For tasty meals in a hurry, readers share their favorite 'fast' food recipes

June 09, 1993|By Karol V. Menzie | Karol V. Menzie,Staff Write

Maryland's busy cooks often rely on "family favorite" recipes for those nights when it's no mean feat to get dinner on the table. But many of them also have developed clever strategies for entertaining when time isn't plentiful.

Here are some of the dishes and menus readers shared with us.

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The first is from Brenda Sands, full-time paralegal and mother of three. She writes, "The kids like the name as much as the meal!"

Poor man's dinner from Hobo Alley

Serves four to six

1 pound ground beef

1/4 cup chopped onion

1 16-ounce can whole tomatoes (including liquid)

1 8-ounce can plain tomato sauce

1 16-ounce can corn

2 cups dry macaroni

In skillet, brown hamburger and onion. While hamburger is browning, prepare macaroni as directed on package. Drain off fat from hamburger, dump in corn, tomatoes and tomato sauce. Add cooked macaroni, cover and simmer about 10 minutes. Serve with grated cheese.

(Optional: You may season hamburger while it is browning.)

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The next recipe is from Channel 2 reporter Carolyn Presutti, and would make a good no-hassle meal to serve friends.

Stress-free chicken meal

Serves four to six

1 chicken, cut into parts

1 16-ounce can tomato puree

1/4 cup dry vermouth

1 can of beer

1/2 cup rice

1 16-ounce can peas

Brown chicken in roaster. Add puree and cook for 15 minutes. Add vermouth and beer and cook for additional 15 minutes. Add rice and cook for 20 minutes or until rice is tender. Drain peas and add to chicken. Cook an additional 5 to 10 minutes.

Note: You can substitute 3 1/2 cups of chicken broth or water for the vermouth and beer, if desired.

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Another recipe for entertaining or for family comes from Ilene Roberts of Baltimore. She suggests serving the pork with a blanched and sauteed green vegetable, applesauce and baked potatoes, and with vanilla ice cream and sliced strawberries for dessert.

Grilled Dijon pepper pork

Serves two

1- to 2-pound boneless pork loin

1/4 to 1/2 cup Dijon mustard

freshly ground black pepper

Prepare grill. Roll pork loin in black pepper to coat. Slather with mustard, coating as thickly as possible. Cook over hot coals, covered, until meat thermometer inserted in thickest part registers 150 to 160 degrees, about 1 hour. Let rest for 5 minutes before slicing.

Note: For roasting effect, create a small "pan" out of aluminum foil and place it directly on top of hot coals while pork is cooking.

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The next two recipes are from free-lance writer C. David Pugh, for an intimate dinner for two.

Pan-seared tuna

Serves two

2 filets of tuna, not thicker than 1/2 inch

3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

1 teaspoon olive oil

Heat cast iron skillet until hot. Add olive oil. When the oil is hot, add garlic. When the garlic becomes brown, add tuna.

With a technique similar to blackening, sear tuna for 30 to 45 seconds per side. This should cook the tuna "medium."

Serve immediately with couscous and garden salad.

Garden salad

Serves two

1/2 cucumber, coarsely chopped

1/2 ripe tomato, coarsely chopped

1 sprig fresh mint, coarsely chopped

1/4 cup lemon juice

1/4 cup olive oil

1/4 cup water

1 cup couscous

Prepare couscous according to package directions. Chop vegetables and mint, place in bowl. In another small bowl, mix lemon juice and water; whisk in olive oil. Pour enough dressing over vegetable mix to coat; toss ingredients together. Place couscous on plate and spoon salad on top.

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The next recipe is from Ed Nicholls of Towson. He suggests using an enameled cast-iron cooking pot of at least 4-quart capacity for this one-pot meal.

Basic chicken couscous

Serves four generously

1 3-pound chicken, cooked, meat removed from bones, or 4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, raw, cut into small cubes

6 tablespoons olive oil

1 medium yellow onion, diced

1 medium green pepper, diced

1 small can tomatoes, drained and chopped

2 tablespoons cumin

2 tablespoons marjoram

3 tablespoons parsley flakes (or fresh parsley, chopped)

2 cups couscous

1 cup chicken broth or water

dash Tabasco sauce (optional)

2 cloves garlic, minced

If using raw chicken, heat olive oil to smoking and cook chicken. Remove chicken from pot and reserve.

Cook vegetables in olive oil over high heat with garlic, cumin, marjoram and salt and pepper to taste until tender-crisp, about 6 minutes.

Add tomatoes and cooked chicken and Tabasco, if using. Stir briskly until chicken is hot. Add couscous and chicken broth or water. Bring to boil, remove from heat, cover with tight-fitting lid.

Let stand 10 minutes. Fluff couscous mixture with a fork and serve in bowls, garnished with parsley.

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Many of our quick cooks used soups as a base for an easily prepared meal. The first recipe is a made-from-scratch soup from Betty D. Edlavitch of Baltimore, an artist and photographer whose home is her studio. Clients who've caught a whiff of this soup cooking usually ask for a sample, she says.

Vegetarian cabbage soup

Serves six to eight

1 large head of cabbage

1 1/4 quarts water

1 to 2 large cans tomatoes

1 can "Hunt's Tomato Special"

1/2 cup golden raisins

1 apple, sliced

optional ingredients:

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