Yesterday was the first day of school for my boys. Gone are the summer evenings when I can plan casual dinners that are served at 8 p.m. Now there’s homework, soccer practice and games, youth group, and music lessons. Compared to some families I know, that’s a pretty light schedule, but for my family, it’s enough. Any more and we’d be overscheduled and family dinners would disappear.
In the fall when schedules get crowded, it’s harder to get dinner on the table. I look for dinners that are healthy, simple to throw together, and don’t take long to cook. I was sent a copy of the recently published cookbook, “Good Bite Weeknight Meals
” ($29.99, Wiley) that is designed for just those types of dinners. The recipes in this cookbook come from 16 of the most recognizable names in food blogging — home cooks who developed and cooked these recipes in their own kitchens with ingredients that aren’t hard to come by.
Most of the recipes have between five and 10 ingredients, and according to the book, very few of them need more than 15 to 30 minutes hands-on time. The book starts with the usual acknowledgements and introductions, and before it jumps into the recipes, it addresses the importance of a well-stocked pantry, fridge and freezer items.
Here’s a sample recipe of a quick meal, Orzo with Spinach & Peas from Rachel Rappaport of the Coconut and Lime
. I’ve got this one marked to make soon.
This one-pot vegetarian pasta dish is a wonderful alternative to risotto or traditional pasta dishes. Orzo cooks very quickly, so dinner can be ready in a matter of minutes. Try sprinkling any leftovers with lemon juice and serve it as cold salad for lunch.
Orzo with Spinach and Peas
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 1garlic clove, chopped
- 2 cups water
- 1/2 teaspoon salt, plus additional for seasoning
- 1 pound orzo
- 1 cup (packed)roughly chopped spinach leaves
- 1/2 cup frozen peas
- 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- Dash freshly ground black pepper
Place the oil, onion, and garlic in a large pot over medium heat and cook, stirring, until softened, about 5 minutes.
Add the water and salt; increase the heat to high and bring to a boil.
Add the orzo and cook for 5 minutes.
Add the spinach, peas, and cheese and stir.
Cover, reduce the heat to medium, and cook until the orzo is tender.
Remove from the heat and season to taste with salt and pepper. Stir before serving.
Other recipes in the book that I’ve marked to try are:
- Chicken with Sun-Dried Tomatoes, Shallots, & Thyme
- Halibut Pesto Kabobs
- One-Pot, Stove-Top, Macaroni & Cheese
In addition to the recipes, there are short, fun interviews with the bloggers that give you an insight into what their favorite and no-so-favorite foods are.
There’s nothing fancy or new in the cookbook, but when you’re trying to put together a healthy weeknight meal, fancy and new aren’t what you’re looking for. Quick, family friendly (often meat-heavy) recipes are what this book is all about.