Posts Tagged ‘quick meals’

Don’t have a heart attack or anything. I know this blog has been seriously neglected lately and this is day one of beginning to remedy that problem. Although it is still frigid here in Utah, I know Spring has sprung elsewhere. Don’t let that stop you from making this soup! Although it is a hearty soup, suitable for the coldest winter evening, it has a fresh flavor that make it just as appropriate for a light spring supper — especially if paired with a green salad, but it is just as good paired with a thick slice of bread topped with butter and honey. Besides, what else are you going to do with all that leftover Easter ham?

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 chopped medium onion
  • 4 carrots, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon dried thyme leaves
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 1 can (14.5 ounces) reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 bag (16 ounces) green split peas
  •  2 cups diced leftover ham
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  1. In a  large, heavy pot with a lid, heat oil over medium-high. Add onion, carrots,  and thyme; season with salt and pepper. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally until vegetables begin to soften, 5 to 8 minutes.
  2. Add broth, split peas, and 6 cups water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium, and partially cover; simmer until peas are soft, 30 to 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Once peas are softened and carrots are cooked through, use a potato masher to gently mash the peas to the desired consistency. (I like the texture of the soup when it is not too finely processed. If you prefer a smoother texture, you can use an immersion blender or remove half of the soup to a blender to puree.)
  4.  Add ham cubes, and simmer until heated through. If necessary, thin with water. Add salt, pepper, and lemon juice to taste.
If you still have leftover ham, dice it up, seal it in a freezer bag in 2-cup portions, and freeze for future use.  If you have ham on hand, this soup comes together quickly with staples from the pantry.
Added bonus: split peas are very high in iron, protein, and fiber and relatively low in calories!

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This is yet another Everyday Food recipe that has been a go-to for a quick meal for many years now — the entire meal comes together in well under 30 minutes. This is a recipe even my husband has perfected!  I have slightly modified the original recipe to suit my family’s tastes.  We like this best when served with a green veggie, like steamed broccoli. When cooking broccoli, don’t toss the stalks! Slice them thinly and toss them in with the florets to steam until everything is bright green and fork-tender.

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more for baking sheet
  • 2 slices bread *
  • 4 thick cut boneless pork chops
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 4 TBSP apricot jam


  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Cover a baking sheet with foil and brush lightly with oil. Place pork chops on pan.
  2. Tear bread into large pieces; place in food processor. Pulse until large crumbs form. Drizzle with oil; pulse once or twice, just until crumbs are moistened (you should have about 1 1/2 cups crumbs).
  3. Season pork chops generously with salt and pepper; spread one side of each chop with 1 TBSP jam. Dividing evenly, sprinkle breadcrumbs over jam, and pat them on gently.
  4. Bake until crust is golden and pork is opaque throughout, 14 to 16 minutes. Serve immediately.

*I use whatever bread we have on hand — it’s a great use for slightly dry or stale bread as well as the heels of the loaf.

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This simple pasta dish is a favorite of my husbands…mine too! Cooking the squash in the same pan as the bacon imparts a smoky flavor to the squash, elevating it above the ordinary. This dish is hearty enough to stand alone, but is accompanied nicely by fresh fruit or a green salad. We prefer to use whole-wheat pasta in this and all pasta dishes — it’s healthier and adds substantial texture.  Also, I don’t go out of my way to purchase cream for this recipe — I often  substitute half-and-half, or even regular milk. It tastes just as good and is lower in calories and saturated fat.

If your children don’t care for this dish, you can toss some cooked squash with pasta and spaghetti sauce — they won’t even notice the squash is there.  One last note: The original recipe calls for Asiago cheese, but we prefer Parmesan. Try it with whatever you know your family will enjoy.

  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 8 ounces fusilli
  • 4 slices bacon, sliced crosswise into 1/2-inch strips
  • 4 medium yellow squash (8 ounces each), quartered lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise
  • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup grated Asiago cheese, plus more for serving
  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta, and cook until al dente, according to package instructions. Reserve 1 cup pasta water; drain pasta, and return to pot.
  2. While pasta is cooking, heat a large skillet over medium. Add bacon, and cook until browned and crisp, 5 to 7 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a paper-towel-lined plate to drain (leave bacon fat in skillet).
  3. Place skillet over medium-high heat. Add squash and garlic to fat in skillet; season with salt and pepper, and toss well. Cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until squash begins to soften, 5 to 7 minutes. Uncover, and continue to cook until liquid is evaporated and squash is tender, 2 to 3 minutes more.
  4. Add cream and cooked pasta to skillet; toss well, and cook until cream begins to thicken. Remove from heat; stir in Asiago, and add enough reserved pasta water to create a sauce that coats pasta. Stir in  reserved bacon and top with more cheese.

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This is one of our family favorites, and has been ever since my son (now 9) was about 2. I love it because it’s light, healthy, and is one of those rare meals that seems well- suited for cold and warm weather alike. If you don’t like feta cheese, don’t let that deter you from trying this recipe. Feta, when cooked, takes on a much milder, mellow flavor and blends perfectly with the rest of the ingredients. Best of all, you can throw this together in 15 minutes and then bake it in under 30 minutes. This dish really is a crowd-pleaser, is nice enough to make for company, and might even get your kids to eat spinach greens.

  • 2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • ¼ cup dry breadcrumbs
  • Salt and pepper
  • ¼ cup feta cheese with basil and tomato, crumbled (can substitute plain)
  • Cooking spray
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 4 cups baby spinach leaves
  • ½ cup torn fresh basil (optional)*
  • 2 T balsamic vinegar
  • 1 T olive oil
  • pinch of salt & pepper

Preheat oven to 400.  Place chicken breasts in Ziploc bag and pound to ¼ “ thickness, cut in half diagonally.  Season breadcrumbs with salt and pepper and dredge chicken in crumbs.  Spoon 1 heaping TBSP cheese onto each piece of chicken and fold in half.  Place chicken in an 8-inch square baking dish that has been coated with cooking spray.  Drizzle olive oil over chicken.  Bake, uncovered, for 25 minutes or until chicken is done.  Combine spinach and basil (if using)  in a bowl, set aside.  Combine vinegar, oil, and pepper and shake well.  Place ¼ of spinach salad on each plate and top with a chicken breast.  Drizzle the vinegar mixture over the top.

*We love to use fresh basil in the summer when we have it on hand, but in the winter, usually opt to leave it out.

This dish is fantastic accompanied by Uncle Ben’s Wild Rice. Sometimes we even cut the chicken up, and toss it, with the rice and spinach to make a warm salad.

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This recipe is the perfect quick weeknight meal: it goes together in a snap and uses a lot of storage-friendly items like canned goods and tortillas. It is also versatile enough that you can easily change things around or make substitutions when needed. I’ve also managed to pack 6 different veggies into this dish: tomato, avocado, corn, black beans, green chiles, and onion, so eat up! This recipe is as healthy as it is delicious!

  • 2 TBSP olive oil
  • 1/2 of an onion, diced
  • 1 can green chiles
  • 1 can black beans, drain off 1/2  of the liquid
  • 1 cup frozen sweet corn
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 cooked chicken breast, diced into 1/4″ pieces (optional)
  • 1 can enchilada sauce*
  • 8 corn or flour tortillas
  • 1 cup cheddar cheese, grated

Lightly oil a 9×11 glass casserole dish with a little olive oil. Heat the remainder in a heavy pot, over medium-high heat. Toss in the onion and saute 1-2 minutes. Stir in the green chiles and cook until onion begins to soften, about 5 minutes. Add beans, corn, cumin, & garlic and stir to combine. Simmer for about 5 minutes, then stir in diced chicken. Remove from heat.

Pour 1/3 of the enchilada sauce into the bottom of the casserole dish. Fill each tortilla with bean filling and roll up. Place in casserole dish seam side down. If you have any leftover topping, sprinkle it over the top of the enchiladas. Pour the remaining sauce over the top. Sprinkle with cheddar cheese and bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes, until lightly browned and bubbling.

*If you don’t have a can of enchilada sauce, use a can of tomato sauce and season to taste with cumin, chili powder, and cayenne pepper. If you would like to add a little more heat to the dish, you could add cayenne pepper to the bean mixture or substitute a can of jalapeno peppers for the green chiles.

Serve the enchiladas on a bed of Mexican-style rice and top with shredded lettuce, sour cream, salsa, and diced avocados.

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This meal is quick to throw together and tastes best if you make it early in the day and then re-heat it when it’s time to eat. This will allow the flavors to blend together nicely. It is great served hot on a cold day and just as good at room temperature. The only necessary accompaniment is steamed Basmati rice. Bonus: all my kids scarfed this up last night, but maybe they are just weird kids. This recipe is modified from the book A Homemade Life, by Molly Wizenberg.

  • scant 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 large onion, cut into quarters and sliced
  • 2 medium garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/4 ground ginger
  • 1 tsp garam masala*
  • 3 green cardamom pods, lightly crushed under the side of a knife
  • 1 tsp salt, or to taste
  • water
  • 2 14-0z cans of petite diced tomatoes
  • 1 TBSP coarsely chopped cilantro or dried cilantro
  • pinch of cayenne or red pepper flakes, or to taste
  • 2 15-oz cans of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • lemon wedges & fresh cilantro, for serving (optional)
  • 1/3 – 1/2 cup plain whole milk yogurt (optional)

Pour the olive oil into a heavy pot or dutch oven and warm it over medium heat. Add the onion, and cook, stirring occasionally, until it is deeply caramelized. Be patient.

Reduce the heat to low; add garlic, cumin seeds, coriander, ginger, garam masala, cardamom pods, and salt and cook, stirring constantly until fragrant and toasty, about 1 minute. Add 1/4 cup water and stir to scrape up any brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Cook until all the water is absorbed. Pour in the tomatoes, and stir well.

Raise the heat to medium, and bring the pot to a gentle boil. Adjust the heat to maintain a simmer, add the cilantro and cayenne, and continue to cook gently, stirring occasionally, until the mixture reduces and thickens, about 5 minutes. Add the chickpeas, stirring well, and cook over medium-low heat for 5 minutes. Add about 2 TBSP water and cook for another 5 minutes, until water is absorbed. Add another 2 TBSP of water and cook a few minutes more. This process of adding and cooking off water helps to concentrate the sauce’s flavor and makes the chickpeas more tender and toothsome. Taste, and adjust seasonings as necessary.

This chana masala can be served in two different styles: with some yogurt stirred in to smooth and soften the flavors, OR served with a squeeze of lemon. Either way, serve over Basmati rice and garnish with some freshly chopped cilantro.

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This is a quick and delicious weeknight meal that’s perfect in the Fall & Winter. It’s also a great “pantry meal” which features simple ingredients that are easy to have on hand. It has been a reliable go-to dish that is substantial, nutritious, and a kid-pleaser all at once, which is saying a lot, really. In fact, a fight sometimes breaks out over the apples & onions, so you may want to double the quantity I’ve listed here, if you find that to be an issue at your house. If you do double the amounts, this meal will easily provide 3 fruit and veggie servings (about a half-cup) per portion, and that’s nothing short of a miracle.

We love to this dish with something green — wilted spinach with nutmeg, green beans, broccoli, peas, or brussels sprouts. One more quick note, you can use boneless thick-cut pork chops or the standard bone-in variety, it makes no difference. Also, if you line your baking pan with heavy duty foil, there will be no clean-up, and that makes us all happy.  My version of the recipe is below — it has been modified from an Everyday Food recipe. (Which is actually where I get most of my recipes! Check out the site or the magazine if you haven’t already. You won’t regret it.)

  • 2 TBSP butter
  • 1 large yellow or sweet Vidalia onion, halved and sliced into  1/4″ thick wedges
  • 2 large Granny Smith apples, peeled and sliced into 1/4″ slices
  • 1/2 cup white wine or apple juice
  • 4 pork chops
  • kosher salt and ground pepper

Melt butter in a heavy pan over medium-high heat. Saute onions in butter until they begin to soften and brown slightly around the edges — about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, move the oven rack to the highest position and heat the broiler. Place pork chops on a rimmed baking sheet and season generously on both sides with salt and pepper. Cover the pan of onions* and continue cooking until soft, about 5 minutes more.

Add the apples and wine to the pan, cover, and cook until the apples begin to soften — again, about 5 minutes. Uncover and continue to cook, stirring occasionally until apples are cooked and most of the liquid has evaporated.

While apples are cooking, place the pork chops under the broiler and cook  about 3-5 minutes on each side. Broil until cooked through and until just starting to slightly brown on top. Top pork chops with the apple mixture.

*If you don’t have a pan large enough to cover your skillet, you can improvise like I do — simply cover a spatter-shield with heavy-duty foil.

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