30 Minutes or Less

I want to thank everyone who reads my column.  The last month has been crazy busy, but since January I often have been hard pressed to get this column written.  Even this column you are reading was written very early Thursday morning.  I have thought a few times maybe it was time to give it up to free up some time.  Validation for me comes from you-the readers. God knew what I needed. He knew I needed uplifting to show me how people value my words.  I have written this column since 2017 and while I have had people randomly tell me they like my column over the years, I have had so many more tell me just since January how much they truly love reading it.  No worries, my friends.  I am not stopping.  It just means more early mornings or late nights to get it ready for you. I will continue to write the column for all those that stop me on the street and tell me they read my column first. I will continue to write for all those who tell me “I tried that recipe”. I love hearing from you.  So, thank you for reading. Thank you for telling me you enjoy it. Thank you for subscribing to the paper so you can read it!

This is the season to be outdoors.  The weather has been nice.  The flowers are blooming.  I mean, other than the rain being nonstop the last month, typically you want to spend time in the wide open. During the weekends, I tend to go a little more elaborate, but when I get home from work, I don’t want to spend a lot of time in the kitchen cooking. I tend to go with easy recipes I can throw together.  And the fewer the ingredients, the better.

I love seafood.  Anyone who has read this column for any length of time should know that by now. Well, seafood is super easy to cook and is quick cooking to boot.  It tends to be few ingredients too as you don’t want to overpower the flavor of the fish.  So when I think quick, I automatically think seafood.  As long as your seafood is thawed, you are talking just minutes to a good meal. Shrimp, when raw, is about 5 minutes per side. You want to cheat and be done quicker? Buy the cooked shrimp and just heat it. Fish is about the same 5-7 minutes per side depending on the thickness of the fillet.  Scallops are even quicker at about 3 minutes per side.

I love chicken, don’t like messing with it raw.  To work around this, I bake the chicken most of the time. But you can also buy it precooked from Walmart for a shortcut.  They have whole breasts, sliced chicken, diced chicken and shredded chicken.  Here, once thawed, all you have to do is reheat and eat.

Steak is another quick meal that won’t take long to cook.  Your sides for this dish will likely take longer to prepare than the meat itself.  We like ours medium rare in my home and that is only a couple minutes per side and done.

Eggs are quick and easy in just about any form, from scrambled to hard boiled. Don’t really feel like doing much but want a full meal, you can buy sausage and bacon precooked and frozen hashbrown patties you throw in the oven to crisp.  Frozen waffles in the toaster can finish up a quick breakfast. Or if you don’t want to go all that elaborate, make breakfast burritos! A little cheese, some scrambled eggs and crumbled bacon or sausage and you have a meal.

This week, I want to share quick and easy meals that will take you 30 minutes or less to prepare and will be easy for you to fix even after a hard day at work.  When I started this column, I mentioned I like quick and easy recipes.  That still rings true today.  I would much rather spend time with loved ones than spend time cooking in the kitchen.  This week’s recipes will easily pair with green beans or carrots.  You can also quickly cook some rice or pasta to go with them and add bread if you so desire. Cook some simple sides together with your entrees and you can easily have your dinner in 30 minutes or less.  Meet me in the kitchen for these busy weeknight dinners that will leave you satisfied you fed your family well without having to spend hours in the kitchen to do it.

Southwestern Baked Tilapia

Prep time about 5 minutes

Cook time about 10 minutes

1lb tilapia fillets, thawed if frozen

1 tsp salt

1 tsp black pepper

1 tsp chili powder

1 tsp ground cumin

½ tsp ground coriander

1 tsp garlic powder

¼ tsp dried oregano

2 tsps. extra-virgin olive oil

Preheat oven to 375°F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Season both sides of tilapia with salt, pepper, chili powder, cumin, coriander, garlic and oregano.  Place filets on prepared baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil.  Bake 7-9 minutes depending on how thick the fillets are. When it flakes easily with a fork, it's done. Serve immediately.

Note: You want even easier? Don’t measure the spices. I didn’t. These are all guesstimates! Just sprinkle on each fillet and move on.


Simple Pan Seared Scallops

Prep time 5-7 minutes

Cook time 4-7 minutes

1lb scallops

½ tsp olive oil

Adobo seasoning, to taste

2 Tbsps. unsalted real butter

Spread oil in skillet and heat over medium heat. Pat scallops dry with paper towel. When pan is hot, add scallops to pan.  Season with Adobo to taste. Allow them to sear for 1-2 minutes. You'll know the scallops are ready to flip when they pull away from the skillet easily.  They should be caramelized when ready to flip. If they hold tight to the skillet, give them a little longer. Flip scallops over and season with Adobo again. Sear for 1-2 minutes.  Add butter to skillet and heat 1 minute more.  Remove from heat and sprinkle with lemon juice if desired.  Serve immediately.


Easy Baked Chicken

Prep time about 5 minutes

Cook time about 20 minutes

3 boneless skinless chicken breast

2 tsps. olive oil

2 tsps. Head Country seasoning

1 Tbsp. minced onion

Preheat oven to 350°F. Place chicken breast in baking dish.  Drizzle both sides with olive oil. Sprinkle with seasoning and minced onion. Flip chicken breast over and season again. Bake 20-30 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 165°F, depending on the size of the breast. Serve immediately with rice or pasta.

Note: Want to cook it even quicker? Slice the breast into tenderloins or flatten with a meat tenderizer!


Baked Egg Avocado Nest

Prep time about 10 minutes

Cook time about 15 minutes

2-4 avocados, depending on how many you are feeding

4-8 eggs, one egg per avocado half

Salt and pepper or other seasoning, to taste (I used Adobo and it was delicious!)

Preheat oven to 400°F.  Slice each avocado in half and remove pit.  Use spoon to carve out some of the flesh of each avocado half to about 1/2 inch from the skin.  Reserve avocado flesh for topping salads, burgers or just eating by itself!  Arrange avocado halves in a square baking dish if using 2 avocados. Arrange in 9x13 baking dish if using more. Sprinkle each half with seasoning to taste. Crack an egg into each nest you created.  Sprinkle each with seasoning again. Bake 15-20 minutes or until egg white is set and cooked through. Serve immediately.

Note: How much avocado is left will determine how quickly the eggs will cook.  A thicker layer of avocado left in the skin will cause the egg to need more time to cook.  Also, avocados are not flat. You are likely to have some egg run out unless you prop them against the sides of the dish or each other. The problem with that is once the white starts to come out, it tends to all come out just because of the way the white clings to itself.

Recipe adapted from yummly.com.