I like to bake, and I love to feed people. But when I come home from work, I'm tending to a baby who moves surprisingly fast, a dog that needs a walk, and my own hungry, rumbling belly. I've found a few go-to meals that are speedy to make, mostly nutritious, and don't require special grocery trips.
FORMULA 1: STUFF IT.General principle: Take a starchy vegetable (squash, potato), cook it, cut it in half, and stuff each half with the meats/veggies/grains of your choice. Serves two adults (can also serve a baby, if you're willing to share).
Stuffed Acorn Squash
- Microwave your acorn squash.
- While your squash is cooking, sauté a mix of diced chicken sausage, leeks and corn. Note: For two people, I'd do two or three chicken sausages, one or two diced leeks, and about a cup of frozen corn. We like Italian-style chicken sausage or the chicken-apple variety for this. Each person gets half the squash.
- When you sauté, you'll probably want to use a little bit of olive oil, salt and pepper.
- When the squash is finished, cut in half, scoop out the seeds, and fill each half with a generous pile of your sautéed sausage-and-veg mix.
- Swap your veggies for tomato, onion and spinach. Top with grated parmesan cheese.
- Don't like chicken sausage? Use the sausage of your choice, diced prosciutto or bacon.
- Vegetarian: Skip the meat altogether and add in a few more veggies (good options: bell peppers, tomatoes, black beans).
- Sprinkle with a little bit of gouda, parmesan or the cheese of your choice.
FORMULA TWO: GET SAUCY.General principle: Use a canned curry sauce, add in frozen veggies and meat, serve with rice or naan.
Thai Fish Curry
- When you go to the grocery store, buy a jar of Thai curry. I tend to use Trader Joe's green curry. In the freezer section, grab whatever variety of white fish you like (not breaded), as well as a bag of stir-fry veggies.
- Sauté your fish (suggested: two or three fillets) with a tiny bit of olive oil, salt and pepper. Break into large chunks as it cooks.
- Add frozen veggies and let cook for a few minutes.
- Add curry sauce and let it all simmer together for 20 minutes or so.
- Use teriyaki sauce instead. Or use a mix of curry paste, canned coconut milk and broth.
- Chop up whatever fresh veggies you have, instead of frozen. This would be good with a mix of potatoes, peppers and onions.
- Serve over noodles or rice, or with a piece of naan, pita or other good scooping bread.
FORMULA THREE: YES, SOUP FOR YOUGeneral principle: Sauté some veggies, add lots of stock and pasta/grains/legumes, and serve it all up with the bread of your choice.
Split Pea Soup
- Dice up some carrots and onions. Suggested: 2 large carrots and 1 small onion.
- Sauté the veggies for a few minutes in a soup pot, using about 1 tablespoon of oil or butter, lightly seasoning with salt and pepper.
- Add in one cup split peas, as well as 2-3 cups of whatever broth you have around. (Veggie, chicken, ham or beef will all work just fine.) Got some spare bacon, ham or sausage? Throw that in too!
- Cook everything together over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for about 20 minutes, then turn down to a simmer and cook for another 15 minutes.
- If it's too thick, add some water or additional broth.
- Serve with dinner rolls, baguette pieces, or whatever hearty bread you like.
Here are a few more places to turn for inspiration:
- If you want your recipes served with a large dose of profanity, read Shannon's Kitchen, which describes itself as "healthy food and recipe ideas from a naughty nurse."
- 100 soup recipes for cold days or 15 essential soups
- 101 picnic dishes from one of my favorite recipe authors
- A sandwich for every day of the month or two-ingredient sandwiches