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Favorite quick weeknight meal?

My husband is the chef in our house, but he is going to be in class 2 nights a week for the next 2 years. So that leaves me in charge of dinner.

What are your favorite meals that take less than 30-45 minutes to prepare? We'll eat pretty much anything, healthy ideas preferred.


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  1. Garlic & Mustard encrusted Chicken

    15 Minutes prep, 45 minutes at 375.

    The sauce is a mixture of equal parts olive oil, red wine vinegar and dijon mustard with a good bit of garlic mixed in (for example, I usually use 1/2 cup of each with about a TB of garlic from a jar of pre-chopped, pre-roasted garlic). So basically, it's salad dressing. If you accidentally make too much you can use it on salad, in fact. [A variant is to add a big handful of fresh flat-leaf parsley to this mix and send it through a blender, but if you're looking to save time, this adds a bit of time to your cleanup].

    Take chicken pieces (I like this best on thighs, personally) and dip them into this mixture and then into plain breadcrumbs. And bake.

    It tastes really good, is just a touch unusual, and is very hard to mess up. It also tastes great cold the next day.

    1. On nights when we're rushed or too tired to cook we're big fans of breakfast for dinner. Lots of things you can do with eggs: omelettes, frittatas, tortillas, scrambled, poached. A nice green salad or some roasted potatoes alongside and I'm happy camper. I also love waffles for a quick dinner at night.

      1. I live alone, so may have a lower standard, but some of my go-tos are:

        1. Seafood pasta in a tomato sauce with crusty garlic bread.
        2. Chicken curry over whole grain basmati.
        3. Beans on dirty rice, cornbread with jalapenos and ham.
        4. Sweet potato with a warm whole wheat couscous salad, pan-fried tofu, and baked apples.
        5. Broiled salted fish over rice with garlic asparagus or spinach.
        6. Mac and cheese!
        7. Homemade pizza, if you already have the dough.
        8. Wine, cheese, and a meat of some kind.
        9. Chicken breasts stuffed with goat cheese, asparagus, spinach, and toasted pine nuts.


        2 Replies
        1. re: link_930

          I throw Isernio's hot italian sausage (browned after removal from casing) and sauteed brocolli or brocolli raab and garlic over fun pasta and top with grated cheese (my favorite with this is pecorino pepato, but it's harder to find). I often work a little chicken broth or white wine into the dish, and sometimes golden raisins. YUM.

          1. re: Vetter

            Vetter: This is my husband's favorite dinner. Bitter greens with Italian sausage and pasta. He'd eat it every night.

            I also make chicken cutlets often - so easy when you get the breasts already boned in individual packets at COSTCO. Quick to defrost and easy to store in the freezer.

            I coat them with various stuff - bread crumbs with parmesan, crumbs and almonds, cornmeal, etc., etc. They're great with just some quartered Meyer lemons squeezed over them (which we have in our back yard - lucky us).

            With a green salad and perhaps some rice and sauteed onions, they're a really nice quick meal.

        2. This is so quick and delicious. Spray oil on parchment paper. Place a piece of flounder or talapia on half. Top with salt, pepper, slice of lemon and some chopped artichokes and grape tomatoes. Fold over the paper and crimp in shut. Bake in a toaster oven at 375 for about 12 minutes. Serve with cous cous with dried fruit. It really is a 15 minute meal.

          1. Some variation on eggs in purgatory, with crusty bread

            1. Linguine with white clam sauce.

              1. I also take a boneless chicken breast cut it in half and flatten it. Season it and dip in bread crumbs. Bake in the toaster oven for about 15 minutes. You can top it with lemon juice and capers...marinara sauce...or put it in a sandwiches.

                1. We're making one of our go-tos tonight as we are trying to eat down the contents of the fridge before we go out of town, and we're exhausted from cleaning/packing. I present: fajitas (our version, anyway). We seem always to have an onion around and peppers, either fresh or frozen in strips. Saute those with some garlic, add a protein thinly sliced, season with cumin/salt/pepper/cayenne if you like, or if you are my dh, throw in salsa. Warm up tortillas, add shredded cheese/beans/sour cream/avocado/diced fresh tomatoes or whatever is on hand that appeals. DH has been known to make "fajitas" out of chicken sausage, onions and spinach. These fajitas take less than 20 minutes (if that long).
                  My overall advice to your dilemma is to become aware of the things you like that you can cook quickly, and always shop with these in mind. Having the right stuff on hand is half the battle in our house, so we always pick up a package of tortillas, a bell pepper, shredded cheese and some tempeh, no matter what else is on the shopping list, b/c these freeze well. Salsa and canned beans are shelf stable.

                  1. I like a couscous and then stir fry some shrimp or scallops with olive oil and your favorite herbs or throw a nice talapia or other fish under the broiler with lemon, dill, olive oil.

                    I've lately been having a blast with roasted vegies, all kinds. On 400, they are done in no time (under 20 min.) Broccoli has been my latest, love it roasted. Just olive oil, salt/pepper and lemon juice (or balsamic vinagar)

                    1. Any variation of macaroni with a red sauce. Whether it's made with meat, seafood or simply garlic, olive oil, canned tomatoes with Romano sprinkled over the final dish - it's all good, easy and delicious. Don't forget the oregano, basil & red pepper flakes though.
                      Add a simple salad and you have dinner.
                      Good luck to your husband.

                      1. Soups can be quick, if you choose the right ones. If you can get your hands on Mollie Katzen's Enchanted Broccoli Forest, there's a nice, simple, quick recipe for fresh corn chowder. I think there's another one in More-with-Less. Very simple and fast soups. Hungarian Mushroom doesn't take long, although you have to dirty two pans.

                        Here's another one, my own invitation, healthy-ish, involving ramen noodles. If you have the inclination you could experiment with other kinds of noodles to get away from the package stuff. That's up to you.

                        Thai-inspired Chicken & Noodle Soup

                        1 t. sesame oil
                        2 t. chile oil
                        1½ lb. boneless, skinless chicken breast, cubed
                        ½ onion, sliced thinly
                        2 cloves garlic, sliced lengthwise
                        1 rib celery, sliced thin
                        2 pkg. ramen noodle soup mix, chicken flavor
                        1 c. sliced bell peppers (green, red, yellow, or preferably a combination)
                        1 t. dried or 1 T. minced fresh basil
                        1 T. fresh cilantro, minced
                        1 T. soy sauce
                        2 T. lime juice

                        Heat oils in soup pot; add onion, garlic & celery and sauté for 2 minutes. Add chicken; sauté briefly, until white all around. Add just enough water to cover chicken, along with the seasoning packets from the ramen noodles (and basil, if dried). Bring to boil; reduce heat & simmer, covered, 10 minutes.

                        Add soy sauce and 1 cup or so additional water. Return to boil. Break up noodles and add to pot with peppers; cook 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add lime juice and fresh herbs.

                        Another one, a potato soup similar to what you can get at (gasp!) Olive Garden. (Potato soup in general is quick and easy, and this is one of my favorite ways to do it.) Out here in the Middle of Nowhere, Iowa, those ubiquitous chains aren't ubiquitous, and anything they make I can generally make well enough that I don't care to drive the distance required to get the real thing.

                        Italian Potato Soup

                        6 red potatoes, scrubbed and diced
                        1/2 medium onion, chopped
                        2 cloves garlic, chopped
                        1/2 lb. bulk Italian sausage
                        1 tbsp. olive oil
                        1-2 tsp. oregano
                        1 tbsp. parsley
                        Dried red pepper flakes
                        Salt & Pepper to taste
                        Parmesan cheese

                        Cook potatoes and salt until tender in just enough water to cover. Meanwhile, sauté onions, garlic, and sausage in olive oil until sausage is no longer pink.
                        Remove potatoes from heat. Mash slightly in pan with potato masher. Add meat, vegetables and herbs to potatoes along with pepper and red pepper flakes. Add a generous amount of milk, then heat through. Serve topped with Parmesan cheese. Makes about 4 servings.

                        1. Concur w/ egg white omeletes.

                          My version of stir-fry: slice and coat w/ garlic salt then grill: eggplant, mushrooms, onion, zucchini; then toss in a Pam sprayed skillet w/ rinsed shiratakis, balsamic vinegar, braggs amino acids, chopped garlic, mustard, lemon juice, all to taste... let flavors meld and veggies absorb seasoning and "sauce." depending upon what's on hand, i'll either cook up some egg whites seasoned and toss them in, or add some rotisserie chicken breast.

                          Chili in the crockpot or pressure cooker is easy

                          Squash and Fish
                          Microwave (or bake) a spaghetti squash til cooked. While it's cooking broil a filet of halibut or mahi mahi sprinkled w/ blackening seasoning (yay for Joe's). You can toss the spaghetti squash with a little parm, garlic and olive oil if you like. Another option I do is caramelize some onions, set a few aside, then add onions, pumpkin puree, roasted red peppers, sundried tomatoes, and evaporated (skim) milk to blender and puree til smooth. Return to the pan, and wilt in some sage leaves. Plate spaghetti squash, then fish, the top w/ pumpkin sage sauce, garnishing w/ additional sage and leftover onions.

                          Crepes are sooo easy and so versatile

                          Maybe you and hubby can pre-make and freeze some meals on Sundays, so that dinner is easy throughout the week... Nonetheless, I admire your willingness to take on the dinner shift with gusto and aplomb.

                          1. Thanks everyone! I'll definitely be using your suggestions

                            1. Any fish filet en papillote (but I use foil).

                              Take a good sized piece of foil.
                              Place a single sized fish filet in the center, one foil for each person.
                              Drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper.

                              Now you get creative... add your "toppings". Choose from any of the following or make up your own.

                              A spoon full of salsa.
                              Change to sesame oil, add scallions, soy sauce, ginger, garlic and a squeeze of lemon.
                              Mushrooms, julienned carrots, onion slivers, a little white wine.
                              Tomato sauce, basil, garlic.
                              Mustard, dill.
                              Baby bok choi, garlic, cilantro.

                              Fold over the foil, make a packet... Bake at 350 for 15 - 30 minutes (depending on the thickness of your fish).

                              Serve with rice, couscous, pasta or whatever you like.

                              1. Some other ideas:

                                A recipe I make with lamb chops:
                                Put a tagine paste (spicy you can buy it in groc stores specialty aisles, or world market) on lamb chops and sear in a deep skillet. Add some artichokes (they can be the marinated ones in the glass jar) and saute, then add canned green olives and a can of diced tomatoes. Let simmer for about 15 minutes. Serve with rice (I use instant on nights I really don't have time).

                                Fajitas are great another is pound a chicken breast pretty thin, rub with grill spices, put in a grill pan with some olive oil and cook until done, cut up green onions (about 2-3), carrots into matchstick or slightly bigger pieces and chop lettuce toss in balsamic vinegar. Cut up chicken breast add it and half tossed greens in a wrap. Very good.

                                Also pasta with some diced cherry tomatoes, tuna canned in olive oil and black olives.

                                Chorizo (or ham) and pea alfredo with fettucine (not healthy but good)
                                then if you have leftover ham/chorizo you can throw it in some eggs.

                                I make a recipe close to the fish recipe above with some rice and grilled veggies, and the pasta with sausage, broc, garlic, white wine and butter.

                                Also good frozen tortellinis like you can get at a good italian market can be great if you have no time.

                                Spaghetti and meatballs (then make meatball subs) you can use turkey burger which makes it better.

                                I know I make more I will try to think...

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: ktmoomau

                                  The chickpea bruschetta from the Babbo cookbook (it's right at the front, you could probably copy it down at the bookstore) takes ten minutes to make and is one of our favorite foods, ever. You mix canned chickpeas (I think about 3/4 of a can) with a few tablespoons of olive oil, a tablespoon or two of balsamic vinegar, a sprinkle of red pepper flakes and some chopped fresh basil. Brush thick bread slices (sour dough is nice) with a little olive oil and toast. When they're done, rub them with a cut garlic clove. Spoon some of the chickpea goodness on top. It doesn't sound like much but it is delicious.

                                  Another quickie we like are pork chops coated in mustard and maple syrup, seared, and then finished in the oven (or you could just broil them).

                                  Salmon coated with a mix of soy sauce, mustard and honey (adjust to taste but we like about half as much soy sauce as mustard and honey) is also delicious and quick.

                                  Pretty much anything stir fried and then simmered in a little curry paste and coconut milk is delicious and quick too. Great over rice.

                                2. I've been doing a lot of simple, quick Thai shrimp noodle stir-frys when coming in late...first soak some bean-thread vermicelli or rice stick noodles in boiling water (I use an electric kettle) until softened, and drain. Then saute chopped garlic, spring onions, fresh chilies, and lemongrass in a wok, add shrimp*, and fry until almost pink. Add a splash of Thai fish sauce, some lime juice, and some chopped mint, cilantro, and/or basil. Toss in the noodles, mix, and serve topped with chopped peanuts or cashews. Takes about 25 minutes start-to-finish, including chopping and noodle soaking time...

                                  *...if you have some ground pork in the house, a little of this is great mixed in with the shrimp (I also use scallops sometimes). I'll often throw in veggies - sliced shitaake mushrooms, frozen peas, and/or bean sprouts - when the shrimp are about halfway done. Finally, if you have leftover rice in the fridge, you can use that instead of the noodles - when I do that, I often throw in an egg or two near the end...