Cooking on weeknights can be intimidating at first. But these three meals aren’t! They are beginner friendly meals using ingredients you can find in any grocery store. How do I know? I make them all the time. Chicken Marsala is my favorite dish to make on a night where I feel crappy, get home late, or just don’t want to spend time in the kitchen. Korean Beef is a meal I make as much as possible, because it’s downright delicious. And this risotto? It’s a one pot, well-balanced meal that will steal the show. I literally just murmur, “this is so good” over and over while eating. I don’t even care how awkward that sounds.
The key to a quick and easy meal is preparation
The key to a quick and easy meal is preparation – get everything ready before you start cooking. Whether that’s right before you cook or two days prior (produce only, though!), you’ll earn a lot of time back for your efforts. The biggest time waster when you’re following a new recipe is the preparation. It can also cause you burn to something. If all the ingredients are ready, you can simply throw them into the dish as you read along.
Attention mushroom haters: do not run away! I hated mushrooms for years, and somehow still made this dish. How? I cut them into large slices and tossed them after flavoring the sauce. I’m not an advocate of waste, but I also understand the visceral reaction to certain vegetables- lettuce, in my case. Yuck! My point is if you’re in a hurry, and you’ve got these ingredients, you don’t have to skip this dish after all.
Chicken Marsala is great with rice pilaf, potatoes, roasted tomatoes, green beans and/or a hunk of artisan bread. I’ve eaten this dish with all of those.
- 1 8 ounce package of button mushrooms.
- 1 pound chicken tenders
- 3/4 Marsala wine (available next to the vinegar in grocery stores)
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 tablespoon dried rosemary
- 1 tablespoon dried parsley
- 1/4 cup flour
1. Chop the mushrooms into small pieces. Heat a large frying pan to medium, and toss mushrooms onto pan with 1 tsp olive oil. Sprinkle a pinch of salt and allow mushrooms to reduce, stirring occasionally. Remove the mushrooms to a plate, but keep the pan on medium heat.
2. Using the same cutting board, place chicken cutlets on top. Cover with a piece of plastic wrap and using a meat mallet or anything heavy/durable. Flatten the chicken cutlets until they are about ¼ inch thick. This really only takes one or two hits. You can also buy the already flattened pieces at the grocery store, FYI.
3. Lightly cover base of frying pan with olive oil. Drag the chicken pieces through the flour until coated, and add to frying pan. Repeat with each tender. Cook on each side for about 2-3 minutes. Once it’s fully cooked and golden on each side, remove chicken to another plate.
4. Combine Marsala wine, water, rosemary, and parsley in a small bowl. Pour into pan – its going to immediately bubble up and start steaming. Use this opportunity to vigorously scrub the bottom with a wooden spoon or spatula to release any flavorful bits. Turn the sauce to low and let simmer for a couple of minutes. Add mushrooms and let simmer for 5 or so minutes. Add chicken back into dish and serve.
Green Beans. Heat a small frying pan on high heat. Wait until the pan is good and hot, and then add green beans. Continuously toss them around with tongs so they don’t burn. When the green beans have turned to a different shade of green and are warm to the touch, add 2-3 to COLD water, cover, and turn heat to medium. Cook for five minutes, and sprinkle with olive oil and a dash of salt. I make this side at least once a week.
Roasted Tomato Slices. Slice a medium tomato into four, 1/2- 1/4 inch slices. Lay on a baking pan and sprinkle with salt, pepper, and a dash of olive oil. Roast on the broil setting of your oven for about 10 minutes. Remove from oven and add some grated parmesan cheese or a hunk of mozzarella. It all tastes so good that I honestly just use whatever cheese I have on the day in question.
Korean Beef with Stir Fried Vegetables
I’m not sure how better to sell this dish than to say it’s amazing. I’m a sucker for stir-fry. It’s crunchy, savory, and spicy. And the honey in this recipe adds a bit of sweetness that is just so perfect. This is a very versatile meal, and you can basically interchange any of the vegetables below. I often change it up myself; depending on whatever leftover produce I have my fridge. Just be sure to know how long each vegetable needs to cook and put it in the frying pan in order of which veggie takes the longest. Nobody likes mushy vegetables.
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
- 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1/2 cup soy sauce
- 1/4 cup honey
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 pound ground beef, try for either 90% or 94% lean
- 1 head of broccoli, chopped
- 1/2 medium onion, sliced
- 1 red bell pepper, sliced
- 1 orange pepper, sliced
- 4 ounce brown mushrooms cut into fours
- Green onion and sesame seeds for garnish
1. Rinse and chop all of the veggies.
2. Combine the garlic, ginger, red pepper flakes, soy sauce, honey, and sesame oil in a small container.
3. Set a large frying pan (or wok if you have one!) to high heat. Add broccoli, continuously tossing it around the pan with a spoon or tongs. After about a minute, add the onions. Wait to add the rest of the veggies until the broccoli turns a brighter shade of green (approx. 3-4 minutes). Cook the veggies on high heat for another 5-8 minutes, until fully cooked. Then add half of the sauce and turn to simmer.
4. Set another slightly oiled frying pan on stove, on medium heat. Add ground beef and cook until browned – approx. 5-8 minutes. Use your spatula to break up the meat while it’s cooking. Once browned, drain liquid from the meat and add the remaining half of the sauce.
5. Cook the starch of your choice! I love udon noodles, but if you’re a traditionalist, steamed rice will taste just fine.
6. Serve your meal and garnish with green onion and sesame seeds.
Voila! This is one of my all-time favorite, never-gets-old meals. I probably eat it once a week because its delicious, its quick, and boy do you get a lot of veggies in… Which means I get a free pass on the cupcake I inevitably eat as an afternoon snack!
Mushroom and Artichoke Risotto
I am supremely excited to share this recipe. We have a neighborhood restaurant that services authentic, unapologetically good Italian food. It is so good that I wanted to eat there every Wednesday night…and Thursday, and why not Friday, too? We all know it’s not possible, but I asked anyways. This recipe is the homemade version of their delicious artichoke risotto.
So these SEEM like a lot of steps, but that’s only because I write my recipes like a lawyer, and we can’t help ourselves when it comes to over-articulating. It truly is an easy recipe, and once you’ve made one risotto, you’ve made them all. So make this dish, eat a delicious meal, and you’ll officially be able to make fancy sounding meals. Hooray!
- 8 oz button mushrooms, chopped (don’t let the giant mound scare you! They reduce by about half when cooked)
- 5 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 can artichokes, chopped (save the juice!)
- 1 1/2 cup Arborio rice
- 3/4 cup white wine
- 2 tablespoon pepper
- 4 cup chicken or veggie broth
- Remaining artichoke juice
- 1 cup water
- 3/4 cup parmesan cheese
- 1 teaspoon butter
1. Heat chicken broth, water, and remaining artichoke juice until it reaches a simmer.
2. Add 1-2 tablespoon olive oil in a medium sized pot or Dutch oven (2.5-2.5 qt. capacity is perfect). Add the chopped mushrooms and cook on medium heat about 3-4 minutes. They are cooked when the volume of the mushrooms has reduced by half.
3. Add garlic and artichoke and cook until heated, about 3-4 minutes. Sprinkle half the salt into the dish at this point.
3. Add Arborio rice and cook for about 1 minute, just enough to get the grains warm. Add wine and stir the bottom of the pot vigorously until you think all of the little bits have come loose. You’ll thank me for that later – holy flavor! After that, stir continuously until the wine has evaporated.
Tip: the mixture should be bubbling a little (a light simmer). You’ll know the heat is too high if rice starts sticking to the bottom of the pan.
4. Add the simmering liquid, about 1 cup at a time, to the mixture. Stir continuously as it evaporates. This will take about 3 or so minutes per cup. Drinking a glass of wine while cooking definitely helps the time pass by! Using the above method, add all of the liquid, until the rice is tender. If it’s too soupy, then continue to stir and cook a bit longer. If the rice isn’t tender yet, just add more warm water (1/2 cup at a time) and stir continuously.
5. Sprinkle on the remaining salt and pepper. Add Parmesan cheese and butter, and stir just until incorporated.
Shout out to the meat lovers of the world who need meat in every meal, I’ve got one of those myself. Despite this, my husband eagerly devours this dish as his dinner. If you’re worried about staying full, add 1/2 cup cooked green lentils at the last step. Doesn’t this sound delicious!? I’d whip some up right now but its almost bedtime and I just ate all that Chicken Marsala (Yea…that was my dinner plate).
So there you have it, my friends. Three delicious, healthy, weeknight meals. Enjoy!
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