WEEKNIGHT DISHES 5

Weeknight meal cleanup is a breeze with one pan, sheet-tray dinners. 

Hi, my name is Lindsey, and I'm addicted to kitchen gadgets and appliances.

*Hi Lindsey*

It's true — give me 10 minutes and I'll profess my allegiance to my Instant Pot, (but really, have you tried making hard-boiled eggs or simple pasta in that thing? Ah-mazing.) try to sell you on a high-speed blender for smoothies and defend my Crockpot until the day I die. I'm also currently researching the perfect air fryer — more on that once Santa arrives. 

But often, I get so bogged down in the gadgets that I forget the true workhorses of the kitchen. This week, in between worrying about what the heck my family is going to do for Thanksgiving and if I should be sending my kid to karate or not, dinner kind of faded away like my love for the George Foreman grill in the early 2000s. Four o'clock would roll around and my 5-year-old's protests of dying hunger would begin, only satiated with buttered bread, slice after slice. 

What's a gadget-loving mom to do without a dinner plan? Grab a sheet tray, preheat the oven and hope the kitchen gods will figure out the rest. Last night, the sheet tray saved dinner with a 30-minute kielbasa and cabbage bake that was so simple I was ashamed I hadn't thought of it before. Sliced cabbage is lightly coated with olive oil, salt and pepper alongside large cuts of kielbasa in a 425-degree oven. The cabbage turns slightly crunchy, while still buttery in flavor and the kielbasa skin gets a nice snap. Serve over brown rice and you're a hero in this household.

Chicken cutlets get the same tray-bake treatment with whatever root vegetables I have on hand most nights. We love sprinkling some Parmesan cheese or even dry Ranch dressing mix over everything and tossing it in the oven. Want to make it extra special? While your dinner is baking in the oven, slice up half a red onion and do a quick pickle with 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar, 1 1/2 teaspoons honey and a pinch of salt. The tangy crunch on top takes any weeknight tray bake from "eh, Tuesday," to "whoa! Tuesday!" 

Speaking of that "eh" feeling, if you're like me and still not sure what the heck next Thursday will look like, give yourself some grace, buy some extra wine and wing it. I've got a 12-pound turkey on hold at a local grocer right now and no idea how I'm going to cook and for who. But, I do know I'll do everything I can to make some new memories for my family and hope the sacrifices we make in the coming weeks allows for a different, better holiday season next year. One, I pray, that finds all of my loved ones around the table. And I pray that for you and yours, as well. 

I'm off next week — so, happy Thanksgiving and cheers! Seriously, cook whatever the heck you want and wear your pajamas all day if it makes you happy. You deserve it. 

Lindsey Hollenbaugh can be reached at lhollenbaugh@berkshireeagle.com or 413-496-6211. On Twitter: @Lhollenbaugh.