Easy dinner recipes: Dinner on a stick and 25 other great ideas

Can't quite decide what to fix for dinner tonight? Try skewers. Thread something -- almost anything -- on a stick and all of a sudden the food just seems fun.

With yakitori, your options are seemingly endless. Food editor Russ Parsons did a piece on yakitori a few years back, and it's a perfect, laid-back approach to a meal, whether you're serving a backyard full of guests, or just the family. Check out his recipe for chicken thighs with yakitori sauce below.

For something on the lighter side, bread salad skewers with sherry vinaigrette from Matt Armendariz are bright, colorful and oh-so-flavorful. And wonderfully easy, whether you're entertaining a house full of guests or simply serving the usual suspects.

RECIPES: 25 dinner ideas you can make in an hour or less

Or perhaps take advantage of the summer weather, and head outdoors cooking dinner on the grill. Whip up a quick batch of charmoula (a North African spice blend combining bright fresh flavors including lemon, garlic, ginger, cilantro, paprika and a little olive oil), then marinate some jumbo shrimp to infuse the flavor (the recipe calls for a couple of hours marinating time, but the flavor infuses in as little as 30 minutes). Skewer the shrimp and grill them a couple of minutes on each side, and you're good to go. Serve the rest of the charmoula tableside if you want to add a little extra flavor!

For more ideas, click through our easy dinner recipes gallery and check out our Dinner Tonight page, devoted to recipes that can be made in an hour or less. Looking for a particular type of recipe? Comment below or email me at noelle.carter@latimes.com.


Total time: 40 minutes, plus grill heating and preparation time

Servings: 6

Note: You will need bamboo skewers.

2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs

1/4 cup soy sauce

1/4 cup mirin (sweet rice wine)

1/4 cup sake

1. Cut each chicken thigh crosswise into three pieces. In a medium bowl, prepare the yakitori sauce by combining the soy sauce, mirin and sake. Set aside 3 tablespoons in a separate bowl. Add the chicken pieces and marinate, refrigerated, for 20 to 30 minutes.

2. Soak the bamboo skewers in water at least 20 minutes. Start a two-stage fire on the grill, mounding the hot coals to one side of the grill (this will be the hot side of the fire).

3. Remove the chicken from the marinade (reserve the marinade for brushing on the chicken during grilling). Thread the thigh pieces onto the skewers, a couple of pieces at a time, one skewer at the top and one at the bottom of each piece for greater control while grilling.

4. Grill the skewers over a medium-high flame, turning occasionally and moving from the hot side of the grill to the cool side as necessary to avoid flare-ups. Just before the meat is done, brush the meat lightly with a little of the reserved marinade.

5. Cook until the chicken is cooked through but not dry, about 10 minutes total. Remove to a platter and serve.

Each serving: 229 calories; 27 grams protein; 1 gram carbohydrates; 0 fiber; 11 grams fat; 3 grams saturated fat; 99 mg. cholesterol; 259 mg. sodium.