How do I whip up a tasty and nutritious meal in 15 minutes for two kids under five, straight after coming home from a full day at work, that my beloved and I can spice up with chilli sauce BUT that our kiddie winks will still love? They seem stuck on plain-pasta-no-sauce or honey toast.
Busy Parent in Park Slope
Mmm...honey toast. I'm way older than five and that still sounds good to me after a long day at work. Or a bag of chips with a glass of wine and a dill pickle on the side. Or cheese quesadillas for two weeks straight. Or a spoonful of peanut butter (the secret preference of someone whom I may or may not live with).
When the day runs long, it's really hard to find the energy to cook. Add a couple of kids in the mix and I can't even imagine how trying it can be to make something decent for dinner, let alone Friday night post-work dinner guests. Which is rare, I know, but go with me on this.
Here's a menu nice enough to serve company, but fast enough to make and consume while opening the mail, watching the news, putting the kids in their pajamas, and all those other random tasks before going to bed. Just don't forget to chew and swallow; it's really tasty.
Fast weeknight dinner
Rice and peas
Slapdash chocolate pudding
or Peanut butter chocolate chip cookies
or ice cream straight out of the pint (the best way)
Grilled salmon with cucumber-yogurt sauce
Don't like salmon? Any firm, fairly thick fish filet will work for this. (Think: plump piece of cod, not paper-thin filet of tilapia). Kiddies don't like fish? This sauce goes nicely with lamb, chicken breasts, or shrimp skewers, which will cook in no time at all.
For the sauce:
1 5 oz. container plain Greek yogurt (I like Fage 2 percent)
1/2 medium-sized cucumber, chopped into 1/4-inch pieces
1 clove garlic, minced
2 Tbsp. mint or parsley (or 1 Tbsp. each), chopped
salt and pepper
For the salmon:
4 salmon steaks with skin, or one large filet cut into four portions
salt and pepper
To make the sauce, combine the first five ingredients in a small bowl and mix until combined. Add salt and pepper to taste. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
To make the salmon, coat a large saute or grill pan with olive oil and heat over to medium-high heat. When the pan is hot (a drop of water should sizzle on the pan) place your fish skin-side down on the pan. Cook for about five minutes, or until the skin becomes crispy, but before it starts to smoke. Flip over and cook on the other side, for about three minutes, depending on the thickness of the fish. The fish is done when you can lightly flake it apart with a fork or knife in the thickest part of the filet. Top with yogurt sauce and serve with rice and peas.
Rice and peas
I don't even think a recipe is needed for this. Just chuck some frozen peas in the pot when you're making rice. Add butter and salt. Eat. Fast.
1 cup basmati, jasmine, or plain white rice
1 cup frozen peas
2 Tbsp. butter
Make rice according to package directions. See above.