Favorite Quick Dinners

November 5, 2017

I try to cook dinner as much as possible, but it can be a challenge coming up with healthy meal ideas that don’t take 3 hours to complete or require complicated cooking gadgets I don’t have space for in my tiny kitchen. To resist the siren song of Seamless on a weeknight, I’ve come to rely on a handful of simple dishes that can be thrown together in 45 minutes or less.


My go to pasta recipe that takes less than 15 minutes from start to finish. Omit the chicken sausage for a vegetarian version.


Italian chicken sausage (I like the Trader Joe’s version) or pork sausage, sliced into rounds

1 lb dry pasta

¼ cup grated parmesan

1 cup homemade pesto (recipe here)

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

  1. Cook pasta according to package instructions in salted water
  2. While pasta is cooking, heat olive oil in a medium size skillet over medium heat for 2 minutes
  3. Add sliced sausage to skillet and cook 5 minutes or until browned
  4. Add homemade pesto to the skillet and turn heat down to low; cook 2 minutes (or longer if reheating pesto from frozen)
  5. Drain pasta and reserve ½ cup of pasta water
  6. Add cooked pasta to the skillet and turn off heat; stir to combine with pesto and sausage
  7. Add parmesan; add pasta water if needed to achieve desired sauce consistency
  8. Stir well and spoon into bowls. Top with additional parmesan or red pepper flakes if desired



I usually make this with ground turkey, but feel free to modify to make vegetarian or vegan versions. To speed up total cooking time, I like to prepare a big batch of rice and beans early in the week to use for lunches and dinners for a few days. You can also double or triple the recipe for the seasoning mix and keep in a mason jar to have on hand.


1 Tbsp each of chili powder and ground cumin

¼ tsp each of garlic powder, onion powder, crushed red pepper flakes, and dried oregano

½ tsp each of paprika, sea salt, and black pepper

1 tbsp olive oil

1 lb ground turkey

1 cup frozen or fresh peppers and onions mix

½ cup shredded mexican blend cheese

Guacamole, sour cream, or avocado for topping (optional)

1-2 cups cooked rice of your choice (I like spanish or yellow rice)

1 cup cooked black beans

  1. Combine dried spices in a small bowl; set aside
  2. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat
  3. Add ground turkey and cook until almost browned
  4. Add frozen vegetables and cook until tender and turkey is browned
  5. Add spice mix and ¼ cup water; lower heat and simmer until sauce has formed and thickened
  6. Remove skillet from heat. Add rice and beans to a bowl and top with turkey and veggie mixture and any desired toppings such as guacamole or sour cream



This one pan dish is super simple. Marinate the chicken in the morning before work and pop in the oven when you get home for a balanced dinner that practically cooks itself. This recipe is easily adaptable for different tastes and seasons; replace the red potatoes with sweet potatoes or butternut squash, or swap in brussels sprouts for green beans.


16 ounces baby red potatoes, quartered

16 ounces fresh green beans

2 tablespoons olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

6 bone in, skin on chicken thighs

¼ cup feta cheese (optional)

For the marinade:

¼ cup olive oil

Juice of 1 lemon

1 tablespoon red or white wine vinegar

1 tablespoon dried oregano

2 teaspoons minced garlic

Salt and pepper to taste

  1. In a gallon size ziploc bag, combine all marinade ingredients; add chicken to the bag, seal and shake well. Refrigerate for at least 20 minutes or up to 6 hours.
  2. Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees F. Lightly oil a 9×13 casserole dish or coat with non-stick spray
  3. Place potatoes and green beans in a single layer in the dish. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper to taste
  4. Remove chicken from ziploc bag. Add chicken to baking dish in a single layer
  5. Place into oven and cook until chicken is completely cooked through, reaching an internal temperature of 165 degrees F, about 30-35 minutes.
  6. Move dish to broiler and broil for 3-4 minutes until tops of chicken is golden brown or slightly charred
  7. Remove from broiler and top with feta cheese. Cool 5 minutes and serve.


Photo by Emily Barbeau

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