By Amy Gonzales
I don’t know about you, but I feel like there are never enough hours in the day to do what I want or accomplish. With busy schedules, trying to drink enough water and sleep the recommended 7 – 9 hours a night, sometimes we push important things (such as eating healthy, or even eating at all!) to the side. I definitely feel that I don’t cook enough or as much as I would like to with my schedule. Growing up, I preferred to bake rather than cook. Now that I am older, I realized I needed to step up my cooking skills. I set a goal for 2018 to not feel intimidated to get down in the kitchen and open up my grandma’s recipe book. I decided to stop making excuses and try to find quick and easy recipes that don’t take up too much time, but are also healthy (and delicious) as well. It turns out I’m not a bad cook after all when I actually focus and when I’m cooking for others. I eventually would love to add on to this list, but for now here are the top 5 recipes that I have learned to cook and prep for a busy Monday through Friday schedule. Bon appetit!
1. Sheet-pan Teriyaki Salmon and Baby Bok Choy via Feasting At Home (My favorite out of the 5!)
Prep Time: 5 mins
Cook Time: 15 mins
Total Time: 20 mins
- 8 ounces salmon (2 thick pieces)
- 4 baby bok choy cut into quarters or eights – ½ inch -¾ inch thick at widest point.
- 4 ounces shiitake mushrooms (optional)
- ¼ cup soy sauce or use GF Braggs Liquid Amino Acids
- ¼ cup Mirin- sweet japanese wine
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
- Pinch salt and pepper
- Orange zest (optional)
- Toasted Sesame seeds
- scallions, sliced thinly
- sriracha or chili flakes
- Preheat oven to 350F°.
- Place the salmon, bok choy and optional mushrooms on a parchment lined (or foil lined) baking sheet.
- Mix marinade ingredients (soy, mirin, sesame oil, honey and ginger) together in a small bowl and spoon it over the fish and veggies, coating all sides well.
- Sprinkle the salmon with a pinch of salt and pepper and a little fresh orange zest, then place the sheet pan in the oven, checking it after 10 minutes.
- Depending on how thick or thin the salmon is, it may be done, or need a few more minutes- so remove it if need be thinner cuts will cook faster.
- At this point, you could broil the fish and bok choy, giving the bok choy a little toss first or simply continue baking a few more minutes, until the bok choy is just tender (yet green and vibrant and crisp).
- Divide among 2 bowls.
- Sprinkle the bowl with toasted sesame seeds, scallions and chili flakes or sriracha for heat.
2. Light Spicy Chicken Enchiladas (The Creative Bite has some of my favorite recipes, check her out!)
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
- 8 corn tortillas
- 1 small yellow onion, finely diced
- 1 banana pepper, finely diced (you could also use a jalapeno or bell pepper)
- 1 large tomato, chopped
- 2 tsp. Cumin
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp. chili powder
- 1 tsp. Paprika
- 6 oz. Archer Farms Crumbled Mexican Chicken (you can substitute seasoned sauteed ground chicken or turkey)
- 10 oz can enchilada sauce
- 2 oz. Manchego cheese, shredded (you can substitute a different sharp cheese)
- ¼ c. Cilantro, chopped
1. Preheat your oven to 400°.
2. Meanwhile spray each side of the tortillas with non-stick pan spray. In a large skillet over high heat, add four of the tortillas and cook for 1-2 minutes on each side, just until browned. Repeat with the remaining tortillas. Set aside. In that same skillet add the onion and peppers and saute for 2-3 minutes.
3. In a large bowl toss together the chicken, onions, peppers, tomato, spices and half the can of enchilada sauce.
4. Spoon ⅓ cup of the mixture over each tortilla and roll up. Arrange the rolled tortillas in a sprayed 8×10 pan.
5. Cover the enchiladas with the remaining enchilada sauce and the shredded cheese. 6. Bake at 400° for 10 minutes covered. Remove the cover and bake an additional 5 minutes.
7. Top with cilantro and serve immediately.
3. Sweet Chili Shrimp Stir-Fry via Sweet Peas and Saffron (cue Migos “Stir-Fry” song)
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
- 1 lb. shrimp, cleaned and deveined
- 1 garlic clove
- ⅓ c. sweet chili sauce
- 1¼ c. snow peas
- 1 tbsp. olive oil
- ½ tsp. sesame oil
- ⅓ c. cashews, roughly chopped
- 1 lime
On the side
- 1½ clove jasmine rice, uncooked (or another quick cooking variety)
- Grab a medium size pot and cook the rice according to the package instructions. Set aside.
- In a large, wide skillet warm the olive oil over moderate heat.
- Using a microplane, grate the garlic clove directly into the pan. Alternatively, you can mince the garlic instead. Saute until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
- Add the shrimp and saute until pink and cooked through, about 5 minutes depending on size. Remove from the pan.
- While the shrimp is cooking, trim the ends off of the snow peas. Cut each one into thirds, on a diagonal.
- Add the sesame oil to the pan and saute the snow peas until crisp tender, about 1-2 minutes.
- Return the shrimp to the pan and add the sweet chili sauce. Cook until warmed through. Add more chili sauce if necessary.
- Top each plate with some chopped cashews and fresh lime wedges to taste.
- Serve with jasmine rice.
4. Quick and Easy Leftover Chicken Quesadillas (I grew up on quesadillas, ask long time friends and family members, no need for me to look up a recipe on this.)
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
- 4 8-10 inch flour tortillas
- 1 cup shredded cooked chicken
- 1/2 cup shredded cheddar or Monterey jack cheese I used cheddar
- 1/4 cup cream cheese softened
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
- Salt and pepper to taste
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the cream cheese, shredded chicken, cheese, garlic powder, cilantro, salt and pepper.
- Mix thoroughly until well combined.
- Heat a large nonstick skillet with cooking spray over medium heat.
- Carefully place one tortilla on the pan, top with half the mixture and spread out evenly, top with another tortilla.
- Cook for 2 minutes then flip with a spatula and cook the other side for 2 minutes or until light golden and the cheese is melted.
- Repeat for 2nd quesadilla.
- Remove from heat and cut into 8 slices.
- Serve with salsa or guacamole.
5. One-pot Tomato Basil Pasta (My aunt taught me how to cook this a few years back, the first couple times it wasn’t as good as hers haha)
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
- 1 13.25-ounce box whole wheat linguine
- 1 onion, halved and thinly sliced
- 4-6 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 cups chopped fresh tomatoes (1 pint of grape tomatoes)
- handful of basil, chopped
- handful of parsley, chopped
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- pinch of red pepper flakes
- 5 cups water
- parmesan cheese for serving
- Combine all the ingredients in a large pot and bring to a boil over high heat, stirring occasionally to submerge the pasta as it softens.
- Once the mixture comes to a boil, reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring and tossing continually (tongs are great for this) for about 8 minutes or until the sauce has thickened and the pasta is cooked.
- Serve immediately, topped with parmesan cheese.
Whether you’re a master chef or burn Top Ramen, cooking these simple dishes can add flavor (literally and figuratively) to your life. I went from doubting my cooking skills to becoming an avid cook.
I use to think less of myself because I didn’t feel like the typical “domesticated” woman that could cook well. From seeing some of my relatives throw down in the kitchen and cook these fabulous meals, I felt inferior or unworthy at times. Today at 26, I rarely burn things anymore and whenever my boyfriend wants to eat I tell him, “Make your own food.” Ha, just kidding! All in all, cooking has become therapeutic for me. Who knows? Maybe I’ll go to culinary school and open a five star restaurant in 2030?
What are some of your favorite recipes/meals to cook? Share your recipes and comment below!