Grilled_chix

                                                                                     Photos by Donna Turner Ruhlman
I’m fascinated by what America eats at home—not by what people serve at a dinner party or the latest favorite recipe they’ve found, but rather by what America’s default meals are.  I’d love to know from readers, what are your staple meals?  What are the meals you return to again and again—meals that are economical, quick, taste good, feel good, meals you make without having to think much? (I don't know why I say America–I'm just as curious and maybe more about what staple household meals are in Australia and India and Japan!  If you're an overseas reader, please comment.)

One of our staples is roast chicken, once a week, usually on Monday.  With potatoes and green beans.  Or now that it’s summer, the above grilled chicken.  The potatoes vary (sometimes baked, sometimes roasted in the same grill the chicken’s in—a great strategy when the weather is really hot—sometimes fried, sometimes new with herbs) and the beans vary (sometimes with almonds, sometimes with lemon, sometimes reheated in bacon fat with dried chilli).  Sometimes I make a sauce for the chicken, sometimes just serve it with butter and mustard, or over wilted spinach.  But always chicken, potatoes and green beans.  Like this one from last night, grilled chicken, green beans with coarse salt, lemon juice and zest, and new potatoes with fresh herbs:
Staple_dinner

So what are yours?  I want to know the whole thing, not just pot roast or burgers, but what the entire meal is, and a little detail, if it's pot roast, do you braise it in stock, tomato sauce, etc.?

The above chicken has a great baste that my father created and that I’ve tweaked a bit.  I slide a knife down either side of the backbone of the chicken to remove it.  I flatten the bird out, salt it, flip it over onto a hot grill over direct heat (I build a fire in a Weber kettle with half the grill covered with very hot coals, and leave the other half of the grill bare) and cook it for ten minutes to get a nice seared skin (if the coals are very hot or if there's a lot of fat that will render, you may need to cover your grill at this point–keep a close eye at this stage).  Then I flip it over and onto the other side of the grill.  Cover the grill and let it cook for another forty minutes or so while I cook the beans and potatoes.  During the last twenty minutes I baste it with the following:

Rip’s Grilled Chicken Baste

Juice from ½ lime
4 ounces butter (a stick)
1-1/2 tablespoons Coleman’s powdered mustard
1 tablespoon dried tarragon
1 tablespoon minced shallot

Squeeze the lime juice into a small sauce pan and place it over high heat.  When the juice is warm, add the butter and swirl it in the juice constantly over the high heat until the butter is melted (you can just melt the butter if you want, but the swirling keeps the butter emulsified, which helps to keep the ingredients well distributed).  Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the remaining ingredients.  That’s it.

Serve the grilled chicken with a chilli lime mayonnaise or simply squeeze some juice from the other half of the lime over the chicken.  Serve with potatoes and green beans.

UPDATE 6/25: Thank you everyone for taking the time to comment.  Your enthusiastic responses have been fascinating and a number of people have told me they've come away with new ideas for themselves. I'm thrilled by the quality and diversity of the kinds of meals you've described here.  Again, thanks.

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220 Wonderful responses to “Staple Meals”

  • Chris

    Ham & cheese quesadillas with some pickled jalapenos. Used to work at Robert Mondavi Winery and there was a nearby market called La Luna – they turned out quesadillas for lunch – fabulously greasy. Now they have a big grill in the back of the market and do all sorts of goodies, but used to only be quesadillas.

    So I always have the ingredients on hand at home – quick and easy meal after work.

  • Cheryl

    My staple meals:

    chicken (either breasts or tenders) marinated in my special blend of lemon juice, spicy or dijon mustard, garlic, herbs, and olive oil. I will either grill it or dredge it with panko breadcrumbs and bake it. Serve with various veg and/or saffron rice.

    I make a mean pot of chili, with big chunks of green peppers, onions, mushrooms. Oh, and my chili has beans, kkthnxs!

    I am also known to rely on two dishes when potluck meals come around — 3 bean salad and cream cheese danish. The danish in particular is usually specially requested.

  • Christopher Roberts

    Wow, what fascinating comments. I would love to have everyone include their region (some have) and see if there’s a pattern dictated by that.

    We’re five (Mom and Dad, kids age 7, 5, and 3) and definitely rely during the week on an informal cycle of sameness. For sure a rice and beans and tortilla night (with homemade guacamole as the one vaguely time-consuming element.) Pasta plain for the kids but tossed with shrimp, garlic and fresh breadcrumbs for Mom and Dad (kids are welcome to it, but pass). There’s usually a pizza night, one in four times homemade but generally from the local place. One night either a simple pan-cooked fish or chicken bits tossed in flour and spices with a green veg. And Friday, a traditional shabbat: roast chicken and simple sides. Every night, by the way, a simple chopped salad and some fruit for dessert.

    Our other family tradition is challah french toast every Saturday, which I’m pleased to say my two older kids can actually prepare themselves (though they are closely supervised on the whole hot stove part!)

    Finally, very often, Sunday nights are “breakfast for dinner”, eggs on toast and perhaps some leftovers if applicable.

  • mrs potato head

    We are in Australia with our 2 boys aged 1 and 3.

    Most weeks we have a roast leg of lamb, sometimes with garlic, rosemary or mint, but mostly plain. Served with roast royal blue potatoes and pumpkin, drizzled with olive oil and salt; and some steamed beans and broccoli.

    My other staple is to send my husband outside for a BBQ, which is usually a rib-eye steak, some mushrooms, and some chat potatoes, steamed and then finished on the BBQ, along with some steamed carrots and beans.

    Everything else is a total mixup!

  • sean

    ten minutes to sear!?

    more like 4 minutes. that’s what i get for following a recipe: burnt chicken.

  • Badger

    Okay, I try to make a practice of NOT pimping my blog in other people’s comments, but the question you asked in this post is EXACTLY what my blog is about. I really do post what my family eats for dinner almost every single night, with details on how things are prepared. And a quick scan will show you that I do repeat some of the same meals over and over.

    So, er, here’s the URL, and I just want you to know how dirty this makes me feel:
    http://make-your-own-damn-dinner.blogspot.com/

    There. Let us never speak of this again.

  • Steve Dunham

    Coincidentally, I recently wrote up my list on my blog. I’ll summarize here – if it’s too much information, just read the bold-face text.

    I used to make “Chicken with herby goodness” every weekend, but we have taken a break from it recently. It is a roast chicken with a chopped basil, rosemary, thyme, garlic, and oil mixture shoved under the skin of the breast, legs, and thighs. I serve it with potatoes: either quartered, blanched, and roasted underneath the chicken or mashed with cream, roasted garlic, rosemary, and plenty of parmesan and pecorino. I also serve green beans with it, blanched and then sautéed with shallots in olive oil, with a splash of rice vinegar at the end. Occasionally, I will roast celery root or rutabaga with the potatoes. I’ve also served this with the bread salad as described in the Zuni Cookbook. I always save the carcasses in the freezer for stock making – last time I visited my parents, I made this dish the first night, so I’d have some stock to work with later in the week.

    Recently, our most consistently made dinner is “sushi wednesday,” which usually consists of 2 kumamoto oysters, 1 california roll with tobiko, 1 salmon roll, and some salmon sashimi for each of us. Emily’s favorite fish is yellowtail, but I need to find a good source. I use a slightly tweaked version of morimoto’s rice recipe. (Less salt, more sugar, less rice)

    We often make a pizza margherita for lunch on the weekends: sliced tomatoes, mozzarella, home-grown basil, grated parmesan and pecorino. Sometimes I’ll add a wee bit of prosciutto or goat cheese.

    My typical dish for large groups is my chile verde: pork shoulder cubed and stewed with pan-roasted tomatillos, roasted poblanos, and onions. Served with flour tortillas, crema, rice (cooked with tomatoes and chicken broth), and black beans. Accompanied with pico de gallo and guacamole (chopped avacado, pico, and jalapeño).

    My steak fajitas are an odd mixture of tex-mex and asian. I use skirt steak or butterflied hangar steak, marinade it in a mixture of soy sauce, lime, sake, garlic, chili powder, and oil. I season, cut, and stir fry the steak in a wok, remove it to a plate, then stir fry a mixture of onions and roasted, sliced poblanos with a bit of homemade chili powder, add the marinade and simmer it briefly, add the steak to reheat, and serve.

    I also love to make steak frites with hangar steak and a shalloty wine sauce. I let the steak sit in red wine for an hour or so, then vaguely follow the procedure in Bouchon. For the sauce I deglaze with red wine and reduce, add some chicken stock or a “chicken cube” and reduce a bit more. My “chicken cubes” are reduced chicken stock frozen in an ice cube tray, kind of an ersatz demiglace. The fries are cooked twice in a wok with a ring underneath to stabilize it.

    One of my semi-fancy week-night meals that we have every other week or so, is a chicken roulade: I take a mixture of italian sausage, basil, cooked shallots, and currants (and sometimes egg yolk), roll it in a boned out chicken leg and thigh, and wrap prosciutto around the outside. This is poached for 25 min in a tight foil wrapping and cooled for a half hour in the fridge. Then it is seared, rested, and cut on the bias into chunks. I always serve it with a very cheesy (parm + pecorino) risotto, made with homemade chicken broth, and some attempt at a pan sauce, which I’m still tweaking. The two of us can eat this with a leftover lunch for Emily. Adapted from this Gordon Ramsay recipe.

    The rigatoni with sausage is served with: browned fennel sausage and pepper flakes deglazed with balsamic, then cooked with some chopped tomatoes and sliced garlic. This is mixed with the cooked pasta along with some arugula (or spinach, basil, etc if I can’t get arugula.) I got this from Tastes of Italia magazine years ago.

    The penne with sausage and pumpkin is sauced with a mixture of browned sausage, onions, canned pumpkin, white wine, chicken broth, and cream, seasoned with sage, cinnamon, and nutmeg. It isn’t too bad for a Rachael Ray recipe.

    I’ve mentioned the fusilli carbonara in a previous comment: Chris Cosentino’s pancetta cooked and deglazed with white wine, a mixture of egg yolks, parm, and pecorino (2:1 ratio for the cheeses) mashed together. The wine/pancetta mixture and the egg/cheese mixture are stirred into the hot pasta, cooking the egg and making a nice cheesy sauce. Adapted from the book Italian Easy.

  • radish

    I rarely cook the same meal twice. We have grilled or baked chicken every week. We try to have salmon or halibut when we can afford it. We are snobbish about salmon. In the summer we grill, in the winter we crock.

  • Pavlov

    On weeknights my favorite dish to cook is a picadillo (usually ground turkey, but I often substitute shredded chicken or cubed pork) with mexican rice and beans (if I have made a pot recently.) Pork or chicken in tomatillo sauce is another. If I am late getting home or too tired to cook it is often a salad and a grilled sandwich.

    On weekends, my favorite dish is an elaborate Arroz con Pollo. Other go to dishes are sauerkraut and brown sugar braised pork shoulder, meatloaf (turkey and pork, a variation of Ina Garten’s recipe), peanut and curry chicken stew, roasted pork loin. We recently added to the repertoire a roasted ratatouille (from ATK) with buttered orzo and grilled sausage or roasted chicken. (Yes, that was added about a year ago after some movie came out.) I am not a big beef eater, but I break down and make a pot roast or beef stew for my wife on occasion.

    My very favorite comfort food is pinto (occasionally black) beans with mexican chorizo (I make my own from pork shoulder). I make a large pot and they just get better with each reheating.

  • Michelle

    Fun topic, though I feel like my reply is going to be a bit on the dull side.: Our go-to weekly meal is fish — whatever is available and fresh — with a steamed vegetable on the side.

    The preparation is super basic: The “topping” or sauce: a little fresh lemon from the tree outside (we have a meyer lemon tree in our yard that produces year around, ah, Northern Cali), or maybe some butter with a little cilantro or parsley, or maybe a little soy-brown sugar-drop of oil glaze. Throw whichever on top of the lightly salted and peppered piece of fish, throw the whole thing in the oven between 350-400, wait until cooked and steam some sort of green vegetable (asparagus, artichoke, broccoli or green beans) on the stove top as your side. The vegetable is served either straight up, with a a little butter or mayo or cheese, depending on what’s home and the mood. That’s it! On a “lucky” fish night, we might throw in a starch too like fresh sourdough bread warmed in the oven or a little rice, but usually, just the fish with the veg.

  • Kel

    I like in Sydney so the fish here is fantastic. Staple mid week dinners…

    Salmon fillet lightly floured on skin side and fried till crispy, asparagus and cherry tomatoes roasted in lemon rind, garlic and tonnes of black pepper, new potatoes and a touch of lemon beaurre blanc if I am feeling bothered.

    Also chicken and cashew stir fry when I need a vegetable hit – tonnes of veges and udon noodles in soy, ginger, honey, garlic, chilli

    Dahl with poppadums and mango chutney

    Crumbed chicken schnitzel with lemon, brocollini and mashed potato

    I am single so when I feel like a roast chicken I’ll roast a spatchcock instead with roast potato, pumpkin, parsnip and gravy.

  • Elizabeth

    Marcella Hazan has several staples for me:
    Tomato Sauce (with onion and butter)
    Rosemary roasted chicken
    Also, roasted asparagus with a fried egg from Mark Bittman.
    Mom’s meatloaf and chili are part of the wintry mix.
    A batch of vegetable soup that you can add leftover protein with also is a standard in my fridge.
    Now that summer is here and the tomatoes will be coming, BLTs will be on the table morning, noon and night.

  • Jenn S

    Lately, I’ve been obsessed with cabbage. So I make what I call “egg slurry.” Not elegant, but mighty tasty.

    1 small head cabbage, shredded
    4 slices high quality, thick cut bacon, diced
    1 onion, sliced
    2 cups leftover wild rice
    2 cloves garlic
    salt & LOTS of pepper
    olive oil
    1 over easy egg per person

    Saute diced bacon until med-crisp. Drain on paper towel and set aside. Wipe out pan, and return to med heat. Add 1Tb olive oil. Saute cabbage & onions with salt and pepper until it just begins to get tender. Add bacon & wild rice to pan, stir, continue to cook until fully-tender. In a separate pan, make the over easy eggs. Place a bed of the cabbage mixture in a pasta bowl, and top with an over-easy egg.

    Other weeknight meals – Big green salad topped with grilled/broiled fish or chicken thighs – spiced with whatever I’ve got on hand.

    Risottos are good year-round, and make a lot of it for delicious lunch leftovers. Lately, asparagus and pea risotto with a bit of crisped prosciutto on top.

    Herb roasted root veggies seasoned with fresh rosemary, garlic, pepper, olive oil is always classic served with roasted chicken or broiled fish.

  • bonnibella

    Fantastic thread! I love it when everyone shares. :-)

    For my staples, if I go beyond a simple steak on the grill…I tend to head for a roast chicken with lemon that is pretty much the same as Natalie’s. I also do a supremely tacky (but quick and dirty) meat loaf that uses Heinz’s Chili Sauce both in the meat loaf mix itself and as a topping. Both of these staples allow me to recycle the leftovers into another meal (or two) later in the week. The roast chicken is the “better” dish, but takes more time to prepare. The meat loaf sounds totally horrendous, but actually tastes better than expected. And of course, both dishes are extremely economical, which at times is an absolute necessity for me.

    As sides, I just steam some green beans and sprinkle them with kosher salt. Simple simple simple…boring, I know. But there are times when boring really hits the spot.

  • Just Oh

    Our dinner staples vary with the weather. We started tri-tip season a couple of weeks ago. I’ll use a generous dry rub coating of K-salt, ground cayenne, Hungarian paprika, black pepper, brown sugar, cumin and rosemary then either grill on the Weber kettle or sear in cast iron and finish in the oven. Sides will be whatever’s at the market (farmer’s market if I have time on the weekend)and can include potatoes roasted with chile peppers and limes, blanched asparagus served simply with olive oil and salt, or a salad of watercress with shredded carrots and dried cherries.

    October usually ushers in roasted chicken along the lines others have noted.

  • lani

    we have two regular meals, with some variations. first is roast chicken, usually brined, then coated in olive oil and salt (sometimes poultry seasoning, sometime tex mex seasoning)along with rice (made with chicken stock instead of water) and drizzled with the tasty bits from the roasting pan.
    second is turkey burgers. take the ground turkey, season with salt & pepper, then mix in half an onion and half a tart green apple, both finely chopped. to top, cook the other half of the onion with some sliced mushrooms until brown. when the burgers are just about done, pile the mushroom and onion mix on top of the burger, then cover with a couple slices of good cheese. put a tiny bit of water in the pan, put the lid on and let the cheese melt. serve on a bun with some oven fries.
    i’ve also just started making fresh rolls with basil, mint, cabbage, bean sprouts, cilantro and tofu. so easy (when you get the hang of the wrapper) and tasty.

  • krq

    Fatty fish braised in a piquant coconut milk sauce.

    I grew up Filipino. Unfortunately, I don’t know what this is called. I also never learned to cook this from my parents. I got the basic recipe from the web, and then I adapted it to my tastes.

    Optional: Saute garlic and/or onion.

    Sear the fattiest fish you can find on both sides. Add a can of coconut milk. Splash in a quarter to a half cup of vinegar (I use Filipino palm vinegar). My parents usually added string beans. I use a particular seaweed, myself. Add in a bay leaf. Salt and pepper to taste. Simmer until fish is cooked through. Plate with steamed rice. Pour sauce over rice. I think my parents added crushed tomatoes because I remember how the sauce would be pink-orange. I’ll have to try that next time.

  • Radha Gunupati

    DOSA’s – if you haven’t tried this South Indian staple yet then please do. I promise you will not be dissapointed by the explosion of flavor sure to abound your palate. They are usually described as lentil crepes which is an acceptable description of its appearance I guess but with regards to taste its sort of like injera – the Ethiopian bread – but by no means does it have the texture of injera – its texture is similar to the crepe but a bit more crispy. Anyways its made from soaked and ground lentils and rice and is usually served with coconut chutney, sambhar and a spicy powder infused with ghee. Im an Indian born and raised in the US and my mom used to make this every now and then and Ive continued to do so every now and then as well with my family. Its, in my opinion, a bit of a tedious process as the lentils and rice need to soak over night, then you grind it and let it sit overnight again to ferment. Nonetheless South Indians here and abroad will attest to not being able to live without this particular food item that is both a breakfast and dinner item. So the coconut chutney is not sweet! The chutney consists of fresh ground coconut, green chillies, a little tamarind and salt and some roasted split lentils (dalia), onions – grind it all up add some water and the tempering spices (curry leaves, urad dal, cumin seeds, mustard seeds, dried red chillies) voila. The sambhar – each household of course has their own recipe but essentially consists of tamarind, lentils, an assortment of veggies, and the sambhar powder – made differently in each house but typically consists of fresh ground and roasted spices such as dried red chillies, cumin seeds, coriander seeds, fenugreek, tumeric, some other lentil (urad daal) for which i cant think of the american name. Then the spice powder – this is to die for I tell you – once again the combo varies but essentially consists of fresh ground roasted spices all blended together – dried red chillies,chana daal, cumin seeds, tamarind, peppercorns, urad daal, roasted curry leaves, mustard seeds. I do hope you try this someday – its a staple in the South of India and to the South Indians living in America. If I had the time I honestly would make it every single day. When I do make the dough though I make a ton of it at a time since it is pretty labor and time intensive – sits in the fridge dor a good week so my family gets to enjoy dosas any time of day during that week – trust me not something anyone gets sick of – its that good!

  • Todd

    Tarragon chicken salad. Chicken poached in homemade chicken stock with aromatics, tossed with granny smith apples, tarragon, chive, and shallot. Dressing is usually homemade mayo, a little mustard and yuzu vinegar. I eat this with baby lettuce, arugula or whatever happens to be available, probably 2-3 times a week for lunch.

    Roast chicken (Keller’s method) about once a week, potatoes gratin and steamed vegetables. Nothing fancy.

    Vichyssoise (er, leek potato soup), Alton Brown’s vegetarian recipe. We have this pretty much on hand constantly in the fridge.

    Burgundy Beef — bourdain’s les halles recipe to a T. Probably twice a month in the summers, and twice a week in the winters. I can recite this recipe in my sleep.

    Store-bought fresh pasta, usually angel hair, warmed store-bought (not canned, made daily in-store) basil pesto with a smidge of cream. We do that for a ‘quick’ meal whenever we need to get dinner done in a hurry.

  • Kathryn

    Cheese (and whatever else is in the fridge) Soufflee – we always have eggs, milk, butter and cheese in the fridge and it was one of the first things I learned to cook

    if there’s ham or bacon or spinach or peppers kicking aorund, in they go – generally cheddar cheese, but if feta or parmesan is what’s available, then that’s what we’ll use

    (NOTE: Brie does not a good soufflee make ..)

    add a fresh green salad and it’s dinner

  • JMW

    My personal staple is pan-fried and then roasted pork, usually a bone-in chop, basted with butter or bacon in the oven and served over “boulangere” potatoes or some seasonal vegetable that gets to soak in the pork juices as it cooks through. For guests, I usually will go a step further and slow-roast a pork shoulder.

    On the other hand, my boyfriend is Indonesian and he has an interesting staple, a wonderful braised beef dish called rendang. Generally it’s a braising cut of beef in coconut milk, lemongrass, chili paste, etc. And of course served with rice to soak up the juices. One batch lasts for a solid week at a time.

  • Megan

    The winter staple is Sweet Potatoe Enchiladas. I make a filling of mashed sweet taters mixed with onion, red pepper, spices, etc., and fill a few flour tortillas. Roll ’em up, top ’em with salsa and cheese, and bake them for a bit. They’re phenomenal, and super easy.

    The summer staple is veggie pasta. I take whatever veggies I find at the market, saute them up a bit, then melt in a little goat cheese and throw on pasta. Usually involves asparagus and cherry tomatoes, plus whatever else I can get my hands on.

  • E.V.

    A staple in my family is Filipino chicken adobo. It’s chicken braised with lots of garlic, soy sauce, coconut vinegar, black peppercorns, and bay leaf. Served over rice, it’s the ultimate Filipino comfort food.

    My dad is Puerto-Rican, and he makes a delicious salt-cod stew with onion, garlic, tomatoes, bell peppers, eggplant, green plantain, and a generous amount of extra virgin olive oil. That’s another comfort dish from my childhood.

  • Nicole

    I’m currently living in Japan and dealing for the first time ever with a severely under-equipped kitchen. (I have a small toaster oven, a microwave that can bake but was broken in the last earthquake, and a 2-burner gas range). For me, ramen or udon is my go-to meal when I want something simple and quick.

    I tend to throw some combination of broccoli, daikon, carrots, onions, green onions, and sometimes green beans into some boiling water. After a few minutes, I add the noodles. A few minutes later, in goes either thin slices of pork or sliced kamaboko (a fish paste patty). Occasionally, I also add an egg if I’m eating kamaboko. Again, I wait a few more minutes, then pour it all into a large bowl. If I’m having udon, I add some flavoring liquid that I know nothing about except that it was recommended to me by a Japanese friend. If I’m having ramen, I add ramen sauce paste (from a packet). I’ve never tried the chicken flavor, but I like salt, soy sauce, and miso flavors. I think this preparation might horrify the people that really know how to make this, but when I first moved here, it was nice to have something fast and easy to make (especially in winter since my kitchen’s only heat comes from the gas burner).

  • Andrea

    For really easy dinners on crazy nights:

    Sausage & sauerkraut with seasonal vegetables on the side

    Angel Hair Pasta with olive oil, lemon juice, feta, tomatoes and roasted pine nuts (and some shrimp if they are on hand)

    Big pot of beans with homemade cornbread.

    None of it is very “foodie” but it hits the spot and most of it isn’t horribly processed (at least not as bad as Kraft Mac-n-cheese!).

  • Zoe

    We’re in Canberra, the cold bit of Australia. Yes, there is one, and it’s winter now.

    I like to make different things, but we usually have some poached chicken hanging around (blanched, then brought to the boil with green onion and ginger and taken off the heat with the lid off). It gets used for sandwiches, noodles, etc. Sometimes I’ll poach the chicken in tomato, harissa and lemon instead.

    And Sunday night is Ma Po Tofu night (or Muppet Tofu as it’s known around here), using Fuchsia Dunlop’s sichuan recipe.

  • lifeinrecipes

    Weekly: roasted chicken. The chicken has been salted a day ahead. I’ll mince the globs of excess fat with salt and herbs and smoosh that under the skin on the breast. The cavity is stuffed with a halved head of garlic, quartered lemon, and a handful of fresh parsley and thyme . Roast @ 425 over a bed of sliced shallots, herbs and a splash of stock or water. Simple green veg, usually broccoli or asparagus, and a grain which is either steamed short-grain brown rice or quinoa ladled with the shallot chicken jus.

    Next night is generally a caesar salad topped with leftover roast chicken (for daughter),plenty of anchovies (for me),and herbed warm roasted yukon gold potato “croutons”.

    A quick and simple garlicky beef and broccoli stir-fry finished with Chinese oyster sauce fits the bill many nights.Steamed rice goes with.

    Red chili-peppered spaghetti aglio olio finished in chicken stock and plenty of fresh parsley. Roasted cauliflower, rapini or lancinato kale(this is a mom-only night).

  • Chris

    Go to meal for summer = blackened chicken with grill-roasted sweet potatoes, grilled romaine hearts, and maybe a salsa of some sort (peach pineapple). When I’m too lazy for the salsa, I usually serve the chicken with a little extra melted butter.

    To start, preheat a heavy pan (cast iron) over high heat for at least 10 minutes (you cannot have a pan too hot). I do this on my grill, since it smokes like hell. At the same time, I turn another burner on high and toss on the sweet potatoes (turning every 10 minutes or so – as the skin chars ).

    For the chicken, start by either slicing or pounding boneless skinless chicken breast to until it is no greater that 1/2″.

    Mix together a spice rub of paprika, salt (I don’t use kosher, since I find the big flakes make the chicken seem way too salty), black pepper, cayenne, onion powder, garlic powder, dried thyme, and dried oregano. I don’t have the amounts right here, but my rub is based on a blackening rub from an old Paul Prudhomme cookbook (which is excellent if you can find a used copy).

    Drizzle melted butter over the chicken. Pat on the rub. Place the chicken in the heated pan for about 2 minutes a side (this should be more than enough time. any more will burn the rub). Flip for another 2 minutes. Remove from pan.

    There are a few others I can think of, but for the sake of honesty I must admit that on the nights I go from the office to the gym and don’t get home until about 9-10 (and there aren’t any leftovers); my dinner is usually a one course meal of cereal (mini-wheats, raisin bran, or grape nuts). Not proud of it, but it’s what I do.

  • JB

    How could I have forgotten “breakfast for dinner”? It’s always a hit with my family, I’d say we do this once every 1-2 months.

  • liana

    for those of you who roast chickens, how do you deal with the splattery, smokey mess in your oven?

  • faustianbargain

    to radha ganapati who said…

    “Then the spice powder – this is to die for I tell you – once again the combo varies but essentially consists of fresh ground roasted spices all blended together – dried red chillies,chana daal, cumin seeds, tamarind, peppercorns, urad daal, roasted curry leaves, mustard seeds.”

    hey there..i thought it sounded like an andhra karappodi. altho’ the tamarind in it is unfamiliar to me. i called my mother to check and she thought that it might be what we call paruppu podi. i think tis called kandi podi(sp?) in andhra? it can also be mixed with hot rice and ghee too, right? i’d really *really* appreciate the recipe!

    on a similar note, i was wondering if andhra has a version of madras milagai podi which is sesame+dhals+red chillies. we mix it with gingelly oil rather than ghee altho’ ghee with milagai podi isnt unheard of…

    we also make another version thats from our palaghat/kerala kitchen tradition and its called chammandi podi which is essentially the same but with toasted coconut with sesame, dry red chillies etc. some people add garlic. in our home, we dont.

  • Sharon

    My favorite go to meals other than my roasted sticky chicken are roasted veggies. I roast everything from asparagus, green beans, onions, root veggies, etc… My family loves breakfast for supper!! I love to make fresh blueberry pancakes, omelets w/ fresh plucked garden veggies, homemade buttermilk biscuits, country ham, and eggs of all kinds. This time of year I love making BLT’s w/ tomatoes still warm from the sun and can we ever have enough mac and cheese? Not at my house! Since I’m near the Gulf Coast I prepare a lot of seafood and one of my favorite recipes is Wild Salmon with Pearl Couscous, Slow-Roasted Tomatoes w/ Lemon Oregano Oil from Gourmet 2005, corn pies, and other poor food.

  • Kate in the NW

    2-3 times a week (because we’re a very busy family with house, dog, kid, horse, soccer team, and softball team) we have the “Euro-trash meal” and it’s a favorite –

    – loaf of good crusty bread
    – an old hard cheese, a smelly washed-rind, and something really green and fuzzy
    – some salumi (no I don’t make my own…sorry! but we live in Seattle and have some good stuff from Salumi or DaPino’s)
    – a bunch of whatever’s been good lately at the farmer’s market
    – cold leftover roast chicken (which always seems to be on hand in the fridge…we also use the recipe from Bouchon, like lots of people who commented above – though I want to try that grilled one you show here!)
    – homemade agrodolce (always on hand – I use different combinations and experiment each time I make it: sometimes it’s just cippolini or WallaWalla onions, sometimes with shallots, or figs, or lemon zest, or eggplant – but it always is made with red wine, bay leaf, & red wine vinegar).
    – salad with my mom’s recipe for salad dressing (you know – the one you make with the last little bits of stuff in the Grey Poupon jar…)
    – olives (which I sometimes roast with some browned fresh rosemary, shallots &/or garlic and citrus zest and then serve warm)
    – red wine
    – smoked/preserved fish of some sort.

    The combinations vary according to what’s good in the way of fruit and veggies, but the basic spread is what’s above. my daughter and husband love it – the table is covered with tasty bits to sample and it’s easy to fix and very satisfying. if I’m feeling ambitious and/or have time I supplement with cole slaw, roasted beet salad, or celereriac salad (from Bouchon). Simple food, good ingredients, family, home + easy = perfect meal!

  • dena

    russian family living in america: kotletiy (russian meatballs), borsch, chicken noodle soup, broiled whole chicken (coated with mayo, pepper, and salt), eggplant and zucchini fried with potatoes and tomatoes, and green beans fried with egg and tomato. spaghetti and buckwheat are weekly staples, and fresh vegetables with every meal.

  • Jason

    Sunday Pot Roast. We’ve been slowly establishing it as our “sunday dinner”

    Chuck Roast.
    French Laundry Veal Stock
    mirapoix
    red wine
    bay leaf.

    I salt and pepper the roast, get on a hot pan to get a crust going, remove it, deglaze with the wine, reduce and deglaze with the veggies, reduce and deglaze with the veal stock, add the meat back in, cover with parchment paper, keep in a 350 oven for 4 hours or so.

    I’m still amazed at the difference that parchment paper lid makes.

    The first person who posted here said they lived in Southwest Ohio and certain things “were not attainable”…I live in Dayton and haven’t come across anything I couldn’t find at the markets in this region.

    Gas prices have made it harder to take a trip out but if you can, make an effort to reach:

    Jungle Jims – Fairfield
    2nd Street Market – Dayton
    Dorothy Lane Markets – Kettering, Springboro
    North Market – Columbus

    I haven’t found anything that these markets didn’t have or couldn’t aquire.

  • Harry

    I forgot a whole class of quick food: sausages! Stock your freezer with good sausages and you’re 2/3 way to a tasty meal in 20 min. Since the sausage is the source of most flavor, you need *good* ones for a good meal. I buy from the growers/butchers at farmers’ markets or from Trader Joe’s & Whole Paycheck. I figure 2 sausages per person.

    Sausage & (western-style) omlets.

    Sausage & Onions: Slice open sausages longways, brown cut-side down so they exude their fat, remove. Saute thinly sliced onion in the sausage fat till they’re almost as done as you want them. Add back the sausage, saute till sausage is done.

    Sausage & Tomatoes: Slice open italian-ish sausages longways, cook cut-side down so they exude their fat, remove. Saute garlic and a moderate amount of chopped onion in the fat. Add a couple cups chopped tomatoes & their juice (if canned, I recommend Del Monte Organic chopped), simmer down till you like the thickness. If you want, add other vegges at the appropriate time so they’re all done at once. Meanwhile, slice the sausages about 1/2″ thick. When the tomatoes are done, spice them. Add back the sliced sausages, heat through.

  • Flaime

    Winter and summer are different:
    In winter, I make Chicken & Dumplings at pretty much every week. I use something very close to Alton Brown’s recipe from I’m Just Here for More food.

    In the summer, the weekly standard is Eye of Round steak, cut very thick, with potatoes (usually either hashbrowns or fried, sometimes mashed) and green beans (usually just blanched, sometimes sauteed with corn, butter, and a touch of sugar).

  • jeff meeker

    I like the roast chicken meal a lot. In fact, mine is very similar to Michael’s. I love the spatchcocked, high heat roasted method of cooking the chicken. Really, it’s fast enough on a weekday night after I come home from work (I brine the chicken the night before, then spatchcock it and let it air dry in the fridge overnight).

    Cook in on a broiler pan (the one that comes with the oven). Put sliced potatoes underneath. All that chicken fat drips down on it. Oh so tasty.

    For the green beans,I’ll blanch them, then finish them in a saute pan with some shallots, a splash of white vermouth and some butter. (and S&P, of course)

    For fish, I love a simple pan sauted trout. Super quick to cook and serve.

  • Adele

    I also live alone, so my go-to meals when I’m cooking for myself are roast chicken — I always use fresh thyme, garlic and olive oil, a big salad, where I clean out my produce drawers, or pasta with a really quick sauce, using either fresh or canned cherry tomatoes, basil and garlic. I cook the garlic in olive oil until it’s fragrant, throw in the tomatoes, cook for about 15 minutes, add the basil, cut in chiffonade and cook for another 5 minutes(salt and pepper to taste of course). I drain the pasta and toss it in the pan with the sauce then grate some Parmesano Regiano on it.

    I love feeding people, and they seem to like being fed by me, so it seems that I have company at least once a week. If I don’t feel like fussing, I make chicken piccata, using a little shallot in the pan sauce, often cooked carrots with dill and roast new potatoes with rosemary and garlic — a nice salad,some good bread and some wine and everyone is happy.

    Donna’s pictures are once again making my mouth water.

  • Tracey

    Roast chicken is definitely a staple. I usually make a rub with brown sugar, olive oil and grainy mustard. I also keep frozen shrimp around so I can boil a few, and throw them on a salad or in ramen for some protein in a super-quick meal. I’ve introduced bison burgers into the rotation lately – I used the ground meat for enchiladas and I liked how it turned out (less greasy than beef, just as flavorful). Another quick non-gourmet meal is my version of beef stroganoff. (Egg noodles, cream of mushroom soup, and thinly sliced steak.) I don’t have a ton of time to prepare meals on weeknights, so fast & simple preparation is key for me.

    My side dish staples include baked (whole) sweet potatoes – I substitute potatoes for sweet potatoes because they have a lot more nutritional value and I think they taste better anyway. I use bag salads a lot, and add whatever veggies/accoutrements I have, like tomatoes, cucumbers, nuts, raisins – whatever is on hand. Rice is something I always have around, too.

  • carri

    Hey Ruhlman, there’s more to this post than meets the eye! It’s turned into an interesting study of how we eat, with all the variables like ethnicity, location and social demographics telling the tale…facinating stuff! On the whole, it looks like chicken wins!

  • Darth_ritis

    I keep it simple most of the time….

    Meatloaf & Mashed Potatoes!

    As for what I put in my meatloaf….it depends on what I have at home. It always comes out nice and moist though with plenty of flavor!

  • Corey

    Great topic! We try to eat all vegetarian at home and save our meat eating for a treat out. Go-to meals are:

    kimchi fried rice with tofu and whatever veggies are on hand (kale and grated carrots are really good)

    black beans with yellow coconut rice from Deborah Madison’s Vegetarian Suppers cookbook – a great and easy meal made mostly with pantry ingredients

    baked tofu (marinated in almost anything first), and accompanied by whatever veggies we have, most often roasted or stir fried

    On the pasta front – whole wheat pasta with leeks in a cream sauce, adapted from Marcella Hazan. Deborah Madison’s pasta with herbs and radish tops in a yogurt sauce, again from Vegetarian Suppers. Shells stuffed with any combination of cheeses (or pureed tofu) and veggies, with Mario’s basic tomato sauce.

    Variations on the corn and fresh veggie enchiladas recipe from Ken Haedrich’s Feeding the Healthy Vegetarian Family Cookbook.

    In colder months, Bittman’s braised pumpkin in tomato sauce over rice. Easy and delicious, and tastes even better the next day for lunch.

  • Flora

    My quick and easy staple meal is spruced up ramen. I buy a Korean brand of ramen with thicker noodles and a kimchi flavor packet. Sorry, I don’t know the brand.

    I cook the noodles first then remove them so they don’t overcook.

    Then in the broth I poach an egg and add some kind of veggie like kale, spinach, or bok choy.
    My husband is wary of the msg in the flavor packets so I will often make my own with veggie or chicken broth, thai curry paste, and a little soy. Once it’s all assembled, pour just a bit of sesame oil on top and garnish with scallions or cilantro.

  • Julie

    It’s really interesting to read everyone’s comments! I had to bookmark this post to use as inspiration in the future.

    I’m a young-20’s girl living with food-appreciating roommates; two of us wait tables and one is a cook, so we love good eating. But we live on a budget, which makes for interesting meals.

    My favorite go-to standard is a stir-fry: usually chicken, coated in cornstarch and then stir-fried with whatever vegetables I have around, but usually onions, peppers, mushrooms, string beans, or water chestnuts. For sauce I’ll use soy, rice wine vinegar, sesame oil, and sometimes a little hoisin.

    Another thing I love in the summertime is fresh pasta tossed with great tomatoes, buffalo mozzarella, and fresh basil. With olive oil, salt, and pepper, it’s the simplest and most delicious dinner you can make in ten minutes.

    This summer, my roommates and I have been grilling fish and serving it over a bed of wilted spinach or asparagus and alongside orzo or rice. One great combination is mahi-mahi marinated in lemon juice, pepper, and herbs, orzo with feta and olive oil, and balsamic-roasted asparagus. We love it.

  • Christine

    My husband and I love to cook together every evening. When we are pressed for time or feeling the pinch money-wise, we put together a pork “stew” that is super tasty and best of all – CHEAP.

    In a dutch oven, season up some country style pork ribs and brown them off. For a seasoning, I like to use salt, pepper and paprika but we used whatever spices sound good at the moment. Pull the pork out and in the same pan, add diced yellow onion, carrots and garlic. Cook for a few minutes, then add a can of canelli beans. Add back the ribs and pour a cup or so of good chicken stock in the pot. Add whatever delicious fresh herbs you have kicking around, cover, and stew for 60-90 min on low/medium heat.

    Pull the pork out and chop it up. Add it back.

    Serve up bowls of the stew with fresh parsley on top. A gremolata also is a nice touch if you have a lemon lying around.

  • Jennie/Tikka

    You can pretty much tell mine by my screen name! When I’m pressed for time I tend to default to an Indian curry because its easy! All the standard ingredients (onions, garlic, ginger, cumin, cayenne, turmeric, clarified butter, clove, lemon or lime juice) into the blender with plenty of cilantro. I tend to make my curries very green with a LOT of fresh cilantro and then then usually chicken for the meat.

    – Everything into the blender
    – Butter/oil or both into a saute
    – Cook chicken pieces; dust with powders for add’l flavor
    – Add paste from blender
    – Mix in coconut milk, clarified butter, sometimes a little plain yogurt, lemon/lime juice until well-mixed and warm.

    If I’m skipping meat (which I do sometimes) I’ll just make several different curries and bake some naan to eat with it.

    I serve the curries with Basmati rice made the standard way, 2:1 water to rice, little salt, 5 or 6 star anises, peas.

    If I have a seriously short time to make dinner: Spaghetti with clams. I grab an open wine bottle from the fridge (or some stock), reduce and season, and boil some pasta. I usually keep a little cream on hand for sauces; yogurt if I’m dieting. In the winter, I eat that with french bread, soaking up the sauce with the bread.

    A lot of the time I just do an at-home version of The Mystery Box. I pull out whatever there is that’s unused and make something on the spot. If its just a couple ears of corn and some leftover grape tomatoes – voila, dinner will be roasted veggie chowder. You get the idea.

  • Tammy

    My 2 yr old really cuts down on my free cooking time. I belong to a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) program where I get a weekly box of seasonal veggies during the summer. I usually make one or all of the following every week. I try to cook from scratch as much as possible. All of these meals have serious freestyle options so I vary the recipes based on what’s in the fridge and how much time I have. My daughter is a great eater, so I like to keep things interesting.

    Spaghetti with tomato sauce
    Grilled cheese sandwiches
    Fried rice
    Pizza
    Burritos
    Pancakes
    French toast

  • Danny Bredahl

    Slow-Cooked Round Steak: I’ll take some eye of round and pound it to flatten it and soften up some of the connective tissues. I season it with salt and pepper. I’ll then sear over high heat on both sides using a little lard or Crisco. About three minutes before it’s done on the second side, I add some juliened onions. Once the onions are cooked through and the steak is seared, I add two cups of beef stock (or broth with a bullion cube depending on the budget for the week) and reduce the heat to low. I’ll let it simmer for an hour and the meat will fall apart. If you want, you could add mushrooms for the last 15 minutes. I’ve also had success adding some flour/butter to thinken up the stock to make a gravy after removing the meat. I usually serve it with garlic mashers and corn.

    My Grandma brought this over from the Ukraine and my Mom made it once a week as I was growing up.

  • Newsmike

    For me, it’s simple:

    One nicely marbled rib-eye

    A bit of sea salt

    A blazingly hot cast iron skillet.

    Coat the steak very lightly with a few drops of olive oil, sprinkle on the salt, disconnect the smoke detector and drop it in the pan. A few minutes later, you’ve got a meal perfect for the guy whose wife and kids are out of town that night.

  • Sylvie, Rappahannock Cook & Kitchen Gardener

    Pork chops many many ways. Just sauteed in olive oil. The vegetable and seasonning will vary depending on the season. In spring, it might be a side of sugar snap peas, spring onions & mint; in side of chopped and briefly sauteed zucchini and tomatoes with a generous amount of minced garlic and basil; in the fall, braised Spinach or Swiss Chard; in winter, (pre-cooked) butternut squash sauteed with ginger and thyme.

    Home made pizza is also easy, versatile and quick (if you make a big batch of dough the day before or a few days before). And the toppings can just be changed with what’s on hand.

    Vegetarian pasta – many shape, many vegetable – again depending on the season. In the spring maybe asparagus, morels & cream; in summer a no-cook tomato & basil sauce; in early fall slow cooked garlicky eggplants; in winter, parsley, anchovies and a jar of home-made spaghetti sauce.

    Roast chicken. And any left over can be used in the following days for fajitas, chicken salads etc..

    In winter, slow-cooked in the oven beef roast with lots of carrots & parsnips. Vary herbs and liquid (beer, wine, tomato sauce) as desired.

    I could go on and on. This question is obviously close to may people’s heart. It’s indeed a fascinating glimpse at the everyday kitchen. Thank you for all the answers. I got some good ideas for myself too!

  • kanani

    I really love reading the responses!
    I was raised in a household that usually had a 50 pound sack of rice. As a result, my customary staple would have to be rice!

    Steamed or fried, served with red beans, with terriyaki, with freshly made salsa and black beans –I can make a whole meal with vegetables, rice, and bits of meat.

  • Hank

    Mine would be venison, elk or antelope medallions, salted well and seared in olive oil. Black pepper at service. Serve with Swedish fingerling potatoes or crusty bread, and an in-season veg — asparagus, black kale sauteed with garlic, zucchini, caramelized onions with a little honey or molasses in them or somesuch.

    This may not sound like a “Wednesday night” meal, but I hunt for all my meat so I always have venison or other wild game in the house.

  • Samuel Fromartz

    We have pan fried trout once a week, which our 4-year old loves.

    I salt and plop the fillets skin side in flour, then flop into a pan with about 2 tbs total olive oil/butter combo. Fry it for about 3 minutes then flip it for 1-2 minutes. Done.

    Usually we have this with salad, maybe rice, maybe really good baguette with aiolli spread on it with the trout inside like a sandwich.

    My daughter likes to dip hers in a combo of ketchup, worchester, soy sauce.

    I also grill or pan sear wild salmon about once a week, also with salad and usually rice. If I’m grillin it, I may roll spring potatoes in a bowl with olive oil and salt and then throw on the grill.

    I find fish is a really fast dinner, you can get a meal on the table in 15 minutes.

    Other once-week staple is pizza. I make the dough the night before or in the morning (I work from home) throw it in the refrig to get a long, slow rise. Hour before cooking I blast up the oven with a baking stone, take the dough out to warm up to room temp. The actual shaping and cooking takes 20 minutes total.

    On pizza, I follow a tip from Jim Lahey form Sullivan St. Bakery (of no-knead bread fame). He told me, Don’t Use Too Much Stuff. Minimalist pizza is better than maximalist (if that’s a word).

  • Anne

    What an excellent question! Love reading the answers.

    We are primarily locavores, so the vegetables vary with the season. Typical meals include:

    seasonal pasta: in the spring with shitakes, ramps or green garlic and cream sauce; in the summer with fresh marinara sauce and shitakes; in the winter with frozen marinara sauce and meatballs (I just can’t bring myself to make meatballs in the summer.) Served with big slabs of garlic bruschetta and often a green salad for dessert (because I forget to make them before I put the pasta on.)

    thrifty roast chicken: on the first day I roast a chicken and make gravy from the drippings, and serve it with mashed potatoes and whatever veggies are in season or in the freezer (often corn and green beans in the winter.) Day two I turn the remainders into a stew with dumplings, chicken and noodles (with carrots and celery and onions) or chicken tetrazzini. Day three I turn the carcass into soup, usually with carrots, celery, onions and noodles.

    chicken, other: In hotter weather I’m more likely to get some bone-in chicken breasts from the butcher shop and cook them in a pan, and serve with mashed potatoes and pan gravy with a couple of different vegetables in season.

    bacon bacon bacon! On a lazy night I’ll make some BLT’s; on a more energetic night I’ll cook shrimp and bacon with hot sauce and serve it over creamy, cheesy polenta. And of course there are always bacon and eggs, with a dinner-size portion of bacon of course. I’ve been known to include an appetizer of bacon-wrapped bacon with bacon dipping sauce.

    ground beef: we really like our grass-fed beef farmer, so we buy a lot of this. Sloppy Joes and burgers are its usual fate, or spiced with pine nuts; served with homemade potato chips and a vegetable in season (always corn on the cob in the summer.)

    pierogies: I’m a Polish girl from Parma, so sometimes I just fry up some pierogi from the local Byzantine church with onions and butter. If I’m feeling decadent we’ll have prune pierogi for dessert. Yes, nary a vegetable in sight.

    pork chops with apples and onions (late summer/fall/winter): I often cook a couple of pork chops in apple cider and serve them with sautéed apples and onions. Side dishes are normally scalloped potatoes and Brussels sprouts or greens with leeks.

  • kindageeky

    Tuscan Bean soup is something that my wife’s uncle and aunt brought back from living in Tuscany for several years. Totally cheap ($3-5), amazing texture, hearty and healthy. Recipe here. We cook it every couple weeks in fall and winter.

  • Radha

    to radha ganapati who said…

    “Then the spice powder – this is to die for I tell you – once again the combo varies but essentially consists of fresh ground roasted spices all blended together – dried red chillies,chana daal, cumin seeds, tamarind, peppercorns, urad daal, roasted curry leaves, mustard seeds.”

    hey there..i thought it sounded like an andhra karappodi. altho’ the tamarind in it is unfamiliar to me. i called my mother to check and she thought that it might be what we call paruppu podi. i think tis called kandi podi(sp?) in andhra? it can also be mixed with hot rice and ghee too, right? i’d really *really* appreciate the recipe!

    on a similar note, i was wondering if andhra has a version of madras milagai podi which is sesame+dhals+red chillies. we mix it with gingelly oil rather than ghee altho’ ghee with milagai podi isnt unheard of…

    we also make another version thats from our palaghat/kerala kitchen tradition and its called chammandi podi which is essentially the same but with toasted coconut with sesame, dry red chillies etc. some people add garlic. in our home, we dont.
    Hey Faustianbargain,

    Isnt it crazy how many podi’s (spice powders) exist!!! So yeah my mom just made a ton of what you call kandi podi for me when she was up here recently and I usually just eat that with rice and ghee for a quick meal but not with dosa – the podi for the dosa’s and idli – just know it as karaam podi is the andhra (you guessed my origins right!) version of the madra millagai podi – but my mom doesnt use sesame seeds at all – ill get you the recipe for her kandi podi and her andhra version of the millagai podi – but on a related note if you are totally fixin for it now I would check out Mahanandi’s food blog – my default go to blog (when not reading Ruhlman of course) for any South Indian recipes especially when I cant get in touch with my mom and need a recipe pronto – her site and its recipes have never ever dissapointed me to date!!! How do I send you my moms recipes?

  • Radha

    to radha ganapati who said…

    “Then the spice powder – this is to die for I tell you – once again the combo varies but essentially consists of fresh ground roasted spices all blended together – dried red chillies,chana daal, cumin seeds, tamarind, peppercorns, urad daal, roasted curry leaves, mustard seeds.”

    hey there..i thought it sounded like an andhra karappodi. altho’ the tamarind in it is unfamiliar to me. i called my mother to check and she thought that it might be what we call paruppu podi. i think tis called kandi podi(sp?) in andhra? it can also be mixed with hot rice and ghee too, right? i’d really *really* appreciate the recipe!

    on a similar note, i was wondering if andhra has a version of madras milagai podi which is sesame+dhals+red chillies. we mix it with gingelly oil rather than ghee altho’ ghee with milagai podi isnt unheard of…

    we also make another version thats from our palaghat/kerala kitchen tradition and its called chammandi podi which is essentially the same but with toasted coconut with sesame, dry red chillies etc. some people add garlic. in our home, we dont.
    Hey Faustianbargain,

    Isnt it crazy how many podi’s (spice powders) exist!!! So yeah my mom just made a ton of what you call kandi podi for me when she was up here recently and I usually just eat that with rice and ghee for a quick meal but not with dosa – the podi for the dosa’s and idli – just know it as karaam podi is the andhra (you guessed my origins right!) version of the madra millagai podi – but my mom doesnt use sesame seeds at all – ill get you the recipe for her kandi podi and her andhra version of the millagai podi – but on a related note if you are totally fixin for it now I would check out Mahanandi’s food blog – my default go to blog (when not reading Ruhlman of course) for any South Indian recipes especially when I cant get in touch with my mom and need a recipe pronto – her site and its recipes have never ever dissapointed me to date!!! How do I send you my moms recipes?

  • Kim

    I smell a book, which I’ll buy when you write it. It will take me days to read the comments.

    This topic has always interested me more than what’s for a dinner party or special recipe because I don’t have a large repertoire and I’m looking for inspiration. It’s also hard info to get out of people. They tend to gloss over the details because it’s so routine and nothing much to them.

    Btw, I’m also interested in weeknight meals that cut back on food not great for the environment…some veggie options. …..just in case you’re writing that book.

    Great post.

  • Alicia

    Hmmm….Great topic; what I love the most is to realize that a lot of people actually still cook! Amazing! For a while there I though almost everyone now went out for 5.00 subs every night (I know it’s only 5.00, but it amazes me how people nowdays won’t even make a turkey sandwich at home anymore!).
    Anyway, I’m Mexican, so we always have rice and black beans on hand (just to clarify, we Mexicans don’t eat rice and beans with EVERYTHING). It’s just 2 of us, and we are business owners so we don’t have a lot of time in our hands. I try to cook a nice protein meal once or twice a week, and eat leftovers and salads the rest of the week. I like to try something new every week, but even so there are a few favorites that I go back to at least once a month: Roasted Chicken (I call it Rosemary Chicken, recipe from Cuisine magazine, although I will have to try Thomas Keller’s now) with Rosemary potatoes (Emeril Lagasse’s recipe), picadillo (it’s mango season and I highly recommend the mango picadillo recipe on the Simply Recipes web page…delicious!), chicken tacos, chicken enchiladas with tomato or mole sauce with the leftover chicken (most likely mole, which is the only gift we request from friends and family who visit from Mexico every so often, and which is my husband’s absolute favorite in the whole world), poached salmon with veggies (whatever is in season), pasta with the leftover poached salmon, blue cheese burgers and albondigas. I will have some free time tomorrow and will either make a meatloaf or will try the Curry Mango Chicken, again from the Simply Recipes site. There is no such thing as too much mango in the summer!

  • Erin

    Fish tacos!

    I keep a box of frozen cod in the freezer and after defrosting, stir fry with garlic, onion, sambal oelek, adding a bit of taco seasoning and freshly ground pepper to taste.

    Serve with whole grain tortillas, diced avocados, a light sour cream/cottage cheese mixture which I season a bit, roquette, home made salsa (have to do it home-made if you are living in a place like Norway!)and any other veg/toppings that are appealing at the time.

    This is a winner with guests too! Nice to set everything out in little dishes on a serving tray in the middle of the table.

    And the fish is quite healthful too.

  • Eugenia

    My new staple, thanks to my CSA and this year’s endless spring in Oregon, is chard. A staple in my refrigerator, that is. When leaves start poking out around the door gasket and bursting through into the freezer, I go in with my scythe. The best way to use them up is a recipe I’ve used for years for collard greens, which are way more delicious than chard. It’s the Ethiopian dish gomen wot, buttered chopped greens with pepper and onions. It goes with pork beautifully, or as is with rice pilaf. (My continuing battle with greens is being blogged, for anyone in a similar situation, btw.)

    My husband is the grill/bbq master, so I often set him up with chili-rubbed ribs or chicken kebabs marinated for a few hours in pulverized onion, a great tenderizer. We serve the ribs with a cider vinegar-based glaze and the chicken with garlicky yogurt.

    We eat sushi at home rather frequently, too, especially in the summer. Nothing too complicated, just hand rolls with avocado and cucumber, and sometimes spicy tuna if the sashimi-grade tuna looks good at the market.

    Loved reading the comments!

  • Badfish

    Once a week, we always do shrimp, broccoli and couscous.

    Saute the shrimp and broccoli in olive oil, with lots of chopped garlic, salt and pepper. Simply add to the top of a pot of couscous from a box. It takes about 10 minutes, total, and is always delicious.

  • Christine DiBona

    Well, as a blue-eyed blond who grew up in HI, I’m hapa on the inside, and now my half Sicilian children love this Japanese inspired dinner – here’s how I wrote it up for the school cookbook. We are lucky to live in CA with (normally) great local salmon – suffering a bit this year

    Simple Dinner
    ( figure 6-8 oz salmon per person )
    This meal got it’s name because it can be on the table in the time it takes to cook the rice. No proportions, just make as much as your family needs of each.

    Rice:

    Start enough rice cooking in the rice cooker

    Broccoli :

    Start a pot of salted water to boil. Trim broccoli tops to 3″ long florets, pare woody outside of stems & make batons. Cook. Substitute asparagus in season

    Condiments:

    Furikake – a japanese mix of seaweed, sesame seeds etc for seasoning rice
    Lemon wedges
    Shoyu or soy sauce
    Wasabi

    Salmon:

    Choose a thick filet piece with the skin still on. Check & pull any pin bones, scale if needed. Salt the flesh side. Set a cast iron pan on medium-high heat, when hot lightly oil with a high temperature oil (peanut etc) then place the fish in the pan flesh side down. When the fish has browned nicely and has loosened itself from the pan, flip it over & cover. Continue to cook until the fish is medium rare, lowering temperature if necessary. Place cooked salmon on serving plate in one piece, with the skin which should be nice and crispy

    To serve : Put everything on the table. Usually each person takes a bowl with rice, adds broccoli, salmon & salmon skin. Mix together shoyu, wasabi & lemon juice to pour over the fish & sprinkle everything with furikake.
    Vary as desired…

    Other options: If you also put out nori sheets, julienned japanese cucumbers and avocado slices each diner can make their own mini handrollls with the same ingredients.

  • Messy

    We have a few things that have become standby dinners.

    1. Braised beef short ribs, especially in the winter – standard mirepoix, red wine, stock and in the oven for at least four hours.

    2. Braised lamb shanks – done pretty much like the short ribs.

    3. Chicken soup with the clean-out-the-fridge veggie selection and some Andouille sausage for zip. When the soup is done, we throw in a couple of handsfull of chopped kale on the top (DON’T stir it), take the soup off the heat and let the kale steam for a few minutes with the lid on.

    4. Breakfast for dinner, we have the now-infamous Fluffy Omelet with a salad. This is a recipe I’ve never seen anywhere but the 1943 version of The Joy of Cooking.

    Combine and beat:
    1/4 cup milk
    4 egg yolks
    1 tsp baking powder

    Combine and beat until stiff, but not dry:
    4 egg whites
    1/2 tsp salt

    Melt in a skillet over a very low fire:
    1 Tbsp butter

    Fold the yolk mixture gently into the egg whites. Pour the batter into the skillet. Cover the skillet with a lid. As the omelet cooks, slash across it with a knife to permit the heat to penetrate the lower crust.

    When the omelet is done (after about 12 minutes) it may be placed uncovered on he center grate of a slow oven (275) until the top is set,or it may be folded over and served at once. (Make an incision with a knife on either side of the omelet where you want it to fold. Tip the pan and push the omelet gentle with a spatula or a broad knife until it folds over.

    Has anyone made that omelet before? I’d love to see it on a breakfast menu somewhere…

  • sheila

    Weekday dinners have to be quick; fortunately my husband doesn’t object to the same meals over and over. One standby, cooked at least twice a week, is chicken tenderloins pounded flat, dusted with seasoned flour and sauteed in butter in the same pan with sliced mushrooms and chopped scallions. The vegetables vary – maybe some green beans and red peppers sauteed with garlic, maybe some spinach sauteed. Maybe there’s a little pan sauce made with wine or lemon juice, served with spaetzle or some egg noodles, maybe some sliced potatoes. But the chicken and mushrooms and onions are the base of it all.

  • beaniegrrl

    latenac,

    Sorry to be slow to reply.

    Here’s the Soba Sauce (pretty traditional and derived from Nina Simon’s Noodle cookbook.)

    1 cup concentrated daishi broth (1 tsp instant daishi to 1 cup boiling water)
    5 Tbsp Soy Sauce
    3-4 Tbsp Mirin (depends on how sweet you like it)
    1 tsp toasted sesame oil
    a healthy handful of chopped spring onion tops

    This keeps in the fridge for a week or so.

    (If you have Nina Simon’s book, her quick peanut butter sauce is also really fabulous, but the kid doesn’t like it.)

    If you sprinkle a little sesame oil on the soba after you drain it, it won’t stick together and the noodles get a great smokey flavor.

    I usually make some ponzu to dip the flank steak in when I’m serving this.

  • Sue in Austin

    The staple at our house is our twisted Texas version of Tuscan Steak. I feel slightly guilty each time we make it as I’d like to stop eating meat, but I get over it quickly. Hey, I live in Texas. This is my recipe for 2 people, but my skinny friends fed 4 people with this.

    2 New York Strips or rib-eyes
    Salt Lick BBQ Rub (we put this on everything)
    Grill to your liking (I send my husband out to do this so I can stay inside preparing the salad in peace with a glass of wine)

    1 box/bag of baby Arugula tossed with olive oil and lemon juice, seasoned with salt and pepper, spread on two plates to create a bed of green.

    Slice the steaks and place on the salad, or the entire steak if you are really hungry and can’t wait.

    Use a vegetable peeler and shave really good Parmigiano Reggiano cheese over the plate. Do not, and I repeat do not, use cheap cheese. Completely ruins the dish.

  • Shannon

    I have a few staple meals that I love.

    First is roast chicken with broccoli and pasta. I take the chicken and loosen the skin on the breast side. I rub a mixture of kosher salt, ground pepper, and chopped rosemary UNDERNEATH the skin directly on the meat. And then I cook it breast side down. I get the juiciest breast meat that way and I still get to nosh on the crispy skin from the back. I sautee the broccoli in a pan in a layer of chicken stock which gives it a buttery taste. Finally with the pasta, it’s nothing fancy…any kind will do with a topping of homemade tomato sauce from a recipe that I got from my great grandmother’s NY Times cookbook…Tomato Sauce I.

    A fish dish I make is usually Salmon. I sprinkle both sides with a mixture of kosher salt and ground pepper and I squeeze lemons over the top side. I start to broil them starting skin side up for less time than I should…about 7 minutes. I flip them halfway through the cooking time. Then I set the broiling pan on top of the stove, cover the fish with foil and let the heat continue cooking them until I’m finished with my side dishes which is typically rice boiled with tarragon, and baby carrots steamed and buttered. The fish comes out really juicy.

    My fast food meal when the kids’ schedules are tight are panini sandwiches. I spread pesto sauce on both pieces of italian bread and layer spinach, provolone, and ham. I have a Breville panini press that I love love love because it’s so versatile.

  • Teri

    Once a month, Rarebit burgers from an old department store in our town.
    “Younkers Rarebit”
    1/3 cup cooking oil
    1/3 cup all purpose flour
    1 teaspoon paprika
    1/4 teaspoon salt
    1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
    2 cups 2 percent reduced-fat milk
    1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
    1/4 teaspoon bottled hot pepper sauce
    1 cup shredded process sharp American cheese

    Place oil in a medium saucepan. Stir together flour, paprika, salt and dry mustard. Add flour mixture to oil; cook and stir for 1 minute. Stir in milk all at once. Cook and stir over medium heat until thickened and bubbly. Cook and stir 1 minute more. Remove from heat; stir in Worcestershire sauce and hot pepper sauce. Add cheese and stir until melted. Pour over burger with toasted bun on top. Makes 2 cups.

    Every summer weekend something smoked, ribs, brisket, salmon, PORK, pork and more pork! and good old Iowa corn on the cob! oh so good

  • agm

    Student fare, upgraded a bit. There is a surprising amount of meat in the house now, but then, expenses are a bit more relaxed for my and my flatmate compared to when one lives alone.

    Lots of vegetables (including nopalitos very often) sauteed in olive oil, combined with various types of protein in various sauces, over rice or rice noodles. Macaroni and cheese at least once a week. But these are never the things you just grab off the shelf, they get fairly heavily modified by addding spice blends (Tony’s cajun spice blend or curry in mac-and-cheese is simply fabulous). The pan drippings from broiling marinated beef make things vastly different and better. A simple butter sauce, with some [black] pepper and garlic, over fresh tortellini happens every 2-3 weeks.

    Basically, it’s all about ways of taking cheap stuff and making it palatable, or taking palatable and making it fabulous. Prepackaged indian dishes (packets of a single dish, not the meal-in-a-tray type) over fresh rice is probably the thing my roommate eats the most.

  • Lynda

    Roast chicken is by far the mainstay. During the summer, we roast a whole chicken in our Weber grill and the result is a mahogany colored, smoke infused chicken that is moist and delicious. No preparation necessary, but if there is time I pre-salt it and let it sit in the refrigerator for several hours. In the winter, the chicken is roasted in the oven. In this case, I like to smash garlic, rosemary, thyme, sea salt with some olive oil in a mortar with pestle and rub the paste all over the chicken and in the cavity. Preferably this is done some hours before roasting, so the chicken can sit with the flavors. Accompaniment is always roasted potatoes with olive oil, sea salt and more rosemary. Vegetables on the side are something fresh and seasonal, either steamed or roasted in the oven. Right now the favorite is asparagus with lemon and olive oil.

  • alison

    roast chicken (either our bbq or honey lemon sage) along with that asian cole slaw salad recipe made with ramen recipe…

    But you can bet that we will be eating a “red gravy” of good cheap meats, slow cooked with the san marzanos, tri facto, ONE habanero, shrooms, plenty of parm, football, baseball, project runway….HEAVEN

    PS, cooked covered in the oven@310 for a few hours

  • Melissa

    Hhhmm…I have a very large veggie garden in the summer so tomato salad with onions, peppers, salt/pepper, olive oil and balsamic vinegar is almost a daily dish when the weather is hot. It’s only late June now but we’re already getting tired of zucchini -any suggestions?

    Quick everyday dinners are often pasta with whatever fresh veggies are ready – zuke, green beans, peppers, eggplant, asparagus, artichokes – steamed or just stir-fried and still crispy, often with pesto sauce (my favorite)and fresh grated parmesan cheese. In the winter I will make pasta from scratch and we get a lot of spicy homemade sausage from my in-laws which is great.

    We also eat a lot of Mexican-style food, which I guess comes from being in California. Fajitas, burritos, quesadillas, chile verde – the basic ingredients are always on hand, including margarita fixings :) The best is when you can get homemade tamales from a local “tamale lady” – easiest dinner ever!

    Great – now I’m hungry!

  • cybercita

    i live alone, so my basic go to meal is a big bowl of romaine lettuce with maybe an avocado if i have a ripe one, dressed with either mustard, olive oil and sherry vinegar or bragg’s aminos, rice vinegar, and olive oil, followed by a handful of small baked potatoes.

    if i’ve been to the greenmarket, i’ll prepare whatever veggie i’ve picked up. this evening it was tatsoi, blanched, shocked, chopped fine, and then mixed with some sauteed garlic, thyme, lemon juice, and hot red pepper flakes. if i have creme fraiche i’ll put in a dollop. i make that quite frequently with chard, kale, spinach, anything green and leafy, but tatsoi is my favorite.

    i always have plaintains ripening on my kitchen counter, so a couple of times a month, i’ll have them, slowly fried in olive oil until they are brown and caramelized.

  • Michelle

    Soup. All kinds of soup, but mostly Chicken Noodle and Chicken Tortilla.

    Homemade Pizza. Lately, we’ve been keeping it simple with fresh mozzarella and basil from the garden. Sometimes Italian sausage and mushroom.

    Roast chicken with olive oil, lemon, and rosemary served with a fresh garden salad and no knead bread.

    Grilled steak (and sometimes chicken) fajitas with lots of grilled peppers and onions.

    BLT sandwiches. My son’s favorite. He eats ’em every other day.

  • TK

    Twice a week: Keller’s “Spanglish” Sandwich. All by itself. Needs no accessories.

    Once a week: Braised Lamb shoulder chops in tomato, red wine, with cannellini beans. Collards on side.

    Cholesterol through the roof.

  • nondiregol

    Is there a serious cook out there for whom a roast chicken isn’t the most favorite thing in the world to cook—except when the weather is too hot to turn on the oven?

    And then, the next day you make chicken broth for your matzoh ball soup or any other kind of soup depending on where you live, and what you can buy locally.

  • casacaudill

    We do a lot of roasted and/or braised chicken. Sausages from Boccalone. Homemade pasta sauces with store-bought pasta. Open-faced steak sandwiches with arugala salad during the summer. And for those nights when we get home too late to cook, we will throw in a CPK or some Ling-Ling potstickers. We definitely try to cook several times a week though.

  • adele borden

    Having grown up in the kitchen of a Brit(yes,occasionally somewhat bland..yet hugely comforting..)I do love a Sunday which includes a roasted leg of lamb, served with mint sauce (NOT “jelly”), fresh, whole green beans with Gorgonzola and fresh new potatoes.
    What I would like however, is the recipe for proper Yorkshire pudding.
    Any offers? Appreciated.
    A

  • Kevin

    Calf moose sauteed in butter, with thyme-rice pilaf or mashed potatoes – side of horseradish, and veg-of-the day. With red wine.

  • Scott

    OUr meals have chaged somewhat now that our daughter has food allergies, but with a little tweaking our usual favorites are okay for her.

    Rice pasta with ground trukey and tomato sauce-

    boil pasta, brown turkey; sautee oinion and garlic, add crushed tomatoes, salt pepper, fresh basil and oregano fomr garden; add in turkey; mix in pasta, bake in over for 15 minutes till the top “crusts” th ekids love it. Eays, cheap, lots o ‘leftovers.

    roast chicken with lemon, or crock pot chicken.

    Anyone here fish? We live near the GUlf of Mexico. Fresh Spanish mackerel, grilled with a little salt pepper,lemon,paremsan cheese. Easy to ctach, great eating (though strong and fishy for those who are used to bland white meat fish.

  • luis

    This thread is amazing…. I have several ideas and recipes you folks have shared… and I haven’t managed to read it all yet.
    This week’s star in my kitchen are peppers.
    I seared a chicken breast and placed it over a
    bunch of russet potato squares in a cookie sheet along with sweet peppers all colors and poblanos, anaheims, jalapenos…a damm pepper fest..and chopped up leeks and onions and a sprinkling of sweet plantains….
    Ok… delisssssssssssssh! Nothing to make it work other than EVOO BRUSHED over the potatoes and the cookie sheet. The flavors … out of the ballpark.. Sure seasoning with my custom black pepper mill and kosher salt. Also Italian dry herbs over everything… Yummmmmmmmmmmm!
    Anyone can do this… anybody.

  • luis

    ok, the best thing was the roasted tomatoes… (see previous post). Tomatoes rock….roasted tomatoes are/should be illegal good!

  • Scott Deane

    Grilled chicken (bone in, skin on) with salt and pepper served with grilled portobellos over baby spinach and a dijon vinaigrette. It’s simple, fast, and keeps the heat out of the kitchen now that it’s warm out. This is a pretty good example of what we’ve been eating at home lately.

    I try to take 2 nights a week and try something new and challenging based on the latest cookbooks I have or what looks best at the local markets. It helps that my girlfriend’s idea of “dinner” used to be a Cliff bar and a plastic cup of Cyrstal Light (red flavor) before I came along, so impressing her with food isn’t too challenging.

  • Tammie

    I look forward to reading all of these when I have more time. I’ve just skimmed over them and feel pretty plain Jane!

    Our family of 5 (with 3 boys aged 9, 6 and 2) enjoy my husbands grill-roasted chicken at least once per week.

    My boys absolutely love Alton Brown’s meatloaf so we have that with mashed potatoes and green beans about once per month.

    Another weekly go-to meal are nice thick ribeye steaks seared in the cast iron skillet on the grill and served with potatoes in a variety of ways, mushrooms and a green vegetable.

    The day after steaks we always have steak quesadilla night with all of the left overs with some monterrey jack and/or cheddar cheese.

    We are originally from New Mexico, but now live in Texas therefore we also throw green chile (Anaheim variety) into anything we can.

  • Stovetop Traveler

    One of the most common things I will do for dinner is basic boneless, skinless chicken breasts grilled on my stovetop cast-iron grill. The way that I make it new and different each time is to use a different sauce, which I have frozen in small batches in snack-sized bags in the freezer. Romesco sauce, tomato chutney, blueberry chutney, chimichurri (which definitely needs some salt and vinegar after being frozen), roasted red pepper sauce, chive butter… I really have a lot of frozen sauces stored away. To go with it – some pan-grilled asparagus or a salad. When I have spent all day standing and cooking, I want to come home and do something brainless and quick, but not Rachel Ray-ish.

  • Emily

    We usually have soup once or twice a week. It makes good leftovers for lunch. Winter brings squash based soups, and summer brings green soups. We’re about to make Spinach-Zucchini Soup from 101cookbooks.com that has an amazing shade of green.

    Other staples include Turkey-Apple Piccadillo from Eating Well Magazine, Pasta with Red Sauce, Turkey Tacos, and Breakfast for dinner.

    We try not to eat meat every night so often we make a pilaf with rice or quinoa and have it along side a veggie.

  • Annie

    When I was growing up in Phoenix 40+ years ago, we went weekly to Jordan’s Mexican Restaurant and had their “Cheese Crisp.” It was a very large flour tortilla with cheddar on top cooked till the tortilla was crip and the cheese bubbly and hot. They had a fabulous red hot sauce that you drizzled over the top out of a syrup pitcher. The cheese crisp was served in wedges, like pizza.

    We took this home and reworked it. Now I take a flour tortilla, spread it lightly with butter and heat it in a hot oven. Then I cover it with a good sharp grated cheddar (often with other good remnant cheeses mixed in–parmesan, mozarella–whatever is around). Back in the oven it goes till the cheese is metled and bubbling. Then I top it with a fast guacamole made of avacado, diced tomato, and a little balsamic vinegar. Cut some lettuce, fresh from the garden, over it with scissors. Salsa if there’s a good one in the ‘fridge. I make this just for myself. I can heat chicken nuggets but I don’t have to eat them!

  • Pergo

    For me it’s a quick stir fry with chicken, beef, or sometimes salmon. Quick and easy. Loads of veggies and garlic, salt, pepper, cayenne, whatever. Throw it in the wok (I’ve been usuing safflower oil lately) and cook it. Done.

  • Clifford Replogle

    My mouth is watering as I read all these wonderful posts! Ruhlman – You have a simple, inquisitive mind that on behalf of all we thank you for allowing us to share through your magnificent Blog.

    Now, as a born and raised Santa Barbaran – the sea side California city that has given the world : Earth Day, Balance Bars, Powell Skateboards, the “Short Board” Surfboard, Motel 6, Kirby Morgan Dive Helmets, Sex Wax, Force Fin, SAMBO’S, KINKO’s, Big Dogs– we also come from the area that popularizes Tri-Tip (BBQ Butchery GOLD!) and Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing ——- we are kind of smug, in a good way.

    I like meals that hinge around hunting / fishing seasons, and always involve the grill fueled with California Red Oak – Its a Central Coast tradition dating way back in our history. Like right now — Halibut (California species) are coming in to shallow waters, but I much prefer Ling Cod as an underrated quality fish. I make a simple marinade — One bunch of fresh mint, olive oil, fresh squeezed lemon juice, half part cream, half part honey, salt and pepper to taste, all blended together and applied to the fresh fish on the grill. Serve with Fingerling potatoes and Rice Pilaf 00hhhh its good.

    Starting Sept 1st – we start our Dove Season — and with Dove I like to cut the small breasts into strips seasoned lightly with our standard dry rub ( See Cowboyflavor .com for some of the best rub around these parts — thats my dad) — Sandwiched by toothpick with a healthy peppercini, then wrapped around with thick cut bacon — again on the grill — great for appetizer.

    Then in October we get into our Quail and Lobster seasons–OMG!!! There is so much to play with, right out of our own back yards.

    But the meal my family really loves the most and about once a week we do something with baby back ribs—either simply BBQ right over the red oak coals, raw, seasoned, sprayed constantly with apple cider while cooking – avoid blackening!- Or quickly grilled for smoke flavor then placed in vapor proof pot Braised in liquid of Syrah reduction, brown sugar, applejuice, fresh herbs, onions, sliced pork belly and linguica sausage for about 3 hours on the corner of the grill. Compiment with grilled artichoke ( previously par boiled_) and tomatoe vinagarette (Bobby Flay has a good recipe), and garlic bread:

    Lastly — something that is always in our fridge is a vat of fresh homemade salsa we use at our restaurant – brought to the table like for everything –here’s our recipe –

    Twin Oaks Restaurant –
    645 Bell Street
    Los Alamos, CA 93440
    (805) 344 – 4084

    SALSA RECIPE

    5 Gal Bucket —-

    1 #10 Can Tomatoes (Diced or Chop Whole —We use Chop Whole)
    1 #10 Can Fire Roasted ( Same as above)

    1 #10 Can Diced Green Chiles
    4-6 Bunch Green Onions (Chopped)

    4 Red Onions (Diced)
    1 CUP OLIVE OIL
    1/4 Cup Diced Garlic
    1 cup Apple Cider
    4 Bunches Cilantro

    1 Tbls Garlic salt ( to taste +/-)
    1 Tbsp Cowboy Flavor BBQ Seasoning ( to taste +/-)
    1/4 cup coarse black pepper ( to taste +/-)
    1 tbls dried chiles (pizza chiles will do….again to taste +/-)
    1/4 cup oregano (to taste +/-)

    Add liquid from tomatoes or tomatoe sauce if you want it thicker until its the color and consistence you want.

  • T

    I live in the South, so whatever good fresh vegetables I can get in the summer, I do throughout the week. but Always- a skillet of cornbread, some sliced tomatoes (maybe with basil chopped on, maybe not), and then usually 1 or 2 of the following: squash, okra,green beans.Kale is the best with cornbread. sometimes I might do a chicken breast, but it isn’t even necessary with these good veggies. Its the easiest, quickest dinner I do that’s fresh and delicious, too.

  • Lynn

    We live in Kansas and are lucky enough to have family that raise beef and pork. A common weeknight meal for us is a fresh ham roast or beef roast thrown in the crock-pot. I usually put it in the slow cooker right from the freezer…frozen solid…in the morning before work and it is ready when we all get home for supper.

    I like to put in some of the leftover morning coffee, a few cloves of garlic, Kosher salt, pepper, maybe a sliced onion, and that is it. It always comes out perfect. We make sandwiches or tacos out of it and I usually have enough left over to us for something else later.

    To complete the meal we might make spanish rice if having tacos. If I know that we are doing tacos, I will throw in a can of drained black beans, some fresh cilanto and lime juice.

  • theblankplate

    I grew up on Mexican food, so our “default” is beans on tostada with some sour cream (crema) with cabbage, queso fresco and valentina hot sauce. Since beans are the star ingredient, we don’t use canned here. (we had this last night)

    We also rely on our version of “chinese” food, which ends up being whatever veggies we have stir fried with soy sauce, rice vinegar, ginger and sesame oil. Sometimes, I use black bean sauce or Trader Joe’s black pepper sauce.

    When I’m not home, the boys will have spaghetti with canned sauce. When I’m home, I’ll make the sauce with garlic onions tomatoes and anchovies.

    Oh I almost forgot, another quite frequently rotated meal we stole from my Malaysian friend. It’s spaghetti with sambal with bell peppers and chiles such as poblanos. The sambal is made with garlic, shallots, tamarind, brown sugar and usually about 7 or 8 arbol or japon chiles and some tomato paste.

    We have each of these meals at least once a month, if not every week at times.