By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great local journalism.
In the Kitchen: Quick weeknight dinners
Pork chops

If you think recipes that come together quickly are not as good as ones you “slaved all day making,” keep reading. These dishes come together fast and taste every bit as delicious as something that takes hours to make.

 I absolutely love crab cakes and have made them many times, but let’s face it, crab is so expensive. 

Enter canned, wild caught salmon. These salmon cakes are a snap to make and make a simple thing such as canned salmon taste special. I like to serve them on a lightly dressed bed of spring greens.


Salmon cakes

3 cans wild caught salmon, drained

1 cup frozen corn kernels, thawed

1 egg, lightly beaten

1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs

5 tablespoons good quality tartar sauce

2 tablespoons jarred roasted red peppers, finely chopped

1 tablespoon Italian parsley, minced

1 teaspoon lemon zest

1 ½ teaspoon Old Bay seasoning

1 tablespoon lemon juice

3 tablespoons olive oil


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. In a bowl, mix salmon, corn, egg, 3 tablespoons panko, tartar sauce, roasted red pepper, parsley, lemon zest, and ¾ teaspoon Old Bay seasoning. Form into eight patties and freeze for eight minutes. Put remaining bread crumbs and ¾ teaspoon Old Bay seasoning in a bowl. Coat salmon patties in seasoned bread crumbs, pressing the crumbs onto the salmon cakes. Heat olive oil in a skillet (you may need to do this in batches), and cook the salmon cakes about 3-4 minutes per side until golden. Place on a baking sheet and bake in the oven for about eight minutes.

 •    •    •

If you use thick pork chops, you might want to brine them for a few hours in salty water. I know that seems like an extra step, but you will be rewarded with seasoned, juicy pork chops. I like to use bone-in pork chops for added flavor too.


Baked pork chops

 1 ½ cups panko breadcrumbs

5 tablespoons olive oil

3 tablespoons parmesan cheese, finely grated

2 teaspoons Italian seasoning

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

4 thick pork chops, preferably bone-in

Lemon wedges


Preheat oven to 450 degrees. In a bowl, combine panko breadcrumbs, oil, parmesan, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper. Spray the pork chops with non-stick cooking spray, or brush with a little oil. Coat pork chops with panko, pressing into the chops. Bake the pork chops for about 30 minutes (depending on the thickness) until the internal temperature is 165 degrees. Serve with lemon wedges.

 •    •    •

This creamy, beefy, cheesy casserole is always a crowd pleaser. In addition, this makes for great leftovers.

Chicken thighs are so underrated. They are inexpensive, flavorful and almost impossible to overcook. This recipe is a snap to put together and has so much flavor. Just make sure you use pure maple syrup.


Maple mustard chicken thighs

4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs

3 tablespoons whole grain mustard

1 clove garlic, minced

1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1/3 cup pure maple syrup


Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a bowl, combine mustard, garlic, marjoram, salt, pepper and maple syrup. Place chicken thighs on a rimmed baking sheet that has been sprayed with nonstick cooking spray. Spoon mustard mixture evenly on top of each thigh. Bake for 45-50 minutes until chicken is cooked through.

 •    •    •

Beef and cheddar bake

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

3 cups wide egg noodles

1 ½ cups sour cream

1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

12 ounces ground beef (or you can use ground turkey)

1 red bell pepper, seeded and minced

4 green onions, sliced

1 tablespoon tomato paste

1 (14.5) can petite tomatoes

1 ½ teaspoon Italian seasoning

2 cups cheddar cheese, grated


Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Spray a 2-quart baking dish with nonstick cooking spray and set aside. 

Cook pasta according to package directions until al dente. Drain pasta and pour into prepared casserole dish. Add sour cream, parmesan, salt and pepper. Heat oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. 

Add ground beef and cook until beef is no longer pink. Add bell pepper and green onions and cook until vegetables are soft, about five minutes. Add tomato paste, tomatoes, Italian seasoning and bring to a boil. 

Pour meat mixture into casserole dish with noodles. Add grated cheddar and stir to combine. Bake casserole for 20 minutes, until hot and bubbly.