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COVID-19 “Food and Recipe Ideas”

Many people are trying new recipes with more time on their hands to cook. Several are having a taste-bud-awakening as they are trying new spices and flavors using up what is in stock in the pantry and cupboard. Often comfort foods are those we go for first in times like these. Always strive for well-balanced meals with a variety of nutrients each day. Remember food safety too. Wash your hands before and after preparing food.

What are Extension folks eating?

Here are some ideas:

1. Homemade spaghetti sauce – If you have excess tomatoes growing in the garden, you can make spaghetti sauce out of them. Wash them first and then blanch in boiling water, drain and remove the skins. Take the skinned tomatoes and dice them up. Transfer the diced tomatoes to a kettle, add sliced onion and/or several cloves of garlic, oregano, some basil and salt and pepper to taste. Cook on low heat for several hours due to the high-water content unless you have Roma variety tomatoes which are particularly meaty. Stir the sauce frequently while cooking until it develops a nice thick consistency. Serve with pasta and enjoy! (Mike)

2. Tacos-Tacos are my fast and easy go-to-comfort food. They can be prepared with any preferred ground meat (chicken, turkey or beef are favorites) and made with traditional taco shells, or flour or corn tortillas. My “fix ins” are usually chopped tomatoes, lettuce (iceberg, salad mix or arugula-whatever is on hand), fat free sour cream, salsa, and grated sharp cheddar cheese. (Anthony)

3. Southwest Stuffed Poblano Peppers-One of my favorite comfort foods: eggplant slices garnished with melted goat cheese, sautéed spinach, onions, poblano peppers and mushrooms.

Directions: Wash eggplant and then slice. Layer the eggplant slices on a baking sheet and add salt and pepper to taste. Bake the eggplant slices in the oven at 325 F for about 15 minutes. Remove from oven and let them rest for about 5 minutes. Remove the seeds from the poblano peppers. Dice the onion and peppers. Next, sauté the spinach, onions, poblano peppers and mushrooms in a small amount of canola oil. Remove from pan and garnish the eggplant slices with the sautéed vegetables. Top with a sprinkle of goat cheese and pop them back into the oven. Bake just until the cheese is golden and melted. They are very delicious and light. I serve this dish with a bowl of chicken tortilla broth or Mexican corn broth on the side. (Lourdes)

4. Blend of ideas-Add almond extract to smoothies for a new flavor. Dip a grilled cheese sandwich in mild to medium salsa for a spicy flavor. Make potato pancakes with leftover mashed potatoes. Prepare a cold tuna/pasta salad with the following ingredients: 1 box of cooked large pasta sea shells, 4 cans of drained tuna, 1 medium diced onion, 4 stalks of diced celery, 1 can of chopped water chestnuts, ½ a bag of frozen sweet peas, mayonnaise and salt and pepper to taste. (Brenda)

5. Chicken and Rice/Arroz con Pollo -This is a modified favorite chicken and rice/recipe from my native country prepared with local produce. This delicious, nutritious, easy recipe can save you a lot of time. It makes a large batch and ½ can be eaten once prepared and the other ½ frozen to be eaten at a later time. This recipe is easy on the budget too. Generally, I used a fresh, large, inexpensive rotisserie chicken from my favorite bulk chain store.

1 large rotisserie chicken (de-boned and de-skinned)
1 large yellow onion
4 garlic cloves
4 medium Roma tomatoes
2 red bell peppers
3 celery stems/stalks
2 large carrots, peeled
Olive oil
1 tsp. cumin
½ tsp. Italian seasoning
1 Tbsp. low-sodium soy sauce
½ tsp. paprika
4 cups chicken broth (canned or homemade)
1 bag frozen peas and carrots
2 cups uncooked rice (white or brown)
Salt and pepper to taste
Optional: Avocado slices, hard boiled egg, ketchup

a. Start with one rotisserie chicken. Take the skin off of the chicken, debone it and shred the chicken using two forks and put aside.
b. Chop 1 peeled large yellow onion, 4 peeled big garlic cloves, 4 medium Roma tomatoes, 2 red bell peppers (seeds removed), 3 celery stalks and 2 peeled large carrots.
c. On medium-high temperature, sauté the vegetables in 1 Tbsp. of olive oil.
d. Add 1 tsp. cumin powder, ½ tsp. Italian seasoning, 1 Tbsp. of low-sodium soy sauce and ½ tsp. of paprika.
e. Add the cut-up, shredded rotisserie chicken.
f. Add 4 cups of chicken broth.
g. Mix everything well to incorporate all the flavors and bring it to boil.
h. Once the broth is boiling, add 2 cups of frozen peas and carrots.
i. Add 2 cups of uncooked rice (Optional: Use brown rice instead of white rice to incorporate whole grains into your diet). Let the rice cook according to package directions.

Garnish with avocado slices, two halves of one hardboiled egg on the top of the rice and one little dollop of ketchup. Serve with a green salad. Enjoy! (Laura)

6. Beans, rice, and vegetables-We enjoy eating easy, healthy bean, rice, and vegetable-based dishes. To prepare combine canned or soaked beans, uncooked rice, cut-up potatoes, vegetables (i.e. celery, carrots) in a stew format using beef or chicken broth as a base. Add cubed beef or chicken as a source of protein. Stew until all ingredients are tender.

Another favorite is to combine pasta with sauce, cut-up cooked chicken sausage, and cooked vegetables such as broccoli. (Karen)

7. Entree suggestions-Vegetable lasagna, salmon croquettes and zucchini quiche are my favorites, along with lots of tuna in all forms! (Jeanna)

8. One Pot Pasta
1. 12 oz penne pasta
2. 1 – 28 oz can diced tomatoes
3. 2 cups chicken broth or stock
4. 1/2 medium onion, sliced
5. 2 tsp. minced garlic
6. 1 tsp. dried oregano
7. 1 Tbsp. dried basil (can also use fresh if available)
8. 2 tsp. kosher salt
9. 1 Tbsp. olive oil
10. 1/4 tsp. red pepper (optional)
11. 1 (6 oz.) package baby spinach
12. 1# shrimp, peeled, deveined, raw (optional)
13. Parmesan cheese

a. Place the 1st- 9 ingredients in a Dutch oven in the order of the ingredient list.
b. Cook & bring these 9 ingredients to a boil over medium high heat (about 12-15 minutes).
c. Reduce heat to medium-low & cook, covered 10-12 minutes until pasta is al dente, stirring at 5-minute intervals.
d. Remove from heat & stir in the spinach. Can also add 1# shrimp as well. Cover & let stand for 10 minutes. Serve w/parmesan cheese. Yum! (Mary W.)

9. Staples on hand-I always have frozen shrimp, ground beef, ground turkey, and eggs. You can make most anything from these ingredients quick and easy. (Michelle)

10. Vegan Bean-dilla-We have been eating a lot of beans and really enjoy what we call: “Bean-dilla” (think quesadilla with no cheese). Start with your favorite beans; we use cooked black beans, and mash them up (you can also just use refried beans). Put a pan on medium heat and add garlic, onion, and mushrooms. Do not worry about adding oil, as the mushrooms cook, they will release more than enough juice to keep the onion and garlic from sticking or burning. After you cook the onion, garlic, mushroom mixture to your preferred level of doneness, mix your beans in and set the mixture aside.

Next, put a large whole wheat tortilla in a fresh pan on medium heat and wait for the heated side to get firm (I like mine crunchy) and set aside. Note: leave the other side uncooked for now. Do the same thing with a second tortilla shell. Now spread the bean mixture between the two cooked sides of the tortilla (Optional: add pickled jalapenos).

Put the bean-dilla back in the pan and cook on both remaining sides. Once you get the outer sides of the bean-dilla cooked, cut into triangular slices and serve with salsa, hummus, and guacamole. (Janae)

11. Fried Rice-My favorite recipe right now is fried rice. I eat a mostly plant-based diet and tend to have a lot of leftover veggies around from previous recipes, as well as leftover brown rice. Fried rice is the perfect way to use up those leftover ingredients and make a hot, yummy dish. I toss together whatever veggies I have, plus some fresh ginger, minced garlic, and diced onion. Then I create a sauce out of a little peanut butter, soy sauce, sesame oil, and chili paste. (Elizabeth)

12. Gallo Pinto– This dish has been a very popular entree in our house during the last month due to its simplicity. Gallo pinto or gallopinto is a traditional dish from Central America, made, particularly in Nicaragua. It consists of fluffy white rice (cooked the day before) topped with seasoned Central American red beans (Goya brand) as a base. The beans in gallo pinto are quickly cooked, by boiling in salted water and then stir fried with garlic, sliced bell peppers and chopped white onions. The flavorful beans are then combined with cooked white rice and is then served immediately. (Lorna)

13. Tasty Meatloaf– I enjoy this meatloaf recipe which is not quite traditional, but it has a great flavor and it is easy to make. (Adam)

1-pound 93% lean ground beef
1-pound ground pork
2 large eggs
½ cup favorite BBQ sauce (Sweet Baby Ray’s Original)
1 packet onion soup mix powder
1 cup seasoned breadcrumbs (crushed croutons work very well too)

Thoroughly mix all ingredients, place in loaf pan and bake at 400 F for 40 minutes.

14. Chicken Fajitas-This meal is easy and fast to prepare, you can replace the tortillas with white rice, or you can replace the red onion for white onion. (Dayana)

2 # of chicken breasts
3 Tbsp. canola oil
3 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
½ tsp. onion powder
½ tsp. garlic powder
1 Tbsp. chili powder
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. black pepper
1 thinly sliced red onion or red onion
1 large sliced red pepper
1 large sliced orange or yellow pepper
1 large sliced green pepper
Canola oil
Corn or flour tortillas (May serve with rice instead)
Optional: cilantro, sour cream, salsa, avocado and guacamole

a. In a bowl, stir together the oil, lime juice, garlic powder, onion powder, chili powder, salt and pepper.
b. With a fork pierce the chicken breast and place in a large zip type plastic bag and pour the marinade over the chicken. Place in the refrigerator to marinade for at least 30 minutes.
c. Heat a cast iron skillet on medium high heat until hot. Add chicken breast and cook for 6-8 minutes per side, depending on the thickness of the chicken. Remove from the pan and cover pan with foil.
d. Add more oil to the pan to cook the vegetables. Add onions and cook for 3-5 minutes. Add peppers and cook until desired softness. Add salt to taste.
e. Slice chicken into thin strips. Add back to the pan with the vegetables and sear for 1-2 minutes, thoroughly cooking the chicken.
f. Serve hot.
g. Optional: cilantro, sour cream, salsa, avocado and guacamole

15. Cuban-style pot-roasted chicken -You can use any part of the chicken, but preferably skinless chicken thighs. This recipe is easy to prepare, and my family really enjoys it.

6 pieces of skinless chicken thighs
Complete seasoning
1 small white onion, sliced
½ of a green, red, and orange pepper
1 Tbsp. of garlic powder
¼ tsp. of cumin
A dash of dry oregano
Black pepper to taste
1 tsp. of paprika
2 Tbsp. sesame oil teriyaki sauce
1 cup of golden or white cooking wine
1 cup of water
Olive oil
2 Bay leaves

Season the chicken lightly with complete seasoning (control the amount used, depending on your desired sodium intake, as this is a source of sodium) and let it sit in the refrigerator for an hour. In a pot, add a teaspoon of olive oil and a couple of bay leaves. Sear the chicken, until it is golden brown on all sides, making sure it is not burned. Once golden in color, remove the chicken from the pot. In the same pot, add another tsp. of olive oil, the sliced the onion and all the bell peppers and sauté. Next, add all of the dry ingredients and let them cook for a few minutes until the onion begins to caramelize. As soon as the bell peppers are soft, add the cup of cooking wine, teriyaki sauce and water, mix all together and place the chicken in the pot, making sure it is all covered with liquid, then lower the heat and cover until cooked. Serve over white or brown rice and with a fresh green salad. (Rose)

16. BBQ and farm produce-We have been BBQing a lot and making paella. We do not have actual recipes because we are “wing-it” type of cooks. As for the BBQ we have been buying local produce at a nearby farm and are grilling veggie burgers, zucchini, squash, peppers, corn and stuffing peppers with soy crumbles and cheese. We enjoy making cucumber dill salad and we made some delicious vegetarian jackfruit “pulled pork” sandwiches which were good. (Giselle)

17. Green tea with honey-A nice cup of hot green tea with a teaspoon of honey added to it can be very calming. I have been enjoying honey harvested directly from my own backyard bee hives. (Donna)

Always keep the main food safety principles (cook, chill, clean and separate) in mind when doing any type of food preparation.

For more information

1. UF/IFAS Broward Website, Family and Consumer Sciences-

2. UF/IFAS Broward Extension Blogs-

3. UF/IFAS Extension, Solutions for Your Life, Family Resources-

4. Food Safety/Fight Bac-

5. Choose MyPlate-

3 Comments on “COVID-19 “Food and Recipe Ideas”

  1. These are great. Can’t wait to try these.

    • Thank you for your feedback Lourdes! Enjoy the recipes.

      Have a great day!