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fast foods: winter quickies
simple, speedy meal ideas by Yee-Fan Sun
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continued from page 1

3 noodles in broth
There’s nothing like a big, steaming bowl of noodle soup to fill you up and warm you through and through on a cold winter day. For a super-quick meal , try pre-cooked Japanese udon noodles, which are readily available in vacuum-packed, single-serving size packages at Asian markets, in both the refrigerated and the frozen foods sections.  They’ve got a nice, chewy texture and since they’re already cooked, need just a few minutes of simmering in hot liquid before serving. Heat up some broth, add a few veggies (try mushrooms, scallions, leafy greens), along with the noodles. Once the noodles are soft and the veggies are cooked, you’re ready to sit down for dinner.

4 burritos, baby
There are many things that mystify me about the appeal of supermarket-bought frozen dinners, but frozen burritos, in particular, strike me as having absolutely no good reason for existing. It takes less than ten minutes to throw together a perfectly tasty, very cheap burrito yourself – not a heck of a lot longer than it takes to nuke a flavorless frozen burrito in the microwave. Burritos are a great way to use up those leftover bits and pieces of veggies I always seem to have lying around in the fridge – halves and quarters of onions and peppers and zucchini, bits of scallion and parsley and chili pepper. Keep canned beans and refried beans on hand in the pantry, as well as some flour tortillas and cheese in the fridge, and you can whip together a burrito whenever the mood so strikes. The quickest and easiest burrito? A refried bean and cheese burrito – just throw a tortilla in a skillet, turn up the heat to medium, spread with refried beans, smother in cheese, sprinkle a few dashes of hot sauce, and roll it all up. Cook on both sides for a few minutes each, until the cheese is melted and the beans heated through. On nights when I’m feeling a little fancier – i.e. less lazy – I make a filling by sautéing onions, garlic, beans, and whatever veggies I can scrounge up, along with a little cumin and cayenne.

5 better-than-canned veggie chili
Chili is one of my favorite I-don’t-know-what-to-cook dinners. Because I grew up on stir-fries and soy sauce and long noodles in clear broths, I never get bored of the hearty, spicy bean flavors of chili, which always seem novel to me.  My “recipe,” as it is, is simple: sauté 2 cloves minced garlic and 1 small diced onion in olive oil. I’ll add diced bell pepper if I happen to have any, stir in chili powder and cumin to taste, then dump in one can of diced tomatoes, and one can of pinto beans (drained). If I don’t have pinto beans, I’ll use black beans. And if I’m really desperate, I’ve been known to use white cannelini beans as well.  Though the flavors will be better if you cook it for longer, it’s perfectly tasty by about 15-20 minutes or so of cooking time.

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