Dinner ideas for busy parents

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Gonna try to pick up some slack in the cooking now that H is going back to work. I don't cook regularly, although I can do the following basic things with some competency, for example:

1) Bake fish with some kind of simple herb mixture, soy-ginger mixture or something along those lines
2) Steak
3) Stews
4) Vegetable/meat sautees or stir-fries
5) I roasted a chicken once and it came out pretty good
6) Generally, follow recipes -- I am very careful about exactly following recipes, if a little slow as a result of my carefulness.

Recommend me some good, non-advanced stuff to make that is quick and preferably healthy. FYI I don't need "kid-friendly" food because my 18-month-old seems to prefer flavorful food (e.g. she loves pickles and olives). Also, although I can do unattended longer-time stovetop cooking on a weekend, I'm mostly looking for the fast "Oh crap there's no dinner" kinds of meals.

#fomo that's the motto (Hurting 2), Friday, 30 August 2013 18:56 (five years ago) Permalink

Not for everyone, but sometimes I make salmon cakes out of canned salmon, an egg, chopped celery, onions, breadcrumbs, and spices.

she started dancing to that (Finefinemusic), Friday, 30 August 2013 19:29 (five years ago) Permalink

We have two guaranteed successful kid meals in our house. One is pasta: you need to do the sauce at a weekend, but it makes about six dinners in one go so it's worth doing. I'll maybe post it later. The other one can be done really quickly from scratch.

Salmon and rice (15 minutes all in)

- start the rice cooking
- fry salmon fillets on medium heat, one per adult, a hungry child will eat about half; if it has skin, fry it skin side up, sprinkling a little salt on the skin so it crisps up when you turn it over; if it doesn't have skin, no salt
- I give the salmon 5 mins on each side to be sure it cooks right through
- meantime make up a sauce; ready-made ingredients are so helpful; I never make it the same way twice, but usually it's something like: one teaspoon Thai spice, two of garlic paste, one ginger paste, a half Thai fish sauce, small squeeze chili paste, two teaspoons soy sauce, two sake, a little sesame oil, a ton of lime juice (maybe six teaspoons or more), one sugar lump
- spread rice and flake salmon on child's plate for fast cooling
- heat sauce to boiling in the frying pan, only takes about 30 seconds on max heat

Ismael Klata, Friday, 30 August 2013 19:31 (five years ago) Permalink

man, that sauce sounds good

#fomo that's the motto (Hurting 2), Friday, 30 August 2013 19:48 (five years ago) Permalink

It can turn out a little sharp. I sometimes put umami or mushroom paste to round it out a bit.

Ismael Klata, Friday, 30 August 2013 20:54 (five years ago) Permalink

This is a pretty basic pasta sauce, but so tasty. It's only failed us once, due to illness; otherwise tomatoes seem to be a guarantee of good eating.

Amatriciana Sauce (1.5 to 2 hours)

- cut streaky bacon into thin strips, across the rasher; I use two or three packs at a time and my biggest pan, which is about wok-sized
- chop about the same volume of onions (3 or 4 onions) into small pieces; basically dicing it, I'd chop it bigger but that gives the boy an excuse to pick it out of the sauce
- either chop garlic very fine, or use garlic paste like I do; I don't use a soffrito base for this sauce, so I use loads of garlic
- first fry the bacon with lots of olive oil on a medium heat, until it goes brown; this I have trouble with, sometimes it doesn't go brown at all, other times it starts to brown; ideally you're trying to get it slightly crispy, or at least so it won't be chewy
- then add the onions, garlic, and some chili; fry at a slightly lower heat until soft; for this I cover the whole mixture with a big saucepan lid, so it part-fries-part-steams; when the onions are soft and translucent, it's ready
- don't eat all the mixture at this point; it's gorgeous and makes a great sandwich filling
- add passata or chopped tomatoes, some tomato purée, and a sugar lump or two; let it simmer for an hour to reduce a bit, but not too thick
- finish off with a dash of worcester sauce for seasoning

- this'll make about six three-person meals; it freezes perfectly
- I serve with spaghetti; cook just past al dente, then drain and add your sauce
- stir the whole pot on a high heat for a minute or so; this finishes off the spaghetti and turns it bright orange, and leaves the bacon at the bottom of the pan
- serve the spaghetti, spoon the bacon on top as a garnish

Ismael Klata, Friday, 30 August 2013 21:21 (five years ago) Permalink

last minute pasta if you have a lot of veggies lying around

doesn't require meat, but sauteed chicken is good

sautee whatever veg you have: onions, garlic, zucchini, peppers, mushrooms (or whatever you like)
optional: add some halved cherry tomatoes, or a can of fire-roasted tomatoes if you prefer, to the sauteed veg
if you want you can cook the tomtatoes down for 5 or 10 minutes so they release a bit more juice
turn off the heat, add a chopped avocado, and stir gently so that the avocado breaks down a little and the juices create a sort of sauce. (it works fine without the tomato)

Dump the veg/avocaddo mix into pot with the cooked, drained (still hot) pasta & stir

add half a bunch of spinach leaves, and mix in with the pasta til the spinach has wilted.

eat.

set the controls for the heart of the sun (VegemiteGrrl), Monday, 9 September 2013 19:00 (five years ago) Permalink


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