I spent some time a few weeks ago getting reacquainted with Meggie, an old friend whom I have known since she was a baby. She now has babies of her own, works a “more-than-full-time” job as a lawyer, and struggles to get a decent meal on the table each night.

Sound familiar?

Like so many moms, Meg blows in from work around six to a pair of little ones who are hungry for both affection and food. On good days she pulls together a balanced supper complete with vegetables, a protein and starch, but says her meals lack imagination. Bad days, when she is running behind or hasn’t made it to the market, find her exhausted with a platter of nachos in her lap. Mostly, cooking feels like a chore, not a joy, and takes a back seat to cuddling with her kids.

I pestered Meg for details about her family’s eating habits, shopping patterns, and cooking repetoire … brainstorming all the while about how she could streamline her prep time. Towards the end of our discussion, at which time I’m sure Meg just wished I’d leave her and her nachos the heck alone, she turned to me and said, “What I need, Katie, is for cooking dinner to be a 15 minute affair.”

I get it. All of us moms, whether we are stay-at-home (who came up with that term, anyway?), work part-time, full-time, or over-time, sometimes need a 15 minute answer to dinner.

Is it doable? Yes.

This is the first in a series of family dinner posts I’m calling “The 15 Minute Meal.” The recipes won’t be ground breaking. They won’t transport you to a new country, or even a new county. But they will be tasty, honest, home cooked food that will fill your bellies, nourish your family and make you feel like a champ for pulling it all together, again.

Take this Red Cabbage, Apples and Sausage recipe: Simply sauté a sliced onion and head of shredded cabbage for a few minutes, throw in a couple of sliced apples, and top the whole thing with your favorite cooked sausages.

The onions, cabbage and apples supply a hefty dose of nourishment: vitamins, antioxidants, flavonoids, fiber. The sausage adds flavor and satiety. While on the decadent side, keeping the sausage portion to one link or less makes it manageable. For a lighter option, top the cabbage with pan-seared, sliced pork tenderloin in place of the sausage.

This is for you Meggie, and all busy moms who sometimes need dinner to be a 15 minute affair. It’s frankly, the most family-friendly kind of affair I can think of.


  • 4 pre-cooked chicken apple sausages
  • 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, sliced thin
  • 1 small head red cabbage
  • 2 medium tart apples, such as Granny Smith
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Get started cooking the sausages either on a grill, in a pan, or under a broiler. Cook them until nicely browned and warmed through.

While the sausages cook, heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high and add the onions. Saute for a few minutes until tender.

While the onion is cooking, cut the cabbage in half, remove the core, and shred it like you would for coleslaw. Add it to the sauté pan and cook, stirring regularly.

While the cabbage is cooking, cut the apples into bite-size slices. When the cabbage is nearly tender (about 5 minutes), add the apple to the pan and sauté a few more minutes until the apple is tender, but not mushy. Remove from heat, stir in the vinegar and season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Cut each sausage into thirds and set the pieces on top of the cabbage. Serve with good, crusty whole-grain bread and your favorite mustard.

Makes 4 to 5 servings

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  1. Pam
    03.14.2011 at 3:57 PM #

    this looks great and is an awesome idea for all us parents! Keep them coming!

  2. 03.14.2011 at 6:34 PM #

    More! More! This is awesome!

  3. 10.07.2012 at 11:02 AM #

    Amazing fall recipe. This is the first time I’ve made it hot. I like that the cabbage is still crunchy even after you saute it.

    • katiemorford
      10.07.2012 at 2:34 PM #

      Thanks….so glad you enjoyed it. I actually just made that at home the other day myself.

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