As the days grow shorter and colder my need for warm comfort food increases. I rounded up a quick, creamy polenta and Irish-style mac & cheese to ease us into the week, and figured that by Wednesday it would be time for something interesting – a Nicoise salad made with sweet potatoes, those nutrient-rich beauties that are abundant in farmers’ markets at this time of year. On Thursday night, homemade crunchy chicken strips make the kids happy, as does Friday’s pork tenderloin, marinated in strips and quickly cooked as satay. They’re perfect if you need something fast, easy and tasty to feed the kids that also works as a pre-dinner nibble to tide you over if you’re going out for a restaurant meal.
Most people consider dry pasta and jarred sauce as their go-to staples when they need to pull together a quick meal – not the gals from Sweet Potato Chronicles. They make use of boxed polenta, canned tomatoes and bagged frozen shrimp (one of my favourite ingredients to have on hand) to make this elegant shrimp polenta dish that’s perfect for dine-in date night. My son loved polenta when he was little – especially if I stirred in handfuls of grated cheese! So if you have toddlers in the house they may appreciate a cheesy dish of it before you serve up the rest.
Photo credit: Maya Visnyei
There’s no better cure for a long day than a steaming bowl of homemade mac & cheese. Shaina’s comes Irish-style, with farmhouse cheddar and sautéed minced shallots. Served with a big green salad, this will make the whole family happy. (It made mine grin, anyway.)
Photo credit: Food for my Family
I love a meal-sized salad, and I’ve never seen a version of the classic salad from Nice made with sweet potatoes, an addition that makes it perfect for fall! It takes just minutes to cook a fresh ahi tuna steak – alternatively you can streamline the process by adding a tin of good-quality flaked tuna. (I like using tuna packed in oil from the Italian market.)
Photo Credit Sophistimom
It’s unavoidable – the kids in my life adore chicken fingers. I prefer to make them myself from scratch, which takes hardly any effort at all, and the results are far better than reheated prefab nuggets. Amy from Family Feedbag has a great formula for chicken strips made crunchy with Panko – Japanese breadcrumbs that are worth seeking out. She serves hers with honey mustard for dipping, but bottled plum or sweet & sour sauce works, too.
Photo credit Family Feedbag
Tenderloin is my favourite cut of pork – it’s tender and flavourful, easy to cook and lean without being dry. You can make the sauce and marinate the meat the night before, or freeze it in its marinade for months (the liquid will protect the meat from freezer burn) – on Friday they’ll cook in the oven or on the grill in just a few minutes – just what I’m looking for after a long week.