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Easy, Quick-to-Fix Recipes Make Life Simpler and Healthier

I’d be independently wealthy if I had a nickel for every question asking, “Do you have any easy, quick-to-fix recipes?” For every person that claims to be a gourmet chef, at least 20 more refuse to cook a recipe with more than seven ingredients, eight tops. To answer all requests at once, I’ve compiled a list of my favorite “easy, quick-to-fix” recipes, just as you asked. Don’t turn the page until you’ve checked out the healthiest and, yes, easiest way to enjoy fried chicken without the guilt.

The fancy name for this dish is Pasta Nicoise, but it still fits into the “easy, quick-to-fix” category. Cook a pound of pasta in lightly-salted water, reserving half a cup of cooking water. Toss cooked pasta with a can of tuna with oil (my favorite is smoked salmon but you can use any flaked fish), tablespoon of olive oil, teaspoon of minced garlic, and half a cup of chopped olives. Season with a sprinkle of thyme, splash of the cooking water, and a squirt of fresh lemon. Serve with lemon wedges.

Children and adults love chicken strips with dipping sauce, but who needs the fat and calories from the greasy drive-through products? Making your own and serving them with a side of sweet potato fries or steamed vegetables turns an unhealthy snack into an acceptable meal. In a bowl, crush together half a cup of seasoned bread crumbs with a cup of Parmesan cheese. In another bowl, beat one egg. Dip boneless, skinless chicken breasts that have been cut into strips in the egg, then the bread crumbs. Cook chicken in olive oil in a nonstick skillet until golden brown; around 6 or 7 minutes.

An easy, healthier-than-store bought dipping sauce can be made by mixing together half a cup low-fat mayonnaise, three tablespoons Dijon mustard, two tablespoons liquid honey, and 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper. Chill before serving.

If you like pork, this recipe is for you. Red-Eye Ham Steaks with a side of Easy Cheese Grits make the perfect quick dinner. Even better, coffee leftover from the morning’s pot doesn't go to waste. In a large ovenproof skillet, melt a tablespoon of butter over high heat. Add a 1-1/2 pound ham steak and cook, turning once, until browned. In a separate bowl, mix together 1/4 cup of strong brewed coffee, 2 tablespoons of maple syrup, and 1 tablespoon of grainy mustard. Pour over the cooked ham to coat. Cook until the sauce reduces slightly, about three minutes. Transfer the skillet to a 375 degree F oven and cook, turning once, for 10 minutes.

To make Easy Cheese Grits, combine 1-1/4 cups milk and 1 cup water in a large saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, add half a cup of hominy grits and simmer for 12 minutes. Stir in two tablespoons butter, cup of shredded Cheddar cheese, dash or two of hot sauce, and half a teaspoon of paprika. When everything is melded together, taste to make sure grits are desired consistency.

Last, everybody loves fried chicken, but our waistlines…not so much. And frying chicken after a long day at work doesn’t sound appealing. Instead, follow this simple recipe for oven-baked chicken that’s crunchy on the outside, moist and tender on the inside. It’ll leave you with time – and extra waistline inches – to spare.

Fake Out, Tastes Like Fried Chicken

8 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

1 cup buttermilk

1 cup butter or Smart Balance margarine, melted (more for coating)

2 cups crushed cornflakes

1-1/2 cups plain dried bread crumbs

2 tablespoons seasoning of your choice, such as Italian or Cajun

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 teaspoon lemon zest

1 teaspoon paprika

Salt and pepper

Rinse chicken and pat dry; salt and pepper each piece and place in a marinating dish. Mix together buttermilk, lemon juice, and lemon zest. Pour over chicken, cover, and marinate at least 30 minutes or overnight.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Coat a large baking dish with butter or Smart Balance. In a shallow bowl, combine crushed cornflakes, bread crumbs, seasoning and paprika. Roll chicken in the mixture, pressing well to coat each piece.

Place chicken in the prepared dish and drizzle lightly with melted butter or Smart Balance. Bake for 20 minutes. Drizzle chicken again with more melted butter or Smart Balance and rotate the pan. Bake for 20 more minutes.

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