I don’t know about you, but there are plenty of nights where I just don’t have time for elaborate meal preparation. Sometimes I rely on my slow-cooker or reheat leftovers from a previous night. Other nights, I reach for quick recipes like these. Though these occasionally require a little prep ahead of time, the main cooking time is fast and easy. (I don’t mind prep time that can be done earlier in the day or even a day or two ahead of time.)
Though this first recipe is technically for lettuce cups, it’s very versatile. You can make the chicken mixture and then serve it as written or (like I did this time) over rice. You could also add more vegetables to up the nutritional value. This recipe has a good flavor and is very easy to whip up on a busy night. And (though you may be tired of hearing me say this, it’s true) it’s also very easy to customize according to your personal preferences or what you have on hand.
Chicken and Cashews in Lettuce Cups (from Real Simple)
3 tbsp. soy sauce
3 tbsp. honey
2 tbsp. canola oil
1 1/2 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut in 3/4 in. pieces
2 cloves finely chopped garlic
1 tbsp. grated ginger
1 bunch trimmed, sliced scallions
1 8 oz. can drained, sliced water chestnuts
1/4 c. roasted, unsalted cashews
1 small head Boston or Bibb lettuce, leaves separated
1. In a small bowl, combine the soy sauce and honey; set aside. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Season the chicken with 1/2 tsp. pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, til it begins to brown, about 3 minutes.
2. Lower the heat to medium and add the garlic and ginger. Add the scallions and cook 1 minute. Stir in the chestnuts and half of the sauce mix; cook til the chicken is cooked through, about 4 minutes. Remove the mixture from the heat and sprinkle with the cashews.
3. Spoon the chicken mix into the lettuce cups and pass the remaining sauce around for drizzling on top.
This next recipe is a quick and easy side dish that really packed a lot of flavor and nutrition into a small package. The hardest part of this whole recipe was grating and wringing out a single zucchini. (Which means it took very little work at all!) These will definitely be added to our summer meal rotation.
Zucchini Tots (from Macaroni & Cheesecake)
1 c. grated zucchini (from 1 medium zucchini)
1/4 finely chopped onion (I thought this was a little too much raw onion. Next time, I’ll swap it out for a couple tablespoons of minced, dried onion for a less intense taste.)
1/4 c. panko
1/4 c. shredded cheddar
1/4-1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1 beaten egg
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Liberally grease 12 mini muffin cups. (Extra tip: to avoid burning the empty pan, fill each unused muffin cup half full with water.)
2. Place the grated zucchini in a kitchen towel and squeeze out the excess water. Remove the zucchini from the towel and place it in a medium bowl. Add in the onion, panko, cheese, salt, and pepper. Stir to combine and taste to adjust the seasonings. Add in the egg and stir.
3. Spoon the mix into the greased muffin cups, filling completely full. (I only got 10, but I might have overfilled some of them.) Press each down with the back of a spoon to help them hold together. Bake 15-18 minutes or til lightly golden. A few minutes before they’re done, remove the pan from the oven and sprinkle a little extra cheddar on top of each; return to the oven to finish cooking.
4. Run a knife around the edge of each cup and pop the tots out. Serve with ranch or ketchup for dipping. (Or just eat them by themselves, they certainly were tasty enough.)
It’s been a busy week for us, and I haven’t found any new recipes to drool over. :( I did, however, run across a nice song that makes me think of summer when it talks about the “wind in my hair, salt on my skin, sun in the air.” It’s called Free by Gavin DeGraw, and you can check it out here. Hope you have a great rest of the week!