Friday, August 29, 2014

Back to School Series- Meal Mains...

Okay... how did summer seem to come and go with the blink of an eye? Now back-to-school routine is around the corner, which means a flurry of activities from tight morning schedules to getting our kids up, dressed, fed and out the door to being picked up on time, preparing dinner, eating, homework, bath, bed.. whew... just to have it start all over the next day and the next... From today and through to next week, I will be posting family-friendly food ideas to get you thinking about meal-times from mains, sides and breakfast... nutritious and appetizing... 

To start, here is a collection of some of my gang's favourite mains and additional organization tips that helps you prepare in advance to save you precious time; I hope you find something here that inspires your dinnertime repertoire to get you and your family through one of the busiest weeks of the year...


You can never have too many dinner ideas for the most popular meat and versatile chicken. In general, cooking with a whole chicken, drumsticks and wings makes it more economical. These recipes are mainly Asian-inspired, and see how a delicious chicken roast can easily turn into three nights worth of dinners.

From top left clockwise to bottom: Hainese Poached Chicken Five-Spiced Chicken WingsPang Pang Noodles with ChickenRoast Chicken and Double Soy Sauce Chicken Drumsticks

Meaty Mains

Savoury Mushroom Salisbury Steak Ground beef is cheap and plentiful. TIP: The meat mixture can be prepared the night before and formed into patties on a plate, covered and refrigerated- ready for you when you are!

Slow-cooker Jamaican Oxtails
TIP: Do it easy by using a slow-cooker. Toss all your ingredients in the slow-cooker and set it on low before you jet to work and come home to an insanely aromatic kitchen and fall-off-the-bone tender oxtails to devour. 

Fish Fan Fare 

Aren't we all looking for ways to incorporate more omega-rich fish in our diets? Give cheap-cut salmon trimmings a try to make salmon with garlic, and if you have leftovers or a piece of salmon on-hand, make tasty breaded fish patties with tofu to double your family's dose on health!

Salmon with Garlic
Salmon and Tofu Patties
Chinese Fried Fish

Pan-fried Mini Fish Omeletsso simple and so good! TIP: Thaw frozen white fish fillets such as basa or tilapia the night before. If you got an egg, some corn starch/flour, you've got yourself this fish dish in 30 minutes!

One Pot Wonders

Cook everything in one pot or skillet, and you've got only one to wash! How's that for meal motivation?

Japanese Curry In a Hurry
Japanese curry is often sold in a package with convenient dry blocks to break the portions into your cooked meal to make a versatile sauce. Today I used leftover ground beef and corn, cooked this sauce with it and served it over udon noodles. TIP: Serve sauce over rice, with bread, as a topping in noodle soup or get creative- you can't go wrong!
Macaroni in Pork Bones Soup

Asian-Spiced Salmon Rice (Kedgeree)  A healthy and beautiful basmati rice dish with salmon and eggs. You've got a wonderful meal in easily less than an hour! 

Another easy eats rice dish to try is Chinese Sticky Rice. TIP: Prepare your ingredients by cutting them and soaking the rice the night before. A quick stir-fry and the 1-1/2 hours steam allows you to get other things done. Before you know it, a fragrant pot of rice awaits you.
Shepherd's Pie

Some great one skillet noodle and pasta dishes to try are: Thai Basil Noodle with Peanut Sauce and Garlicky Basil Pasta.

Customized Family Fare

These are just fun eats and lets your kids do-it-themselves to whatever they please. They say when kids gets their hands in preparing their food, they are more likely to eat it. TIP: Just chop/slice all your vegetables, and slice/marinate your meats the night before to make cooking a cinch the next day.

Mexican Chicken and Steak Fajitas

Mexican Beef Tacos
Homemade Pizzas

This category was labelled as such as these dishes bring comfort and nostalgic memories for me and now I am passing them along to my kids. I hope they will nourish your family as much as they do mine. 

Simmered Beef and Tofu  This satisfying recipe features a richly flavoured beef and onion topping nestled in soft tofu with earthy shiitake mushrooms. Served over hot rice, the beautiful flavours are soaked up and instantly becomes more irresistible and full-filling with each bite.

Classic Chinese Tomato and Egg Stir-frying tomatoes and eggs together is a quick and satisfying staple in Chinese home cooking. Juicy tomatoes mingle with softly scrambled eggs in a saucy dish that's scrumptious over rice and what I classify as "easy eats" as it's easy to shovel down and finish before you know it!

Big Batch Cooking

These recipes are great for the weekend when you have a bit more time on your hands to make lots more so you can freeze them away to take-out for dinner nights when you're on a time crunch.

Mamma Mia Meatballs TIP: Double or triple the meatball recipe and freeze them on a flat tray for one hour before placing them in a freezer bag to store. Serve it in tomato sauce or make a cream sauce and eat along with your favourite pasta!

Pork, Shrimp and Chives Dumplings  Lots of tips in this dumplings 101

Wonton Noodle Soup This is my ultimate heaven-in-a-bowl comfort food.TIP: Place a plastic wrap on the bottom of a Tupperware or reusable plastic container. Lay the extra wontons in a single layer. Then, cover with plastic wrap to add a second layer. Place another plastic wrap before closing with lid. Can be frozen for two months if properly sealed. Yum- wontons to tap into at your whim!

Next up... my selection of family-friendly sides to go with your every meal! 

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