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your favorite midweek, quick dinner recipes

Been doiing waaay too much takeout lately, but I get home pretty late and am often too tired to cook. What are your favorite quick (around 30 minutes) recipes?

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  1. spaghetti carbonara. boiling the pasta is way quick, as is composing the delicious, smoky, eggy carbonara sauce. serve it with some nice torn, warmed baguette, and you're golden. what a great meal.

    2 Replies
    1. re: beelzebozo

      Omelet w/spinach and swiss.
      Green salad w/a handful of frozen petite peas and a handful of cashews
      A piece of fresh fruit

      1. re: beelzebozo

        Pasta puttanesca--it's quick, and all the ingredients can come from my pantry.

      2. rice cooker.stir fry.
        Marinate the meat in sesame oil, and cornstarch.
        get your rice/ water together in your rice cooker, and turn it on.
        Chop your veggies, and get your sauces / condiments ready while the wok is heating up.
        At this point, I'll also put some tj's coconut chicken or lemongrass chicken spring rolls in the oven
        Make your stir fry, rice is done, spring rolls should be as well.
        Look into some shan brand Indian spice mixes as well:
        Chicken Handi
        Butter Chicken
        Chana Masala
        Have a Mexican Market?
        Chicken Fajita mix is a big seller in these parts. The store will slice up chiocken breast, greean/red peppers, and onions along with dry spices, and sell it by the lb. Toss it all into a hot skillet, and you've got some fajitas. (Doing them by hand is uber quick as well)
        Egg tacos:
        Scarmbled eggs (put whatever you want in them (bells, tomaters, chese, onions, potatoes, meat) warm up some tortillas ang go to town - s. cream, avocado, salsa, cilantro etc...

        2 Replies
        1. re: gordeaux

          We do a lot of Taco's also Nacho's and we do a lot of pasta just simple. I also like to do souffle's with a green salad.

          1. re: Analisas mom

            Steak (4-5 minutes per side)
            Chicken breast (cooked by pan frying) and steamed broccoli

        2. I am in the same boat - get home, would like something tasty, but am too tired to invest time in an elaborate meal. Here are my latest comfort dinners:
          * Shrimp baked with crushed tomatoes, sauteed onions, feta and dill. Serve with fried polenta (we get the TJ rounds)
          * Salads: tonight, it was red and yellow peppers, lettuce, sauteed red onion and mushrooms, cukes, topped with pinto beans and a lot of mustard; yesterday, it was sauteed baby beets and beet greens with wheatberries and feta; tomorrow, grilled veggies with grilled pitas and hummus
          *Various grain/bean salads that I make on weekends.

          The other scenario is to have the ingredients cooked separately in the beginning of the week, then try multiple permutations during the week (e.g., cook the grains ahead of time, then play with the protein and the vegetables on weeknights). The only problem here is that by the time I get home, I cannot even think of any permutations anymore....

          1. Wasn't planning on having dinner at home last night, but plans got cancelled. We defrosted some shrimp & scallops and scrounged in fridge for produce. While prepping produce, boiled up 8 oz penne pasta. Threw sliced onions, red & green peppers, mushrooms, black olives in large saute pan with seafood & garlic, s&p. After sauteeing, threw about 1/4 cup dry sherry, 1/4 cup low fat 1/2 & 1/2, made pan sauce. Threw in cooked penne. Very tasty, took about 20-25 min.

            1. I truly believe the key is to plan it out on Sunday and if you can cook up a few things that are only for weekday meals. My first plan of attack is to cook ground beef. I then have the option of tacos, burritos, spaghetti, etc. Then I grill some chicken breast and use them for fajitas, or salads. A pot roast, beef/pork can go along way with extra meals. Good luck!

              2 Replies
              1. re: othervoice

                BBQ Shrimp...of sorts is one of our go to quick meals.

                Melt half a stick of butter, (I use a little more but did not want to sound like Paula Deen) in a pan, add a good size glug of worcestershire, (1/4 to 1/3 cup) the juice of 2 lemons, chopped garlic, and lots of black pepper. Let it all combine and add shrimp, (shell on) cover and cook until pink turning half way through. Remove shrimp and let the sauce cook down a bit, serve in a large bowl with bread for dipping and a simple salad...so good.

                1. re: bubbles4me

                  we make this as well- although usually for a weekend treat becuase of the butter- but it is great.

              2. My version of Shrimp Scampi.

                I always have a bag of extra large pre cooked Shrimp in the freezer.

                Depends on how many you are cooking for, but for myself I use 10 shrimp, and have leftovers.

                2 cloves of garlic, minced
                1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
                1/4 cup grated parm
                1/2 fresh lemon
                1/4 cup julienned basil leaves
                1/2 cup white wine
                10 shrimp thawed
                1/2 lb. spaghetti
                2 T. butter
                2 T. olive oil
                1 pinch of kosher salt
                freshly ground pepper

                Cook spaghetti by directions, and about 5 minutes into cooking spaghetti heat skillet.

                Heat skillet to medium heat, with butter and oil. Add garlic, saute for 1 minute, add red pepper flakes. Cook for another minute. Add shrimp, toss with a little salt and pepper, heat for 1 minute. Add wine, bring to a simmer, turn to low.
                Drain spaghetti when al dente, drain and toss with Shrimp. Add lemon, basil and parmesean.

                It's so easy and good too.

                1. I saw this last night and it looks great, but I haven't tried it yet. I did think of this thread though

                  2 cups cubed cooked chicken, recipe called for boneless skinless breasts, I prefer thighs
                  2 cups broccoli slaw
                  1/2 cup poppy seed dressing
                  1/2 cup chopped cashews (or other nut)

                  Combine into salad

                  I know the combination of the broccoli slaw and poppy seed dressing is excellent as this is how I have made my "coleslaw" for many years. Adding chicken and nutty crunch makes absolute sense to make a complete meal. Use rotisserie chicken to make it under 30 minutes.

                  1. Slowcooker Quesadillas. I have posted the recipe about a million times. They are incredibly easy, nourishing, and so good. Just throw the stuff in the slow cooker in the morning, and come home to a hot, healthy, dinner. The smell coming from the pot in drool worthy. They have become our familys deffinition of comfort food. You can find my recipe here:

                    1. Pork chops on the grill, since I live in a mild climate area. Frozen corn and peas, nuked, generous with the added butter, salt and pepper. Steamed rice.

                      Sometimes, applesauce for the pork chops or mango chutney. Vegetables on the rice with residual moisture butter.

                      Half hour tops to the table.

                      1. How about a curry, quick easy and very tasty!
                        I usually skip the meat coz it's quicker. Chop and onion and green pepper. Sautee onion, garlic & ginger paste. add the green pepper and curry paste (I love the Pataks!) add coconut milk. Simmer for a few minutes and at the end, add spinach and grape tomatoes till hot... you can either cook your own rice or just use those handy uncle bens' quick rice. 90 seconds in the microwave or heat up a naan...
                        It's one of my families favorites!

                        1. fritattas! They're quick and a great use for so many leftovers. I like to make mine with a base of leftover spaghetti (I prefer it without the sauce) just throw in some cooked veggies, mushrooms, meat if you'd like, and sprinkle cheese on top. Add some fried potatoes and you've got an speedy, simple meal.

                          1. Fried Rice...& so much easier now w/the TJs pre-cooked bags of brown rice...can throw in fried rice. Pasta with any mix of veggies, chick broth, lemon juice or a fancy vinegar or even just slightly doctoring a can of chop tomatoes (last wk i sauteed shallots, tomatos, red wine viegar, lots of parm). Also if have some cooked rice can make kind of a fake risotto by throwing in broth & almost any combo of veggies.

                            1. Trader Joe's "Just Chicken" is my go to. I make salads with sliced nectarines, blackberries and TJ chicken. Use it for chicken quesadillas, quick Greek lemon rice soup, curried chicken salad sandwiches. Also make lots of things that can be done in the a.m. before the heat of the day hits (95 now at 6:45pm) like fritattas.

                              1. it is and always has been about about planning. I am a freak and make a meal plan on sunday - almost never shop more than once a week. but you know the tricks - make a roast, lasagna, hearty soup on Sunday...Monday saute chicken breasts pound, a little tomato-based sauce or the like - steam a veg, Tuesday slice your roast put it in a bowl of udon noodles, or gravy or sandwich or taco it, wed cook a whole chicken - put foil in the pan- along with roasted sweet potato, Thursday rescue the LO chicken - taco time.

                                Gots to plan though

                                1. I just invented a new quick dinner this week. Pound boneless chicken thighs to even out the thickness (could use breasts but thighs are easier to cook without drying). Mix some Dijon mustard and plain yogurt and smear onto each thigh. Top with dry sage leaves (could use fresh or rubbed). Moisten some bread crumbs (I use panko) with olive oil and top each thigh. Put onto foil-lined baking sheet. Bake at 400 for about 30 minutes. Extremely easy, low fat, easy to clean-up, and hands-off meal.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: rouxmaker

                                    Can't wait to try this next week(when it cools down!), sounds delicious. I often pound out breasts and gently pan fry them, but I really love thighs, and popping them in the oven will be so easy. Happen to have all the ingredients as well.
                                    The olive oil moistened panko will speak to the BF too, thanks so much!

                                  2. An easy soup can be made with chicken broth, cheese tortellinis, baby spinach and match stick carrots. Just heat up the broth, cook the pasta in it, the add the spinach and carrots right before serving. If you're feeling fancy, you can sautee some garlic and onion in the pot before heating up the broth.

                                    Pasta is always easy. We eat a spicy pasta dish that I've forgotten the name of pretty often. While the pasta is cooking, sautee garlic and onions together in olive oil. Add chopped veggies, like mushrooms, asparagus, squash, broccoli, peas, whatever you eat. Add the cooked pasta to the pan and stir it with grated parmesean cheese and red chili flakes.

                                    1. For nights when I'm totally exhausted, I use the rice cooker. Doesn't require tending: chuck everything in it and go put my feet up while it cooks. For the lentils, I I measure and mix all of the dry ingredients ahead of time. Store in a ziploc or jar.

                                      Lentils & Rice (from the pantry)
                                      1 C lentils
                                      1/2 C rice
                                      1 t dried basil (or 1 T fresh basil, add before serving)
                                      1 t garlic powder (or clove of garlic, crushed)
                                      2 C sliced carrots
                                      3 C water + 1 T bouillion or 3 C stock
                                      1 T olive oil
                                      parmigiana cheese

                                      Put everything but the cheese in the rice cooker, and push the switch. in 20 minutes or it will be finished cooking. Serve with parmigiana cheese.

                                      Greens and Rice
                                      1 onion, chopped
                                      xv olive oil
                                      1 C long grain brown rice
                                      1 1/4 C water or broth
                                      1/2 t salt or to taste
                                      oregano (about a tsp dried)
                                      1 large bunch spinach, kale turnip or other greens chopped
                                      Zest (or finely minced peel) and juice of one lemon
                                      4oz feta, crumbled
                                      Heat the oil in the rice cooker pan, and saute the onion until tender. Add rice and stir until coated with oil. Add water or broth, salt oregano and stir. Place spinach on top, (you may have to pack it down), cover and let cook until the cooker shuts off on its own. Stir in lemon juice. Serve, garnished with feta and lemon zest.
                                      Optional: 1) with hard boiled eggs: place 2 whole eggs in pot when you add the water 2) Casserole: As soon as the cooker turns off add beaten eggs (preferably room temperature) with zest and feta and stir into pot before serving. Cover and let stand a few minutes