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Quick and Easy Weeknight Meals

m
MyrnEats Feb 25, 2008 10:50 AM

What do fellow chowhounds cook during the week for a quick and easy dinner. If applicable please include recipes.

I feel like we eat the same meals every week:
Tacos & Cornbread or Fajitas
Steak Tips, French Fries and Salad
Grilled Chicken, Rice and a Veggie
Pasta Night
Chicken Piccata

Looking to expand on our weekly meals!

  1. deborah24 Mar 10, 2008 06:20 AM

    I like to make pasta with a creamy pesto sauce grilled chicken. I'll buy the pesto (for some reason I just CANNOT master making it!!) and heat it up slowly with heavy cream and butter, while the pasta cooks. Sometimes I like to throw in some asparagus or sundried tomatoes as well. I use the thin cut chicken breasts because they cook in about 5 min. The whole meal should take about 10 min or how ever long it takes the pasta to cook.

    1. aussiewonder Mar 9, 2008 08:39 AM

      Stirfry's are great, they're quick to make, you can vary the protein to include fresh cuts of meat or chicken, or use left overs and add it towards the end to heat it up, or throw in tofu or shrimp or just do veggies. Plus, it's a good way to eat a wide variety of veggies and clean out the fridge! You can add nuts too for added goodness.

      Curry's are similar and just as easy. Grab a jar of thai curry paste and follow the recipe on the side for something basic.

      I have had great success using Bittman's 'How to Cook Everything' book since he offers adjustments/tweaks to basic recipes which can then give you four or five variations. Might be worth looking at, it's a good ref book too. Not really very pictorial though, which is prob my main complaint.

      After stirfry's and curries, I tend to make a lot of grilled protein and salads, or grilled protein and stirfry vege. Roasts are great too, I usually do one on sunday's and use the left over meat for sandwiches or soups the rest of the week.

      1 Reply
      1. re: aussiewonder
        l
        lgss Mar 9, 2008 09:18 AM

        We like cashews as the protein in our stir fry or a sauce made with miso.

      2. l
        lgss Mar 9, 2008 08:10 AM

        One of our favorite easy meals is masamba. It's an east African dish of potatoes and greens (we use kale or collards usually) with a sauce of salsa mixed with peanut butter. We use the pressure cooker for the potatoes (5 minutes high pressure). A quick summer recipe is variously called Israeli salad among other things. It includes tahini, lemon juice and diced tomatoes with chopped carrots and English/Armenian cucumbers, chopped jalapeño (optional), no cooking. We always make leftovers to take for lunch the following day. If you have a pressure cooker, Lorna Sass has some good cookbooks.

        3 Replies
        1. re: lgss
          c
          cimui Mar 9, 2008 03:55 PM

          Masamba sounds really darn good. If you happen to have a recipe and don't mind linking to it, I'd appreciate it! I can't tell from browsing around online whether the greens are supposed to be cooked 'till tender or whether they should remain crisp-ish.

          I make the Israeli / shepherd's salad all the time for myself, too. :) Good stuff.

          1. re: cimui
            l
            lgss Mar 9, 2008 06:47 PM

            No specific recipe for masamba. We wash and cut the potatoes. No need to peal if organically grown and well washed. Pressure cook them (we use red potatoes or Yukon gold). Wash the greens, cut out the center rib if it's thick or potentially tough, cut crossways of the center rib (or where it was) into (approximately 1/4") thin strips, steam the greens (maybe 5 minutes?) so they're no longer raw but haven't lost all their volume). Use whatever salsa (we often use TJ's chipotle salsa) you like and mix with about an equal amount of peanut butter and heat (microwave) briefly. We serve it with the potatoes in the bowl first, then greens topped with the sauce. I have coworkers from Kenya and Uganda. I was having this for lunch one day and one asked what smelled so good. She was surprised that I knew what masamba was, and that we eat it regularly. In Malawi the word masamba means "greens". She said that it also means farm in one of the languages of the area. The second recipe on the following website is for the greens made without prepared salsa and with peanut powder instead of peanut butter. http://www.elca.org/countrypackets/ma...

          2. re: lgss
            l
            lgss Mar 10, 2008 05:29 AM

            The Israeli salad also calls for parsley and red bell pepper. We sometimes throw in some leftover garbanzos or marinated bean salad if we have them.

          3. JungMann Mar 5, 2008 08:18 AM

            I've been trying to keep things quick and simple lately and have had great success with:
            Spareribs braised in sauerkraut
            Roast chicken with roasted cauliflower and bubble-and-squeak
            Thai red curry with pork
            Pork and chicken adobo
            Frito casserole
            Skate wing a la meuniere (very friendly with picky eaters)
            Stir-fry mincemeat (e.g. kheema, picadillo, tacos)
            Pork chops milanesas (similar to my recipe for Chicken Fried Steak)
            Ideally weeknight meals for me are something that are cheap, require little attention and re-heat well. Most of the above fit into those categories.

            3 Replies
            1. re: JungMann
              n
              nissenpa Mar 10, 2008 04:48 AM

              I've seen skate in the stores but have never worked with it. Would you mind sharing your recipe for your Skate wing a la meuniere?

              1. re: nissenpa
                JungMann Mar 10, 2008 06:44 AM

                They're very simple. Season flour with salt, pepper, perhaps a small touch of garlic powder. Dredge the 4 skate wings in the season flour and fry until golden brown and crisp in a combo of 2T olive oil, 2T butter, about 3-5 minutes per side. Set aside cooked skate in a warm oven and set pan over medium heat. Melt a stick of butter in the pan and cook until medium brown. Remove from heat and stir in the juice of a lemon, 1/4 c. chopped parsley and about 3 T capers. Pour sauce over skate and serve immediately. All in all, it's about 30 min. of cooking and prep for a restaurant quality dish.

                1. re: JungMann
                  n
                  nissenpa Mar 11, 2008 10:03 AM

                  That sounds incredible and easy. Thank you!

            2. geminigirl Feb 25, 2008 04:19 PM

              watch this thread as well...

              http://www.chowhound.com/topics/492850

              1. chefschickie Feb 25, 2008 03:35 PM

                ever considered more ethnic foods?? rice & beans, curries, noodlebowls, anything stir fry... it's all fast, healthy and very tasty!

                1. c
                  cimui Feb 25, 2008 03:18 PM

                  If you have a slow cooker, you can do some pretty nice braised meats (i.e. short ribs: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/231653) and stews.

                  Stirfries are also a weekday staple of mine..

                  Other possibilities:

                  Quiche (doesn't take much prep time at all, esp. if you buy a pre made pie crust; you can also make a lot of them ahead of time and rewarm for dinner)
                  Pita bread pizzas
                  Thai lettuce wraps
                  Grilled skewers / kebabs with tabouleh
                  Oven baked fried chicken served with cucumber and tomato salad(http://southernfood.about.comm/od/ove...
                  )Layered tortilla pie with tomatoes, served with southwestern corn, bean, tomato and onion salad
                  Microwave smashed potatoes with salmon or meatloaf
                  Salmon patties with yogurt tahini sauce

                  1. m
                    mpalmer6c Feb 25, 2008 02:55 PM

                    The traditional coffee-shop breakfast tastes even better for dinner. I find the fresh, packaged hash browns at the market very good. But not the pre-cooked frozen.

                    Once the vegetables are chopped, jamabalaya is simple, I chop up the vegetables all at once, put in plastic sandwhich bags (1 bag per serving or recipe) and freeze.

                    A recent thread praised Swanson canned chicken a la king, I tried it and found it delicious over toast. Couldn't be much simpler.

                    Shrimp (or other protein) alfredo. Cook up the pasta (7-8 minutes), mix in in bagged, shredded cheese and cream or half-and-half., or just cheese. Simmering or frying, shrimp cook in 5 or 6 minutes,

                    In summer, salmon salad. Mix together canned red salmon (not the tasteless pink), petit pois and mayo, and if convenient, chopped celery. Serve on greens.

                    Franks or other sausage with potato salad (make salad ahead on the weekend).

                    Stir fry Prepare the protein the ceekend, use frozen vegetables.

                    As others have suggested, you can use seafood the same way you use chicken, For a quick shrimp dipping sauce, mix catsup and horseradish.

                    For a very acceptable spaghetti, cook hamburg and add to bottled sauce. Make sure to grate plenty of parmesan over the top. Or make meatballs ahead of time.

                    I love hot roast beef, turkey or chicken sandwiches. Prepare protein on the weekend, You can fix a gravy pretty quickly using canned stock. I use a can of Campbell's beef or chicken stock, 1-1/2 cans of water, 5 Tbs. flour, and a pinch of salt, peppter, sage, thyme, oregano and (and more) parsley, plus Kitchen Bouquet for beef gravy.

                    Emulate Tex Cobb, using leftover protein and cheese.

                    1. v
                      Val Feb 25, 2008 12:39 PM

                      Hopefully you consider tilapia very mild...here's a really quick and tasty recipe for Pan Seared Tilapia with Chili Lime Butter:

                      http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo...

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: Val
                        m
                        MyrnEats Mar 5, 2008 05:10 AM

                        Val - I made this recipe last night and it was delicious, not to mention quick and easy. I served it with coucous and asparagus. Both my husband and I ate every single bite. Thank you for sharing. This will added to our rotation.

                        1. re: MyrnEats
                          v
                          Val Mar 5, 2008 08:02 AM

                          Yay, Myrna! Glad you liked it!

                      2. d
                        Diane in Bexley Feb 25, 2008 11:59 AM

                        It is difficult to prepare dinner from scratch every night during the week. Even though we have downsized from 2 DD to 1, there always seems to be another kid to feed or last minute addition (everyone want to eat at my house - go figure!). I try to prepare BIG food on weekend that can do double duty during the week. Very big on roasting chicken (6-8 lb. range), turkey breast or beef roast that I can turn into casserole, wraps, crepes, salad, etc.

                        I watch the grocery store ads each and every week and try to plan my meals around what's in season/what's on sale. If beef chuck is on special, will make big pot roast, cube some for beef barley soup (a meal the way I make it), beef stew, etc. If steak is on sale, will buy some for freezer. Likewise, plan ahead and marinate skirt steak for fajitas, or b/s chix breast. Not a personal fan of slow cooker, but many people swear by them.

                        My project managers skills are showing. I sit down with the grocery store ads, view what's on sale, and plot out a week's worth of meals, make a detailed grocery list and plan to invest an afternoon with all burners and oven going. With a little planning, you will have a "bank" of meals in your freezer or fridge. If you need some inspiration, get out your cookbooks, look up recipes in chowhound or epicurious, try new things.

                        Spring is around the corner, learn how to roast asparagus with EVOO, lemon juice & kosher salt. Delicious with chicken or beef. Make a little extra and turn it into a frittata or quiche. There is a produce section of veggies I am willing to bet you haven't tried lately - soon artichokes will be in season, delicious steamed and filled with cold seafood salad. Let me know if you want any specific recipes.

                        1. v
                          Val Feb 25, 2008 11:29 AM

                          Fish is very quick and easy...I'm hesitant to give a recipe if your family won't eat it, though...?

                          5 Replies
                          1. re: Val
                            m
                            MyrnEats Feb 25, 2008 11:39 AM

                            We don't EVER make fish at home, but are in search of some recipes to start introducing it to our "menus". Typically we prefer a milder fish, but husband also loves Salmon.

                            1. re: MyrnEats
                              o
                              Obessed Feb 25, 2008 11:59 AM

                              I make salmon at least once a week. Shrimp is also fast and can be made many ways - inlcuding tossed with pasta, rice (jambalaya), salads.

                              You can mix it up and make fish tacos (am making this tonight w/ Red Snapper). I usually just season fish with cumin, S&P and bake till flakey. Serve with sour cream, shredded cabbage (mixed w/ cilantro, lime juice, cumin), avocado, tortillas. As sides, you can make rice and beans. Tonight I'm making a Black Bean & Mango salad as the side dish (from Cooking Light magazine).

                              Check out this recent post for salmon recipes: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/484379

                              1. re: Obessed
                                geminigirl Feb 25, 2008 04:18 PM

                                just made this salmon dish tonight with sushi rice and edemame - it was super easy and delicious!

                                http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo...

                              2. re: MyrnEats
                                d
                                dtud Feb 25, 2008 08:28 PM

                                i used to never make fish b/c my so doesn't like it. but i've found a trick that works with almost everything.

                                marinate fish (usually salmon) in teriyaki sauce, remove from marinade and coat in seasame seeds. spray pam in pan and grill each side until crisp. serve with broccoli or zuccini and rice. very simple and tasty. i've tried to branch out and make a seasame dressing salad or making some kind of reduction sauce for the veggies.

                              3. re: Val
                                n
                                NolaJenn Mar 9, 2008 07:23 PM

                                Living in New Orleans, we eat fish probably 5 nights a week. Hubby goes deep sea fishing about once every couple of months so we are usually stocked with tuna, wahoo, amberjack. Plus all the flats fishing we do bringing in redfish and specled trout. Adding thats its crawfish, oyster and shrimp season and well... seafood is a staple around here. Most of the time I take a filet of redfish (skin intact scales removed) brush the skin side with olive oil and throw it on a grill. Sprinkle salt, pepper and lemon slices and grill it until the fish gets flaky. The redfish skin acts in the same way those ceder planks do for salmon. Or if its a delicate fish I usually wrap the filet in parchment paper, season it, and bake it in the oven. But the easiest is a basic shrimp boil with potatoes, corn, artichokes, garlic, and onions.

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