Does planning dinner seem more like a nuisance than a time to nourish? Many of us think making dinner is intimidating, complicated, and time consuming. With a few skills in the kitchen, you can make a simple meal for one with just five ingredients or less. Here are five inspiring dinners from one college foodie to another.
1. Green Chile Enchiladas
One of my favorite South-of-the-Border-inspired foods is green chile enchiladas. All you have to do here is stack three corn tortillas with layers of green chile salsa and chicken in between, topped with shredded cheese.
Pop it in the microwave oven until the cheese has melted, or in an oven at 350°F for about 20 minutes, or until the cheese has melted and the tortillas look crisp. Optional (yet highly recommended) toppings include cilantro, sour cream and diced onion.
2. Spaghetti with Cherry Tomatoes & Anchovies sauce
Another staple I always have in the kitchen is pasta. I usually will cook it earlier in the day, then add it to a pan with some olive oil, olives, cherry tomatoes, and anchovies. Olives and anchovies are great to have on hand because of their long shelf life in the refrigerator. I recommend garnishing this quick, gourmet meal with a squeeze of lemon.
3. One-Pot Oven Roasted Chicken with Carrots & Ancient Grains
This one-pot meal is ready in minutes and all you have to do is throw it in the oven. A raw chicken thigh, cooked barley and carrots are simmered at 350°F for 30 to 40 minutes in half a cup of chicken broth, or until chicken is fully cooked. If you have them on hand, try adding a few sprigs of thyme, if not, any dried herb would be delicious.
4. One-Pan Chicken with Sautéed Apple & Veggies
Here is a one-pan-recipe sure to please your sweet tooth while also being savory! Dicing the raw chicken before adding it to the pan reduces cooking time (use thighs for the most flavor). Cook chicken in a pan drizzled with olive oil over medium heat. Stirring occasionally, for about 3 minutes.
Add sliced apples before adding the kale and butternut squash. Cook covered over medium low for about 5 minutes, or until the vegetables are cooked through. This is a flexible dinner and has no essential recipe per say, it's typically what I have on hand, which is raw chicken, olive oil, and some bits of produce.
5. Loaded Baked Potato
Last, but certainly an all-time favorite of mine — the loaded baked potato. Potatoes are inexpensive, have a long shelf life, and are vehicles for amazing toppings, including peanut butter and maple syrup.
For mine, I grab a large sweet potato, close to a pound, and set it in the oven (while it's preheating) at 420°F for about 50 minutes to an hour. Once it's done, top with cinnamon, maple syrup and peanut butter. Again, all things with a long shelf life that I always keep on hand. If you want to speed things up, wrap a wet paper towel around the sweet potato and microwave for 6 minutes before tossing it in the oven.
Make dinner happen... tonight
Like I've been saying, dinner doesn't have to be a gigantic presentation or soggy frozen pizza bites. Try making at least one meal that didn't come with instructions on the back, and soon you'll begin to see how simple (and inexpensive) it is to make your own meals — and impress your friends.