Thursday, August 01, 2019

My Midweek Dinner Cheat Sheet ♥


Working around the clock? Need a few cooking hacks to help make meal prep easier so you can serve up dinners quickly in the week? Check out my midweek dinner cheat sheet – I’m sure you’ll find a few dishes in here you’ll love cooking when you’re super-busy.

All of my choices are speedy, satisfying and simple to whip up. Discover easy spaghetti dishes, speedy Moroccan prawns and much more.

Super-Quick Chicken Milanese with Crispy Wedges and Rocket 
What you get here are chicken breasts fried in panko breadcrumbs for an incredibly crispy coating. Serve it up with crispy wedges and you’ve got a knockout midweek meal. When I’m strapped for time, I’ll skip the first step below and cheat a little with McCain jacket potato wedges. They’re cooked in their jackets for a crispy skin and fluffy potato middle – and they only take 20 minutes in the oven. 

INGREDIENTS
  • 500g Maris piper potatoes, cut into 2cm chunks 
  • 4-5 tbsp olive oil 
  • 2 large British free-range chicken breasts, cut in half horizontally 
  • 70g plain flour 
  • 2 large free-range eggs, beaten 
  • 100g panko breadcrumbs 
  • 15g Parmesan, finely grated, plus 10g shaved with a vegetable peeler 
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard juice 
  • ½ lemon, plus wedges to serve 
  • 200g rocket leaves 

METHOD
  • Heat the oven to 200°C. Place the potatoes on a baking tray, toss with one tablespoon of the olive oil and sprinkle over some salt and pepper. Roast until golden brown and tender. 
  • While the wedges are cooking, pop the chicken pieces between two sheets of non-stick baking paper and bash with a rolling pin until about half their original thickness. 
  • Tip the flour, eggs and breadcrumbs onto three separate plates or shallow dishes. Mix the grated Parmesan into the breadcrumbs and add a little salt and pepper to the flour. Dunk each piece of chicken in the flour, then the egg and, lastly, in the breadcrumbs to cover. 
  • Warm up two tablespoons of the olive oil in a large non-stick frying pan over a medium-high heat and fry the chicken on each side until golden and cooked through. 
  • Scrape the chicken onto a plate, sprinkle with salt and put to one side for a few minutes while you create the dressing. 
  • Add another tablespoon of olive oil in a small bowl as well as the mustard and lemon juice and a decent pinch of salt and pepper, then blend together. Toss the dressing with the potatoes and rocket leaves then grate some Parmesan over the top. Serve with the chicken and lemon wedges. 

Speedy Fried Eggs with Onions and Spinach 
A delicious blend of spiced onions, eggs, mushrooms and spinach, this tasty dish is so easy to make and is an all-time favourite with everyone in my household. 


INGREDIENTS
  • butter for frying and spreading 
  • oil for frying 
  • 4 portobello mushrooms, sliced 
  • 3 onions, sliced 
  • Worcestershire sauce, to taste 
  • Tabasco sauce, to taste 
  • 100g baby spinach juice 
  • ½-1 lemon
  • 4 large free-range eggs 

METHOD
  • Heat up a knob of butter and a splash of oil in a large frying pan over a high heat. Once the butter is foaming, tip in the mushrooms and fry until golden brown, stirring frequently. Take off the heat and put to one side. 
  • Reduce the heat, pour a tiny bit more oil into the pan, combine the onions and fry gently for roughly 10 minutes, stirring sometimes. 
  • Turn up the heat to medium-high, then fry a little more until golden brown. Pop the mushrooms back in the pan along with any resting juices. Pour over the Worcestershire sauce and Tabasco sauce, then add salt and pepper. 
  • Add the spinach to the pan with the juice of half the lemon, stirring until wilted. Add a little more lemon or seasoning if you need to. Make four hollows in the vegetables, using the back of a spoon, then crack an egg into each. Cook until the whites are set then serve with buttered, toasted rolls. 

Cheater’s Salsa-Style Spaghetti 
Taste some serious Mediterranean flavours in this delicious dish. Succulent ripe tomatoes, fresh aromatic basil and tasty olives are all tangled up in al dente spaghetti. Best of all? This meal is super-easy to whip up and takes around 30 minutes to make. 


INGREDIENTS 
  • 320g dried spaghetti 
  • 600g mixed ripe tomatoes 
  • 12 black olives (stone in) 
  • 1 bunch fresh basil 
  • 1 clove garlic extra virgin olive oil 
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar 
  • 20g hard Italian cheese 

METHOD 
  • Pop the spaghetti into a pan of boiling, salted water until it’s soft enough to eat, but still has a bit of bite and firmness (al dente). 
  • Slice up the tomatoes. Bash the olives and remove the stones, then tip the olives into the heap of chopped tomatoes. 
  • Pick the basil leaves, saving the smaller ones for later and add the remaining leaves to the pile. Prepare the garlic and add to the pile, then chop up the ingredients until you have a salsa.
  • Drizzle over some olive oil and the vinegar and season with sea salt and black pepper, continuing to chop and stir until well combined. 
  • Ladle out (save a cupful of the pasta cooking water), then drain the spaghetti in a colander. 
  • Place the spaghetti in a big bowl, pour in the salsa dressing (you can add a splash of the reserved cooking water, if you need it, to make a nice loose sauce). 
  • Scatter over the rest of the baby basil leaves and top with the hard-Italian cheese. Serve and enjoy!

Cheater’s Moroccan Prawns with Couscous and Salsa 
This yummy Moroccan prawn dish delivers big flavours in no time, making it ideal for a midweek meal. You can get it from pan to plate in 15 minutes flat. 

INGREDIENTS
  • 2 sprigs of fresh rosemary 
  • 2 cloves of garlic olive oil 
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika 
  • 1 good pinch of saffron 
  • 6 large raw shell-on king prawns 
  • 2 oranges 
  • 150g wholewheat couscous 
  • 400g colourful mixed seasonal veg (peas, asparagus, fennel, courgettes, celery, spring onions, red/yellow peppers) 
  • 1 fresh red chilli 
  • 15g of fresh mint 
  • 1 lemon 
  • 2 tbsp natural yoghurt 
  • 1 pomegranate 

METHOD
  • Take off the rosemary leaves and pop them into a pestle and mortar. Peel and add the garlic and crush into a paste with a little sea salt. 
  • Make a marinade using tablespoon of oil, the paprika, saffron and a glug of boiling water. 
  • Cut down the back of each prawn shell using scissors, so you remove the vein. Slice one orange into wedges, combine with the prawns and the marinade. Set aside for a few minutes. 
  • Pop the couscous into a bowl then cover with boiling water. Next, place a plate over the top and leave to fluff up. 
  • Finely chop all your colourful seasonal veg and chilli, and tip into a serving bowl. 
  • Pick some mint leaves and set aside. Pick and finely chop the remaining leaves and scrape into the bowl with the juice of the lemon and the rest of the orange. Pour in the couscous, mix everything up a little and season to your liking. 
  • Heat a large non-stick frying pan on a high heat. Tip in the prawns, marinade and orange wedges and fry until the prawns are slightly tender and crisp, then layer on top of the couscous. 
  • Spoon on the yoghurt, then slice the pomegranate in half and, holding it cut side down in your fingers, hit the back gently, so the sweet jewels trickle over all the other ingredients. Scatter with the rest of the mint leaves and serve. 

My cheat meals are ultra-fast to make yet are super-filling, and can be on the table in a matter of minutes. When you’re shattered and pressed for time, look no further than the above dishes – they’re perfect for when you need a little extra help in the kitchen.
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