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Mar 21, 2009 09:51 AM

Need ideas for simple, quick dinners for 3 adults and 2-1/2 year old

I am going to Brooklyn in a few weeks to look after my 2-1/2 year old grandson and feed him and his parents when his baby brother arrives. The kitchen is small but fairly well equipped. They are all adventurous eaters but no red meat. Pasta is limited to non-wheat based products. I will be tired and not inspired at the end of the day. I am coming from Mexico so cannot bring prepared meals. There are grocery stores very nearby with most things available. I often make chicken tacos (big surprise there) and they like the salmon patties that I picked up on chowhound a while ago. Soup is good and I have been copying that recent thread. They don't have a slow cooker and I hate to buy one because the kitchen is so small. I would be ever so appreciative for any and all suggestions. Thank you!!!

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  1. 1. A quick sauté with any number of combination of vegetables, well seasoned either with Asian spices or Mexican, or Italian and served with a nice bowl of steamed Jasmine or Basmati rice. Serve with an easy to pan fry or pan grill protein.
    2. The infamous Broccoli Casserole, only make all the add ins from scratch (or not)
    3. Black Bean Soup with Chorizo / salad...(.use canned beans & low-sodium chicken broth in a box)
    4. Grilled or roasted fish / baked potato/ string beans
    5. Lamb or pork chops/ roasted asparagus/ steamed cauliflower (Or other vegetable the family likes)
    6. Hamburgers/rolls/chips/pickles....cold slaw with prepared chopped veggies in a bag.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Gio

      Your 2 1/2 y.o. eats black bean soup w/ chorizo?! Wow, gotta have that one! And a saute w/ spices! Most toddlers don't want/need spices except for plain ol' salt, pepper & butter.

      Hey, how about a simple roast chicken dinner with potatoes? That should work with the little one!

    2. A chicken and spinach lasagna is great. You can even get the preboiled noodles if space and time is an issue. Spinach (frozen) is great for this with ground turkey or chicken. I like the traditional cheeses but you can use some shredded fontini which is good. If the two year old can nibble on chicken you save a few bites for him and my son when very young love small bites of pasta, lasagna noodles cut up would work good.

      Spaghetti with meatballs, turkey meatballs you can make a huge batch and freeze. Younger kids can nibble on small bites, it keeps well, can cook stove top. Use some good canned tomatoes and some onions and garlic and make a good sauce.

      Potato and sausage gratin. Potatoes, squash, mushrooms and fresh grilled sausage makes a great casserole.

      Mac and cheese of course. I like to use some great honey ham and layer the ham and the mac to mac a light casserole. Kids and adults love it.

      Fish is great. You can make amazing fish packets in the oven in either parchment or aluminum foil. Layer the fish over some pre cooked pasta, like angel hair and then top with julienne carrots, zuchinni, muchrooms, onions, lemon slice, some butter and wine. Close up and bake Easy all in one dinner. Serve with my stuffed bread.

      Stuffed bread, cut lengthwise and lightly hollow each side and then grill or broil just light brown and stuff. I like to brush with olive oil, then fresh mozz or provolone, then fresh tomatoes, salt and pepper, then arugula, top with cheese and the other half wrap in foil and bake. You can do this with sauteed mushrooms, pesto and cheese, grilled veggies, carmelized and fontina, any combo you want. It is great with a simple grilled chicken breast, pork chop or steak.

      I make a hearty stew with shrimp, kale, fish any white fish or salmon in season, some mussels and onions, cream and wine (non alcoholic) is fine. I know mothers sometimes can not drink alcohol is breast feeding. and broth. Serve with crunchy bread. I also make a hearty mussel stew made similar but add thin vermicelli to the broth with onions and the sauce and serve. Hearty like soup, quick 30 minutes or less 1 pot and inexpensive.

      Shrimp quesadillas with a lime cilantro vinaigrette salad with avacado.

      A fritatta made with shrimp and potato; or one made with butternut squash, carmelized onions and eggs; salmon, potato and dill.
      Same goes for a quiche

      Make a turkey one night. I love this. Turkey one night and then you have endless ideas for stir fry, pasta, sandwiches, pot pies. All different.

      Pork loin in the oven is great, just with a simple marinade or rub, I have one to die for, I can send later if interested, some soy, brown sugar, just grilled or oven baked. Serve with some stuffed potato halves. I make 1 white and one sweet and I mix the two and make a savory butter to add to the mix and then top with fontina and bake. Great side.

      Veggies use the oven. Roast in aluminum foil pouches with olive oil, s/p. Makes life in a small kitchen simple. Less clean up and very tasty.

      1. My kids love baked pumpkin sopes - of course they love the more authentic better, but they will happily eat the healthier version. I make it woth Maseca mixed with canned pumpkin, top with black beans, shellfish or meat, cheese, salsa, dairy if desired. Serve with cabbage slaw. Baking the sopes makes it a quick hands off meal.

        Skillet baked ziti works fine with rice based pastas.

        Sushi salad. I don't use this recipe and use either real crab, shrimp, baked tofu or edamame (fake crab has wheat), but it gives you the idea.

        Baked potato with toppings.

        Grilled polenta, topped with tomatoes or mushrooms and white beans, or served with baked chicken.

        There are a lot of stovetop chicken recipes - my kids like lemon and olive, or tomato sauce and chorizo.

        Huevos rancheros. We make a healthier version (baked tortilla) using canned fire roasted tomatoes to make a quick sauce.

        Frittata or similar but with ricotta or cottage cheese mixed in.

        1. Molly Katzen's zuccanoes or other stuffed vegetables like peppers (or even onions or tomatoes as a side). Use pre-cooked rice, barley, wheat berries, or beans for the starch.

          Savory bread puddings, like Reuben.
          Faux scalloped potatoes made with boiled, sliced potatoes, white sauce, cheese and/or ham chunks if you want. Baked until bubbly and browned on the edges.
          Wheat berry salad with lots of add-in's. Good for breakfast, lunch, or snack for mom.

          Cook some grains while you're in the house dealing with the 2-1/2-year-old. They'll keep for a few days, so you can use a cupful here and there.

          Maybe get some pre-made cookie dough and help the 2-1/2 YO make cookies for his mom and dad.

          Is there a decent canned or jarred mole that you could bring with you?

          1. I cook for two-three/sometimes 4 adults and a 3 year old every single day. I don't envy you, its not easy coming up with different dishes, that appeal to all of those eating. In fact I quit trying, I just make what sounds good to me and what do ya know, they usually love it.
            Here's a dish I came up with that was simple and fast, and I was mainly cooking it for the 3 year old. But to my surprise, everyone wanted to have some. It's just vegetables sauteed, small miniature lasagne noodles, zuchinni, onions, carrots, 2 fresh tomatoes, celery, and chicken broth that reduced, the pasta noodles thickened it just enough.
            Sautee the vegetables in a large saute pan with a little oil.
            I used chicken meat from a whole breast (previously cooked in stock)
            Add the broth, 1 can or a cup of homemade chicken stock to the veggies
            Add the partically cooked pasta to the broth
            I add the chicken breast last ( in a little stock with onion and seasoning/salt and pepper, I'll add it towards the end toss it through so not to overcook it.
            For this dish,becuase I was trying not to overwhelm the little one, I use dried basil, 1 clove garlic smooshed with salt added to the veggies, you can add fresh herbs such as parsley and or basil at the end to individual dishes along with perorino romano. It's actually fast and you can make alot.

            I really think that roasting a couple of chickens if you're able to, is the way to go if not, then maybe you could buy those. Take the meat off the bone, and use it for so many things. Like and Asian salad with mushrooms and plum sauce or chicken fried rice.

            Another quick one is Sloppy Joe's made with ground turkey and homemade sauce.

            2 Replies
            1. re: chef chicklet

              who can go wrong with sloppy joes. I actually make a few versions. chopped shrimp with a light tomato citrus sauce topped with lettuce and chopped onion.

              turkey ground with some spicy jack chees

              And the traditional

              Even a veggie one

              Fun and easy but you can top them all a bit different with a little lettuce or cheese but keep the same concept. Easy to do. Love sloppy Joes

              1. re: kchurchill5

                yep, everyone around here loves sloppy joes. oh my gosh you're by far more adventurerous than I am, just the slightly switched up traditional (ground turkey andand of couse I must make the sauce from scratch), but even so, Sloppy Joe's are good ol' comfort food fast!