The Flipped-Out Food Playbook is all about simple strategies that will make your life as a busy home cook exponentially more easy.
Flipped-Out Food Playbook Move #1: The Saucy Two-Step
Yes, the dance reference was on purpose. This is a fun cooking hack where you devote yourself to a weekend cooking project that involves making a sauce: marinara, Bolognese, adobo, salsa verde—the possibilities are endless. During the week, you use your sauce in simple meals: in the crockpot, baked in the oven, tossed with pasta, or however you want. Then freeze the rest for another busy night!
|"A Saga of Salsa"...Here, I describe a recent weekend cooking project making Salsa Verde, complete with recipes for the salsa, Crockpot Green Chile Pork, and Salsa Verde Enchiladas.
|"The Bolognese-Lasagna One-Two Punch"...A "Saucy Two-Step" meal plan featuring easy-but-delicious "cheater" Bolognese sauce, and everyone's favorite baked pasta: Lasagna. Yes, you really CAN make lasagna on a weeknight!!
|Red Enchilada Sauce: making this authentic enchilada sauce is a great weekend project. The sauce is great during the busy workweek to use in enchiladas, chilaquiles, carne adobado and more.
Flipped-Out Food Playbook Move #2: Slow-Cook It
This is probably the number one cooking hack for delivering a deliciously savory meal during the work week. You put in a bit of effort on the front-end: for example, cubing meat, searing, deglazing, etc. Keep in mind that these steps will build deep flavor and richness into your sauce, so it's well worth it. BUT: you can do it the night before! All you need to do the next morning is pour your meat and deglazing liquid into the crock of your slow cooker, season, hit "on," and go! When you get back, you'll have fork-tender meat and a wonderfully flavorful sauce that can be made into gravy, or just eaten as-is.
Pick a meat with a lot of collagen for this method: this is a type of connective tissue that's found in muscles involved in movement: for example, portions of the arms and legs. Beef chuck and pork butt roasts are two of my favorites. During the long slow-cook, the collagen in these meats breaks down and transforms into a luscious gelatin that makes your meat incredibly tender.
Any number of cuisines are amenable to slow cooking, from French, to Asian, to African. Once you become comfortable with the basic technique, it's easy to adjust the flavor profile any way you like.
|"A Saga of Salsa"...this post includes a recipe for Slow-Cooker Green Chile Pork.
Moroccan Lamb Stew...My family's favorite stew. I frequently make it with beef chuck roast—and I ALWAYS use the slow-cooker now!
|Slow Cooker Navy Bean Soup...this recipe illustrates another of my favorite slow-cooker tricks: taking a sack of any type of bean, putting it in the slow cooker with aromatics, herbs, and spices, maybe floating a ham hock in the broth, flipping the switch, and going away for several hours!
Flipped-Out Food Playbook Move #3: Pressure-Cook It
For me, the words "Pressure Cooker" used to conjure up images of super-heated food exploding upward in a horrifying geiser before splattering all over the ceiling. I have since recovered from my pressure-cooking phobia with the help of the newer, virtually dummy-proof models that are available these days.
So, what's the deal with pressure cooking? The short answer is that the steam and pressure trapped inside the pot allows foods to cook in a fraction of the time that would normally be required. I can make pot roast in under 25 minutes with a pressure cooker! Many Indian recipes are prepared with pressure cookers: the steam and pressure infuse the spices into the meat. Pressure cookers are also a great way to make a rich, savory broth in a fraction of the time.
|Pressure Cooker Chicken Stock: a fantastic “set-it-and-forget-it” technique for delivering a rich, flavorful stock in a fraction of the time you’d spend doing it the old-school way.
|Pressure Cooker Pho Ga: a quick version for making a classic of Vietnamese cuisine, Pho Ga— Vietnamese chicken noodle soup. Make the rich, flavorful broth in a fraction of the time. Piled high with beautiful garnishes, this healthy soup really satisfies.
Flipped-Out Food Playbook Move #4: Big Batch/Freeze It
I never cook just enough food for one meal. (Well, unless it's fish.) Leftovers are a godsend for busy nights! I freeze leftover sauce, broth, casseroles, soups—you get the idea. Then, when I'm short on ideas or crazy-busy, I pull what I need out of the freezer.
|Easy Slow-Roasted Tomato Sauce: a wonderful sauce to have on hand in the dead of winter, when good, fresh tomatoes are so hard to find at the grocery. With this in mind, I grow buckets of sauce tomatoes during the summer months and make several batches to keep in the freezer.
|Angry Jerk Sauce: this fiery, flavorful Jamaican Jerk Sauce freezes well for an easy meal anytime. Works great with chicken, fish, shrimp, pork, beef, or simply over rice.
|Baked Lasagna Bowls: great make-ahead meals for busy times. I always make a few of these when I have extra bolognese or marinara sauce hanging about (that is, when I’m not feeling up to making a full-fledged lasagna!). The bowls freeze well for up to 1 month.
Flipped-Out Food Playbook Move #5: Pantry Raid It
On busy weeknights it's great to be able to fall back on a well-stocked pantry. There are endless meals you can make with pantry staples that can be ready within 30 minutes.
|Slow-Cooker Ham & Navy Bean Soup: comfort food at its best, this soup is incredibly easy to make with the “throw it in the slow-cooker and go” strategy. I always make a big batch because it freezes really well and really comes through when I need an easy dinner or don’t have any food in the house
|Easy Slow-Roasted Tomato Soup with Homemade Croutons: Canned, fire-roasted tomatoes build tons of flavor into the soup with minimal effort. Pure, comfort food goodness that’s perfect for chilly fall and winter days.
|Minestrone: an incredibly easy, but flavorful version of the Italian classic that can be done in short-order using mostly pantry staples.
|Deadlines and Pantry Raids: When you're crazy-busy, it helps to have a well-stocked pantry and recipes that use pantry staples—these times call for pantry raids!