Monday, November 21, 2011


It’s nearly 5:30 and I have no idea what to make for dinner.

We’ve sunk into a serious dinner rut around here and we need some help out.  I’m looking for quick, easy, healthy meals that my kids and Jeff will enjoy (Jeff being the picky one around here).   I know, I should think ahead, plan the weeks menu, get all the ingredients, prep in the morning, all that jazz.  But, that jazz doesn’t seem to work around here.  I’m beginning to accept the fact that I’m just not that on top of things and instead of trying to squeeze into a mold that isn’t me I’m looking for another way to solve the problem.  I’ve deiced that I need to find 30 min meals.  Meals I can think about at 5:45 and have on the table at 6:15 (or so).  Meals with simple ingredients that I can mostly have on hand.  Meals that don’t require even a recipe, just some basic instructions of how to throw them together (getting out and reading and following recipes just takes time and energy and focus that is hard to muster around here).

I know this is the holy grail of mom cooking….everyone is looking for it.  But I thought I’d throw out a plea and see if anyone out there can save me!

I do have a few 30 min meals up my sleeve to share, but we’re getting a little tired of them around here.  

For what they’re worth, here are a few that always work in a pinch:

Chicken Noodle Soup

Put 4 cups water and 4 tsps. better than bullion in your soup pan.  Add 2 frozen chicken breasts.  Start them cooking with a few bay leaves while you cut up a few celery sticks and 3 or four carrots.  Throw those in there and when they’re almost tender add some wide egg noodles, parsley and fresh ground pepper.  While the noodles are cooking take out the chicken breasts, shred them and return to the pot. 

voilà!!  Dinner in 30 min.

Ginger Stir Fry with Chicken and Red Peppers

Get some white rice started.

Sauté some chopped garlic and fresh ginger in a little oil (about a tbs of each).

Add chopped chicken breasts and cook a few minutes. 

Add chopped red peppers (I have thrown in broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, carrots, whatever you have on hand) but it’s so simple and tasty and pretty with just the red peppers. 

Meanwhile in a big liquid measuring cup pour in 1 cup chicken broth, 1/4 cup soy sauce, 2 Tbs vinegar (I use rice vinegar), 2 Tbs cornstarch and a few shakes of red pepper flakes.  Stir and add this mixture to cooking chicken and peppers.  When sauce thickens up and chicken is cooked through remove from heat. 

Add sliced green onions (or chives if you have them in the garden) and some peanuts.

Serve over rice.

voilà!  Dinner in 30 min. 

Other 30 min ideas:

- scrambled eggs with ham and cheese

- Spanish tortilla (will post the recipe for this sometime….basically a potato and onion frittata)

- can can chili (veggie chili made from just canned beans)

- Burritos or tacos

- salad with grilled chicken

- Thai curry

Ok, got to go make dinner!  Still not sure what to make.  It will come to me, right?

Please, Please, Please send me any links or ideas you have! 


  1. Anonymous6:09 PM

    Here are a few that always work for me when I get home late from work and want to make something quick with ingredients I'm likely to have on-hand:

    (1) southwestern chicken soup.
    Combine about 4 cups of chicken stock (more if you want it soupier, less if chunkier), a can or two of black beans and garbanzo beans, a can or two (or more) of diced tomatoes, and then throw in some cooked, sliced chicken (my mom typically does this with a rotisserie chicken to make it super easy, but regular chicken breasts work well, too). You can top with some baked tortillas, or just from-the-bag tortilla chips, onions, salsa, cheddar cheese, scallions, etc. You can probably cook this in under 30 mintues (or let it stew longer, for more flavor).

    (2) tofu-veggie stirfry. Put on a pot to cook a few cups of rice first. While that's cooking, chop up some tofu (or chicken or other mean) and veggies (broccoli, canned water chestnuts, pineapple, onion, carrots, mushrooms, bok choi--whatever you have on hand is good). Marinate the tofu or meat in some soy sauce (I also shake on some red pepper flakes and farlic salt). Then sautee the veggies in a mox of olive oil and soy sauce. Once they are soft, add in the tofu. You can throw a jarred teriyaki sauce on it too, but soy sauce and a bit of garlic, salt, and pepper are really all you need. Throw the veggies/meat/tofu on top of the rice, and serve. The whole meal is super-lean and healthy (especially if you use brown rice), and takes under 30 minutes.

    (3) If you have chicken and veggies on hand, it's often super easy to just clean the breasts, chop the veggies, throw them in a pan with whatever veggies you have, and bake for 25-30 mins. It's best if you do this with fresh rosemary, and chop up 2-3 potatoes, 1-2 sweet potatoes, 4-5 carrots, 1-2 celery stalks, and one white onion. You can mince the rosemary, mix it up with olive oil, and drizzle that all over the veggies and chicken, and it turns out delicious (way more delicious than the effort you put it).

  2. Here's one:

    And here's a friend's site that you might like:

    And, there's always dessert for dinner. That's what I sometimes have. :)

  3. Hi! Short haired sarah from the NH retreat recently.

    I have some of my favorite recipes here:

    Our favorites these days are the ham and broccoli strombolli, THE CHICKEN POT PIE IS SUPER EASY AND DELICOUS, and the manicotti, and the chicken cordon bleu.

    maybe not all the healthiest but EVERYONE eats them and they are quick and easy.

  4. So I was GOING to say that getting a Bountiful Basket has totally changed our meals from hard to easy because Paul can't complain about what I make anymore, because I just make whatever I can from using what produce we have from our basket. BUT, apparently they don't have that in Massachusetts. So it's not as helpful as it would've been. But, I still love allrecipes for finding awesome 30-minute meals.

  5. Saydi - I do a lot of pasta dishes that are fast. Like these two:

    (1) Pasta with veggies and mozzarella.
    Boil water and put in pasta (I usually use penne). Meanwhile, slice up veggies--I usually do zucchini, red bell peppers and tomatoes, but you could do others, too. Saute some diced garlic (I just keep a big container of it in the fridge) in EVOO. Add the zucchini and bell peppers (the firmer veggies; NOT the tomatoes) and saute for a couple minutes until tender. When pasta is done and drained, toss in the sauteed veggies, add the fresh tomatoes, add a bunch of diced fresh mozzarella (which will get all melty) and shredded fresh basil (or not if you don't have it). I usually sprinkle in a bit of cayenne, too, for some heat. And if I have any of those pre-cooked chicken sausages on hand (you can buy at Trader Joes), I'll saute a couple of them with the veggies and toss in, too. Adds some protein and flavor.

    (2) Angel Hair with Creme fraiche (serves 4)

    10 oz dry angel hair pasta
    1 can artichoke hearts (chop up)
    3/4 cup grated parmesan
    1 bunch of watercress or spinach or arugula
    1/2 cup creme fraiche
    2 T lemon juice

    Cook pasta (salt water). Drain and reserve 2T of pasta water. Meanwhile, put artichoke heart, parmesan and greens into a bowl and toss gently. Set aside. Return hot drained pasta to pot, and stir in creme fraiche, lemon juice and water. Add greens mixture, salt to taste, and toss to combine. Serve warm.

  6. Anonymous8:23 PM

    I just realized that you wanted 30 minute meals and the meals I linked you to are super easy but bake for longer than 30 minutes sometimes. Most of my meals also freeze wonderfully. Anyways, the manicotti is made with a piece of string cheese! Can't get any faster than that!


  7. Here are two of our all time faves:

    Pasta with Chickpea Tomato Sauce

    Black Beans and Rice

    Quesadillas with whatever we have on hand

    And sometimes I make hummus and chop up all of our veggies and we call that dinner.

  8. I just made this tonight:

    put some olive oil in the pan, fresh garlic. Sautee for just a minute or two (don't burn or brown) Add a quart of tomato's (I have them from canning) or two store bought diced or stewed. Add some salt and pepper to taste. bring to a boil, then stir. Bring it to a low simmer. Seperate pot, boil your noodles. I think I can speak for our whole family that we like this meal the best with angel hair pasta. My husband though, I think would like lingunie. Anyway, once the noodles are ready add some fresh parmesan (I have used the grated) in the sauce. Then add the noodles. We eat this with some french bread. Seriously, whenever I make this, I feel like I am at one of those real italian restraunts. It is really fresh and is just delicious!!!
    Just a side note: I have a hand puree' thingy and if I feel like it, I will puree' the sauce with the cheese and it makes it a bit creamier:-) Enjoy!!!


    This website has some great 30 minute recipies that I use all the time!

  10. Anonymous10:14 PM

    crock pot meals are the bomb! Put it in mid morningi and you have a yummy meal by dinner! I also love white bean chili, taco soup for 30 minute meals.

  11. I love Leanne Ely's recipes and her website gives you several samples at
    Our favorites are asian salmon wraps and garlic lime chicken.
    The other source I use is Moosewood Cooks AT HOME (different from their pretty and fancy and difficult cookbook). Everything in there takes less than 40 minutes and we like sweet potato quesadillas, black bean soup, cheddar soup, and pineapple peanut stew (good luck on that one, Jeff).
    Your fried rice is still one of our favorite ideas around here!

  12. Thanks for your recipes, our quick favourites are Pesto Pasta and Salmon and Zuccini Egg Pies.
    Pesto Pasta
    Boil up any pasta you have on hand. Pan fry bacon and onions, stir in basil pesto then stir through the pasta and top with cheese.

    Grate 1 zuccini and 1 carrot, add one tin of salmon, stir in a handful of self-raising flour and 1/4 cup olive oil. Add some grated cheese if you like. Pour mixture into several small pie tins or a large lined tin. Cook for 25 - 50 mins in a 400F oven (depending on size of tins). Serve with salad.

  13. I have been doing a ton of cooking with my crock pot. It is fantastic for moms on the go. My blog is Most have only a few ingredients.



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