Easy meals from real moms who have created a dinnertime ritual in an age of overbooked kids.

By Real Simple
Updated January 29, 2009
Coral Von Zumwalt

Mary Notsch's Korean Pork

Hands-on Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours, 25 minutes (including marinating)
Serves 4

1/2 cup low-sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons sugar
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh ginger
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 1-pound pork tenderloin
1 tablespoon vegetable oil

In a large bowl or resealable plastic bag, combine the soy sauce, sugar, garlic, sesame oil, ginger, and red pepper. Add the pork and let marinate in the refrigerator, at least 2 hours and up to overnight.

Heat oven to 425° F. Heat the vegetable oil in a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Remove the pork from the marinade, reserve the marinade. Cook the pork in the the skillet, turning occasionally, until browned on all sides, about 5 minutes. Transfer the skillet to oven and roast until cooked through, 15 to 18 minutes.

Meanwhile, transfer the reserved marinade to a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 5 minutes. Strain, if desired.

Slice the pork and serve with the cooked marinade.

Katherine Pennington's Crunchy, Crunchy Pasta

Hands-on Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Serves 6

1 head cauliflower, cut into florets
Kosher salt and black pepper
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1 pound whole-wheat penne
1 tablespoon flaxseed oil
3 cups grated Cheddar (12 ounces)
1/2 cup whole-wheat bread crumbs
1/4 cup grated Parmesan (1 ounce)
2 tablespoons sesame seeds

Heat oven to 350° F. Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil. Add the cauliflower and 1 tablespoon salt and cook until tender, 10 to 12 minutes; drain. Puree in a food processor with the milk until smooth.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to the package directions. Drain the pasta and return to the pot. Stir in the cauliflower mixture, flaxseed oil, 2 1/2 cups of the Cheddar, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.

Transfer the pasta mixture to a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 cup of Cheddar, then the bread crumbs, Parmesan, and sesame seeds. Bake until golden, 20 to 25 minutes.

Denene Millner's Denene’s Chili

Hands-on Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
Serves 6

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound Italian sausage, casings removed
1 pound ground turkey
1 onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, cut into 1⁄2-inch pieces
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tablespoons chili powder
Kosher salt and black pepper
3 14.5-ounce cans diced tomatoes
1 6-ounce can tomato paste
2 15-ounce cans kidney beans (dark or light red), rinsed
1 15-ounce can black beans, rinsed
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 teaspoon liquid smoke (optional)
Cooked rice and corn bread for serving
Toppings such as sour cream, sliced jalapeños, sliced scallions, grated cheese, corn chips, and hot sauce

Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the sausage and cook, breaking up with a spoon, until browned, 5 to 6 minutes. Transfer to a plate.

Return the saucepan to medium-high heat and add the remaining tablespoon of oil. Add the turkey and cook, breaking up with a spoon, until no longer pink, 3 to 4 minutes.

Add the onion, bell pepper, garlic, chili powder, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables begin to soften, 3 to 4 minutes.

Return the sausage to the saucepan and add the tomatoes, tomato paste, beans, garlic powder, red pepper, liquid smoke (if using) and 2 cups of water, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until thickened, 20 to 25 minutes. Serve with the rice, corn bread, and desired toppings.