Friday Lunch Recipes
On the first Friday of every month, our very own Chandra T volunteers her time to prepare meals for the Freeport Community Services "First Friday Free Lunch Program." Her meals are so delicious, that we have gotten requests for her recipes. Please enjoy!
Mexican Style Chicken & Rice
This recipe is a pantry clean-out, use-what-you-have-on-hand, busy weeknight work horse. Feel free to add more or substitute ingredients for what is readily available to you.
- 1-2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs cut into bite sized pieces (breasts, tenderloins, whatever you have on hand is fine (see what I did there 😊). You could even use pork, sausage, ground beef, tofu…)
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 3 cloves of garlic, grated or crushed
- 1-2 bell peppers, depending on size, diced (any color will do)
- 1 can whole kernel corn, drained
- 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed (kidney beans, cannellini beans, whatever beans, just not baked beans because that would be weird.)
- 1 can diced tomatoes, drained, juice reserved (in case you need to add a little moisture)
- 2 cups rice, prepared according to package
- 1-2 TBS chili powder (measure according to your taste)
- 1-2 TBS cumin (measure according to your taste)
- 4 TBS cooking oil (vegetable, olive, canola)
- Salt & Pepper to taste
Place your diced chicken in a bowl and coat with the chili powder, cumin, salt and pepper. You may want to add a little oil to help disburse your seasonings evenly. Heat your oil in a large pan over medium high heat. While the oil is heating, prep your rice and get it on the stove according to package instructions. Once the oil in your pan is shimmering, add in your chicken (mind the splatter!). Sautee the chicken until golden brown and cooked through. Remove the chicken from your pan and set aside (save those juices!). Reduce the heat to medium and to the same pan, add in your peppers, onions, and garlic. Sautee until tender crisp, about 5-7 minutes. *Don’t forget about the rice! Remove rice from the heat and fluff with a fork.
Once your vegetables and rice are cooked, dump your chicken (including the cooking liquid! Don’t waste that flavor!) and rice into the pan with the veggies. Add in your beans, corn, and tomatoes, stir well to combine. Adjust your seasonings as needed and add in some of the reserved tomato juice if the dish seems dry. Serve with cornbread (Jiffy mix is the best in my opinion) or salad.
- You may need to use a larger vessel for mixing your ingredients together depending on your pan size and the number of people you are feeding.
- To save time, you could use frozen diced peppers and onions.
- Add cayenne or red pepper flakes if you like it spicy. Chilis in adobo would also be a nice, spicy/smokey addition.
- I cooked the ingredients separately and then combined them, but you could easily make this a one pot meal.
- Substituting chicken, vegetable, or beef broth for your rice cooking liquid will add more flavor to the dish.
- Alternatively, you could dump all this into a greased casserole dish, top it with cheese and bake it in the oven at 400 for about 30 minutes for an added layer of yum!
Easy & Economic Salmon Burgers
(Before you say, “Ewww! Canned salmon!”, hear me out. With rising costs at the grocery store, the price of fresh fish can be beyond some household budgets. Utilizing tinned fish like tuna, sardines, and salmon in new ways is an excellent way to stretch your dollars.)
- 1 14.75 oz can salmon, drained (or 2 smaller cans if that’s what you’ve got)
- 1 rib of celery finely diced
- 1 small white onion finely diced (or green onion, shallots, whatever you have)
- 1-2 eggs (sub ½ cup mayo if you don’t have eggs)
- ½ cup bread crumbs
- Zest and juice of 1 large lemon
- 2 TBS Dijon mustard
- 2 TBS chopped fresh parsley (1 if using dried)
- 3 TBS chopped fresh dill (1 – 2 if using dried)
- 4-6 TBS cooking oil (canola, vegetable, peanut, etc.)
- Salt & Pepper to taste
- Burger buns of your choice
With the exception of the cooking oil, add all ingredients to a large mixing bowl and mix until well combined. It’s easiest to do this with your hands, but I recommend wearing gloves to avoid smelling like salmon for the rest of the day. You want the mixture to be moist enough to stick together, but not wet. Once you have your salmon mixture to the consistency that makes you happy, form into 2-3 medium sized patties.
Heat your oil in a large skillet over medium high heat until shimmering. You want your oil HOT before you add your patties or they will stick to the bottom of the pan. Cook your patties on both sides until golden brown, about 3-4 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate lined with paper to drain. Serve hot on toasted burger buns with tartar sauce or condiment of your choice.
- These patties will be fragile! Chilling the formed patties in the fridge or freeze to firm up before cooking will help them to hold together during cooking.
- You will find small bones in your fish. These are edible and will mostly disappear during mixing and cooking, but you can always remove them prior to adding the other ingredients if it freaks you out.
- Watch out for oil splatters and always flip your patties AWAY from yourself to avoid burns.
- As always, adjust the seasonings to taste, and remember, recipes are not set in stone so get creative with your flavors!
- 2 pounds ground beef (or pork, chicken, sausage, etc., or a combo if you want)
- 1/2 cup breadcrumbs (try panko for a lighter textured ball)
- 1/2 cup milk (or stock if dairy isn’t your friend)
- 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 1 small onion, grated
- Garlic (measure with your heart), grated
- 1/3 cup chopped fresh herbs such as parsley, oregano, and thyme, or Italian seasoning or any dried herbs you have on hand. Cut way back on the herbs if you’re using dried.
- 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese (optional)
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Preheat your oven to 450°. Grease a large baking sheet with olive oil, butter, or cooking spray. No need to get crazy, your meatballs will release some fat which will help prevent sticking. Find the largest bowl in your kitchen and dump in all the ingredients listed above and mix through until well incorporated. If your mix feels dry, add in more milk or toss in another egg. Be careful not to over mix the mixture or you’ll have tough mini bowling balls instead of meatballs for dinner. Once you’re happy with the consistency of your mixture, roll into 2oz (medium sized) meatballs and line them up like good little soldiers on your baking sheet and pop them into the oven for about 15-20 minutes. *Pro tip: make a small tester patty and pan fry it until cooked through before rolling out all your meatballs to test the seasoning. Making a tester patty will allow you to adjust your seasoning as needed before committing everyone to the oven.
Once the meatballs are golden brown, remove from the oven and serve over spaghetti with your favorite pasta sauce. Garnish with parmesan cheese and a sprinkle of fresh herbs if you’re feeling fancy.
The great thing about meatballs is that they’re so versatile. Use whatever ground meat floats your boat and get creative with your add ins! Curry meatballs, spinach meatballs, meatless meatballs, the possibilities are endless!
Curried Chicken, Squash & Potato Soup
- 2-3 chicken breasts (depending on size)
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 Butternut squash (or squash of your choice), cubed into bite sized pieces
- 3-4 white or russet potatoes, depending on size (peeled or unpeeled, dealer’s choice), cubed into bite sized pieces
- 1 can green beans, drained
- 4 Cups stock (veggie, chicken, or beef, it doesn’t matter)
Spices (measure with your heart or to taste):
*You could start with a teaspoon of each if you are unfamiliar with the flavors and build them up from there, but I’d recommend at least a tablespoon of the curry.
- Salt & Pepper
- Curry Powder
- Garam Masala
Poach the chicken breasts in a large saucepan of boiling water for 10-15 minutes or until cooked through. Don’t over do it or they’ll turn into rubber, not a cute look. While the chicken poaches, chop your veggies.
Once the chicken is cooked, remove from the water and discard the poaching liquid. Shred or dice your chicken. In the same pot you cooked your chicken, add a couple glugs of olive oil and your diced onion and sauté over medium heat until the onions have softened, add in your garlic and spices, stir. Once the spices are fragrant, dump the squash, potatoes, and chicken into the pot and add in your stock. Bring the whole mess to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook over medium heat until the vegetables are fork tender, about 20 minutes. Add your green beans and allow to cook another 5-7 minutes. Serve with rolls or naan bread.
To learn more about Freeport Community Services' "First Friday Free Lunch Program," visit: fcsmaine.org