I never went to culinary school. I’m not a chef. I’ve never worked in a restaurant, but nevertheless, I consider myself a decent cook for home-style meals. I enjoy it and we rarely eat out.
My girls are dessert fiends. They eat their share of cookies and brownies, but I’m always on the lookout for quick, easy desserts that satisfy that post-meal craving, but don’t load up on the sugar and empty calories. There’s a time for a big ice cream sundae or warm chocolate chip cookie as big as your face, but it’s not after every meal.
Truth be told, I definitely have a sweet tooth, too. My perfect dessert is something that satisfies, tastes great, feels like an indulegnce, but also might be sneakily healthy. This chia pudding hits a lot of those marks. It’s fast to make. Takes only one bowl. Tastes rich and satisfying. Can be almost endless customized with add-ins. And the kids love it.
I recently taught Cecilia how to make soft scrambled eggs using low heat and a lot of attention. It’s definitely worth the effort to get the creamy, almost curdless, scramble, but it takes a good amount of time to do them properly. Not ideal for a quick weekday morning breakfast or lunch. But if you have time to boil water, then you have time for a well-cooked egg to add some protein to any meal.
This is a true back pocket recipe. The sum total of the recipe is in the title. If you want a perfect boiled egg to top your salad, noodles, oatmeal or messy breakfast sandwich, you only need about seven minutes.
Dinners you know and trust. Everyone has them. They are time-tested and family-approved. The recipes or meals that you can pencil in on the weekly plan or pickup the ingredients without thinking while strolling the aisles during the weekly shopping and you know people will eat, or at least not grumble out too much when placed on the table.
For us, quick fish dinners, tacos or burgers, rank high in our easy, repeat dinner rotation. It’s something that I know I can get on the table quickly, will be nutritious and filling, and the girls won’t complain. Mostly because we’ve given up on Ally for the moment, she gets beans and rice, but still easy!
Sometimes you just need bread fast.
I like to plan. I operate best when I know what is coming. Changes or unanticipated surprises make me grumpy. Like when meal planning goes awry and we end up having soup or stew and I don’t the time or dough ready for bread.
I wasn’t planning on posting, or even finding, two back pocket recipes so soon, but this recipe is so good and so easy that we’ve made it twice within a week. I’m struggling to think of anything beyond a slightly soggy bowl of Cinnamon Toast Crunch or a steaming bowl of 69-cent high-sodium ramen that is as easy or as quick to get on the table for a week night dinner.
Pasta and beans is not something we traditionally throw together here in America often, but you will see it all the time in Sicily. It really did remind me of sitting on the family’s farm (Michelle’s father immigrated from Sicily) and eating the bowl of pasta and green cauliflower they served for lunch. That’s still a taste memory that I can call up almost at will. Never mind the great pizza we had in Rome or the fish by the coast, it’s that bowl of pasta that something still sticks in my mind (and taste buds).
One other thing occurred to both of us as we each polished off seconds for the second time in a week. These also taste like adult Spaghetti O’s. In a very good and elegant way. There’s something about that rich tomato paste sauce, oil and pasta that must have been hard-wired into our brains as latch-key children of the 80s.
Some days just leave you drained and dragging by six o’clock. The kids will always eat mac ‘n cheese or nuggets, but you are left staring into the cabinets wondering if saltines and hummus can qualify as dinner. This is when you need a back pocket recipe. A recipe that requires little thought, little effort and little time, but yields something you know you like and will leave you satisfied. One of my back pocket recipes is okonomiyaki. The most difficult part of the recipe is the pronunciation.