Category Archives: Fast Friday

Cashew Kung Po Chicken

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It is Fast Friday again and time for another fast and fabulous dinner suggestion. If you are anything like me, by the time Friday rolls around the last thing you want to do to cook a big meal yet we all still have to eat.  The dishes featured in this series aren’t necessarily fancy but they bring together simple ingredients most people already have in their pantries or have easy access to and allow you to put a real meal on the table in between 30 and 45 minutes.  Enjoy and if you have your own fast recipes you want to share, please send them my way and I will in turn share them with all of my readers.

I love Chinese food and often resort to getting take out in order to fulfill my cravings. But more often than not I am disappointed. The food arrives soggy and lukewarm and lacks the real flavors I’m craving. But the reality is that so many Chinese dishes are incredibly easy and quick to make so there really isn’t any reason not to make them yourself.

Case in point is this kung po chicken dish from Noble Pig. It is fast, delicious and because you are making it yourself you can adjust the spiciness to your liking, which in my case is very hot. The key to ensuring that your dish is fresh and flavorful is to prep all of your ingredients before you begin cooking. Do this and not only will your meal be great but it will be done and on the table in a flash. Enjoy!

CASHEW KUNG PO CHICKEN
1-1/3 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1/2″ pieces
5 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons sherry
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons cornstarch
2 teaspoons sugar
2 tablespoons  rice vinegar
2 teaspoons Asian sesame oil
1/3 cup water
2 tablespoons cooking oil
3/4 cup cashews
4 scallions, white bulbs and green tops cut separately into 1/2″ pieces
1/4 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes, more or less depending upon your preferences

  • In a medium bowl, toss the chicken with 1 tablespoon of the soy sauce, 1 tablespoon of the sherry and 1 tablespoon of the cornstarch.
  • In a small bowl, combine the sugar, vinegar, sesame oil, water and the remaining 4 tablespoons of soy sauce, 1 tablespoon of sherry and 2 teaspoons of cornstarch.
  • In a large wok, heat  1 tablespoon of the oil over moderately high heat.
  • Add the cashews, stirring until light brown, about 30 seconds.  Remove from the pan.
  •  Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon oil in the wok.
  • Add the white part of the scallions and the red-pepper flakes to the pan and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds.
  • Add the chicken with its marinade and cook, stirring, until almost done, 1 to 2 minutes.
  •  Add the soy sauce mixture and the scallion tops and simmer until the chicken is just done, about 1 minute longer.
  • Stir in the cashews.
  • Serve over steamed rice.

Serves 4

 

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Creamy Ravioli w/ Squash, Lemon & Chives

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It is Fast Friday again and time for another fast and fabulous dinner suggestion. If you are anything like me, by the time Friday rolls around the last thing you want to do to cook a big meal yet we all still have to eat.  The dishes featured in this series aren’t necessarily fancy but they bring together simple ingredients most people already have in their pantries or have easy access to and allow you to put a real meal on the table in between 30 and 45 minutes.  Enjoy and if you have your own fast recipes you want to share, please send them my way and I will in turn share them with all of my readers.

I absolutely love this pasta dish from Noble Pig. The ingredients are quite simple–pasta, either fresh or frozen, summer squash and bit of cheese and cream. But when these ingredients are pulled all together the results are truly delicious. The secret is the combination of cream and parmesan cheese combined with bright and tangy lemon zest. It is unexpected yet so welcome. And as an added bonus you truly get a balanced meal in a single dish thanks in part to a generous amount of squash. What a perfect end of the week meal. Enjoy!

CREAMY RAVIOLI w/ SQUASH, LEMON & CHIVES

16 to 18 ounces cheese ravioli
1 Tablespoon olive
1 shallot, chopped
3 summer squash (zucchini and/or yellow squash; about 1-1/2 pounds), thinly sliced
Kosher salt and black pepper
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 Tablespoon grated lemon zest
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives

  • Cook the pasta according to the package directions.  Reserve 1/2 cup of the cooking water; drain the pasta and return it to the pot.
  • Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the shallot and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, 3 to 4 minutes.
  • Add the squash and 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper to the skillet.
  • Cook, tossing often, until the vegetables are just beginning to soften, 4 to 5 minutes.
  • Add the cream and lemon zest and cook until the vegetables are tender and the cream is slightly thickened, about 1 to 2 minutes.
  • Add the squash mixture, grated cheese and 1/4 cup of the reserved cooking water to the cooked ravioli and toss gently to coat. Add additional reserved water if the sauce is too dry.
  •  Serve sprinkled with the chives.

Moroccan Spiced Pork Chops

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 It’s Fast Friday again and time for another fast and fabulous dinner suggestion. If you are anything like me, by the time Friday rolls around the last thing I want to do is cook a big meal yet we all still have to eat. The dishes featured in this series aren’t necessarily fancy but they bring together simple ingredients most people already have in their pantries or have easy access to and allow you to put a real meal on the table in between 30 and 45 minutes. Enjoy and if you have your own fast recipes you want to share, please send them my way and I will in turn share them with all of my readers.
Apples are the perfect foil for the warm and fragrant spices we associate with Moroccan cooking. Cumin, coriander and cloves complement the tartness of apples, mellowing the fruit and making it absolutely delicious. I most often think of these flavors resulting from a slow cooked tagine dish but with this recipe from Cooking Light you can enjoy these flavors in a lot less time.
MOROCCAN SPICED PORK CHOPS
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 6 ounce boneless pork loin chops
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/2 small onion, diced
2 tart apples, peeled and chopped (I prefer Granny Smith)
1 cup apple cider

 **Moroccan Spice Mixture:

1 tablespoon cumin seeds
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
1/2 tablespoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon cloves cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Combine all of the ingredients in a small bowl. Set aside.
For the pork:
  • Rub 1 teaspoon of the Moroccan Spice Mixture and 1/4 teaspoon salt evenly on both sides of pork chops.
  • Melt the butter with oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
  • Cook the pork chops four minutes on each side or until done.
  • Remove the pork chops from skillet and keep warm.
  • Add the onion and salt to the drippings in skillet; cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes.
  • Stir in the apples and the cider.
  • Cover, reduce the heat to medium, and cook 5 minutes or until fruit is tender.
  • Stir in the remaining 3/4 teaspoon Moroccan Spice Mixture and 1/4 teaspoon salt; cook over medium-high heat 5 minutes.
  • Serve over the pork chops.

 

Serves 4

 

 

 

Chicken Lyonnaise Saute

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It’s Fast Friday again and time for another fast and fabulous dinner suggestion. If you are anything like me, by the time Friday rolls around the last thing I want to do is cook a big meal yet we all still have to eat. The dishes featured in this series aren’t necessarily fancy but they bring together simple ingredients most people already have in their pantries or have easy access to and allow you to put a real meal on the table in between 30 and 45 minutes. Enjoy and if you have your own fast recipes you want to share, please send them my way and I will in turn share them with all of my readers.

This chicken dish, from the Washington Post kitchens, is so delicious and fast that it proves that you don’t need a long laundry list of fancy ingredients to make great food. Onions, garlic, broth and a splash of white wine combine to form a rich sauce for simple chicken breasts. Serve the chicken with rice or another grain that will soak up the tasty sauce and you are sure to have a new family favorite.

CHICKEN LYONNAISE SAUTE

1/3 cup flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon dried thyme

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

1 large egg, lightly beaten

3 tablespoons olive oil

2 medium onions, thinly sliced

2 large garlic cloves, minced

1/3 cup dry white wine

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

2 teaspoons tomato paste

1 cup low sodium chicken broth

1/2 tablespoon sugar

  • Place the flour, salt, pepper and half of the thyme in a sturdy plastic food storage bag, seal and shake to combine.
  • Beat the egg in a medium bowl.
  • One at a time, dip the chicken pieces into the beaten egg, letting the excess drip back into the bowl, then transfer to the bag.
  • Seal and shake to coat the chicken in the flour mixture. Transfer the coated chicken pieces to a plate.
  • Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large, deep skillet over medium-high heat.
  • Once the oil shimmers, place the chicken pieces in the pan, smooth side down. Cook for 5 minutes, until golden brown, then turn the pieces over and cook for 5 minutes, until golden brown on the second side.
  • Transfer to a plate and tent with foil to keep warm.
  • Reduce the heat to medium and add the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil to the skillet.
  • Stir in the onions, garlic and remaining thyme. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 7 to 10 minutes or until the onions are translucent.
  • Increase the heat to medium-high and cook, stirring often, for 10 minutes or until a light golden brown.
  • Add the wine and vinegar; cook, stirring to scrape up any browned bits, for about 3 minutes or until the liquid has reduced by half.
  • Stir in the tomato paste, then the broth and sugar. Bring to a boil and cook for 2 minutes or until the sauce is slightly reduced.
  • Return the chicken to the skillet, along with any accumulated juices.
  • Turn the chicken pieces to coat them with the liquid, then cover, reduce the heat to medium and cook for 5 minutes or until the temperature of the thickest part of a chicken piece registers 165 degrees on an instant-read thermometer.
  • Transfer to a serving platter or individual plates, spoon the sauce over the chicken, and serve.

Serves 4

Browned Butter Flounder w/ Lemon Snap Peas

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It’s Fast Friday again and time for another fast and fabulous dinner suggestion. If you are anything like me, by the time Friday rolls around the last thing I want to do is cook a big meal yet we all still have to eat. The dishes featured in this series aren’t necessarily fancy but they bring together simple ingredients most people already have in their pantries or have easy access to and allow you to put a real meal on the table in between 30 and 45 minutes. Enjoy and if you have your own fast recipes you want to share, please send them my way and I will in turn share them with all of my readers.

This is a fast and fresh tasting dinner option adapted from Cooking Light that literally cooks in minutes (so be sure to prep all of your ingredients before beginning to cook). There are just a handful of ingredients and best of all, everything is cooked in a single pan meaning cleanup is a snap as well. I’ve used flounder in this recipe but use whatever firm white fish you prefer.

BROWNED BUTTER FLOUNDER w/ LEMON SNAP PEAS

4- 6 ounce flounder fillets

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon paprika

1/4teaspoon kosher salt

4 teaspoons olive oil, divided

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Juice of 1 lemon

Zest of 1 lemon

8 ounces sugar snap peas, trimmed

1 teaspoon grated lemon rind

  • Combine the flour, black pepper, garlic powder, paprika and salt in a shallow dish.
  • Dredge the fish in the flour mixture, shaking off any excess.
  • Heat half of the oil in a large non-stick skillet set over medium-high heat.
  • Swirl the oil to coat then add the fish to the pan, cooking for 3 minutes on each side or until the fish flakes easily with a fork.
  • Remove the fish from the pan and keep warm.
  • Reduce the heat to medium and add the butter to the pan.
  • Cook for 1 minute or until the butter begins to brown.
  • Pour the butter into a small bowl, stir in half of the lemon juice and the parsley.
  • Return the pan to medium-high heat and add the remaining oil.
  • Add the snap peas and cook for 2 to 3 minutes or until just tender crisp.
  • Stir in the remaining lemon juice and zest and serve alongside the fish topped with the brown butter.

Serves 4

Hamburger Soup

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It is Fast Friday again and time for another fast and fabulous dinner suggestion. If you are anything like me, by the time Friday rolls around the last thing you want to do to cook a big meal yet we all still have to eat.  The dishes featured in this series aren’t necessarily fancy but they bring together simple ingredients most people already have in their pantries or have easy access to and allow you to put a real meal on the table in between 30 and 45 minutes.  Enjoy and if you have your own fast recipes you want to share, please send them my way and I will in turn share them with all of my readers.

Soup is one of my favorite meals and since so many soups are quick to make, they are a  staple in my house. Filling, warming and satisfying soups make for the perfect dinner when paired with crusty bread and make even better leftovers for lunch the next day. And just about anything can be turned into a satisfying soup. This recipe, adapted from The Noble Pig has quickly become a favorite in my house where I liberally substitute the vegetables and even the ground meat depending upon what I have on hand. And thanks to the tangy and flavorful V-8, another favorite pantry staple, the broth is rich and flavorful without hours of cooking.

So if you are looking for a fast and tasty weeknight dinner idea, look no further than this soup. I promise that you won’t be disappointed.

HAMBURGER SOUP

1/4 pound pancetta, diced

2 pounds ground beef

1-1/2 cups carrots, peeled and sliced into 1 inch thick coins

1-1/2 cups celery, sliced into 1 inch pieces

1 leek, white and green parts only, thinly sliced

1 teaspoon minced garlic

1 cup frozen corn

4 cups beef broth

1 – 14 ounce can diced tomatoes

15 ounces V-8 vegetable juice

1 teaspoon ground oregano

1-1/2 teaspoons salt

1/2 pound small dry pasta

2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar

  • Place a large soup pot over medium high heat. Add the ground beef and cook until browned, using a spoon to crumble the meat.
  • Drain off the fat.
  • Add the carrots, celery, leek, corn, broth, V8, garlic and oregano to the meat mixture.
  • Increase the temperature to high and bring to a boil. Reduce the temperature to medium-low and simmer, covered, for 20 minutes.
  • Return the temperature to high, add the pasta to the pot and cook until the pasta is al dental,8-10 minutes depending upon the size of your pasta.
  • Stir in vinegar right before serving.

Serves 6-8

Chicken Marsala

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It is Fast Friday again and time for another fast and fabulous dinner suggestion. If you are anything like me, by the time Friday rolls around the last thing you want to do to cook a big meal yet we all still have to eat.  The dishes featured in this series aren’t necessarily fancy but they bring together simple ingredients most people already have in their pantries or have easy access to and allow you to put a real meal on the table in between 30 and 45 minutes.  Enjoy and if you have your own fast recipes you want to share, please send them my way and I will in turn share them with all of my readers.

Chicken Marsala is a family favorite in our house and this recipe from America’s Test Kitchen is my all time favorite.  Sweet Marsala wine combined with mushrooms result in a rich sauce that is the perfect topping for boneless chicken breasts.  If you can find them, I like to use chicken breast filets since they are thinner and cook up in just a few minutes.  If you only have chicken breasts you can either pound the meat into a uniform thickness or slice the breasts in half to make them thinner.  When paired with a pasta or mashed potatoes, this dish is fast and you can have dinner on the table in a matter of minutes.  Alternatively, you can make the chicken ahead of time and let it sit on a warm burner for up to two hours before serving.

CHICKEN MARSALA

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

4 boneless chicken breasts or 8 chicken breast filets

3 tablespoons vegetable oil

3 ounces pancetta, finely chopped

8 ounces white button mushrooms, sliced thin

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 teaspoon tomato paste

1 1/2 cups sweet Marsala wine

1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 tablespoons fresh minced parsley

Salt & pepper to taste

  • Place the flour in a shallow pan and generously season with salt and pepper. Dredge the chicken in the flour mixture and set aside.
  • Add 2 tablespoons of oil to a large skillet and heat over medium-high heat until shimmering.
  • Add the chicken and cook until light golden brown on both sides, about 10 minutes for chicken breasts and 3-4 for chicken breast filets.  Transfer to a plate.
  • Add the remaining tablespoon of oil to the skillet and heat until shimmering.
  • Add the pancetta and mushrooms to the skillet and stirring occasionally, cook until the pancetta is crisp and the mushrooms are brown, about 10 minutes.
  • Stir in the garlic and tomato paste.  Cook until the tomato paste begins to brown, about 1 minute.
  • Stir in the Marsala, scraping up any browned bits.  Simmer until reduced and slightly syrupy, about 8 minutes.
  • Stir in the lemon juice and any accumulated chicken juices.  Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the butter, one piece at a time.
  • Return the chicken to the pan.
  • If you serving the chicken immediately, proceed to the next step.  Alternatively, cover the pan and return it to low heat until ready to serve.
  • Add the parsley and season with salt and pepper.

Serves 4

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