Dinner does not have to be difficult

But as we have become spoiled by the flavors of fresh organic food from our local farmers’ markets, we are now seeking other tastier and healthier choices for quick and easy dinners.

by Joanne Henning Tedesco — 

Time and convenience are the reasons that takeout food seems like the perfect answer to the perennial question: “What should we have for dinner?” But as we have become spoiled by the flavors of fresh organic food from our local farmers’ markets, we are now seeking other tastier and healthier choices for quick and easy dinners.

As an alternative to using a slow cooker, you can whip up delicious and nutritious one-dish dinners with minimal cleanup. Just add a garden salad, and you have a well-balanced meal in no time at all.

Parchment-baked Fish With Pesto, Zucchini and Carrots


  • 4 (12” x 18”) sheets parchment paper
  • Cooking spray
  • 4 (6-ounce) halibut or other small, flat, white fish fillets, such as red snapper, sea bass, pompano, striped bass or cod
  • 1/4 cup commercial pesto
  • 1 cup shredded carrots (2 medium)
  • 1 cup shredded zucchini (1 small)
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, divided
  • 4 teaspoons olive oil
  • 4 teaspoons dry white wine


Preheat oven to 450°. Unfold parchment and coat lightly with cooking spray, leaving a 2-inch border ungreased at edge. Place fillet on one side, touching the fold but not the ungreased border. Spread 1 tablespoon pesto over fillet; top with 1/4 cup carrot and 1/4 cup zucchini. Sprinkle with one-fourth of the salt and pepper. Drizzle fillet with 1 teaspoon oil and 1 teaspoon wine. Fold paper; seal edges with narrow folds. Repeat for each fish fillet. Place packets on baking sheets.

Bake at 450° for 15 minutes or until puffy and lightly browned. To serve, open packets and transfer the fillets with their vegetable topping to plates; pour juices over top or if serving in packets, carefully transfer to plates and pierce each to allow steam to escape.

Shrimp and Snow Pea Stir-Fry


  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 3/4 pound peeled and deveined large shrimp
  • 1 small garlic clove, minced
  • 1 cup trimmed snow peas
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice (1/2 small lemon)
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper


If serving with rice, have everything chopped, sliced and minced, but do not begin cooking the stir-fry until the rice is just about ready. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add shrimp and garlic, and sauté 5 minutes or until done. Add snow peas and remaining ingredients; sauté 30 seconds.

Apple-Spinach Chicken


  • 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
  • 4 (4-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 tablespoon spicy brown mustard
  • 1/2 cup apple cider
  • 1 medium Granny Smith apple, cored and sliced
  • 6 cups fresh baby spinach or chopped Swiss chard


Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper, and add to skillet. Cook 5 to 6 minutes on each side or until well-browned. Remove to plate and keep warm. Add garlic, mustard, vinegar and apple slices to pan; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, simmer, stirring often, for 5 minutes. Add chicken. Cook, stirring occasionally, until sauce thickens and the chicken is cooked through, about 3 minutes. Add spinach and toss until wilted, about 1 minute. Serve hot.

 Orange Vinaigrette Dressing


  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon-style prepared mustard
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 1/8 teaspoon cracked black pepper


In a small jar with a tight-fitting cover, combine all ingredients. Cover and shake well until combined. To store, refrigerate for up to one week. Shake well before serving.

 Honey Mustard Dressing


  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon prepared mustard
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/2 tablespoon lemon juice


In a small bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, mustard, honey and lemon juice. Store covered in the refrigerator.


Sources: www.myrecipes.com, www.allrecipes.com and Joanne’s recipe box.

Reprinted from AzNetNews, Volume 29, Number 3, June/July 2010.

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