Good Eats: Easy Weeknight Meals

Usually my “Good Eats” posts will profile a great restaurant that I’ve visited and loved. Today I decided to do something a little bit different and talk about some really easy and really good meals I’ve put together for dinners during the week. I like to think my cooking is some pretty “good eats” and I wanted to get a chance to relate my love of good food to you friends who can’t visit the restaurants in my neighborhood.

During the week, I like to keep my meals super easy and super cheap. As much as I love to drag out my cookbooks and explore different recipes, after a long day of work, that’s not always going to happen. What I like to do is evaluate what I think is going to happen and plan my meal difficulty accordingly, which usually means that Friday is basically the easiest meal I can think of. So for weeknight meals, I come up with meals that have a few easy ingredients but are big on flavor and quick, quick, quick.

* Since I never take any pictures of my quick easy meals, I’m borrowing these pictures from Pinterest. All pictures link to the recipe for the dish and, while I may not have tried these recipes, they look delicious and are probably worth a try!

The Classic Stir Fry

The thing that makes a stir fry super easy is that you can pull whatever vegetables and/or meats that are taking up space in your fridge, chop them up, and cook them to perfection and it will taste delicious. I’ve put this meal in this week’s plans since I have one leftover chicken breast hanging out in the freezer. Why do supermarkets sell packs of three chicken breasts? Poor couples like Nick and I inevitably have one lonely chicken breast that we have to use up some way. A quick stir fry is the perfect way to use it up. Add in some chopped veggies and it’s very filling.

Here’s how to make it quick and easy: Start by making some rice per package directions, which you’ll add into the stir fry later. If you have leftover rice from another dinner or takeout, you can easily use that too. Heat a large pan over medium heat. Once it’s hot, add some vegetable oil in and once it’s nice and hot, add in any veggies you like. I always have green peppers, carrots, and onions lying around so those are staples of my stir fry. Once they’ve been heated through and are starting to soften (onions will be translucent), add in your chopped chicken breast. Cook this thoroughly and then add in some stir fry sauce. I’ve been trying many different styles at the grocery store and have found that they are almost all delicious so you can’t go wrong. Let that cook for about 1-2 minutes more then add in your cooked rice. Combine all the ingredients, serve, and enjoy!

The Burger

Nick and I would enjoy a burger every night of the week if it wasn’t frowned upon. Burgers are just so easy to whip up and I’m not talking about those frozen hockey pucks. All you have to do is grab some ground beef and shape them into the perfect sized patty for you. Add some salt and pepper and, if you’re feeling a little decadent, pop some tiny cubes of butter into the meat per Paula Deen (I know, I know, not the best source for healthy eating but it makes for a great burger). You can place the patties under the broiler or heat them in a pan over medium high heat. Nick and I have been using the griddle plate we got for Christmas and getting great results. Burgers are pretty awesome because you can add to them: fry up some bacon, roast some mushrooms, saute some onions, whatever you like and make them a part of your meal.

Grown-up Chicken Fingers

Sometimes I am feeling super lazy but don’t want to seem like it. That’s when I decide to bread and fry something, making it look like my table belongs in a fancy Italian restaurant instead of the somewhat dusty apartment where it really lives. My favorite thing to do is slice a chicken breast into strips, coat them with flour, dip them in egg, and coat with panko bread crumbs before frying them up in a little hot olive oil. Pair with plain pasta and it looks like I tried when really I just made a grown up version of chicken fingers. I’m probably going to try this with eggplant soon, so I know what to do when I have my vegetarian friends over.

Having quick cook meals for the weeknight is an essential for me. Sometimes I want to spend that extra time laid out on the couch doing nothing rather than stirring a pot in the kitchen. Do you have any go-to weeknight meals?

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