Pan-tastic Family Dinner Ideas

    3 Awesome Single-Skillet Entrées

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    Skip the Takeout! Whether you live on a farm or in the city, have a gourmet kitchen or a quaint kitchenette, you realize the importance of sitting down together for a family meal. Unfortunately, my saying that doesn’t make it any easier to accomplish. These single-skillet entrées, however, might be the answer. When you want to get a meal on the table in no time flat, you don’t want to spend hours cleaning up, and you’re busy, tired, and out of ideas – skip the takeout and grab the skillet!

    Asian Shrimp and Broccoli Skillet

    In a small bowl, whisk together ¼ cup soy sauce, 2 tablespoons hoisin sauce, 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar, 1 tablespoon brown sugar, 2 teaspoons fresh minced ginger, 2 cloves minced garlic, 2 teaspoons sesame oil, 2 teaspoons cornstarch, and 1 teaspoon sambal chili paste; set aside. Heat a swirl of olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add 3 cups bite-sized broccoli florets and cook about three minutes, stirring occasionally, until tender. Add 1½ pounds peeled shrimp, and cook, stirring frequently, until opaque and cooked through, about 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in soy sauce mixture until well-combined and slightly thickened, for a minute or two. Serve over rice, or add 8 ounces cooked Asian noodles and stir well. Garnish with toasted sesame seeds and sliced green onions.

    Southwest Sausage Skillet

    Heat a large heavy-bottomed skillet over medium high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil and swirl pan to coat. Add 1 pound of
    mild sausage links and brown on each side. To the pan, add one small onion (diced in ½-inch pieces), 2 medium sweet potatoes (peeled and cut in ½-inch cubes), and 1 small red bell pepper (diced in ½-inch pieces). Allow the vegetables to begin to brown and cook for about 5 minutes. Move sausages around as necessary, and keep the vegetables moving, too. Over the vegetables, sprinkle ½ teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon ground cumin, and ½ teaspoon coriander. Stir in ½ cup water or chicken stock. Cover if you have a lid, but it’s not mandatory. This will help the vegetables and sausages finish cooking. Simmer for about 15 minutes, and test sweet potatoes with a fork. They should be tender. Sausages should be cooked to 165 degrees internally. Slice the sausages to serve, and garnish finished dish with cilantro and sour cream.

    Skillet Cheeseburger Pasta 

    In a large skillet over medium high heat, add 1 pound of ground beef, 1 small onion diced, and 3 cloves minced garlic. Stir occasionally until beef is no longer pink, and season with ½ teaspoon salt. Stir in 16 ounces macaroni, 3 cups of chicken broth, one 15-ounce can tomato sauce, 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce, 1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer for eight to ten minutes, stirring occasionally until macaroni is tender. Stir in ¾ cup shredded cheddar or mozzarella cheese, and ½ cup of diced dill pickles. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot.

    Photo: Jenny Tremblay West

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    Jenny Tremblay West
    Jenny Tremblay West began her career as a pastry chef and currently teaches cooking in Richmond. Jenny, her husband, and their two young boys live in Church Hill. She has worked in food for more than twenty years and is part of the team at Mise en Place.