I'm happy to report that three weeks into 2012, I am maintaining my goal to provide my family with one home-cooked meal a week.
Last week I experimented with cooking barley in a hearty beef and barley soup. I based my soup on this recipe from Cooking Light, although I did make a few modifications because I used a slow cooker vs. the stovetop. Also, I subbed in stew meat, but this wasn't a problem because the slow cooker worked its magic on that cheap, tough cut and yielded tender goodness.
On Tuesday, we needed a fast and simple dinner, so I pulled out my standby salmon cakes recipe. I cobbled it together after looking at a bunch of recipes. It calls for 2 cans of salmon, 2 eggs, a generous amount of mashed potato flakes to serve as a binder, and whatever spices/flavors strike my fancy. I decided to tinker with a classic, and added a dollop of light mayonnaise for moistness, some jarred minced garlic, a heavy sprinkle of parmesan, and lemon pepper. Mom thought this version was more flavorful and moist than the original. I'm sure you could dress this up with a fancy sauce and sides, but we just like ours with a liberal drizzle of shoyu, and rice on the side.