I want to share something that I thought of around our second year of living here in Mexico. Mexican food is very good! We all like it a lot...good thing! :) But it does all kind of consist of the same ingredients....beans, tortillas, tomato, chili, rice, cheese, sometimes meat, lemon, salt, and pig lard :) Oh, there are other ingredients they use, but ater a while it can seem that everything is all the same...the difference is how you fold the tortilla!
There is also no such thing as "quick and easy" here. Everything is made from scratch. You really have to think and plan ahead...if you want dinner at 6 pm, you cannot go to the kitchen at 5 pm and have really much to choose from.
With what is available here, I try to include a balance of both Mexican and some of our favorite dishes from the states...or as close as I can get to them. Well, one day, I was thinking about Hamburger Helper. Now, we'd never really bought it, but I was thinking about the concept of just dumping these dry ingredient from a box into a pan with some water and seasonings and...walah...a no fuss meal in no time.
I began to think, "Is the noodles or potatoes or rice or whatever they put into that Hamburger Helper box all that special?" Would something like that work with just plain rice or noodles that I can buy here?
So I began to experiment and we've come up with lots of easy, inexpensive, no-fuss meals! One of the first ones I did, I have made both in a skillet and in the oven. It's so easy and good! Even my 5 and 6 year olds have made this completely on their own.
I just put a couple bags of pasta into a skillet or 9x13 pan (depending if I'm using my oven or stovetop). They add a jar of spaghetti sauce (I get lots of free tomatos, and make sauce regularly, so this just costs pennies). Then they add a jar of water and mix it together with a spoon. You can add previously cooked ground beef too, but we just eat it with the pasta.
Cover with foil if you are using the oven or a lid if you are using your skillet. And cook until tender! You don't have to stir or anything. While it's cooking (about 20-30 minutes I think??) I usually slice some homemade bread and make a salad. When it's cooked, I sprinkle some shredded cheese on top and let it melt. And suppers on!
I like how it just mixes together in literally about a minute and then while it cooks, I can do something else.
And we've done similar recipes with all sorts of things....chicken and rice; ground beef with cubed potatoes; chicken and pasta ect... lots of possibilities. :)