Twice a week I have approximately an hour to get two kids through their homework, dressed and ready for practice, make sure all the needed practice necessities are in the car, make dinner, serve dinner, and wrangle a three year old simultaneously. Also, it’s guaranteed that AT LEAST 1/3 of the children at my table are going to complain about some aspect of something I made.
One night I explained it to my husband like this: Imagine you’ve got a presentation…you’ve researched and prepared, and gotten all the things you need ready. You go into a room where you’re about to give your presentation. Before even seeing the presentation one person already exclaims “I don’t like it”. Once you start the presentation someone else complains that they don’t like the font you used, and how could you ever think of using such a terrible font…you know they don’t like that font?! Finally, as you’re wrapping up, another person stands up, walks over, and just throws your computer on the floor. And you do this Every. Freaking. Day.
This is how I usually feel about weeknight meals. As much I love cooking and baking, there isn’t a whole lot of love for the typical weeknight meal.
I have a few kid friendly guarantees I tend to pull out that make things a bit smoother, but any time I try something new there is usually whining and gnashing of teeth.
Weeknight meals are hard. I make a lot of them, and am constantly adding to the rotation, changing things up. There have been a few hits, and lots of misses, but we press on. I want to take some of the guess work out of trying something new for you, so for the next couple days I’m going to give you a few of my kid friendly, quick and easy go to weeknight meals.
This is a quick stir fry that is easy to have on the table in 20 minutes or less with some prep work earlier that day.
I would have preferred this dish over rice, but somehow I had used all of my brown rice and forgot to replace it. Thankfully I had rice noodles in the pantry which worked in a pinch (and are actually SUPER fast since you just soak them in hot water for 10 minutes, and GF).
You can throw together the marinade on your own schedule, either the night before or that morning, just be sure to let the meat have at least 4 hours to marinate.
Flank Steak and Broccoli Stir Fry
1/3 cup vegetable or chicken stock (I used chicken)
1/2 cup Soy Sauce (GF, if you want a GF stir fry)
1 teaspoon fresh minced ginger
A few drops of Sriracha sauce (a little goes a long way!)
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1/3 cup rice wine vinegar
12-16 oz. thinly sliced flank steak
Combine all ingredients in quart size freezer bag, or bowl and add in flank steak. Make sure steak is covered with marinade and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, and up to all day.
About 1 pound of steamed broccoli
2 cloves of minced fresh garlic
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon fresh minced ginger
2 teaspoons cornstarch
Additional soy sauce and rice wine vinegar to taste
Chives or green onion, chopped (optional)
Cooked rice or noodles
When ready to make stir fry remove marinade from refrigerator. Pour off marinade into bowl and pat meat dry. Heat a large skillet to medium high. When it’s hot sear meat on either side, this should only take a minute or so if pan is hot enough. Be sure not to crowd the pan to allow meat to cook properly, this may require cooking in batches Remove meat to a plate, and reduce stovetop to low. Add both oils to the pan and let it warm. While the oil is heating, mix cornstarch into marinade. When marinade is ready, turn heat up on skillet back to medium. Add in ginger and garlic and sauté until you start to smell them. Pour in marinade stirring simultaneously. The marinade should thicken quickly. Keep stirring until it is completely thickened. If the sauce is still too thin, add about 1/2 teaspoon cornstarch to about 1 teaspoon water and slowly pour into sauce, or just let it simmer and reduce for a bit. If sauce is too thick, add a little soy sauce and rice wine vinegar (in 1 teaspoon increments). Once sauce is right consistency, check taste. Adjust seasonings as desired (I prefer mine more salty, so I added some more soy sauce and a bit more vinegar for extra tang) . Add meat, broccoli and chives into sauce and toss until just combined. Serve over rice or noodles.
This dish is endlessly versatile. Don’t want steak? Use pork or chicken! Broccoli not your thing? Peppers, and asparagus would be great too! You could mix in water chestnuts, or bamboo shoot and baby corn…seriously, the possibilities are never ending. Hopefully this go to stir fry can help liven up your weeknight meals and help them go a bit smoother.
If you’re interested in trying Asian food but not sure where to begin, I always tell people some of the intro ingredients are Sriracha sauce, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, toasted sesame oil, ginger and garlic. From there, you can make a ton of different dishes. I use all those ingredients in my fried rice, in a lot of the Thai salads I make, when I make my own dumplings or egg rolls (and the sauce I dip them in!), and lots of different marinades. Definitely worth the initial investment!
I KNOW making weeknight dinners are difficult, but Do the Hard Thing and make them anyways. As much effort and difficulty as it can be, when my kids write those little mothers day things at school, one of the main things they always mention is that I’m a good cooker and that they love our dinners together. They may say they don’t like aspects of the meal, but I think they mostly remember the good, not the bad….the conversations, and intentionality. The time we spend as a family around the table is important, and every night I’m glad I made the effort. Even if someone throws their food off the table.
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This post is part of the #write31days challenge hosted by The Nester.
Click here to read all the posts in the 31 days of Doing the Hard Thing series.