I hope everyone is safe and healthy and weathering these challenging times as best as possible. I’m profoundly moved by the incredible zoom classes, parenting projects and support that are available at all times. Like so many others, this quarantine has brought out both the best and worst in my cooking. There are days that I take on cooking projects like sourdough starter, homemade pop tarts (that recipe is coming soon!), pickled vegetables, and homemade pasta, and days like today, when I cannot even think of anything I want to make or eat. Let’s face it, even those of us who truly enjoy cooking get tired of making breakfast, lunch and dinner.

With all of that in mind, I’m sharing a few semi-homemade dinner ideas that are delicious, incredibly easy (even the kids can make them), and will lighten your load….so that you can go do another load of laundry :)

Crockpot Pulled BBQ Chicken with Homemade Coleslaw

Photo by Food Network

Serves 5

  • 1 1/2 cups BBQ Sauce (I suggest Sweet Baby Rays or Char BQ)
  • 1/2 onion, grated (with juice)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons ketchup
  • 3 lbs (about 5-6 count) boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed of fat

Coleslaw

  • 1/2 head green cabbage, finely shredded
  • 1/2 head red cabbage, finely shredded
  • 2 large carrots, finely shredded
  • 1/2 red onion, finely sliced
  • 3/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 3 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons sugar

In a 5-6 qt slow cooker, stir onion with juices, olive oil, Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, and ketchup. Add kitchen and coat with sauce.

Cover and cook on high 3 to 4 hours or on low for 6-7 hours. Chicken is done when cooked through and easy to shred.

Remove chicken to a cutting board and shred each breast using two forks. Place shredded chicken back in the crock pot and stir to coat with the sauce.

For the Coleslaw: Combine the red and green cabbage, carrots and red onions in a large bowl. Whisk together the mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, cider vinegar, sugar, and some salt and pepper in a medium bowl, and then add to the cabbage mixture. Mix well to combine. Taste for seasoning; adjust with more salt, pepper or sugar as needed.

Serve on a toasted bun with coleslaw or side by side with no bread.

Mixed Herb Chicken with Zucchini Noodles

 

Serves 4

This is an easy skillet chicken that has a healthy twist with zucchini noodles.

  • 4 chicken breasts, skinless and boneless, cut into strips
  • 3 or 4 medium zucchinis
  • 4 - 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 2 lemons (Juice and zest)
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ - 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 3/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 3/4 cup chicken broth
  • 3 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley
  • 2 tablespoons freshly chopped chives
  • 3 teaspoons minced thyme
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Lemon slices, for garnish

In a large bowl or shallow plate, season and combine chicken strips with salt, and pepper. Set aside.

Make zucchini noodles using a spiralizer or a julienne peeler. Set aside in a salad bowl.

Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, add the chicken strips in one layer and cook for one minute without moving.

Add minced garlic, and red chili pepper flakes and flip chicken strips to cook on the other side for a couple of minutes, until almost cooked through. Remove from the skillet and set aside to a plate. Do not overcook.

In the same skillet, heat 3 remaining tablespoons olive oil, then stir in lemon juice and zest, Dijon mustard, paprika, and chicken broth. Bring to a simmer and reduce for 2-3 minutes, stirring regularly. Simmer for 4 minutes. Stir in the fresh parsley, chopped chives, and minced thyme, then add the zucchini noodles and toss for 2 or 3 minutes, until zucchini are cooked through and the sauce has reduced a bit (zucchini will render some water). Return the cooked chicken strips back to the pan and cook for another minute. Serve chicken warm with zucchini noodles and pan sauce.

Semi-Homemade Moroccan Salmon

 

Photo by Laloosh

Serves 6

I make this often, not just when pressed for time. It’s a good shortcut recipe, made on a sheet pan, and can even be made a day ahead of time.

  • 6 pieces salmon fillet, skin removed (about 6 ounces each)
  • 1 cup store-bought salsa of your choice
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 cup canned chickpeas, drained
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon honey, optional
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley or fresh cilantro

LIne a sheet pan with aluminum foil or parchment paper for easy cleanup. Preheat the oven to 400°F.

In a small bowl, mix salsa, curry, cumin, smoked paprika, chickpeas, salt and pepper. Pour over salmon and spread to cover. Drizzle with olive oil and honey.

Bake, uncovered for 17 - 20 minutes or until cooked through. Sprinkle with parsley or cilantro.

Grilled Skirt Steak with Savory Teriyaki and Grilled Onions

 

Photo by Sweet C’s

Serves 6

Make sure to repeatedly rinse the skirt steak in a bowl of cold water to remove the saltiness from the kashering process. Skirt steak is thin, so it retains a lot of the salt. I rinse it three times and find that it comes out delicious. This grilled steak is one of my son’s favorite dishes, which works for me as it's so easy.

  • 1 cup teriyaki sauce
  • ¼ cup Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon fresh chopped ginger
  • 3 teaspoons fresh chopped garlic
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 3 lbs. Skirt steak, see head note
  • 2 red onions, sliced thick

In a small bowl, mix teriyaki sauce, Dijon, ginger, garlic, and black pepper. In a resealable bag, place skirt steak and onions and pour sauce over. Seal bag, and massage sauce into steak. Set aside and marinate for at least 1 hour, but not more than 6 - 7 hours.

Preheat gas grill to 375°F or an indoor grill pan. Grease grates or pan. Remove steak and onions from marinade, and discard marinade, then place on hot grill. Cover grill and cook for 3 minutes, flip and cook for about 3 - 4 more minutes or until steak is 134°F for rare. I highly recommend cooking this rare, it will continue cooking a little after you remove it from the grill and skirt steak is much better not overcooked. Onions may need a few extra minutes of grilling.