In times past, gathering around the table for a home-cooked meal, especially at dinnertime, was a welcomed wind-down each day. It gave families and friends a chance to relax, catch up on each other’s lives and enjoy what was often a simple but tasty meal.

In times past, gathering around the table for a home-cooked meal, especially at dinnertime, was a welcomed wind-down each day. It gave families and friends a chance to relax, catch up on each other’s lives and enjoy what was often a simple but tasty meal.


Today, pre-fabbed food, whether out of a cardboard box or a drive-through, has become a mealtime norm. Due to everyone’s extra busy lives, sitting down together for a home-cooked meal has almost become an event set aside for holidays and special occasions. Not only are people missing out on connecting with each other, but on healthier, fresh-made meals.


In an effort to help remedy the no time/fast food trend, Woman’s Day just released its newest cookbook, Easy Everyday Dinners. The handy, 160-page book was created from the familiar magazine’s most popular sections and focuses on ways to prepare fresh, quick and inexpensive meals that will bring everyone back to the dining table.


Woman’s Day magazine has long provided its readers with great, easy-to-follow ideas for daily living. The new cookbook is no exception. It’s handily divided into six food sections — poultry, beef and lamb, pork, seafood, pasta and vegetarian. Some of the recipes involve quick cooking while others make use of handy slow cookers. All enable the cook to have a healthier meal on the table in a short time and at an affordable cost. Prep times range from 10 to 30 minutes.


For more information on Easy Everyday Dinners, go to www.sterlingpublishing.com.


Below are a few of the recipes that are found in the book.


Grilled mushroom and spinach quesadillas


Prep time: 25 minutes


Serves 4


Cost per serving: $2.84


2 tomatoes, cut into ½-inch pieces


1 avocado, cut into ½-inch pieces


2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice


2 Tbsp. olive oil


Kosher salt and pepper


½ cup fresh cilantro, chopped


4 medium flour tortillas


6 oz. Muenster cheese, shredded


4 cups baby spinach


4 medium Portobello mushroom caps


Sour cream for serving


1. Heat grill to medium. In a mdium bowl, combine the tomatoes, avocado, lemon juice, 1 Tbsp. oil and ¼ tsp. each salt and pepper. Fold in the cilantro. Set aside.


2. Place tortillas in a large rimmed baking sheet. Divide half the cheese among the tortillas, sprinkling it only on one half. Top the same half with spinach and remaining cheese.


3. Place the mushrooms on a cutting board. Brush with the remaining oil, season with ½ tsp. each salt and pepper, and grill, covered, until just tender, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Transfer to the cutting board and thinly slice.


4. Divide the mushrooms among the tortillas, then fold over tortillas to cover the filling. Grill until the tortillas are crisp and the cheese has melted, about 2 minutes per side. Cut the quesadillas and serve with tomato-avocado mixture and sour cream, if desired.


Barbecue beef and mashed potato pie


Prep time: 30 minutes


Serves 6


Cost per serving: $1.37


2 lb. Yukon gold or white potatoes, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces


Kosher salt and pepper


4 Tbsp. olive oil


1 large onion, chopped


1-1/2 lbs. lean ground beef


4 plum tomatoes, seeded and diced


½ cup ketchup


2 Tbsp. cider vinegar


1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard


1 Tbsp. molasses


1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce


1. Place the potatoes in a pot. Add cold water to cover, bring to a boil. Add 1 bsp. Salt. Simmer until just tender, 15 to 18 minutes. Reserve ¼ cup of the cooking liquid. Drain the potatoes and return to the pot. Mash with 3 Tbsp. oil, ¼ tsp. each salt and pepper and 2 Tbsp. of the reserved cooking liquid (add more liquid if necessary).


2. While the potatoes are cooking, heat the remaining tablespoon of oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and ¼ tsp. each salt and pepper and cook, covered, stirring occasionally, until tender, 8 to 10 minutes.


3. Heat broiler. Add the beef to the onion and cook, breaking it up with a spoon until no longer pink, 5 to 6 minutes. Spoon off and discard any grease. Add the tomatoes and cook, stirring occasionally, for 4 minutes. In a bowl, whisk together the ketchup, vinegar, mustard, molasses and Worcestershire. Add to the beef and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.


4. Transfer the beef mixture to a 2 quarter broiler-proof baking dish and top with mashed potatoes. Broil until it begins to brown, 2 to 4 minutes.


Spaghetti with roasted zucchini


Prep time: 20 minutes


Serves 4


Cost per serving: 78 cents


12 oz. spaghetti


3 Tbsp. olive oil


2 fresh bread (1/2-inch thick slices torn into 1-inch pieces)


2 cloves garlic, smashed


4 small zucchini (about 1 pound total), sliced ¼-inch thick


¼ to ½ tsp. crushed red papper flakes


Kosher salt


¼ cup grated parmesan (1 oz.)


¼ cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped


1 Tbsp. grated lemon zest


1. Heat oven to 425 degrees. Cook the pasta according to package directions. Drain the pasta and return it to the pot. Tooss with 1 Tbsp. oil.


2. Meanwhile, in a food processor, pulse the bread and garlic until the bread forms coarse crumbs and the garlic is chopped.


3. In a large bowl, toss the zucchini, crushed red papper, remaining 2 Tbsp. oil and ½ tsp. salt. Add the parmesan and bread crumb mixture and toss to combine.


4. Spread the zucchini mixture on 2 rimmed baking sheets and roast until the zucchini is tender and golden brown, 10 to 12 minutes. Toss the pasta with the zucchini mixture, parsley and lemon zest.