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Got half an hour? Get a great meal


This honey-soy glazed salmon is one of several

This honey-soy glazed salmon is one of several "30 minute recipes" that can come in handy when time is tight. Read on for recipes and suggestions of pantry staples to keep on hand that make creating quick meals easier. Photo by:


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Coconut shrimp curry
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Jan Swoope



We feel it. Winter hibernation is coming to an end. We're waking up to blossoms, greening and calendars filling up with functions, fundraisers, kids' sports, spring cleaning or just plain wanting to spend more time outdoors.  


It's a time of year when a quick "30-minute meal" can come in handy for anyone who doesn't want to spend more time in the kitchen than necessary -- whether that's a busy family, or somebody cooking for one. Make a second meal of the leftovers, or just cut recipes in half. 


A strategically-stocked pantry is usually key to whipping up quick meals. You won't have every ingredient called for in every "30-minute meal" recipe, but some core items like broth and canned tomatoes kept on hand can build the foundation for easier meals in short order, says Take advantage of weekly specials at the grocery store to stock up on some of these basics that have a pretty long shelf life. 


  • Canned beans: For everything from 10-minute tacos or a protein-packed salad, a fast stew or soup, or a filling that turns a baked potato into a meal. 


  • Coconut milk: With only a few other ingredients, coconut milk creates a fragrant curry, soup or flavorful braised fish. 


  • Pasta, rice and grains: These staples can be used for fast and fancy pasta dinners, rice and grain bowls, vegetable stir-fries and dinner salads. 


  • Frozen vegetables: A selection of these takes you from five-minute sides to quick curries. 


  • Frozen tortellini: In under 30 minutes you can turn a package of frozen tortellini into a veggie-filled skillet dinner or a hearty soup. 


    Other stock suggestions include frozen shrimp, soy sauce, oils, Dijon, and maple syrup or honey, for making a quick a flavorful sauce for chicken tenders or adding zing to something as simple as an egg sandwich. 


    Tailor your pantry to your own preferences, but having basics at-the-ready will allow you to pull together a "30-minute meal" when the mood or need strikes. 


    Here are a several "30-minute" recipes from to get us started. 






    Makes 4 




    1/2 cup honey, slightly heated 


    2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce 


    2 tablespoons jarred chopped garlic 


    1 tablespoon lime juice 


    4 salmon fillets (about 5 ounces each) 


    2 cups cooked brown rice or Uncle Bens Ready Rice 


    2 scallions, sliced 


    1/2 cup cilantro, chopped 


    Steamed snow peas (optional) 




  • Heat oven to 450 F. Line a baking dish with aluminum foil and spray with nonstick cooking spray. 


  • In a small bowl, whisk together honey, soy sauce, garlic and lime juice. Place salmon, skin-side down, in prepared dish and spoon half the sauce over top. Bake for 10 minutes. Spoon some of the remaining sauce over salmon; bake for an additional 5 minutes. Broil salmon 1 minute, if desired, until lightly browned. 


  • To serve, garnish salmon and rice with scallions and cilantro. Drizzle remaining sauce over salmon and rice. Serve with steamed snow peas, if desired. 


    Nutrition information: Per serving: 59 g carb., 1 g sat. fat, 81 mg chol., 6 g Fat, total, 427 kcal cal., 415 mg sodium, 34 g pro., 2 g fiber. 






    Makes 6 servings 




    1 cup uncooked jasmine rice 


    2 tablespoons vegetable oil 


    2 cloves garlic, minced 


    1 2-inch piece ginger, peeled and grated 


    1 tablespoon green curry paste (such as Thai Kitchen) 


    14 1/2 ounces coconut milk 


    1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth 


    1 large sweet potato (about 3/4 pound), peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes 


    2 cups cauliflower florets 


    1 medium onion, diced 


    3/4 pound raw shrimp, peeled and deveined 


    1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped 


    Juice of 1 lime 


    1/2 teaspoon salt 




  • Bring 3 cups water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Stir in rice, reduce to a simmer and cover. Cook 20 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. 


  • Meanwhile, heat oil in a large, lidded skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and ginger; cook 1 minute. Add curry paste; cook 30 seconds. Whisk in coconut milk and chicken broth; bring to a boil.  


  • Mix in sweet potato and reduce heat to a simmer. Cover and cook 5 minutes. Add cauliflower and onion; cover and simmer 10 minutes or until tender. Stir in shrimp, basil, lime juice and salt; cook uncovered 3 minutes. Serve over cooked jasmine rice. 


    Nutrition information: 507 mg sodium, 4 g fiber, 29 g carb., 20 g Fat, total, 352 kcal cal., 16 g pro., 111 mg chol., 14 g sat. fat. 






    Makes 4 servings 




    2 cups (about 7 ounces) grilled chicken strips, frozen  


    1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for brushing 


    10 ounces cremini mushrooms, quartered 


    2 cloves garlic, minced 


    1/8 teaspoon pepper 


    4 10-inch tortillas 


    8 ounces smoked cheddar cheese, grated 


    Sour cream (optional) 


    Chipotle salsa (optional) 




  • Coat a nonstick saute pan with nonstick cooking spray over medium heat. Add frozen chicken and cook 5-7 minutes to heat through and slightly brown. Remove chicken from pan and set aside. 


  • Add olive oil to same pan. Stir in mushrooms and cook 5-7 minutes or until lightly browned; pan will be fairly dry. Stir in garlic and cook 1-2 more minutes. Season with pepper. 


  • Heat oven to 450 F. Line 2 baking sheets with nonstick foil. Place a tortilla on each prepared sheet. Add one fourth of the cheese to each tortilla, then layer each with half the chicken and mushrooms.  


  • Divide remaining cheese between tortillas. Cover with the last 2 tortillas and brush lightly with olive oil. Bake at 450 F. for 7 minutes or until slightly golden-brown and cheese has melted. 


  • Cut each quesadilla into 6 wedges. Serve with sour cream and chipotle salsa, if desired. 


    Nutrition information: Per Serving: 490 kcal cal., 8 g fiber, 999 mg sodium, 40 g pro., 30 g carb., 28 g Fat, total, 111 mg chol., 12 g sat. fat. 






    Makes 4 




    1 tablespoon vegetable oil 


    1 pound medium shrimp, shelled and deveined 


    1 tablespoon Southwest seasoning blend (such as McCormick) 


    6 cups fresh sliced peppers and onions 


    1/8 teaspoon salt 


    1 cup quinoa, uncooked 


    8 warm corn tortillas 


    1/2 cup reduced-fat sour cream 


    1/4 cup jarred salsa verde 


    2 limes, cut into wedges 


    4 scallions, sliced 




  • Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Season shrimp with 1 teaspoon of the Southwest seasoning. Add to skillet and cook 2 minutes on each side. Remove to a plate. 


  • Add peppers and onions to skillet. Season with salt and 1 teaspoon of the Southwest seasoning. Cook 10 minutes or until tender, stirring often. Add up to 1/4 cup water if mixture becomes too dry. Stir in shrimp. 


  • Meanwhile, cook quinoa following package directions, about 15 minutes, adding remaining 1 teaspoon Southwest seasoning. Remove from heat. 


  • Wrap shrimp-and-pepper mixture in tortillas and serve with quinoa, sour cream, salsa, limes and scallions. 


    Nutrition information: Per serving: 65 g carb., 8 g fiber, 29 g pro., 738 mg sodium, 484 kcal cal., 12 g Fat, total, 184 mg chol., 3 g sat. fat.


  • Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.


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