It's a busy time of year--the weather is getting cooler and everything just seems to speed up. It affects people differently: while I'm just trying to keep warm, for instance, my sister works hard and likes to get things accomplished. Although she doesn't come right out and say it (very often), I think she thinks I'm a little bit lazy. Just because my motto is "There must be an easier way to do this," that doesn't mean I'm lazy: I just appreciate a good shortcut. This month's shortcut: dinner recipes with an ingredient list I can count on one hand.
Each of the dinners here has just five ingredients (not counting oil, water, salt and pepper, which I don't--those are just things you never seem to run out of). That kind of simplicity means a lot less work. I only have to remember five things to buy per recipe--and just about all of the ingredients are in the title. That means my shopping list is short and it's just not going to cost me that much to make dinner tonight. I'm in and out of the store (yes, express checkout!) and home cooking in a flash.
There's a PDF for that: Download your shopping list for this week's meals here.
And none of these recipes are short on flavor. Far from it.
Chipotle-Orange Broccoli & Tofu zings with zesty orange juice and heat from chipotle peppers.
Spaghetti Genovese takes a shortcut to Italian flavor with prepared pesto. (What a useful ingredient to have on hand!)
Pork, Apple & Miso Noodle Soup incorporates another useful pantry staple, white miso. It lasts forever (well, at least a year, in the refrigerator) and brings its magic to all kinds of dishes.
Fancy-sounding Seared Salmon with Green Peppercorn Sauce actually has only four ingredients to shop for and takes just 15 minutes to make.
Roast Chicken & Sweet Potatoes (pictured above) also takes just 15 minutes of kitchen time, then gives me half an hour while it's in the oven to do other things. Like calling my sister to brag about what I'm making for dinner.
Here's what's for dinner tonight:
Roast Chicken & Sweet Potatoes
Makes: 4 servings
Active time: 15 minutes | Total: 45 minutes
Cost per serving: under $3
Caramelized sweet potatoes and red onion are the bed for chicken thighs that cook up fast in a very hot oven--perfect for a quick healthy chicken dinner. Serve with a fall salad of mixed greens, sliced apples and blue cheese.
2 tablespoons whole-grain or Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme or 2 teaspoons dried
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, divided
1 1/2-2 pounds bone-in chicken thighs, skin removed
2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 large red onion, cut into 1-inch wedges
1. Position rack in lower third of oven; preheat to 450°F. Place a large rimmed baking sheet in the oven to preheat.
2. Combine mustard, thyme, 1 tablespoon oil and 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper in a small bowl; spread the mixture evenly on chicken.
3. Toss sweet potatoes and onion in a bowl with the remaining 1 tablespoon oil and 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Carefully remove the baking sheet from the oven and spread the vegetables on it. Place the chicken on top of the vegetables.
4. Return the pan to the oven and roast, stirring the vegetables once halfway through, until the vegetables are tender and beginning to brown and an instant-read thermometer inserted into a chicken thigh registers 165°F, 30 to 35 minutes.
Per serving: 408 calories; 17 g fat (4 g sat, 9 g mono); 86 mg cholesterol; 34 g carbohydrate; 0 g added sugars; 27 g protein; 5 g fiber; 554 mg sodium; 636 mg potassium. Nutrition bonus: Vitamin A (449% daily value), Vitamin C (44% dv), Zinc (20% dv), Potassium (19% dv), Iron (16% dv).
What's your best cooking shortcut for busy weeknights?
By Wendy Ruopp
Wendy Ruopp has been the managing editor of EatingWell for most of her adult life. Although she writes about food for the Weeknights column of EatingWell Magazine, her husband does the cooking at home.
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