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