By Carolyn Malcoun , January 5, 2010 - 10:35am
My BFF Jessica e-mailed me yesterday: she and her husband are trying to lose weight. To make their resolution a reality, Jessica decided she’s going to change what she makes for dinner, so she asked me for quick, healthy dinner recipes  they can learn to make this year to eat healthier.
Well, let me tell you, picking just 5 quick dinner recipes is hard for me because I really love our recipes. So I picked recipes that will teach Jessica and her husband a few healthy cooking techniques that they can use to make other meals—like searing a chicken breast—or are super-flexible so she can tweak the recipe using what she has in her kitchen. These 5 recipes represent some of the essential basics of cooking—recipes (and skills) every cook should learn how to do. Here are the 5 recipes I sent her.
Recipe 1: Tarragon Chicken 
Healthy Cooking Skill: Searing a chicken breast and making a simple pan sauce.
One of the easiest dinners around is to brown boneless, skinless chicken breasts in a skillet and make a quick pan sauce. Just add some mashed potatoes and a salad and dinner is served! Once you've got the method down, you can experiment with a few things out of your pantry to make a sauce (think: olives, capers, tomatoes and white wine, or orange juice, garlic and fresh herbs).
Recipe 2: Roast Salmon with Salsa 
Healthy Cooking Skill: Learn an easy way to cook fish.
We all should aim to eat fish twice a week, particularly ones rich in omega-3 fats like salmon and tuna, because those fats lower triglycerides and blood pressure. This recipe is a particularly good one to try for a first-time fish cook because roasting is an easy, practically foolproof way to cook fish—and topping it with this quick salsa keeps it moist. It can be served super-casual with warm corn tortillas and black beans or as a more sophisticated entree with a few simple side dishes.
Recipe 3: Fresh Herb & Lemon Bulgur Pilaf 
Healthy Cooking Skill: Cooking with more whole grains.
We should all aim to eat more whole grains, but experimenting with unfamiliar ones can be daunting. I love having people try this recipe because it’s really easy and you can change up the herbs, citrus and nuts to use up what’s in your fridge. And leftovers are really delicious for lunch, especially with some chickpeas or leftover chicken on top.
Recipe 4: Chipotle Cheddar Chard 
Healthy Cooking Skill: Working more vegetables into meals.
Jessica loves dark leafy greens (a.k.a. DLGs); her husband… not so much. I suspect the bold Southwestern flavors (and the fact that it’s covered in cheese) might turn her husband on to them, though. Plus chard has a more mild flavor and texture than other DLGs, such as mustard greens or kale, so it’s a good one to start with. I particularly like to use this as a quesadilla filling with leftover steak or chicken.
Recipe 5. Creamy Fettuccine with Brussels Sprouts & Mushrooms 
Healthy Cooking Skill: Making a satisfying meal without meat.
Meat’s delicious, but going meat-free is a great way to incorporate more vegetables, beans and whole grains into your diet. What’s more, vegetarian meals will help you save money too. Sliced Brussels sprouts and mushrooms cook quickly and cling to the pasta in our cold-weather version of pasta primavera. Look for presliced mushrooms to cut prep time, or use your favorite vegetables instead. Serve with a tossed salad.
What go-to recipes are always in your dinner rotation? Tell us what you think below.