Takeout at home

Cynthia Stone
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This time of year it’s so easy and so tempting to drive through and pick up breakfast on the way to work and supper on the way home. Morning and night, it’s dark and cold and we’re all struggling to get through the rollercoaster that is this winter.

But if you think you can’t put something every bit as satisfying on your family’s table as the local takeout, think again. I’ve got some ideas that might turn your kitchen into a sought-after eatery without the outlay of cash.

Ham and Egg Breakfast Sandwich

Have you noticed how many TV ads are hawking egg and cheese and some kind of meat on a bun? Now and again it’s great to enjoy breakfast out, but these things are too easy to make at home to turn the morning drive into an expensive habit.

These instructions are for one sandwich, but make as many as you like or need. If I want to spruce these up and serve them as a fancy brunch dish I split and toast croissants and use them instead of English muffins.

1 tsp. vegetable oil

1 or 2 slices back bacon or thinly sliced cooked ham

1 egg, lightly beaten

1 English muffin

1 tsp. butter or margarine for spreading

1 slice Swiss cheese

1 large thin slice tomato (optional)

1 pinch each salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat up the oil in a small non-stick frying pan. Add ham and brown on one side; flip. As soon as you turn over the ham pour the egg into the other side of the pan and use a spatula to push in the edges so it doesn’t spread all over.

Toast the English muffin and lightly butter each side. Flip the egg and place a cheese slice on top. When the cheese is melted, stack the ham then the egg on the bottom of the muffin, followed by the sliced tomato. If you have an extra minute put the tomato in the hot pan for a few seconds on each side. Sprinkle on the salt and pepper and put on the top of the muffin. Wrap and run.

Strawberry Spinach Chicken Salad

We all order the spinach salad for lunch, but as delicious as it is I can’t help thinking with every bite how easy it would have been to make at home. Just remember to keep the dressing in its own container until you are ready to eat.

Making everything ahead is the key to a simple lunch with this recipe. Make the dressing, toast the pecans and slice the onion and chicken the night before.

This makes four complete meal servings.

1 large bag washed, ready-to-eat spinach

(6 to 8 cups)

1 cooked chicken breast, shredded, chopped or sliced

1 cup strawberries, hulled and sliced

1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion

1/2 cup toasted pecans

1/4 cup crumbled goat cheese

Balsamic Honey-Mustard Dressing:

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

2 tbsp. each Dijon mustard and liquid honey

1/4 tsp. each salt and freshly ground black pepper

Pile up the spinach on a platter, on individual serving plates or in lunchbox containers. Top evenly with chicken, strawberries, onion, pecans and goat cheese. Whisk together dressing ingredients, drizzle over the salad and serve.

Tortilla Pizzas

For some people pizza is about the crust and for others it’s about the toppings. I’m with Group B because if I want good bread I’ll have good bread, so tortilla pizzas are perfect for me. When I crave pizza it’s for the gooey cheese and spicy sauce, and this is absolutely the fastest way to get a fantastic supper on the table.

A huge bonus of this recipe is you can pass around the tortillas and toppings and let all hands choose whatever combinations they like.

Allow one large or two small tortillas per person, depending on how much stuff you put on top. Don’t be tempted to load these up with toppings, though, because they will be soggy instead of crisp.

4 large flour tortillas

Sauce Options:

1 cup pizza or tomato pasta sauce, barbecue sauce, alfredo pasta sauce or any jarred pesto you like

Topping options:

Raw vegetables like sliced onion, bell pepper, mushrooms, tomatoes or arugula (Greens should be added at the end, of course, preferably lightly dressed with a vinaigrette.)

Cooked meats like sausage, bacon, ground beef or sliced chicken

Deli meats like pepperoni, salami, prosciutto or ham

Flavour accents and interesting nibbles like olives, hot peppers, pineapple chunks, grapes, chopped sundried tomatoes, pine nuts, raisins or capers

A crumbly cheese such as blue, goat or feta, or thinly sliced cheese like smoked gouda or cheddar

2 to 3 cups shredded mozzarella

Parmesan cheese — of course

Coat one side of each tortilla with non-stick cooking spray or a little vegetable oil. Place them greased side down on a foil-lined baking sheet.

Spread to the edges with the sauce of your choice. Sprinkle on desired toppings and cheese — always finishing up with Parmesan — and bake at 400 degrees F about 12 minutes or until cheese is melted and crust is golden brown and crisp.

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