"I'll never make it," is a wail one hears frequently those days. With time at such a premium, every moment one can save will help. But that's no reason to turn all your family meals over to the nearest fast-food operation. What's needed is a good collection of quickie meals that are tasty, filling and simple to put together. Best of all, the majority of meals of this type are relatively inexpensive to prepare, and who doesn't want to save money these days?
We're not advocating serving your family meat loaf and hamburgers on alternate nights nine nights running. Instead, we suggest you arm yourself with a collection of recipes that are fast and easy to make and that require only a modicum of accompaniments.
Certainly meat loaf falls into this category, but why not let it be almost the whole meal rather than just the meat dish. An All-in-One Beef Loaf combines a variety of vegetables with the beef mixture and all are cooked at once in a single pan. Not only does this save clean-up time and effort, but very little else if needed to have a complete meal. A salad, warmed bakery rolls and ice cream or fruit will fill out the menu nicely. And if you make up the meat loaf mixture early in the morning or the night before and refrigerate it until you're ready to bake it, you'll have dinner on the table with very little fuss in about 45 minutes.
Another easy, quick dinner is a California Fish Dish. This combines turbot with avocado and tomato. Cooking time is only about 15 minutes. Serve it with steamed rice and mixed fruit salad that can double as dessert. Or, if you're in the market for something a little more exotic, try Walnut Chicken Pilaf. Brown rice, canned chunked chicken, walnuts and frozen artichoke hearts are combined in a flavorful casserole that, believe it or not, takes less than 40 minutes to prepare from beginning to end.
Other quick meals can be based on a simple creamed eggs and ham combination, or a baked crab casserole that blends crab, mushrooms, cheddar cheese and greren onion in a tarragon-flavored sauce.
No one can have too many quick meal suggestions on hand.
ALL-IN-ONE BEEF LOAF
(8 servings) 2 pounds ground beef 1 1/2 cups soft bread crumbs 2 eggs 2 cans (8 ounces) tomato sauce 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning, crushed 2 teaspoons salt 1 teaspoon chili powder Dash hot pepper sauce 1 can (8 ouces) whole-kernel corn, drained 1 package (10 ounces) frozen carrots and peas 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt 3/4 cup shredded processed American cheese
In bowl combine beef, bread crumbs, eggs, 1 can tomato sauce, Italian seasoning, salt, chili powder, hot pepper sauce and corn. Press into an oval 2-quart caserole. Hollow out center to make a well, leaving about 1-inch bottom. Bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes. Drain off excess fat. Rinse vegetables with hot water, drain and sprinkle with garlic salt. Place in center of meat. Pour remaining tomato sauce over loaf. Bake at 350 degrees another 20 minutes. Sprinkle with cheese and bake 5 minutes longer, or until cheese is melted.
CREAMED EGGS OVER HAM
(6 servings) 1/2 cup butter or margarine 6 tablespoons flour 1 quart milk or half and half 1 1/2 teaspoons salt 1/2 teaspoon paprika 1/8 teaspoon pepper 1/4 teaspoon hot pepper sauce 2 teaspoons finely grated onion 8 to 10 hard-cooked eggs, sliced Buttered toast points Ham steaks, cookded
Melt butter over low heat. Stir in flour. Add milk, stirring until smooth. Cook until mixture thickens. Add salt, paprika, pepper hot pepper sauce, onion and eggs. Heat thoroughly. Serve with toast points and over ham steaks.
CALIFORNIA FISH DISH
(4 to 6 servings) 3 tablespoons butter or margarine 1 medium onion, chopped 3 tablespoons flour 1/2 cup chicken broth 1 cup sour cream 1 ripe avocado, peeled and cut in cubes 2 tablespoons lime juice 1 pound turbot or other white fish, cut in cubes 1 tomato, cubed 1/2 teaspoon salt
Melt butter in skillet, over medium heat. Add onion and saute until limp. Stir in flour, cook 1 minute. Add broth, stirring until sacue thickens. Add a little sauce to sour cream, stir, then add back to pan. Sprinkle avocade cubes with lime juice. Set aside. Add fish to sauce, cook about 5 to 10 minutes. Gently stir in avocado, tomato and salt. Serve at once.
WALNUT CHICKEN PILAF
(6 servings) 4 cup sliced mushrooms 1 medium onion, chopped 1 clove garlic, chopped 2 tablespoons butter or margarine 1 can (13 3/4 ounces) chicken broth 1 cup water 2 cups instant brown rice 1 can (6 3/4 ounces) chunked chicken 1 package (9 ounces) frozen artichoke hearts, partially thawed 1/3 cup chopped walnuts 1 teaspoon salt 1/2 teaspoon rosemary
Saute mushrooms, onion and grrlic in butter until onion is soft. Add chicken broth and water. Heat to boiling. Add rice, chicken and artichoke hearts. Stir in walnuts, salt and rosemary. Cover and simmer 15 to 20 minutes or until rice is done. Garnish with mandarin oranges and parsley, if desired.
QUICK CRAB BAKE
(4 to 6 servings) 1/4 cup butter of margarine 2 tablespoons flour 1/4 teaspoon salt Pepper 1 tablespoon minced green onion 1 tablespoon minced parsley 1 teaspoon tarragon 1 cup milk 1 teaspoon grated lemon peel 2 tablespoons lemon juice 1 can (4 ounces) mushroom pieces, drained 2 cans (7 1/2 ounces) crab meat, drained and flaked 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese 1/4 cup buttered bread crumbs Lemon wedges (optional)
Melt butter in saucepan. Stir in flour, salt and pepper to taste to form a smooth paste. Add onion, parsley and tarragon and cook and stir 30 seconds. Gradually add milk, stirring until smooth. Bring to a boil over medium heat and boil, stirring. Stir in lemon peel and juice, mushrooms and crab. Spoon into individual baking dishes or 1 half-quart casserole. Sprinkle with cheese and bread crumbs. Bake at 375 degrees 10 to 15 minutes, or until top is lightly browned. Serve with lemon wedges.
SKILLET CHILI AND DUMPLINGS
(6 servings) 1 1/2 pounds ground beef 1 tablespoon oil 1/2 cup chopped onion 1/4 cup chopped green pepper 2 cans (11 ounces) chili beef soup 2 cups water 1 package (8 1/2 ounces) corn muffin mix 1 egg 1/3 cup milk Chopped parsley or sliced stuffed olives
brown beef in oil in a large, heavy skillet. Add onion and green pepper and cook until tender but not browned. Stir in soup and water. Bring to a boil. Combine muffin mix, egg and milk and stir until blended. Make 6 to 8 dumplins by dropping batter gently by large spoonsful around edge of boiling chili-beef mixture. Reduce heat to simmer, cover and cook 15 minutes. Sprinkle dumplings with parsley or olives.