Best of 2015: 7 Quick & Easy Dinner Ideas!

The best of 2015: Pranika contributes quick and easy dinner ideas, and beautiful pictures, to BigKidSmallCity… and here are 7 favorites from the last year!

 

Antipasto

1. Cheater, Cheater, Antipasto EaterMy kids love to snack and who doesn’t love snack foods? Occasionally I must admit it’s nice to be daringly lazy when you don’t have much time to cook. I decided to create an antipasto platter and use premade polenta plus store-bought garlic bread for a fun and balanced meal.

 

Black Bean Soup with Sour Cream

2. Black Bean Soup: Why spend a ton of time in the kitchen, when all you need to do is throw in a few ingredients, chop a slight bit, and let an appliance do all the work? For this recipe, a must have is a slow cooker. I love to find slow cooker recipes that are a complete fit for my family, but also flavorful and filling enough for a meal.

 

Cornmeal Crusted Tilapia

3. Cornmeal Crusted Tilapia: Our family likes to eat fish and shrimp, so I try different recipes and some work and some fail; fortunately, this one is a keeper!

 

Pasta Shells with Meyer Lemon Cream

4. Pasta Shells with Meyer Lemon Cream: This recipe is delicious and you can really taste the meyer lemons in this dish. If you don’t have access to meyer lemons, you can use the juice a regular lemon in the recipe and add a tbsp of orange juice, preferably fresh for a similar taste.

 

Finished Bowl of Orange Cauliflower Soup

5. Orange Cauliflower Soup: My family accepted the Recipe for Success challenge, VegOut2015, last March. We tackled 30 different vegetables in less than 30 days. This is one of them!

 

Wrapping Up Fish and Shrimp in Parchment Paper

6. Fish & Shrimp in Parchment Paper: I cooked fish in parchment paper with my mom years and years ago and it was fun, so cooking this with my girls was fun and nostalgic.  A fish cooked “en papillote” is wrapped in parchment paper, and baked in the oven so it gently steams in its own juices. You can add a variety of aromatics, such as herbs, onions, and other vegetables to the parchment package to flavor the fish.

 

Summer Minestrone Soup

7. Minestrone Soup: I love one pot meals…who doesn’t?! It’s less to fuss about on the stove and more importantly, less to clean up and wash post dinner.
My older daughter adores minestrone soup, as do I; my husband usually eats anything I cook and my younger daughter…well she’s the picky one so I was hoping to entice her by mentioning there was pasta in the soup.


Quick & Easy Dinner Idea: Summer Minestrone Soup!

Hi this is Pranika! I love one pot meals…who doesn’t?! It’s less to fuss about on the stove and more importantly, less to clean up and wash post dinner.

My older daughter adores minestrone soup, as do I; my husband usually eats anything I cook and my younger daughter…well she’s the picky one so I was hoping to entice her by mentioning there was pasta in the soup.

Summer Minestrone Soup
It might seem too hot to even think of eating soup, but the dish felt refreshing and healthy. I chose to make this meal on a Sunday so we could cook together, be relaxed and have enough remaining for leftovers for all four of us later in the week.

The whole family joined in on the prep and cooking and while the pot simmered and cooked, we set the table, relaxed and chatted. On the side, we simply had toasted garlic bread.

My younger daughter happily ate the soup, asked for seconds and gave me four thumbs up (I think she approved!). My husband and older daughter raved about it as well. This was truly delicious and we will definitely be making it again.

It was a longer dinner to cook (about an hour), but on a weekend it worked for us and we are happy to have one less meal to cook during the week; this soup will also freeze well for later use. Happy cooking and eating!

[Read more…]


Quick & Easy Dinner: Fish & Shrimp in Parchment Paper!

Sprimp and Veggies in Parchment Paper
Hi this is Pranika! Our family is big into seafood these days, so I am trying to be creative instead of eating the same sautéed shrimp and fried fish all the time. I cooked fish in parchment paper with my mom years and years ago and it was fun, so cooking this with my girls was fun and nostalgic.

I cooked both fish and shrimp because one of my girls doesn’t like fish…yet; we like to say she hasn’t developed the taste for it!

A fish cooked “en papillote” is wrapped in parchment paper, and baked in the oven so it gently steams in its own juices. You can add a variety of aromatics, such as herbs, onions, and other vegetables to the parchment package to flavor the fish.

Wrapping Up Fish and Shrimp in Parchment Paper
When the fish is done, the parchment will puff up. Basically, if cooking fish is intimidating and messy, then cook it this way because it really will cook itself! Just make sure to add a little liquid (such as lemon juice, wine, etc) and ensure that whatever you add to the parchment should cook in 12-14 minutes.

If you want to add something that needs longer to cook, then partially cook it beforehand as I will note below. On the side we had baby roasted potatoes with sea salt and broccolini with lemon, sea salt and a touch of olive oil.

Happy cooking and eating!

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Quick, Easy (and Soft!) Dinner: Orange Cauliflower Soup #vegout2015

Finished Bowl of Orange Cauliflower Soup
My family accepted the Recipe for Success challenge, #vegout2015. For the month of March, we were tackling 30 different vegetables in less than 30 days and have been trying new recipes.and vegetables. This is one of them!

I served the soup alongside mashed potatoes and garlic bread. (Kind of a weird dinner combo but I was thinking ahead to dental surgery two days later and needed soft food!). This soup is flavorful with absolutely no dairy! It’s an easy weekend soup or weekday, if you can chop the veggies ahead of time.

Hand Mixing Cauliflower Soup
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Quick & Easy Dinner Idea: Pasta Shells with Meyer Lemon Cream

It’s the tail-end of the meyer lemon season so we are using up our last lemons! This recipe is delicious and you can really taste the meyer lemons in this dish. If you don’t have access to meyer lemons, you can use the juice a regular lemon in the recipe and add a tbsp of orange juice, preferably fresh for a similar taste. (This recipe is adapted from the March 2015 issue of Cooking Light.)

Pasta Shells with Meyer Lemon Cream
Cream sauce can be quite heavy, but the sauce for this recipe is balanced by the meyer lemon juice and ricotta with only a slight bit of cream. The chives, nutmeg and fresh grated parmesan cap off the flavors that will have everyone’s taste buds singing. It’s the perfect pasta for spring and family loved this dish. We ate the pasta alongside garlic bread and broccolini. Enjoy!

[Read more…]


Quick & Easy Dinner: Cornmeal Crusted Tilapia!

Cornmeal Crusted Tilapia1
Hi this is Pranika! Our family likes to eat fish and shrimp, so I try different recipes and some work and some fail; fortunately, this one is a keeper.

For added garnish and flavor, you can top the fish with salsa verde, sriracha if you like a kick, or a squeeze of fresh meyer lemon juice as we did. I usually buy fresh fillets on Saturday or Sunday and cook them within 24 hours so I don’t have to freeze and thaw.  On the side we had simple dish steamed tri-color cauliflower dressed with a drizzle of olive oil and sea salt.

Happy cooking and eating!

[Read more…]


Quick & Easy Dinner Idea: Black Bean Soup

Black Bean Soup with Sour Cream
Hi this is Pranika! Why spend a ton of time in the kitchen, when all you need to do is throw in a few ingredients, chop a slight bit, and let an appliance do all the work? For this recipe, a must have is a slow cooker. I love to find slow cooker recipes that are a complete fit for my family, but also flavorful and filling enough for a meal.

I have one decently adventurous eater and one that is pretty picky. However, I really dislike cooking separate things; so when I find a slow cooker meal that I think everyone will eat, I am ecstatic because it’s no fuss, no rush and easy.

What’s not to like about spending only 5 minutes the night before and 10 minutes in the morning before work to create a delicious meal? Plus this one is vegetarian, filling, warming when cold, but light enough that it feels healthy!

We served this black bean soup alongside sliced avocado with lime & salt, chips and salsa. The cumin and pickled jalapenos infuse this simple soup with great flavors as it cooks and the result is flavorful, but not at all overly spicy.

Happy cooking and eating!

[Read more…]


Quick & Easy Dinner: Cheater, Cheater, Antipasto Eater

Antipasto
Hi this is Pranika! Sometimes it’s so difficult to get food on the table after school, work and activities. It’s nice to do the semi-homemade thing sometimes and use what you have at home to put something quick, easy, and delicious on the table.

Garlic Bread to serve with antipasto
My kids love to snack and who doesn’t love snack foods? Occasionally I must admit it’s nice to be daringly lazy when you don’t have much time to cook. I decided to create an antipasto platter and use premade polenta plus store-bought garlic bread for a fun and balanced meal.

Polenta and Sauce
The only thing I actually made was roasted red pepper sauce in which to dip the polenta. We noshed on two kinds of olives, babybel mozzarella and Kerrygold white cheddar, salami, carrots, cherry tomatoes and almond thins.

Eating Antipasto Dinner
The family loved that we were “snacking” for dinner and everyone ate happily. The girls loved using fondue forks to get their food from the tray and clean up was a cinch. The dipping sauce pairs well with many other foods – crab cakes, seafood & poultry, and even crackers. Happy eating!

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Easy Holiday Cookies!

Hi this is Pranika. Hope you are having a wonderful holiday season so far. It’s the time of year for cookies and sweet and I have spent the last week making cookies with my girls. The recipes below are in order from easiest to a little bit more time-consuming and messy!

Helping Mom Make Cookies
Everything turned out delicious according to my family and friends, though not quite so perfect. The best thing is that I had fun with my girls and loved the smiling faces and happy tummies that followed.

Making and Mixing Christmas Cookies
My personal favorite is the nutella cookies with “sea salt snow”. They are quite easy and my favorite cookie so far this year. I readily admit that I have made them twice already!  Peanut butter lovers will enjoy the reindeer and the oreo snowman are a total mess, but oh so fun to decorate and eat after.

Happy holidays to you and yours and happy baking!

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Quick & Easy Dinner: Simple Spaghetti & Holiday Veggies!

Hi, this is Pranika! Happy holidays! Tis the season for holiday parties, chaos, and fun. Amidst all the busyness of the season, I still try and find some time here and there to cook and use what’s in the refrigerator. We hosted a gingerbread house decorating party last weekend and I had leftover veggies from a veggie tray – light bulb! – roast what was left for a great side dish.

Holiday Veggies
Of course, there were cherry tomatoes, broccoli and cauliflower, which made for a perfect holiday side dish. (I purposely left out the carrots as my kids and I despise cooked carrots.) This dish could be a simple addition to a holiday meal next week.

Bowl of Simple Spaghetti
For the main dish, I tried to imitate the best spaghetti dish in town at Colitvare in the Heights. Wasn’t quite up to that standard, but a good first try I think based on my memory of the flavor profile! The spaghetti had quite a bit of flavor and is very simple to make. I also served up some mild Italian sausage on the side as well.

Happy eating and enjoy the holiday season!

[Read more…]


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