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Sheet pan suppers save the day

Weeknight dinners. Augh!

The kids have sports practice, music practice, choir, youth group, projects, homework. You’re working late, again, and you have your own project to polish for work the next day.

Time for a fast food run?

No way.

Take a little time before your regular shopping day to plan and you can have dinner on the table, and a dinner that is nutritious and filling, in less than half an hour.

If you spend some time on the weekend doing prep work, it could take as little as 20 minutes. And it doesn’t involve loading the slow cooker and worrying that your eight-hour day will be more like 12 and the food will disintegrate.

Sheet-pan suppers is what Food Network star Ree Drummond calls them. Call them that, call them quick, call them easy. Just do it.

First thing to stock up on is frozen peeled and deveined shrimp. From freezer to table, they’s cook in about 5 minutes, especially if you preheat the cooking sheet until it is screaming hot. The minute you put the shrimp on it, they should sizzle.

Keep boneless, skinless chicken breasts or boneless chicken thighs in the freezer. These will need a quick thaw, but if you cut the chicken small enough, it can cook in less than 20 minutes.

Sausages are another great go-to. Buy kielbasa or smoked sausage and slice it into discs. Or try some of the new chicken sausages.

Super-thin boneless pork chops are another quick and easy protein that can cook on a sheet pan with some veggies.

You could even use thinly sliced beef, as if you were doing fajitas or a stir-fry. For that matter, do fajitas and a no-stir, no-fry meal.

And, of course, it can be a all-veggie sheet, too, maybe topped with an egg or just some cheese.

Pick almost any vegetable. Squash and zucchini are fabulous cooked quickly, with seasonings and a touch of olive oil. Green beans roasted in the oven? Divine! A cup of frozen corn kernels will brighten up any meal.

And of course, sliced onions, a touch of garlic, shallots, green onions. Add broccoli florets, cauliflower, any color bell pepper, and for more adventrous eating, a jalepeno or other chile.

Seasonings can be as simple as salt and pepper. Add paprika for color, and smoked paprika for flavor. Experiment with cumin, coriander, curry powder, any dried spice, from thyme to oregano and beyond.

Use flavor enhancers like toasted sesame oil, soy sauce, worcestershire sauce, balsamic vinegar.

Stock your pantry with some of these items, if you don’t already have them, and rely on fresh and frozen veggies you can rinse under cool water and place on the pan.

With a few ingredients, you could have a different meal every night. Do curry chicken with chickpeas (garbanzos) and green beans one night. Next night, go Italian, with chicken covered in Italian dressing, some thinly sliced onions and peppers and a can of rinsed, drained white beans. Everyone seems to love southwest flavors, so try a taco seasoning on your chicken and add onions and sliced tomatos to the pan along with some kind of chili. Poblanos are mild and taste rich when roasted.

Mushrooms will work, too, if you want a pizza night — chicken, pizza or pasta sauce, pepperoni, mushrooms, green peppers.

Remember, it’s no fuss. So cut up veggies after you bring them home from the store and then slice up your protein of choice and just let your imagination wander.

This is also a good way for teens to fix dinner for the family, and a chance for them to learn what flavors go well together.

Thekitchn.com has great sheet pan supper ideas to get your started.

This recipe will take about 30 minutes. But it’s simple and should appeal to the whole family.

Chicken and Roasted Vegetable Sheet Pan Meal

1 1/2 pounds chicken thighs, skin on, but bones removed

1 pound small red potatoes, halved

1 tsp. kosher salt

1 Tbsp. maple syrup

1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard

1 pound broccoli, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Place a rimmed baking sheet in the oven while it is heating. Season the chicken and potatoes all over with salt (an pepper, if desired)

Place the chicken skin side down on the hot baking sheet (carefully). Add the potatoes around the edge and roast for 15 minutes.

Combine maple syrup and Dijon mustard in a bowl.

After 15 minutes, turn the chicken skin side up. Brush with maple-Dijon mixture. Add broccoli and season with a little salt.

Bake until chicken is crispy and the potatoes are cooked through, about 15 more minutes. Let cool 10 minutes on the sheet before serving.

Consider serving lemon wedges on the side for the brocoli and potatoes.

This next one is good enough for company, and can be served with rice.

Easy Sheet Pan Chili Garlic Roasted Shrimp and Broccoli

1 pound broccoli, cut into bite-size florets

1 Tbsp. vegetable oil

3 Tbsp. soy sauce or tamari

1 Tbsp. grated or minced fresh ginger

1 tsp. sambal or Asian chili-garlic sauce

2 Tbsp. Asian sesame oil

1 pound peeled, deveined shrimp

Salt

Pepper

Cooked rice, brown or white

1/4 cup thinly sliced scallions, for serving

Heat the oven to 400 degrees with a rack in the center.

Place the broccoli on a rimmed baking sheet, drizzle with the oil and toss to coat. Spread in an even layer and roast for 10 minutes.

Whisk soy sauce, ginger, chili-garlic sauce and sesame oil together in a small bowl. Set aside. Season shrimp with salt and pepper.

Add the shrimp and soy sauce mixture to the baking sheet, toss with the broccoli and spread into an even layer. Roast again, stirring halfway through, until shrimp is opaque and broccoli is tender, 6-8 minutes more.

Serve over rice and garnish with scallions.

Sheetpan Sausage, Zucchini and Squash dinner

1 pound kielbasa

1 medium zucchini

1 medium yellow squash

1 cup cherry tomatoes

1 Tbsp. olive oil

Salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and place a rimmed baking sheet in the oven while heating.

Slice the sausages on the diagonal, to give more space for browning.

Slice zucchini and squash in rounds.

Toss vegetables with olive oil, salt and pepper. Carefully remove pan from oven and place sausage on first, then the vegetables.

Bake for 15 minutes or until sausage browns and vegetables have softened. The little tomatoes will crack open and the juice makes a nice bit of pan sauce.

Remove pan from oven and let sit for a few minutes before serving. You can serve rice or noodles with this, if desired.

Veggies Galore Sheet Pan Supper

2 medium zucchini, sliced in rounds

2 yellow squash, sliced in rounds

1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved if large

1/2 pound fresh green beans

1 cup pre-shredded carrots

2 Tbsp. olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

2 springs fresh or 1 tsp. dried thyme

1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar

1 tsp. dried coriander

Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Use a bag of pre-shredded carrots. The matchstick-size pieces will cook quickly. Slice the rest of veggies and toss all in 1 tablespoon oil, salt, pepper to taste, coriander and balsamic vinegar.

Spread the remaining tablespoon of oil on a rimmed baking sheet, then place vegetables on the sheet. Sprinkle with thyme.

Bake in center rack of oven for 15 minutes, then stir and check for doneness. If needed, roast an additional five minutes.

Remove from oven and sprinkle liberally with freshly grated parmesan cheese.

This can be served with cooked quinoa, rice or pasta, if desired.

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