Swift and Savory
Everyday recipes that fit your busy schedule.

You love eating great food, and you love to cook.

There's just one thing keeping you from whipping up delicious meals, every day, in the comfort of your own home: time.

But forget those fried, fast-food fallbacks. Four recent cookbooks have come to your rescue.

The following quick-and-easy recipes can help any busy Triangle woman get in and out of the kitchen faster than she can breeze through a drive-thru.

"Williams-Sonoma Food Made Fast: Weeknight"

By Melanie Barnard
Published by Oxmoor House

Balsamic Chicken & Peppers

4 (about 1-1/2 pounds) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves or thighs
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 red bell pepper, seeded and sliced 1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and sliced
1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
¼ cup minced fresh basil
1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme

Season the chicken generously with salt and pepper.

In a large frying pan over medium-high heat, warm 2 tablespoons of the oil. Add the chicken and cook, turning once, until golden brown, about 7 minutes total. Transfer the chicken to a plate.

Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil to the same pan over medium-high heat. Add the bell peppers and onion and sauté until softened, about 6 minutes.

Add the garlic and sauté 1 minute.

Add the vinegar and half each of the basil and thyme. Stir, being sure to scrape up the browned bits on the bottom of the pan.

Return the chicken and any juices from the plate to the pan. Spoon the peppers over the chicken.

Reduce the heat to medium and simmer until the chicken is opaque throughout, 2 to 3 minutes.

Stir in the remaining basil and thyme and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Divide among four plates and serve.


Spinach and Corn Rolled Enchiladas

2 ears grilled corn or 1 (10-ounce) package frozen corn kernels, browned in a heavy, seasoned skillet
1 cup evaporated skim milk

3 cloves garlic, minced
Nonstick oil spray
8 corn tortillas, warmed
1 (15-ounce) can spinach, without salt, well drained
1/2 cup onion, chopped
1 cup grated low-fat Monterey Jack cheese

If using grilled corn, cut the kernels from the cob. Or, cook the frozen corn until browned.

In a blender, combine the milk, garlic and corn. Process until smooth. Transfer the mixture to a shallow plate.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Lightly spray an 8-X-8-inch baking dish with nonstick oil spray.

Dip each warm tortilla in the corn mixture. Place on a flat surface and sprinkle with one-eighth of the spinach, onion and cheese, reserving some cheese for garnish.

Roll, and then place the enchilada seam-side down in the baking dish. Cover with the rest of the corn mixture, making sure that you pour it evenly over each enchilada.

Sprinkle the enchiladas with the reserved cheese. Bake 10 minutes, or until bubbly.

Makes 4 servings.


"Marie Claire: Zesty"
by Michele Cranston
Published by Thunder Bay Press

Sausage and White Bean Stew

3-1/2 cups canned cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
5 ripe plum tomatoes, chopped
1 3/4 cups canned chopped tomatoes
2 leeks, roughly chopped
8 garlic cloves, peeled
1 tablespoon thyme
1 cup white wine
4 good-quality, thick, spicy sausages
1 large handful Italian parsley, roughly chopped
Crusty bread, to serve

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Put the beans, all the tomatoes, the leeks, garlic, thyme and white wine into a casserole or ovenproof dish.

Prick the skins of the sausages with a fork and then sear
them in a frying pan over high heat until they are browned
on all sides.

Cut the sausages into bite-size pieces and put them into
the casserole dish. Lightly stir everything together, and then cover the dish with a lid or foil and bake 1 hour.

Sprinkle the stew with the parsley and serve with warm,
crusty bread.

Makes 4 servings.


Fettucini With Chili, Corn and Shrimp

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 small, red chilies, seeded and finely chopped
1 teaspooon smoked paprika
3 scallions, thinly sliced
3 corncobs, kernels removed
3 vine-ripened tomatoes, finely chopped
20 raw medium shrimp, peeled and deveined, with tails intact
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to season
14 ounces fettuccine
2 handfuls baby arugula leaves
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil.

Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat and add the chilies, paprika
and scallions. Stir-fry 1 minute, and then add the corn and tomatoes. Cook a few minutes, or until the corn is soft and a deep golden color.

Add the shrimp and continue to cook 2 to 3 minutes or until the shrimp are pink and have curled up. Remove from the heat and season to taste with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Add the fettuccine to the boiling water and cook until al dente. Drain and return to the saucepan.

Pour in the corn and shrimp sauce, add the arugula leaves, and stir through.

Divide among four bowls and drizzle with the extra-virgin olive oil.

Makes 4 servings.

"Southwest Flavors"
By Susan Curtis and Nicole Curtis Ammerman
Published by Gibbs-Smith Publisher

Ancho Chile Relleno With Spicy
Tomato Sauce

6 dried ancho chiles
1 1/2 cups fresh orange juice
1/2 cup cider vinegar
3 or 4 small cones, piloncillo (Mexican brown
sugar), to taste
4 large cloves garlic, split lengthwise
2 bay leaves
2 teaspoons dried Mexican oregano
3 sprigs fresh thyme
Pinch of sea salt
1/2 pound chorizo
2 cups refried beans
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 pound Monterey Jack or other good-melting cheese,
cut into 2x1/2x1/2-inch strips
Spicy Tomato Sauce (see following recipe)
3/4 cup crème fraiche
1 ripe avocado, pitted, peeled and cut into 12 slices

Leaving the stem intact, carefully slit the body of each chile and remove the seeds and veins. Set aside.

Combine the orange juice, vinegar, piloncillo, garlic, bay leaves, oregano, thyme and salt in a medium saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and
continue to cook until the piloncillo has dissolved, about 15 minutes.

Remove the pan from the heat and add the chiles, pressing them down so they are submerged. Cover the saucepan. Soak the chiles until they have reconstituted and feel fleshy, about 20 minutes.

Fry the chorizo over medium heat until the fat is rendered and the chorizo is cooked through. Stir in the beans and mix well. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Remove the chiles from the soaking liquid and transfer them to paper towels to drain.

Carefully stuff the chiles with the bean mixture and a strip
of cheese. You should be able to just close the chile when it is filled.

At this point, you may refrigerate the chiles for later use or place them on a baking sheet and heat them through, about 15 minutes.

To serve, place 1/3 cup of the tomato sauce on a large plate. Place a stuffed chile on the sauce and garnish with drizzles of crème fraiche and slices of avocado.

Makes 6 servings.

Spicy Tomato Sauce

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 small, white onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano
1 (28-ounce) can whole tomatoes with juice, pureed
1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes with juice
2 or 3 tablespoons chipotles en adobo,
finely chopped, or chipotle seasoning to taste
Pinch of sugar
Kosher salt to taste

Warm the oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat.

Add the onion and saute until
translucent, about 3 minutes.

Add the garlic and oregano, and saute 1 minute.

Add the tomatoes with their juices and the chipotles. Season with sugar and salt to taste.

Simmer, uncovered, until slightly thickened, about 25 to 30 minutes. Set aside until ready to use.

Spicy Pinto Beans

1 pound dry pinto beans, picked over for dirt or stones
8 thick slices bacon, cut crosswise into ½-inch strips
1 medium, white onion, diced
Fresh jalapeno or serrano chiles, dried chipotle chiles
or chipotles en adobo to taste
Salt to taste
Splash of balsamic vinegar
Pinch of epazote (an herb)
2 tablespoons gold tequila
1/3 cup chopped cilantro

Rinse the beans and put them in a 6-quart pot with 6 cups water. Remove any beans that float.

Add half the bacon and bring to a boil.

Reduce the heat to medium-low and gently simmer, partially covered, until the beans are tender, about 2 to 2-1/2 hours.

Stir the beans regularly and add water as necessary to keep the liquid at least ½ inch above the level of the beans.

Fry the remaining bacon, stirring regularly.

Add the onion and chiles and fry until golden brown, about 10 minutes.

Scrape the onion mixture into the beans, and then taste and season with salt, vinegar and epazote.

Continue simmering, stirring occasionally, for about 30 minutes to blend the flavors.
If the beans seem too soupy, boil over medium-high heat, stirring, until the desired consistency is reched.

Just before serving, stir in the tequila and cilantro.

Makes 6 to 8 servings.


"Mex Tex"
By Matt Martinez
Published by Bright Sky Press

Jalapeno-Lime Marinated Shrimp

1 pound shrimp, shelled and deveined
1 cup chopped or julienned red bell pepper
1 cup coarsely chopped white onion
1/2 cup lime juice
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 jalapeno pepper, thinly sliced
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon crushed leafy oregano
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Grill or broil the shrimp and let it cool.

In a bowl, mix the other ingredients and taste for seasoning. Add the shrimp and toss.

Cover and refrigerate 2 to 3 hours before serving.

Makes 3 to 4 serving





Pollo Guisada

3 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 to 3-1/4 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts,
diced or sliced
1 cup coarsely chopped onion
1 cup coarsely chopped bell pepper
3 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons, plus 1 teaspoon Tex-Mex Spice (see recipe below)
2 cups water
4 ounces tomato sauce or 1 cup diced, fresh tomatoes
Black pepper to taste

In a 4-quart heavy skillet or pot, add the oil and bring to a medium heat.

When oil is hot, add the chicken and sauté it 10 to 15 minutes. When most of the moisture is gone, add onion and bell pepper.

In a small bowl, mix together the flour and Tex-Mex Spice.

When the onion is translucent, add the flour mixture to the pot.

With a heavy spoon or spatula, toss chicken mixture and scrape the bottom of the skillet until the flour browns. Add water and bring to a simmer.

When it simmers, cover and lower the heat. Cook and simmer slowly until the chicken is tender, between 1 and 1-1/2 hours. Check occasionally and scrape the bottom of the pan to prevent burning. Skim off the fat, if needed.

Before adding the tomato sauce, adjust the gravy thickness to your liking by adding more water if necessary. Simmer over medium heat 2 to 3 minutes. Add the tomato sauce and stir. Season with pepper. Let simmer a few more minutes.

Serve or hold in a warm oven. (If you used fresh tomatoes, let the guisada sit 3 to 5 minutes after turning off the heat.)

Makes 4 to 6 servings.


Tex-Mex Spice

3 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons ground cumin
3 tablespoons granulated garlic
2 tablespoons salt
1 tablespoon coarsely ground black pepper

This spice mix responds best when it is slightly browned during the cooking process. It keeps well in an airtight container or zip-top bag.