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Video: Try these 3 easy weeknight dinners

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    >>> back at it. a series to make your life easier now that summer is over and we're falling back into our usual routines.

    >> we have three time saving recipes. gail simmons is food and wine special projects director.

    >> great to be here.

    >> it's officially time to get back into the routine.

    >> but it's also time to get back in the kitchen. you can still grill for a little while but you also want to start kind of getting your routine back in order. kids are in school and there's a lot to do.

    >> mac and cheese. how do you make it?

    >> this is really easy and this is a one pot meal. usually you take your pasta, you have to make it first separately, this is all in one pot. so i have tomato paste, onions, a little bit of thyme that i sauteed in my pot and i'm going to pour in two cups of half and half . it's rich.

    >> that's what i put in my coffee every morning.

    >> but it's delicious and two cups of boiling water that you preboiled and then literally put the pasta right in the boil. it cooks for 8 minutes and you pour a little more water and three different cheeses, just dump them in. dump it in, mix it up. broil it, done.

    >> and gain 10 pounds. i love it.

    >> it looks amazing.

    >> it's beautiful and it's all done in one dish so it's super easy.

    >> could you do skim milk or does that take away the fun.

    >> you can but it won't be as creamy and rich.

    >> so if you want to ruin it.

    >> sure, go ahead.

    >> i'm in. i'm just asking for a friend.

    >> i'm going to eat this.

    >> you eat that. bring that along.

    >> this is a beef stew . you can make it. it tastes better the next day or two days later. it freezes well. this is an asian ginger and soy inspired short rib stew. it made it here. takes a little while to make but if you make a large quantity you can not only eat it, like the next night for dinner, but it's easy to freeze. put it in containers for two or three portions each and it freezes for about a month and then you can warm it on the stove top adding stock if you need to and it's really easy and dinner is done.

    >> i wish people could smell it. it smells so good.

    >> you just put it on the stove top and let it sit.

    >> you want to brown your meet, put your flavorings in and then the delicious carrots and it's really hearty.

    >> okay. cool. now we have a spice rub over here. what are we using this for?

    >> it's super simple and really versatile. so i have toasted them already. i'm going to pour them into my spice grinder otherwise known as a coffee grinder which is a dual purpose machine i love in the kitchen. i have chili, garlic powder and salt. that's it. put them all together. and then, buzz it for just a second. your spice rub is done. you can keep it in a sealed container. it stays for at least a week. just keep it at a cool temperature and then you can rub it on salmon, beef, pork, i'm serving it with pomegranates and mint.

    >> put it on chicken?

    >> it goes great on chicken. it's an all use, all purpose rub.

TODAY recipes
updated 9/3/2013 5:47:41 PM ET 2013-09-03T21:47:41

Recipe: Stovetop mac-n-cheese

Ingredients
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons tomato paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon chopped thyme
  • 2 cups half-and-half
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 3 cups elbow macaroni (12 ounces)
  • 4 ounces each of Gruyère, sharp white cheddar and imported fontina cheese, shredded
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 2 tablespoons panko bread crumbs
Preparation

1. Preheat the broiler and position a rack 8 inches from the heat. Put a kettle of water on to boil. In a large, deep ovenproof skillet, melt the butter. Add the onion and cook over moderate heat, stirring frequently, until softened, 5 minutes. Add the tomato paste and thyme and cook for 1 minute.

Whisk in the half-and-half and 2 cups of hot water and bring to a simmer. Season with salt and pepper. Add the macaroni and cook over moderately low heat, stirring frequently, until the pasta is al dente, about 8 minutes. Stir in ¼ cup of boiling water along with the Gruyère, cheddar and fontina. Cover and let stand off the heat for 2 minutes, until the cheese is melted. Season with pepper and stir once or twice.

2. In a bowl, combine the Parmigiano and panko and sprinkle it over the pasta. Broil for 2 minutes or until golden. Serve.

Serving Size

Makes 6 servings

Recipe: Short rib stew

Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup low-sodium soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons chopped garlic
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
  • 1 small Asian pear, grated (1/4 cup)
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced, plus more for serving
  • 1/4 cup toasted sesame oil
  • 6 pounds English-cut beef short ribs (twelve 4-by-2-by-2-inch pieces)
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 quart low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 large daikon, peeled and cut into 1 1/2-inch chunks
  • 4 large carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 2 baking potatoes (1 1/2 pounds), peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 2 cups (12 ounces) chopped napa cabbage kimchi
  • 4 radishes, thinly sliced
  • Steamed white or brown short-grain rice, for serving
Preparation

1. In a bowl, whisk the soy sauce, garlic, ginger, pear, pepper, 2 sliced scallions and 2 tablespoons of the sesame oil. Add the ribs, turn to coat and let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes or refrigerate overnight, stirring occasionally.

Heat the canola oil in a large Dutch oven or enameled cast-iron casserole. Lift half of the short ribs from the marinade, brushing off the solids, and sear over moderately high heat until browned on all sides, about 5 minutes. Transfer the ribs to a baking sheet and repeat with the remaining ribs; reserve the marinade separately.

Add the onion and 2 tablespoons of water to the pot and cook, stirring to release the browned bits on the bottom, 2 minutes. Return the ribs and any accumulated juices to the pot. Add the reserved marinade, broth and 6 cups of water; bring to a boil. Cover and simmer over moderately low heat for 1 hour, skimming occasionally. Uncover and simmer for 1 hour longer, stirring and skimming occasionally.

Add the daikon, carrots and potatoes to the stew and simmer briskly until the meat is very tender, the vegetables are tender and the sauce is thickened, 30 minutes longer.

Meanwhile, in a medium nonstick skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the sesame oil over moderately high heat. Add half of the kimchi and cook, turning occasionally, until golden and lightly caramelized. Transfer to a plate. Repeat with the remaining sesame oil and kimchi.

Serve the stew topped with the kimchi and radishes and garnished with sliced scallions. Serve with steamed rice.

Recipe: Spice rub

Ingredients
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons caraway seeds
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons cumin seeds
  • 3 tablespoons ancho chile powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • Kosher salt
  • Three 3-pound (or four 2-pound) salmon fillets with skin, pin bones removed
  • Extra-virgin olive oil, for rubbing
  • 2 cups plain 2 percent Greek yogurt
  • 1 cup pomegranate seeds
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1/2 cup chopped mint
  • 1/4 cup minced scallions (about 4)
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
Preparation

In a small skillet, toast the caraway and cumin seeds over moderate heat, shaking the pan until the spices are fragrant, about 2 minutes. Transfer the caraway and cumin seeds to a spice grinder and let them cool completely. Add the chile and garlic powders and 1 tablespoon of salt, and grind to a powder.

Arrange the salmon fillets skin-side down on 2 large, rimmed baking sheets. Spread the spice mix on the salmon fillets, cover the fish with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 4 to 6 hours.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees and position racks in the upper and lower thirds. Lightly drizzle the fish all over with olive oil and rub it into the spice mixture to make a paste with the spices. Roast the fish for about 25 minutes (for 3-pound fillets), until the flesh just begins to flake; shift the pans from top to bottom and front to back halfway through roasting.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, combine the yogurt with the pomegranate seeds, chopped cilantro, chopped mint, minced scallions and lemon juice and season the raita with salt.

Using 2 large spatulas, carefully lift the fish off the pans, leaving the skin behind, and transfer to platters. Serve with the pomegranate raita.

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