Zara Abbasi — lawyer, baker, wife and mother of three — is sharing some fast, simple, mouth-watering recipes that will cut down on stress and crank up the taste.

But first she has some tips for all of us just trying to make it through this thing called life.

 

Zara's Simple Kitchen Rules:

1. For quick meals, I love to use frozen vegetables and pre-chopped vegetables in the produce department. These are game-changers, and the quality of frozen foods has come a long way. I even keep bags of frozen chopped onions in my freezer so I don’t have to sacrifice flavor just because I’m short on time. I also love the frozen rice options when I’m in a pinch! 

2. Garlic paste is one of my must-haves. I love fresh garlic, but sometimes don’t have the time to chop or mince lots of it. It tastes better than the jarred minced watery kind and is much more versatile. 

3. I love having at least one ready-to-go meal straight from my pantry. The chickpea curry (recipe below) is a great example of it because the three major ingredients are canned and easily accessible. 

4. Lastly, we’re all doing the best we can. So cook what you and your family enjoy and don’t worry about anyone else’s option on the matter.

 

Now on to the menu...

 

Salmon With Spinach & Tomato Cream Sauce 

Ingredients: 

  • 4 pieces of salmon 
  • salt and pepper to taste 
  • 2 tsp. dried oregano
  • 2 tsp. onion powder
  • 2 tsp. garlic powder 
  • 2-3 tsp. olive oil 
  • 2-3 cups fresh baby spinach 
  • 1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes 
  • 1 cup vegetable or chicken broth
  • 1 cup heavy cream 

Directions: 

  1. Mix all dry seasonings together, season both sides of salmon pieces and set aside. 

  2. Heat olive oil in a large sauté pan and sear both sides of the salmon pieces. You don’t have to cook all the way through. Remove and set aside. 

  3. Add tomatoes and cook on medium-high heat until they’re almost bursting. Then add in the spinach. Mix together. 

  4. Add in the broth and scrape bottom of pan to release the fond (those yummy, cooked-on bits) and simmer for 1-2 minutes. 

  5. Add in the cream, return the salmon to the pan and cover. Simmer on low heat for 10-12 minutes or until salmon has cooked through and sauce has thickened. 

  6. Serve with mashed potatoes, rice or roasted vegetables. 

 

Sheet Pan Autumn Chicken Dinner 

Ingredients: 

  • 4-6 pieces of chicken breasts, slightly flattened 
  • 2 tsp. paprika
  • 2 tsp. brown sugar
  • 2 tsp. onion powder
  • 2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 2 tsp. dried sage
  • 2 tsp. dried thyme
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1-2 sweet potatoes, chopped 
  • 4 cups Brussel sprouts, washed and sliced
  • 1/4 cup good maple syrup 
  • 2 tbsp. good mustard 
  • 1/4 cup + 3 tbsp. olive oil (divided) 
  • Optional: 1 cup chopped pecans 

Directions: 

  1. Preheat oven to 400â"‰. 
  2. Mix all dry seasonings together and season both sides of the chicken breasts. Place sweet potatoes and Brussel sprouts on a large sheet pan or baking pan, and nestle chicken breasts between vegetables. Drizzle everything with 1/4 cup olive oil and move vegetables and chicken around to coat all sides. Sprinkle any remaining seasoning over vegetables.
  3. Bake at 400â"‰ for 15 minutes, then flip chicken and mix vegetables. Cook an additional 10-15 minutes depending on how thick the chicken is. Cook until internal temperature reaches 160â"‰. Cook vegetables until both are fork tender and browned. 
  4. While chicken and vegetables are baking, combine maple syrup, mustard and remaining oil. Mix well. 
  5. Remove chicken from pan and allow to rest before slicing. 
  6. Top the cooked veggies with optional pecans and half the sauce. Slice chicken and place back in the pan. Stir to incorporate and add additional sauce if necessary. 
  7. Serve with a side salad or good crusty bread. 

 

Chickpea Curry in a Hurry 

Ingredients: 

  • 1/2 red onion, diced 
  • 2 tsp. garlic paste 
  • 1/2 tbsp. garam masala (or more, depending on preference) 
  • 2 tsp. cumin powder 
  • salt and pepper to taste 
  • 1 can diced tomatoes (14 oz.)
  • 1 can chickpeas (14 oz.), drained and rinsed
  • 1 1/2 cup heavy cream or coconut milk 
  • Optional: 1/4 cup chopped cilantro 

Directions: 

  1. Add all ingredients into a medium pot and cook together on medium-low heat for 15-20 minutes or until flavors come together. Check for seasonings. 

  2. Serve with basmati rice or naan. 

 

Zara Abbasi is the pastry chef and recipe developer for Zara Made It. Follow her food adventures on Instagram at @zaramadeit.

 

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