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  • Dinnertime prep shouldn’t feel like such a chore. Here are four delicious and healthy meals that take just 15 minutes to cook, so you can enjoy more quality time with your loved ones.

    Asian Stir-fry
    [Pictured above]

    This recipe can easily be adjusted to suit your preference. Use chicken instead of beef. Add more vegetables such as baby corn, bean sprouts, and green beans. Make it spicier for the grown-ups, or make it sweeter for the kids. 

    1 tablespoon sesame oil
    1 large onion, sliced
    3 cloves garlic, chopped
    1/2 kilo beef strips (Stroganoff cut)
    1 red bell pepper, pith and seeds removed, sliced
    1 eggplant, sliced
    2 kaffir lime leaves, torn
    1-inch knob ginger, peeled and chopped
    1 tablespoon fish sauce
    1 tablespoon sugar
    2 to 3 bird’s eye chilis, chopped (optional)
    1/2 cup water
    1 tablespoon oyster sauce
    Salt and pepper, to taste
    12 snap peas (sitsaro)
    5 basil leaves, torn

    1. Heat oil in a frying pan or wok over high heat. Sauté onion and garlic until fragrant. 
    2. Add beef and sear undisturbed for about two minutes. Add bell pepper and eggplant. Cook until softened. Stir in the rest of the ingredients. Lower heat to medium. 
    3. Add snap peas. Let simmer for about two minutes. Adjust seasoning to taste. Sprinkle basil leaves on top. Serve with steamed rice.

    Pasta Vongole


    This delicious seafood pasta can be quite uplifting. If there‘s good-quality frozen seafood available, this can be your emergency “I want something nice for dinner” meal!

    350 grams spaghetti
    1 tablespoon olive oil
    2 garlic cloves, chopped
    2 tomatoes, chopped
    2 slices bacon, chopped (optional)
    500 grams clams, cleaned
    Salt and pepper, to taste
    1 bird’s eye chili (optional)
    Bunch of basil, torn
    1 whole lemon, cut into wedges
    Parmesan cheese, grated 

    1. Cook pasta for two minutes less than what’s indicated in the package directions. Drain pasta and set aside. Set aside half a cup of pasta water. 
    2. Heat olive oil in a pot. Sauté garlic, tomatoes, and bacon for about a minute. Add clams, and cover pot to let steam. Once shells start to open, add undercooked pasta and pasta water. 
    3. Add basil and chili, if using, and mix to combine. Season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and more basil. Serve immediately with lemon wedges on the side. 

    Recipe twist: Use mussels instead of clams or chorizo instead of bacon.

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    Korean Lettuce Wraps

    Have fun eating with your hands! The grown-ups can spice up their lettuce wraps with kimchi and gochujang (Korean hot pepper paste). 

    1 tablespoon sesame oil
    1 medium carrot, sliced thinly (Use a vegetable peeler.)
    1/2 kilo ground beef
    1 large onion, sliced thinly
    3 cloves garlic, minced
    1 teaspoon soy sauce
    Salt and pepper, to taste
    Steamed rice

    1. Heat oil in a pan over medium heat. Sauté carrots until soft, about two minutes. Set aside. 
    2. Using the same pan, sauté onions and garlic until fragrant. Add beef, and let it cook for about five minutes. Add soy sauce, and season with salt and pepper to taste. 
    3. To serve, place beef on lettuce leaf. Top with carrots, a spoonful of rice, and some kimchi. Wrap lettuce leaf closed. Dip into gochujang and more sesame oil if preferred.

    Salmon with Lemon and Dill

    Protein-packed and rich in omega-3, salmon is a super food that’s a welcome addition to the dinner table. It goes perfectly well with lemon and dill, which are healthy and great for digestion.

    1 tablespoon olive oil
    4 cloves garlic, pounded
    2 salmon fillets, about 200 grams each, cleaned and scaled
    2 lemons, sliced
    Bunch of dill, leaves chopped
    Salt and pepper, to taste
    Bunch of French beans or green beans (12 to 16 pieces) 

    1. Heat olive oil in a pan over medium-high heat. Sauté garlic until fragrant. 
    2. Pat salmon dry with paper towels, and season with salt and pepper. Place salmon in the pan, skin side down. Lower heat to medium-low, and let it cook for about four to five minutes.
    3. Sprinkle dill. Add beans to the same pan. Use a spatula to try to lift the salmon. If it resists, let it cook a bit more. Once it can be easily lifted, flip salmon and cook for four minutes more or until cooked through. 
    4. Add more dill. Add lemon slices to the pan. Move beans around to cook evenly. Once done, transfer on to plates. Garnish with more lemon wedges. Serve with steamed white rice.

    Recipe twist: Use parsley or tarragon instead of dill, and calamansi instead of lemon. For the sides, opt for pechay or kai-lan (Chinese broccoli).

    Styling by Idge Mendiola. Photos by Toto Labrador. This article first appeared in the September 2015 issue of Smart Parenting Magazine. 

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