During my last ski trip over President’s Day weekend, it dawned on my that one of the issues we always face when we rent a home or condo is what to cook for dinner. After a full day of skiing and/or ski school, expecting kids to sit through a restaurant meal is a recipe for disaster. Regardless if you spend the day on the slopes, the logistics alone of getting your kids and their stuff to ski school means elaborate meals if any kind are totally unappealing. Add in the fact that your favorite ski venue is unlikely to have your favorite grocery store and you’ve got a challenge.
What meals are easy, hearty, and doable with basic ingredients that you can get at any grocery store?
I asked Amanda Haas, a cookbook author, cooking instructor, and cookbook producer (ranging from A16 Food & Wine to Williams-Sonoma Roasting) for some help. She recently launched a brilliant new blog called One Family, One Meal where she provides all the weekly menus, shopping lists, and recipes you’ll need to feed a family of four on a budget for $200 a week. The amazing part for me is that she has figured out a way to include organic and locally sourced ingredients in this budget, i.e. this is not about cheap and easy junk food.
Amanda lives in the Bay Area with her husband and two favorite test subjects — her two young sons. These recipes sound perfect!
Amanda’s Favorite Chili
Prep Time: 15 MinutesCook Time:2-2 ½ hoursServes: 6-8
Your kids will agree – this chili is perfect for refueling after a big day on the slopes. If you use dried pinto beans, make it a day or two ahead and it reheats really well. Or if you prefer to make this at the last minute, substitute two 15-oz. cans of pinto beans that have been drained and rinsed. Purchase a package of instant cornbread to bake while the chili cooks. With a big salad and a glass of Zinfandel, it doesn’t get any better.
1/3 pound dried pinto beans
28 oz. canned crushed tomatoes (I like San Marzano the best)
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 medium red bell peppers, cored, seeded, and coarsely chopped
1 medium yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
¼ cup finely chopped fresh parsley
1 ¼ pounds lean ground beef and ½ pound lean ground pork, or 1 ¾ pound ground turkey
3 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon black pepper
Place the beans in a large stockpot. Cover with two inches of water and bring to a boil. As soon as the water boils, turn off the heat, then cover the beans and allow them to sit for one hour. (NOTE: You can substitute this method in any recipe that tells you to soak the beans overnight. It works like a charm!)
After one hour, bring the beans to a boil again in the same water, then cover, reduce the heat, and simmer until tender-about 1- 1 ½ hours. (Note: Pick it up from here if you’re using canned beans.Just place the beans in a stockpot with ½ cup of water.) Add the tomatoes and simmer 5 minutes longer.
While the beans are cooking, heat the oil in a very large skillet over medium heat. Add the peppers and onions and cook, stirring often, until the onions are translucent, about 8-10 minutes. Stir in the garlic and parsley and cook for 1 more minute. Add the meats, the chili powder, salt, cumin, and pepper, and cook, stirring often, until the meat is crumbly and cooked through, about 8-10 minutes.
When the beans are cooked through, add the meat mixture to the beans. Simmer over low heat for 10-15 minutes to combine the flavors. Serve immediately or allow to cool before storing in the fridge for up to 1 week.
Recipe adapted by Amanda Haas from “Chasen’s Chili Recipe”
Skirt Steak with Chimichurri Sauce
Prep Time: 15 minutes Cook Time: 10 minutes Serves: 4-6
I’m obsessed with skirt steak. It’s less expensive than flank, but has all of the flavor and a great texture. After a busy day in the snow, it cooks up really fast for dinner. Even in the smallest ski towns, you should be able to find the ingredients to make this Argentinean herb sauce to go with it. Serve with the roasted potatoes (recipe below) and a glass of Cabernet to complement the sauce.
2-3 lb. Skirt Steak (or substitute with flank or strip steaks)
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
1 tablespoon capers, rinsed
2 cloves garlic, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 cup lightly packed fresh parsley leaves
2/3 cup lightly packed fresh cilantro leaves
2/3 cup lightly packed fresh mint leaves
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil plus more for the Steak
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
Remove the steaks from the refrigerator 1 hour before cooking. (Bringing the meat to room temperature before cooking allows it to cook more evenly.)
Meanwhile, make the chimichurri sauce: In the bowl of a food processor or blender, combine the Dijon mustard, sherry vinegar, capers, garlic, 1 teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon pepper. Pulse to combine, scraping down the sides once. Add the herbs and pulse for 10 seconds until the herbs are coarsely chopped. With the motor running, pour the oil in a slow, steady stream and process until the herbs are finely chopped but not pureed. Season to taste with salt and pepper and set aside.
If pan-frying, preheat the oven to 450˚F. (Or if you have the luxury of grilling outdoors, preheat the grill to high heat.)
If the skirt steak is still in one long piece, cut it into portions 6 to 8 inches long. Pat the steaks dry with a paper towel. Brush them with olive oil on both sides, then sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Preheat an oven-proof pan on the stove over medium-high heat. (Cast iron works well if you have it.) When the pan is very hot, place the steaks in it and cook for 2 minutes. Flip the steaks and place the entire pan in the oven and cook for 6-8 minutes more. Remove the steaks from the oven, place them on a cutting board, and tent them with aluminum foil to rest for 5 minutes. (To grill the steaks, place the meat on the grill, cover,and grill for 6-10 minutes, flipping once during cooking. Remove it to a cutting board, tent with foil, and allow it to rest for 5 minutes to reabsorb its juices.)
Slice the steak against the grain by cutting slices perpendicular to the lines running across the steaks. Drizzle some of the chimichurri sauce over the top and enjoy!
Recipe adapted from Williams-Sonoma Essentials of Roasting by Amanda Haas
Roasted Fingerling Potatoes
Prep Time: 5 minutesCook Time: 15-20 minutesServes: 4-6
I love roasted potatoes-they get all crispy and delicious. Improvise with what you mix in with the potatoes. On busy nights, I simply use olive oil, salt and pepper. Or if you can find them, try mixing in some fresh thyme, parsley, or rosemary along with a few minced garlic cloves for extra flavor.
1 pound fingerling, small Yukon Gold, or baby Red potatoes
Extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon chopped thyme, parsley, or rosemary (optional-you’ll have the herbs already for the pot roast this week)
2 cloves garlic, minced (optional)
Preheat the oven to 450˚F.If using fingerling potatoes, slice them on the bias into 1/3” pieces. If using Yukon Gold potatoes, simply quarter them.
Place the sliced potatoes in a large mixing bowl. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil, a generous pinch of salt and grinding of pepper, any herbs, and toss to mix. Spread the potatoes out on a large baking sheet in one layer.
Place the potatoes in the upper half of the oven and roast for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and use a spatula to turn them, scraping up any that have stuck to the pan. If using the garlic, toss it with the potatoes now. Return to the oven and roast for another 5-15 minutes, or until they can be pierced with a fork and look crispy on the outside. Serve immediately.
Recipe by Amanda Haas for www.onefamilyonemeal.com
Hot Apple Cider
Prep Time: 2 minutesCook Time: 10 minutesServes: 6-8
While the parents are all enjoying their favorite beverages, here’s a quick one to whip up for the kids.
1 jug apple cider or apple juice (plan on 8 oz. per child)
6-8 cinnamon sticks
Whipped Cream (optional)
Place the apple cider in a large saucepan, along with 2 cinnamon sticks. Heat the cider for 10 minutes over low heat, until the cinnamon has started to infuse the cider and it’s just warm enough to drink. Place a cinnamon stick in each mug. Pour a cup of cider into each mug and garnish with whipped cream if you’d like. Serve warm.
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