When you think of country meals, you might picture big, elaborate dinners filled with fried foods and carbohydrates. This may have been true 100 years ago when farm families needed extra fuel for physical labor, but country cooking has changed. Today's country meals are cozy and flavorful but acknowledge the importance of a healthy diet for growing children. Combine frugal cooking methods with healthy comfort food and you get modern country cooking that your entire family will enjoy.
There are few easier ways to cook dinner for your family than cooking in one pot. Casseroles, stews and chili dishes emphasize the flavor of the combined ingredients instead of separate components, so inexpensive meats and vegetables can still shine. Make chicken stew with garden vegetables. Create chili with ground turkey and inexpensive dried beans. Use leftover turkey in a surprising enchilada bake. Use small amounts of beef or pork with lots of colorful vegetables in a healthy stir fry with brown rice.
Soup and Sandwich
Fill your home with the aroma of homemade soup and you'll have the beginnings of an easy country meal. Start with a leftover chicken or turkey carcass or bits of beef trimmed from a roast. Add carrots, celery, onion, herbs and some spices and fill the pot with water. Simmer the soup for 2 hours to extract the most flavor from the ingredients. Adjust the seasoning after about an hour of cooking. When it's time for dinner, serve the soup with an assortment of breads, meats and cheeses to give everyone a chance to concoct their own sandwich creations.
There's something about a barbecue grill that transforms even the lowliest cut of meat into a delicious dish. Mix ground turkey or chicken with chopped onion for moisture and grill them until they're golden brown. Cut inexpensive cuts of beef or chicken into cubes and string them on skewers along with peppers, onions and cherry tomatoes for homemade shish kabobs. Marinate chicken legs in a creamy balsamic and herb dressing or orange juice for a flavorful twist on an old favorite.
Don't forget the garden when you're planning an easy country dinner. Raid your garden patch to find ingredients to round out a meal for your family. Grill fresh ears of corn and spread them with herb butter. Slice cucumbers, celery and multi-colored peppers into spears for dipping into ranch dip. Mix different varieties of lettuce greens and top with a creamy dressing. Get your children into the fun by teaching them to snap beans, shell peas and shuck corn cobs. They may sneak a bite now and then while they're working, but it's one snack you won't mind them eating.
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