Getting dinner on the table during the busy work week is a challenge for many of us.
Those late afternoon hours roll around just as tummies start to rumble and that question of “what’s for dinner?” chimes throughout the land as if on cue.
If you find yourself strapped for time and need ideas on how to solve the dinner dilemma, Claire Tansey’s brand new cookbook Dinner, Uncomplicated (Page Two Books, 2020) is coming to the rescue this fall.
This is the second cookbook from the celebrated food expert and it’s not only full of beautiful food photography, but is loaded with recipes depending on how much time you have to cook.
For instance, say you’ve got nothing prepped and you need to feed the crew in 15 minutes. Tansey has got you covered with recipes like pasta with butter and Parmesan, and 10-minute tacos. If you get home early and have 45 minutes to make dinner, why not try the pad Thai shrimp with noodles or juicy herbed turkey burgers? There’s a chapter that focuses on the wonders of the crock pot, sheet pan, and skillet. Think slow cooker chicken taco chili and buttery brown sugar salmon.
Anytime you get a few hours to do major prep, there’s a chapter for that. Got a Sunday free to do some big-batch cooking? Tansey thought of that too. If you’re celebrating on a Saturday night and have some extra time to really push the boat out, baked shells with spinach and ricotta, or brandied apple pork would fit the bill nicely.
All of Tansey’s recipes are thoughtful and well-crafted. She’s got the busy home cook in mind when she writes about the importance of having a meal plan and how there are different ways to do so. Plus, her list of things smart cooks do is invaluable, whether you’ve been cooking for three months or 30 years. I especially like item number nine: eat what’s in the house before cooking anything new. Repurposing leftovers is my jam.
To continue the conversation about feeding families healthy and delicious meals, Tansey created the Dinner, Uncomplicated community on Facebook. And, for more information about this and other cool things Tansey is up to, check out clairetansey.com .
I’m a sucker for all things meat loaf. I’m a fan of the simplicity of ingredients, the ease of preparation, the crispy edges and, honestly, I’ve been making it for years just so I can have leftovers that get turned into the best meat loaf sandwiches.
Tansey’s recipe for skillet turkey meat loaf appealed to me because it’s baked in a skillet (obviously) so I can have dinner on the table in less than an hour. And it’s a great way to eat ground turkey, especially when there are mushrooms and onions added in for extra flavour and moisture. The meat loaf was a huge hit with everyone around my table. It was juicy and delicious. The barbecue sauce glaze was sweet and tangy, just the way I like my ‘loaf. If you don’t have an ovenproof skillet you can make it in a traditional loaf pan, but keep in mind that you’ll have to increase the baking time to 70 minutes. Check with a thermometer and it should read at least 165°F.
Meat loaf and mashed potatoes are best pals, but hot buttered noodles or roasted sweet potatoes would also be excellent. The last of the summer’s green beans fulfilled the green vegetable requirement and my guests left the table very happy. That’s the thing with making food from scratch — your love will shine through in the cooking and everyone is better for it.
Skillet turkey meat loaf
(Recipe reprinted with permission from Claire Tansey)
1 cup panko breadcrumbs
3/4 cup milk or cream
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic
6 cremini mushrooms
1 medium onion
900 grams ground turkey
2 tablespoons canola oil
1/2 cup ketchup or barbecue sauce
1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Combine the panko and milk in a medium bowl and let stand for five minutes. Whisk in the eggs, Worcestershire sauce, salt, thyme and garlic. Then grate the mushrooms and the onion using the large holes of a standard box grater and add them to the bowl. Add the turkey and stir until the mixture is completely combined.
2. Brush a 10-inch, oven-safe skillet with the canola oil, then add the turkey mixture and gently pack it into an even layer (make sure it touches the sides too). Brush the top with ketchup or barbecue sauce.
3. Bake for 10 minutes, then reduce the heat to 350°F and cook for another 20 to 35 minutes, or until the blade of a paring knife poked into the centre of the loaf is hot to the touch. Let stand five minutes before cutting into wedges to serve. Makes six to eight servings.