Dinner Dash: Bailing Out Dinner – Essential Ingredients for Meals in a Hurry

What to do when you need to cook a meal with minimal ingredients

Here’s the situation: you’re done work for the day – you are pretty darn tired. Something goes wrong with your plans, and you find out last minute you have to make a home-cooked dinner from scratch.

To make matters worse, your pantry is pretty bare – with no time to buy groceries.  Don’t panic. In MOMeo’s new feature column, here are some simple recipes that use common food staples in any barely-stocked kitchen.

An extra hint; here are some power ingredients we always recommend having on standby:

Rice. It doesn’t matter what kind, but the best value is one of the giant bags they keep near the supermarket floor.

Soup stock. Add this to almost everything in place of water, to thin out sauces, and make risotto.

Dried pasta. The simplest and easiest thing to make in a hurry is hot pasta salad with some kind of savory salad dressing as the sauce. Try roasted red pepper or balsamic vinaigrette.

Frozen vegetables. We can’t survive on starch alone, no matter how much you may want to. These can be added to almost anything, from stir-fries to soups.

Spice rack. Whether simple or expansive, why even have a kitchen if you don’t have a spice rack?

Garlic. It goes in everything!

Fried Rice

4 cups pre-cooked rice

1 cup frozen vegetables

2 tbsp soy sauce

1 tbsp oil

1 tsp allspice

1tsp garlic or garlic powder

1. Heat oil in a wok or sauté pan.
2. If using fresh garlic, add it now. If not, skip this step.
3. Add the frozen vegetables and heat until tender but not fully cooked.
4. Add the rice and stir well.
5. Mix in the soy sauce, allspice, and if using it, the garlic powder.  You may find you prefer to add more soy sauce, so feel free to add more to taste.

This is an incredibly easy, fast, and versatile dish. You can add anything else that you may have on hand, like frozen chicken breasts, frozen shrimp, and of course, fresh veggies like green or white onions, bell peppers or celery.

Oven Roasted Chicken Breast with Ginger-Mint Peas

4 frozen chicken breasts

1 lemon, juiced

4 tbsp (30 ml) olive oil

2 tsp (4 g) dried thyme

2 tsp (4 g) dried rosemary

2 tsp (4 g) dried sage 
salt and pepper to taste

1. Run cold water over chicken breasts until thawed.
2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (177 degrees C)
3. Place all ingredients, including the chicken, in a bowl and mix well.
4. Transfer chicken to a greased baking sheet, skin side down.  Place in oven.
5. Cooking time may vary, but 20 minutes should be about right. Be sure to check doneness before serving. While chicken is in the oven, move on to the peas.

Ginger-Mint Peas

2 cups (420 g) frozen peas

1 tbsp (15 ml) olive oil

1 tsp (2 g) grated ginger

3-4 fresh mint leaves, (or 1 bag of mint tea, string removed)

1. In a wok or no-stick skillet, heat the oil and add the ginger.
2. Add the frozen peas and stir frequently until all peas are just a little soft.
3. Add all of the mint leaves (or the mint tea bag, if using) and stir until peas are fully cooked.
4. Serve with chicken, fish or even pork, or as a speedy snack on its own.

Yields dinner for four. Total cooking time; approximately 30 minutes.

Want more ideas for meals in a hurry? Join us every week for a new Dinner Dash or even better, subscribe to our RSS feed!

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About Melissa Kay

  • http://twitter.com/eMommieDotCom Farah Hottle

    We always add scrambled egg to our fried rice. Funny, my mom always added peas too (only way we would eat them) and now I want to try Ginger-Mint Peas in my next fried rice!

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