30 Minutes or Less

Warm Balsamic Chickpea and Romaine Salad


Warm Balsamic Chickpea and Romaine Salad

2 T olive oil

2 cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1 t balsamic vinegar

2 T olive oil

1 T balsamic vinegar

head of romaine lettuce, chopped into bite-sized pieces

Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a 12 inch skillet until shimmering. Add chickpeas and sauté until they begin to brown, about ten minutes. Pour in 1 teaspoon of balsamic and stir vigorously as vinegar evaporates. Sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper. Set aside.

Whisk together 2 tablespoons of olive oil and 1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar. Chop romaine and then toss with dressing. Sprinkle lettuce with a little salt. Top with warm chickpeas and garnish with sliced tomatoes.     

Printable version here.

Notes: Caroline and Edward like the garbanzo beans but lettuce baffles them. Patrick likes the lettuce but feels garbanzo beans are the devil's legume. I can eat almost all of this for lunch, personally, but I would say it actually serves four.

Fried Rice


Fried Rice 

2 T peanut or canola oil


3/4 c carrots, small dice

3/4 c red pepper, small dice

3/4 c broccoli, cut into tiny florets and stems trimmed and cut into small pieces

1 T minced ginger

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 green onions, finely chopped

4 c cooked rice, cold

3/4 c edamame 

1/2 c baby spinach cut into strips

2 eggs, beaten

3 T soy sauce

Optional: 3/4 c chopped Canadian bacon or chopped cooked shrimp

In a large nonstick saute pan, heat the oil over medium-high until it is shimmering hot. Add broccoli, red pepper and carrots and cook until the vegetables begin to soften, about five minutes. Stir in garlic, green onions and ginger and cook one more minute. Add rice, edamame and spinach. Stir and then leave it alone for two minutes. If you are using Canadian bacon or cooked shrimp add it here. Stir again, then make a well in the center of the rice mixture. Add beaten eggs and cook, stirring, until they are scrambled. Distribute eggs through rice and remove from heat. Stir in soy sauce and serve.

Printable version here

Notes: Total leftover dinner. A few days prior I made extra rice that I intended to freeze because someone here mentioned that rice can be frozen but I had never tried it. Then I had a whats-for-dinner crisis with not really enough of anything to be useful (the refrigerated rice, a little broccoli, half a pepper, some almost empty bags of frozen stuff.) I remembered that Fine Cooking had done a fried rice at some point but I couldn't find the actual issue (I have since looked it up: Fine Cooking issue 97) so I winged it.       

PS I have been having major problems with my internet provider trying to upload pictures. Sorry for the delay in getting things up here; I have a backlog of recipes to post so check back.

Ahi Tuna Ceviche


Ahi Tuna Ceviche

1 lb sushi-grade ahi tuna, cut into quarter inch dice

1/3 c of fresh lime juice

1 T soy sauce

1.5 t dijon mustard

1 T fresh ginger, finely minced

4 green onions, finely minced

1 t fresh jalapeno, minced

1/3 c cilantro, chopped

3-4 roma tomatoes, diced small

1 avocado, diced small

In a medium bowl combine tuna and lime juice. Refrigerate for thirty minutes, stirring every so often to redistribute the lime juice. In a separate bowl whisk together soy sauce and mustard, then stir in green onions, jalapeno and ginger. Add to tuna, then gently add cilantro, tomato and avocado. Serve with tortilla chips.

Printable version here

Notes: So, yeah, ceviche.. family food blog... a little weird I know. But Steve and I love the stuff and sometimes we like to put the kids to bed and pretend we are a cocktail party of two. I thawed three 8 oz tuna fillets, pan-seared one and chopped up the other two. Caroline, Edward and Patrick split the cooked one (with ketchup and A1 respectively - I think these are the bottled-sauce-in-a-pinch years; try it plain first but then break out the familiar) and Steve and I had ceviche and wine for a late dinner. This would make a terrific starter for a small dinner party. 

Italian Sausage Meatball Subs


Italian Sausage Meatball Subs

2/3 lb ground Italian hot sausage
1/2 lb ground beef
4 slices of sandwich bread, stale or toasted or both
3 c marinara sauce, divided
1/3 c chopped fresh basil, divided
1/2 c grated Parmesan cheese

1 c shredded mozzarella cheese
1 baguette

In a bowl tear the bread into small pieces, then add 3/4 c of marinara sauce and stir. Let it sit for a few minutes to let the bread soften. Add sausage, beef, 1/4 c of fresh basil and the Parmesan cheese. Using your hands mix well and then form eight meatballs. In a large saucepan or skillet heat the remaining marinara sauce until it reaches a simmer. Add the meatballs to the sauce and cook, covered, turning frequently until the meatballs are cooked all the way through, about twenty-five minutes. 

Cut four-five inch sections of baguette and split them in half lengthwise. Pull out some of the bread or flatten it with your fingertips. Place the bottom of each baguette onto a baking sheet and spoon a tablespoon of marinara onto piece. Slice meatballs in half and place two on top of the sauce, overlapping them slightly. Top with another tablespoon of sauce and a handful of mozzarella cheese. Broil just until the cheese melts, about two to three minutes. Sprinkle with fresh basil and serve.

Notes: This was the night I decided to make something that I really like and to hell with everybody else. People might speak with nostalgic pleasure of the chicken casseroles or pork shnitzels of their childhood but for me there is nothing so comforting as a good sub. Which is weird because I grew up in DC; a city not exactly known for its sandwich culture but there it is.

Steve had one the size of a slider and looked like he would rather be eating a nice salad; Patrick thought there were just too many possibly suspicious things going on here and ate the corner of the bread and Edward's throat hurt so he had yogurt. Caroline took one look at my plate, said "WHOW" and she and I ate meatballs and cheese and bread until we both had to be hosed down.

"Mmmmmmmmm," said Caroline.

For reference I browned the leftover sausage and ground beef (I bought a pound of each) and froze them in separate ziploc bags for some unspecified, probably soupy, future use. I also had four meatballs and some sauce left over so I froze those together as well. You can use purchased marinara for this recipe but if you do I would heat the sauce with some fresh basil just to give it a little more flavor. And now I will put up my fast and adequate marinara recipe because I am a dummy dope and did not think to do so first so I could link to it like I planned. 

Thirty Minute Chicken Noodle Soup


Thirty Minute Chicken Noodle Soup

1/2 small onion, diced
1 c sliced celery
1 c sliced carrots
2-3 garlic cloves, minced

1.5 T butter
1/2 t salt
1 t dried tarragon

4 c chicken broth
1.5 c cooked, chopped chicken

1 c wide egg noodles
1 c frozen peas

Melt butter in a small stockpot. Add celery, carrots, garlic, onion, salt and tarragon and saute until vegetables soften, about fifteen minutes. Add chicken broth and chicken and simmer, covered, another fifteen minutes. Stir in egg noodles and simmer another 8-9 minutes until noodles are cooked but not mushy. Off heat stir in peas. Pepper to taste and serve.

Notes: I had half of the chicken leftover from Zingerman's so I made this specifically in the hopes that the tiny pieces of chicken and the soft noodles and carrots would be easy on Patrick throat. They were. 

A few things about this recipe. First, using a chicken broth you like is crucial because the soup does not have a long time to develop a whole lot of additional flavors. I love Swanson's Natural Goodness but to each his own. Sauteing the vegetables in butter rather than my usual olive oil is key, too, because it adds a richness that you miss with the quick cooking time. I used to cut cooked chicken into small cubes but I have started really mincing it for certain recipes. I think it works especially well in soups. Finally, I usually make twice this much but I had to adjust for the small quantity of chicken we had leftover.

This served Caroline, Edward, and Patrick for dinner and me the next day for lunch.


A couple people asked about the butterflied chicken in that last recipe. Because you are using a 3lb fryer rather than a larger roasting bird it really does fit into a cast iron skillet even after the backbone is removed and the two halves are flattened. My skillet (I am almost positive - I will check when I get home from the library. I am here "picking up books for Patrick") is only ten inches and it fit comfortably.

To answer another question the advantage to butterflying is the much faster roasting time. The chicken is able to cook through in just about an hour.

Hope this helps. 


Grilled Pizza, Part Two


I am shocked by how all consuming Patrick has been, post-tonsillectomy. Technically only one out of the six of us (my mother is visiting) is surviving on popsicles, buttered noodles, soggy french toast and tiny sips of blue Gatorade but somehow all normal meal planning has gone flying out the window. My poor mother had to make herself a peanut butter and jelly sandwich today for lunch when it became obvious I was not going to rally; and Caroline and Edward had a packaged Dal Bukhara (lentil and tomato curry) on toast that I finished - I am  not proud of this - with my fingers when the effort of heating up frozen naan seemed beyond me.

So this is what I made for dinner when I had no time to cook* and this is what I post when I have no time to post.

I had five leftover pizza dough balls the other day and a goodly quantity of sauce. We rolled out and grilled the dough, then let it cool for a couple of hours before putting the crusts into a ziploc bag. Meanwhile, I had put about 1.5 T of pizza sauce into each cup of a silicon mini muffin pan and put the pan in the freezer. The next day I popped the sauce rounds out of the pan and threw them into another freezer bag.

To make the pizza straight out of the freezer I put the crusts on top of the (unlit) stove burners to thaw without condensation making the bottoms gummy. It took less than ten minutes. Then I microwaved a few pizza sauce portions. Topped the crusts with a little olive oil, the sauce, cheese and whatever else we liked and put them under the broiler just until the cheese melted.

Notes: The crust was flabby after it was frozen and then defrosted and broiled. Sad but true. However, as a dinner that took almost no effort and was ready in less than fifteen minutes it was more than adequate.

Any protein ideas for a kid who can only eat soft foods but who hates scrambled eggs?   

*Patrick feels so bad he didn't even care that we had his favorite dinner without him. Poor kid.

Green Bean Corn and Tomato Salad


Green Bean, Corn and Tomato Salad

1 cube Dorot frozen garlic (I get it at Trader Joes) or 1 clove garlic, pounded to paste
1/2 t salt
2 T white wine vinegar
1/3 c olive oil

3 c corn (cut off 4-5 ears, blanched or 2 15oz cans, drained)
1.5 lb green beans, halved and then blanched
2 pt cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 small red onion, sliced very thinly
1/2 c fresh basil, coarsely chopped

In a small bowl (or jar. I use a jelly jar for vinaigrette because I can put the lid on and then shake it) put garlic, salt and vinegar. Let it sit for fifteen minutes. Then add olive oil and whisk together (or, you know, shake it.)

Put sliced red onion in a bowl of ice water and let it soak for at least five minutes. This removes much of the raw onion's sharpness and keeps it crisp.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. If you are using fresh corn, add kernels to water and blanch for one minute. Scoop out and place in a large bowl. Add 2 T salt to the water and return to boil. Add green beans and blanch for three minutes. Remove from water and spread out the beans to cool.

Stir corn and green beans together. Then add red onion, tomatoes and basil. Drizzle with vinaigrette and toss to coat everything thoroughly with dressing. Finish with black pepper.

Serves 8

Notes: Fine Cooking (again with the Fine Cooking - I'm a fan) ran a spread on summer salads a few years ago (issue 72, June/July 2005) that included something similar. I liked the vegetable combination but I thought the original recipe was too heavy on the vinegar basil and onion, which conspired to overwhelm the more delicate corn and green bean flavors. So I altered the ratios.

Green beans are perfect right now. I intended to make this with fresh corn but I must have arrived at the grocery between stock times and the corn had been picked over to the point that there was nothing worth buying. So... ho ho ho Green Giant. Properly done, however, this is made fresh out of the garden with just a hint of dressing. I serve it a lot when we have company in the summer (you can double, triple, quadruple it... no problem) and it is delicious. The only caveat is not to make it too far in advance because it gets limp after an hour. It most definitely does not keep overnight.

Couscous Cakes


It is hard not to like couscous. Each serving packs 5 grams of protein and it can go from sitting in the pantry to filling up your mouth in less than seven minutes. However, as my friend Julie observed the other day, feeding couscous to a child is like putting a sequoia through a wood-chipper in the middle of your dining room. Archeologists will sift through the ruins of your home one day and theorize as to the purpose of all those tiny pellets... .

So I was excited to see a recipe for couscous cakes in Fine Cooking (issue 99, May/June 2009.) All the joy of couscous (albeit slightly more slowly; true) but with a much lower potential for carnage.  

This is a version I came up with the other night:

Couscous Cakes with Sundried Tomatoes & Feta

1 c couscous
1 c water
1 t salt

1 garlic clove
1/2 c chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 T fresh basil, chopped

2 eggs, beaten
1/2 c sundried tomatoes in oil, drained and chopped
1/2 c crumbled feta

2 T olive oil for frying, divided

In a saucepan bring water and salt to a boil. Stir in couscous, remove from heat and let sit for five minutes. Fluff with a fork to separate grains.

In the bowl of a food processor (I used my Cuisinart mini-prep which I got for $25) chop garlic. Then add chickpeas and basil and process until coarsely chopped. Transfer to a medium bowl and add couscous. Then add eggs and stir until well blended. Add tomatoes and feta. Salt and pepper to taste.

Using a 1/3 cup measuring cup, press mixture into cup. Then invert over a plate and release cake. It sounds like it would get stuck in there but it does slide out prettily easily. You should have eight cakes.

In a ten inch skillet (or two if you are feeling efficient) heat 1 T of olive oil until it is very hot but not smoking. Put four cakes into oil and press down gently on each one to flatten slightly. Cover skillet with lid and cook for about four minutes. Flip cakes and cook another 3-4 minutes on the other side.

Notes: I made this to augment some skimpy pork chops. The chops were terrible but the couscous cakes are something I could eat every week. They would be great as an entree with a salad. I had both feta and sundried tomatoes on hand (and basil. lordy I have basil coming out of my ears this year) so that is what I used but the possibilities as to what you can add are endless.

In the spirit of full disclosure I should admit that the raison d'etre's for making couscous more complicated - namely Caroline and Edward and, to a lesser degree, Patrick - all refused to eat these. Patrick on sight, Caroline after a thoughtful lick-and-spit, and Edward after about six bites. I'll try again, though, because I LOVED them.       

Tomato-Balsamic Marinated Chicken


While I was in the process of trying to make grocery store grape tomatoes taste like something I went through a few iterations of tomato-balsamic reduction. In the end I had a dressing I liked for the tomatoes and three pans full of a sort of glaze/marinade leftover. I put it all into an empty jelly jar and let it sit on the counter while I figured out what to do with it. Then Steve graciously volunteered to go grocery shopping for us and he came home with an item I have never purchased before, chicken wing drummies.

What the... ? I like a buffaloed wing as much as the next person but without a deep-fat fryer it just isn't the same. So for a lack of anything better to do I threw the drummies into my tomato-balsamic marinade and we grilled them for dinner.

Patrick said, "THIS is delicious." And it was.

Tomato-Balsamic Marinated Chicken   

24 chicken wing drummies

1.5 c tomato juice
3 T balsamic vinegar
3-4 cloves of garlic, minced

6 T olive oil

In a saucepan combine tomato juice, vinegar and garlic. Bring to a low boil/rapid simmer and cook until it reduces by about a third. Off the heat whisk in olive oil. Let cool.

Pour half of the marinade into a large bowl, add the chicken and toss thoroughly to coat. Refrigerate for two hours (or less if you have less time.)

Grill over medium heat for 12-15 minutes, turning three or four times as they cook.

Edited to add: oh damn it! I forgot to say, after grilling pour the reserved marinade over the chicken and serve. The serve part is probably intuitive but the marinade as sauce thing was not.

Grilled Salmon with Basil Cucumber Cream


Grilled Salmon with Basil Cucumber Cream

1/3 c orange juice
1/3 c soy sauce
1/3 cup water (or white wine, if you have some open - a dry one)

1 lb salmon fillet, intact and about one inch at its thickest

5 large basil leaves
1 c loosely packed baby spinach, stems removed
1/3 c sour cream
1 t dijon mustard 1/2 c finely diced cucumber, seeds removed

Combine orange juice, soy sauce and water in a shallow baking pan. Add salmon, skin side up. Marinate for as long as you can (up to three hours - two hours would be nice but ten minutes is ok too.) Heat grill to medium high. Grill salmon skin side down for 5-6 minutes. Flip and grill for another 2 minutes.

Meanwhile, place spinach and basil in bowl of mini food processor (or chop it yourself, very very fine) and pulse for a few seconds. Add sour cream and mustard, pulse until just blended. Stir in cucumber. Salt and pepper to taste.   

Notes: There is something overwhelmingly 80s about this, isn't there? I almost spelled it Creme. But I had the salmon and half a cucumber and I went from there.

I think it is marginally easier to grill one piece of fish than multiple smaller pieces and (as with beef) Steve prefers salmon rarer than I do. So a big fillet that is thick on one end and thin on the other works fine for us. By the time my end is cooked the way I like it his is perfect for him. If you run a less Jack Sprat household then you can either tuck the skinny end underneath or cut smaller fillets and cook accordingly. Or just buy equal sized pieces I guess.

Everyone ate all of this with the exception of Caroline who thought the salmon was weird and who subsequently ate only a few bites. Also I noticed that the tips of Patrick's asparagus were traded to Steve for some reason. But apart from that... .