As you find yourself in the throes of spring activities and tax season, with no relief in your family's busy schedule, you wonder if there's any hope for dinner that isn't the takeout variety. Just take a deep breath, because Quick-Fix Robin brings new, delectable solutions.
The latest book from nutritionist and Food Network star Robin Miller, Robin Takes 5 (Andrews McMeel Publishing, $29.99) focuses on healthful meals made with little fuss.
As on her TV show, Quick Fix Meals With Robin Miller, the author makes a point of illustrating how easily you can perform a little food magic: The "5" in the book's title pertains to the 500 recipes she has included with five or fewer ingredients to make dinner five nights a week at 5 p.m., with a total of 500 calories -- or less.
The family with serious time constraints will like the simple recipes, as well as the shortcuts that allow younger cooks to pitch in. Recipes will appeal to a range of palates, too, with dishes as simple as spinach fettuccine with peas, butter and Parmesan to those with a hint of elegance, like seared trout with toasted almond-butter sauce.
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Your family will have plenty of options, with soups and stews, pizzas and strudels, pasta and risotto, chicken and turkey, beef and pork, seafood and shellfish, sides, and desserts among the eight chapters.
Here is a trio of entrees that combine protein and vegetables in one dish, with flavor and nutrition to spare. Savor this little break in your hectic schedule.
Lettuce wraps with grilled steak and cheese
A good dish to serve buffet-style, allowing your family to add goodies as they wish, this dish needs 10 to 15 minutes of prep time and 10 minutes to cook.
11/4 pounds flank or skirt steak
12 butter or Boston lettuce leaves
1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion
1 cup shredded smoked gouda or mozzarella cheese
1 cup diced tomatoes (beefsteak or plum)
1. Coat a stovetop grill pan or griddle with cooking spray and preheat over medium-high heat.
2. Season both sides of the steak with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Place the steak on the hot pan and cook for 3 to 5 minutes per side for medium-rare to medium.
3. Remove the steak from the pan and let stand for 5 to 10 minutes before slicing crosswise (against the grain) into 1/4-inch-thick slices.
4. Arrange the lettuce leaves on a serving platter and stuff with the steak slices, onion, cheese and tomatoes.
Nutritional analysis per serving: 357 calories, 22 grams fat, 4 grams carbohydrates, 34 grams protein, 98 milligrams cholesterol, 222 milligrams sodium, 1 gram dietary fiber, 56 percent of calories from fat.
Pork tenderloin with mint-pea puree
Preparation time in this dish is 10 to 15 minutes, and the cooking time is 20 to 25.
11/4 pounds pork tenderloin (1 large or 2 small tenderloins)
2 cups thawed frozen green peas
1/3 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth, or more as needed
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
2 teaspoons chopped fresh chives
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Coat a shallow roasting pan with cooking spray.
2. Season the pork all over with salt and freshly ground black pepper and place in the prepared pan. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until a meat thermometer reads 155 degrees (the temperature will continue to rise by another 5 degrees once the pork is removed from the oven). Let the pork stand for 5 minutes before slicing crosswise into 1-inch-thick slices.
3. Meanwhile, combine the peas, broth, mint and chives in a blender or food processor and puree until smooth, adding more broth if necessary to create a nice puree. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Serve the pork slices with the pea puree spooned over the top.
Nutritional analysis per serving: 230 calories, 5 grams fat, 10 grams carbohydrates, 35 grams protein, 92 milligrams cholesterol, 156 milligrams sodium, 4 grams dietary fiber, 21 percent of calories from fat.
Sesame-crusted salmon with orange-teriyaki sauce
This takes 10 minutes to prep and 12 to 15 to cook.
4 salmon fillets (about 5 ounces each)
1/4 cup teriyaki sauce
2 tablespoons orange juice
1 teaspoon sesame oil
4 teaspoons sesame seeds
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Coat baking sheet with cooking spray.
2. Season both sides of the salmon with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Place the salmon on the prepared baking sheet.
3. Whisk together the teriyaki sauce, orange juice and sesame oil. Brush the mixture all over the top and sides of the salmon. Sprinkle the sesame seeds on top of the salmon.
4. Bake 12-15 minutes, until the salmon is fork-tender.
Nutritional analysis per serving: 210 calories, 8 grams fat, 4 grams carbohydrates, 30 grams protein, 74 milligrams cholesterol, 785 milligrams sodium, trace dietary fiber, 33 percent of calories from fat.