If you’re like a lot of folks, you’re cooking quite a bit more at home these days. While that can be great for your physical and financial health, it does come with its drawbacks. There’s the planning, the shopping, the prep, the cooking and the pile of dishes that feels like it will never go away (unless you have two dishwashers, lucky you!).
We all need a break. That’s why I’ve put together some of my favorite quick-and-easy recipes that don’t require a lot of time, ingredients or even dishes. These no-hassle dishes will have you in and out of the kitchen in no time.
Seared wild salmon with cucumber yogurt sauce
I have been trying to incorporate more fish into my diet and I love salmon any day of the week.
Salmon sears up beautifully and tastes great the next day, at room temp, on top of some greens or a bit of quinoa salad.
The sauce, a mixture of yogurt, sour cream and cucumbers provides a nice cool balance to the fatty fish.
This recipe serves three healthy portions but you can double it for a family of five big eaters. And, as I said, the leftover fish is just great for lunch the next day. This recipe does double duty!
The sauce is great and tastes good with chicken, pork and even some toasted pita bread.
2 tablespoons grapeseed oil or other neutral oil
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1 lb wild salmon, cut into three pieces
½ cup plain yogurt
¼ cup sour cream
½ English cucumber, deseeded and grated
1 tablespoon lemon juice
¼ teaspoon kosher salt, or more to taste
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
fresh dill for garnish (optional)
In a large, non stick sauté pan, heat oil on medium. Place salmon, flesh side down and allow to sear for 5 minutes without disturbing the fish. This creates the beautiful brown crust.
After five minutes, flip the fish and allow to sear for 2 to 3 minutes or more if you like it well done.
While salmon is searing, cut the cucumber in half and using a small spoon, remove the seeds. Grate the cucumber on the largest holes of a box grater and squeeze the contents in your hands to remove as much water as possible.
In a medium bowl, add yogurt, sour cream, cucumber, lemon juice, salt and pepper and mix to combine.
Place the salmon on a plate and add a dollop of the sauce and a sprig of dill if using. Serve with a healthy salad or sautéed spinach for perfect, high protein meal!
Related recipe: Salmon Teriyaki
It might sound strange, but I promise, once you give it a try, you’ll be adding it to the dinner rotation, especially on nights when you feel like you have no time, no patience and no idea what to make. It’s easy, delicious and you can even put it all together hours before the family is ready to eat.
It’s a great way to use up left over pasta but I find myself making pasta just to have a big slice of spaghetti pie. Make the pie, toss up a big salad, some garlic bread if you feel so inclined and dinner will be on the table before you can say Buon Appetito!
1 lb spaghetti, cooked
2 tablespoons of butter, plus more for the pan
1 egg, beaten
8 oz tomato sauce
½ cup Parmigiano cheese, grated
1 cup mozzarella cheese, grated and divided
Cook the spaghetti until al dente and toss with the butter. Allow the pasta to cool for 5 minutes. Add beaten egg, tomato sauce, Parmigiano cheese and ½ cup of the mozzarella. Mix to combine.
Butter an 8-inch, springform pan and pour the spaghetti mixture in. Top with the remaining ½ cup of mozzarella cheese and bake for 20 minutes, enough to melt the cheese.
Remove sides of the pan and slice into 8 wedges. Serve immediately.
Related recipe: Cast-iron skillet pizza
It’s that time of year where we head out to the apple orchard, for apples, pumpkin picking and the Facebook photo op. It’s a great time and everyone goes nuts picking apples off the tree and then you, super MOM, are left with the job of figuring out what to do with them all before they all go bad.
Apple pie is great but sometimes, it’s nice to change things up and make something quick and easy. So, for this edition of FIF, I bring you apple dumplings! Five ingredients; pop them in an hour before dinner and you will have yourself a lovely, individual dessert. Make it à la mode with some vanilla ice cream. I won’t give you a hard time for adding a 6th ingredient to the recipe, because, let’s face it, everything is better à la mode.
4 apples of your choice, peeled and cored
½ cup AP flour
½ cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 large sheet frozen puff pastry, defrosted
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
In a medium bowl, combine flour, brown sugar and cinnamon. Roll each apple to cover with the mixture.
Roll out the puff pastry and cut into squares. Place an apple in the center of each square and pull up the sides to cover the apple. Pinch at the top to seal closed.
Place apples in the freezer for fifteen minutes to chill the pastry. This will keep it from sliding down the apple.
Remove from the freezer and place on a cookie sheet. Bake for 45 minutes to an hour, based on the size of the apple.
To check if they are done, slide a knife into the apple. It should be very soft and slip right out.
Serve with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream or both!
Related recipe: Candy Autumn apple pops
Brie en croute
I love brie and when you wrap it in puff pastry and stuff it with sweet filling, it can’t really get any better. I make this appetizer for every get together and there is never, ever any leftover. Another plus? You can leave them pre made in the freezer and pop them in the oven whenever some unexpected guests drop in…WIN!
Serves 6 to 8
1 Medium Brie, entire wheel
1 Sheet Puff Pastry, I love Dufour
1 cup chopped pecans, toasted
1 cup dried craisins, apricots, golden raisins or any other dried fruit of choice
1/2 cup brown sugar
Cut Brie in half lengthwise. Sprinkle all other ingredients inside starting with brown sugar. Place top of brie on top and press down.
Roll out puff pastry sheet and place brie in middle. Wrap the brie up with the puff pastry and turn over.
Place brie in freezer for at least an hour so puff pastry refreezes.
Heat oven to 425. Place parchment paper on a sheet tray with brie on top.
Heat in oven for at least 15 minutes. Brie is done when the puff pastry is evenly brown on all sides.
To serve, place on a large platter with crackers, small cheese knives and cut bread. Cut a small wedge out so the melty goodness starts to pour out.
Related recipe: Building the perfect antipasto platter
Sticky, sweet Teriyaki chicken wings
I love these wings because they are fast, easy and don’t require a deep fryer. The honey in the sauce broils up nicely and gives you the crunch you desire without all the deep fry calories.
If you don’t have sesame oil on hand, any neutral oil will do and the sesame seeds add a nice touch but are also not necessary. I will also tell you, this sauce tastes great on chicken breasts, pork and even hangar steak. Make a double batch and keep it in the fridge for your next mid week dinner.
1 lb chicken wings
2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 garlic cloves, minced
¼ cup honey, or more to taste
2 cups low sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds, for garnish
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. Fill a large stockpot with water and add the chicken wings.
3. Bring to a boil and allow the wings to cook for 5 minutes.
4. Remove the wings from the boiling water and rinse and toss with the sesame oil.
5. While the wings are boiling, make the sauce.
6. In a large sauté pan, heat the butter on medium and add the garlic.
7. Once the garlic begins to brown, add the honey and allow it to meit and combine with the butter.
8. Add the soy sauce and bring to a boil, then, reduce to a simmer.
9. Taste the sauce, if you like your sauce a bit sweeter, add a bit more honey to taste.
10. Place the wings in a large bowl and toss with the sauce.
11. Grease a baking sheet and lay the wings out individually to reserve the sauce in the bowl. The wings will not have a lot of sauce on them.
12. Bake for 15 minutes.
13. Remove from the oven and brush heavily with the reserved sauce.
14. Place them back in the oven on the BROIL setting for 2 to 3 minutes until they are dark and crispy.
Related recipe: Lemon-thyme baby back ribs
This veggie dish can be served as a main or hearty side dish. I think it would also taste fantastic over a bed of rice or garlicky, buttered pasta.
Chicken Francese, a very popular Italian American dish is chicken cutlet, battered and sauteed with lemon and wine. I used my go to recipe, simplified it a bit and subbed the defrosted artichokes instead and wow, it was good.
The best thing about this dish is you can run the artichokes under hot water for a few minutes and they are ready to go. I like the bagged variety from Trader Joes.
Hope you give this simple, delicious dish a try!
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 large bag, frozen artichoke hearts
1 cup AP Flour
2 eggs, beaten
½ cup white wine
Run hot water over the frozen artichokes to defrost. Place in a strainer and pat with a paper towel to remove excess water. Set up a breading station.
Place flour in one bowl and 2 eggs, beaten in another bowl, side by side. Have the artichokes ready to dip.
In a large sauté pan, heat butter and olive oil on medium heat. Working quickly, dip each artichoke in the flour, then in the egg and then into the hot pan. Fill the pan with the egg dipped artichokes and let them sizzle for three to four minutes.
Gently flip them all over. The underside should be a deep, golden brown. Allow them to cook for another three to four minutes. Shimmy the pan to make sure they aren’t sticking.
Once all the flour, egg coating is cooked, pour in the wine and let it reduce by half. Add the juice of one lemon. Slice the other lemon and add to the pan as garnish.
Serve with rice or pasta.
Related recipe: Trattoria Contadina’s stuffed zucchini blossoms
Creamy clam ‘chowdha’
This simple, satisfying chowder cooks up in no time, and best of all, doesn’t come with a delivery charge.
1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
1 small onion, chopped fine
2 cups whole milk or heavy Cream (based on thickness you prefer) I like 1 cup of each
3 cans chopped clams, don’t drain, you need that juice
2 medium Yukon Gold Potatoes, peeled and chopped small
3 slices bacon, chopped fine
some fresh thyme for garnish (optional)
crusty bread or saltines for dipping
In a large pot, heat olive oil with onion and sauté until translucent. Add bacon and cook on low until the bacon begins to crisp and has rendered most of the fat. If you are using fatty bacon, you might want to drain a bit of the oil.
Add the chopped clams with all their juice and bring to a boil. Add the potatoes and one cup of water and reduce to simmer for 15 minutes.
Make sure potatoes are fork tender. Add milk and or cream and simmer for 10 more minutes.
Add fresh thyme and serve!!
Related recipe: Mamma Gina’s meatballs
So you have all heard of taco Tuesdays so why not Fajita Fridays! They are quick, easy and come together in minutes. Now believe me, you can go crazy with sides like guac, salsa, lettuce and all the fixins BUT, if you are low on time, I promise these will still taste great with just FIVE ingredients. You can double up the chicken and veggies, these taste great on top of a salad the next day. You’ll have dinner on the table faster than you can say Ole!
2 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, sliced thin
1 chicken breast, cut into small strips
2 peppers, pick red, green or yellow, your choice!
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 package flour or corn tortillas
salt and pepper, 1 teaspoon each
Cut up chicken breast and season with salt, pepper and chili powder. Set aside.
In a large sauté pan, heat olive oil and fry up onion until it begins to turn light brown. Add peppers and cook until soft. Sprinkle with a bit of salt. Remove to a large platter. Add 1 tablespoon of oil and the sliced chicken.
Saute the chicken for 4 to 5 minutes until cooked through. Place the sizzling chicken on the platter Mexican restaurant style and serve with warmed torillas.
Now, smile and accept the applause as your family digs in.
Additional but not necessary components:
Lime – I love squeezing it all over the hot chicken
Cumin – If you want a more taco taste, 1 teaspoon to the raw chicken
Avocados – Because they make everything more delicious
Sour cream – Double delicious
Lettuce and tomatoes
Steak or Pork – instead of chicken.
Related recipe: Janet’s Mexican pork tamales
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