Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

What are your Favorite Simple Meals?

oven-panko-flounder

In our household, I am the default cook — something that seemed far more reasonable and manageable before we had two children, each with his or her particular dietary quirks (basically, I have one child who would like nothing but pork all ways, always, and broccoli, and another child — and I won’t name any names but his initials are JCC — who will only eat chicken nuggets, scrambled eggs, hot dogs, and pizza). We are insanely lucky (especially by New York standards) in that Drew is usually home by 5:00, which means we get to eat dinner together as a family almost every night. This is great, and it’s something that, if you’re able to accomplish, I highly recommend. It means we have time to talk together about our day, discuss current events (in kid-friendly language: “Donald Trump is a dumb-dumb.”), and slow down for fifteen or twenty minutes — as much as you can, anyway, with a 5-year-old and a 1-year-old — and just be.

But it also means I’m on the hook to prepare a family meal by 5:30 almost every night of the week — something I can hopefully coax Jackson into at least trying (our rule is he doesn’t have to finish what I’ve made, but he does have to take a few bites, and dessert is only guaranteed if he eats more than half of what’s on his plate) and which can be made in the twenty minutes of time I usually have between the time I come home from the playground or whatever activity and the time when everyone’s blood sugar suddenly plummets in unison and food, in whatever form, must be offered immediately. These are a few of my go-to meals that accomplish this:

1. Breakfast-for-dinner
Omelettes or scrambled eggs with any veggies that are one their way out, fried potatoes, bacon, maybe some toast and jam — this is a family favorite, and one of my favorites to make because it’s super fast, it’s tasty, and no one complains when I serve it. Since I’m home during the day, I can get a head start on the fried potatoes by boiling them and cutting them in cubes after they cool and keeping them in the fridge until it’s time to fry them.

2. Chicken tortilla soup.
It’s delicious, filling, low in calories, provides lots of leftovers, and takes about 10-12 minutes of actual work (and about 6-8 hours of cooking time in a slow cooker).

3. Bulgolgi.
I totally cheat on this popular Korean dish by buying it pre-made from our local Korean grocery store. I add extra garlic, peeled carrots, and fresh lettuce for wraps (or sometimes serve it with barley that I make earlier in the day).

4. Stir-fry Shrimp
If I have time, I make this recipe, which is delicious. When I don’t have time, which is usually the case, I use Trader Joe’s frozen fried rice, and add shrimp (fresh, if I have planned in advance; frozen, if I haven’t). If I’ve planned ahead, I will marinade the shrimp in this amazing sauce I make (1/2 cup olive oil, 1/3 cup soy sauce, 2-4 crushed garlic cloves, 1 tbsp brown sugar, and 1 tbsp sesame ginger salad dressing if you have it on hand . This sauce can also be added to the stir-fry without marinating first, though the latter is preferable). ETA: I always sauté some greens — like tatsoi — especially if I’m making the frozen friend rice, to doctor it up a bit.

5. Sesame chicken wings.
I like this recipe. It’s super fast, delicious, I can start it earlier in the day and let the chicken marinate for a couple hours and then throw it in the oven for half an hour while I cook up a side dish (usually string beans or broccoli, both of which the kids will eat without too much complaining).

6. The Trader Joe’s Frozen Lasagna.
Seriously, it’s amazing. I serve it with some salad (or, again, string beans or broccoli because by the end of the day I’m not very creative).

7. Chili.
I’ve been using a variation of this recipe for years and can throw everything in the pot in about five minutes, with dinner ready about twenty minutes later. Super easy, and bonus: Our babysitter likes chili, so if I make a big pot the night before she comes, she can have the leftovers for dinner and I don’t have to worry about what to order her (she does not like pizza, so that’s out). The kids don’t eat chili, so when I make it for Drew and me, I throw some chicken nuggets in the oven, heat up pasta, and serve that with some applesauce for them.

8. Pasta with Italian Sausage.
Speaking of pasta, one of the easiest and best-reviewed meals in our house is: sliced Italian sausage with pasta. (I usually buy a pack of four sausages at the grocery store for five bucks, but, if I’m feeling fancy, I occasionally splurge for the gourmet stuff our chi-chi place down the street sells for more than twice that much.) I cook the sausage over the stove in good olive oil, with sliced carrots and zucchini and chopped tomatoes, and serve with spaghetti (or bow-tie pasta or whatever we have on hand), either plain (with butter and salt and maybe Parmesan cheese) or with a jar of pasta sauce if I’m in the mood for that.

9. Baked fish.
Lately, I like flounder, and I follow this recipe exactly, to rave reviews. I’ll throw some fingerling potatoes in the oven and serve them with a side of salad or some other green veggie.

10. Rotisserie chicken.
Aside from ordering take-out, serving up a store-bought rotisserie chicken is about the laziest way of feeding your family, but I love it. Since Wednesdays are a little hectic for me — I don’t get home with Jackson until after 5:00 and I don’t have any down time earlier in the day to do meal-prepping — I’m already planning to pick up a rotisserie chicken on our way home tomorrow, which I’ll serve with some butternut squash soup that I’m cooking this very moment and some roasted Brussels sprouts.

All of these meals are on heavy rotation in the Condellberry house — they’re fast, easy, and satisfying (and relatively nutritious). But, yummy as these are, I do feel stuck in a rut a lot of times, and I’d love to hear what you make/eat in your home, especially if you have young kids whose demands (on time, taste, etc.) you have to work around, and definitely if you cook/prepare your meals in under a half hour.

63 comments… add one
  • honeybeenicki

    honeybeenicki September 27, 2016, 1:45 pm

    I love taco balls. They are basically giant meatballs (I can make about 8-10 from just over a pound of beef) seasoned with taco seasoning, stuffed with a cube of cheddar cheese and rolled up in crunched up doritos. They’re super simple and so delicious and one of the only ways we can get the kid to eat beef.

    Also, one of my new favorites (and its fun!) are meatball subs on a stick. small meatballs (either beef, turkey or pork sausage), Pillsbury breadstick dough, on a skewer. Dipped in marinara.
    http://cookiesandcups.com/meatball-sub-on-a-stick/

    Apparently I really like meatballs.

    I also love shake n bake popcorn chicken with rice. And Campbell’s chicken and broccoli divan. Seriously… its so good (served with noodles or rice or biscuits) and its like a 10 minute prep time. Its even simpler if you cook your chicken in advance. We buy chicken and I cook a bunch of it and then freeze it in various forms (shredded for tacos, cubed for things like this and pasta). I make my own cream soup because I don’t like store bought, so that adds more time to this recipe, but if you just use a can, it is so quick. And even my broccoli hating nephew and bonus son love it.

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    • honeybeenicki

      honeybeenicki September 27, 2016, 1:46 pm

      Here’s the link for the chicken and broccoli divan http://www.campbellskitchen.com/recipes/chicken-broccoli-divan-24320

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    • Addie Pray

      Addie Pray September 27, 2016, 2:23 pm

      Taco balls…. brilliant!!

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      • honeybeenicki

        honeybeenicki September 27, 2016, 2:27 pm

        They’re so delicious and simple. And then I get to say taco balls. When I first started making them, my bonus kid kept asking which part of the taco was the balls 😛

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  • FireStar

    Firestar September 27, 2016, 1:49 pm

    Pasta is usually the quick go-to meals
    Shrimp alfredo is a favourite (and I can also sneak pureed cauliflower in it). Also, I do a lot of preserving from the garden at the end of summer and make batches of arugula/basil/macadamia nut pesto and freeze – so when ever I have left over steak I toss that with the pesto, garlic and sundried tomatoes (add a little more olive oil and pasta water) and it is yummy over linguini. (okay to add dehydrated or pureed kale if you have vegetable challenged toddler like mine)
    For your bacon lover – bacon with onion and garlic in a rose sauce (also good to hide pureed kale and spinach)…like vodka carbonara only kale instead of vodka!
    all sauces take about 20-30 minutes and vegetables undetectable.

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  • avatar

    bunnybear September 27, 2016, 2:10 pm

    I discovered this recipe about 2 months ago and can’t stop. Made it for friends the other night. I swap out different types of fish depending on what looks good (we’ve used salmon, cod, halibut) and Im sure it would work with chicken (adjusting the cooking time). It’s great for cleaning up those random bits of veg in your fridge. A serious winner: http://www.cookingforkeeps.com/2016/08/16/easy-one-pan-greek-salmon/

    I also live for making pots of beans on weekends than I can repurpose during the week (last night we had “burrito bowls” with black beans I made on Sunday).

    Scrambled egg tacos are also a fave around here (scrambled eggs, salsa, cheese in a corn tortilla) and were a staple when I was single and super broke. They take all of 5 min to make. I had them for lunch today, in fact 🙂

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  • kmtthat

    kmtthat September 27, 2016, 2:11 pm

    Two things: these healthy lettuce wraps: http://www.apexnutritionllc.com/fuelrightblog/2013/02/19/tuesdays-healthy-fuel-recipe-light-at-night-with-delicious-asian-lettuce-wraps-pf-chang-knock-off/ They sound like a lot of work but really, you throw everything in one pan and then wrap with iceberg lettuce leaves. Ta-da! I’ll usually serve with a cucumber salad or if you wanted to, rice (I try to keep it low carb).

    Also, for a less than 5 min healthy meal, I’ll do a bowl (changing things out depending on what I have around). I’ll layer greens in a bowl (usually arugula…spicy!) and then fry an egg in olive oil and throw it on top of the greens. Then I’ll saute some presliced mushrooms (I’m lazy, yes I buy them presliced) and cook in the leftover olive oil for 1-2 mins until soft. Throw those on the egg. Then I’ll drizzle with a balsamic glaze (store bought) and toss some salt and pepper.

    Lastly, don’t be afraid to roast your own chicken in a slow cooker!! You can buy whole chicken for really cheap when it’s on sale and throw it in the freezer, thawing in the fridge the day before when you need it.

    Ok LAST thing, if you ever need to take something to a dinner party, take this: http://www.popsugar.com/fitness/Healthy-Sweet-Potato-Salad-Recipe-31874999 (I use half the cumin and no raisins). It’s vegan, paleo, and gluten free and every person I’ve made it for asks for the recipe…it’s that good.

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  • avatar

    Nett Rando September 27, 2016, 2:30 pm

    We do most of our eating out of our garden (which is apparently a luxury hereabouts due to so many people not understanding that watering plants makes them grow). So during the summer we have lots of tomato dishes (salsa, pasta sauce, chili, soup, whatever tomatoes can be put into) and various other veggie dishes as they ripen. If you’re already shopping at Trader Joe’s, you should pick up a box of their lasagna noodles (the no-boil kind) and make your own lasagna.

    Put a thin layer of sauce at the bottom of a baking dish (at least 9×13 in size) and put one layer of noodles. Put a layer of ricotta cheese, cover with onions, mushrooms, spinach and and another layer of noodles. Cover that layer of noodles with another thin layer of sauce, then add eggplant and zucchini, maybe some more spinach and another layer of noodles. Cover the noodles with a thick layer of sauce and shredded mozzarella. Bake at 325F until it is bubbling all around the edges and the cheese is browned through to the middle.

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  • mrmidtwenties

    mrmidtwenties September 27, 2016, 2:37 pm

    My favourite quick meal is having left overs from the night before in a sandwich for or even better, grilled sandwich form. Like I have leftover smoked chicken breast that I used in a pasta last night, tonight the extra is getting turned into a sandwich with a simple salad on the side.

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    • Addie Pray

      Addie Pray September 27, 2016, 2:56 pm

      Hi! Where have you been? Do you think you should change your name to mrlatetwenties or mrearlythirties soon? How is the GF?

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      • mrmidtwenties

        mrmidtwenties September 27, 2016, 6:38 pm

        Poll: when does one transition from mid to late, is it at the exact 27.5 point or can it be rounded up to 28 so I get another 6 months? GF and I are good, going to move into her place at the end of the year, how are the baby and Moose? Are they very best friends?

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  • avatar

    Redhead_chicago September 27, 2016, 2:41 pm

    Ramin – not the 10 cent stuff, but real Ramin is pretty fast and tasty in the winter. I cook a pork tenderloin in the oven, and make the soup base out of bullion, mushrooms, peas, bok choy, and hard boil a few eggs to add. Throw in the noodles and meat with seasoning and you’re good to go.

    We also do steak sandwiches every so often because thin skirt steak cooks fast.

    Trader joes jasmin frozen rice is also good, and you can combine that with rotisserie chicken and make chicken tacos in about 10 minutes flat. Add beans and avocado if you have time.

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    • MaterialsGirl

      MaterialsGirl September 27, 2016, 3:45 pm

      I’ve done Ramen (real) too! so good.

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  • avatar

    ktfran September 27, 2016, 2:49 pm

    I LOVE THIS POST! My easy go to meals are this:

    Like Wendy, eggs scrambled with whatever vegetable I have on hand. So easy and good!

    Roasted cherry or grape tomatoes and garlic added to some pasta and topped with whatever fresh herb I have on hand and grated parmesan. I almost always keep a block of parmesan in my fridge.

    Sliced chicken breast sauteed with red onion and lemon. Served over quinoa. And usually broccoli. DELICIOUS AND SO EASY!

    About once a month, the guy and I will grill a steak and grill romaine. We split the steak and two hearts of grilled romaine makes a huge salad.

    A baked potato with sauteed vegetables.

    I’ll bake white fish over thinly sliced potatoes with lemon on top. And serve with a vegetable.

    Those are easy, throw together dinners I make on the fly if I don’t plan anything. I usually have most of that stuff in my fridge/pantry.

    Sunday’s, I spend making soups for lunch during the week or chopping vegetables and making a big pot of grains for salads during the week. My lunch this week is so good… it’s farro, kale, roasted sweet potatoes, pickled red onion, a squeeze of lemon and feta. My go-to, super easy soups are cabbage, chicken noodle, and a white bean/andouille sausage/kale thing in the slow cooker.

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  • Addie Pray

    Addie Pray September 27, 2016, 2:57 pm

    I’m so hungry right now. I missed lunch. Oh but lucky for me I have Cheetos in my office. (My diet is off to a great start.)

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  • avatar

    K September 27, 2016, 2:58 pm

    Slow cooker meals! I recently made this and it was very good, and only required chopping up the eggplant and onion beforehand. I’m a big fan of slow cooker recipes that don’t require searing or cooking anything before dumping it all in. I just used cinnamon and nutmeg for the Lebanese spice blend. http://thelemonbowl.com/2015/08/5-ingredient-slow-cooker-beef-and-eggplant.html

    I also recently threw some turkey sausage in the slow cooker with marinara sauce, chopped bell peppers, chopped onions, and chopped summer squash, and that turned out well also. Skinnytaste has a bunch of great slow cooker recipes.

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  • avatar

    Ali September 27, 2016, 3:01 pm

    I don’t comment much on this site (more of a lurker), but I love the idea of sharing quick dinner ideas because I feel like our own household rotation does not get switched up enough. So a few things we make after one of us gets home from work:
    We like to make a cheat version of chicken souvlaki:
    I season the chicken and grill it, cut it up into smaller pieces and we put it on pitas along with onion and tomatoes. We buy the Tzatziki sauce from Trader Joe’s (that stuff is time consuming to make from scratch and the TJ version is tasty).
    When my husband cooks, he makes a lot of soups. He will throw a bunch of veggies in a pot of water with some bouillon cubes and typically chicken and pasta (sometimes rice). And it’s always tasty and lower effort, maybe cook time is an hour.
    Other things in our rotation:
    –Grilling mini pizzas. We buy the pre-made dough from TJ’s and then make two different smaller sized pizzas using the dough with different sauce/cheese/meat toppings. Grilling pizza is pretty quick too.
    –Quinoa salad w/ feta, tomato, onion, cucumber, red wine vinegar and olive oil… and it is pretty quick to make using TJ’s frozen quinoa.
    Clearly we shop at Trader Joe’s a lot. I’m sure other brands make these things too. We don’t have a lot of food store options that are close by and I honestly like a lot of the products that TJ’s offers.

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  • TheLadyE

    TheLadyE September 27, 2016, 3:15 pm

    I’ve been making this spinach lasagna for years, but I add a pound of lean ground beef to the sauce and season heartily with Italian seasoning: http://www.kraftrecipes.com/recipes/spinach-lasagna-51636.aspx. I made it this weekend, in fact. It makes about 8 generously-portioned meals for lunches or dinners.

    I also made these Tasty slow cooker chicken fajitas: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ctgNwyaI6h4 and put in tortillas with your choice of toppings (lettuce, cheese, guac, etc) and they were delicious and made SO MUCH FOOD. Secret tip: I used a hand mixer right in the bowl of the slow cooker to chop everything up rather than shredding the chicken by hand and I will do that every single time now. Highly recommended!

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  • avatar

    Anonymousse September 27, 2016, 3:33 pm

    We’ve been heavily rotating the Marcella Hazan pasta sauce, it’s so good. If you haven’t tried it, it’s easy and you should. I think I’m going to use it in a lasagna soon. We normally have a traditional alfredo with linguine or angel hair, over wilted spinach. Really easy and fast. We have pizza roughly once a week, my husband makes the dough days in advance for optimal flavor. Those are our carb loading meals. The rest are brown rice and veggie bowls, which we switch from Thai or Indian curries, Mexican, or a broccoli and tofu peanut sauce meal.
    On nights my husband is away for work, our diet harkens back to my college days: frozen pizza, Mac n cheese or cut up things my toddler eats.

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  • MaterialsGirl

    MaterialsGirl September 27, 2016, 3:39 pm

    some of my go-to quickie meals are as follows

    Gorgonzola Turkey Burgers. So delicious http://www.womenshealthmag.com/health/barbecue-recipes

    I’m making this for dinner tomorrow night. We try to do one slow cooker meal a week
    http://www.realsimple.com/food-recipes/browse-all-recipes/sweet-spicy-asian-pork-shoulder

    THIS ONE IS AWESOME. I usually add way more spice and tomato sauce. It’s also good for veggie leftovers since there’s usually a lot of sauce and not enough chicken. Then I grill or broil cauliflower and mix it in
    http://www.halfbakedharvest.com/easy-healthier-crockpot-butter-chicken/

    I use this as a ‘clean the fridge out’ meal
    http://little-robins-cooking-adventures.blogspot.com/2011/01/indian-vegetarian-curry-fried-rice.html

    I love goat cheese
    http://www.howsweeteats.com/2011/12/red-wine-goat-cheese-risotto-with-caramelized-mushrooms/#_a5y_p=1083967

    This is a really good method and you can use pork chops too
    http://www.marthastewart.com/318298/sauteed-chicken-in-mustard-cream-sauce

    I add sausage
    http://sweetpeasandsaffron.com/2015/10/pan-fried-gnocchi-with-sundried-tomatoes-and-white-beans.html

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    • MaterialsGirl

      MaterialsGirl September 27, 2016, 3:42 pm

      I also should say “wine.”

      meal, done!

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      • avatar

        Anonymousse September 27, 2016, 4:24 pm

        Lol, I like the way you think!

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  • avatar

    Northern Star September 27, 2016, 3:42 pm

    Super-easy enchiladas. Buy 2 cans of chicken (in the tuna aisle). Mix with a can of enchilada sauce, a half-cup of chopped onion, and as much cheese as you like. Grease a glass 9×13 pan, spoon filling into taco shells, and roll them up enchilada style. Top with another can of enchilada sauce, sprinkle with more cheese, and bake for 20 minutes at 350. Serve with lettuce, tomatoes, etc. Delicioso!

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  • avatar

    Anonymousse September 27, 2016, 3:53 pm

    Ooh, we also make fried rice with ginger and lemongrass. Mmmm, so good.

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  • avatar

    tarheelblue87 September 27, 2016, 4:11 pm

    Hi Wendy,

    Here are some of my favorites:
    Beef stroganoff (chicken is a popular substitute now).

    Also I like to make tuna salad and pasta salad to swap out for lunch or dinner. I make the tuna salad with hummus now.

    Also I don’t know if you’ve tried taco lasagna it swaps out tortillas for lasagna noodles and salsa for tomato sauce.

    I’m interested in how everyone enjoys these dishes.

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  • avatar

    SpaceySteph September 27, 2016, 4:24 pm

    I’m amazed that your 1 year old likes pork. Most kids seem all about the chicken.

    We love doing grain bowls– take rice, barley, quinoa (maybe not even a grain?), etc. and go with a theme. Same with stuffed potato/sweet potato.
    This mediterranean one is really good, especially that sauce that I would eat with a spoon: http://pinchofyum.com/mediterranean-quinoa-bowls-with-roasted-red-pepper-sauce
    Also can do southwestern style with corn (canned), beans (canned), rice, veggies, and salsa and/or guac. Asian-style with a splash of soy sauce and a drizzle of sriracha. They’re great because they’re customizable per person without limiting anyone else. My husband loves olives and I hate them, I love raw onion and he thinks I always put too much. So for each picky eater you can skip whatever they don’t want and load up on what they like.

    My mom used to do fajitas a lot when I was a kid. Cut up veggies, sliced meat cooked in storebought sauce, and again really customizable for each picky eater.

    More than quick meals, I’m really a fan of meals with minimal dish usage because I hate washing dishes so much more than I hate cooking. So I like things which are one pan or stick it all in the oven together:
    http://www.cookingclassy.com/2016/04/tortellini-with-pesto-roasted-veggies/
    http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/6010/paella-fried-rice
    https://www.buzzfeed.com/emofly/quick-and-easy-salmon-recipe?utm_term=.jxzY52Na0X#.uxyYPop9X8
    http://damndelicious.net/2014/04/09/one-pan-mexican-quinoa/

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  • Lianne

    Lianne September 27, 2016, 6:41 pm

    Hey guys! I am on an actual computer right now! And this thread makes me want to contribute for the first time in forevaaaaah.

    I make chicken fajitas once a week. Super easy – buy chicken tenders, sautee with taco seasonings (cayenne, chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, oregano, salt and pepper). In a separate pan (usually cast iron) I sautee peppers and onions. Then assemble in whole wheat tortillas with whatever toppings we have on hand (cheese, sour cream, tomatoes, etc.)

    Now that it’s crockpot season again, I will do a few things in there:

    pot roast: whatever veggies (this last time I did turnips, carrots, and onions) on the bottom, put your beef on top, add herbs (fresh or dry and whatever you feel like; I did rosemary and thyme this recent time) and then add about 2 cups of beef broth. You can also do 1.5 cups beef broth, 1/2 cup red wine. Then I cook on low for 7-8 hours.

    pulled pork: put pork loin in crock pot, add root beer (or coke or dr. pepper) and half a bottle of bbq sauce. Cook on low for 6-8 hours.

    I am also trying to eat more clean these days (which has the pulled pork out of commission) so tonight I made chicken salad with avocado instead of mayo and added tomatoes, a dash of cayenne, some chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and pepper. Instead of the tomatoes and spices, you could do apples and raisins/craisins (thinking for the kids).

    Last night we had Buddha Bowls which had a mix of kale and spinach on the bottom of the bowl, roasted veggies I prepped on Sunday (carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, sweet potatoes, chick peas, onions, peppers) and then a sauce made with 1/4 c. almond butter, 1/4 c. almond milk, 1 tsp real maple syrup, 1.5 tbs soy sauce, garlic powder…so good and SO healthy.

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    • MaterialsGirl

      MaterialsGirl September 28, 2016, 8:55 am

      i love buddha bowls! i make my sauce with soaked cashews, tahini, garlic, olive oil and lemon (and salt)

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  • avatar

    Taylor September 27, 2016, 6:47 pm

    Love this post! I have a quick faux Thai chicken curry – base is chicken stock, coconut milk and sriracha. Cook up some onions, brown chicken, add any veggies I have (mushrooms, zucchini, potato, carrots, celery), throw in the liquids and simmer. I add lime juice and Thai basil if I have it, but the coconut milk and sriracha are what makes it. Any meat, seafood or veggies can be added. We put this over noodles or rice.

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  • avatar

    Cheesecaker2911 September 27, 2016, 6:48 pm

    We do a ton of Asian food lately in my house. I recently bought a wok, and I can’t get enough! I make it myself, and its so fast. Pad Thai is ridiculously easy to make, as is just about any other sort of noodle stirfry. Only thing that takes a while is the chopping of the veggies or soaking of the noodles. It’s faster than take out, cheaper than take out once you have the sauce ingredients from your initial purchase, and if you ask my husband, better than take out. He actually thinks the stuff at restaurants now isn’t authentic enough as he’s gotten used the recipes and techniques I’ve borrowed from asian coworkers.

    Thai curry is another quick one, since you can buy the red curry paste pre made. Add in a can of coconut milk, a dash of fish sauce and toss it with stir fried veggies and your choice of meat/meat substitutes. Serve it over steamed rice.

    We also use the crock pot to make pork that lasts for weeks (we freeze 50% of it for future use).

    I’ve also been known to make enchilada casserole and eat it for like 4 days in a row. It’s basically sort of a mexican lasagna with hamburger or turkey, olives, pinto beans, cheese, corn tortillas and enchilada sauce layered into a baking dish. I ate it as a kid, and I still eat it now.

    Breakfast for dinner is another big hit, since we rarely have time to eat breakfast for breakfast.

    Tacos or quesadillas. Shrimp or Chicken. Those are good for low carb options if that’s your thing as you can make “tacos” with lettuce leaf shells.

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  • bittergaymark

    bittergaymark September 27, 2016, 7:27 pm

    Salads. Sandwiches. And Cheese Plates…
    .
    I kid, I kid. Although I do eat all of those with regularity.
    .
    I also love making 1970s old school tacos. Hamburger. Taco Seasoning. Taco shells. Lettuce. Tomatoes. Black Olives… Oh, and always freshly grate the cheese.

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    • avatar

      Stillrunning September 28, 2016, 2:05 am

      I love hard shell tacos!

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    • Nookie

      Nookie September 28, 2016, 3:33 am

      I make these quite a lot though since I’ve become veggie, I switch out the beef for a can of black beans and I LOVE it. I think it’s much tastier!

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    • avatar

      Ktfran September 28, 2016, 7:21 am

      That’s one of my favorite meals that my mom made us. Although I think she’d add a little tomato paste to the beef and taco seasoning mixture. Yum.

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  • avatar

    Bcamber September 27, 2016, 7:41 pm

    This is a fave of ours: http://www.bonappetit.com/columns/cooking-without-recipes/article/easy-sausage-white-bean-kale-dinner

    Also an Indian-style veggie rice thing- mustard seeds, cumin, coriander, turmeric etc added to onions that have been browned in oil, add basmati rice and fry until slightly browned, add sliced potato, carrots and green beans and water, cook until water is absorbed and top with green yogurt and mango chutney.

    I love any type of grain bowl- rice/farro/millet/barley, topped with fresh or roasted vegetables, a bit of lettuce or other greens, often pumpkin seeds, and some kind of vinaigrette. Or burrito bowls- rice, spicy green beans, salsa, cheese, avocado.

    Kale or Swiss chard sauteed in olive oil with garlic and chilies, tossed with spaghetti, a splash of pasta water and Parmesan.

    Chana masala with naan or rice

    A baked potato with a side of Parmesan roasted broccoli

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    Ron September 27, 2016, 7:48 pm

    Dear fresh tomato season, we’ll roast a turkey breast and have sandwiches of sliced turkey, a thick tomato slice, and perhaps a thin slice of really well smoked deli ham on an over-sized whole-wheat hamburger roll with Miracle Whip Light.

    Or, we’ll roast a several pound pork loin roast, with a bunch of potatoes and eat that for a week with salad or just fresh tomatoes.

    Hamburgers on the grill are quick and really tasty, again with fresh tomatoes. We grill several days worth of hamburgers and just lightly rewarm in microwave

    Asian stir-fry with lots of onions, ginger, and spice, using whatever meat and veggies and a lot of tofu. We have a big, almost wok, but with a handle like a skillet. Can easily make enough for 3-4 days.

    That’s the key to having evenings free to do whatever over the summer. Cook once, eat for 3-5 days.

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  • avatar

    Ashley September 27, 2016, 7:58 pm

    Fideo- Grab 2 boxes of vermicelli, green bell pepper, can of diced tomatoes and onions. fry up the noodles in a bit of oil. Add a bit of water and let the noodles get soft. Add the veggies. For spice salt pepper cumin and garlic powder to taste. Meat can be added, my family only did beef. You can eat this “dry” or make it more of a soup. This was popular with Tex-Mexican families because it can be made very cheap.

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  • bittergaymark

    bittergaymark September 27, 2016, 8:04 pm

    When I house sat at the Laurel Canyon estate with the Avocado Tree that had — seriously, hundreds of avocado’s on it… I created the Avocado Greek Salad. This was a sloppy affair where i just “scooped” one or two small avocados into bite sized pieces, cut up a few tomatoes, some red onion, mixed in some Feta cheese and greek olives and then tossed with olive oil and balsamic. YUM.

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    • avatar

      Taylor September 27, 2016, 8:13 pm

      Yummmmm. I could eat a version of that daily.

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      mcj2012 September 28, 2016, 10:44 am

      Yum…I want an avocado tree!

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  • kare

    kare September 27, 2016, 8:13 pm

    I think I’m the laziest cook ever. My easy meal is microwaveable rice (I have never mastered the art of cooking rice), black beans, corn, pre-cooked chicken, and some sort of sauce (salsa, tomatillo, guacomole salsa, whatever) mixed together.

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  • avatar

    Ange September 27, 2016, 9:21 pm

    We do a casserole style Mexican chicken that’s pretty nice. Dump a bunch of chicken in a bag with some taco seasoning then layer it in the pot covered with salsa. Cook for 20 min or so at like 375 then add on a can of refried beans, sour cream and cheese and do another 10 min or thereabouts. Not remotely healthy but good comfort food.

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  • avatar

    Jane September 27, 2016, 10:24 pm

    Love this thread! I’m trying to eat healthy, so I try to eat chicken with some type of veggie (usually broccoli) at least once a week. Nothing fun, but functional.

    I also love salmon. This recipe is so easy with few ingredients but very tasty! http://allrecipes.com/recipe/51283/maple-salmon/

    When I’m feeling really lazy, I recently discovered Modern Table meal kits at Target. It’s a meal in a bag, but much healthier as the pasta is made out of lentils. My favorite flavors are the Mediterranean and Pesto. http://www.moderntable.com/

    Lastly, when I do feel like cooking, I love making Korean food! http://www.maangchi.com/ is my go-to site for Korean recipes!

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  • avatar

    Stillrunning September 28, 2016, 2:23 am

    What a great subject!
    I’m going straight to dessert. I’m the bundt cake queen. I make lemon, orange, or lime cakes with a matching glaze. My secret is to use a silicone mold. When the cake is hot out of the oven, pour glaze over the top and down inside the mold and let the cake cool while the glaze soaks in.

    My second, crowd pleasing favorite is chocolate peanut butter cups.
    (Use mini cupcake liners)
    1 (12 oz.) bag semisweet chocolate chips
    1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
    1/4 cup powdered sugar
    2 Tblsp unsalted butter, softened. The butter will chill in the fridge, setting the peanut butter.
    Use a small spoon to layer chocolate, peanut butter mixture, and top layer of chocolate into the cups. Drop pan on the counter between layers to flatten and smooth them out. Refrigerate 15 min. between each layer.
    Directions: Line a mini muffin tin.
    – Melt chocolate in a double boiler. Spoon first layer of chocolate into cups, drop tin to even the chocolate and chill.
    – In a medium bowl combine peanut butter, powdered sugar and butter. Beat until smooth. Spoon the peanut butter mixture on top of the layers of chilled chocolate. Drop tin and chill.
    – Spoon top layer of chocolate on chilled peanut butter. Drop tin and chill for 30 mins.
    Serve chilled or at room temp. It doesn’t matter, they disappear too fast to notice. Store refrigerated in an airtight container up to 5 days.
    Yieds 24-30 mini peanut butter cups.

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  • avatar

    Stillrunning September 28, 2016, 2:24 am

    It’s after midnight, I’m hungry and can’t sleep.

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  • avatar

    Chaparra September 28, 2016, 6:53 am

    What a great idea! I’m loving reading these recipes. We always cook vegetarian at home (way easier to not make meat), but both of these ideas have plenty of protein from beans and please a crowd.
    1. Skillet gnocchi (http://www.eatingwell.com/recipe/249817/skillet-gnocchi-with-chard-white-beans) – This one gets points because almost all of the ingredients are ones you can store in your pantry for forever and bust out when needed. I prefer it w/spinach instead of chard, but that’s a personal preference.
    2. Vegan Mexican Casserole, which I make with real cheese. I also add a bunch of tomatoes to it to balance out the black beans and then I double the sauce because OF COURSE YOU WOULD. 🙂 Typically I’ll make a big batch of quinoa at the start of the week and use it in this and in ….
    3. A Quinoa Egg Scramble: http://www.popsugar.com/fitness/Quinoa-Egg-Scramble-Recipe-29628127
    This last one’s maybe not kid friendly as much, but it’s very adult friendly and easy. the first two are the traditional Italian/Mexican flavors, and should make kids happy while getting in some veggies and protein!

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  • kmtthat

    kmtthat September 28, 2016, 8:22 am

    This is seriously my fav post! Taking so many notes guys!

    I will say….as the resident Latina, I have to post at least one Mexican thing that is authentic, as in how my grandma makes it (sorry, it pains me). The pico de gallo seasoning is the type that you see folks put on fruit (it’s a chili powder/lime mix) that you can buy online. I also have the BEST sopa de albondigas (meatball soup) recipe for meatball lovers out there.

    Spanish Rice

    Ingredients:
    1 cup long grain white rice
    1 yellow onion, minced
    2 cups water
    8 oz. can Hunt’s tomato sauce, roast garlic flavor
    1 clove fresh garlic
    To taste pico de gallo seasoning
    To taste black pepper
    1 tablespoon vegetable oil
    Limes to squeeze over it after done to taste

    Directions:
    In a wide rimmed pot, heat oil on medium heat.
    Add rice and begin to brown.
    Mince garlic to taste and onion, add.
    Continue to cook until golden brown.
    Add water and tomato sauce.
    Let boil, then fluff the rice with a fork several times and cover, leaving room for steam to escape.
    Put on simmer and add salt, pepper, and pico de gallo to taste.
    Cook until rice has expanded and looks fluffy (appx 15 min).

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  • avatar

    csp September 28, 2016, 9:09 am

    My favorite quick recipe is this: Take three multicolored peppers. I do one yellow, one red, and one orange and deseed and chop them into bite size pieces. Then put it in a bowl with a can of black beans and a jar of salsa. I use the fresh salsa from the produce isle. Then microwave for 3 minutes and serve in wraps. So good and so easy.

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  • Portia

    Portia September 28, 2016, 9:33 am

    I have to admit, most of the 20 minutes or less meals around here are Bassanio’s territory, and are sauteed veggies with Trader Joe’s red curry sauce and either pasta with red sauce/pesto or rice. Although I’ve made this somewhat spicy red sauce (a household favorite) in less than 20 minutes I think: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/spicy-tomato-basil-sauce-356910

    Bassanio makes pasta and clams in a white wine sauce, but he doesn’t use recipes. It’s pretty much pasta, canned clams (with some but not all of the juice), onions, white wine, olive oil, maybe a little butter, probably garlic? I’ll ask him later. But it’s pretty quick.

    I also like having this sauce around to cook veggies or tofu in: http://pinchofyum.com/honey-ginger-tofu-veggie-stir-fry

    If tomatoes and cucumbers are looking good, I’ll chop those up and mix with olive oil, vinegar, maybe a little citrus juice, dried mint, whatever herbs sound good, and salt and pepper. This is one of the only things I’ll make solely on taste.

    I also make my own hummus, based on Mark Bittman’s recipe. For the most part, put in a good processor: a drained/rinced can of chickpeas, .5 cup tahini, .25 cup olive oil, a clove or two of garlic, lemon or lime juice, salt/pepper/paprika to taste, plus add water until it’s the right consistency. I’ll also add sun-dried tomatoes, roasted peppers, or drained canned artichoke hearts for different flavors. After getting the ingredients together, it maybe takes 10 minutes. And I’ll eat it with baby carrots or chopped peppers or cucumbers.

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  • avatar

    mcj2012 September 28, 2016, 10:57 am

    This is such a great post & well needed because I”m in such a food slump lately!

    Some of our quick meals are; tacos, chicken stir fry over brown or white rice, steak & potatoes, pasta with meat sauce; fish or “chicken of the sea” as my kids call it. My one guy loves pretty much anything fish, swordfish, salmon, flounder, clams the other guy figure out it was fish and stopped eating it completely (boo).

    I love crock pot meals and soups this time of year. I have a great soup recipe from the Fast Metabolism book that has turkey, kale all sorts of beans (its so hearty, delicious and healthy). It makes a huge batch and you can freeze. I’m searching for it online but can’t find it. I also make meatball soup you can use, beef, turkey or chicken that I season with S&P and some grated cheese. that I roll out and add to the pot with either chicken broth or bouillons depending on what’s in the house and whatever assortment of veggies you like, I mostly use carrots, celery, onion, potato sometimes kale and I add some orzo.

    I love hearing about all the bowls…I love them! One i like to make is with quinoa, zucchini, kale, mushrooms just season with olive oil and whatever herbs but especially Italian seasoning & rosemary and add a meat. SO good!

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  • avatar

    Jessica Emelia September 28, 2016, 11:04 am

    This is my new favorite recipe, and it’s so inexpensive and easy. I can also confirm the “lazy version” (no pre-marinating, no turning halfway thru baking) is just as delicious!

    http://allrecipes.com/recipe/242352/greek-lemon-chicken-and-potatoes/

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  • avatar

    Cheesecaker2911 September 28, 2016, 1:08 pm

    ok, this is the enchilada casserole recipe I promised BGM

    2 lbs ground beef or turkey
    1 tsp garlic powder
    1 tsp cumin
    1 can diced jalapenos or green chili (optional)
    28 oz can of red enchilada sauce
    16 oz tomato sauce
    15-20 white corn tortillas
    1 15-oz can of pinto or black beans, drained and rinsed
    1 can sliced olives
    3-4 cups shredded monterey jack or mexican cheese blend
    1-2 green onions (tops only, diced)
    Sour Cream, Salsa, guacamole (for the optional topping)

    Preheat oven to 375.
    In sauce pan combine enchilada sauce and tomato sauce. Stir to combine and simmer to warm up. Keep warm, and set aside.

    In large skillet, brown ground meat seasoned with garlic powder, cumin and peppeR, (If using the chiles, here is where you add them) Drain fat if not using really lean meat, and stir in the drained beans once it’s cooked.

    In large baking dish (I use one of those deep dish foil lasagna pans, or two deep dish half size chaffing foil trays from costco), start your layers. Spray with non stick spray, as it helps when serving (and clean up if you don’t use a disposable tray)
    Start with a thing layer of sauce and your first layer of tortillas. You might have to tear them in half to cover the rectangular tray, and you want as little “open” space as possible. ladel sauce, then 1/2 of meat mixture, cheese, and then olives. top with tortillas and repeat until you run out of pan/meat. Top final layer of tortillas with more sauce, then cheese, olives and green onions. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Pull off foil, and bake for 15-20 more minutes until cheese on top is golden brown.

    Let rest for 5-10 minutes, and top as desired. Makes 12-16 servings.

    *** if you make it in the half size chafing dishes, you can save one of the dishes for a later date. Skip final baking step, cover with a layer of plastic wrap, then foil and freeze for up to 3 months. To cook from frozen, thaw in fridge the morning you plan on cooking, and bake at 375 for 45-60 minutes covered. You will want to check the center, and make sure it’s fully warmed up, as sometimes it doesn’t. If it’s still not warm, place back in oven covered for 15-20 more minutes. Uncover the foil, bake for 15-20 minutes to get the cheese to the desired golden color.

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    • avatar

      Ann Gee September 28, 2016, 1:33 pm

      This is a great recipe. I make two trays, freeze one and either have it for dinner that night or put it in fridge for a weeknight meal. My kids grew up on this Mexican casserole (except that I spread refried beans on the tortillas before layering). My eldest son actually thought it was an “old family recipe” and asked me for it when he was living on his own to impress his then girlfriend/now wife! I had to eventually tell him that I had gotten the recipe from a co-worker. LOL

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  • avatar

    ktfran September 28, 2016, 1:19 pm

    Wendy – your other post made me think of a super easy, if not super healthy meal that I’ll occasionally turn to when I work late and don’t want to think about cooking…

    Boxed mac and cheese (I use to buy kraft, but have switched to annies although I’m not sure it makes much of a different). To my mac and cheese, I’ll add frozen broccoli that I heated up and sometimes a can of tuna that I drain. I might also add a dash of hot sauce. You could switch vegetables and protein out. Sliced ham. Peas. Crumbled bacon. Whatever!

    That’s my no fuss meal.

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  • avatar

    Ann Gee September 28, 2016, 1:24 pm

    RAVIOLI CASSEROLE WITH MEAT SAUCE

    Ingredients
    •1 (24 oz) jar Bertolli Tomato Basil Tuscan Inspired Sauce
    •1 lb ground beef
    •1 clove garlic – crushed
    •1 (20 oz) large package of fresh cheese ravioli
    •1 (8 oz) package of shredded Italian blend cheese
    •1 (2.25 oz) can sliced black olives

    Instructions
    1.Brown ground beef on medium heat.
    2.Once the ground beef is almost completely browned, add your crushed garlic and continue to saute.
    3.Add the Bertolli Tomato Basil sauce to the browned meat and remove from heat.
    4.Spray the bottom of your casserole dish with spray oil.
    5.Place a small amount of meat sauce on the bottom of your casserole dish.
    6.Layer one layer of ravioli on top of the meat sauce.
    7.Add another layer of meat sauce.
    8.Add a layer of cheese and olives.
    9.Repeat layers, starting with ravioli.
    10.Top it off with cheese.
    11.Bake at 350° for 30-35 min.

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  • avatar

    OrcaOrca September 29, 2016, 12:00 pm

    I have older kids and my “go to” for events is caesar salad that people rave about and always want the “recipe” which I am embarrassed to give because it is such a short cut. We also have this once every couple weeks or so at home. For an event, I’ll take one of those 1/2 size foil pans, use 3 heads of romaine all cut up, squeeze some lemon, liberally throw on some bottled creamy Caesar dressing , plenty of croutons and shredded Parmesan cheese. Toss and voila! At home, we add protein with roasted chicken that I might toss in a fry pan with some garlic to crisp it up. As a variation, we might put this in wraps for Caesar wraps. This is where my picky eater learned to like salad.

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