"A mind lively and at ease" is a blog by a first-generation Russian-Ukrainian immigrant Maria K. (Maria Igorevna Kuroshchepova). An engineer by education, an analyst by trade, as well as a writer, photographer, artist and amateur model, Maria brings her talent for weaving an engaging narrative to stories of life, fashion and style advice, book and movie reviews, and common-sense and to-the-point essays on politics and economy.
There are times when you are too tired and too hungry to come up with anything fancy for dinner. You just want something quick and, preferably, not requiring too much thought. This is when it really helps to keep a few things on hand that allow you to make a quick and easy meal, but still have something tasty and nutritious. The answer is to doctor the basic stuff and elevate it to a higher level of cuisine. So, the next time you go grocery shopping, think in advance, and stock up on canned meats and veggies, dried herbs, onions, and garlic.
"Beyond the basics" mac n' cheese
Things to have on hand: onions, canned mushrooms, frozen shrimp or sausage.
- Start with your basic mac n' cheese from the box - whatever brand you prefer.
- While you wait for the water to boil, chop up some onions and sausage. If you are going with shrimp, grab a handful of shrimp and drop it in a bowl of hot water to thaw.
- Once you throw in the pasta, saute the onions, the mushrooms, and shrimp or sausage, stirring constantly.
- Finish preparing the mac n' cheese like you normally would, then serve topped with the sauteed stuff.
Quick and tasty couscous
Things to have on hand: garlic, canned tuna, canned beets, onion salt, dried herbs: parsley and dill (if you have some growing fresh on your porch - that's even better).
- Measure the couscous off into a pan and set aside.
- Set the teapot to boil water for couscous.
- While you wait for the water to boil, saute the garlic with canned tuna.
- Once the water boils, pour into the couscous pan enough to cover the couscous, cover the pan, and set aside to wait for the water to absorb.
- While you wait for the couscous to be ready, open the beets, drain the juice, put into a bowl, sprinkle with parsley and dill, then add some olive oil and red or balsamic vinegar and mix.
- Mix couscous with the sauteed garlic and tuna and serve with the side of beet salad.
Also try any of the hot sandwiches or amazing bakes - they take a little longer to cook, but you could do something else while you wait. If all else fails, hold yourself over with a snack. Happy cooking, everyone!