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What do you do for a QUICK dinner on a week night?

r
RosemaryHoney Mar 25, 2010 04:46 PM

I know there are a lot of these posts floating around out there, but I hoped to get some new ideas in a central location.

Since starting a new job, I've had less time and less energy to get dinner on the table, and I'm stuck in a rut, cycling the same meals over and over. So what are some new ideas? What do you prepare when you're short on time and energy?

I thought it might be cool if everyone posted one meal they love that takes less than 15 minutes of hands-on time.

Here's one of mine:
Spicy Seared Pork Chops with Roasted Potatoes and Squash and Broccoli
1. Brine 2-4 bone-in pork chops in 1/4c salt, 1/4c sugar, and 6c of water for 30 minutes.
2. On a large rimmed baking sheet, toss cubed squash and potatoes in olive oil, salt, and preferred spices (I use Penzey's Bouquet Garni or granulated garlic). Place in 425 oven while pork chops brine. [Steps 1 and 2 take about 6-8 minutes of hands-on time].
3. Put on water to steam broccoli, and prepare broccoli for steaming.
4. Heat cast iron pan (or grill).
5. Pat dry pork chops. Season with BBQ powder (I use Penzey's BBQ 3000) or a mix of 1T brown sugar, 2t chili powder or ancho chile powder, 2t cumin, 1t salt, 1t pepper, 1t chipotle powder, and 1/4t cayenne.
6. Sear pork on both sides. It usually takes 3 minutes on each side.
7. While pork rests, steam broccoli and take potatoes out of oven.
8. Serve and enjoy!

  1. l
    lexpatti Mar 25, 2010 04:59 PM

    I love roasted veggie so much that when I make them I always make wayyyy too much so that on a night like tonight - I throw some home made pasta (that I had in the freezer from the last time I made it) in boiling salted water - take the roasted veggies and add a lil liq (stock), lil butter and heat up - toss with pasta, fresh grated cheese = YUM!!!!

    that boil in a bag br rice is great (we are in teh middle of a kitchen reno so I'm looking for easy and quick but good).

    The grill is awesome for quick meals, sliced summer squash (long ways) and a piece of fish or shrimp or pork.

    2 Replies
    1. re: lexpatti
      lynnlato Mar 25, 2010 05:24 PM

      I just did this tonight. I had roasted veggies last night and had them with simple roasted chicken thighs. Tonight we had the leftover chicken and I tossed the veggies in w/ some spaghetti w/ oil, butter, garlic, shallots and Romano cheese. Yummm, it hit the spot and was so easy.

      To the OP, searing a steak in a cast iron skillet only takes a couple of minutes. Serve with a baked potato and some broccolini w/ garlic, oil, chili flakes and Romano (I have a theme...). Or serve it with a good salad.

      1. re: lynnlato
        r
        Rosemary Tagliatelle Mar 26, 2010 04:03 PM

        I just made this tonight after getting home with some fresh asparagus. Very satisfying if you are not yet sick of pasta from the winter. Took about 10 minutes.

        Pasta with Asparagus Pesto from epicurious.com (Gourmet, April 1999)
        Gourmet | April 1999
        by Nathan Sivin, Philadelphia PA
        Yield: Serves 4 as a main course

        1 pound penne or other tubular pasta
        1 pound asparagus
        1/4 cup pine nuts
        2 or 3 medium garlic cloves
        1/2 teaspoon salt
        1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
        2 ounces freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (about 2/3 cup)

        In a 6- to 7-quart kettle bring about 5 quarts salted water to a boil for pasta.

        Have ready a bowl of ice water. Trim woody ends from asparagus. Cut asparagus stalks crosswise into 2-inch pieces, reserving tips. In a steamer set over boiling water steam stalks, covered, 4 minutes. Add reserved asparagus tips and steam, covered, until just tender, about 1 minute. Immediately transfer asparagus to ice water to stop cooking. Drain asparagus well in a colander and pat dry.

        In a food processor pulse pine nuts and garlic with salt until finely chopped. Add asparagus and oil and pulse until asparagus is coarsely chopped. Transfer pesto to a large bowl and stir in Parmigiano-Reggiano. Cook pasta in boiling water until al dente. Reserve 1/3 cup pasta cooking water and drain pasta in a colander. Add pasta and reserved cooking water to pesto, tossing to coat, and season with salt and pepper.

    2. f
      foufou Mar 25, 2010 05:08 PM

      I am sauteing shrimp and andouille sausage with onions and red peppers (seasoned the shrimp with Penzey's cajun seasoning) and cooking white rice in microwave.....will add parsley to the rice when it's finished this is a quick mid-week meal and in fact I am preparing it now!

      1. goodhealthgourmet Mar 25, 2010 05:15 PM

        - fish & vegetable packets - only takes a few minutes to prep them, and you can cook them on the grill or in the [toaster] oven.
        - basic egg dishes - frittata, scramble or omelet - with whatever vegetables & herbs i have on hand or feel like using.
        - big chopped salad - i always clean & prep the veggies when i bring them home from the store, so there's less work to do when it's time to eat. i just do a quick chop on whatever i want in there, top with some protein (leftover roast chicken or turkey, tuna, salmon, hard-cooked eggs, etc.), and whip up some dressing.

        16 Replies
        1. re: goodhealthgourmet
          lynnlato Mar 25, 2010 05:26 PM

          "i always clean & prep the veggies when i bring them home from the store"

          Bittman would be so proud of you, GHG. :)

          1. re: lynnlato
            goodhealthgourmet Mar 25, 2010 05:32 PM

            i started doing it long before i even knew who he was ;)

            1. re: goodhealthgourmet
              l
              lexpatti Mar 26, 2010 06:08 AM

              I wish I did that because I really love chopped salads and sometimes forego because of the work in cleaning/prepping!

              I will sometimes make a big salad of dry things (no tomatoes or mushrooms to get soggy) so that I can either have it as a salad, or saute it or steam it and put on rice or quinoa. It usually consists of white cabbage, red cabbage, shaved carrots, broccoli, and cauliflour. This stays really fresh for quite a while. This mix sauteed with braggs liq. amino is sooo fantastic over rice, with fresh shaved/grated cheese.

              1. re: lexpatti
                c
                cheesecake17 Mar 26, 2010 06:27 AM

                I was and cut up everything too. Makes dinner come together so quickly on a weeknight. One of my favorites- brown rice and veggie stirfry. I grill chicken separately. Extra grilled chicken goes on a salad for my husband's lunch, and leftover rice and veggies get packed in a container for my lunch.

              2. re: goodhealthgourmet
                d
                dmd_kc Mar 26, 2010 01:26 PM

                WAIT -- weren't we all born with his grin and voice imprinted on our DNA?!

                Do you go so far as to peel carrots and separate stalks of celery, or core peppers? I'm curious how far's too far.

                1. re: dmd_kc
                  l
                  lexpatti Mar 26, 2010 02:35 PM

                  I would think that would be negative with respect to freshness and vitimins - don't they start to exit if you peel??? Most times, I use the peeling and scrub things like carrots - lots of nutrition on the outside. (I thought)

                  1. re: dmd_kc
                    goodhealthgourmet Mar 26, 2010 02:50 PM

                    no on the carrots because i don't peel them, i just give them a good scrub. but celery gets separated and trimmed; peppers get seeded & cored; radishes get washed & trimmed; lettuce and cabbage get washed, dried & chopped; bunch herbs like parsley, dill and cilantro get washed & dried, but not chopped (i keep pots of mint & basil on hand so i just snip that off and wash as needed); scallions get washed & trimmed; and i don't do anything with cucumber, mushrooms, or tomatoes until i'm assembling the salad.

                    and just in case there was any doubt remaining, yes, i am a lunatic :)

                    1. re: goodhealthgourmet
                      Phurstluv Mar 26, 2010 03:53 PM

                      Wow, you're hardcore! I always thought, except for lettuce, the other veggies start to spoil if you wash them long before using them. Washes off the protective wax, etc. I am always buying too much produce and throwing out what has spoiled........

                      1. re: Phurstluv
                        goodhealthgourmet Mar 26, 2010 04:07 PM

                        hardcore is one way to put it ;)

                        two secrets:
                        - be sure everything is completely dry before you put it in the fridge.
                        - store in glass containers or those really thin baggies - the ones with twist-ties that are becoming harder & harder to find. those are your best bets for prolonged freshness.

                        1. re: goodhealthgourmet
                          Phurstluv Mar 26, 2010 04:11 PM

                          Good call. I love having my lettuce all cleaned, and crisp, ready to go. But it seems whenever I cut into a pepper, and save the rest, I wrap it in paper towels but it goes bad before I can use it.

                          Can produce bags work? I even tried those green bags, and didn't find they did a whole lot more than make everything in the fridge appear green, therefore I had to rummage through the crisper drawer to find what I wanted.

                          1. re: Phurstluv
                            f
                            foiegras Mar 26, 2010 10:25 PM

                            Yes, I have used the green bags for asparagus & found they really do make a difference. I believe the instructions say you can use them about 5 times, so there does come a point where they don't help ...

                            1. re: Phurstluv
                              goodhealthgourmet Mar 26, 2010 11:24 PM

                              i never bothered trying the produce bags because all the reviews i read said they didn't make much of a difference - i also read somewhere that the Debbie Meyer green bags even resulted in the produce spoiling faster.

                              the super-thin baggies work just fine for me, and i reuse the heck out of them. i've honestly been working on the same box for TWO YEARS, and there are still many left!

                              bell peppers are tricky - once cut, they tend to spoil faster than other veggies. but i typically don't have a problem because i only buy one at a time and use it up within a few days. i've found that the cut surfaces start to get slimy around day 5.

                              oh, and i forgot to mention earlier that i first wrap the greens & herbs in a paper towel, and then shove the whole thing in a baggie.

                              1. re: goodhealthgourmet
                                Phurstluv Mar 27, 2010 11:27 AM

                                Right, that's how I do lettuces too. Although, just last week I found the best lettuce at costco, all different fulls heads, six of them. Two frisee, two red leaf romaine, two green leaf. And the plastic container they fit into has kept them beautifully fresh so far. I only wash one when I need it. May have something to do with being stored upright on the core, as opposed to laying on its side. Anyway, they've been delicious and pretty, I am going to get more for Easter.

                              2. re: Phurstluv
                                q
                                Querencia Apr 20, 2010 11:55 PM

                                I keep my lettuce wrapped in a very slightly damp cotton or linen dishtowel in the crisper drawer. Stays nice and crisp.

                              3. re: goodhealthgourmet
                                chef chicklet Mar 28, 2010 01:10 PM

                                Glass containers, been using this since forever. Well at least 15 years. I can keep lettuce quite awhile. Wash, spin dry, pat down with paper towels, and then cover with two sheets of paper towels and the plastic wrap so tight you can bounce a quarter on it. The lettuce will stay for almost 2 weeks. Don't cut it or rust happens (or what looks like rust to me).

                              4. re: Phurstluv
                                l
                                lexpatti Mar 27, 2010 05:54 PM

                                I'm with you Phurst, thinking my veggies go faster if I wash them first and because I love veggies, I think I shop at least twice a week for veggies and fruit.

                                one new trick that works wonders is to wrap celery in foil - no joke, really works great for keeping much longer. Other then that, I don't like foil touching my food, at all!!!!! weird pet peeve

                    2. c oliver Mar 25, 2010 05:56 PM

                      These threads should give you some ideas:

                      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/695986

                      1. z
                        ziggylu Mar 25, 2010 08:39 PM

                        Breakfast for dinner when we really don't want to invest a lot of time in dinner. Omelettes, pancakes, waffles,

                        Tonight I braised some greens and tossed them with pasta and goat cheese. 12 minutes start to finish.

                        Salmon or halibut braised in equal parts citrus juice(i like grapefruit for halibut and orange for salmon) and white wine. Remove the fish, reduce the sauce, add some mint and serve with couscous and either a vegetable or salad.

                        Grilled salmon mopped wiht a little bit of our favorite BBQ sauce

                        Diced potatoes, onions, and other vegetables. Toss iwth olive oil, garlic and smoked paprika and roast with a boneless skinless chicken breast of thigh on top

                        1. f
                          foiegras Mar 25, 2010 10:38 PM

                          The easiest thing I know how to do is good Italian pasta (spaghetti, farfalle ... something substantial) with a bit of butter, good parmesan, and either freshly steamed asparagus sliced diagonally, or raw grape tomatoes halved in pasta bowls, and the hot pasta thrown on top. Add a glass of Chardonnay ...

                          1. t
                            tonka11_99 Mar 25, 2010 11:26 PM

                            I recommend Pam Anderson's book "How to coo without a book. The whole book is on setting up your pantry to cook quick meals on weeknights.

                            What I recommend is the following:

                            Keep fish sticks and tator tots in the freezer.

                            Do the same with some Marie Callender pot pies.

                            Make sure you have eggs and sausage in the fridge. Breakfast for dinner is great.

                            Keeping stuff around for stir fry is great. You can freeze small packets of stir fry meats. You can keep stir fry veggies in the freezer. They even sell them in frozen bags at the store.

                            Keep spaghetti noodles and jarred pasta sauce in the pantry. Saute up some hamburger and onions. Throw in the sauce. You have spaghetti.

                            Make some hamburger patties. Even better, keep some around frozen. Fry some up with sliced onions add some Campbell's Golden Mushroom Soup. Macaroni and cheese as a side dish.

                            8 Replies
                            1. re: tonka11_99
                              Phurstluv Mar 26, 2010 08:30 AM

                              <Keep fish sticks and tator tots in the freezer> I love that line! Wouldn't be caught dead without them!!

                              I also make hamburgers ahead, and freeze them already seasoned. Just thaw in the am and they're ready.

                              Ground turkey & chicken cutlets thaw out quickly as well and make fast tacos and fajitas. I also like to broil everything together on the same pan - meat, vegs, starch or beans. Fast clean up.

                              1. re: pikawicca
                                ipsedixit Mar 27, 2010 09:05 PM

                                Tater tots rock.

                                Fish sticks ... not so much.

                                1. re: ipsedixit
                                  pikawicca Mar 27, 2010 09:12 PM

                                  I make Jamie Oliver's fish sticks, using halibut. They're great. I'll still pass on the tater tots, which I associate with bad school lunches.

                                  1. re: pikawicca
                                    ipsedixit Mar 27, 2010 09:25 PM

                                    Ever try making tater tots?

                                    Mix in some scallions, parsley and fry them in a cast iron skillet with bacon fat and you've got potato heaven on a plate.

                                    1. re: ipsedixit
                                      c oliver Mar 27, 2010 11:10 PM

                                      So, what/ Do you grate potatoes and mix with those ingredients? How do you get them to hold together and make the little "tot" things?

                                      1. re: c oliver
                                        ipsedixit Mar 28, 2010 01:00 PM

                                        Take some Idaho or russet potatoes.

                                        Preheat oven to about 350F

                                        Wash potatoes and place them in oven for about 10 minutes. Don't cook the potatoes, just bake them long enough to soften them up.

                                        Peel potatoes and work them through a grater.

                                        Dice up scallions and parsley and add to the shredded potatoes.

                                        Combine and then form into balls

                                        Then heat up your cast iron skillet (or saute pan) with some bacon fat and fry up the tater tots, turning once.

                                        Dust with some sea or kosher salt and serve warm.

                                  2. re: ipsedixit
                                    LulusMom Apr 21, 2010 07:37 AM

                                    Sometimes fish tacos made with fish sticks really hit the spot. Guilty pleasure.

                                  3. re: pikawicca
                                    t
                                    tonka11_99 Mar 27, 2010 11:23 PM

                                    Look, I do a lot of cooking and it is still difficult to keep from running down and taking advantage of the dollar menu at the local McDonald's.

                                    I figure even the bottled and frozen stuff is healthier and cheaper than micky-dee's. I did suggest a cookbook and pam Anderson does have a recipe for spaghetti where she makes her sauce about as fast as using jarred stuff. However I have a brand of the jarred stuff I like and it is quick.

                                    Fish Sticks and tator tots are quick and so are frozen pot pies. With those things in the fridge, it gives you something to fall back on.

                                    There are lots of things you can cook that are better but if you can ccok them 5-6 days a week, your better than me.

                                    That being said, I have another suggestion. Keep small packages of meat frozen . I use my foodsaver. When I want to thaw something, sink full of room temperature water thaws it quickly even for a weeknight.

                                    Stir fry is quick. Even a pork tenderloin only takes about 25 minutes to cook.

                                2. v
                                  VikingKvinna Mar 26, 2010 08:27 AM

                                  I love eggs for dinner. So many variations: poached on top of greens (with toast or crusty bread), omelettes, egg sandwiches, or my new favorite:

                                  Top cooked black beans (canned or pre-cooked from dry) with two fried (or poached) eggs, shredded jack cheese, and salsa. Yum.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: VikingKvinna
                                    j
                                    jvanderh Mar 26, 2010 08:59 AM

                                    I go with shrimp and packaged pasta. I throw the shrimp into a bowl of hot water right out of the freezer. Get a pot of water boiling, and in 5 or 10 minutes, the shrimp are thawed enough to peel. Throw the pasta in the boiling water and add the shrimp for the last two minutes. I'd never boil chicken, but with shrimp it doesn't seem to make them tough. Drain the whole mess and grate some Parmesan on top.

                                  2. k
                                    karykat Mar 26, 2010 10:13 AM

                                    We roast tomatoes with herbs and garlic in the summer and freeze them in individual-portioned bags. We will do this with canned tomatoes if we run out of our frozen farmer market one.

                                    Then make batches of favorite meatballs (confession -- we actually buy them from a restaurant we like that sells them to us and freeze them.)

                                    In the morning, take out some frozen sauce and some also thaw some of the meatballs.

                                    Great spaghetti for dinner. Or with some favorite sausages.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: karykat
                                      Bada Bing Mar 26, 2010 03:17 PM

                                      Second that--frozen good meatballs are a gold mine.

                                    2. j
                                      julesincoq Mar 26, 2010 02:56 PM

                                      Quesadillas. Canned refried beans or black beans are always on hand, what ever veg I feel like (usually red pepper and onions) and what ever meat is left from the night before. I always have salsa in the fridge and I always have an avacado. Done. If I have more than 5 minutes, I'll make a quick ceasar salad too.

                                      1. Bada Bing Mar 26, 2010 03:13 PM

                                        One cookbook (which I no longer recall) suggested that the first step in cooking was to put a big pot of water onto the boil, because it's bound to come in handy for something. In fact, it's mostly for pasta, in my case, or boiling certain potatoes.

                                        Anyway, for really quick meals, I do these things:

                                        1. Have frozen veggies on hand to cook a half bag or a whole bag of whatever you like, such as carrots and peas, in a half inch or so of water.

                                        2. Try to capitalize on leftovers. If I have some day- (or days-) old rice--which I often do, because I always make extra rice--I think about slicing some onions, garlic and chili paste and any protein into a fried-rice stir fry; or if I have some left-over pasta, unsauced, I think of making a frittata with eggs and veggies/meats; or if I have some leftover chicken meat from a rotisserie supermarket chicken, I'll chop it up and mix it into canned diced tomatoes, spice to taste, and then serve with cous-cous (a valuable item for harried weekday cooks).

                                        3. It's good to have hard-boiled eggs around, in case of emergency egg-salad or deviled egg requests.

                                        4. Canned/pouched tuna is also good. You can make a good pasta dish with tuna, tomato pasta sauce, and some spices/garlic/olive oil, perhaps with anchovies.

                                        Great topic. I look forward to other ideas.

                                        David

                                        4 Replies
                                        1. re: Bada Bing
                                          r
                                          Rosemary Tagliatelle Mar 27, 2010 07:49 AM

                                          Could that cookbook be "How to Eat Supper" by Lynn Rossetto Casper and Sally Swift of The Splendid Table?

                                          1. re: Rosemary Tagliatelle
                                            Phurstluv Mar 27, 2010 11:28 AM

                                            That's a great book to sit and read. Haven't gotten around to making any recipes yet.

                                            1. re: Rosemary Tagliatelle
                                              Bada Bing Mar 27, 2010 02:39 PM

                                              Actually, your suggestion reminds me that Rosetto Casper did mention this remark on her radio show Splendid Table, but something makes me think she was talking about someone else's cookbook and how practical-minded it was. I've never owned the book in question, whatever it is.

                                            2. re: Bada Bing
                                              c
                                              cheesecake17 Mar 29, 2010 06:45 AM

                                              A friend of mine always starts with a pot of water to boil. Same logic.. it's probably going to be used for something. And if it doesn't get used, it's just water down the drain and a pot to dry.

                                            3. Jen76 Mar 26, 2010 09:19 PM

                                              Roast chicken is my favorite. Get husband to cut backbone out of chicken, spatchcock it, season with salt and pepper, and toss on rack over cookie sheet. Place on grill and toss a whole squash of some sort (butternut is my favorite) on the grill with the chicken (sweet potatoes work too). An hour or so later, dinner's ready. I make it on my gas grill to keep the house from heating up in summer.

                                              We also had Reuben sandwiches this week that I grilled sort of panini style on the George Foreman grill, along with made-from-scratch, quick, stove-top mac & cheese that I brighten up with some fresh steamed peas picked from my garden. The mac & cheese is as easy as - and so much better than - the box stuff.

                                              Eggs are a big staple in our house. They can be made so many ways. Often, I'll use leftovers to make a fritatta of some sort. Creamed eggs served over toasted English Muffins remind me of my childhood. Poached eggs in salsa. "Breakfast" burritos made with scrambled eggs and any combination of other ingredients wrapped in a giant tortilla. Or, just sautee any kinds of veggies you like and then pour in some beaten eggs and make a scramble. I also love the "wilted greens with balsamic fried eggs" recipe on Chow. So good (especially with homegrown greens) and really fast. http://www.chow.com/recipes/11388

                                              I keep burger patties (made myself) in the freezer - both turkey and beef - for nights we feel like grilling up some burgers. They are easy to thaw in the microwave. I love mushroom swiss burgers. Sprinkle some Worcestershire sauce on the burger when you season it.

                                              Fajitas are really easy to make also. I agree with another poster's suggestion of quesadillas, too. Serve either with fresh guacamole and salsa. Yum.

                                              Tuna pita melts are a summertime favorite. Add some fresh dill to the tuna salad, havarti cheese, microgreens or sprouts, fresh sliced tomato and kosher dill slices all stuffed into a pita half and toasted in the toaster oven until hot and melty (toast setting 6 on my toaster oven). You can stuff a variety of things into a pita and toast it for a great twist on sandwiches. I also buy lavosh bread (you can sub pita bread though) and use it as pizza crust, add whatever toppings you like and toast in the toaster oven. Fresh tomato, basil and mozzerella is always good.

                                              1. Emme Mar 26, 2010 09:48 PM

                                                Seared Scallops with Roasted Asparagus and Onions

                                                Egg White Omelette with Artichoke Hearts, Broccoli, and Sun-dried Tomatoes

                                                Halibut (or any other firm white fish) in Papillote

                                                Big-Ass Salad - raw spinach, lettuce, tomatoes, grilled asparagus, grilled celery, diced cucumber, grilled onions, diced hard boiled egg whites... the veggies roast and grill whilst the eggs boil... feel free to add cheese and/or beans...

                                                1. ipsedixit Mar 26, 2010 10:10 PM

                                                  - Diet coke, banana, and Honey Bunches of Oats cereal

                                                  - Tuna sandwich (with tuna straight from the can on a kaiser roll with honey dijon mustard and srircha sauce) and a glass of pinot blanc

                                                  - Fried egg over rice with kimchi

                                                  1. eviemichael Mar 27, 2010 01:16 AM

                                                    Greek Stewed Peas is super fast and so good. I sautee minced garlic with chopped spring onion and fresh tomato with one cup of chopped dill. Then I add some cut up potatoes and fresh peas...Cover the pot and let simmer until tender. You can use frozen if you dont want to go to the trouble of taking the peas out of the pods yourself. This is a great springtime meal.

                                                    Mussels is another staple of mine for a quick meal- I saute garlic and spring onion and fresh thyme in half olive oil and butter, and 1/cup white wine- add mussels, cover pot, and once the mussels are opened I dip bread in the sauce and almost forget about the mussels. :)

                                                    Fish in parchment paper packets with any herb, flavoring, oil, etc. you like. I switch it up to keep in interesting, but this is something I do often when I'm short on time/energy. Steamed new potatoes on the side.

                                                    Sorry if I repeated a meal someone else may have posted, I didnt read through everything.

                                                    (i have the recipe of the peas here: http://emambrosia.wordpress.com/2010/... )

                                                    1. l
                                                      lergnom Mar 27, 2010 08:47 AM

                                                      I buy some fresh noodles at an Asian market - many varieties, including chow foon (in blocks or cut up). Some boneless chicken cut up. Some vegetables. Make a soy / peanut sauce (chunky peanut butter and some chopped up peanuts from a jar) or simple butter sauce or whatever.

                                                      Buy a Costco chicken. Even though it's cooked, it's better roasted for 30 minutes at 350.

                                                      Pita bread, opened, spread with some cheese - goat cheese mixed with mozzarella is good (even stuff from a bag). Heat pan, spray pan or put in butter. Carefully put in pita. Put another pan on top to flatten and crisp. Turn over before it is completely burnt. (You can include scallions, tomatoes, whatever in the pita.) Easier if you have a sandwich press but few things beat a crispy, hot, gooey pita cooked like this.

                                                      Take a rustic bread, cut in half and make a sandwich with cold cuts and various veggies and some interesting topping like hot sauce. Bake in oven or toaster oven with top off and then put top on to crisp. Like a muffaletta. I like to mix smoked turkey & ham.

                                                      Cut up carrots - or broccoli - and whatever veggies I have (including frozen peas and lima beans) put in pan with a little water, some salt and some butter. Cover and cook. The butter makes a glaze. That is then rich enough for any quick cooked meat or fish. (This is an old French method.)

                                                      If I have some soup on hand, I'll take some shrimp and some celery or other fresh vegetables and cook that. Maybe in a flat pan with an egg or two dropped in to poach. Really good if you then pour over some toast (especially if you burn the toast some). I'll even use some Progresso if I have no time at all. Cooking eggs like this is an old Italian thing.

                                                      I make a lot of salads. Make it big, with lots of vegetables. Cut up some bacon and put in small pan with cover and cook until crispy bits. Add blue cheese or feta. I have dozens of varieties. The world's simplest salad dressing is high quality vinegar, particularly a balsamic (not the cheap crap). I like Vincotto, which is vinegar cooked with fruit. A little of that and if the cheese is creamy - like feta - don't even need olive oil's fat. A favorite is just Boston lettuce with grated romano, some cut up red pepper and balsamic vinegar.

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: lergnom
                                                        Emme Mar 27, 2010 08:58 PM

                                                        i love to roast my own chicken, but in a pinch, i love Costco chickens - so moist and tender. if you're near a Ralph's supermarket, there's are pretty good too. Gelson's I find to be too dry.

                                                        salad is one of the easiest and most satisfying meals, IMNSHO... lots of bulk, chewing, and nutrients.

                                                      2. ladyberd Mar 27, 2010 02:04 PM

                                                        One of my go-to favorites when I'm in a hurry is Chicken cutlets cooked in white wine over agel hair. Takes no time at all.

                                                        Dredge some chicken cutlets in flour with a little salt and pepper. Brown on both sides in a pan (I like to use mostly olive oil with a little butter). Remove the chicken to a plate. In the same pan, saute a shallot and a clove or two of garlic, add about 2/3 cup white wine and put the chicken back in. Sprinkle about 1/4 cup fresh chopped parsely over the whole thing, cover and simmer for 20 minutes. Cook the pasta while the chicken cooks. Season the sauce with salt to taste then serve the chicken and sauce over the pasta with fresh grated parmesan cheese.

                                                        Enjoy,
                                                        Ladyberd
                                                        http://ladyberds-kitchen.blogspot.com

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: ladyberd
                                                          t
                                                          Tangerine Lipgloss Mar 27, 2010 06:31 PM

                                                          I cook most weekends so leftovers last a couple of days. I also cook large batches of sauce, meatballs, sausage, meatloaf, stew and chili and freeze in individual portions.

                                                          Other quick ideas: rice and beans, (black, red/pink, chickpeas) pasta, salad in a pita, soup, whatever is in the freezer. Sometimes a tuna sandwich, breakfast for dinner, BLT. Once a week order out pizza or chinese.

                                                          In the summer it's so easy to grill a burger, steak, chicken, sausage, fish etc. Get some side salads at the deli or make a pasta salad and there ya go.

                                                        2. t
                                                          tonka11_99 Mar 28, 2010 11:07 AM

                                                          I also partake in what I call the "ultimate fast food". A steak and a baked potato. Good stuff!

                                                          1. chef chicklet Mar 28, 2010 01:28 PM

                                                            My favorite fast meal is French Dip Sandwiches.
                                                            I buy the rarest roast beef at the deli. I make some consomme, either use the Johnny's stuff or buy canned consomee. Soft French rolls. Saute onions to that wondeful caramelized state, and saute some mushrooms.

                                                            Heat the consomme with a smidge of Sherry.
                                                            In one pan, caramalize the onions in butter, and then also the mushrooms with a few scallions and butter.
                                                            Then I put a ladle or two of the broth in a large sautee pan and gently heat some of the roast beef. On my grill/grill pan I place the buttered rolls cut side down.
                                                            Once they're ready I pile the roast beef on the rolls,
                                                            Of course I can do all the cooking on the grill pan, brown the onions and saute the onions at one end, warm the meat at the other wipe, and crisp up the rolls. Just depends on how much work I want to go through.

                                                            Me I'm thriilled with the regular French Dip, a sandwich and a cup of consomee. My dh loves the mushrooms, and caramelized onions and a slice or two of provolone.
                                                            But its fast and under 30 mins.

                                                            1. chef chicklet Mar 29, 2010 07:58 AM

                                                              Last night we got in late, and we still needed to eat. I was in a quandry because I needed to feed the little one, and my husband quick. We had been to Costco the day before and my husband found some salmon patties he wanted to try. These are located in the case where the prepared meals are. I usually don't go there other than to look but we bought them. As he bathed the 4 yr old, I had about 20-25 mins to be to have dinner done.

                                                              When we first started talking about dinner, I had popped baby red potatoes into a pot with salted water to boil. When they were fork tender, I pulled them out, transferred them to my large saute pan, and smashed them with olive oil salt and pepper and a sprinkling of garlic powder. I let them fry in a saute pan, and covered them. Asparagus went into the steam basket in a low saute pan (less water to bring to a boil) and covered them too. I cut the heat after they came to a boil. Meanwhile I sprayed a small baking sheet with pam, placed the patties on the tray, and set the timer for the first side to cook, instructions read 10 mins per side at 375. So in they went.

                                                              Off to get a quick recipe for hollandaise. I am familiar with Tyler Florence's blender hollandaise and I love it. I could not find the recipe I always use.

                                                              I don't remember ever adding 4 sticks of butter to the recipe but this particular one said 4. No way! I softened 3 (still too much) the juice of one lemon, red pepper, salt, and 4 egg yolks. I was using a recipe I got from FN, a blender one, seemed similar to the one I've used before and it was TF's. Anyway, blended the yolks, lemon juice, and etc. Then drizzled the hot butter into blender. When done stuck the whole blender cup into a hot bowl of water til serving time. It was pretty good, but I didn't need 3 sticks of butter. Like I said I was really trying to get this on the table quickly, and I couldn't see serving the patties without a sauce.

                                                              The dinner actually came out really nice. Other than the hollandaise being too rich (I'll adjust that) this is going to be a meal we'll have often. The salmon patties from Costco get a thumbs up. The instructions read 10 mins per side at 375 for internal temp to be 165 and that was not enough time in my oven.
                                                              Salmon patties and salmon loaf were something my mother made years ago, and these had so much more flavor. I resisted the tempation to fry them, and I think I actually did myself a favor by not doing so.

                                                              2 Replies
                                                              1. re: chef chicklet
                                                                c oliver Mar 29, 2010 08:06 AM

                                                                Congratulations! That dinner to me is what a CH would consider a "QUICK dinner."

                                                                1. re: chef chicklet
                                                                  Phurstluv Mar 29, 2010 08:25 AM

                                                                  Nice job, chef!! Very impressive! Did the 4 y.o. eat them as well? Nice to know, and costco really does have some decent stuff!

                                                                2. cheereeo Apr 19, 2010 10:10 AM

                                                                  Rosemary - - In your recipe, what kind of "squash" Winter or Summer? I'm assuming winter but wasn't sure.

                                                                  1. t
                                                                    tonka11_99 Apr 20, 2010 11:16 PM

                                                                    I buy thin cut rib eye steak when it is on sale and freeze it. I keep a package of hoagie buns in the freezer too. Saute up some green bell peppers and onions and you have steak sandwiches. It's quick and it only takes 15-20 minutes to thaw thin steaks.

                                                                    1. greedygirl Apr 21, 2010 05:42 AM

                                                                      Spaghetti carbonara or spaghetti with chilli, garlic and olive oil.
                                                                      Fishfinger sandwiches (guilty pleasure)

                                                                      3 Replies
                                                                      1. re: greedygirl
                                                                        LulusMom Apr 21, 2010 07:41 AM

                                                                        Ha! Another fish finger lover - guilty pleasure. For me (probably a geographic preference) used in tacos they rock. Just add chopped cabbage or lettuce, some grated cheddar or pepper jack, some salsa, all wrapped in a flour tortilla. Totally rocks.

                                                                        and I'm with you on the carbonara (although I used turkey bacon) and chili, garlic and olive oil (Lulu's favorite dinner) pasta. Another is a can of chopped tomatoes, chopped onion and chopped bacon cooked down a bit with a little wine tossed in and some hot peppers - toss over pasta.

                                                                        1. re: LulusMom
                                                                          greedygirl Apr 21, 2010 08:05 AM

                                                                          Fishfinger tacos! Will have to try those - sounds great. I like my sandwiches on a roll or ciabatta with floppy lettuce, cucumber and salad cream (another guilty secret).

                                                                          1. re: greedygirl
                                                                            LulusMom Apr 21, 2010 08:12 AM

                                                                            anything on ciabatta!

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