Coronavirus quarantine recipes: Getting back into the kitchen

Whether you’re hunkering down out of an abundance of caution or self-quarantining for good reason, cooking at home is something we all can do.

SHARE Coronavirus quarantine recipes: Getting back into the kitchen
Beef strogoanoff such as this, is a quick but impressive meal.

Beef strogoanoff (a representative version pictured), is a quick but impressive meal.

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Before I wrote about food,before I had the privilege of visiting and eatingin restaurants for a living, I cooked.

I cooked at home for my little brother and sister. I cooked for my broke college roommates. I cooked in sandwich shops and restaurants and catering companies.

I prepped. I baked. I fried. I sautéed. I chopped and sorted and washed till my hands were chapped. I grilled till the tips of my fingers formed thick calluses that protected me from the licking flames.

I loved it.

And then I took adesk job at a newspaper. My hands recovered. I started eating out more than cooking. I got better at making reservations than I was at making risotto (way better).

However, amid the shut-down of the dining-in option at our nation’s restaurants, I’ve found myself in recent days dusting off old cookbooks and Googling long-lost recipes.

Whether you’re hunkering down out of an abundance of caution or self-quarantining for good reason, now is a good time to get back in our kitchens.

I’ve found my muscle memory has lingered. My calluses are long gone, but my knife skills remain half-decent.

If it’s been a while (or a lifetime) since you’ve cooked, here are some basic refreshers:

  • Keep it simple: This is not the time to take on Escoffier or even Julia Child (give it a couple days). Start with easy, quick recipes that involve as few ingredients as possible. Get your bearings and go from there. For simple, home-run recipes, I love the “Dinner in 20” section of seriouseats.com. It’s a trove of delicious, straightforward dishes that come together in a snap.
  • Invest in good basics: The right tools make cooking infinitely more enjoyable. For me that meansa good chef’s knife, a decent cutting board and a reliable pairof tongs. If 2020 has a silver lining, it’s thatthese things can be delivered to your doorstep.
  • Slow cookers are our friends: Set it, forget it and get back to your Netflix binge. Slow cookers and Instant Pots do the hard work for us. If you have one, dust it off, fire it up and put it to use. One of my favoritecooking sites, food52.com, lists 50 great Crock Pot recipes. The goodpeople atbustle.com have 10 recipes to make slow-cooker beginners taste like pros. I like to double the portions, then freeze the extras for another day. 

If you’re ready to get back in the kitchen, we’ve got your back.

Our food team shared some of their favorites recipes for long weekends (weeks, months, who knows?) at home. These are fairly simple recipes made with easy-to-find ingredients.I present them here, with some ofthe stories behind them.

There is no better time to become a competent cook.

Seven-ingredient beef stroganoff with garlic-roasted broccoli

This recipe is my favorite quick-but-impressive meal that takes maybe 20 minutes, but tastes like I spent hours chopping, stirring and sautéing.

For the beef stroganoff

1 16-ouncepackage egg noodles

2 pounds lean ground beef

2 10.5-ouncecans fat-freecream of mushroom soup

4 minced garlic cloves (or substitute 1 tablespoon garlic powder)

1 cup fat-free sour cream

Milk as needed

Worcestershire sauce to taste

Salt and pepper to taste

Cook egg noodles according to package and set aside.In a large skillet, brown ground beef. Drain the fat.

Add soup and minced garlic to beef. Simmer for 10 minutes over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and combine beef with egg noodles and sour cream. Add milk if more moisture is needed. Stir well.

Add a few dashes of Worcestershire sauce to taste and season with salt and pepper.

Serves 4-6 people

Kimchi is a most versatile food. Stir it into eggs; give your avocado toast zing; mix it with butter and spread it over salmon before you roast it. Blend it with cream cheese and put it on crackers.  

Kimchi is a most versatile food. Stir it into eggs; give your avocado toast zing; mix it with butter and spread it over salmon before you roast it. Blend it with cream cheese and put it on crackers.

stock.adobe.com

Kimchi cheese toast

Everyone has their own COVID-19 food crisis. Mine is being down to a half jar of kimchi.

Salsa’s fine, but I love kimchi on nearly everything. Stir it into eggs; give your avocado toast zing; mix it with butter and spread it over salmon before you roast it. Blend it with cream cheese and put it on crackers.

Naturally, kimchi figures into my favorite go-to breakfast lunch or dinner. If I’m staying home to work for two weeks, I can still eat happily if I can make a kimchi cheese toast or two to wolf down with a salad or fruit or — sometimes I can’t resist — a little mound of sautéed onions and single-bite potatoes.

Fortunately, kimchi is one of those foods applauded for itshealth benefits. A 2014 study in the Journal of Medicinal Food called it one of the food warriors that is “anticancer, antiobesity, anticonstipation, colorectal health promotion, probiotic properties, cholesterol reduction, fibrolytic effect, antioxidative and antiaging properties, brain health promotion, immune promotion and skin health promotion.”

I don’t know why and I don’t know how. I do know that’s just another reason love this sour, spicy, cabbage-crunchy condiment.

Ingredients

2 tablespoons kimchi, chopped

1 generous slice of your favorite mild cheese from American to Havarti (Daiya smoked gouda is wonderful if you’re vegan)

Slice of whole-grain bread

Toast the bread. Add the cheese; melt it in the microwave. Spread the kimchi on top and munch away.

You can dress this up with a couple slices of bacon and/or chop some avocado on it for a deluxe lunch.

— Harriet Howard Heithaus

Turn fresh chicken breasts into a delicious meal of almond-crusted chicken.

Turn fresh chicken breasts into a delicious meal of almond-crusted chicken.

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Almond-crusted chicken for two

Cooking for family and friends is always a treat, especially when you can tuck into some simple comfort foods.

Ingredients

2 chicken breasts trimmed and pounded evenly

1 cup sliced almonds

½ cup Italian bread crumbs

1 egg

½ cup all-purpose flour

1-2 sprigs fresh rosemary, de-stemmed

5 cups fresh spinach

½ cup thin-sliced scallions (optional)

Olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

1 lemon

Crush sliced almonds and combine with bread crumbs in medium bowl. Give rosemary a quick chop and add to almond mix

In separate bowl, whisk egg with a splash of water.In third bowl, add flour and season with salt and pepper.

Heat enough olive oil to cover bottom of sauté pan on medium heat.

Dust chicken evenly with seasoned flour, then place in egg bowl and finally place in almond mixture, coating sides evenly. Place chicken in sauté pan and cook evenly until finished. Set chicken to rest on wire rack.

Add scallions and spinach into the same sauté pan. Heat until spinach is lightly wilted. Plate greens, top with chicken breast and add a squeeze from the lemon.

— Karl Schneider

It’s easy to turn tilapia into a delicious lunch or dinner.

With just a few ingredients, It’s easy to turn tilapia into a delicious lunch or dinner.

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Baked tilapia and eggs

Ingredients

4 tilapia (or similar white fish) fillets

4 eggs

scallions

2 tablespoons butter

Paprika

Salt and pepper

Hot sauce of choice (optional)

Heat oven to 350. Melt butter and add to large glass baking dish.Place tilapia fillets in dish leaving room in between for eggs.Crack eggs and add to pan between fillets

Season everything with salt, pepper and paprika.Place in oven and bake for 15 minutes or until eggs are at yourpreferred consistency.

Slice scallions and top the eggs and fillets once plated. Add hot sauce if desired.

— Karl Schneider

Chickpea curry is a highly versatile dish, as you can opt to make it vegan or not.

Chickpea curry (shown is a representation) is a highly versatile dish, as you can opt to make it vegan or not.

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Chickpeabutternut squash curry

The simple act of reading this Thai-inspired recipe makes me feel better. It’s chock full of healthy vegetables and antioxidant-rich spices. This particular version is vegan, but feel free to substitute chicken or beef stock for the vegetable stock. I’ll often add chopped chicken breast or shrimp at the end for a boost of protein.

What I love most about this recipe is how easily it’s altered. Add in as many vegetables as you like. Sub sweet potatoes for the butternut squash if you want. Add white beans instead of chickpeas, or leave the beans out altogether. Switch up the spices as you see fit. Play around with this to figure out howyoulike it best.

Ingredients

1 medium butternut squash (or 2 sweet potatoes) peeled, seeded and cubed

1 small onion,finely diced

2-3 tablespoons coconut or olive oil

1-2 tablespoonscurrypowder

1 tablespoonsalt

1 teaspooncumin (optional)

1 teaspoon coriander (optional)

1teaspoon turmeric (optional)

1 32-ounce box vegetable stock

1 15-ounce can chickpeas, drained

1 15-ounce can coconut milk

½ pound fresh green beans (optional),trimmed and cut in 1/2

1 red pepper (optional), seeded and cut in strips

1 poundcleaned shrimp or chicken (omit to keep the recipe vegan)

½ bunch cilantro, chopped

Sriracha (optional) for serving

Heat a large stewpot over medium-high heat. Add enough coconut oil to coat the bottom of the pan.

Once oil is hot, add cubed squash, onion andcurrypowder, stirring constantly so thecurrypowder toasts and getsfragrant, but doesn’t burn. Add salt, cumin, coriander, turmeric and whatever other spices you like (ginger is a great addition, or a hit of cayenne for spice). Stir some more.

Once the onions are soft and the squash is coated in spices and starting to soften, add chicken stock and the drained chickpeas. Stir, cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 5-10 minutes.

Add coconut milk, green beans and red peppers and let simmer for a couple more minutes or until green beans are starting to soften. If seeking a non-vegan version, this is the time to add shrimp or chicken, allowing it to simmer till fully cooked. Remove from heat, serve with cilantro and sriracha for garnish.

Serve over rice, or without as acurrystew.

Read more at usatoday.com

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