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Quick DinnerDecember 10, 2010

Last night when I got home, I was craving a quick easy salad that would be gentle on my stomach (on work nights I don't have more than an hour at home awake before I'm getting ready for bed, and a heavy dinner doesn't sit that well. You know how it is).

I think I've found my favorite quick meal salad, 7 minutes from fridge to plate. Chop a couple of cloves of garlic and throw it in olive oil in a large pan on med-high heat. After a minute or two of sizzling, add a bag of spinach (yes, the full bag -- it cooks down to practically nothing). While that's cooking (stir it around every once in a while), chop two or three pre-cooked beets (TJ's to the rescue). Put the spinach on a plate, top it with the beets, and then top THAT with a chunk of crumbled chevre, and a glug of balsamic vinegar.

Best thing ever. And now I'm dying to know, what's your insta-dinner?


    Dogs in the sun.


boil some linguine. while it's boiling, sautee jarred sundried tomatoes, jarred roasted bell peppers, garlic, and jarred artichoke hearts. no need to add oil, since the 3 jarred veggies come packed in oil. Serve over pasta topped with salt, pepper, and romano cheese if you can eat it (I'm lactose intolerant, I skip the cheese).

Noodles and cottage cheese: Extra broad egg noodles (cooked) to which you add 1/2 cup butter and at least a half-pint of cottage cheese and rewarm. The ultimate comfort food (enough to feed four as a main dish, or six as a side).

Get 3 VERY fresh white corn tortillas, wrap them in paper towels, zap in microwave 30 seconds. While that's happening, grate longhorn or mild cheddar cheese, about 1/4 cup per tortilla. When the tortillas are warm, fill with cheese, add salsa & enjoy! Possible 1 1/2 minute from fridge to plate.

Popcorn :)

At least if I'm by myself. When my husband went away on business for a month I lived on popcorn and Taco Bell. Terrible!

This is best when tomatoes are in season. Put your favorite pasta on to boil. While it's cooking chop up a clove of garlic, a couple of nice tomatoes, a wedge of brie (higher fat works best). Chiffonade some fresh basil. Drain the pasta and mix all the ingredients together. The cheese melts to create a sauce. Yum. Sometimes I add broccoli to the pasta in the last few minutes of boiling.

Bacon & eggs, Italian style (carbonara). Saute several slightly smashed cloves of garlic in a pan with a good quantity of olive oil (about 1/3 of a cup), just until the garlic starts to color, fish it out and discard. Saute about 1/2 pound of thick cut bacon or pancetta pre-cut into 1/4 strips, add 1/4 cup white wine when the bacon is done, cook for a couple minutes and set aside in the pan . In a large serving bowl, whisk 2 eggs a bit, add grated parmesan and romano cheese, about 3/4 cup altogether, then add some pepper and chopped parsley. Cook up a pound of spaghetti, then drain and add to the eggs and toss quickly, then heat the bacon pan back up and toss in and serve. Yum.

Now that I live alone, dinner is microwave popcorn a lot more often than I want to admit. HOWEVER, two of these dishes look like they don't take as long as the popcorn and might be a LOT better ideas! I'm totally stealing them!

Toast with peanut butter. But wow, your quick meal slays mine, must try!

Add Marshmallow fluff to the top of your peanut butter on toast, pop it under the broiler for a bit and you have the perfect dinner. Dinner and desert all in one. Serve with a big old glass of cold milk. Mmmmmmm.

Ahhh, my favorite right now....pound of pasta thrown in water, veggies in the last few minutes go in with the pasta. Drained with some pasta water reserved. One package of Trader Joe's three layer dip (cream cheese, pesto and sun dried tomatoes), a huge pinch of parm, olive oil, black pepper. Sometimes salami in strips, frozen meatballs (warmed first), or leftover chicken/steak/whatever. Stirred with some pasta water to loosen. Hot crusty bread with butter.

Olive oil in a med warm pan - throw in a container of mushrooms and cook them down - last few minutes I throw in fresh spinach. If I have wine, I will use it to deglaze.

Then I have many options:
as a side dish,
served with cooked chicken tenders/breast,
served with meatballs (I use TJ's regular or turkey ones heated in microwave then added to the mushroom mixture),
serve over noodles.

My favorite for decades has been the pasta carbonara I learned from students when I lived in Rome. Saute bacon (the smokier the better), prosciutto, pancetta, what have you - this often depends on what I happen to have in the house. Remember, this is last minute! If necessary add a bit of olive oil for less fatty choices like prosciutto. When it's nearly cooked add some chopped up onions and lots of fresh ground black pepper (That's the carbonara part) Optional at this point is a splash of white wine which is then cooked down. Pour some of the fat from the pan over fresh cooked spaghetti. I happen to like cappelini for this. Toss until the pasta is well coated. This will help to cook the egg, well beaten, which gets tossed on next. Toss to thoroughly coat. If it doesn't cook completely, turn back into a hot pan for a minute or two. Next add the drained meat, onion, black pepper mix and toss with parmesan or other favorite Parmesan type cheese. For real authenticity now is the time for more fresh ground pepper.
Ingredient quantities depend on taste and how many people you are serving. A rule of thumb is generally one egg for every two servings. I love lots and lots of bacon but that too can depend on the contents of the fridge.

By the way, those dogs have a strong resemblance to mine, mostly around the closed eyes!

Qick Dinner: Bag o'salad with dressing mix-thawed chicken breast, tortillas.

1. cube chicken: throw in pan/pot with splash of soy sauce, worteshire sauce, italian dressing whatevers liquid in the fridge (cook chiken till done.)

2. mix salad

3. nuke tortilla for 30sec

4. add salad and chicken to tortilla

5. instant wraps... take 15mins tops!

Make a cup of cous-cous following the package directions (which are usually something like this: pour over hot water, let stand covered for 10 minutes.)

Chop up a handful of tomato and a couple scallions or a package of chives. If you have roasted corn, take it off the cob - or cook half a pack of frozen corn.

Combine couscous, tomato, chives, corn, about 1/2 cup of feta cheese, and a can of chickpeas (rinsed and drained.) Add a little lemon juice, olive oil, and freshly ground pepper. Toss. Serve while still warm.

Polenta and Artichokes from Lorna Sass's Short-Cut Vegetarian (new edition ofhtis is Short-Cut Vegan)because it takes 5 minutes from boiling water to dishing up the dinner (OK 7-8 minutes if the artichokes are frozen)and it is made from staples that can stay in the cabinet until I need them. There are so many delcious and quick recipes in this paperback book that I wore out a copy.

Get a big can of Rotel diced tomatoes with green chiles, a can of refried beans, and about two cups of the broth of your choice. Put in a pot, add some oregano and some cumin, heat it up. Crumble some tortilla chips in the bottom of your serving bowl, top with a little cheese, ladle the soup on top.

Top 5:

Sweet white corn (frozen, microwaved) + drained tuna, salted. Mix and serve hot.

Pan-fried shrimp gyoza...must be pan-fried. Boiled ones have an icky mouthfeel for me.

Pizzadillas: Whole wheat tortillas with three-cheese blend, dipped in warmed pizza sauce.

Bowl of mixed frozen veggies, heated and salted.

Brown basmati rice (pre-cooked), heated, with creamy salted peanut butter.

(Disclaimer: My kitchen is a billboard for Trader Joe's.)

OMG, I made this salad tonight and it was SO GOOD.

One of my faves is mushroom toast. Toss a carton (or more if you're hungry/like leftovers) in a pan with some oil and shallots and garlic. Saute til the mushrooms start to cook down. Add a splash of water, a handful of flour. Cook until it begins to thicken.

While you're doing that, start some toast. If you're so inclined (and I usually am) you can add some vermouth or sherry or white wine to the sauce at the end. Pour hte mushroom sauce over the toast Nom. Good with soup, too.

Put whole-grain tortilla in a greased pan. slather refried beans on top, then grated cheese. Salsa is nice if you have it and like it. Toast the bottom, fold the sides up and over, in burritoish fashion, turn to the other side until it's warm all through. Serve.

Spinach or lettuce shreds added with the cheese is also nice.

also, very glad to see the pups, especially Clementine. Hadn't heard about her, and was a little afraid she hadn't worked out as an adoption.

It really is a great, fast, good dinner...thanks for sharing!

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