Help us make a master list of weeknight recipes!
March 9, 2016 7:27 AM   Subscribe

What are your recipes for weeknight meals? What do you have for dinner that you make yourself in a relatively short amount of time and/or with relatively little effort? Help us figure out a variety of dinners to put on a meal-planning list!

My husband and I have a list of dinner options so that when we do our weekly meal planning we've got all of our go-to dishes and recipes right in front of us. We'd really like to add to this list! We are looking for meals that can be made quickly on a weeknight OR prepped ahead of time without a ton of hassle. Right now we've got things like spaghetti and meatballs, roasted chicken, some lentil dishes, and empanadas (filling and dough prepped Sunday, assembled and baked Monday). We'd like a time frame of no more than an hour and a half from getting home to eating dinner.

We are NOT looking for general ideas like "roast a chicken and use the meat all week", we are looking for specific recipes.

If it's relevant, Mr. Pterodactyl is a good cook and I am a tolerable cook and good baker. In terms of recipes to which we have access, we've got a subscription to Cook's Illustrated and he has a bunch of cookbooks including several by Mark Bittman and the Food Lab book. We're okay with meals that result in leftovers or meals that don't. Only dietary restriction is nothing from the sea, including fish. We'd like actual recipes, please! Just saying, e.g., "spaghetti and meatballs" still leaves us with a lot of research to do (also we like the Serious Eats Friday meatball recipe, halved, so we're good on that one).

Recipes out of books we already have, links to recipes on websites, or typed-out recipes are most appreciated!

Thank you for your suggestions!
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl to Food & Drink (77 answers total) 487 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I know this is not much of a recipe but we do salads with fried eggs on top at least one night a week. People always look at me like I'm crazy when I mention it, but its delicious.

1-3 fried eggs w/ the oil they were cooked in as dressing
Spinach or whatever salad you prefer
Any salad fixings you enjoy
A little bit of parmesan cheese on top of the egg
posted by lownote at 7:43 AM on March 9, 2016 [14 favorites]

Best answer: The quick weeknight meals at my house are:

* Black bean burritos
* Spaghetti alla puttanesca with anchovies omitted
* Spaghetti AOP (pair with a simple green salad for more nutrition)
* Kimchi fried rice, if kimchi is okay (this is super quick if you have leftover prepared rice)
* Spanish tortilla
* Breakfast burritos: Scramble 2 or 3 eggs per person, optionally add shredded cheddar, put in a tortilla with salsa and eat. Can be bulked up with fresh chopped tomatoes, sautéed red bell peppers and/or onions and/or mushrooms, chunks of potato, crumbled up bacon, crumbled up breakfast sausage, etc. -- just depends on how much time you want to spend.
posted by neushoorn at 7:43 AM on March 9, 2016 [3 favorites]

Best answer: The DingoWife and I really like this recipe for Smoky Tofu BBQ Bowls - we usually just use store-bought BBQ sauce instead of making it from scratch, and we don't usually take the time to marinate the tofu, which makes it even quicker and easier. It's pretty much just "cook the rice, bake the tofu, heat up the blackeyed peas, and toss it all together," but it's very tasty!
posted by DingoMutt at 7:45 AM on March 9, 2016 [4 favorites]

Best answer: This is my go to weeknight chicken recipe. It uses all pantry ingredients and takes about two minutes to prep, but tastes out of this world incredible. I like to serve it over greens (they wilt a little bit from the heat of the chicken, yum) but you can also make it a one dish meal by adding a layer of chopped root veggies under and around the chicken pieces.
posted by telegraph at 7:47 AM on March 9, 2016 [14 favorites]

Response by poster: Thanks so much! I should have mentioned that I'm currently pregnant so sadly I can't eat any eggs that aren't hard-boiled (they must drink bourbon and wear little fedoras) and tragically no soft cheeses, but I will put a lot of these on the list for after the baby is born.

Keep the recipes coming, these are great!
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 7:48 AM on March 9, 2016 [18 favorites]

Best answer: Great question! Here's a combo we are adding to our repertoire -

Slow-cooker carnitas for easy weeknight tacos. Then, a few nights later we take all the leftover meat and tortillas and throw together a Mexican lasagna.
posted by galvanized unicorn at 7:50 AM on March 9, 2016 [3 favorites]

Best answer: I'm trying to cook more, and added Mark Bittman's Pork Stir Fry to the weeknight list. It takes me less than a half hour to get it all done, and instead of greens I substitute either frozen stir fry veggies or fresh pre-cut veggies that I chop up on a weekend.
posted by kimberussell at 7:51 AM on March 9, 2016 [2 favorites]

Best answer: We also do shakshuka a couple times a month. This could get labor intensive you let it, but its one of few foods we make with frozen veggies.

1 Jar Tomato Sauce
4 cloves of garlic minced (can use powder to supplement for time)
1/3 of a bag or so of frozen asparagus (this can be substituted with whatever leftover greens you have from spinach to bell peppers to kale. You'll want to put anything that takes longer to saute in earlier, however)
Tiny bit of olive oil
2 eggs per person
Optional: Cheese, Delicious bread, spices to taste.

Saute the veggies until tender with the oil. Then pour in your tomato sauce. Once it gets up to temperature, drop the eggs in. Cook until the whites have set and the yolks are beginning to as well. Grate some cheese on top. Warm the bread.
posted by lownote at 7:52 AM on March 9, 2016 [6 favorites]

Best answer: Roasted Chicken With Potatoes, Arugula and Garlic Yogurt
Slow Cooker Gigante Beans with Tomatoes and Pancetta (slow cooker recipe, very little morning prep then ready when you come home. way better than most slow cooker recipes)
posted by Juliet Banana at 7:56 AM on March 9, 2016 [5 favorites]

Best answer: Stir fries are GREAT for weeknight meals - I tried this one last week and it was delicious
(I omitted the fried egg) Pork and Basil Stir fry

This meal is SO quick to make and soo delicious I try to make it once every couple of weeks
PF Chang inspired Lettuce Wraps - I use turkey mince rather than chicken

Very often, if I have time on a Sunday I'll make a lasagna or a Shepherds Pie, pop it in the fridge and then I just shove it in the oven for an hour on Monday night...

Slow cookers are fabulous too. I just made this amazing Indian Dal and it turned out fantastic (I didn't have all of the spices on hand but I added some that weren't included in the recipe)

Slow cooker pork in Campbells Mushroom soup is also delicious. Just add a chunk of Pork to the slow cooker and two cans of mushroom soup and leave on low heat all day. Cook up some potatoes and veg when you get home and voila.
posted by JenThePro at 7:58 AM on March 9, 2016 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Mark Bittman's version of chicken adobo (I think it's in How to Cook Everything) is a staple here.

The secret is that chicken thighs are basically impossible to overcook, and can be cooked directly from the freezer in a recipe like this if you add some extra cooking time. So the procedure is basically "Pull a bag of chicken thighs from the freezer, dump them in a pot with vinegar, soy sauce, water and seasonings, cover and let simmer while you decompress and hang out, test one and make sure they're done. Optionally stick them under the broiler for five minutes to crisp up the skin."
posted by nebulawindphone at 7:59 AM on March 9, 2016 [9 favorites]

Best answer: This is my very favorite chicken recipe. It uses very few ingredients which most people always have on hand, takes about three minutes to prep, and then just bakes into awesome deliciousness with no more activity from you except for basting it every 10-15 minutes.

Honey-Glazed Chicken

4 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs (or other chicken parts)
salt, pepper, garlic powder
3/8 c honey
1/8 c Dijon mustard
1 T lemon juice

Arrange the chicken in a single layer in a baking pan (if you line the pan with foil, clean-up is easy). Sprinkle chicken pieces with salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Mix together the honey, mustard, and lemon juice. Pour over the chicken and bake at 350 for about 50 minutes, basting every 10 minutes or so.
posted by DrGail at 8:00 AM on March 9, 2016 [4 favorites]

Best answer: Slow cooker pork tenderloin - I double the onion and throw in about 1 lb quartered red potatoes. When I get home from work I throw in a bunch of asparagus and let that cook for 20 minutes or so. It's such a quick recipe that I've been known to make it in the morning before work, but it's easier to do it the night before.

Turkey meatloaf. Delicious. I cut up a carrot and a celery stalk and add those for some texture and color. I mix it up the night before so I can just pop it in the oven when I get home from work.
posted by Kriesa at 8:00 AM on March 9, 2016 [1 favorite]

Best answer: My recipe for vegetarian tacos:

1 onion diced
3 carrots diced
3-4 garlic cloves minced (follow your preferred garlic-to-onion ratio)
1-2 tbs tomato paste
3-4 calabaza squash diced and sliced thin (can substitute zucchini and yellow squash)
1 packet taco seasoning (or chili powder + additional cumin)
1 cup water

- Saute onions and carrots in hot pan over high heat with a little oil. Let the onion and carrot brown a bit.
- Add tomato paste. Cook until tomato paste starts to brown.
- Add garlic. Cook until strongly fragrant.
- Add water and taco seasoning. Stir together.
- Add squash of choice and salt to taste. Manage the heat. Stir occasionally. Cook until squash is done.
- Serve with sliced avocado and grated quesadilla cheese.
posted by SugarFreeGum at 8:00 AM on March 9, 2016 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Dinner: A Love Story's Chicken, Lemon and Capers with a side of herbed orzo or angel hair. Barefoot Contessa's Weeknight Bolognese. Orzo with Sausage, Peppers and Tomato. Warm Farro Salad (serve with grilled chicken).
posted by ersatzkat at 8:01 AM on March 9, 2016 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Parmesan and panko crusted chicken is really easy, fast, and tasty. I use vegannaise and it works just fine (in case you have an aversion to mayo). Can be seasoned however, too, in case you have a lot of paprika laying around or something.
posted by everybody had matching towels at 8:03 AM on March 9, 2016

Best answer: Pasta sauce (goes with pretty much any plain (ie not stuffed) pasta):

0. Put the pasta on to cook - when it's done, drain and set aside if sauce isn't done.
1. Fry some chopped onions and garlic on medium heat until soft.
2. Throw in a packet of diced pancetta (alternatively: ~4-5 rashers of chopped bacon), continue to fry until pancetta/bacon is done.
3. Turn off the heat and pour in some single or double cream. Should be enough residual heat to warm through the cream and reduce it a little - put heat back on v low if not.
4. Add freshly grated parmesan, black pepper, and chopped fresh basil to taste.
5. Add cooked pasta to sauce.

- Blue cheese as well as parmesan.
- Also add steamed broccoli at step 4.
- I didn't have any cream last night and used cream cheese instead - compensated for lack of flavour by upping the parmesan and garlic a bit and it turned out pretty well.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 8:03 AM on March 9, 2016 [12 favorites]

Best answer: Oh, for what it's worth, when you reheat the leftovers of the above pasta, the cream goes kind of weird but it still tastes good. If you can reheat on a stove, adding some more cream helps.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 8:04 AM on March 9, 2016

Best answer: Here is a recipe for saag paneer. It's basically a 4-step recipe, and I batch-cook the complicated ones in advance.
- ingredients 3-8, multiply quantity by 6, cook as directed (skillet), puree the heck out of it.
- ingredients 12-17, multiply quantity by 6, cook as directed (skitllet).
- mix these two together, and divide evenly among 12 cups of a muffin pan. Freeze, and pop the pucks out of the muffin pan.

Now, on a weeknight, you've got a ~20-minute process that uses a skillet and a food processor or blender.
0. Start some rice cooking.
1. Get a block of firm tofu from your local grocery (or paneer from the Indian grocery), cut into slabs, panfry 5-10min, then cut into cubes. (or buy prefried cubes).
2. Take a big bag of prewashed greens, or a bag of frozen greens, and steam them (microwave or skillet, 10 min), then whirl in the food processor. (If you've got a CSA going on and are using this recipe to use up greens, great, but I can't vouch for it being <2> 3. For each 3/4lb greens use one puck of onions and spices. Put it in the skillet and cover with hot pureed greens, give it a couple of minutes to thaw, add the tofu or paneer and stir all together.
4. Panic and realize you forgot to start the rice before step 1.
posted by aimedwander at 8:05 AM on March 9, 2016 [2 favorites]

Best answer: 101 Simple Salads from Mark Bittman will feed you all summer.

Massaged kale salad with flank steak, cherries, avocado but I marinate the steak in a ziploc (in things such as balsamic, chipotle powder, olive oil, smoked paprika, oregano, and/or cocoa powder) before leaving for work in the morning.

I make this green chile chicken stew on Sundays for leftovers. Hatch chiles are hard to come by easily where I am, so I substitute Anaheims, and I add poblanos and serranos for deeper flavor and a bit of heat. I also add a roughly chopped russet potato or two. Tastes better on days 2 and 3.

Chorizo-potato-chard stew (we use sweet potatoes) also makes great leftovers.

Rosemary meatballs, dijon collard greens, and apricots.

Zucchini and bell peppers stuffed with Italian-ish ground turkey mixture, courtesy of Giada. We are lazy and only use bell peppers.

Our fastest weeknight dinner, at least all this winter, has been a sautee of (pre-cooked) chicken sausage, veggies, and greens:

1 pack Aidell's chicken & apple sausage, sliced into coins
1 bunch baby kale or any other greens good for sauteeing
2 packs (~16oz total) pre-sliced baby bella or white button mushrooms
1 diced up sweet potato
1 diced up yellow onion
optional: a big handful (6oz?) of fresh green beans
optional: 1 apple, diced
1 pinch each: smoked paprika, salt, pepper, crushed red pepper flakes
2 tbs olive oil

Sautee onions, mushrooms, and diced sweet potatoes, along with spices, in olive oil for about 15 minutes or until everything is starting to get soft. Add sausage--plus any optional ingredients above--and cook for 5-10 minutes more.
posted by ImproviseOrDie at 8:05 AM on March 9, 2016 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Okay I'm going to link dump you here. I haunt the Serious Eats Dinner Tonight and Dinner For Two Sections for weeknight meals BUT The most useful thing I've learned is that here, in the depths of winter, most non-fish or non-cream stew recipes are pastas waiting to happen.

Here's a typical weekday set up for me

Monday: your basic hamburger with mushrooms and a side spinach salad (why spinach, bare with me). Since neither of us eat half pounders, a pound of ground beef gets turned into two quarter pounders. by simple side salad I mean simple - basic vinaigrette some scallions and radicchio. Buy mormushrooms and spinach then you intend to use.

Tuedsay - make this straightforward (and vegan! Who knew) chickpea and tomato stew , it all comes out of cans . Serve with nice bread if you want. Reserve all the leftovers (you might want to make slightly more than you're expecting but it's very easy to make too much stew)

Wednesday - take out the half pound of ground beef you didn't use in the burgers, season to taste cook in pan with the mushrooms you didn't use in the burgers. Get them nice and soft and releasing all thier juices, I'd slice them real fine but it's up to you. Add the leftover stew and cover, let it bubble slightly. Cook your pasta, before you drain it add a cup of the pasta water to the stew/meat/mushroom mix. Turn up heat on stew and mix til the water is incorporated, add pasta to sauce and stir til coated, serve.
posted by The Whelk at 8:08 AM on March 9, 2016 [1 favorite]

I also have found a good general approach to vegetables: put vegetables in a hot pan until browned, optional: add garlic and cook until fragrant, remove from heat, add salt, place under saran wrap to steam a bit. This works for whole green beans, whole okra, those skinny carrots with their tops on, Brussels sprouts, etc.

I am not a vegetarian, by the way. This is just a way to get vegetables on the table every night that taste good and that a child will approach.
posted by SugarFreeGum at 8:11 AM on March 9, 2016

Best answer: This creamy choi soup is fast and much more delicious than I expected from just reading the recipe. We tried it in January and have made it on several occasions since.
posted by matematichica at 8:12 AM on March 9, 2016 [2 favorites]

The Instant Pot has really improved my weeknight dinners: it is a combination slow cooker/pressure cooker/etc., but it is the least hassle-intensive pressure cooker I have encountered, and it means braises and stews can be prepared and eaten in the same evening. Everything from this list on Serious Eats is excellent and most are attainable in under an hour.
posted by there's no crying in espionage at 8:13 AM on March 9, 2016

Best answer: Weeknight meals have been revolutionized by our recent purchase of a pressure cooker. We're working through these recipes as a starter to learn the ropes of pressure cooking; so far not a dud in the batch. Aside from the crockpot, I seriously can't think of a kitchen thing that has changed how we cook more. Seriously, for reals. All hail our lord and savior Pressure Cooker.

But aside from that lately, we've been really fond on Miso Claypot Chicken (no claypot) but we'll usually add some quick stir fry veg on the side. Chicken Tikka Masala is also pretty fantastic (this one looks intense because of the ingredients list, but its mostly spices, and super easy once you make it once or twice? It also holds incredibly well for leftovers)/
posted by furnace.heart at 8:15 AM on March 9, 2016 [4 favorites]

Best answer: Ham, Gruyere, and Aspargus Frittata is a great Cook's Illustrated recipe it takes 15 minutes prep and less than 30 minutes to cook. If you run a search on Cooks Illustrated there are several variations depending on your tastes. They even have a whole book of 30 minute recipes that I love, and cook from all the time.
posted by Requiax at 8:18 AM on March 9, 2016 [2 favorites]

Best answer: If the egg on the salad idea sounded good to you try steak. Make a quick salad of greens you like etc, slices of orange or citrus are nice in with this. While doing that quickly cook a small steak to your liking in a fry pan, I will often use cheaper cuts I've frozen in with a marinade. When cooked cut it as thin as possible, put on salad, drizzle with a nice sesame ginger dressing. Cut after cooking to minimize chewiness. I will sometimes add some thin rice noodles you cook by pouring boiling water over. This will also work with the frozen precooked grilled chicken you can get from Tysons (or cook your own) I heat it up in a fry pan or you can just microwave it.

Choirizo Sausage & Pepper Pasta. Put water on to boil. Put sausage in the pan to cook & render the fat out (use loose not links) Cut up peppers & onions cook them in the yummy fat from the sausages, adding garlic or other veg as you feel for it. Put pasta on to cook. Keep cooking veggies etc until they look nice. When pasta is cooked to just before al dente, drain it & toss it in the pan with the sausage & peppers to coat. Add a dash of stock or reserved pasta cooking liquid if you like. You can add chicken thighs to the mix if you like (slice super thin & it will cook no worries with the peppers etc) or some of that precooked chicken again. You can have dinner on the table in the time it takes the pasta to cook. Also great with Andouillie sausage or even plain Italian sausage you get in a tube from the supermarket. I like to add fennel & some paprika sometimes too.
posted by wwax at 8:25 AM on March 9, 2016 [3 favorites]

Best answer: My favorite Blue Apron recipe, which is now my husband's signature dish: Mustard Tofu
with Smashed Potatoes and Broccoli
(tip: if you have a mustard bottle that's nearly empty, use it to make 2-4x this vinaigrette recipe and just keep it on hand, it's amazing on the tofu, the potatoes, and especially the broccoli, or salad).

My two favorite Instant Pot meals: Spicy Honey Garlic Chicken (I actually halve the sauce and it's still plenty, I can't even imagine making more). Creamy Chicken and Wild Rice Soup.

I cannot rave enough about how much the Instant Pot has changed my life. I make dinner prep-to-table in an hour every other night with something to eat for lunch every day. I used to spend literally all of one weekend day getting food ready for the week and still would have to assemble from half-complete most nights, and my fridge was packed so full we often lost stuff and had to throw it out the next weekend.

Now on the weekends I make 3 quarts of chicken stock (15 minutes of my time total to start it and then strain it at the end), a batch of hard-boiled eggs (1 minute to prep, come back 15 minutes later to put in ice water, you basically squeeze the shells off), a big batch of rice (with some of the chicken stock), and maybe an extra batch of curry or teriyaki chicken for the freezer in incidental trips to the kitchen while I'm cleaning or putting away groceries. If I don't get around to eggs on the weekend I'll do a batch while I'm getting moving in the morning.
posted by Lyn Never at 8:25 AM on March 9, 2016 [5 favorites]

Best answer: I make this lamb stew pretty often, from The Kitchn: Simplest Lamb Stew. It says to cook it for two hours but I never cook it that long. I usually prep what I can over the weekend.

This is one of my new favorites: Spicy ground beef & butternut squash. Those are not two things I would have put together but this is delicious! It is spicy but you can adjust the heat.
posted by lyssabee at 8:32 AM on March 9, 2016 [2 favorites]

I rotate 10 meals every two weeks, leaving two nights a week for take-out or dining out.

The meals on my list can be made as simple or fancy as you please, depending on time/energy/budget:

Pasta & Salad
Chili & Chips
Sausage & Roasted Vegetables
Taco Night
Pork and Cabbage Stirfry with Noodles or Rice
Greek Salad -or- Chicken Caesar Salad
Baked Chicken Thighs and Cauliflower
Pizza & Salad
Grilled Cheese and Soup
A Sheet Pan Stirfry

As you can see, you can really fancify these as you wish: grilled cheese and soup can either be Kraft Singles on white bread with Campbell's tomato soup, or I do some artisanal cheese on crusty sourdough with homemade soup from the freezer. Taco night can be a standard ground beef + store bought taco shells, but I've also made Korean BBQ tacos with pickled veggies or lentil tacos loaded with fresh veggies.

It gives you a rough outline of what you'll be eating but allows you to modify based on nightly/weekly circumstances.
posted by tippy at 8:35 AM on March 9, 2016 [8 favorites]

Best answer: We haven't tried them all, but the baked potato recipes listed here look tasty (I can vouch for the roasted tomato & ricotta one).
posted by DingoMutt at 8:43 AM on March 9, 2016

Best answer: Things regularly on our menu, made by lazy me:

- Cheesy mustard lentils.
Cook brown lentils (20 minutes), drain, add cheddar cheese and mustard (anything but honey mustard). Serve hot.

- Nachos. ish.
Open can of beans (whatever kind you like). Mix in some diced red onion, jalepeno, salsa, and hot sauce. Cover with cheese. Microwave. Serve with guacamole, sour cream, tortilla chips, or tortillas. Optionally add corn to the beans.

- Quesadillas. Like grilled cheese, but in a tortilla. Add onions, mushrooms, egg if you want.

- To up the grilled cheese ante, add dijon mustard in the sandwich. Dang now I want a grilled cheese.
posted by Ms Vegetable at 8:44 AM on March 9, 2016 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I do Pork Chops in the oven on tin foil lined cookie sheet. I use barbecue seasoning on them.

I cut whole sweet potatoes into wedges (with skin) and toss in olive oil and seasoned with brown sugar, garlic powder, salt, pepper and cinnamon. The sweet and savory is outstanding and sweet potatoes are rock stars nutritionally. Also, when baby goes on solids, this will stand you in good stead. Our friends 15 month old LOVES them! Roast in oven on tin foil lined cookie sheet.

A thing of applesauce (organic no added sugar)

Green salad or green veg, nuked in microwave.

Dinner is served in about 35-40 minutes.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 8:47 AM on March 9, 2016 [1 favorite]

A side tip for the soup and stew recipes: puff pastry. I buy it in stacks of 10-12 single-serving squares from the Armenian-Salvadorean grocery because the big sheets of Pepperidge Farm is too much for two people and a little unwieldy - check around your ethnic markets in the freezer section. You can throw two of those (or four, and have two for lunch leftovers the next day, or for breakfast with scrambled eggs and cheese) on a cookie sheet to cook while you finish or reheat soup or stew, and they serve as your bread bowl/pot pie lid.

You can also make dessert with puff, cream cheese*, and jam.

You can do the same with frozen empanada wrappers to go with chili or something like that spicy beef with butternut squash linked above, which looks really good.

*Or strained yogurt cheese, which I make from the yogurt I make every other weekend in the Instant Pot.
posted by Lyn Never at 8:49 AM on March 9, 2016 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Chickpea burgers with carrot salad

2 carrots per person
4 green onions, divided
Vinegar and oil
1 cup plain yogurt
Handful chopped cilantro
Juice of a lemon or lime, divided
1 can chickpeas
1 egg
2-3 T flour
Fresh parsley
Flatbreads, tomato and lettuce

Grate a couple carrots with the shredder blade. Slice 2 of the green onions. Toss together with salt, oil and juice from first half of lemon/lime. Put it on the table. Rinse out your food processor.

In a bowl, mix yogurt with chopped cilantro, a spoonful of tahini, and other half of lemon/lime juice. Put it on the table.

Switch food processor blade to the chopping blade. Dump can of chickpeas in processor, along with egg, 2 other green onions (chop roughly first), 2-3 T flour, salt, handful of parsley and cumin and dried oregano to taste. We like a lot, almost a tablespoon of cumin. Process until you get a mush with some pieces of chickpea left.

Form these into patties and cook in some oil on a griddle or grill pan. Serve as sandwiches with flatbreads or burger buns, topped with sliced tomato, lettuce and a spoonful of yogurt sauce. Carrot salad on the side.

This is also a reasonably kid-friendly recipe, because they love to run the food processor.
posted by Liesl at 8:55 AM on March 9, 2016 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Kale and black bean quesadillas

I made this up and it was a surprising hit.

Corn tortillas
Bunch of kale, chopped in ribbons
Finely chopped red pepper
Finely chopped red onion
Cheddar or jack or colby
Can of black beans
Sour cream
Oil for frying

Prep your veggies and grate your cheese. In a crepe pan or skillet, pour a little oil and place one tortilla. Drop a little cheese first, then a pile of kale, red peppers, onions and black beans. Pile more cheese on top, then top with other tortilla and press down to tame the beast. Fry a few minutes then carefully flip over to fry other side. (Essential to have cheese bookending both sides or the thing will fall apart when you flip.) Done when tortillas are crispy and cheese is melted.

Slide onto plate or cutting board, cut into quarters and top each quarter with a dollop of sour cream and salsa. Super fast. It never uses the whole can of black beans, so this is great for using up partial cans.
posted by Liesl at 9:01 AM on March 9, 2016 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Oh, chickpea burgers. ish. I usually make these when I have some time, they freeze well.

Open can of chickpeas. Drain. For roughly 2 cans of chickpeas, dice 2 onions, cook onions and some garlic in oil, cook until onion translucent, then add chickpeas and cook until VERY soft. Add roughly 2 tbls of paprika. I use half sharp because that's what we've got. Then scoop (I use an ice cream scoop) chickpea mash onto cookie sheet. Bake at 350 for ~20 minutes. Serve on soft tortilla with diced cucumber and tartar sauce. Or ranch dressing.
posted by Ms Vegetable at 9:03 AM on March 9, 2016 [3 favorites]

Best answer: This is also delicious as all hell and what I go to when I need some serious veggies in the winter. I've used cauliflower, brussels sprouts and all kinds of winter vegetables. Squash kinda falls apart, though.

Miso sweet potato and broccoli bowl

posted by Liesl at 9:04 AM on March 9, 2016 [3 favorites]

Best answer: And this is what I make when the kids haven't drunk all the apple juice yet. Making the pan sauce takes like three minutes and makes you feel like a total Stepford housewife. Skip the roasted veggies if you have another side.

Cider-Dijon Pork Chops with Roasted (Sweet) Potatoes, Fennel and Apples
posted by Liesl at 9:09 AM on March 9, 2016

Best answer: I'm a big fan of "freezer meals" - prepping a number of meals for the freezer at once, and then defrosting and slow-cooking as needed. Big fan of all the books from New Leaf Wellness; the No Cook Freezer Meals Cookbook is particularly good for newcomers.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 9:15 AM on March 9, 2016 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Though it may already be in the answers above... Chicken breasts. Into crokpot. Add a can of condensed cream of whathever soup. Set on low. Go to work. Come home, serve over rice wityh something green.

Alternates: Use a jar of mild salsa instead of soup. Or pork chops and apple sauce.
posted by mmahaffie at 9:20 AM on March 9, 2016 [2 favorites]

Best answer: This takes an hour, so within your time frame but not super fast. It's a variant on a Middle Eastern dish but in my house we call it glop because that's the sound it makes...
- 3/4 cup brown rice
- 1 and 1/2 cups lentils
- 1 tsp salt
- 5 and 1/4 cups water
- 1-3 onions depending on how much you like onions
In a pan that has a lid (we use a broad saute pan with a lid), add some olive oil over medium heat. Add rice, toast a bit until it starts to brown. Add lentils, water, and salt. Put the lid on, bring to a boil, then turn to lie and set the timer for 45 minutes. You want it to simmer gently. Stir occasionally. While it cooks, caramelize a ton of onions, we usually do 2-3. After 45 minutes, the lentils and rice should be cooked through. Stir in onions and eat! Excellent topped with cheddar or yogurt, super filling, tons of leftovers. If we're feeling particularly virtuous we make a vegetable for the side.
posted by skycrashesdown at 9:24 AM on March 9, 2016 [3 favorites]

Best answer: I like larb. Use any kind of ground meat, and leave out the honey if you don't want it. I cook the ground meat on Sunday while I'm cooking something else, and then I just reheat it and add the other ingredients for a super-fast weeknight meal (literally, about 15 minutes total).
posted by OrangeDisk at 9:25 AM on March 9, 2016 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Here are ours:
I make this ma-po tofu, but I add vegetables. I also use the basics of the sauce for other stirfry dishes, including ones with cashews. I often do these stirfries over egg noodles.

I make pasta with kale and hot italian sausage, similar to this, though I add olives and sometimes use chard instead of kale.

I short cut with Maya Kaimal simmer sauces. I like the Madras and Jalfreezi curries. I usually do something like this combo but usually with chard or spinach, sometimes with chicken breast instead of chickpeas. I do it over jasmine rice instead of brown rice if I'm short on time.
posted by vunder at 9:28 AM on March 9, 2016 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Orange juice chicken! It's one of my favorites and very little hands on time. You need:

4 chicken thighs
1-3 onions coarse dice
2-4 garlic cloves minced
2-3 tablespoons of mustard (I use dijon)
orange juice
brown sugar

Preheat oven to 350
Preheat the saute pan til hot and get both sides nice and brown.
Sweat and begin to brown the garlic and onions.
Smear mustard (and butter if you're feeling fancy) on the tops of the chicken.
Once the onion is nice and soft add the chicken and cover about 1/3 to 1/2 the way with oj depending on your pan size.
Put the pan in the oven for 40ish minutes, with ten minutes left sprinkle a bit of sugar over the thighs so it'll carmelize

Eat with rice or noodles! Also I vary this a lot with different spices and sauciness levels, some times it's cayenne, some times I try and use less oj to get a thicker coating. It's pretty flexible and has some nice flavors.
posted by Carillon at 9:35 AM on March 9, 2016 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Here's another standard Weeknight thing, and a very wintry one

Get a cut of pork for two people, a loin or a chop (I like boneless chop for this but whatever, the only difference is how much fat you use, if the cut is fatty, use less). Cut into the white fat so it doesn't curl when cooked, about three deep slits into the fat.

Pat dry, season with salt and pepper. Set oven to 350

Sear it in a tablespoon of veggie (or any neutral) oil in a hot oven proof skillet or better yet, an oven proof dutch oven. About 4 minutes each side. Remove pork from skillet to plate, reduce heat to low, discard some of the excess oil. Deglaze skillet with lemon juice or white wine, scrape up the brown bits with wooden spoon.

Add to skillet chopped shallots, cook till fragrant, add to skillet chopped leeks and chopped garlic, enough to fully cover the bottom. Cook, turning, til limp (like ..a minute). Add enough chicken or veggie stock to cover, add cumin and a pinch of nutmeg. Stir.

Return pork to skillet or dutch oven, placing it on top fo the onion mixture. Put dab of butter on each pork chop. Place in oven uncovered.

Wait about eight to ten minutes. Pull out, turn pork over, add another butter pat, return to oven. Ten minutes (use this time to make mashed potatoes or microwave some peas if you wish). Remove from oven, check pork temp with thermometer if you have one to check for doneness. Slice pork and serve under spoonfuls of the leek and onion mix.

But oh! now you have go much leek and liquid leftover. What you have is halfway finished Leek and Potato soup (you made potatoes with this meal right? So you already have potatoes in) Adjust any leek and potato recipe to deal with already soft , already seasoned leeks and broth. Chuck in blender, add chives, etc. Make it not the next day but the day after, say the next day you make basic lemon oven grilled chicken with a side, make an extra portion of chicken (The huge family backs of chicken breasts are so cheap so I'm always doing this) and save it til the next day, shred it into a salad and serve with the leek and poato soup that you have half-done from 2 nights ago pork and leek braise)
posted by The Whelk at 9:51 AM on March 9, 2016 [1 favorite]

(Oh when covering the leeks with stock that should say "a little more than covering them" you're gonna loose liquid in the oven, apologies)
posted by The Whelk at 10:14 AM on March 9, 2016

Best answer: Pizza dough from scratch, add some toppings for (you guessed it) Pizza! -- I was shocked at how fast and easy making this was.

Posole - using canned hominy, this comes together in less than an hr. I'm vegetarian, so I take out the chorizo, add some chipotle for the smoky flavor, and add in more mushrooms and greens

Pasta 'Risotto' - an amazing adult mac-and-cheese. VERY not good for you, but add a side salad or something.

Tandoori Grilled Veggie Kabobs

Crunchy Black Bean Tacos -- Also not that good for you, but these are delicious, and so easy.

Pan-fried Beans and Greens -- I'd add a nice toast, maybe a little pasta on the side or something.

More Beans & Greens, this time in a sweet potato!

Mixed-Bean Masala with Fragrant Rice - Ridiculously simple -- only a little more work than dumping random cans of beans + a can of tomatoes and some spices in a pot and letting it hang out, plus cooking rice. It all comes together really nicely.
posted by Fig at 10:20 AM on March 9, 2016 [3 favorites]

Best answer: One of my absolute favorites is Moosewood's Black Bean and Sweet Potato Burritos. I don't make it from a recipe anymore and my version is much simpler than that linked here so I'll just throw it out there:

- Boil half a yam (I like this with yams better than sweet potatoes)
- While yam is boiling saute one onion. When onions are almost done add 1 tbsp or so of cumin to frying pan
- Open a can of black beans
- Blend up the beans, onions and cooked yam with one of those immersion hand blenders

Voila. Burrito filling. Soooooooooo good.
posted by kitcat at 10:23 AM on March 9, 2016 [5 favorites]

Best answer: Day 1 - Tacos
taco shells, salsa, lettuce, cheese, sour cream(opt), taco beef

Taco Beef
brown 2 - lbs ground beef
add gobs of chili powder and salt to taste
near the end, add 1 Tb or so of flour, saute in, then add water, 1/4 c or so, stirring to make it saucy.
warm the taco shells in the microwave for tasty goodness

Day 2 or 3 - Shepherd's pie
taco beef, 1 can creamed corn, 1 can plain corn, mashed potatoes (instant is okay with me because I am a philistine)
layer taco beef, then mix canned corn, then mashed potatoes, bake at 350 until bubbling. You could have topped it with leftover shredded cheese, if you like (I don't do dairy), or even add sour cream to mashed spuds.

Lately, I've been making meatloaf for dinner, and enough extra for meatloaf sandwiches with mustard for lunch. There are sooo many meatloaf recipes n the web.

Sweet potatoes take 10 mins in the micro and are a great easy vegetable served with some butter.
posted by theora55 at 11:32 AM on March 9, 2016

Best answer: Thank you for asking this!

We bake chicken thighs once a week. There are only 2 of us, but I cook at least 6-8, so we have leftovers. I rotate between a few recipes:

Deviled Chicken Thighs - slather thighs with dijon mustard, roll in bread crumbs (panko or regular), bake 350° for 45 minutes. Excellent with broccoli.

Lemon-Garlic Chicken Thighs - 4-6 cloves of garlic, crushed, juice from 4-6 lemons, healthy glug of olive oil (optional add thyme, rosemary or oregano); whisk together in a 9x13 pan with fork; marinate thighs in fridge while you are at work; flip them over in the marinade before tossing them into the oven; 350° for 45 minutes. Also excellent with broccoli.

Pineapple Chicken Thighs - 2 individual size cans of pineapple juice (I keep a 6-pack on hand, just for this recipe), 4 cloves of garlic, crushed, 2 teaspoons grated ginger, 1/4 cup soy sauce; whisk together in a 9x13 pan; marinate thighs in fridge while you are at work; flip them over in the marinade before tossing them into the oven; 350° for 45 minutes.
posted by sarajane at 11:39 AM on March 9, 2016 [4 favorites]

Best answer: This is an edited version of the comment I made a couple of years ago in this AskMe that was looking for simple, quick meals.
Quick-n-dirty Tex-Mex is my go-to for easy, cheap dinners when I care more about just getting food into myself than anything else.

Bean and cheese chalupas:
Tostada shells
Can of refried beans
Bag of shredded cheese
Lime (optional)
Cumin or other spices/herbs (optional)

If you're feeling ambitious, mix the beans with lime juice and cumin and other spices/herbs to taste. Spread beans on shells, top with cheese, put in 350°F oven or toaster oven for 5-6 minutes, until the cheese melts to your liking. If you can't find tostada shells, get taco shells and snap them in half before spreading them with beans. If you're feeling particularly healthy or ambitious, buy a bag of salad and top the chalupas with some lettuce and chopped tomatoes and scallions, or put some guacamole, sour cream, crema, and/or salsa on it before eating.

Same ingredients as above, with tortilla chips instead of tostada shells
Fresh jalapeños cut into rings, or a jar of pickled jalapeños (optional)

Put foil on a cookie sheet so you don't have to wash the cookie sheet afterwards. You can rub the foil with a paper towel dipped in oil to make cheese release easily if you want. Spread taco/tortilla chips on it, cover with shredded cheese of your choice, bake at 350°F until cheese melted to your liking. If you want a kick, buy a jar of pickled jalapeño slices and put a few on them before baking. If you feel ambitious or want more protein and fiber, spread refried beans on the chips before putting the cheese on them. Sour cream, salsa, jar of crema, guac, etc. as you will to top them.

Buy a taco-making kit, or just get taco shells (or flour/corn tortillas if you like soft tacos), a pound of ground beef, and a packet of taco seasoning. Follow the directions on the seasoning. Add a can of diced tomatoes to the taco meat if you're feeling ambitious. Stuff in shells, top with shredded cheese, salsa, sour cream, and/or bagged salad.

Taco salad
Put leftover taco meat and/or leftover reheated refried beans on top of bagged salad, scatter taco chips on it, add sour cream/cheese/salsa as desired, eat. Squeeze a lime or sprinkle cumin on it for variety.

Frito pie
Put Fritos in bowl. Top with leftover taco meat. Top with sour cream/cheese/salsa/salad as desired. Eat. If you want the authentic Texas State Fair experience, put a small bag of Fritos split up the side into a paper boat with chili or taco meat and cheese ladled on top, and eat standing up with a small plastic fork that snaps in half partway through the meal.

Chili dogs
Top hot dogs and buns with leftover taco meat or chili and shredded cheese. Eat, marveling at the feel of your exploding arteries after the Frito pie and then this.
posted by telophase at 12:10 PM on March 9, 2016 [4 favorites]

Best answer: You said you already do lentils, but:

Lentils & Sausage

1)slice any type of sausage into small rounds, brown on both sides
2) remove sausage, sautee chopped onion in sausage
3) Part way through add lentils and stir for a minute and then add appropriate amount of water or stock (decide if you want more soupy or more dry here)
4) Add back sausage to finish cooking

You can also add things like chopped carrots, or other vegetables if you want. This is basically a 1/2 hour recipe.


We eat some variation on this Chicken and Mushroom dish about once a week.

1) Slice onions (or dice, whatevs), and saute
2) Add chicken thighs.
3) Add stock
4) simmer until chicken is your desired doneness.
5) Concurrent with step 5, I separately saute mushrooms and add them toward the end of simmering. You could also just add them at Steps 1 or 2.
6) garnish. Typically we use kalamata olives, and usually refer to the dish as chicken and olives. We also use feta, mix in arugula, sometimes sliced avocado (the dish is very rich, so sometimes avos are too much).
7) Spicing: you can spice this in a bunch of different ways. Thyme and oregano make it more southern European. Coriander etc. can make it more moroccan. You could use five-spice and make it dryer and add some soy sauce and it could easily be chinese. Add some coconut milk with the stock and some curry paste and you'd have a passable curry.

Depending on how much prep, and how done you like your chicken, this is a 30-45 minute dish. It's mostly unattended chicken simmering, which means you can do everything else during that time.


This is a Mark Bittman dish that I think came out of the NYTimes at one point. I only tend to look at a recipe the first time I've made something, so this might not be exactly it, but it's close. Chickpeas and Sausage

1) Rinse and dry chick peas (Bittman seems to really love dried, but I haven't found them to be very different from the canned. I dry them by putting them on a towel on the counter and gently rolling another towel on top of them.)
2) Saute sausage in large skillet (I like any fresh sausage, but sometimes supplement with that cooked chicken sausage. Bittman called for Spanish chorizo, which is a hard cured sausage (different from Latin American chorizo) that is very oily. We found it to be too oily to our taste, although when I say we I really mean my wife).
3) Remove sausage from pan and sautee chick peas in oil until they start to crisp on the outside.
4) Add a bunch of fresh or frozen spinach (fresh is much better but frozen is usually what we use); add back in sausage
5) At the same time, pour in 1/2 cup or so of vermouth or dry sherry
6) Cook just until spinach wilts
7) top with some breadcrumbs, sprinkle with olive oil, and place under broiler until browned

We serve this most often with crumbled feta over the top
The first time I made this it took some time, but now I can do it in 30-40 minutes with no trouble. Each step only takes a few minutes.
posted by OmieWise at 12:27 PM on March 9, 2016 [3 favorites]

I didn't see many recommendations for Chinese cooking. The time requirement for a typical stir-fry is the time to cut up the meat plus the time to cook the rice. Chopping vegetables plus cooking is about 20 minutes. Rather than give you recipes, let me recommend The Betty Crocker Chinese Cookbook, by Leeann Chin.

Getting into Chinese requires a bit of equipment, e.g. wok, and some flavorings, as explained in the book. The actual cooking is neither hard nor time consuming.
posted by SemiSalt at 12:37 PM on March 9, 2016

Best answer: Quinoa Mango Salad with Black Beans from The Veganomicon cookbook, is awesome and simple. Quinoa is really simple to make in the rice cooker, if you have one (I find they really speed up things in the kitchen if you eat a fair bit of rice).

You can make a ton of this - and eat it over a few days - I find it still tastes great.

* Quick tip for draining the black beans (and other beans). I use the can opener to make a few holes in the bottom of the can. Then, turn it over in the sink, and take the lid off the top of the can. Run water over the beans in the can - no colander required.
posted by backwards guitar at 1:19 PM on March 9, 2016 [7 favorites]

Best answer: another one: I like to make peanut noodles but I don't bother with the fussy toasted sesame seeds, I use dried udon, and I add edamame and raw veggies from a salad bar, sometimes leftover meat.
posted by vunder at 1:32 PM on March 9, 2016

Best answer: This recipe for BBQ lentils is pretty tasty. You can use smoked paprika instead of liquid smoke and it's really unnecessary to scrounge up 1/2 teaspoon of Himalayan rock salt for the sake of 4 cups of lentils (you can use regular salt! I promise it's just as salty!), but otherwise, yeah, tasty stuff!
posted by duffell at 5:37 PM on March 9, 2016 [1 favorite]

Best answer: A super easy couscous recipe, and tasty. The use of the soup saves time on a bunch of cooking and seasoning.

1 10 oz. box couscous
2 cups chicken broth
3 small zucchini, sliced
handful of cherry or grape tomatoes to taste, sliced in half
1 large clove garlic, crushed
2 Tbl. olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
Diced cooked chicken to taste (at least 1 cup is good) - you can use leftover roast chicken meat, or you can poach a boneless skinless chicken breast in either water or a combo of chicken broth and water for about 15 minutes.
1 can of minestrone soup (we usually use Progresso Classic Minestrone)

Bring the chicken stock to a boil in a saucepan. Add the couscous, stir, cover, and turn off heat. Let sit 5 minutes.

Saute garlic in olive oil in a frying pan. Add zucchini, saute for 2 -3 minutes. Add sliced tomatoes. Stir and cook the tomatoes a bit to taste (should be a bit wrinkled looking at least). Add minestrone soup, stir, and heat through.

To serve, place couscous in a bowl, and add vegetables/soup over top. Add cooked chicken.
posted by gudrun at 8:33 PM on March 9, 2016 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I just made James Beard's Pleasant Pasta the other day for myself, and it was pretty good. Really quick too; I think you can probably make it take even less time if you don't bother to cut the parma ham but just tear it into small pieces.

As somebody else mentioned, Chinese stir-fry based recipes can often be quick and simple. Especially if you have a rice cooker; we usually put the rice in the cooker in the morning and set the timer so it's done by dinnertime. Minced pork is my favourite meat; it thaws quickly, it cooks quickly, and there's all sorts of ways you can flavour it. I like to season it with dark soy sauce, and oyster sauce, and fry it with eggs sort of like a frittata. If you can get something with enough heat output, stir frying vegetables like bok choy will take less than a minute.
posted by destrius at 11:39 PM on March 10, 2016

Best answer: My grocer sells pre-made uncooked gnocchi. I boil two 500g packs dump a small jar of pesto over it with some feta cheese cubes and sliced rosa tomatoes. Feeds two plus leftovers for work lunch the next day.
posted by PenDevil at 1:37 AM on March 11, 2016

Best answer: Soy Saucy chicken and eggs (or chicken and tofu when we make it at my house, something for everyone)

Avocado Pesto Pasta

Salad-in-a-bag with chicken breasts -- This is what my significant other eats for lunch everyday when I'm not there (I don't eat chicken).

Kale salad with apples and cheddar - This salad is amazing. I massage the kale with the dressing at the get go, then add the other stuff in.

Roasted red pepper pasta- I'm a big fan of pasta dishes where you make a sauce by blending stuff while the noodles are cooking. Serve with bag salad and/or a protein like that chicken breast linked above.
posted by tofu_crouton at 6:07 AM on March 11, 2016

Best answer: This quick pizza dough from the NY Times has made pizza something we do during the week, instead of just a long-slog weekend thing. The dough is ready in 25-30 minutes (literally, rising time included) and makes enough for two crusts. The other half freezes beautifully wrapped in plastic and can defrost in the fridge if you remember to take it out of the freezer in the morning.
posted by lollymccatburglar at 7:08 AM on March 11, 2016 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Here's a recipe for Cuban Baked Chicken & Rice that goes over very well in my house - I don't use a whole chicken, just quarters or thighs and drumsticks, whatever's been on sale. It's pretty hands-off; once you've slapped the lid on the pan, don't take it off again until the timer goes ding. It says to put it in the oven but I do it on the stovetop. It looks beautiful and tastes delicious, especially with a bit of flatbread.
posted by Mary Ellen Carter at 3:12 PM on March 11, 2016

Best answer: "Pot roasted chicken with lemon" is what this is called, and it's so easy I have it memorized -

For two people, you'll need about a pound of potatoes, two or three pieces of preserved lemon, and a few chicken pieces - either a couple legs, or four thighs or whatever your chicken-part appetite usually is. When making it for myself, one leg is what I do.

Preheat the oven to 375. Cut the potatoes into chunks, lay them in a baking dish just big enough to hold them in a single layer and drizzle them with olive oil. Cut each piece of preserved lemon into a couple chunks (or do what I do and tear them apart with fingers) and tuck them into the potatoes. Pour in enough water to be a half inch deep in the dish, and lay the chicken directly on top. Add a little salt and pepper and stick the whole thing in the oven for 45-55 minutes, until the chicken is roasted.

Takes about 5 minutes tops to prepare. Add a simple salad on the side and you're good to go.


Preserved lemon is available in some fancy stores, but you can also make it yourself super-easily and it keeps in the fridge for years (yes, years, although you will use it much more quickly) -

Get about eight lemons, a pint size jar with a screw top lid (a mason jar is perfect) and salt. Cut the first two lemons into wedges (about 8 each) and have them ready. Put about a tablespoon of salt in the bottom of the jar, and add a layer of lemon wedges (about two). Add another tablespoon of salt, and another layer of lemon wedges. Keep layering lemon wedges and salt like that until the jar is packed pretty full (you can press down the lemon wedges as you go). Then juice enough of the remaining lemons to make enough juice to cover everything and close the jar. Then - leave that out on your countertop a couple weeks, giving it a good shake once or twice a day to stir up the juice and salt into a brine. In two weeks you're ready to use them, and you can either leave it on the counter if you use them a lot, or move it into the fridge.

The lemon pulp will be like a spread, and the rind will be soft - the longer it sits, the softer it will get. You can use preserved lemons in a lot of things - they're used in Moroccan cooking a lot, but I've used them for roast chicken and fish recipes, mostly. (When I roast a whole chicken I've sometimes used a piece of preserved lemon with some butter and chopped herbs to make a paste that gets rubbed all over the chicken before it goes in the oven.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:11 AM on March 12, 2016 [5 favorites]

Best answer: Getting a pressure cooker absolutely rocks your midweek cooking world. You can do tarka daal in 10 minutes, risotto in 5 (without any stirring). Both these dishes have the added advantage of costing very little. Buy a good one and it's silent and doesn't release any steam during cooking. Can't recommend highly enough! Recipes here:

posted by colie at 11:38 AM on March 12, 2016

Best answer: I found this Chicken Curry with Cashews on Epicurious like 10 years ago and I still make it probably every 2 weeks.
Cut back on the cayenne a bit if you don't like it too spicy.
It's so easy, just sweat some onions with fresh ginger and garlic, add the curry powder, cumin and salt, then your chicken (I use thighs) and a can of diced tomatoes and simmer. The ground up cashews and yogurt you add at the end makes it nice and tangy, rich and nutty.
You can have it with any rice you want; I make basmati rice, specifically a Persian style called tadiq where you cook the rice on top of some sliced potatoes at the bottom of the pot so they're awesome and crunchy.
Makes enough that all 5 of us can bring it for lunch the next day.
posted by chococat at 1:40 PM on March 12, 2016 [2 favorites]

Best answer: (I'm late to this thread and there's clearly plenty of great ideas here, but what the heck.)

This is one of my go-to's because it's easy to make variations on it, it involves lots of the "fun " kinds of cooking like deglazing with wine, and it ends up rather fancy even though it's quite simple thanks to some shortcuts.

First, Trader Joe's Basmati Rice Medley. It's a mix of Basmati and wild rice, with herbs and bits of dried veggies in it. It's great just made with plain water like regular rice, but if you start by melting a small bit of butter in the saucepan first, then lightly tossing the rice in the butter (sort of like starting a risotto), and using chicken stock instead of water, it's even better. (Usually I use the butter but just plain water.)

While that's simmering, saute chicken breasts. If your store sells the ones already "thin sliced" that's a great help; if they don't, or you don't want to pay the extra cost per pound, buy regular ones and slice them in half horizontally. Just makes them cook faster. (If your slicing your own, you can take the extra step of pounding them out a bit so they're even. I don't usually bother.)

Seasoning the chicken - this is where you ask "what am I in the mood for?" Because you can take this whatever direction you want. My most common choice is what I call my secret cooking weapon: "Sunny Paris" seasoning blend from The Spice House. This stuff is magic. It's dried shallots and a mix of classic French herbs. And it's salt-free so you can control how much salt you use. (Other ideas: a dried Italian herb mix. Or just thyme. Or just Rosemary. Or Vadouvan curry blend.)

So, sprinkle the herbs and a little salt and fresh pepper on one side of the chicken. Heat olive oil in a skillet, medium to medium high heat, put the chicken in seasoned-side down. Add the same seasonings to the other side of the chicken while it's in the pan. Cook about four minutes a side till browned and cooked through.

When chicken is done, remove it to a plate. If you didn't use the Sunny Paris or something like it that has a shallot/onion component, then this would be the time to toss in a finely minced shallot and sautee it quickly for a minute or so. Pour some white wine into the skillet and stir to deglaze and scrape up any brown bits on the pan. Maybe sprinkle a little more of the seasoning in while the wine reduces. When cooking for just myself I find that just reducing white wine is enough - no need for more liquid like chicken stock. If you're cooking for more than 2, I would say add some stock here as well during reducing - wine alone would be too strong. (Also, experience tells me if you deglaze with anything stronger than wine, like brandy, then stock is definitely required to cut the strong flavor of the spirits.) Reduce the liquid down to around 1/4 cup, turn off heat, put in a tablespoon of butter and swirl it around to finish the sauce. Pour sauce over chicken and rice on the plate. (Or, other sauce idea: add fresh parsley, capers, and a squeeze of lemon juice along with the wine. Reduce, then you can either add butter or not to finish, your choice.)

Veggie ideas: Mushrooms - I get the brown Cremini ones, quarter them (or sixth them if large) and toss them into the skillet while the chicken is on it's second side of cooking, to get them started. Finish them once the chicken is out of the pan (adding shallots if desired), then proceed with the wine deglazing sauce, leaving the mushrooms in the sauce. (Or, alternate sauce, use Port wine with some stock, finish with a bit of cream instead of butter. Or just butter again if you don't have cream.)

Or, have some pre-blanched green beans. While the chicken is cooking, in a separate skillet cook a diced slice of bacon or similar amount of Pancetta - when it's almost brown and crispy (but not quite), add the green beans and saute together until the bacon's done and the beans are heated through. Season with a little salt and pepper. OR, similar method with Brussels Sprouts instead of beans - but don't pre-blanch the sprouts, just trim the stem, remove outer tough leaves, cut them into halves or maybe quarters. Saute them with the bacon in the drippings. Further option: splash some Balsamic vinegar into the pan to glaze the sprouts a bit.

Or, in another saucepan as the chicken cooks, cook carrots diced finely (to about pea-sized dice) in butter; as they're getting almost done add same amount of frozen peas. Shallots would be another option mixed in here.

Or, no veg side at all and make a salad.

In short, you've got a fancy-sounding classic French style chicken and rice with white wine sauce. You've got lots of options for how to flavor and finish it, so you can use the same method multiple nights in a week but not really have the same meal over and over.

(This is why I'm a big believer in understanding methods and ingredients over specific recipes, particularly when cooking just for one or two. I like knowing that if I have chicken and assorted favorite veggies in the fridge, along with assorted pantry staples, I can do chicken & veggies either as Chinese stir-fry, Italian pasta, French with wine sauce, etc.)
posted by dnash at 9:11 AM on March 14, 2016 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Our go-to favourites when we want something a bit spesh that is relatively low maintenance:

Chicken burrito bowls this one also works with rump steak in place of the chicken.
Thai beef salad (I use baby spinach instead of kale and also add fried egg noodles (thin omelette rolled up and sliced thinly into noodles) and some crispy shallots from the jar.
Fish tacos the yoghurt sauce is amazeballs and goes really well on the chicken burrito bowl.
Spanish chicken He suggests fino sherry but I use a $7 bottle of medium-dry sherry from the bottle-o and it's fine.
posted by prettypretty at 3:41 PM on March 14, 2016

Best answer: Just remembered a couple of others, c/o Jamie Oliver:

Chicken breast with Bombay potatoes
Baked Mediterranean Fish the leftover sauce is excellent on pasta.
posted by prettypretty at 8:27 PM on March 14, 2016

(Late to the party)

But you might want to check out my older question.

Tangentially: another thing that has helped a lot with weekly meal planning is bagging the individual meals and label them as Mon - Fri.

I've found that, after a long day, it's surprisingly hard to remember what you're supposed to cook that night. By bagging all of the ingredients ahead of time, you can stand in front of the refrigerator all slack-jawed and just pull out the "Wednesday Bag."

And by "bagging all of the ingredients" I mean all of them—including bottles of spices or a can of beans. It all goes in the fridge, in the bag, with the perishable ingredients. Also, I've taken to printing out the recipes and also putting them in the bag with their corresponding ingredients, so I don't have to remember if I saved a recipe to Google Docs, or my meal planning app, or some website, or in a note on phone, and on and on.
posted by functionequalsform at 10:56 AM on March 16, 2016 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Here's what we're having tonight. My three year old (who doesn't like anything) likes this dish. It comes together very quickly. The key is getting the high-quality tuna. If you've ever wondered why someone would pay $9 for a jar of tuna, this recipe proves it out.

Pasta Balista, Baby

1 lb orecchiette or farfalle pasta
6 - 8 oz high-quality, oil-packed tuna (like Flott)
1 lemon, juiced
3T capers
.5 C fresh grated Parmesan cheese (plus more for serving)
Olive oil
1 bunch parsley, chopped fine

1. Boil the pasta in heavily salted water
2. While pasta is cooking, prep other ingredients: clean and chop parsley, drain tuna (reserving oil if you like), juice lemon, drain capers, grate Parmesan
3. When the pasta is finished cooking, reserve 1 cup of the pasta water, then drain
4. Return pasta to pot. Add tuna, lemon juice and capers, then add enough olive oil (or reserved oil from tuna) to loosen everything up
5. Add Parmesan, then add some of the reserved pasta water, a quarter cup at a time, until a light sauce comes together
6. Stir in parsley and serve immediately, passing additional Parmesan on the side
posted by slogger at 1:39 PM on March 16, 2016 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Also, similar to the Pasta Balista, Baby, this recipe for penne with tuna and spicy mustard is amazingly simple and highly delicious.
posted by slogger at 1:44 PM on March 16, 2016 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Balsamic Roast Pork Tenderloin-quick, easy, and delicious.
posted by BozoBurgerBonanza at 1:52 PM on March 16, 2016 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Not for the pregnant due to the cheese. This is a recipe for adults who are more likely to find the flavours appealing due to the bitter flavours. It takes as long as it takes to cook the pasta if using dry pasta.

Pasta with Blue Cheese, Broccoli and Walnuts

Pasta (about 75g per person). Any short pasta will do, e.g. penne or fusilli
Blue cheese (about 50g per person)
Broccoli (as much as you like)
Chopped walnuts (optional)
Olive oil
Black pepper

1. Cook the pasta (if it is fresh pasta adjust the amount appropriately and cook it last, after the broccoli goes in)
2. While the pasta is cooking wash the broccoli and prepare it in similarly sized chunks of your preferred size.
3. Chop the cheese up into 0.5cm cubes.
4. Put a small pan on the hob to heat up while you chop the walnuts. Toast the walnuts gently in the pan for a few minutes, stirring or shaking them regularly as they will burn easily. Set aside.
5. When the pasta is a minute or two away from being cooked put the broccoli into the pan with the pasta. Boil for a minute or two until the pasta is cooked to perfection (or slightly undercooked) and the broccoli is glossy green and still retains some of it's bite.
6. Drain the pasta and broccoli and return it to the pan, add the cheese and a tablespoon or so of olive oil. Stir to melt the cheese, add the walnuts and season with black pepper.

Pasta with french beans, tomatoes, olives and herbs

Similar method to the above, but with different ingredients.
Pasta (about 75g per person). Any short pasta will do, e.g. penne or fusilli
French beans or runner beans, fresh borlotti beans, broad beans, peas etc.
Tomatoes (cherry, baby plum or any fresh tomato) or tinned tomatoes
Black olives (Kalamata preferred)
A handful of basil, parsley, dill or oregano (or a mix)
Black pepper
Parmesan or pecorino (or any other cheese of your choosing)

1. Cook the pasta (if it is fresh pasta adjust the amount appropriately and cook it last, after the beans go in)
2. While the pasta is cooking wash the beans and chop into chunks of your preferred size if using french or runner beans.
3. Wash the tomatoes and cut in half, remove seeds by scooping them out or squeezing the tomato halves, chop into desired size. Stone the olives if necessary and chop into desired size.
4. Wash and chop the herb(s). If it is basil tear the leaves rather than chopping.
5. When the pasta is a minute or two away from being cooked put the beans into the pan with the pasta. Boil for a minute or two until the pasta is cooked to perfection (or slightly undercooked) and the beans are glossy green and still retain some of their bite.
6. Drain the pasta and beans and return it to the pan, add the tomatoes and olives and a tablespoon or so of olive oil. Stir in the herbs and some black pepper.
Serve with the cheese grated on top.

Instant polenta is a great way to get a starchy carbohydrate in short order. Leftovers should be put into a tub in the fridge where they will solidify, allowing for chopping and toasting or baking another day.
posted by asok at 3:58 AM on March 17, 2016 [1 favorite]

Best answer: One very simple dish I've made is slow-cooker Kalua pork. Put 4-6 lbs (or however much) pork shoulder with two spoonfulls of salt in a slow cooker for 4 hours. Take the meat out with tongs, drain the fat from the pot and pull the pork. Put the meat back in with half a cabbage shredded into strips. Cook on slow for another few hours. During the last hour make some rice.
posted by 3urypteris at 6:57 PM on March 17, 2016 [1 favorite]

Can be made with short grain brown rice for extra health points: tomato, sausage, and spinach risotto.

It's not healthy, but it's easy and delicious: spaghetti with cheese and black pepper.

Maybe quick creamy tomato soup paired with a salad or sandwiches or something?

Put stuff on chicken (e.g. marinate overnight) and bake:
- ginger soy chicken
- buttermilk roast chicken
- sticky sesame chicken wings

Put stuff on chicken and slow cook for several hours:
- BBQ pulled chicken (pair with coleslaw, put on bunz)
- chicken chili

(I'm sure you could use some other meat--adjust cooking times accordingly)

Haven't tried these recipes yet but I trust smitten kitchen (clearly):
- chicken fajitas (marinating the chicken and assembling fixins seem like the fussiest parts)
- everyday meatballs
posted by junques at 10:39 PM on April 18, 2016

OK, this is alluded to above, but I have to highlight it in a separate comment because we have a tiny baby at home now, and this is a super easy, delicious recipe for new parents: SALSA CHICKEN.

Ingredients: Salsa and chicken. (Specifically, 2 lbs of boneless/skinless chicken, breasts or thighs or both, and one jar of salsa, standard-size Tostitos or whatever.)

Throw the raw chicken in the crockpot. Dump the salsa on top of it. Cook on high for 4 hours. Once it's cooked, shred the chicken with a fork for like 30 seconds. Boom. Donezo. Now you have a delicious filling to dump on top of whatever!

If you use the preserved, jarred stuff, it might get high in MSG, but otherwise this is a healthy dish--and if you're worried about this, you can just get some of the healthier, fresh refrigerated salsa instead.

Rice + steam-in-bag freezer vegetables are a nice easy base. Of course, you could also do tortillas, or even buns (for a twist on sloppy joes). This recipe makes a ton of shredded chicken, which freezes pretty well to boot.

If you want a slightly saucier consistency for the salsa chicken, all you have to do is add a little chicken broth to the pot at the beginning.
posted by duffell at 11:15 AM on May 12, 2016

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