Cooking dinner has been tough lately. My 22-month-old loves to pull things apart, so by the time I’ve chopped and sautéed an onion, the toy shelf in the den is devoid of the toys I had just neatly stacked, the floor is full of said toys, and there may even be an image in chalk on the wall. I’ve tried everything from brand-new pick-up trucks to Elmo on TV and nothing holds his attention for more than a few minutes.
This is usually when my mom frowns and says “In my day, they weren’t afraid to contain children in playpens.” I don’t know who “they” are, but “they” mustn’t have had a climber. His feet don’t even feel the flimsy cardboard floor of the pack ‘n play before he clambers back over and breaks free again.
I can’t continue to run back and forth from stove to impending disaster area every night for forty-five minutes. I need a plan to make the dinner routine faster and smoother. Enter: Two-for-one meals. I make part of a meal carry over into the next meal so I don’t have to spend as much time prepping the second night.
This week, for example, I made a double batch of a flavorful Asian marinade. The first night, I cloaked country-style pork ribs with half the marinade, and served them topped with nectarine and cilantro salsa. The next night, I soaked some salmon in the remaining marinade, grilled it, and served the fish with sautéed spinach and soba noodles.
Makes 1 1/3 cups, enough to marinate 1 ½ pounds of food
Kitchen Tip: I doubled the recipe so I could use it twice. Reserve half of the marinade for another meal and store in a tightly-lidded container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
Kitchen Tip: Karmel adds 1 tablespoon Sriracha (2 T if you’re doubling the recipe) to the marinade, which I omitted to appease the younger set. I highly recommend adding this back in if your kids will tolerate spice or if you’re cooking for adults.
- 2 oranges, zested to yield 1 teaspoon zest, and squeezed for 1 cup juice
- 4 limes, zested to yield 2 teaspoons zest, and squeezed for ½ cup juice (read this for advice on how to juice a lime)
- 4 tablespoons lower sodium soy sauce
- 2 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 4 tablespoons Asian sesame oil
- 4 tablespoons canola oil
- 4 tablespoons grated fresh ginger (from a 4-inch piece)
- Combine the orange juice, lime juice, and soy sauce a medium bowl. Add the sugar and allow five minutes for it to dissolve. Add the zest, sesame oil, canola oil, and ginger and stir to combine.