I am still getting requests for simple weeknight meals that don’t take a lot of time or ingredients to prepare. Keeping in mind simple doesn’t need to be bland, this collection of recipes is a variety of savory, flavorful meals that are great for adults and children alike. I hope you find a new favorite.
Rice Vermicelli Stir-Fry takes just 5 minutes to prep and 10 minutes to cook. This dish only requires a handful of ingredients but is loaded with lots of textures and flavors.
4.5 ounces vermicelli rice noodles
1 tablespoon oil
1 shallot, minced, or 2 green onions, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon ginger, minced
1 large carrot
Half head of cabbage
2 tablespoons soy sauce
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
Pinch of salt
Pinch of sugar
Prepare noodles according to package instructions. Normally, this means soaking them in warm water for 2 or 3 minutes, draining them and rinsing them in cold water to stop the cooking process. Set aside.
Shred cabbage and peel and slice the carrot into thin, noodle-like strips. A mandoline works well for this, but a sharp knife will do the trick as well. Heat a large iron skillet over high heat. Add oil, shallot or white part of the green onion, garlic and ginger and fry, stirring constantly, for 10 to 20 seconds. Add carrot and cabbage and stir fry until soft. Add rice noodles, soy sauce, red pepper flakes, salt, sugar and green parts of the green onion, if using. Mix well and stir fry for 2 minutes or until warmed through. Taste and add more salt, red pepper flakes or soy sauce if desired.
Toad in the Hole
Toad in the Hole is an English staple that the English family I lived with in college used to make at least twice a month. Once I got past the name, I found a dish I really loved.
4 large eggs
1 cup milk
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons warm bacon fat or canola oil
6 large pork sausages
Combine eggs, milk and salt in a large mixing bowl and whisk until thoroughly combined. Let stand 10 minutes until bubbles begin to subside. Sieve flour into the eggs and milk and beat thoroughly to create a smooth, lump-free batter. Cover and let rest for 30 minutes on the counter.
Preheat oven to 475 degrees. Heat 1 tablespoon of your chosen fat over medium-high heat in a large cast iron skillet. When oil is shimmering, add sausages and cook for 10 minutes, turning frequently to brown all sides. Remove from heat.
Put remaining fat in a 13-by-9 baking pan. Place in oven and heat until smoking hot. Remove from oven and evenly arrange sausages in the pan. Return to oven for 5 minutes. Once more, remove pan from oven. Slowly and carefully pour the Yorkshire pudding batter into the hot fat and over the sausages. Return to oven and cook for another 20 to 30 minutes or until pudding has risen and is golden.
Cut into large squares and serve with mashed potatoes and fresh veggies for a more substantial meal.
Cheeseburger Soup is a thick and hearty soup that preps in 15 minutes. It is perfect for a cold, wintry evening and is great served with hot rolls or French bread.
1 pound lean ground beef
¾ cup onion, finely diced
¾ cup shredded carrots
¾ cup diced celery
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried parsley flakes
4 tablespoons butter, divided
3 cups chicken broth
4 cups peeled and diced potatoes
¼ cup all-purpose flour
2 cups Velveeta cheese, cubed, or 2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded
1½ cups milk
¾ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
¼ cup sour cream
Brown ground beef in a 3-quart saucepan over medium heat. Drain and set aside. In the same pan, add 1 tablespoon butter. When melted add onions, carrots, celery, basil and parsley flakes. Sauté until tender. Add chicken broth, potatoes and beef; bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer until potatoes are tender.
In a small skillet, melt remaining butter and add flour. Cook and stir for 3-5 minutes, or until bubbly. Add to the soup and bring back to a boil. Cook and stir for 2 minutes. Reduce heat to low. Stir in milk, cheese, salt and pepper. Cook, stirring, until cheese melts. Remove from heat and blend in the sour cream.