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Dinner in a Flash

October 26, 2010 | by Rivka Moshayev

Quick recipes and tips for saving time in the kitchen.

After a long days work, you walk in the door at five.  Dinner needs to be on the table in an hour and the hungry troops are already asking, “What’s for dinner?”    With homework and bedtime up ahead, there is no spare time to while away in the kitchen.    Here are some great tips for saving time and a few recipes that require only a few minutes of preparation time. 

Tips in thinking ahead:

  • Make long lasting salads over the weekend.  Salads like Moroccan carrot salad, fresh carrot salad, cucumber salad, corn salad are all great dishes that will keep for quite a few days in the fridge.   Our first course on shabbos is usually lots and lots of salads – if you make a large amount of each you can use one a day as a refreshing side dish during the week. 
  • Just keep cutting.   If you are making a salad that doesn’t keep well after seasoning, like lettuce  salad or Israeli salad than cut a large amount to store in a the fridge and season only what you need for now.  Tomorrow, you can pull out the container and season another few portions and voila – a freshly made salad.
  • Be prepared.  If you already have your food processor out, then go ahead and add an extra few carrots or zucchini or whatever it is you are grating.  Place the extra in a sandwich baggie and freeze it.  When you are a throwing together a last minute soup, just tear open the bag and throw those shredded veggies in!  The same goes for garlic pressing or chopping parsley – just go ahead and freeze some.  (According to Jewish law, it is important to add some salt to unpeeled garlic if leaving it overnight before mixing it into another mixture.)
  • Why not cook it? So, this may sound strange, but when you have half a bowl of tomato basil salad leftover and you know that no one is going to eat it tomorrow, you can toss that into your chicken, brisket, or homemade tomato sauce and you have a delicacy!  You can even freeze it and save it for an opportune entrée!  This applies to many salads like carrot or three colored pepper salad.  Just use your imagination before rushing to throw those wilting veggies out!  You may just save yourself lots of cutting time.

Here are a few recipes that are real quickies, but using the above tips you can cut already minimal preparation time in half! 

Sumptuous Chicken and Veggies 

This chicken can be extremely moist and juicy, depending on the pan you choose to bake it in.   I suggest a Pyrex or corning ware with a tight fitting lid for best results.  If unavailable, try wrapping the pan very well with tin foil to prevent moisture escaping.  Use whatever vegetables are handy and easy, below are my suggestions.  The onion and tomato are essential though, as they are key contributors to the amount of juice. 

Serves 4 -6 

  • 1 onion cut into quarters
  • 3 large potatoes, peeled or scrubbed and cut into cubes
  • 1 large sweet potato, peeled or scrubbed and cut into ½” wide circles
  • 2 carrots, peeled or scrubbed and cut into sticks
  • 2 zucchinis, scrubbed and cut into half circles
  • 1 tomato, sliced
  • 1 cup butternut squash, peeled and cubed
  • 1 cup of canned or fresh green beans, washed and snipped 
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 Tablespoon Oregano
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • Salt and Pepper to taste 
  • 1 chicken, cut in eight or
  • 4 Chicken thighs or
  • 4 pieces of chicken breast or
  • One package Chicken wings 

Directions:  Preheat oven to 375 Fahrenheit.  Place all vegetables in Pyrex roasting pan.  Add spices and toss.  Dip chicken pieces in the vegetable mixture to coat with spices and then place on top of the vegetable layer.  Bake for 50 minutes or until potatoes are tender and chicken is completely cooked.


Choose Your Ending Soup

This soup is so versatile.  The basic beginning is simple and quick and you can add whatever you would like to give it its name.   Put in lentils and it is lentil soup, barleys and you have barley soup.  Just remember, whichever legume or grain you add will determine the required cooking time.  Red lentils, quinoa s or white rice cook very quickly, whereas wheat berries or brown rice need at least half an hour longer, but are also more filling.

Serves 6 

  • 2 Tablespoons oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 cups shredded carrots
  • 1 cup shredded zucchini
  • 1 tomato, grated or cubed
  • 2 teaspoons curry
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric
  • Kosher Salt , to taste
  • Black Pepper, to taste
  • 4 cups boiling water 
  • One of the following:
  • 2 cups red lentils, rinsed or
  • 1 cup white or brown rice or
  •  ¾ quinoa or
  • 1 cup wheat berries or
  • 1 cup barley
  • Or ¾ cup whole bulgur 

Directions: Heat oil in large soup pot.  Add onions and sauté, covered,  on medium low heat till soft.  Add carrots, zuchinni, tomato and spices and sauté, covered,  for an additional five minutes on medium-low heat.  Add boiling water and red lentils or other legumes.  Cook on medium low heat, stirring occasionally, until the legumes are very soft.  If soup is too thick, add water. Cooking time varies, depending on ingredients.   Serve with toasted bread or warm pitas.


Crispy Oven Baked Potatoes with Sour Cream Sauce

An old time American favorite is baked potatoes, but let’s be honest, who has an hour and a half for that potato to cook all the way through?  Your family will love this speedy and crispy version!  Add a platter of freshly cut veggies or a cucumber salad and you have dinner!

Serves 6

  • 8 potatoes, peeled or scrubbed and cut into cubes
  • 2 Tablespoons oil
  • ½ Tablespoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon Paprika  
  • 1 pint sour cream
  • 1 ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 4 green onions, chopped or 1 Tablespoon chopped dill
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced 

Directions: Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.    Line large baking sheet with parchment paper.  In a large mixing bowl, toss potatoes with oil and spices.  Spread evenly on baking sheet.  Bake until potatoes are soft and edges are browned or until desired crispiness, about 25 minutes. 

Meanwhile, pour sour cream into small mixing bowl, add salt pepper, green onions or dill and garlic. 

Serve with hot potatoes!


Shleppy Moes

A homemade version of a childhood favorite dish.  Fast to prepare and a real crowd pleaser! 

Serves 6

  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 5 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 ½ pounds ground beef
  • ½  cup of dry red wine
  • 3 Tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 Tablespoon prepared mustard
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon basil, dried or fresh
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cayenne pepper ( optional)  

In medium saucepot , heat oil.  Add onion and sauté , covered, till soft over medium-low heat.  Add garlic, and bell peppers.  Saute, covered, for another three minutes.  Crumble the ground meat over the vegetables.  Do not mix.  Cover and allow meat to cook.  When meat has turned gray in color, mix and add the wine, tomato paste, mustard, and spices.   There should be enough sauce from the meat and vegetables themselves, but if not, add ¼ cup of water to create sauce.  Simmer for 10-15 minutes on low fire.   Serve over hamburger bun, toasted challah or rice.


Related Article: Chicken Wings

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