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Guest Post by Maureen Dahl

Simplifying life begins with streamlining daily activities like meal preparation. For me, this includes creating a great meal without spending hours in the Kitchen. In most cases, you can tailor your dish and substitute ingredients using what you have on hand in the fridge or pantry.

For many years I entertained a lot – throwing intimate dinners or gatherings with a big buffet. Any excuse to entertain made me happy because I’ve always enjoyed cooking from scratch. When time and arthritis caught up with me, I had to get smarter and simplify my approach to cooking.   

Here are 3 dinner recipes that are easy to prepare but also entertainment worthy.

Chicken with Nectarines (serves 2)

Put two chicken breasts between two sheets of parchment and start by pounding chicken breasts to about ½” thick. Use a meat mallet or rolling pin, or just grab a small pan and wack away. You can use turkey instead of chicken, peaches or plums instead of nectarines, and omit the sherry if you like – but I really think sherry elevates this dish.  

Easy Dinner Ideas
2          Chicken breasts
2          Nectarines sliced
1 – 2 tbs  Butter
½ cup      Whipping cream
1 - 2 tbs. Sherry (optional)

Add butter to a heated skillet and sauté chicken breasts about 6 minutes each side. Add the nectarines just after you turn the chicken over. Place the chicken and nectarines on a plate while you prepare the sauce.

Add the sherry to the skillet and deglaze, scrapping up any bits, then stir in the cream and simmer until the sauce starts to thicken. Add the chicken and nectarines back to the pan and continue to simmer until thick and chicken has warmed through.

You can easily double or triple these ingredients. I didn’t peel the nectarines, but you can do that.

Serve this dish with oven roasted potatoes and asparagus.

Quiche Lorraine (serves 4)

Quiche is one of my favourite meals. It’s very versatile, quick, and easy to make, and leftovers are great for breakfast. This recipe is a basic Quiche Lorraine, but you can use any combination of ingredients to replace the bacon and Swiss cheese as long as you stick to the custard measurements. Consider switching the bacon and Swiss for diced ham and cheddar, pre-cooked asparagus, or broccoli with Monterey jack.

I used to make my own pastry from scratch but now in the interest of time, I buy readymade shells. If you really like to roll pastry try a box of Robin Hood pastry mix – hard to tell the difference between this and homemade. In this case, I used a premade Tenderflake pastry shell . You can ease the shell out of its tin-foil plate and put it in your own 9” pie plate – I didn’t but it makes it easier to transport to the oven – less wobbly.

6-8     strips bacon, crisp
2       eggs
2       egg yolks
1 ¼cup  1/2 & 1/2 cream
1/4     tsp salt
Pinch   nutmeg
1 cup   Swiss cheese, grated
1       *9” pie shell, chilled

Preheat oven to 375.

Crumble the bacon and scatter it on the bottom of the pie shell.

Beat the eggs, yolks, cream, salt and nutmeg lightly. Add the grated Swiss cheese, stir then gently pour over the bacon.

Place on a rack in the centre of the oven and bake for 35 – 40 minutes.

Serve this with a green salad.

*I use Tenderflake pie shells or Robin Hood Pie Crust Mix (makes fruit pies taste like home-made).

3 Easy Dinner ideas Quiche Lorraine

Salisbury Steak (serves 3 – 4)

This really is a nice way to prepare ground beef, the finished product is rich and delicious. I make oval-shaped patties for this dish, but you can use the same mixture and make round patties for hamburgers. I don’t mess with the Worcestershire/ketchup ratio too much in the patties or sauce. You can use a mixture of beef and pork if you like, standard breadcrumbs, or panko (my preference).

1 lb.    lean-ground beef
1/3 c    breadcrumbs (Panko)
1 tbs    Worcestershire sauce
2 tsp    ketchup (to taste)
1 tsp    mustard (to taste)
1/2 tsp  seasoning salt

Mix the above ingredients together (use your hands) and form 3 or 4 oval patties. I find it best to hand-shape balls then slowly form into oval patties.

Cook on medium to low in a skillet for 5 minutes per side then remove from the pan and set aside.

Sauce Recipe
½ small    onion, diced
1 ¼ cup    water
1 pack     brown gravy mix (sodium reduced)
1 - 2 tsp  worcestershire sauce (to taste)
1 - 2 tsp  ketchup (to taste)

Fry the onion on medium-low in a bit of oil in the same pan, stirring to prevent burning, for 2 – 3 minutes, then add the water, bring it to a boil and deglaze the pan. Whisk in the gravy mix, blending well, add the Worcestershire and ketchup, whisking.

Put patties back in the pan with the gravy and simmer on low for 2 – 3 minutes turning once to warm through.

Easy Dinner Ideas Salisbury Steak

Serve these with mashed potatoes and a green vegetable (broccoli, peas or green beans).

The above recipes are a combination of my own and some borrowed and altered along the way.

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If you love cooking then check out these additional foodie articles:

For more dinner recipe ideas visit Dinner Recipes & Ideas

This article was written by Maureen Dahl, who has been an avid cook most of her life.