Dinner

10 Quick & Simple Dinners the Whole Family Will Love

In the chaos of the season, it's nice to have some reliable standbys.

by:
December  3, 2018
Photo by Rocky Luten

I'm about to head home to Atlanta for the holidays—and I can't wait. I can't wait for my dog to run around in that big yard; I can't wait to eat massive vats of my mother's kimchi fried rice; and I can't wait to cook for my family, to show them all of the many recipes that have sustained me over the past year.

My mother is an avid home cook and loves food magazines. She's inspired by them, gets ideas for her weekend dinner parties, and is known as the home "chef" of her niche Korean-American community in Georgia. Which is why in late December, when I drive home with my dog and a couple pounds of bone-in beef short ribs from my favorite butcher, I know that she's going to ask me, "What are you cooking these days?"

Every year she tells me how bored she is of her kitchen, and how she's looking for new inspiration. How, since her two sons "abandoned" her years ago, she has little reason to step into the "hearth of the home" and cook for pleasure because now there's just two.

Jean, like me, loves cooking with intention and with purpose. So it tends to be much easier on any given night to whip up a simple salad, or to go to a favorite local restaurant—because the act of cooking to nourish quickly became less of a priority when it was just her and my dad.

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“I know, I know; the rules said "NON-THANKSGIVING" cooking. But we had Thanksgiving at a hotel restaurant this year, so there were no leftovers. And with rain in the forecast this weekend, it looks like I'm going to need an inside project this weekend. Enter what I'm going to call "small batch Thanksgiving". A pair of turkey legs (not sorry, we're a dark meat household); a single bag of cranberries, pulling double duty (half as my grandma's stirred cranberries, half as my mom's cranberry-orange relish); tiny little casserole dishes (honest-to-goodness tiny, I think they're 2 cups each) of green beans with mushrooms, and sage-onion stuffing. I AM going to make a whole cranberry walnut pie, though. Not sorry.”
— liz
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Which is why I've collected the recipes below, to share with my mother when I go home to her for Christmas. To remind her that cooking, even when it's just on a weeknight, can inspire a whole chain of reactions: self-care, creative stimulation, quality time with the people she cooks for. (At least, that's what she taught me growing up.) These are the kinds of family-friendly meals that can really help during this hectic holiday craze—fast, simple dinners that make you want to return to the calm of the kitchen. Because it's always worth it to cook a nice meal, whether it's just for you, the two of you, or the whole family.


Family-Friendly Recipes for Tonight

What quick meals are you cooking these days? Let us know in the comments below.

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A New Way to Dinner, co-authored by Food52's founders Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs, is an indispensable playbook for stress-free meal-planning (hint: cook foundational dishes on the weekend and mix and match ‘em through the week).

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3 Comments

Shafique K. December 9, 2018
You mentioned bone-in short ribs in your story.. but no recipe for them. What do you suggest?
 
Author Comment
Eric K. December 9, 2018
Hi, Shafique. :) This is my favorite way to cook bone-in short ribs for my family: https://food52.com/recipes/78355-instant-pot-beer-braised-short-ribs-with-fresh-mint-sauce<br /><br />These recipes are also quite popular: https://food52.com/recipes/8578-short-rib-ragu<br />https://food52.com/recipes/9111-dan-barber-s-braised-short-ribs
 
liz November 29, 2018
I know, I know; the rules said "NON-THANKSGIVING" cooking. But we had Thanksgiving at a hotel restaurant this year, so there were no leftovers. And with rain in the forecast this weekend, it looks like I'm going to need an inside project this weekend.<br /><br />Enter what I'm going to call "small batch Thanksgiving". A pair of turkey legs (not sorry, we're a dark meat household); a single bag of cranberries, pulling double duty (half as my grandma's stirred cranberries, half as my mom's cranberry-orange relish); tiny little casserole dishes (honest-to-goodness tiny, I think they're 2 cups each) of green beans with mushrooms, and sage-onion stuffing.<br /><br />I AM going to make a whole cranberry walnut pie, though. Not sorry.