My 3 Best Cooking Hacks - What’s Yours?

Like everyone, sometimes I need to keep dinner very simple, so thought I’d share 3 of my best quickie food fix ups.

#1 Pacific Brand Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato Soup (TJ’s brand can’t compete)
1 large shallot, minced
1 heaping teaspoon of smoked paprika
Olive oil

Sauté the shallot in a 3 quart pan in a tablespoon of olive oil until soft
Add the smoked paprika and sauté for a couple minutes
Add the soup (FYI the packaging is asceptic) and let simmer 5-10 minutes.
If I have sherry in the house I’ll add about 2 tablespoons at this point and simmer just to incorporate the sherry
Garnish or not with whatever you like)

We just had this last night with grilled cheese on sourdough and it was freaking delicious and easy for game night. (Go Seahawks)!!
I’ve also served it at dinner parties, and everyone oohs and ahs over it.

#2 Potsticker Soup

1 quart chicken stock
10-15 potstickers
Soy sauce
Baby spinach

Pour the broth into a 3 quart pan and heat to boiling
Add potstickers and simmer until done
Remove from heat and add 2-3 handfuls of baby spinach
Add soy sauce and toasted sesame oil to taste, Siracha, etc

When the spinach is wilted, you’re good to go.
Also good with sliced mushrooms, green onions, thin sliced celery or water chestnuts

#3 Ravioli Lasagne

Frozen ravioli of your choice
Grated mozzarella cheese
Grated Parmesan cheese
Pasta sauce of choice (marinara, Alfredo or whatever you like.

Layer as you would for traditional lasagne and bake.


Three. . . . gotta think about that, but one comes to mind quickly

Boursin Cheese (I’ve only ever used the garlic and fine herb or pepper) - heated with a little milk or stock makes a really quick and easy sauce. I’ve used it with vegetables and/or sautéed chicken over pasta or rice many times. Super fast, super easy.


Roast a tray of root veg, blend to semi texture. Pour in soup pot with Chopped windowsill herbs and enough broth defrosted from freezer to make soup. OInce heated thru add rinsed, canned beans and leftover protein if on hand. Serve w toasted bread.

Bake a dozen combo of sweet and russet whole potatoes to stuff with all sorts of goodies from the frig.

Make a dry batch of waffle mix to turn into all sorts of meals.

Blenderize a dozen raw eggs for quick egg bakes.


NOODLES Thinly slice whatever raw protein you have on hand, not much, maybe 2 oz per person. Let marinate in mixture of cornstarch and soy for a few minutes. Finely slice green onions or dry onions if that’s all you have. Boil dry or fresh Asian noodles, or spaghetti if that’s what you have. Heat oil in wok or frying pan. Remove meat from marinate and quickly saute. Remove and throw in the onions. Sear a minute then add drained noodles and return meat and marinade… Toss all together and add soy to taste.

SPAGHETTI Husband’s favorite = with butter, garlic and Parmesan. Green salad if forced.

Frozen tortellini in broth.

#2 & #3 are two of my go-tos as well.
#3 - Ramen noodles cooked in the rice cooker. Add ins - stir fry vegetables, shrimp, cooked chicken or beef.
Ramen carbonara with bacon.

Agree with Lambchop about the Pacific Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato soup - I rinse the carton with a bit of half & half and shake it around then add to the soup as it heats. Always keep a carton of this in our pantry. Great with grilled cheese of any persuasion.

Sheet pan suppers. Endless possibilities. Line the sheet pan with foil - no mess.

Large spinach salad - baby spinach, candied walnuts, dried cranberries, thin sliced red onion, crumbled blue cheese. Bottled balsamic vinaigrette. The only work is slicing the onion. Serve with buttered rolls.

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I agree that Pacific Brand RRP & Tomato soup is quite good. I like the ravioli lasagna idea–might have to steal that :wink:

When it’s gotta be quick. I agree with pasta, especially if I have a pesto I’ve made sitting around. But parm and butter or oil will do.

B’fast for dinner. Pancakes and sausage are quick to whip up.

This is normally a weekend lunch for us, but if you get to the store midweek, we like to slice bread and put out deli meat, cheese, pickled things and some cut fruit. Also very quick.

I work until late, so dinner is either take out or quickies:
Two of our favorites:

  1. Chopped up chicken thighs (small squared) spiced with cumin, turmeric, paprika, cayenne pepper, S&P - thrown in a pita pocket with Tahini/lemon/garlic Sauce.
  2. Chipotle bowls - minute rice with can of corn, chopped up tomatoes, cilantro, red onion, lettuce, jalepeno, with TJ’s organic tomatillo roasted yellow chili salsa and TJ’s Red Roasted salsa. Mix well.
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everytime i cook i store vegie scraps in refregirator and when i think its enough i make vegetable stock :wink:

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  1. Cook ahead. Same time to make six or eight chicken breasts as two. Leftovers sliced for sandwiches, diced for chicken salad (a good and fast dinner), shredded for tacos, microwaved and wrapped in parchment paper for road or couch food.

  2. Cook ahead. Two gallons of homemade pasta sauce home canned (my preference) or frozen for easy fifteen minute dinners.

  3. Refrigerator scrapping. Taking everything near end of life out of the fridge and thinking “what can I do with this?” Usually ends up being a fast saute, stir fry, or soup.

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Im doin First in, first out, after getting all the new groceries, I make sure to move all the older foods to the front and put the new ones to the back, by this will be able to use up the older foods before it could expire. :smile:


Leftovers are a good thing

I rarely cook just enough…


A superficially reasonable approach. I’m sure you realize that a brand new avocado has less life left to it than last week’s cabbage or last month’s onion. I tend to make a refrigerator sweep every couple of days to identify things that need to be eaten. Lots of veg end up on the counter in a bowl or basket. Leaving them out may shorten shelf life (although some fruit and veg do better outside of the fridge) but keeping them under my nose means I’m less likely to overlook them.

Americans tend to refrigerate a lot of things that don’t need to be (condiments) and some things that shouldn’t be (tomatoes, potatoes, onions).

not quick, but easy: salt & brown some chicken thighs or pork shoulder, add a can of El Pato Spicy Tomato sauce, braise a while until tender

cream scones for a quick breakfast treat - some flour, and appropriate dash of baking powder, a handful of sugar, maybe a spice or fruit, add heavy cream until it feels like dough. Cream is butter and liquid in one!