Quick recipes for the time-starved

“What’s for dinner?” If that question strikes fear into your heart, then this article is for you. The hustle and bustle of everyday life leaves little time for the niceties of meal planning, grocery shopping or cooking, but perhaps these ideas will reduce the tension and give you an opportunity to try some recipes to solve the meal/time quandary. After all, there is a limit to the number of times take-out is appealing.

Stuffed Pork Tenderloin

Pork tenderloin is a great choice for someone with limited time and budget. It’s fast and easy to prepare, and offers excellent nutrition for the money. Plus pork tenderloin tastes great! Be sure to double the quantity you need for one dinner – leftovers are ideal for another meal.

While the pork is cooking, prepare the vegetables to accompany the meat. At this time of year, steamed new potatoes, broccoli and cauliflower make ideal choices. The potatoes will take about 20 to 25 minutes in a steamer and the broccoli and cauliflower florets can be added for the last seven or eight minutes of cooking. Serve them with melted butter, a squeeze of fresh lemon juice, and a bit of grated cheddar cheese if you like. One pork tenderloin makes three servings.

If you prefer, boneless, skinless chicken breasts could be substituted for the tenderloin. Be sure to cook them to an internal temperature of 180˚F (82˚C) or until juices run clear.

2 12-oz (340 g) pork tenderloin
1/4 cup (60 mL) favorite chutney
1/4 cup (60 mL) Dijon mustard
6 strips back bacon

Preheat oven to 350˚F (180˚C). Spray roasting pan and rack or baking dish with baking spray. Arrange pork tenderloins on a large cutting board. Trim any fat if necessary. Using a sharp knife, butterfly the tenderloin by using the knife to slice lengthwise three quarters of the way through to open like a book, or resemble a butterfly. Then slice each side to open out again. This makes the pork about a half inch thick.

Spread the inside generously with the chutney. Fold pork up to make a neat roll and brush the outside of each tenderloin generously with mustard. Wrap each tenderloin with a spiral of bacon to form a neat log. Cover loosely with foil and bake in a roasting pan for 15 minutes, then uncover and continue baking another 15 to 20 minutes, or just until the pork is barely pink if pricked with a paring knife. Remove from oven and tent with foil for 10 minutes before slicing diagonally in half-inch (1 cm) slices. Serve immediately.

Leftovers should be stored in reserved pan juices, covered, and refrigerated. They are delicious thinly sliced and served cold as a sandwich filling or with a green salad.

Sunday Roast Chicken

A roast chicken is a scrumptious dish! Be sure to use a fresh, air-chilled bird and if possible, cook two at once to ensure leftovers. Roast chicken always tastes good and the leftovers can be used in countless ways: tossed with pasta, added to soups and salads, or used as a sandwich filling

Although a roast chicken takes a bit longer to cook than a pork tenderloin, it requires minimal preparation time and while it is in the oven you are free to work on other tasks. Preparation time is about 15 minutes; cooking time for a 3.5 lb (2 kg) bird is about an hour and a half.

Pre-heat oven to 400˚F (200˚C). Spray roasting pan with baking spray. Remove any giblets from the chicken(s). Arrange chickens side by side, breast side up in roasting pan. Squeeze the juice of one or two lemons over the chickens and place the leftover lemons inside the chicken cavity for flavour. Add salt and pepper and sprinkle generously with leaf thyme and tarragon. If you have fresh herbs, all the better – put some sprigs inside the bird too.

Add about half an inch (1 cm) of chicken stock or a mix of wine and water to the bottom of the roasting pan. Cover tightly with foil and bake for one hour. Uncover and cook until golden brown and meat thermometer registers 185˚F (85˚C) in the thickest part of the breast. Remove from oven and tent with foil for 10 minutes before carving. Pre-heat plates and if desired, make gravy from pan drippings. Carve into two leg portions and two breast portions. Each chicken serves four. Cover and refrigerate leftovers for the next day.


Jan Main is an author, cooking instructor and caterer  ~  janmainskitchen@yahoo.ca

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