Your Go-To, Emergency, I’m in a Rush Dinner

I was talking with a neighbour of mine the other afternoon. Mainly we were walking around my garden as I snapped things off and we ate them. So a lot of the talk went something like this … “Mmmm, ohhhhh, smack, crunch, mmmmm”.

After stuffing her and her kids with ground cherries, Sweet 100 tomatoes and green beans she had to run. It was soccer night. They’d be having a quick snack and not eating until they got home from soccer. She had the same dilemma that every person around the world has around 4:00 in the afternoon.

What the hell are we going to eat for dinner.

I haven’t been great with it lately, but as most of you know, I usually write a weekly menu on Friday night. That gives me the weekend to buy my groceries for the week and frees up every afternoon at 4:00 for helping the elderly cross the road. I pretty much do everything I can to get them on the other side of the street; they’re pretty grabby with my tomatoes those elderly people.

But even when I do write my weekly menu the odd time something comes up and I can’t make the meal I was planning to. I need to make something FAST.

I NEED TO MAKE MY GO-TO, EMERGENCY, I’M IN A RUSH DINNER. This could be due to any number of reasons including transporting a family member to the emergency room, a sudden desire to learn how to yodel – in Yiddish, or just plain laziness.

When any of those things come up I make …


Easy, delicious, and fast. Even with the soup being homemade, it can be done in 10 minutes.  Just boil some broccoli in chicken broth, put it in the blender and add salt & pepper.  DONE.

Since I get some of my best ideas from the comments section of my blog, and … I’m sure you do too … I ask of you now …




I don’t care if it’s frozen pizza or cereal.  Just lemme know …

Have a good weekend!  Yodel-eh-hee-chutzpah







  1. Jenny says:

    We always have eggs in the fridge so my go-to need-dinner-now meal is usually a microwaved egg on toast. Or cereal. Or a frozen pizza if we have it, but i try not to keep frozen pizza on hand bc otherwise we eat pizza every night till it’s gone. ^_^ We’re fancy like that.

  2. Kathy says:

    I’ll nuke some refried beans, spread it over whole wheat tortillas, chop up onion, peppers, jalapenos or whatever veggies I have, throw in some sour cream and salsa and wrap it all up. Yum.

  3. Susan says:

    That’s my life! One of the joys of being single, independent and too lazy to invite people for supper is that you can live on emergency, in-a-rush food forever. My latest fave is corn tortilla chips on a baking pan, shreds or slices of any leftover (barbecued) meat, lots of cheese, bake at 425 for about 5 minutes. Sprinkle with chopped tomatoes and jalapeno peppers from the garden and a little sour cream. Last week, I bought a package of 5 boneless pork loins on sale, BBQ’d them all, ate one for supper and saved the rest for salads and the above thingy.
    Another favourite is variations on your spiced pecan salad. I keep a bottle of the dressing on hand, either buy local bagged lettuce mix or raid my little garden, usually have brie in the fridge and use whatever nuts I have, and nuke a chicken breast to slice up in the salad. I’ll never buy salad dressing again – Thank you, Karen|!
    Absolute favourite when I have local or home-grown veggies – toss them all with olive oil, sprinkle with a little herb/garlic sea salt and either roast or BBQ. Oh bliss! That was supper last night and I roasted some of the cherry tomatoes from my garden with broccoli, cauliflower and some baby potatoes from my fish tub container garden.
    It’s only 9:15 atlantic time and I’m drooling and surrounded by chocolate bars in the store.

  4. megan says:

    Pancakes! Fast easy and everyone will eat them

  5. Moe says:

    when the garden is cranking and there is NO TIME AT ALL just a tomato sandwich with onion, mayo, lettuce…
    to use up eggplant I’ll chop them into chunks, sauté in olive oil, then toss in the tomatoes, cook down with whatever else is there, green beans, peppers, squashes… just walk outside with a bowl and collect dinner, never the same two days in a row!

  6. karol says:

    No cook means (to me) not having to go in the kitchen for more than 30 seconds to fix something to eat. So, it’s cereal for dinner.

  7. Mary Jo says:

    Left overs from the fridge. One of our family’s favorites is left over grilled hamburgers broken up(fake meatballs) heated up in tomato sauce over pasta and a little grated cheese on top. Spaghetti and meatballs with out having to make all those little meatballs. So good I actually make extra hamburgers when I grill just to have left overs to make this.

  8. Suanne says:

    If you know it’s going to be a “quick dinner night” ahead of time, thow 3 or 4 (more if you need to) chicken breasts in the crockpot and cover with one can each of cream of onion, cream of chicken and cream of celery soup . That’s it. When you get home boil some pasta or rice to go with and you’re done…..AND it is soooo yummy.

  9. Nancy says:

    I have a recipe my mom used from Bisquick called Oven Pancake. It is baked in a 9 x 13 pan and in the last 5 minutes topped with crumbled bacon and cheese. Yummy.

  10. Kimberley says:

    Summer is the easiest for fast meals around here. Slice up a tomato and a cucumber, whip up some tuna salad, slap it on some oat nut bread with cheese (usually grilled and melted, respectively) and we’re good. If I have a bit more time, I bake some butterball potatoes in a smidge of peanut oil and load them up with all the fixins.

    Winter is usually some sort of stir fry. Super fast when everything is at hand.

  11. Maureen says:


  12. Beckie says:

    angel hair pasta with melted butter & freshly grated Locatelli

    add plenty of cracked black pepper and ~yum~!!!

  13. Heather says:

    In the summer it is my own tomatoes on toast. Heirloom or cherries or whatever. Sometimes just sliced (i sprinkle feta on if in the mood) or other times I chop and season for a quick bruschetta. I make my own bread and it is yummy. I usually butter the bread before adding sliced tomatoes in case you want to try it. in the fall mushrooms are good too but they have to be sautéed and seasoned. glad you are back Karen xo

  14. Kim says:

    cottage cheese :)

  15. Andreae says:

    Frittata, especially right now when we’re knee-deep in CSA veggies. I make one big one (sometimes with sausage, or leftover ham) in the large cast-iron pan, and then another that’s just eggs and maybe some cheese in a small pan for the vegetable-averse preschoolers. Salad on the side, maybe some bread, aaaaand we’re done.

  16. gabrielle says:

    Huevos Rancheros – fresh pepper on soft scrambled eggs w/ chunks of old cheddar added late so it is just soft and melting; serve with salsa with some fresh cilantro and warmed tortillas or toast. As Speedy says: Arriba!

  17. Erica says:

    Grilled cheese, breakfast, quessadillas…..

  18. Melissa says:

    Quesadillas, as I’ve almost always got tortillas, cheese and salsa in the house. The other fillings change, based on what else is available. Side of rice or beans (or rice and beans, ’cause I’m creative like that!) and possibly a veggie or salad.

    And in the summer, we eat a lot of toasted no-knead bread with butter, topped with fresh tomatoes from out back. When we’ve finished the loaf, we eat some cheese or eggs (or eggs and cheese, ’cause you know…) along with some cucumber slices, and we’re good to go.

    • Karen says:

      See? I feel like Quesadillas take a long time! So much chopping. Green onion, refried beans (k you don’t chop those), tomatoes, cheese, jalapeno peppers … I love them though. They’re one of my other go-to dinners IF I have some in the freezer. I always make extra and stick them in there. Now I want quesadillas. at 9 a.m. You’re a jerk. :) ~ karen

      • jamie says:

        You obviously make delicious but time consuming quesadillas, Karen. I add cheese to a tortilla and dunk it in homemade salsa after I cook it in the microwave. ;)

  19. Zoe says:

    So if I was by myself – I’d probably eat rice crackers with butter and cheese if I had cheese, if not Bovril…then realize about 20 minutes later I just ate air – find some chocolate, eat that – possibly feel guilty and find some veg and eat that..

    We usually keep an emergency frozen pizza which I will pimp out with whatever veg we have in our fridge or it could be “packet noodles” – terrible I know but my husband loves some Ramen ( me I eat some GF rice ones that aren’t half as bad – justify justify!)

    On the whole we “try” to batch Sunday so we don’t run into problems but it does happen.

  20. magali says:

    my two go-to’s are in the post! either grilled cheese or cereal.

    I made your szechwan carrot soup for the first time yesterday :) Unfortunately, I also do not have an interesting story to go with it.

  21. monica says:

    A Boboli pizza crust, 1Tbsp of olive oil & 1 Tbsp softened butter mixed together with garlic paste, spread that on crust, Chopped fresh tomatoes (drain off extra juice), thin slices of onion, shredded mozzarella and a few shakes of dried basil. Bake 8 – 9 minutes. This crust fits perfectly on the Pampered Chef pizza stone. Put the stone in the oven when you turn the oven on to pre-heat. Prepare the pizza on a cutting board, then slide it onto the stone when the oven is hot. While that bakes throw together a simple garden salad.
    For dessert Oikos greek yogurt, the Key Lime flavor.
    This is something I could eat every day!

  22. Amanda says:

    Black Bean Quesadillas. So good.

    Rinse and drain one can of black beans and mix in a bowl with about half a cup of your favorite salsa. Just enough to fully coat all the beans. Next add a little bit of olive oil and some crushed red pepper to the bean and salsa mix (skip the crushed red pepper if you don’t like the heat). If you have some fresh cilantro add that too. Stick that bowl in the microwave for about 3 minutes.

    In a small frying pan, at medium to high heat, melt some butter (butter works best for this) and place one corn tortilla in the pan. I use corn tortillas because I need it to be gluten free but you can use flour as well. Then grate some cheese, I love extra sharp cheddar for this, and sprinkle the shredded cheese onto the corn tortilla. On top of the cheese, spoon on your bean and salsa mix, as much or as little as you want, and then top it off with another corn tortilla. As soon as the tortilla on the bottom gets nice and brown, flip the whole thing like you would a grilled cheese sandwich and brown the other side just the same.

    I usually then cut it into fours, it cools off faster and is easier to eat with your hands. Add more salsa, hot sauce, sour cream, guacamole or whatever else you think sounds good or happen to have in the fridge. This recipe is great because you can add anything you want to it and it’s still delicious. I had some left over taco meat one time and added it to the bean and salsa mix, oh man was that good, so you get the idea.

  23. Natika says:

    I’m not much of a recipe and specific food maker, so my go-to food isn’t that different than my normal dinner. Lots of stir-fries and salads featuring whatever meat is in my freezer and whatever veggies are in my fridge.

    It’s really all in the sauces or spices when you go this route. I dump salsa and cumin on top of everything if I want a Mexican-ish flavour; curry powder, cumin and butter if I want an Indian-ish flavour; Chinese soya sauce, pepper and corn starch if I want a Chinese-ish flavour; peanut butter, salsa and milk if I want a Thai-ish flavour etc.

    One of the reasons I go this route is because I always buy the bargain just-about-to-go-off vegetables (they have this in Japan), so I never know what I’m going to get AND I go to the grocery store nearly everyday just for the exercise (I walk or bike there).

  24. Kerri says:

    Quesadillas! Gawd, so cheesy good. No particular kind, that’s what’s great. If we’re in a rush, just add whatever is in the fridge. Super quick.

  25. Bonnie G. says:

    I’m with Jern – OMG Karen, you must try a tomato sandwich (no toast) on fresh bread! There,s nothing like this in the Summer when homegrown, preferably heirloom tomatoes are so plentiful.Just add mayo and some S&P-yummy!
    I’m not sure but this may be a regional tradition in the States. Anyone know?

    • Marti says:

      I think it IS regional and mostly Southern. My Southern Mother raised us to think they were wonderful, but the fresh, hot, crusty “no knead” bread sliced on Day Two (if there’s any left) is perfect.

      Equally good to some of us is a quick sliced fresh cucumber sandwich. No tea needed, it’s just great.

      Other than that, it’s omelets (always have eggs, mushrooms and cheese) or quesadillas, depending on how much longer I want to be up.


  26. Amber says:

    I go to mom’s.

    • Shawn says:

      Nice! My mom comes here.. along with every single child I have. That would be 3 I gave birth to and 5 fosters and all but one of them are over 20 and live in their own homes. I think I may be an abused mommy. :)

  27. Adrienne says:

    Ever make your grilled cheese with challah bread? What a difference it makes!

    • Karen says:

      Hmm. I don’t think I have. Now I’m gonnna have to go out and get some challah. LOVE challah. Haven’t had it in ages. ~ karen!

      • Chris says:

        Make the challah slices ahead of time like you would make French toast(lightly grill) and put gouda in between, then grill again. To die for!!

  28. SusaninPeckham says:

    I like hard-cooked egg on toast. I usually have a few hard-cooked eggs in the fridge so when I need a quick dinner, I toast and lightly butter some bread, peel then slice the eggs and lay them artfully on the toast. A bit of salt and pepper….yum. It’s a good mix of textures and full of protein so keeps me from feeling hungry half an hour later.

    I also like beans on toast (altho the toast is optional)…Heinz baked beans dumped into a bowl and microwaved to heat them up. Fry up an egg. Mix a dollop of hot sauce or peri peri sauce into the beans, then top with the egg. Toast provides a vehicle for eating it, but it’s equally yummy just eaten with a spoon.

  29. Amanda says:

    We had our emergency go-to dinner tonight. 2 poached eggs an top of toasted bread with lots of good butter, with a side of cottage cheese.

    Sometimes the go-to is an omelette with veggies and cheese with sliced apples on the side.

    Eggs are my favorite easy/fast dinner, but your grilled cheese and broccoli soup option sounds delish! Looking forward to reading more comments and getting new ideas!

  30. Pru says:

    We often have spaghetti with cheese on top. Cook the spaghetti, add butter and seasoning, put in a dish and add grated cheese. Put under the grill until bubbling. (Thought I would add the recipe just in case!) Not the most nutritious but quick and filling. Quite good with a dollop of ketchup or salad cream. Yum!

  31. Lizzy Hayden says:

    Rice(in rice cooker-20min) and Chicken(frozen ‘tenders’ cooked in a bit of oil and broth and lots of garlic). Accompanied by whatever veggie is in the fridge. In a pinch the babes are happy with peas/corn. One of them likes butter on her rice, the other Greek(which is really a generic salad dressing labeled as GREEK dressing). It’s not anything like actual Greek dressing but it is superb on everything else! 20 min and BA bam! Dinner. I always make a little extra so we have lunch tomorrow too. ;)

  32. Therese Bourne says:

    Hard boil 2 eggs – 5 minutes. Meanwhile microwave 2 sachets of microwave brown rice – 90 seconds each, and put in a large salad bowl to cool. Dice a few tomatoes and a cucumber. Open a can of tuna in oil and drain. Peel and chop the eggs. Mix all together and dress with vinaigrette. About 10 minutes. Feeds 4. If you’re feeling fancy you could add a handful of pine nuts or some capers.

  33. carey says:

    Pesto pasta, especially great in the summer, with home grown basil and cilantro. The plus side is, I could eat this every freakin’ day, it never gets old!

  34. Jen says:

    I sound like a wimp. Ramen Noodles, draining the water, and dumping about half the seasoning packet right on the noodles.

    I even figured out how to microwave the noodles, because 5 minutes to boil water is way to long for a quick dinner.

  35. Tracie says:

    My go to meal is chicken ceasar salad with garlic toast. I made your garlic toast once for company, and Holy, did I get the compliments! I think I bought the Calabrese bread, and followed the directions to a tee….I really should treat myself more like company…. I bought a tube of anchovy paste months ago to make my own dressing, (I currently use Rene’s Mighty Ceasar), but eventually I intend to make my own Karen’s Dressing….I recently looked through your recipes and bought an avocado so I could make myself guacamole. That was yesterday so I still have hope…..

  36. Tempeh, whatever fresh veggies I have on hand put in a bowl with rice and soya sauce. It’s comforting and yummy and it also leaves me with one dish and a skillet to clean at the end of it.

  37. andrea meyers says:

    wow, grilled cheese and broccoli soup still seem really time consuming. emergency heading out is either a pb&j or a microwaved quesidilla!

  38. Hazel says:

    Pasta and pesto or alla carbonara, known in our house as Sketti Nananana, which is what my then 3 year old son used to call it.

    I make it with bacon, egg and parmesan; no cream. I occasionally add onion, garlic, peas and/or finely chopped courgette (zucchini). Inauthentic but tasty.

  39. Anna says:

    Cucumber, ham, and soy sauce stir fry….everyone is absolutely disgusted by it, but I love it and it’s so quick. Sometimes I add chopped up potato if I’m feeling really wild.

    My sister’s friend tried some 12 years ago and still mentions it every time we run into each other. He claims it was the grossest thing he ever ate…and I’m pretty sure he once ate a junebug for $5.

  40. Janet says:

    Our go-to is omelettes. Usually with goat cheese, tomato and whatever other veggies I happen to have – asparagus, broccoli…fast and yummy. Now I’m craving a grilled cheese sammy though.

  41. Laura says:

    BLTs baby. With avocado if I’ve got some. Yummy!

    • Denise Leavens says:

      We had these last night! SO yummy. (Full disclosure: I am on a yeast-less, sugarless diet so I have my BLT and A on a bed of spinach.)

  42. Jcrn says:

    We’re about to have record heat next week. This is my favorite, non cook meal, especially good on hot summer days : tomato sandwiches, fresh strawberries with yogurt/vanilla sauce, perhaps a bit of strawberry sorbet and pound cake for dessert. . Simply slice tomatoes (I like heirloom tomatoes), add mayo and put between slices of the best bread you can find, I keep cooked bacon in the fridge and freezer so I add some if I’m in the mood and throw on some fresh basil if any is around. The vanilla sauce is simply vanilla yogurt with vanilla extract to taste plus scraped seeds from a vanilla bean ( optional) . Sweeten if desired. All of this takes less than 10 minutes. For heartier eaters add a store bought quiche.

    • Karen says:

      Do you toast the bread? Just curious. I’ve never had a sandwich that’s *just* tomatoes. I think I’d need it toasted. Maybe I’ll forgo the sandwich and just eat the jar of mayo. ~ karen!

      • Adrienne says:

        Tomato sandwiches are heavenly. I do like to toast the bread. Though I don’t keep sandwich bread much anymore, we do buy the sandwich thins. I sometimes swap mayo for edamame hummus, which is tasty and feels a bit healthier. On the not as healthy days, a big slice of whatever cheese we have is also good, but only with the mayo version.

        My quick dinner is always eggs in some form, usually scrambled with toast.

      • JBB says:

        I used to say how much I loved those warehouse stores, because where else could I buy a bucket of mayo and a spoon?
        (I never actually did that.)

      • Tigersmom says:

        I realize I’m not the person your asking, but having survived n entire summer on mostly heirloom tomato sandwiches I’m going to chime in.

        After slicing the tomatoes I rest mine for a minute on a paper towel while lightly coating the untoasted bread with mayo. Between this step and the mayo the bread doesn’t get soggy. It also probably helps that this sandwich disappears ridiculously quickly. And salt and pepper are a must on the tomatoes. Yum.

        I’m not above having cereal for dinner. It used to be my go to when I worked in the restaurant business and would get home too late and too hungry to cook anything. There is not a whole lot that is more instant than cereal.

      • Shel says:

        ohhh…as a kid: fresh sliced tomatoes (still warm from the garden), one slice of American cheese, two pieces of white sandwich bread…no condiments and no toasting…Summer!!

      • Mary says:

        We eat these too. The tomatoes make the bread soggy- and it’s delicious. Toasting it would take away from the experience.

      • Molly says:

        Toasted sourdough, a good dose of mayo, sliced heirloom tomatoes and a ton of freshly ground pepper = HEAVEN.

      • ~Kim says:

        Not in the South!! FRESH white bread and REAL mayo — diet stuff won’t do with a true tomato sandwich.

      • Chrissy says:

        I have a version of this that I eat often: Half a toasted bagel with a generous smearing of light cream cheese, thick sliced tomatoes and a sprinkling of coarse black pepper.

        • korrine says:

          Yes! Or I will do goat cheese and basil (if I have it growing) topped with the tomato, a tiny drizzle of evoo, and pepper.

      • Tory Gray says:

        <3 tomato sandwiches! I toast slices of good sourdough bread, add mayo and tomatoes, and throw on avocado if I have any on hand.

        Delicous and fast!

      • Laura Bee says:

        Growing up my whole family ate toasted tomato sandwiches. I am odd & don’t like fresh tomatoes. But if I did – I’d eat them on toast.

      • Jcrn says:

        If you toast the bread and it adds a deeper flavor. If. It, you can avoid sogginess by spreading olive oil lightly on each slice.

        Other times, if the weather is hot (we’re about to have temps over 100 next week) I don’t even use bread because my appetite wanes.

        To me, summer “tastes” like fresh tomatoes picked from the vine (preferably some variety of heirloom), sliced, and mixed with just enough salt, pepper, and mayo to accent (not hide) the tomato flavor.

        If I do put the tomatoes between bread, I usually add something like fresh basil or another herb .perhaps onion. Perhaps avocado. Perhaps guacamole.

        I also love Caprese Salad or whatever it is called. Tomatoes, mozzarella, a little olive oil and Balsamic vinegar and basil. Layer the tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil. Sprinkle the olive oil, balsamic over it. Easy. Just be sure to use the best balsamic you can afford.

        But honestly, if

      • Sera says:

        Love tomato sandwiches!! I, however, skip the mayo and add avocado and arugula. The best sandwiches ever!

    • Sarah In Illinois says:

      YES! Tomato sandwiches!

      Two slices of bread (untoasted) spread on butter, then layer tomato slices and add salt. That’s it!

    • LeeAnne says:

      How do you manage to keep cooked bacon???? My hat’s off to you Jcrn. Mmmmmm bacon. If it wasn’t frozen and raw, I’d eat some now.

      • Kristin says:

        I bake several packages of applewood-smoked bacon on a sheet pan or two in the oven (you can slightly overlap the slices; they shrink apart as they cook.) Drain the fat into a glass jar (for future use to make scrambled eggs), then cool the bacon, place in a ziplock bag, put into the cheese drawer of the fridge, remove a strip or two as needed. It reheats nicely in a skillet or even the microwave.

    • Shawn says:

      I do the tomato and lettuce sandwiches on toast for a quick meal too. Of course I’ve been known to just grab a tomato or two from the garden and call it dinner.

      • Jcrn says:

        LeeAnne- well…we normally wouldn’t be able to keep bacon around, not if our oldest 2 sons still lived at home. But we generally use it as a condiment since we got scolded about cholesterol by our doc. So I keep it cooked and frozen by the slice.

        And also…our youngest son came from a Romanian orphanage when he was 5 and he HATED meat. They mostly ate soup so the food would stretch to feed everyone. .

        Now he is over 21 and he still hates meat (mostly) except when it is in soup so I always have a crockpot full of some kind of soup going- chicken or vegetable or beef or potato. So I use the bacon in the potato soup. But he doesn’t like it plain. He is the only person I’ve met who hates plain cooked bacon.

  43. Jan says:

    Quesadillas with whatever is left in the fridge. Always different–always great.

  44. Meghan says:

    I love tomato soup I make it with almond milk a pat of vegan margarine and dill. So tasty and quick. Sometimes I add a sandwich with lettuce avocado veg mayo tomato and salt and pepper.

  45. Mindy says:

    Pasta with lots of garlic and olive oil and a chunk of bread. If I’m lucky, it’s summer and I have tomatoes and basil in the garden. Or pesto in the freezer from summer. And feta or something equally fantastic in the cheese drawer. Mmmm, cheese.
    Although, the other night, I stood in my kitchen, that is literally studs, subfloor, and a stove, and said those exact same words. Only there was an expletive. And I ended up doing onions, garlic, and cubed potatoes in a skillet. Then I added chopped up link breakfast sausage and threw it in till it was crispy. Then I poured some eggs over everyone and made like a potato-sausage-scramble. With cheese, of course. I whipped up some pancakes with cinnamon, nutmeg and shredded zucchini and dinner was served. It did not suck at all. Even after all the cussing.

  46. Trysha says:

    Steak tacos. Steak in a cast-iron on the stove, dice it up (it makes a little go a long way), warm corn tortillas over the gas burner. Top with cheese, tomatoes, cilantro and green chile.

    Brinner (breakfast for dinner)

  47. Dana says:

    Breakfast-for-dinner! Fried eggs, toast, and some chopped veg. Tonight’s variation was an omelette with kale, tomatoes, and cheese.

  48. shauna says:

    I chop up some romaine (always buy the big bag from Costco), chop up some tomatoes, throw them in a salad bowl for 1 with any protein I have on hand – usually some cold chicken, salmon or mixed nuts (also from Costco). Then top with a dollop of cottage cheese if I have it and some balsamic vinegar – takes about 2 minutes and the same to eat.

  49. Laura Watt says:

    We make lots of soup if I have 45 minutes:

    and I almost always have eggs so there’s lots of crustless quiche:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

The Art of Doing Stuff