This post is sponsored by last night’s dinner:
Leftover pieces of roast chicken, pre-cooked black beans from a box, leftover kombocha squash (my first time trying and so good-like butternut squash, but better!), leftover sauteed onions and leeks, all topped with melted cheese and served with a side salad of farmer’s market greens.
The secret ingredient that took this leftover mishmash from blah to fab?
Mother in Law’s Gochujang fermented chili paste concentrate, in Extra Spicy.
Cooking your meals instead of going out to eat is an immediate and ongoing way to save money. I like to spend as little time as possible preparing food, but still cook from scratch. Which translates into a lot of unfancy gruel, roasted, sauteed or boiled.
Julia Child spending 2 hours on a bouillabaise I’m not. (But I want to eat this!)
I find that adding a spice or two to the unfancy gruel quickly adds flair and makes meals more satisfying.
So the gochujang sauce. I’ve used it in the past as an ingredient for this Spicy Korean-Style Chicken.
It was just the thing I needed to make my lazy dinner more interesting to my palate. I could have spent half an hour making an actual home made sauce, but that’s not a priority to me on weekday evenings. Often not on weekends, either. I’d rather have more time to read and blog for you all.
Here are some of my go to spices and how I use them to make quick meals any night of the week:
1. Mother in Law’s Gochujang Sauce
Great for meat or vegetarian proteins (like tofu).
2. Dried Garlic (any brand)
I dump dried garlic onto chicken before roasting, along with salt and pepper. I sometimes also throw it into sauteed greens, when I’m too lazy to cut up fresh garlic. (Noticing a theme?) I’m going to try sprinkling garlic onto other vegetables before I roast them as well.
3. Frontier Co-op Seafood Seasoning
I always ask the person at the fish counter which fish is the freshest. One such time, I was recommended a type of white fish I can no longer remember. I asked him how he cooked it, and he said he uses cajun spice. So I found this stuff. Sprinkle it on top of a fresh filet of fish and it’s ready for baking or cooking stove top.
4. Nutritional Yeast
I love Bjorn corn! I used to wonder why it was so addictive. Then I looked at the label and was shocked. Besides popcorn, there’s only one ingredient– nutritional yeast. Eager to repeat the experience without the price tag, I ordered some nutritional yeast to toss on my popcorn, which I make in a pot on the stove (way easier than it sounds, cheaper than the microwave variety, and healthier too)! The funny thing is, my nutritional yeast tastes not as good as the kind on Bjorn corn. I still don’t know how they get it to taste so good. But I’m saving money so it’s okay.
5. Raw Honey
(In a glass bottle, as unprocessed as possible.) This one is obvious, but it’s great for throwing into plain yoghurt and plain oatmeal.
6. Ground Cumin
I tried to find a spice for ground meat to put into tacos, but couldn’t find anything at my local store without scary-sounding preservatives. Cumin to the rescue! I pour cumin, garlic and some chili powder into ground turkey, beef or chicken while I’m cooking it on the stove. (Unrelated–the last time I did this, I also tossed some healthy shiitake mushrooms into the ground beef.) Also great for tossing on chickpeas to roast with olive oil.
7. Sriracha Sauce
Multipurpose sauce that I love it on eggs. And to flavor anything bland. The lazy cook’s go to flavoring. My husband loves to blend sriracha with our favorite avocado oil mayonnaise, to make a sauce for meatballs.
8. Soy Sauce
Another duh one- great to throw in flavor to sauteed kale, etc.
9. Apple Cider Vinegar
Slightly less obvious. Can be thrown onto sauteed greens. My husband likes to gurgle it when a sore throat is coming on, which is why we tend to always have a bottle around.
10. Alex’s Ugly Sauce
My favorite hot sauce. No preservatives. Dip scrambled eggs in, throw onto boring food and for tacos.
Health note: I always buy versions of the above with no preservatives, even if it costs more. I have no interest in pickling my insides with seemingly but not actually innocuous ingredients like potassium sorbate, sodium bisulfite or xanthan gum (taken from the label of a sauce that shall remain anonymous.)