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Last night, Merri Ann was out of town and I fixed myself supper. There was a chicken breast in the refrigerator so I made myself a Fajita chicken salad. I didn’t follow the recipe exactly but close enough. In a half hour, I had supper.

Quick and easy meals are high on the list of every busy parent. But if you don’t have something planned, well—it just doesn’t seem to work out and you cobble something together with the last of your remaining energy or call for takeout—which takes even longer.

Let me share some of my ideas—and recipes.

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The Categories

Our quick meals—and I love to cook with Merri Ann—seem to fall into five categories. If I think categories, the ideas seem to come together easier.

Salads. I often fry a chicken breast to add to fresh veggies and lettuce. Most of the time, I’ll slice the breast before frying; it cooks more quickly.

Soups. I love soups, especially if I have some leftover gravy to start with but a white sauce doesn’t take long. (I think there’s some cheese sauce leftover from the baked potato bar last Sunday. I can make a soup out of that.)

Tacos. Merri Ann is the queen of tacos. They’re quick, and lately, we’ve been using more chicken than beef. And I love fish tacos.

Sandwiches. Cold sandwiches get monotonous. But grilled sandwiches or maybe a French dip—I don’t seem to get tired of those and they’re still “fast food.”

Meat—whatever I can fry. That includes burgers, steak, chops, chicken, or fish.

The Recipes

Fish Tacos with Adobo Chipotle Sauce

Lou Anne is a wonderful cook. We loved having her in the kitchen. She’s the only person that I know that gets a new cookbook, starts at the front, and pretty much makes everything. Anyway, she was in Boise and stopped for lunch.  She ordered fish tacos and loved them.  So, when she got home, she tried to make her own. From those efforts, this recipe evolved. We loved them too.

For the adobo chipotle sauce

1 1/2 teaspoons sauce from a can of adobo sauce (without seeds or pieces)
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 teaspoon onion powder

Mix all ingredients together in a small bowl.  Cover and let rest in the refrigerator for at least one-half hour. 

For the filling and tortillas

2 cups shredded cabbage
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1 large carrot, grated
3 green onions, finely sliced

1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon chili powder
2 tablespoons flour

1 pound tilapia
12 corn tortillas

limes, sliced for garnish

Directions

Mix the cabbage, cilantro, grated carrot, and green onions together in a medium bowl.  Set aside.

In a shallow dish, mix the cumin, garlic powder, chili powder, and flour together.  Dredge the fish in the flour mixture. Fry in a small amount of oil until golden brown.

While the fish is frying, heat the tortillas, six at a time, wrapped in paper towels in the microwave. Heat for one to two minutes at high. 

To assemble:

Put two tortillas on each plate. Crumble the fish and divide it between the tortillas. Top with the cabbage salad mixture and then the adobo chipotle sauce.  Garnish with limes.  Serve immediately.

Fajita Chicken Salad

We love fajitas. This is the next best thing.  You can make it on the grill or on the stovetop.

You can top your chicken salad with anything you like. Guacamole is the obvious choice.  Ranch works.

Ingredients

2 large boneless and skinless chicken breasts
fajita seasoning or southwest seasoning of your choice
1/2 large sweet onion, sautéed (optional)
1 red or green pepper, sliced and sautéed (optional)
1 bunch salad greens of your choice
1/2 cup grated mozzarella cheese
1 tomato, thinly sliced

Directions

Season the chicken and cook over the grill or on the stovetop. Slice the chicken across the grain in thin slices.

Sauté the vegetables.

Place the greens on four plates. Add the sautéed vegetables. Arrange sliced chicken and tomato on the greens. Sprinkle with mozzarella cheese.

Easy French Dip Sandwiches

This is a quick and easy main dish. It’s made with deli roast beef from the grocery store but if you have roast beef left over from Sunday dinner, you can use that. Be sure and slice it thin.

For the meat

2 packets of au jus mix (to make 4 cups)
1 lb. sliced deli roast beef
1 teaspoon garlic salt or to taste

In a large skillet, make the au jus according to package directions.

Cut or tear the roast beef into 1-2 inch strips and add to the au jus.  Stir the garlic salt into the beef-au jus mixture.

Cook on lowest heat for 10 minutes. When ready to serve, the mixture should be hot but further cooking is not necessary.

For the buns

6 hoagie buns
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 teaspoon garlic salt or to taste

While the meat is heating, prepare the buns by opening all the buns and spreading them face up on a baking sheet.  Spread butter on each open side of the buns. Sprinkle garlic salt on each.  Toast in the oven on broil for 4-8 minutes or until they are golden.

To Serve

With tongs, remove roast beef from au jus mixture and place a desired amount on each bun.  With a ladle, fill small cups with au jus and serve with the sandwiches for dipping.

Grilled Salmon with Mango Salsa

Coconut Shrimp Chowder

About the Author

Dennis Weaver has burned food from Point Barrow, Alaska, to Miami, Florida. He is the founder of The Prepared Pantry in Rigby, Idaho and the author of “How to Bake: The Art and Science of Baking” available as an E-book or as a Kindle book on Amazon. Dennis lives in Rigby, Idaho, with his wife, Merri Ann. They have five wonderful children and six beautiful granddaughters.