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Double-duty dinners

Sarah Caron is a Connecticut-based freelance writer and editor. She lives with her wonderful husband, two adorable kids and two funny beagles. Check out her food blog at Sarah's Cucina Bella.

One dinner becomes two

School's well under way now, and it seems the kids always have 80 places they need to be. Meanwhile, as you juggle schedules and domestic responsibilities, you still need to get dinner on the table. How can you cut time and effort in cooking and ultimately get a great meal on the table each night? The easy answer is double-duty cooking. Here's the idea: You make one big protein-based dish on a night when you have time to cook. On the next night, when you don't have a second to spare, that dish becomes a whole new meal.

 Garlic and Herb Chicken

Garlic and Herb Chicken

Let the succulent aroma of this chicken fill the house for dinner, then use the leftovers to make a delicious lunch or light dinner -- like chicken-stuffed pitas -- the next day.

Ingredients:
1 (3- to 4-pound) roaster chicken
2 tablespoons fresh minced parsley
2 tablespoons fresh minced rosemary
3 cloves garlic, crushed and lightly chopped
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature

Directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

2. Rinse the chicken under cool water and pat it dry with a paper towel. Using your hands, loosen the skin around the chicken breast. Place the chicken onto the rack of a roaster pan.

3. In a small bowl, combine the parsley, rosemary, garlic, salt and butter. Mix until thoroughly combined, using your hands, if necessary. Rub the majority of the butter mixture under the chicken skin, on the breast meat. Rub the skin with any remaining mixture.

4. Roast for 1-1/2 to 2 hours or until cooked through. Let sit for 15 minutes before carving.

Note: If desired, once all the meat has been removed, use the carcass to make chicken stock.

Provencal Pita

Serves 4

This recipe is great for a lunch or quick dinner. It's also easily doubled, in case you're really hungry.

Ingredients:
2 pitas
Tapenade, to taste
1 cup shredded chicken
1/2 cup shredded lettuce
4 (1-ounce) slices of fresh mozzarella

Directions:
1. Cut each pita in half. In each, spread the desired amount of tapenade.

2. Divide the chicken, lettuce and mozzarella among the pita pockets. Serve with a big green salad.

Ginger soy london broil

Ginger soy london broil Not only is this London broil flavorful (how can you beat the sweet-salty marinade?), but it's also wallet-friendly as London broil is a notoriously inexpensive cut. Slice up the leftovers and set them aside for dinner later in the week -- beef fried rice is always a delicious option.

Ingredients:
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon honey
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
1 (2-pound) London broil

Directions:
1. In a sturdy, medium bowl, whisk together soy sauce, brown sugar, garlic, honey, olive oil and ginger until well combined.

2. Cut four to five slits across the London broil to let the marinade soak in. Put the meat into a sealable bag and pour in soy mixture. Seal the bag and let sit for 1 to 2 hours, turning once halfway through.

3. Set broil option in oven to high. Remove the London broil from the bag and discard marinade. Place on a broiler pan and broil for 8 to 10 minutes or to desired doneness. Slice thinly, against the grain, and serve immediately

Beef fried rice

Serves 4

This recipe takes minutes to pull together -- perfect for a busy night. While you are cooking the rice, heat up some frozen corn or peas to add to the mix, if desired.

Ingredients:
1 tablespoon canola oil
2 scallions, chopped
3/4 cup ginger soy London broil, chopped
2 cups cooked white rice
2 eggs, beaten
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil

Directions:
1. Heat the oil in a wok over medium heat. Add the scallions and cook for 1 minute. Add the beef and rice and stir thoroughly to combine.

2. Push the mixture to one side of the wok and pour the eggs in. Let cook until runny-set, stirring to break up the pieces.

3. Quickly incorporate the eggs with the rice mixture. Pour in the soy sauce and the sesame oil and toss to combine. Serve immediately.

Honey Garlic Chipotle Flank Steak

This sweet-spicy flank steak doesn't take eons to make, but it is so, so tasty. Add baked potatoes and a big salad for a fast and delicious dinner. Let the leftovers star in a family fajita night.

Ingredients:
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 teaspoon chipotle powder
1 tablespoon honey
1 (2- to 3-pound) flank steak

Directions:
1. Stir together the olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic, chipotle and honey in a bowl. Lay the flank steak out on a large plate and rub half of the mixture into one side of the meat. Flip and rub the remainder into the other side. Place the plate in the fridge and let sit for at least 3 hours.

2. Remove the steak from the fridge and place on a broiler pan. Broil on high heat in the oven for 8 to 12 minutes per side, flipping once, to desired doneness. (I aim for well done on the ends and medium in the middle, so 10 minutes on the first side and 9 minutes on the second usually works for me.)

3. Let sit for about 10 minutes before carving against the grain into thin slices. Serve over rice.

Quick Fajitas

Quick FajitasServes 4

This ingredients list might look long, but the prep time is super fast -- and most of the ingredients simply need to be put out for use. These quick fajitas have a clean but lightly spicy taste that your whole family will love.

Ingredients:
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 red bell pepper, seeded and sliced thinly
1 green bell pepper, seeded and sliced thinly
1 yellow onion, peeled, cut in half and sliced thinly
Salt and pepper
1 package fajita-size tortillas
2 cups sliced honey garlic chipotle flank steak
1 to 2 cups cheddar cheese
Salsa, sour cream, guacamole, as desired

Directions:
1. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the peppers and onions. Salt and pepper, as desired.

2. Cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are softened and onions are translucent. Remove from heat and pour into a serving dish.

3. Warm the tortillas according to package directions. Also, heat up the flank steak.

4. Serve peppers and onions, tortillas, flank steak, cheese and condiments in bowls, family style. Allow everyone to build his own fajita.

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