Soccer season has started up again in Calgary and many families are feeling the time crunch between work, school and early evening practices and games. If you’re looking for a few dinner ideas that don’t involve the drive-thru, here are five real meals that can be pulled together in next to no time.
Pulled chicken tacos
Perfect for those nights when everyone’s eating at different times, all you need to do is dump a package of skinless, boneless chicken thighs into a slow cooker, add a shake of chili powder and about a cup of salsa (per 8-10 thighs), cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours. When you’re ready to eat, pull the meat apart with two forks and serve straight from the pot, with flour or corn tortillas, grated cheese, chopped lettuce and tomatoes, salsa, sour cream, guacamole, or anything else you like on your taco.
Sesame almond noodles
A bowl of cold noodles is perfect for summertime noshing. They’re ready to eat straight from the fridge if you want to make a big batch to nibble on throughout the week. Even if you start from scratch, steamed Asian noodles take only a few minutes to cook. It’s also a great way to use up leftover roasted chicken or pork, or any veggies (think asparagus, peppers, cucumber and pea pods) you have in the fridge. Make a dressing by shaking up 1/4-1/3 cup almond butter, three tablespoons rice vinegar or lime juice, two tablespoons soy sauce, one tablespoon sesame oil, one tablespoon honey, a squirt of Sriracha sauce and enough water, stock or coconut milk to thin it to your taste. Drizzle over cooked Asian-style or rice noodles or spaghetti, and whatever combination of cooked meat and raw veggies and toss to coat. Refrigerate until needed.
Greens and eggs on toast
For a meal in under 10 minutes, wash and tear a bunch of greens – spinach, chard or kale – into a large, hot pan generously drizzled with olive oil. As they wilt, add a few cloves of garlic, sliced or crushed. (If you like add a half a can of drained chickpeas to the mix too.) When the greens are soft, push them aside in the pan and crack a few eggs into the pan - one per person, if there are fewer than four. Cook them to your liking and serve with toast.
Chicken caesar salad wraps
Shred leftover roast chicken and place chunks down the middle of a small or large flour tortilla, then add chopped romaine lettuce and drizzle with caesar dressing. Wrap and take it to go. (I also like spreading my tortilla with hummus before adding the chicken, and skipping the dressing.)
Curry in a hurry
A quick curry can come together in a hurry. In a large skillet, saute any veggies you like – purple onion, peppers, asparagus, green beans – in a drizzle of oil just for a few minutes. Add a few cloves of garlic and some grated ginger, along with a spoonful of curry paste. Pour in half to a whole can of coconut milk and bring to a simmer. If you like, add chopped roasted chicken, pork or shrimp, or a can of drained chickpeas or lentils. A handful of torn greens, such as spinach or chard, will wilt right in. Simmer for 10 minutes, or until it thickens slightly, then serve over rice.