Throwing together quick weeknight dinner...

Discussion in 'Et Cetera, Et Cetera' started by Bockwurst, Jul 29, 2010.

  1. Bockwurst

    Bockwurst New Member

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    You know the drill: it's 6:30 or 7:00 and you are home from a long day of work. Your stomach grumbles, you prefer to not spend money/calories on takeout food. But what's the last thing you want to do? Make an extravagant meal?

    I am looking for ideas on what are staples I should keep in the pantry, freezer or refrigerator that can be 'thrown' into a decent meal on a weeknight without fussing too long in the kitchen.

    Here is an example of something I threw together the other night. I had dry pasta in the cabinet and a jar of sauce. So I boiled the pasta and added the sauce (yawn, right?) but then I had some salad greens too. I also found some carrots, so I grated the carrots into the greens, added a handful of walnuts I found in the cabinet, a small box of raisins, and some leftover gorgonzola cheese which I crumbled into bits. I tossed it with some balsamic vinegar and oil and black pepper, and I was amazed how hearty and substantial it was. The pasta was a complete bore, but the salad gave me an idea of quick and easy recipes that can be assembled from things stocked in the home.

    It seems like such a challenge, but I would bet that some of our posters here have great household ideas for throwing together quick, delicious and satisfying meals.
     
  2. goodwood

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    well good grief bock -
    may i stop over to your place around 7 after work?
    sounds like you have the situation well in hand! like your ideas.
    hmm. coneless chicken breasts drizzled in olive oil with fresh sprigs of
    rosemary and there ya go. toss that in a pan/skillet. healthy, delicious.
    frozen fish (i love seafood and fish) and toss that in a skillet with olive oil
    and spices and herbs of choice is very good.
    always keep a bit of cheese in the fridge.
    potatoes - yukon gold - always have on hand.
    broccoli and cauliflower with a bit of sauce. one can buy
    "lightly sauced" veggies in the freezer section.
    just learned about mushroom burgers.
    yum.
    frozen sextion also - toss them into the skillet with a dash
    of lea & perrins worchestire sauce and a bit of garlic and that's great.
    also have tomatoes to slice up in nice, thick slices with salt, pepper and
    some balsamic - delicious.
    you seem to have all the bases covered so you will be all good, but don't forget
    about about green beans. a must have in summer.
     
  3. helgaleena

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    I keep a cabbage. Or a napa cabbage. Good cooked or raw as a salad. Add to it any leftovers. Also onions. A sauteed onion can become anything. Keep on hand plain white rice or couscous in an insect-proof jar. They take nearly as little time as pasta. But a microwaved baked potato is the basis of simple and perfect filling food for the single diner.
    Top it with greek yogurt, which is easily made from plain yogurt by letting it strain through a cheese cloth for a few hours, saving precious pennies and yielding high quality cultured whey.

    Another strategy is the blender smoothie meal, especially in hot weather. Ice cubes and fruit or cooked or soft vegetables, honey, yogurt or hot sauce to taste.
     
  4. Bbucko

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    Probably about 3-4 nights a week I thaw out two chicken thighs (cheap and yummy), toss them in a casserole dish with some teriyaki sauce and bitter orange sauce (found in the latino foods section) poured over and bake for about 45 minutes to an hour at 400, turning periodically.

    Sometimes I'll eat it with angel-hair pasta made with garlic, oil and grated cheese, sometimes with a mix of jasmine rice, lentils and barley cooked in ham or chicken stock (easy to find and use bullion cubes) that will keep for days after when cooked in sufficient quantities, occasionally with baked beans (I'm a native Bostonian, right?).

    Microwave some frozen whole green beans or pole beans till crispy and you've got a no-muss, easily made meal with a quick clean-up that's tasty and nutritious.

    Another fave is broiled pork chops served with cubed sweet potatoes cooked in the microwave with minced garlic and powdered ginger: fast and simple and really really yummy-yum. Whole green bean or pole beans described above work really well, though I guess broccoli could work (me hates broccoli, though); either teriyaki or italian dressing can dress them up, though honestly the sweet potatoes will probably provide enough kick for most palates for one meal. This never takes more than 30 minutes from start to finish.

    Another (relatively) fast and easy quick meal is to prepare Knorr cream of leek or cream of spinach soup, boil some bow-tie pasta (or whatever your fave happens to be or whatever's in the cabinet/pantry) until it's 80% done, and mix with a can or two of decent tuna in a casserole. Cubes of cheese can be added, or shredded feta if you prefer. Cover with seasoned breadcrumbs and cook at about 375 for 30 minutes. That usually feeds me for two days.

    My famous oven-roasted potatoes are not quick (need about two hours) but are a crowd-pleasing indulgence. Cut red potatoes into bite-sized cubes, along with several-to-many small yellow onions roughly sliced and cut and several carrots. Cover the whole thing with granulated garlic (not the powdery shit) and add about a stick of butter cut and distributed throughout. cook at a lowish heat (about 375), turn them periodically but not until the potatoes are golden on top first, which will probably take the first 45 minutes, and add more granulated garlic. Fresh thyme or dill are great options/variations, but only add them at the last 30 minutes or so; the same applies to fresh whole green beans. The butter is a requirement (and don't be stingy: the more the better): I've attempted it with olive oil and margarine/butter substitutes but the results were not satisfactory as the potatoes just don't brown properly, but because of the amount of butter used, it's a rare and highly indulgent dish. The last 30 minutes or so it's best to shake them rather than turn with a spatula: they should be very crispy and just slightly overdone.

    Though usually served with grilled beef, I've been known to make them all by themselves and call it a meal.

    Salads are wasted on me: I have never seen the appeal and eating them is generally a chore. Maybe three or four times a year I'll get a bag of that mix of arugula, endive and greens, squirt some lemon and munch through it, but that generally for a dinner party, not just for me.
     
    #4 Bbucko, Jul 29, 2010
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2010
  5. Bockwurst

    Bockwurst New Member

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    Thanks for the suggestions guys!

    Bucko, your dishes seem tasty but I was looking more for something I could whip together in 10-15 minutes max.
     
  6. helgaleena

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    Eggs. Beat an egg, add anything whatsoever to it, microwave until scrambled. Put into a soft tortilla or pile onto toast.
     
  7. Bockwurst

    Bockwurst New Member

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    Yeah, that's a good one. I make tortas sometimes with thin sliced potatoes, onions and egg and some parmesean all in a fry pan. Quick, cheap and good. Been trying to control the cholesterol lately.

    Another quick meal is sometimes I make waffles and top them with different stuff...some savory and some sweet depending what I have in the fridge.

    Noodle dishes are easy and quick too. Sometimes I make Japanese soba noodles and bottled dipping sauce and wasabi for dinner and steam some veggies, or fry some tofu with sesame seeds to go along with it.

    I'm with Bucko in that salads just don't do it for me. I always feel unsatified after eating one for a meal.
     
  8. RalDudeHangin

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    I stop by the farmers market once a week and always have some squash, broccoli, peppers, and other veggies in the fridge. I typically have meat in the freezer too. Doesn't take much time at all to chop and skewer the veggies, drizzle Italian dressing over them, and throw them on the grill with some chicken or a burger. Grills are great. Only takes a few minutes to steam veggies, too.

    Spaghetti squash is awesome!! Cut it in half, scrape out the seeds, bake it face down in the oven @ 380^ for 45 minutes, and then it easily shreds out of the shell. It has the texture of penne pasta. Pour on pasta sauce, butter & Parmesan, or stir it up with some Italian dressing.

    Pasta works, too. Lot of times I add just a pat of butter and mix in some diced zucchini squash.
     
  9. Dave NoCal

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    I've started making marianra suace instead of regular spagetti suace. You buy it in a jar. I brown some oninons, garlic and bay leaves, add the sauce and then the juice of two lemons and some Tabasco sauce. If I'm feeling more extravagant, I then add raw shrimp and cook them about three or four minutes in the sauce. Over pasta with a small salad and some garlic toast it's great, quick, and easy.
    Dave
     
  10. silvertriumph2

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    One dish that my friends request over and over again is...
    Joe Mazetti...a one pot dish that takes less than an hour to fix from start to the table....
    Just serve with a mixed salad and some Garlic Bread.

    1-1/4lb ground beef
    1/4 lb ground pork
    1 bell bepper (diced)
    1 onion (diced)
    1 stalk celery (diced)
    8 oz. noodles (flat preferred, but shapes are ok too)
    salt & pepper
    1 can condensed mushroom soup (do not add water)
    1 can condensed tomato soup (do not add water)
    6oz. cheddar cheese (grated)
    Basic Italian dry seasoning
    garlic salt
    Onion salt
    -----------------------------------------------------------------
    Brown meat and onions in a large oven casserole dish.

    Cook celery and peppers in a little water until tender...drain and add to meat mixture.

    Cook noodles according to the directions on package.

    Combine seasonings and soups into the meat mixture and mix well.

    Add Noodles and then cover with grated cheese.

    Warm in 350F oven for 15 minutes, or until cheese is melted...
    Serves 4-6 (depending on how much they like it or how hungry they are...there
    will never be any left overs.)

    Brush Italian or French Bread with olive oil and scrape with fresh garlic...then toast
    or wrap in foil and heat in oven.

    ENJOY!
     
  11. concupisys

    concupisys Active Member

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    pantry staples:

    pasta, rice, couscous
    liquid or cubed stocks (chicken, beef, vegetable, seafood)...
    frozen vegetable medleys
    potatoes, onions, garlic, ginger
    canned tomatoes, tomato paste
    ready made spice blends for curries, stir frys, and meat crusts
    lemon/lime juice
    flour and cornstarch
    evaporated milk
    quick mixes for biscuits, breads and crusts
    cans/jars of things like capers, roasted peppers, artichokes, sun dried tomatoes, etc....
    long-lasting cheeses such as parmesan and romano

    there's many other ingredients to suit many different tastes, but these are a few to get you started.... as long as you keep these kinds of things in your pantry, you need only go to the market for fresh meat and produce and you can make hundreds of meals in 30-45 minutes....
     
  12. concupisys

    concupisys Active Member

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    i also recommend making soups, stews, sauces, stocks, etc. in advance and in large quantities so that portions can be frozen.... you can also freeze things like ready-chopped garlic and ginger in ice trays if you have a hard time keeping it fresh in the fridge... another good tip is to save up end pieces of fresh breads to dry and make breadcrumbs with.... and yet another: save and freeze things like hard cheese rinds and meat carcasses so that you can easily create your own stocks and soup bases....
     
  13. helgaleena

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    What is your position on tofu? Or tempeh? They are easy to switch out for the eggs. One of my kids has trouble with his cholesterol, and began eating boiled eggs but skipping the yolks, feed them to our pets instead. The egg-beaters liquid product in a carton is also simply egg whites with a bit of yellow color, comparable in price to fresh eggs, for when you need to make a strata or a cake or similar.
     
  14. luka82

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    Yeah, that`s a great advice.
    Then when you get suprised, you won`t BE suprised:):):)
    And that`s what I do.:biggrin1:
     
  15. wallaboi

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    I like soupy noodles for a quick and nutritious midweek meal. Garlic, chilli, fresh or dried noodles, stock (I like chicken), whatever veges you have in the fridge. Spinach, zuchini, swiss chard and squash are good because they cook quickly. Throw it all in a pot simmer or microwave for a few minutes. Crack in an egg, diced fish, shreded chicken or any left over meat. Season the broth with some soya sauce and if you like hot and sour, a squeeze of lemon juice.
     
  16. helgaleena

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    Concupisys, onions and garlic will not keep in the frig. They need to stay dry at room temperature. But they are excellent things to turn whatever you have into a meal. Your other tips are good too.
     
  17. accemb

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    For a meatless meal (I am NOT a vegetarian, btw):

    LeSuer Peas and Eggs

    Saute chopped onion in olive oil in a skillet

    Add 1 can of LeSuer Peas (and its liquid) till heated
    (I like the mushroom and onion variety)

    Crack raw eggs over the peas (how many eggs depends on you), cover the skillet, and let the eggs poach to your taste (runny, firm, however you like).

    Sprinkle with black pepper, parmesan Cheese. Nice, soupy, hearty, especially in winter.
     
  18. TomCat84

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    @ the OP- I'll bring over the wine if you cook :biggrin:
     
  19. luka82

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    Well I always have a mix of vegies for my chicken soup in the freezer. I chop the vegies (carrots, celery, parsnips, parsley root, zucchini) and deepfreeze them.
    It`s a great way to keep most of the vitamins in. and when you have sudden guests you can make a soup quickly.
     
    #19 luka82, Jul 30, 2010
    Last edited: Jul 30, 2010
  20. TomCat84

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    *flies to luka's house* :biggrin1:
     
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