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Quick, easy weeknight meals

October 3, 2012

By SUSAN FORD

Now that school is in full swing and so are extracurricular activities, I find myself trying to make meals that are easy to get on the table.

Every mom or dad has their own strategy for meal planning for school nights.  My game plan has changed with the ages of my kids. When my girls were smaller, I set out to do my shopping on Saturday or Sunday afternoon. This was my special time alone. After my meals were planned and groceries purchased, you could find me sitting in the Kroger parking lot with an ice cold diet coke, reading an US Weekly and listening to This American Life. This was my special 30 minutes I stole each week before returning to my family, plus I decided the NPR cancels out the questionable reading material. Now, both of my girls are in school and I have more flexibility so I go during the week.  

I usually plan to cook five meals a week, then I make whatever I have time for each night. On Monday, I generally have more time in the kitchen, so I may cook the oven fried pork chop recipe that I am sharing. The pork chops have a few steps, but your work is done once you get them in the oven. The recipe comes from the Ultimate Southern Living cookbook.

On Tuesday, I have about 30 minutes to get it together so that could be a day I have Bill fire up the grill for my favorite easy chicken. The chicken’s marinade is literally two ingredients, and my mom read about it in Cooking Light years ago. The marinade is also good on chicken tenders for a healthy alternative at your tailgate.

For most meals, we have a steamed veggie and Uncle Ben’s brown and wild ready rice in a pouch, which cooks in 1 minute and 30 seconds. Another easy meal I like when there are only 20-30 minutes is make your own burritos. I put out all of the materials and people just build their own and they bake on a high temp for 7 minutes. I am not much of a multitasker and my family isn’t one that eats leftovers very often, so these three meals help me mix it up on the weeknights.  

Oven-fried pork chops

4 (3/4 inch thick) bone-in loin chops
1 large egg, beaten
2 tablespoons pineapple juice
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 cup Italian seasoned bread crumbs
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
2 tablespoons margarine, melted

Trim fat from pork chops. Combine egg, pineapple juice, and soy sauce in a shallow bowl, and whisk gently. Combine breadcrumbs and the next three ingredients. Dip chops in egg mixture, and dredge in breadcrumb mixture. Place chops on a rack in a greased roasting pan. Drizzle margarine over chops. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes, turn and bake for 20 more minutes or until done.  

Grilled chicken marinade

chicken breast or tenders
equal parts coarse ground mustard and freshly squeezed lemon juice
Mix the mustard and lemon juice well and coat chicken liberally with mixture. Keep in refrigerator until ready to grill.

Make your own burrito

pre-cooked chicken and/or steak ( I use Tyson grilled and ready) olive oil
2 tablespoons water
1 onion, sliced thin
1 red bell pepper, sliced thin
1 can refried beans
1 package  fajita season (it is by the taco season packets)
your favorite shredded cheese
burrito size flour tortillas
lettuce and tomato, sour cream and ortega for topping

Preheat oven to 450 degrees fahrenheit. Brown onion and bell pepper in olive oil until desired doneness, you can do this earlier in the day. Warm refried beans in small pot. Warm meat in microwave.  

In a small bowl, combine fajita season mix with 2 tablespoons of water and mix. Brush the outside of tortilla lightly with olive oil. On the inside of the tortilla, have your family fill their burrito with whatever they like: meat, cheese, onions & peppers, fajita seasoning and beans.

Wrap burritos with olive oil on the outside and try to remember whose is whose (in our family, everyone wraps differently).

Bake on a cookie sheet for 5-7 minutes or until crispy. Top with lettuce, tomato, sour cream and taco sauce if you want.

Email Susan Ford at susanlovesharp@hotmail.com.

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