At times the hustle of the day’s events makes preparing a family dinner challenging. Preparing a balanced meal of a protein, vegetables and healthy carbohydrates takes time, especially when you cook with a lot of plant-based foods. Are there any solutions for making dinner that is easy to prepare and doesn’t require a lot of time slaving over a stove? Yes, there are. Listed below are links to easy dinner recipes found on my website for a quick and easy reference.
What is an easy dinner? A dinner recipe that requires little prep work and comes together in a reasonable amount of time. There are a couple of solutions to make dinner easier to put together. One short cut is, buy produce already chopped. Many grocery stores offer a wide selection of produce already chopped and ready for cooking. Each item may cost more, but if buying prepared vegetables is the difference between making dinner or not, it is worth the price. I do not usually buy cut up produce because these days I am mostly cooking for two. However, I cannot ignore how buying prepared vegetables saves a lot of time. It is my opinion, the value of cooking and eating a home cooked meal is significant, especially when compared to eating take out dinners.
Another time saver is make dinner in one pan. Sheet pan, or one pot dinners often require minimal prep, work and everything cooks on (or in) one pan. This also makes clean-up a lot easier as well.
All of these recipes easily come together with little prep work, or cooked in one pan or pot, or take a minimal amount of time to cook. Enjoy!
Easy dinners: Shellfish
One of my favorite easy dinner recipe is my Spanish Inspired Mussels with Chorizo Sausage. The mussels are cooked in a broth of tomatoes, garlic, wine and Spanish chorizo sausage. The broth comes together in about 20 minutes and the mussels take 5 minutes to cook. I never served this meal to young children, but many adults love this. It is great for entertaining a small group of friends, because you can cook the sauce ahead of time then cook the mussels 5 minutes before you want to eat dinner. Serve with good crusty bread to soak up the juices and a tossed salad. For a vegetarian option, omit the chorizo sausage.
Sautéed Sesame Shrimp with Spinach is another supper easy dinner recipe. This recipe is an older one of mine, but the shrimp and spinach cook up quickly and with little effort. Serve with white or brown rice or your favorite grain.
Easy dinners: Fish
I honestly believe all my fish recipes on Lemon Thyme and Ginger are easy to make. By nature, fish does not require a lot of cooking time. They are an especially easy dinner to make when the fish is cooked in a pouch of parchment paper or aluminum foil. Rainbow Trout with Lemon and Dill and Oven Poached Salmon with Spinach Butter Sauce are both prepared en papillote. Sole Stuffed with Herbs is similarly prepared, but it is not tightly sealed in a neat package.
Fish Tacos comes together easily when you buy the cabbage already sliced for coleslaw.
Easy dinner: Chicken
Another favorite easy dinner are sheet pan meals. I particularity like to use chicken when I make a sheet pan dinner, either bone in or boneless work. The boned chicken will take longer to cook but the chicken does not dry out as much, especially with chicken breasts. If you want to go the boneless, skinless chicken route, use chicken thighs, breasts dry out too easily. Roasted Curry Chicken with Potatoes and Raisins has minimal prep and is delicious paired with blanched broccoli, green beans or a salad. Oven baked Chicken with Shallots and Fennel is another easy chicken dinner baked together on one sheet pan.
Easy Dinner: Meat
One of my favorite marinades for meat is the sherry marinade used in Grilled Sherry Marinated Flank Steak. It also tastes great with pork tenderloin. Both types of meat benefit from a flavorful marinade. I like to marinate the flank steak over night, but if you want place the flank steak in the marinade first thing in the morning, it will taste just as delicious. If the current weather prohibits you from grilling, pan grill the flank steak on the stove top. You get more browning and caramelized flavor using a grill pan vs the broiler.
The easiest of all meats are lamb chops. They are delicious and quickly cook on a grill or stove-top within a matter of minutes. My recipe for Lamb chops: An early fall harvest dinner for two, describes how to cook lamb chops. In the winter, you can substitute the summer and fall vegetables in this recipe with any vegetable recipe on the blog like, Sweet and Spicy Herbed Carrots, or Green Beans with Roasted Onions.
Easy dinner: Pasta
The fastest and easiest cooked tomato sauce I know is Marcella Hazon’s, Tomato Sauce with Rosemary and Balsamic Vinegar. Tomatoes, garlic, extra virgin olive oil, rosemary and balsamic vinegar come together for a silky sauce perfect for penne or other tube-shaped pasta. It makes for a light supper, but a satiating one at that. It also tastes delicious over polenta. If you want a more substantial red sauce and pasta meal, make Pasta with Turkey Meat Sauce.
This time of year Brussels sprouts are easily found at most grocery stores, Pasta Dinner with Spicy Brussels Sprouts and Sausage is a real crowd pleaser, especially for the meat lover in your family. For a vegetarian option substitute the sausage with chickpeas or cannellini beans.
Easy dinner: Eggs
Often when we are in a hurry or low on food, we make a frittata. Basil and Zucchini Frittata is a great quick and easy dinner for the summer, but in the winter substitute the basil and zucchini with left over Brussels sprouts with pomegranate glaze. Or, make a pasta frittata with left over pasta with turkey meat sauce.
Omelets are another easy dinner choice. However, I prefer to make one omelet at a time as opposed to one big omelet, sliced into individual servings.
Easy Dessert Recipes:
Swedish Apple Pie is so easy, someone who insists they cannot bake, will have success with this recipe.
Yogurt Panna Cotta is also easy to put together. You can make a spiced fruit sauce with any seasonal fruit.
If a cake is what you want, Silver Palate Chocolate Cake was my go to dessert for many years.
If you make any one of my recipes I would love to hear from you. You can share a photo on my Facebook page, or on your Instagram feed and tag me @lemonthymeandginger.
© 2018, Ginger Smith- Lemon Thyme and Ginger. All rights reserved.
Other than the ingredients, all you need to make a delicious and easy dinner is one knife to chop, one bowl to mix and one sheet pan to roast. No special equipment required, except an oven. What you do need is time to mix, marinate and bake. Roasted curry chicken with potatoes and raisins has it all. A flavor packed one-pan meal with warming spices and fruity-sweetness enveloping tender chicken meat and potatoes.
For this recipe, as well as salt I added a ground curry spice blend for the main seasoning. My recipe for roasted chicken curry is not traditional Indian cuisine, or any curry meal from Asia. It is an American rift inspired by Indian flavors, and ease of preparation. I love curry, but there are so many types and each one is as unique as the cook making it. Every country, region, city and cook has its own variation of spices for curries. As I learn more about curries and the cuisines that developed them, I plan to make my own curry spice blends. Until that time, I’ll take a shortcut and use store-bought ground curry to satisfy my hankering for curry flavors.
Chicken for a cook, is like a blank canvas for an artist. It is the foundation from which all added flavor will enhance. Because chicken has a mild taste and texture, it benefits from adding seasoning and then letting the flavors steep into the meat before cooking. Of course, if pressed for time, you will still have a decent tasting curry chicken dinner if you must skip the marinating step. However, taking the extra time to marinate will make a big difference in the over-all depth of flavor.
More one pan dinner recipes:
I realize not all children like the spiciness of curry powder. Some curry blends have a lot of pepper and chilies in them. If you can find a ground curry blend that is on the sweet side it might change your family’s opinion of curry. I found a Massale curry blend from Spice and Tease in New York City. It is similar to a Garam Massala but not as hot and peppery as other curry blends. For more information, here is an article explaining the differences of the two spice blends.
I love making meals where I can mix together the flavors I love and cook them together on one pan in the oven and forget about it. No standing or stirring over a hot stove. Just place in the oven and bake. This easy recipe, of roasted curry chicken with potatoes and raisins is so simple it is hard to make a chicken dinner any other way. The raisins may seem out-of-place, but the sweetness compliments and softens any heat in the curry spices. Add, additional vegetables, like cauliflower or broccoli, for a more well-rounded dinner.
© 2017, Ginger Smith- Lemon Thyme and Ginger. All rights reserved.
What to eat over the weekend? I complied a list of three menus for the holiday weekend to satisfy a variety of food preferences and tastes. One menu for the steak lover. One for food with a little heat. And a menu for a plant-based meal.
My focus for each menu is ease of preparation and the option to cook the main entrée on a grill. Each menu includes an appetizer, main course, vegetable side dish, and dessert. I hope each menu inspires you to cook for yourself and don’t be shy to mix it up a bit. The recipes are easy to scale up or down depending on your crowd. Or enjoy your leftovers for a later date.
Of course you don’t have to limit yourself to only these menus. Just search my archives listing the food you crave and hopefully you will find something to your liking.
It still feels like spring here in the Northeast, but now that it is Memorial Day, the summer has officially started. Let me know if you make any of these weekend menu ideas. I would love to hear from you.
Weekend Menu Ideas For the Meat Lover
Weekend Menu Ideas For the Spicy Food Lover
Weekend Menu Ideas for the Plant Food Lover
Aquafaba Meringue Nests fill with mixed fruit and coconut whipped cream
Hope every one has a fun weekend with friends and family. It looks like a sunny weekend is in the forecast, perfect for lots of outdoor activity and grilling. If you make any one of my recipes post a picture on Instagram and tag me @lemonthymeandginger and #therecipename. You can also post a photo on my Facebook page. I would love to see what you create.
© 2017, Ginger Smith- Lemon Thyme and Ginger. All rights reserved.