing her!
It's really simple:
Chop/dice Tomatoes, Hot Dogs (Germans use Fleischwurst since their Wieners suck. I use Chicken Hot Dogs.), left-over Potatoes, Pickles (it's better with German Pickles, since they are neither too sauer or too darn sweet)and Bacon (my addition) and throw it in the deep skillet. Warm it up thoroughly and stir some Eggs under it until the Eggs are done.
Another breakfast item:
Germans have something called Leberkaese that could fall in the Spam family but is a hundred times better (Sorry, Spamnatics!). But you can substitute with the big loafes of Chipped Ham and slice them in quarter inch thick slices. Fry on both sides in the pan. While frying them, fry some Eggs (I love over-easy.) and cover the Eggs with slices of Cheese.
To assemble, take a larger slice of Bread (not that White stuff), add some Butter, lay the Ham slice on top, add the Eggs on top of that, ....enjoy!
Doner Kebab (or spelled simular)
This is something dearly missed and the only thing that made the long, boring hours on guard duty easier.
One of the beautiful things I remember about Germany is the Turkish stores with their abundance of fresh breads, marinated cheeses, stuffed peppers, smoked sausages and more.
A true favorite Fast Food was the Doner Kebab you could order for 5 DM (Deutsche Mark) and a teenager on a bike would deliver to the base.
Turkish cooks know how to grill Lamp to perfection. And there is a special way to both grill and cut the meat used in a Doner Kebab. But you can improvise and use either ground meet or even Italian sausage.
I use the Turkish Flat Bread when I can find it. The larger ones are uses similar than buns or tortillas, but the medium ones I cut open until they form a pocket or purse. Add the seasoned meat of choice and something wonderful we always called Tzatziki, which is actually Greek and ...enjoy.
Found this recipe online, but haven't tried it yet. See link below.
- Tzatziki - Recipe for Greek Cucumber Yogurt Dip - Tzatziki
Cool and creamy this tangy cucumber dip flavored with garlic is the perfect compliment to grilled meat and vegetables. Serve with plenty of pita triangles for dipping.
A couple of things are very German and will make an American probably react similar than I do to Sweet Potato Pie and a few other American foods.
- A true North German thing is the Fischbroetchin. Fisch is... Fish and Broetchin is Bun.
They come in many varieties from small Shrimp, Tomato and Lettuce on a bun to marinated Herring with Tomato and Lettuce. It's an acquired taste, but it does beat some of the stuff I tried over here.
From what I've been told the butcher takes what lunch meat is left (remember that Germans get much more creative with their lunch meats and cheese (including European Cheeses) and you can find 50-60 types in supermarket compared to 2-3 here!), slices it, adds mayonnaise, (German) diced pickles, and pepper and mixes it up. Nobody will give up a recipe, but that's what we identified. Some also add herbs.
Generously add it to fresh bread and enjoy.
Chicken salad is similar. Diced chicken, mandarins, asparagus tips, mayonnaise; a slice of fresh bread!
Don't know how to spell it or what meat it exactly is, but it is uncooked, North German and so good. You spread it on bread, add some onions and fire away.
You have to buy what Germans call Knaeckebrot. It is this crispy and thin bread that, if covered with butter and sprinkled with sugar, will make your kids go for more. There is another fluffy variety, but I have no idea what it was called. The last one I had was over twenty years ago!
Yet another idea from a restaurant...
Yesterday's potatoes sliced in half and a bit hollowed out. Mix cheese, bacon, fresh herbs and tomatoes (my choice) and stuff into the potato halves. Cover in cheese, bake, enjoy.
I also tried this with chili and Queso cheese. Yummy!
A bit more time consuming version would be...
- Stuffed Peppers
Mix your ground meat with eggs and bread crumbs (and even fresh herbs) like my Mom would make her home-made beef patties. Hollow out the pepper, stuff it with the mix, bake, serve with cooked pasta.
- Stuffed Zucchini
Same mix. Hollow the zucchini, fill with the mix, cover in slices of cheese, bake, serve, enjoy.
There are so many and some you may know, but some you may not.
- Winter Endive
Winter Endive is hard to find, but if you do its worth the money. Chop it up. Make sure to cut the stems out of it. Mix milk with ketchup, salt and pepper. Add the endive and let it sit. The milk with take any bitterness out of it. Goes well alone (with me it never makes it to the table) or with potatoes and pork chops.
- Cucumber Salad
You can use the regular cucumbers, but I grew up with hot-house cucumbers and they are much tastier/less bitter. Peel them and then either slice them, dice them, or shred them. Finely dice or shred some onions (red ones taste better).
Mix milk with salt, pepper, a tiny bit of vinegar, some oil, some sour creme or yoghurt, some mustard and some fresh herbs to taste and soak it in it. Some drain the cucumber juice, I leave it in there for added taste.
My Mom has a basic vinegrette she uses for almost anything in different ingredient amounts.
She also doesn't measure a thing but goes by Phi times Thumb, as she calls it. Thus the lack of exact measurements.
The vinaigrette has vinegar (don't use that white stuff. It's almost worth to buy the German 8 Herb vinegar in a green bottle.), oil (I like olive oil, but any normal better tasting one does OK), a good mustard (I usually use a German mustard.), a little sugar, salt (I don't cook with salt.) and pepper. Sometimes she adds fresh herbs or even dried herbs.
- Sweet Yellow Corn Salad
Mom's vinaigrette with a few cans (use corn you like to eat; they may be called the same, but some sweet corns taste better than others) of sweet corn, some red, green and orange peppers and possibly some of those tiny tomatoes and fresh herbs.
- Tomato Salad
Cut your tomatoes into wedges (I prefer wedges to keep the taste of the tomatoes), dice some onions, add Mom's vinaigrette and some fresh green herbs. Voila!
- Green Salad
My favorite 'green' salads are the sweeter types. I couldn't figure out there names, but one is purple and one comes in small heads and is a little pricey. Baby lettuce mixes work too. I am just not a fan of bitter lettuce.
I add tomatoes, fresh mushrooms, hot house cucumber slices, sweet corn, radishes, hard-boiled eggs, croutons, sometimes bacon bits or fresh fried bacon, fresh herbs, sometimes even artichokes (diced) or asparagus and red onions to the chopped lettuce and carefully mix it with Mom's vinaigrette. Fresh garlic bread or fresh bread with butter and it makes a meal for me.
I love radishes and even those big white radishes. I dice the small red ones or shred the big white ones, add fresh herbs and the vinaigrette... Hmmmmmmh!
- Green Bean Salad
Cook the green beans until done and let them cool down. Dice onions and mix in with the green beans and fresh herbs (my Mom always had a miniature herb garden on her kitchen window ?seal?). Add the vinaigrette and serve with any food.
If you like it colorful, use a variety of cooked beans.
Sliced beats, eggs and the vinaigrette. This one is superfast!
- Bell Peppers
I haven't made this since bell peppers seem to have become more expensive than gasoline, but I would slice them (all colors to make it bright and colorful) and add Mom's vinaigrette.
Her basic vinaigrette is always the same, but with some things there is a tick more sugar or a tick more vinegar rather than sugar. It's really up to your taste.
This is another idea taken from a restaurant that I successfully tried on my children at home.
If you are much better in the kitchen than I am, bake your own small loaves of bread. Otherwise, buy some small loaves or large buns at the supermarket.
You will also need one can of the soup of your choice per person.
Horizontally cut the top off your loaf/bun and hollow it out a bit until it makes a bowl. Place it in a bowl. After warming up your soup, fill your 'bowl' with soup and set the top back on it like a hat. You can also crumble up what you pulled out to hollow it out and add it as decoration.
I always eat bread with my soups, so why not use one to eat the other!?
How could I forget such delicious food!
A bag or two of white bread (that's about the only time I use what we kids loved as toast, but eventually becomes boring), enough cans of sliced pineapple to cover them and some sliced ham. You will also need some American cheese.
On a baking sheet spread out the bread and cover it with ham (I buy the big packs and cut the slices in half, but you can use a whole slice if you like.). Add one slice of drained pineapple to each slice of bread and cover with a slice of cheese.
Bake in the oven until the cheese is melted and a little browned.
Variations I tried:
- I used different meats and cheeses in combinations. Anything from different breakfast meats to Italian sausage that you like to eat works.
- Instead of pineapple and ham, I tried it with mushrooms and Swiss-cheese and maybe some Italian sausage
- A smothered style with pre-cooked onions, peppers, mushrooms and cheese.
- Pre-cooked chicken breast with the smothered style.
- Tiny Italian sausage balls, Italian seasoning, garlic, cheese; for a Italian style sandwich.
An American Classic - Grilled Cheese
Only in America do they have a guy in a tooth costume stand along a highway in the middle of nowhere dancing to advertise a Family Dental Practise...
Only in America do they have a guy holding a Jesus sign stand along the main drag, waving and pointing at people!
Only in America can you have anybody from a Redneck to a Gourmet take a slice of bread and a slice of cheese and do amazing things with it!
I wasn't really a fan of Grilled Cheese sandwiches until we did some varieties to the simple American Cheese & White Bread version.
Besides those creations you can see in the pictures, I tried out all kinds of stuff.
- Veggie-Lover special covers any vegetable you can fry in a pan together and slap on a sandwich with any kind of cheese. I am a fan of onions, fresh garlic, colorful peppers, green onions, mushrooms. Combine that with any of the great cheeses that you can get out there and you can create a colorful and tasteful variety.
- Spice it up with adding some jalapenos and Jack cheese. My teenage Copper-Tummy would probably add Louisiana Hot Sauce to make it worse.
- A Italian version with Mozzarella, Italian Seasoning and sausage or some Italian bacon.
- A meat lover version can have ham, salami, bacon and all kinds of other meats on it with your choice of cheese.
- The girls love it sweet and we tried some fried bananas or apples and cinnamon. Even better on French Toast.
- For breakfast you can make your choice of eggs and mix it with anything. I love scrambled eggs or omelet with tomatoes, onions, garlic, peppers, mushrooms and bacon bits.
I also saw it with the vegetables uncooked (like in a salad) and a more fresh, stuffed version rather than all of it fried together.
- One version I really want to try out is Spinach and Ricotta. It sounds so delicious. I will probably make it similar to a Spinach & Ricotta pizza.
- Hawaiian style with ham and pineapple.
- Greek style with goat cheese, fresh herbs, olives and more.
- I would like to try a seafood version with maybe shrimp or something like that.
This is a 'Leftover' Classic you can create in any way you want to!
All you need is the leftover noodles/pasta from the day before and whatever your heart desires. The main idea is to take leftover noodles/pasta and fry it in the skillet with some butter or oil and some eggs you stir under them.
It is totally your choice if you stay with the simple noodles/egg/(salt)/pepper version or add such things as parmesano, bell pepper, onions, mushrooms, smoked sausage, bacon, ham, zucchini, tomatoes, pickles or more.
Any meat that you like to eat with noodles, any cheese, any vegetable will do. It's the combination of the leftovers from your fritch and your personal taste what makes this great!
And it doesn't take long to fix this and serve it!