Fantastic Meals You Can Make Without a Recipe

These easy dishes will have dinner on the table in no time

Fantastic Meals You Can Make Without a Recipe

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There are a number of delicious and filling meals that you can make from scratch without a recipe.

Fish in Parchment

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Cooking fish in parchment paper (or aluminum foil packets) is one of the easiest ways to make a complete meal quickly and without a lot of clean-up. Simply season your fish filet with salt and pepper and then place it on the paper along with chopped vegetables like onions, peppers, broccoli, or potatoes. Add a pat of butter or a drizzle of olive oil and any other seasonings that you’d like (lemon, sprigs of thyme, etc.). Then, seal the paper so that it forms a pouch around the fish and bake the packet in a 375-degree oven until the fish is cooked through, generally about 12-13 minutes.

Frittata

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Making a protein-packed frittata is a great way to use up leftovers. Preheat your broiler and melt some butter in a non-stick, oven-safe pan. Add any leftovers that you have on hand (like sautéed greens, cooked quinoa, pieces of ham or chicken, or roasted vegetables) to the pan and then pour in 6 lightly whisked eggs. Cook the frittata on the stove for 4 to 5 minutes until it starts to set up and then finish it in the broiler, about 3 to 4 minutes more. Serve it with crusty bread or a simple salad for a complete meal.

Pork Tenderloin

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Preheat your oven to 450 degrees. Rub a pork tenderloin with a mixture of salt and your favorite dried herbs and/or spices. Then, heat some olive oil and minced garlic in a pan on the stove top. Add the pork tenderloin to the pan and brown it on all sides, about 10 minutes total, before cooking it on a sheet pan in the oven for about 20 minutes more. Add chopped vegetables that have been tossed in olive oil and salt (like sweet potatoes or cauliflower) to the sheet pan and roast them alongside the pork for a complete meal.

Quesadillas

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Forget plain cheese quesadillas; you can load up your cheese-stuffed tortillas with enough ingredients to make a satisfying meal. Put one tortilla and into a preheated skillet, top it with a light sprinkle of cheese, and add drained canned beans, rotisserie chicken or leftover pulled pork, any vegetables you have on hand, and a sprinkle of dried, ground cumin. Top with cheese and another tortilla before placing a lid on the pan and allowing the cheese to melt. Once the cheese is fully melted, flip the quesadilla so that the top can brown and get crispy. Serve with salsa and avocado.

Risotto

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Even if you don’t have cheese, you can make a creamy risotto; the key is using short-grain Arborio rice and adding your cooking liquids slowly. First, heat some olive oil in a skillet and add chopped onion and minced garlic. When the garlic is fragrant, add Arborio rice and toast it in the pan for about one minute. Then, add a small amount of liquid (water will work, but stock or broth will add more flavor) and some salt. When the liquid is almost absorbed, add more. Continue adding small amounts of liquid until the rice is fully cooked and creamy. And, you can easily add puréed pumpkin or sweet potato to your finished risotto or top it with roasted vegetables or grilled chicken.

Roast Chicken

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Preheat your oven to 425 degrees before removing the giblets from your chicken and patting it dry. Rub the chicken with olive oil or butter and sprinkle it generously with salt and pepper. If you want, stuff the insides of the chicken with cut lemons, peeled cloves of garlic, sprigs of herbs, or aromatic vegetables like carrots, celery, and onions. Tie the chicken’s legs together with kitchen twine and tuck the wing tips under the body. Roast the chicken in the oven until the juices run clear, about 90 minutes — that should give you plenty of time to cook some quinoa or make a salad to accompany the chicken.

Vegetarian Chili

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Heat oil in a large heavy pot and add diced onions and peppers and minced garlic. When the vegetables begin to soften, add salt, pepper, and dried spices like chili powder, cumin, and smoked paprika. Then, add cans of diced tomatoes and beans until you have a chili-like consistency. Add some water or stock and simmer the chili until it thickens again. It’s that easy!

Meatloaf

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Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Put 1 pound of ground beef into a large bowl along with 1 egg, salt, pepper, and diced yellow onion (if you want to spice your meatloaf up, add minced garlic, dried spices, or fresh chopped parsley). Mix the contents of the bowl then start sprinkling in Italian-seasoned breadcrumbs until the mixture can be molded into a loaf. Put the loaf into a loaf pan, brush it with ketchup or tomato sauce, and bake it until cooked through, basting it with more ketchup or tomato sauce every 10 minutes.

Teriyaki Salmon

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Start by preheating your oven to 400 degrees. In a large, oven-proof skillet, sear your salmon filets on both sides then brush them with store-bought teriyaki sauce. Move the pan into the oven and continue cooking the fish another 8-10 minutes until it flakes easily with a fork.