Your best "back-pocket" recipes

You know those days: you come home from work and you're tired, and you just don't know what to make for dinner. You need something tried and true. Something you can make without a lot of thinking. Or a lot of work. Something fresh, fast, and tasty. What are your go-to recipes?
--A Fellow Foodie



begw January 2, 2015
Omelets. Big fluffy American ones or très pâle French ones. So many directions to go, even if the pantry is a little empty.
Kim O. December 11, 2014
Potato "nachos" : Cut up some potatoes, season and oil, lightly cover in flour and cornmeal for crunch, and pop them in the oven at 400F (200C). Quickly fry up some black beans & onion, season with paprika and cumin, add some water and smush them up to whatever consistency. Top potatoes with lettuce, tomatoes, green onions, sour cream, etc.

That, or Vietnamese Bo Bun - Healthy, hearty, fresh, fast...I love this dish!
AntoniaJames November 21, 2014
My go-to has lately been quinoa + eggs + cheese + greens and fresh herbs, either as a "crustless quiche," or my quinoa, feta, herb frittata, or Marian Bull's "Green Rice, which I always doctor up with extra herbs and use feta + another cheese, but less of it. I usually have quinoa in the fridge or freezer, but you can make it in the time you're doing the other prep. I serve with homemade chutney and a simple green salad or a roasted vegetable (which cooks at the same time).

I generally plan out my meals, though, a week at a time, so I know what's going to be for dinner -- well worth the effort and the evenings are much, much more pleasant without the stress of having to make decisions when already in a seriously depleted state (i.e., after a day at work, doing what I do).

Putting together my menu plan, before my primary grocery store shopping on the weekend and farmers' market visit, has become one of my favorite activities. I highly recommend it. ;o)
Sarah November 21, 2014
Massaman curry. I keep frozen veg on hand and always have coconut milk in the cupboard. The curry paste is in the fridge ready to go, and I tend to add in whatever other veg is in the fridge.
My other go-to is steamed veggies with baked brown rice. It's kinda boring, but super satisfying.
keg72 November 21, 2014
Some sort of shrimp scampi dish -- olive oil, loads of garlic and lemon -- served either over pasta or with good bread for mopping it up (or both!). The shrimp cook while the pasta cooks. I always keep frozen shrimp as well as par-baked frozen baguettes in the freezer, and they definitely come in handy! Similarly, linguine with clam sauce (red or white) -- the sauce cooks in the time it takes the pasta to cook, and all of the ingredients save for the garlic are shelf stable.
ChefJune November 20, 2014
I've posted a bunch of them on this site. Chicken with Red Wine Vinegar Sauce, and Chicken Ajillo are just two... :)
Hilarybee November 18, 2014
When all else fails, scrambled eggs and buttered toast. If I'm really ambitious, dressed greens for balance. It happens all too often in my house!
ktr November 18, 2014
This is one of my go-to recipes. Sautee garlic and onions. Toss in a bunch of spinach and let it cook down. Add a can of tomato sauce and a diced chipotle pepper in adobo sauce. Salt and pepper to taste. Let that cook down for a few minutes. Add a cup of cooked quinoa. Crack a couple eggs on top, cover and cook until the eggs are cooked.
HalfPint November 17, 2014
No even a recipe:

Egg (over easy) over hot cooked rice with a drizzle of soy sauce.
Hot cooked pasta tossed with grated cheese and creme fraiche.
nutcakes November 17, 2014
I once read a book that said if you don't know what you are making, put a pot of water on the stove to boil while you look around. It's a good trick, so you can see if you have stuff for pasta, you can leave a filled pot the night before.

Spicy cappellini pasta from Lydia Bastianich, it is a change of pace from usual spaghetti with the bacon and pepperoncini. Most ingredients from the cupboard. 30 min or less.

A long time favorite, sticky sweet garlic Asian chicken. 5 ingredient, 30 minutes. I like it with Asian noodle and rice is fine. Pea pods on the side.

Susan W. November 20, 2014
Nutcakes, I tried the Asian chicken tonight. It is soooo good. Way better than it sounds or looks in the photo. The sauce got nice and syrupy. I'll be making it often.
nutcakes November 22, 2014
Susan W, glad you like it, it really is a gem of a recipe. I just searched and took the first link that had the recipe, what a horrible pic, it isn't supposed to look like that and what is that awful red blob? Like they used a bell pepper instead of a dried hot chile pod? That was the first big winner of the Gilroy Garlic contest that made a big splash and I've been making that for 25 years, everything is always in the cupboard except the chicken. Sweet sticky and tangy, the sauce is like a glaze and just moistens noodles. First savory recipe my daughter requested to learn, too.
Susan W. November 22, 2014
Lol on the photo. It looks like chicken that was steamed and painted with soy. I just hate the look of that (bell) pepper strip.

For round two the next night, I added onions, mushrooms and bok choy and had it over rice in a bowl. I made extra sauce so everything would be well covered. Took the chicken off the bone. Perfect one dish meal to eat in front of the tv (naughty me). :) I may add a little ginger next time, but it really doesn't need it.
Jenny M. November 17, 2014
Tuna salad with caned tuna, tomato, advocado and a winagrette
plainhomecook November 16, 2014
Winter time? Grilled pork chops finished with a sauce of dijon mustard, brown sugar, and cumin. Hot applesauce. Green beans.
klrcon November 15, 2014
Lots of good ideas here I'll have to steal. I'm the queen of impromptu stir fries with whatever's in the fridge over pasta or whatever grain I've got around or simple soups that are just sautéed veggies, protein, grain or noodles in stock or sometimes just water and herbs. But when it's really late and I'm really lazy this one pan farro saves the day:
If you make it with bulgur it only takes ten minutes to cook and you can play around with whatever veggies/herbs you have in the fridge. It really is surprisingly good with basically no effort or thinking involved and some nights that's just what I need.
Susan W. November 15, 2014
This is just like the Martha one pot pasta dish. I love it. Now that tomatoes are out of season, I replace them with other in season veggies.
healthierkitchen November 20, 2014
yup, and farro doesn't get soggy when leftover as the pasta does in Martha's!
Susan W. November 21, 2014
Great point on the farro. I make the pasta for one or two with 2 ounces pasta each, so no leftovers (on purpose). It would be fun to make it with something besides pasta. I have a bunch of quinoa. I wonder if that would work.

Voted the Best Reply!

boulangere November 15, 2014
First Night in Florence Spaghetti!
Sam1148 November 15, 2014
Talipa. Defrost it under tap water a few mins...give it a dry on towels. Season with a bit of "Cavenders" greek seasoning...a dusting of Wonder Flour, and touch of paprika for color (smoked paprika if you got it). Cook in olive oil. Serve with a lemon wedge.
Rice...make that first. Put some sunflower seeds and parsley when you serve.
Steamed broccoli...rinse broccoli, put in a small bowl. Season with salt/pepper (or the cavenders) cover and nuke for 1 mins. So it's crunchy.
Serve with wasabi mayo.
kimhw November 15, 2014
When I have the time and the ingredients are on sale, I make many of my own freezer foods. I bread chicken tenders with Panko and parm, par bake cool and freeze. Cut sweet potatoes into fries, blanch, season and freeze.
From the freezer it takes 12-15 minutes for the chicken tenders and an extra 5 for the sweet potato fries. Which is perfect because the chicken gets to rest. A small green salad and everyone is happy. It's not fancy, but if you use good foil there is no clean up!!!
Susan W. November 15, 2014
I do the same thing. I cook all day twice a week and fill my freezer. It looks like a Rubik's cube.
girlwithaknife November 16, 2014
How do you par-bake chicken?
kimhw November 16, 2014
I cook the tenders at 375 for 10 minutes. The breading sticks but they don't dry out when you recook them.
inpatskitchen November 15, 2014
I like boulangere's First Night in Florence Spaghetti...I usually have everything on hand and it's quick and easy and delicious!
drbabs November 15, 2014
I like pantry meals. Sardines over pasta (there's a great recipe on this site), lentils and vegetables with rice, a frittata with whatever is in the refrigerator. Ditto stir fries.
ChezHenry November 15, 2014
I'm with you Dr. Babs. And the key is a well stocked pantry and freezer/fridge with staples. Cream of "insert left-over vegetable" soup, with a gourmet grilled cheese and/or a salad. Take a small onion, clove of garlic, chopped and sauteed in a couple of tbs of butter. Take 1 - 1 1/2 cup of leftover broccoli, asparagus, carrots, onions, squash,etc and add to pan, cook it down and add 2 cups of frozen stock. While it simmers, make ur salad or grilled cheese. Into the blender with a few tbs of cream. Season and enjoy.
My other is pasta with tuna, the good imported spanish or italian tuna in olive oil, with some marinara, always in my freezer, capers, onion, garlic. Delicious, and leftovers are a great lunch.
Meaghan F. November 15, 2014
Thin boneless pork chops, rubbed with Dijon mustard and coated in panko. I sautée them and make a quick pan sauce with garlic (jarred marinated artichokes too if I'm feeling fancy) and lemon juice or white wine, topping with whatever herb needs trimming. While the chips cook I make a green salad and get some fruit together. Works for dinner, fancy lunch, or even a brunch if you add an omelet.
Uncle J. November 15, 2014
I make cheater's arroz con pollo. A box of Goya yellow rice mix, a few boneless chicken thighs (or whatever protein is handy), a little bit of chopped Spanish Chorizo, some cilantro and some frozen peas. Brown the chicken, toss in the rice and seasoning and stir vigorously to mix. Add 2 cups water, gradually, then the chorizo. Cover and cook for 12 minutes and toss in the peas and some of the cilantro. Cover and finish cooking for another 13 minutes or so. Everything except chicken, rice, and water are optional. Lots of riffs possible, maybe chiles, some seafood in the second half, greens, etc. One pan and maybe 45 minutes including prep.
Susan W. November 15, 2014
Baked chicken thighs are a simple go to thing. Just salt and pepper. If you buy high quality chicken, it's great to just let it shine. Sometimes, I'll chop up some preserved lemon rind and toss in whole garlic cloves.

My favorite back pocket is to have a lot of slow cooked dishes in my freezer. I have chicken stock, dashi, cooked white beans, Marcella Hazan's marinara, Merrills pork and bean stew, minestrone, pumpkin ramen (minus the noodles), chunks of chuck for beef stew and ground beef cooked up for bibimbap all in my freezer right now. It's all portioned for two servings in Ziploc bags. I toss a bag into hot water and it's ready to heat in minutes.
lloreen November 15, 2014
I get very thinly cut pork loin pieces, dust them with herbs de Provence or a 5 spice mix, and then pan fry in butter or coconut oil. It takes only 4-5 mins. In another pan I sautée some chopped onion (secretly I sometimes buy the prechopped bags) and garlic, throw in a bag of prewashed kale or mixed greens like collards. Add a little coconut milk or stock, cover and cook 2-3 mins, Voila, my 2 pan fast dinner. I can whip this baby out in less than 15 minutes and it's both tasty and pretty healthy.
Leith D. November 15, 2014
Lemony herb roasted whole chicken or chicken pieces...I like thighs. Mix herbs (whatever ones you like), season salt, lemon zest and 1TB olive oil. Rub onto chicken. If using a whole chicken, stuff cavity with a cut lemon. Bake in a deep pan on a rack with baby or cut potatoes underneath at 350-375 for approximately 1 hr. Add chicken broth or water to the bottom to prevent burning. Both the chicken and the potatoes are done and taste great. Plus, you might have yummy leftover chicken for the next day!
girlwithaknife November 15, 2014
I'll start: Brinner (breakfast for dinner) is a fave. Also chicken adobo, which I can make without thinking.
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