Fall into Easy Weeknight Dinners | One Pot, One Pan or Skillet

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After the long. lazy days of summer, fall is such a busy time; it sometimes feels like someone pushed the fast-forward button on our lives. School is back in session and after-school sports and activities keep parents going non-stop, juggling work and carpool. Sometimes the most dreaded question a parent hears during the after-school hours is, “What’s for dinner?” Even if you don’t have children, frequently the weather is so lovely this time of year, just being outside is a priority and the thought of spending hours in the kitchen is unappealing.

As a personal chef, I frequently make up to 15 different dishes on a cooking day. I can’t possibly braise meats for hours or make recipes with many ingredients that require multiple steps and countless dishes to wash. My answer to this dilemma is an easy yet delicious recipe made in one pot, one pan or skillet. These dishes also reheat well, so you can make them ahead of time on the weekend and just heat and serve on a particularly busy night. You can also double the recipes and have extras for healthy lunches— another time-saving bonus!

Keeping your pantry stocked with a few staples and a little planning ahead will allow you to avoid the drive-through and put a healthy dinner on the table in quick fashion.

These recipes are all client favorites, and the ones you’ll want to keep in rotation!

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BEST EGG ROLL BOWL (3 LARGE SERVINGS)
All the flavors of an egg roll packed with ground pork, turkey or chicken and lots of vegetables: cabbage, carrot, red pepper and onion.

  • 1 tablespoon olive or avocado oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
  • 1 lb. ground pork, ground turkey, or ground chicken
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1/2 onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup shredded carrot
  • 1/4 green cabbage, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sriracha (or to taste if you are sensitive to heat)
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
  • 4 green onions, thinly
  • sliced toasted slivered almonds to taste

In a large skillet over medium heat, heat oil. Add garlic and ginger and cook until fragrant, 1-2 minutes. Add pork and cook until no pink remains.

Push pork to the side and add the sesame oil. Add onion, shredded carrots, slivered red peppers, and cabbage. Stir to combine with meat and add soy sauce and Sriracha. Cook until cabbage is tender, 5-8 minutes. Transfer mixture to a serving dish and garnish with green onions, sesame seeds, and almonds. Kids especially enjoy eating this dish with chopsticks!(Adapted from delish.com).


JAMIE OLIVER’S PASTA WITH SMOKED BACON & PEAS (4 GENEROUS SERVINGS)
Technically this uses two pans, but it’s just a large pan in which to boil the pasta, so cleanup is still minimal.

  • Sea salt
  • 10 slices smoked bacon or pancetta
  • 1 pound dried mini-shell or other small pasta
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups frozen peas
  • 2 tablespoons crème fraîche or heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh mint leaves
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 6 ounces finely grated Parmesan cheese

Bring a large pot of water, lightly salted, to a boil. Meanwhile, cut sliced bacon crosswise into thin slivers, or slice pancetta into julienne. Add pasta to boiling water and cook to taste. While pasta is cooking, place a large skillet over medium heat, and add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and 1 tablespoon of butter. Add bacon or pancetta and a sprinkling of pepper, and fry until golden and crisp. Immediately add frozen peas and stir for a minute or two. Add crème fraîche or heavy cream and chopped mint.

Reserve 1 cup of the pasta cooking water and drain the pasta. Add pasta to the skillet and stir. Add lemon juice and adjust salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a simmer, then remove from heat. The mixture should be thick; if desired, a splash of the pasta water may be added to the sauce to thin it slightly. Add Parmesan and stir to mix.


CAJUN SHRIMP & SAUSAGE SHEET PAN DINNER (4-6 SERVINGS)
A quick, delicious meal with tons of vegetables. The variations are countless as you can substitute any vegetables or sausages you prefer.

  • 1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 14 ounces chicken or pork sausage links, sliced into rounds (I like the sweet apple chicken sausage for a sweet & spicy dish)
  • 1 medium-sized zucchini, sliced
  • 1 medium-sized yellow squash, sliced
  • 1/2 bunch asparagus, sliced into thirds
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped into chunks
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped into chunks
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1-2 tablespoons cajun seasoning (be cautious if sensitive to heat)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Chop vegetables and slice sausages. On a large sheet pan, add the sausage, zucchini, yellow squash, asparagus, bell pepper and salt and pepper. Add olive oil and cajun seasoning and toss until coated. Spread evenly onto a sheet pan. Bake in preheated oven for about 15 minutes. Add shrimp, stirring ingredients together and spreading evenly. Bake for 10 more minutes or until shrimp is pink and vegetables are tender. (Adapted from the recipecritic.com).


EASY ONE-SKILLET CREAMY CILANTRO LIME CHICKEN (4 SERVINGS)

  • 1 pound chicken tenderloins (they cook much faster than chicken breasts or thighs)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped onion
  • 2 cloves garlic (crushed or minced)
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • juice of 1 lime (or 2 tablespoons lime juice)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro (if you are sensitive to cilantro, substitute parsley)
  • 1/4 teaspoon of red pepper flakes (more if you like it spicy)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream or half and half (or sour-cream or greek yogurt)

In a large, heavy-duty skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Season chicken tenderloins generously with salt and pepper. Add the chicken to the skillet and cook for 4-5 minutes, turning once or twice until chicken is cooked through. Remove chicken from skillet and set aside until cooled enough to handle. (All tenderloins have a tough tendon running through them; after cooking it is easy to remove it by just pulling it with your fingers.)

Add onions to the same skillet (without washing it) and cook the onion for 2-3 minutes. Add garlic and cook for just 30 seconds. Add chicken broth, lime juice, cilantro, red pepper flakes, and salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a gentle boil for 8-10 minutes or until liquid is reduced by 1/4 cup.

Whisk in cream during the last minute. Turn off heat and return chicken to the sauce. Garnish with more cilantro. Serve with a side of steamed veggies or rice. Enjoy! (Adapted from gimmedelicious.com)

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