Here are four ways to turn a basic ingredient - pasta, chicken, seafood or beef - into a satisfying meal in 15 minutes. Tack these ideas up on your refrigerator to remind yourself that a home-cooked dinner really can be simple.
Prepare one pound of pasta according to package directions. Meanwhile, combine the following in a bowl:
- 3 chopped tomatoes
- 1 clove of garlic, minced
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil (or 2 teaspoons dried)
- 6 ounces skim mozzarella cheese, cubed
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- salt and pepper
Drain the pasta and add the marinade while the pasta is still hot. Toss and serve. Approximate time: 15 minutes. If you have time, serve with a tossed green salad, or sliced cucumbers in rice vinegar dressing. Add orange or apple slices for dessert.
This chicken has a lovely south of the border taste that is easily achieved with your favorite commercial or homemade salsa.
- 3 tablespoons chicken broth
- 4 large garlic cloves, chopped
- 1 1/2 cups chopped onion
- 2 cups chopped broccoli florets and stems
- 1 medium red bell pepper, diced
- 1 medium yellow bell pepper, diced
- 1 pound boneless and skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1 inch chunks
- 6 plum tomatoes, peeled and diced
- 16 ounces drained canned kidney beans
- 1 cup salsa
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
- freshly ground black pepper
Heat a large skillet or Dutch oven over medium high heat. Add the broth, garlic, onion, and broccoli and saute for 3 minutes, or until the onion is soft. Add the bell peppers and saute for 2 more minutes. Add the remaining ingredients and cook the mixture over medium heat until it comes to a boil. Cover the pot and reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook for 5-8 minutes, or until the chicken is thoroughly cooked. Taste the mixture and add additional salt and pepper if desired. Approximate time: 15 minutes. Added benefit: very low in fat and cholesterol. Served with rice, pasta, or baked potatoes, this dish makes a full meal.
For a special touch add a small amount of crumbled feta cheese and olives to the dish, but watch how much you use of these high fat items. Two teaspoons crumbled dried basil and 1 teaspoon crumbled dried oregano can be used instead of the fresh herbs.
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 4 minced garlic cloves
- 1/2 cup chopped onions
- 8 large plum tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped
- juice and pulp of 2 lemons
- hot pepper sauce to taste
- 1 1/2 pounds sea scallops
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh basil
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh oregano
Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Saute the garlic and onion until soft. Add the tomatoes, lemon juice, lemon pulp, and hot pepper sauce. Saute for 2 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients and cook until the scallops are cooked through, about 4 minutes. Serve hot, with pasta and a green salad. Approximate time: 15 minutes.
Lean Ground Beef
- 1 pound lean ground beef
- 1 small onion chopped
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- salt, pepper to taste
- 6 ounces of salsa (use store-bought in a can or jar for fast preparation)
- 8 flour tortillas
- shredded lettuce and cheddar cheese to taste
Cook ground beef, with the onion, chili powder, salt and pepper for approximately 6 minutes. Drain off fat and add the salsa. Divide mixutre among the tortillas, top with lettuce and cheese; Roll and serve. Approximate time: 15 minutes. Add cherry tomatoes or tomato and cucumber slices to the plate; consider a cool melon or pineapple for dessert.
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WATCH: Cooking Pasta Al Dente