Viewing category ‘shortcuts’

I'm Mama Harris, the wife and mother to a large blended and multicultural family. In my lifetime I've been a single mom, a step-mom, a working mom and now a stay at home mom. My kids range in age from toddler to newly adult and I write about my kitchen adventures and the variety of foods and recipes I feed my family at From the Kitchen of Mama Harris. I've experienced all aspects of mommy-hood and look forward to sharing my kitchen tips, tricks, recipes and shortcuts!

Case of the Boring Sandwich: Kick It Up a Notch with These Tips

Categories: lunch, meal prep, recipes, shortcuts

No Comments

Since I’m often busy with the kids and working at home, my husband tries to make it easy for me when it comes to his lunches. One of his absolute favorite things for lunch would be a sandwich made up of cold cuts. He’s not even picky about the meat, it could be bologna, ham, turkey, pastrami, salami.. the list goes on. Slap a bit of mustard and mayonnaise on there and he’s a happy camper. Many times this is the sandwich he requests for lunch and while I can appreciate that there are no frills, but it can still get quite boring to make. Just because I’m busy doesn’t mean I want to make a sad sandwich.

So I choose to liven up his sandwich, and of course he doesn’t mind. This is easy to do and here’s how:

  • Add fresh veggies. Spinach, lettuce, tomatoes, olives, sun dried tomatoes, pickled bell peppers. Get creative!
  • Include a great kick. I’ll often use spicy brown mustard instead of the original bright yellow kind. In addition, I’ll spread a bit of horseradish into the mayonnaise and include a few pepperocini’s for a great bite.
  • Mix it up with different breads. Instead of plain sandwich breads, I’ll but sandwich rolls, fancy wheat bread with the seeds sprinkled on, or even some Hawaiian rolls. You can also slice up a loaf of French or Italian bread for softer or crispier variety to mix it up.
  • Also mix up the cheese. Instead of just using those boring slices of American cheese, try adding Pepper Jack cheese for an additional kick, or Swiss, Colby, Monterey Jack, Mozzarella, Provolone, maybe even Feta and cream cheese. Play around with different flavors and get creative.
  • Make it a grilled cheese sandwich. I’m not really a cold cuts sandwich girl, but make it a grilled cheese and I’m all the way in! It’s so simple too, just make the sandwich how you normally would, and grill it in a saute pan with a bit of butter or margarine. Even if it’s for later it still tastes great!
The main goal is to turn those sandwiches from boring to extraordinary.Let’s get excited about our food and look forward to lunchtime. He often enjoys the surprise and is impressed with the different things I add to tweak his favorite sandwiches.
What’s your favorite way to make a sandwich?

5 Easy Recipe Ideas for Leftover Rice

Categories: leftovers, recipes, shortcuts

No Comments

Rice is a staple in so many homes, it’s an easy ingredient to whip up as a quick side, or even as part of a main dish. My husband and son are rice fanatics. They will literally make a pot of white rice and eat it for breakfast, lunch, dinner and even a midnight snack. They like to add a little milk and sugar to it, so it’s sort of like an oatmeal. Often when they make their big pot of rice they leave a lot of leftovers that I’m left with to figure out how to use. They don’t even use the leftover rice the following day, they just make another pot.

Through the years this has left me with a predicament, because I hate to waste food. So I’ve discovered quite a few ways to use this leftover rice to my advantage, it’s kind of like meal planning and it’s a great time save since it’s already been prepared. SCORE!

This is actually a great problem for the busy mom to have. A lot of really good meals that include rice actually call for the rice to be cooked a day or two in advance. Otherwise, it may become too mushy when you add it to your dish. Using leftover rice is actually a great option! Here’s a few ideas to get you started.

Ideas for Leftover Rice:

  • Rice pudding. Mix rice with some milk, butter, sugar, cinnamon and vanilla and you have yourself a delicious treat!
  • Stir fry. The best stir-fry begins with a good cooked rice and oil. You can add scrambled eggs and vegetables, or even customize it with chicken, beef or shrimp!
  • Chicken soup with rice. A good, hearty soup is a great way to use up some leftover rice. It’s especially helpful during the polar vortex that much of the country is experiencing, great way to keep you nice and toasty!
  • Sausage and rice casserole. A hearty casserole is another great option, and an efficient way to create a quick meal with all that leftover rice!
  • Black bean and rice burritos. A great dish on it’s own, or you can even add eggs, vegetables and salsa to create a delicious breakfast burrito. Perfect for leftover rice the next morning!
Do you make rice often? What is your favorite rice based dish?

The Great Vegetable Debate: Sauté vs Roasted

Categories: cooking, shortcuts

No Comments

As busy moms, dinnertime is often about balance. We want to feed our families the healthiest and best tasting foods without sacrificing quality time with them by spending hours in the kitchen. A healthy and nutritious meal is essential, but we don’t want to break our backs night after night preparing it.

This leads to the great debate for one of the most important parts of our meals. Our vegetables.

In corner one: Sauté

For the longest time I’d just do a quick saute in butter or oil, with a few seasonings or other ingredients. Once I became more comfortable in the kitchen, and began trying various methods and recipes, I discovered the beauty that is roasted vegetables.

When you saute your vegetables, you have a little more control over the taste and flavor profile. You can add olive oil or other oils, butter, and as many seasonings as you like to get the flavor you’re going for. It’s quick and efficient, and there’s many combinations of vegetables you can create this way to suit any dish.

In corner two: Roasted

When you roast vegetables, you don’t need much more than olive oil and some salt and pepper. Roasting brings out much of the natural flavors and sweetness in vegetables, but it does take a bit longer that a quick saute would.

In addition to the vegetables, for both methods you can add meats and potatoes to create a one dish meal. Wrap some vegetables in foil with your meat and roast it together. It’s a delicious and efficient meal, no stirring needed. You can do the same in a pot or skillet, similar to a stir fry style.

Personally, I like the no-fuss method of roasting. You just cover and pop it in the oven and they’re ready. No stirring, no adding additional ingredients, and the flavor is simply amazing. In addition to that, the fact that there’s so few ingredients needed to roast is also a bonus in the nutrition department. Of course, there’s times I do prefer that quick meal that only a quick saute can provide. Sometimes sauteing vegetables can add additional calories with butter or additional add ins, and there’s a chance you can overcook a bit and lose some essential vitamins.

I think a good balance for this debate is to create your quick and easy meals during the week with sauteed vegetables and maybe do a bit of a more elaborate meal on the weekend when you might have a bit of extra time. That way you get the best of both worlds. Worst case scenario you can throw a salad or two in the mix as well!

What’s you favorite way to prepare vegetables?

Mama Harris’ Sneaky Kitchen Shortcuts

Categories: grocery shopping, organizing, pantry, shortcuts

No Comments

As busy mom’s, I think it’s always important to us to utilize our time as efficiently as possible. Personally, I thoroughly enjoy cooking for my family, but I don’t want to feel like I’m always in the kitchen. Since my family has a busy schedule, I try to spend as much of my time with them and also completing other important tasks around the house. There’s a few easy ways to minimize your time in the kitchen without sacrificing the quality of your meals, all the while maximizing your family time.

I’ve touched on a few of these points with a few of my past articles including Every Mom’s Pantry Essentials and Weekly Meal Prep Ideas For the Busy Mom. Here’s some additional shortcuts I’ve developed in order to stretch my schedule and time.

  • Grocery shop once a week, and plan your meals according to the sales. If your pantry is fully stocked with spices and staples that you often use, grocery shopping just once a week should be simple. I typically shop according to sales and plan my weekly meals around the items I purchase.
    Read the rest of this entry

Subscribe to blog via RSS