Quick and Healthy Dinners for Busy Hawaii Parents


After a long day at the office, the last thing Kelly and I want to do is spend hours in the kitchen preparing dinner. The kids need to be bathed, cats need to be fed, and homework needs to be started. It’s tempting to buy takeout every night to make things simple, but this is an expensive alternative.

So over the years we’ve come up with some fast and easy go-to dishes that allows up to put something fairly healthy and nutritious on the table in about 40 minutes from prep to finish. Sure we cheat and stop by Foodland for some of their delicious fried chicken from time to time, but nothing beats a home cooked meal, especially the simple, healthy and delicious ones.

With a little bit of planning over the weekend, anyone can become an efficient home cook during the week. When we are at the grocery store, we look for items that cook relatively fast, such as shrimp, fish, boneless chicken, and thinner cut pork chops. We also look for recipes that we can prepare in advance on a Sunday night that will last into the week.

So before you rush to the nearest drive-through or call in that order for take out, consider preparing a quick, easy and delicious meal in 30 to 40 minutes.

Here are a few of our favorite “fast food” recipes that Ensen and Avery always enjoy.

Garlic Shrimp and Linguini

Makes: 4 to 6 servings


• 1 to ½ pounds shrimp, peeled, deveined and cut into ½-inch pieces

• 4 to 6 garlic cloves, minced

• 1 small white onion, diced

• ¼ cup white wine

• 4 Tablespoons olive oil

• Salt and pepper, to taste

• 2 Tablespoons parsley

• ½ lemon, to finish

• Parmesan cheese, grated

• 1 box linguini


Bring a pot of water to a boil and add pasta. Cook for 10 to 11 minutes or as directed on the box.

Heat a large sauté pan on medium, and then add olive oil and onions. Cook onions until translucent, then add garlic. Season shrimp with salt and pepper and add to the pan and cook for a few more minutes. Add white wine and let it reduce to allow the alcohol to burn off. If you need more liquid to develop your sauce, add more wine or some chicken stock. When alcohol has evaporated, add parsley. By now, your pasta should be close to finished. Strain pasta and add to the pan. Toss and serve with a squeeze of lemon over the top and Parmesan cheese to taste.

Poached Fish with Shoyu and Ginger Sauce

Makes: 4 to 6 servings


• 2 pounds Basa fish filets (frozen okay)

• 1 bunch green onions

• Small finger-sized ginger, julienned

• 1 cup shoyu 

• ¾ water

• 2 Tablespoon sesame oil (or to taste)


In a saucepan, add shoyu, sesame oil, water and ginger, then bring to a simmer. Keep warm on the side.

Cut Basa fish filets into two-inch wide pieces and set aside. In a pot, bring water to a light simmer and add a few pieces of ginger for flavoring. Poach fish in the water for a few minutes until cooked through. Place on a napkin to drain.

Place cooked fish filets in a serving bowl and top with sliced green onions. Pour sauce over the top and serve with a warm bowl of rice on the side.

Pan Roasted Chicken with Lemon and Capers

Makes: 4 to 6 servings


• 2 to 3 chicken breasts, boneless and skinless

• 1 large lemon

• ¼ cup capers (or to taste)

• 2 to 4 garlic cloves, chopped

• 1 small white onion, chopped

• ¼ cup white wine 

• Salt and pepper, to taste

• 2 Tablespoons olive oil


Add olive oil to a large pan (preferably with a lid) on medium heat. Season chicken breasts with salt and pepper, then add to the pan and brown for roughly 4 to 5 minutes on each side or until almost cooked through. Remove chicken from pan and set aside.

Add onions to the pan and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes, until translucent. Add garlic and sauté for another minute, and then add white wine to deglaze. Squeeze lemon juice into sauce and add capers. Return chicken to the pan, cover, and cook for another 5 to 7 minutes until chicken is done. Periodically, open the lid to spoon sauce over chicken during this final cook time.

Slice chicken breasts, plate and spoon sauce over to finish. Serve with fresh vegetables or over pasta.

Bon appétit!