Your own 30-minute meals?
i like to make a spinach pasta dish.
Saute chopped onion and garlic in some olive oil until golden, then add either a package of frozen spinach, thawed, (which i always seem to have on hand)or fresh spinach (not sure about the amount, probably about a pound) lots and lots of basil, and parsley, and S&P to taste. Cook some linguine (i use fresh from the store) and toss with the spinach and top with cheese. it actually only takes about 15 minutes to make, leaving you plenty of time to toss a salad or whatever else you're having with your meal.
I like to make quick stir fries. I keep canned straw mushrooms and sliced bamboo in my pantry and if I'm in a hurry use frozen veggies rather than washing all those leafy greens.
I also like to make Asian noodle soups. Just heat up a can of chicken broth, add hondashi and a splash of soy, and the ingredients. I like udon with bean sprouts, shredded szechaun cabbage (in a package from chinatown you just rip open), chives, and some sesame oil.
What Pei said about stir-fries, only I use leftover brown rice, which I keep around expressly for that purpose. Or else I boil some water in my electric kettle and pour it over rice/mung bean/whatever noodles and some dried shiitake. And instead of the dry pantry staples Pei mentioned, I use Chinese white wine, mirin, fermented bean paste or miso, lime or lemon juice or Chinese vinegar, oyster/hoisin/chili/whatever sauce, shrimp paste, or whatever seems like it'd go with the ingredients I have on hand. I may shred a carrot into it. Scallions are always good.
And I often throw in an egg.
For when I'm feeling low-class, but not quite low enough to just open a bag of chocolate chip cookies, I cut several baking potatoes into 1" slices, cut several onions in half and pop them both in the microwave until they're half done. Then I put them in a roasting pan with some stock, nuke a head of garlic for a minute or so, stick that in, layer bacon on top and put it in a 350 oven until done. Cheese also helps.
It's amazingly good and amazingly filling, and plenty for dinner just by itself. Kielbasa is perfect with it.
Made fish taco's last night.
Coated tilapia liberally with spices, few drops of oil. Set aside while I cut up veggies and avocado. Mixed some mayo (didn't have sour cream) w/chipolte sauce, lime and scallions. Cooked fish in lightly oiled non-stick skillet. Heated tortillas over other burner while fish was cooking.
The IQF shrimp are fantastic, you can pull them out of the freezer and defrost under running water in minutes. Stir fry is my favorite quick dinner, I keep tons of different sauces in the fridge to "doctor" up, plus veg which don't require much prep work (baby carrots, froz edamame).
1. Basic fish dinner: white rice, steamed asparagus (or zapped frozen veg), sautéed fish: season small flat fish or fillets and dredge in flour. Sautée in hot butter on flesh side three minutes, turn, top each with a dollop of fresh salsa, put pan into a preheated 400 oven for four or five minutes.
2. Steamed Prole Food: cut some thin-skinned potatoes in halves or quarters (depending on size), lay into a steamer, season. Shred a small head of cabbage, lay that over potatoes, season. Top with big chunks of kielbasa, put the lid on, set over boiling water for about half an hour. Get silly with the butter and sour cream if you want to.
3. $$ No Object: Fry up a bag of hash browns or the Reser's potato chunks, mixed with onion and a couple of sliced-up Hungarian banana peppers. Make a green salad. Grill two bone-in ribeyes. Devour.
Seared tuna. Dredge one side in mixture of crushed black & white peppercorns. Sear on the peppercorn side for 1 minute at high temp. Flip, reduce heat to med/high and sear for 3 minutes. Done. I usually serve with steamed broccoli and carrots and some nice bread. Longest cooking time is 15 minutes for the vegies.
Pan seared tilapia (sprinkled with Penzey's Northwoods seasoning, with side of basmati rice and a green vegetable simply sauteed.
Black bean soup made with canned black beans and cornbread.
Parmesan chicken (see Gourmet cookbook or Epicurious)
Frozen sausage pan-grilled with pasta/rice side and steamed spinach.
This is a quick and easy dish.
REC: Cajun Mustard Shrimp
1 lb. raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 T olive oil
1 T butter
1 medium clove garlic
dash crushed red pepper
1⁄4 c dry white wine or vermouth
4 T jalapeno pepper jelly
2 T whole grain mustard
2 T Dijon mustard
1. Heat skillet with olive oil. Saute shrimp in batches until pink but not cooked entirely. Remove from skillet and set aside.
2. Melt butter in skillet and crush garlic into pan. Add crushed red pepper and saute until aroma of garlic is evident.
3. Add dry white wine and scrap up any browned pieces from bottom of pan. Add jelly, and two kinds of mustard. Whisk together and let cook for 2-3 minutes.
4. Return shrimp to skillet and finish cooking in the hot sauce.
5. Serve over rice.
I use 21-25 size shrimp.
White rice, any leafy green stir fried in garlic and a little oil, and some pantry staples are the usual Chinese household "Uh oh there's no food left" meal.
Pantry staples might include pork sung (dried shredded meat), furikake (Japanese seasoning including dried seaweed and assorted fish flavored colored flakes), tofu lu (fermented spicy tofu), or any other heavily flavored non perishable item.
Well-balanced porridge and fried rice concoctions can usually be made with stuff out of the freezer, if there's leftover rice.
I like to look in the fridge, make a few things that don't necessarily go together, and call dinner that night "fusion." Like when we had spaghetti with tomato sauce and a steamed fish with soy sauce and green onions.
I made a classic red-sauce-Italian-resto chicken parmesean last night with a ceasar salad, garlic bread and a tiny bit of spaghetti.
It always surprises me how quickly this dinner goes together. I do make large batches of basic marina frequently and freeze portions flat in ziplocs (so they defrost more quickly and take up less freezer space) so that obviously makes it quicker to prepare.
Tonight's dinner will be one of our new favorites - a sort of Cajun hash creation with diced andouille, onions, & potatoes (dh hates bell peppers if they're identifiable, otherwise they'd go in as well) topped with over-easy eggs and toast on the side. (I hate cooking fried eggs for 5 people - ends up being a dozen eggs! 3 for dh, 3 for son, 2 each for my daughters and I - but it's worth it.)
My standby (healthy) fast dinner. quick saute of cabbage, broccoli, slivered carrots, peppers (whatever vegies you have laying around - mushrooms are awesome) use a little olive oil and Braggs Liquid Omino (it's like soy sauce but better for you - found in all health food stores). Then sprinkle with spike seasoning, some sesame seeds, a good grated cheese (cheddar or monteray jack). I can eat this forever. If you have time, fix some good brown rice - put vegies over that for even heartier.
My husband loves Massaman Curry so I keep a can of the curry paste and a can of coconut milk on hand. (We stock up on the cans of Massaman Curry paste when we visit an oriental grocery store about an hour away. Their prices are much cheaper than my local supermarket.) Then all I need to do is slice some chicken breasts, peel and cut up a sweet potato or two and slice an onion into narrow wedges. I pre-cook the sweet potatos by steaming them in the microwave but otherwise everything is cooked in the sauce. Serve with brown rice which does take longer than 30 minutes to cook but white rice is only 20 minutes. I like green beans on the side.
Grilled vegetables w/ shiritaki noodles ... I grill whatever veggies I've got, usually eggplant, onions, tomatoes, zucchini, broccoli/cauli sprinkled heavily with garlic salt, then chop them up and stirfry with rinsed shirtakis, adding in a little bit of soy sauce, a little apple cider or balsamic vinegar, freshly ground pepper, and a little lemon juice. Then I either toss in some shredded roasted chicken or some scrambled egg whites.
Miso Soup w/ Greens, Mushrooms and Eggs
I chop up collard greens, kale, mustard greens, asparagus, shiitakes, portobello, oyster, and criminis, then allow to cook thoroughly in miso broth with a couple of cloves of crushed garlic. While they cook, I create an egg white pancake (preseasoned with a garlic seasoning blend), then once this is cooked, slice and stir into the soup to allow it to soak up some of the soup's flavor. I really love this because it just tastes so clean going down as well as in my mouth :) I suppose others might add ginger, but I can't stand the stuff, so...
Chicken fajitas - slice chicken breast, a sliced onion and one or two rough chopped garlic cloves for each breast. Throw the chicken into a HOT cast iron skillet, season with salt and pepper and saute until all the water cooks off, then throw on the onions. Cover and keep on high heat until the onions wilt. Remove cover and toss ingredients together, again cooking off the liquid. Deglaze pan with water to get the carmel color and more flavor ON the chicken as well as IN the chicken (the lid does this through steaming process). Throw in chunks of zucchini and yellow squash.
Serve with salsa, cheese, sour cream and of course flour tortillas.
Yup, it's generally pasta in my household as well. Mostly, I add some beans for protein such as the chickpea stew on epicurious. Two weeks ago I had just got new braces and everything hurt and I came home hungry and late. I needed something soft, quick and nutritious. Luckily, the previous weekend I'd watched an episode of Everyday Food that featured a simple Pasta with Almond Pea Pesto: http://www.marthastewart.com/page.jht... This was exactly what I needed. Simple, filling and good.
Couscous goes to the table pretty quickly too. I add chopped kalamata olives, green onions, some feta, golden raisins, cubed baked tofu, steamed broccoli florets.
Precut veggies from Trader Joe's such as sliced mushrooms and diced butternut squash help add fiber to a potato gnocchi saute.
I made a soup tonight with some ground turkey and vegetables from the fridge. I sauteed onion, celery, carrots, parsnips, and the ground turkey in a dutch oven in some olive oil with some crushed red pepper flakes thrown in. After the meat was browned and the veggies softened I added some beef broth, a can of diced tomatoes, and S&P to taste. Simmered it about 20 min then added some thin noodles and cooked another 5 min or so.
It was delicious and perfect on a cold, rainy night.
I too find that pasta dishes are the best for when the fridge is bare. Canned clams, tuna & macaroni cheese casserole, frozen raw shrimp from the freezer makes a pretty good scampi.
Here is the Clam Sauce
2 Cans whole baby clams ( 10 oz each )
3 Cans chopped clams ( 6 oz each )
1/4 Cup olive oil
1 tsp of chopped garlic ( about 1 clove )
1 tsp thyme leaves, dried
1 tbsp parsley, dried
2 Cups clam juice ( from canned clams )
1/2 Cup white wine
1 Tbsp Flour ( optional )
Heat olive oil and add garlic.
Simmer for 1-5 minutes
Whisk in flour to thicken ( if using)
Add clam juice, wine, thyme, parsley, salt and pepper. ( careful with salt..depends on how salty clams are )
Simmer 10 minutes
Add clams and simmer for 5 minutes or until heated. ( Don't overcook or they will be tough )
Toss with cooked pasta.