Hello friends, I’m back with another installment of Quarantine Menu (see Vol. 1) with some meal ideas that have been in our regular rotation. Breakfasts have been very simple around here lately, so these are all more savory lunch or dinner dishes. I also included notes on what freezes well for quick meals later!
- Veggie pasta with easy pesto – sauce freezes well
- Fish stick sandwich w/ quick tartar sauce – fish freezes well and crisps back up in oven/airfryer
- Crispy bottom potstickers – made with frozen dumplings!
- Shortcut ramen – homemade broths freeze well, or use store bought broth
1. Veggie Pasta with Easy Pesto
If you have a blender or food processor, homemade pesto is easy to make with just a few ingredients, but we also love the pictured Seggiano Pesto (may be cheaper in-stores) which happens to be dairy free.
HOMEMADE PESTO SAUCE
- 1 cup tightly packed basil leaves
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 3 Tablespoons pine nuts or walnuts
- 2 Tablespoons nutritional yeast optional
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Chop and blend all ingredients together using a food processor. Don’t over chop – you want the pesto to have a little texture and not be so smooth that it’s like a paste. If using a blender, it’s very easy to over blend so we literally chop / blend for only a second or two at a time and check the consistency!
- If you like your pesto to be a bit saucier without using more oil, simply add a bit of pasta water from after you boil your pasta.
To serve, sauté veggies of your choice, toss with pasta, and finish off with an optional squeeze of lemon and sprinkle of grated parmesan cheese or nutritional yeast! We like to add cut up sautéed squash, blanched broccoli, halved cherry tomatoes, frozen peas, and any leftover shrimp or rotisserie chicken.
2. Fish Sticks + Quick “Tartar” Sauce (so good!)
Whether you’re having frozen store bought fish sticks or making your own, do yourself a favor and at least make this quick “tartar” style sauce! It’s creamy, tangy, and definitely my favorite component of the meal.
Making fish sticks is a fun way for kids (older than Nori) to help out in the kitchen and then eat with their favorite dip. Nick elevated our grownup meal into a pretty darn good fish stick sandwich, which I couldn’t stop dunking in the tasty sauce!
BAKED FISH STICKS
- 1 lb filet of firm white fish like cod cut into small strips
- Flour add more as you go so there’s enough to coat all the strips
- 2 eggs beaten with a spoonful of mustard mixed in
- Bread crumbs with your choice of seasoning. We found that using half panko half regular bread crumbs resulted in the best texture but you can use either.
- Salt and pepper
- Garlic powder paprika, or other seasoning of your choice
- Season the cod strips with salt, pepper and other spices of your liking. Season the flour, egg, and breadcrumbs as well.*
- Dip and pat each cod strip first in the flour, then dip in the egg + mustard mixture, and finally in the breadcrumbs, using your fingers to press the breadcrumbs in firmly to help them stick.
- Lay each dipped fish stick on a foil lined baking sheet or baking rack, and spray with cooking oil spray (or brush with olive oil). Cooking spray or brushed oil with help the outers crisp up more in an oven, without frying.
- Bake ~12 minutes at 450 degrees Fahrenheit until done, flipping once half way through cooking. Check a fish stick center for doneness.
Homemade Tartar Sauce Ingredients
Simply mix together the below ingredients + enjoy with fish! Adjust pickle and mustard level to taste.
- 4 Tablespoons mayonnaise (some of you mentioned using plain greek yogurt)
- 1 Tablespoon dill pickle juice
- 1 pickle chopped up. Or, sub in relish instead of pickle juice + pickles.
- 2 teaspoons dijon mustard
- Squeeze of lemon juice
3. Crisp Potstickers from Frozen Dumplings
Do you have a bag of frozen dumplings from Costco, Trader Joe’s (good vegetarian option there) or the Asian grocery that you’re tired of eating plainly boiled? Try the sear-steam-sear method my mom taught me, demonstrated in this IGTV video! This method helps the bottoms crisp up while making sure the insides are cooked thoroughly and not dried out.
Start with store bought frozen dumplings, or try making your own (my family recipe).
Freezing notes: When freezing freshly made dumplings, make sure to spread them out on a foil or parchment lined baking sheet and let freeze for at least hour or two before consolidating into one storage bag. That way they won’t stick together in one clump!
Potsticker Pan Searing Directions
- In a good nonstick frying pan (we love and use these nonstick pans – use code SWEET20 which cancels out the shipping cost), heat oil over medium heat. Place frozen dumplings directly into the pan.
- After the bottoms have seared for ~5 minutes and start to brown, pour in water until about 1/3 of the dumpling height is submerged in water. Cover with a well fitting lid to let the dumplings “steam” and cook thoroughly. We always get so many questions on this universal sized pot lid and love it – it fits most of our pots and pans.
- Avoid lifting the lid too often to allow the dumplings to steam inside. Once the water in the pan is almost cooked off, remove the lid and let it finish evaporating uncovered on low medium heat.
That’s it! The bottoms of the dumplings should crisp up once the water completely cooks off. I like to serve mine with a dipping sauce made of Chikiang black vinegar, soy sauce, and a drizzle sesame oil.
4. Simplified Ramen with Ramen Egg
If using store bought broth, chop up some aromatics like ginger, garlic, and the white part of scallions and sauté in a bit of oil first. Then pour in your canned or boxed broth, rinsing the container out with some water and add that in too. I recommend always using low sodium or no salt added broth, that way you can season it to taste per the recipe. For 2 cups of low sodium store bought broth I’ll add a little water and about 1 teaspoon soy sauce and 1 teaspoon fish sauce (adjust this to taste) for a quick bowl.
I’ve been loving Imagine brand low sodium chicken broth, and if I also have beef broth at home I’ll mix the two together for more flavor dimensions. And if you have miso paste at home, you can of course add that!
Making your own Bone Broth
I’ve been making my own bone broth in the instant pot just with approx 2 lbs chicken or pork bones, enough water to cover the bones, and whatever sautéed aromatics I have on hand like garlic, onion, ginger and lemongrass (if I want some Asian notes.) I pressure cook for 2 hours on the Instant Pot (yes I know that’s a long time!), strain the broth and salt it to taste. I freeze this to use in all kinds of soups and stews, and I also freeze some in smaller ice cube trays for random dishes like mashed potatoes that need just a little broth. For use in “ramen,” season similar to the above with fish and soy sauce or miso paste before serving.
I haven’t found any good ramen noodles at our local groceries, so just buy Twin Marquis brand noodles from the refrigerated section (easy to separate out in individual portions and freeze, too).
- Egg – see below.
- Pork belly – I made this recipe recently braising on stovetop for nearly 2 hours while I did errands around the house, and it was melt in your mouth tender (or use an Instant Pot)
- Toasted sesame seeds, furikake seasoning or Trader Joe’s everything but the bagel seasoning
- Drizzle of sesame oil
- Dried roasted seaweed sheets
Perfect soft or medium boiled eggs:
- Boil water in a pot over medium-high heat and remove the lid, making sure the water stays boiling.
- Add your egg, then cover and set timer for 6 minutes for soft-boiled eggs, closer to 7 minutes for medium.
- At 6 minutes, remove and plunge egg into cold water to stop the cooking process. Note 6 min is for a large egg, so do a little less time for smaller eggs.
- Optional marinade: I usually love a medium boiled egg as-is, but went the extra step this time and marinaded our unpeeled, boiled eggs “ramen egg” style for a little extra flavor.
Let me know if you try any of these! For more easy meals, check my Extra Ap(Petite) archives!