Tag Archives: Dinner

Easy Baked Chicken. 5 minutes of prep. Yes, really.

I know all of you moms can relate to this:

When my little one was first born, everything had to be done one-handed &/or at lightning speed, or screaming would ensue. Including dinner. I didn’t think most of my go-to recipes were that time-consuming until I had The Witching Hour to contend with. So I started looking for meals that took literally 5 minutes of prep. They could sit in the oven all they wanted, but hands-on time was at a premium.

Mother-in-law to the rescue!

chicken prepThis easy dinner is adapted from her recipe, and literally takes 5 minutes, especially if you have a bigger kid on hand to crush the crackers for you. The amounts are approximate because I just kind of wing it every time–feel free to do your own improvising! I serve it with seasoned brown rice, which takes longer to cook, so I start it before the chicken. The rice recipe is at the bottom.

  • 1 sleeve Ritz crackers
  • 1 Tbsp. parmesan
  • up to 1 tsp. garlic salt
  • about 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 4 chicken breasts
  1. Preheat oven to 400. Line a baking sheet with foil.
  2. Place the crackers in a Ziploc bag & use a rolling pin to crush them into fine crumbs. Pour into a shallow dish. Add parmesan & garlic salt; stir to combine.
  3. Place sour cream in another shallow dish.
  4. If desired (especially if you’re short on baking time), cut chicken breasts in half.
  5. Coat one piece of chicken in sour cream, then fully coat in crumb mixture. Place on baking sheet. Repeat with remaining chicken.
  6. Bake 15-20 minutes or until done in the middle (this is why I cut mine in half; they get done quick & don’t burn).
  7. Serve with seasoned brown rice (below) & salad or fruit.

dinnerSeasoned brown rice

  1. Make brown rice according to package directions, to yield 3-4 servings.
  2. 5 minutes before it’s done, add about 1 Tbsp. butter, up to 1/2 tsp. garlic salt, & about 1 Tbsp. dried parsley.
  3. Serve with chicken.

What are your favorite no-time-flat dinners?

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Vegan for carnivores: Easy creamy tomato basil pasta.

My good friend posted the link to this recipe months ago & raved about its tastiness. I was intrigued, so I pinned it, but I never mustered the courage to actually make it.

Because it’s vegan.

creamy tomato basil pasta

Vegan is a dirty word in our house of meat-eaters. But it looks just so tasty, right?

So one day I took the plunge. I had a backup plan in place–a jar of pasta sauce hiding at the back of the pantry–that I considered employing even as the mixture was simmering. How could cashews possibly make a sauce creamy?

But it worked. Oh boy, did it work. Rich, tomato-basil-garlic heaven. & it was easy!!! Now I understand why my friend raved about it. Fellow carnivores (or at least omnivores), please don’t make the mistake I did & wait forever: make this immediately.

Note: while the original recipe says this makes enough for 2 servings of pasta, I’ve coated a whole pound of pasta in it & it’s worked great. I also add a little more tomato flavor.

  • 2 medium-sized ripe tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup cashews
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. tomato paste
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2-4 cloves garlic (I use 2), minced
  • up to 1 tsp. salt, or to taste (if you’re not using raw cashews, they’ll have a bit of salt on them already, so you won’t need as much)
  • water or wine, to thin the sauce if desired (I didn’t)
  • 1 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 cup fresh basil, finely chopped (if you, like me, don’t buy fresh herbs often, the small plastic package of basil that hangs out in the refrigerated part of the produce section is just enough for this recipe)
  • up to 1 lb. of pasta of your choice
  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Meanwhile, chop the tomatoes & toss them, seeds & all into your blender. Add the cashews, water, & tomato paste, & puree until smooth.
  2. Add the pasta to the boiling water & cook as directed. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large saucepan on medium-low. Add the garlic & saute a couple minutes, taking care not to burn it. Add the contents of the blender. Bring it to a simmer; add the salt.
  3. Let it simmer 4-5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add water or wine to thin if desired.
  4. Remove sauce from heat; stir in pepper & basil.
  5. When pasta is done cooking, rinse, drain, & return to pot. Slowly add the sauce until it looks coated enough for your taste. Stir & serve immediately.
  6. Leftovers refrigerate & reheat well!

Aside from the tastiness, healthiness, & easiness of this recipe, The Toddler Who Won’t Eat Anything ATE THIS!!!

yum!

WIN!

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Roasted squash and bacon pasta.

butternut squash pasta

So am I posting regularly now? I don’t know… Not regularly enough to use a real camera to photograph dinner tonight, apparently. All we have is this Instagram shot. But this is a tasty dish, no matter how blurry or dark it may look. Several people on Facebook asked for the recipe after seeing said Instagram shot, so I figured I’d post it here for the good of all.

It came from Williams-Sonoma’s One Pot cookbook, which has some real gems if you’re looking for meals that are quick but unique. When my mother-in-law first sent it to me (she got it out of the clearance bin at Deseret Book), this was one of the first recipes that caught my eye. But Husband said he didn’t like squash, & besides, winter squash was out of season. So when the southern-hemisphere stuff started showing up in my grocery store, I ignored my husband & made it anyway. Everyone — including him — loved it (ha! So there!), though I will say that (Almost) One-Year-Old preferred gnawing the raw squash to the cooked, seasoned stuff. It takes less than 30 minutes start to finish & only dirties a pasta pot, a cutting board, & a baking sheet, plus some assorted utensils.

  • 2 lbs. butternut or other winter squash, peeled, seeded, & cut into small (1/2-inch) cubes
  • 1 large yellow onion, halved & thinly sliced on a mandoline
  • 4 strips thick-cut bacon (though I used regular and it was just fine)
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh sage (I used scant 1/2 Tbsp. rubbed sage)
  • salt & pepper
  • 1 lb. pasta: rigatoni, farfalle, or other chunky shape
  • 1/2 cup parmesan, freshly grated (or… not), plus more for serving
  1. Preheat oven to 425. Line a baking sheet with foil.
  2. Toss squash, onion, & bacon with the oil. Sprinkle with sage & season with salt & pepper. Spread in a single layer.
  3. Roast until squash is caramelized & tender & bacon is getting crispy, 15-20 minutes. Remove & set aside.
  4. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add pasta & cook according to package directions, making sure to reserve 1/2 cup of pasta water prior to draining. Return pasta to the pot.
  5. Use a wooden spoon to free any of the squash mixture that may be sticking to the foil, then lift the foil off of the baking sheet & use it to funnel the squash into the pot with the pasta.
  6. Toss for 1 minute over high heat, adding as much of the pasta water as needed to loosen the sauce.
  7. Add parmesan, toss, & serve.

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Almost-Chili Taco Soup.

Now that Mini-Munchkin is nearly three months, I probably have to stop using the “I have a newborn” excuse & start posting a little more regularly.

With that, here’s the first of what will likely be many quick-prep meals for those nights when you have literally 5 minutes in the kitchen.

A friend of mine from my local chapter of the National MOMS Club brought this dish over after I had the Mini-Munchkin. This thick, hearty, almost-chili soup was an instant hit, so I asked her for the recipe. It was so easy she was actually embarrassed to give it to me! But I love easy, so I’m not embarrassed at all to share this with you.

  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 1 packet taco seasoning
  • 3/4 cup water*
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1 can condensed tomato soup
  • 2 cans black beans, undrained
  • 2 cans corn, drained
  • tortilla chips, cheese, sour cream, etc., for serving

*or however much your particular taco seasoning calls for

  1. Brown the ground beef. Drain.
  2. Reduce heat to medium-low. Add taco seasoning & water. Stir.
  3. Add remaining ingredients. Stir.
  4. Cover; simmer until heated through or as long as you want.

That’s it! Yum!

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“Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs”

The Munchkin’s current favorite book is Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs. Our good friend Lauren gave her the “complete” book, which includes the sequel Pickles to Pittsburgh, some time ago, & now that her attention span has caught up, we’re reading it with her at least twice a day.

So when I saw this recipe over at Weelicious, you can imagine that the book was the first thing I thought of. (Her picture’s better than mine.) Meatballs, fun pasta, & mozzarella “clouds!”

 I halved the recipe & there were still leftovers for us. I also used ground turkey instead of chicken because it was cheaper. I’ve re-ordered the steps a little, since the meatballs take longer to prep & cook than the pasta.

  • 1 lb. ground chicken or turkey
  • 1/3 cup seasoned bread crumbs
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 2 tsp. salt, divided
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 lb. mini-wheel or other fun pasta
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1, 28-oz. can tomato sauce
  • 1 Tbsp. chopped fresh basil
  • 8 oz. Bocconcini mozzarella (“small balls” — or buy the larger balls & then cut them smaller)
  1. Combine chicken, bread crumbs, egg, & 1 tsp. of the salt in a medium bowl. Use wet hands to roll teaspoonfuls into small meatballs.
  2. In a large pot, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add the meatballs & cook 3 minutes, turning occasionally.
  3. Meanwhile, prepare pasta according to package directions.
  4. Add garlic to meatballs & cook 1 minute or until fragrant. Add tomato sauce, basil, & 1 tsp. salt (you may wish to add slightly less; I found it a little on the salty side) & cook meatballs in sauce on medium-low 8 minutes or until done through.
  5. Add pasta & mozzarella balls to the sauce mixture & cook until heated through, 2-3 minutes.

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Winger’s Sticky Fingers.

A few Christmases ago we got the bright idea to drive from Indiana to Utah for the holidays with a 6-month-old Munchkin. In all fairness, she did fabulously on the long trek; what didn’t do so well was our car — a little blue Subaru Impreza wagon I’d had since college & driven cross-country more times than I could count. Her name was Ella. Just past Kansas City, she started to overheat despite the near-freezing weather. We pulled off into the thriving metropolis of Mound, MO, & spent the next couple hours at the only dealership in town trying to see if the very nice Ford guys could fix it. They filled her up with coolant & sent us on our way.

We made it to Winter Quarters, Nebraska. Fortunately there was at least a Subaru dealer there. Several more hours later we were back on the road. We made it almost all the way across the state before she started overheating again. We couldn’t go more than 50 mph, so we limped into Sidney, NE, where our motel was, late at night with an overtired child & an overheating car.

The next morning, a Saturday, we poured more coolant into the tank & made it just across the Wyoming state line — less than 30 miles – before having problems again. The local mechanic gave us 2 options: stay over the weekend to wait for parts, or limp to Cheyenne a couple dozen miles ahead. Another several hours at another Subaru dealer later (you can imagine The Munchkin was getting a little sick of repair shops) we were told the problem had been resolved. But we hadn’t so much as left the Cheyenne city limits before the problem reoccurred. So we limped over the mountains into Laramie — at least we were heading the right direction — where there was yet another Subaru dealer, though they’d be closed Sunday.

So we were stuck in Laramie. What was there to do in a small college town over winter break on a Saturday night?

Eat at Winger’s. On the very last night before that particular location would be closed forever.

Winger’s is a casual dining restaurant out west — predominantly in Utah — famous for its Sticky Fingers: chicken fingers soaked in a spicy-sweet sauce & dipped in Ranch dressing. They also have a killer Asphalt Pie. I found the recipe for the sauce here many months ago, but only now had gotten around to buying the special hot sauce it requires. If you’re a fan of Sticky Fingers & don’t live near a Winger’s, this recipe is for you!

Winger’s Sticky Fingers (will make enough sauce for 4+ people)

  • breaded chicken fingers
  • 1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
  • 6 Tbsp. FRANK’S Buffalo sauce
  • 4 Tbsp. water
  1. Prepare desired number of chicken fingers according to conventional oven directions on package.
  2. Combine remaining ingredients in a saucepan & heat, stirring frequently, until brown sugar is dissolved.
  3. Place chicken fingers in a shallow dish, pour sauce over the top, & toss.
  4. Serve with Ranch dressing.

The car story does have a happy ending, by the way: with the help of my in-laws, we drove on I-80 all the way across Wyoming at a whopping 55 miles an hour — way scarier than driving fast, I’ll tell you what — & traded our faithful Ella in for our current Subaru: a reliable Forester that has also been driven across the country several times & is still doing great! We miss Ella, but we’re grateful we don’t have to spend any more road trips in mechanics’ shops. & besides, we’ll always have Laramie…

Do you have memories — fond or otherwise — associated with certain dishes or restaurants?


Oopsey Daisy

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Beef with Broccoli (& Carrots).

I do my grocery shopping on Wednesdays. It’s the day before the new circular comes out, so the store is always empty. (Honestly though, I didn’t learn that until we’d been going for several weeks out of necessity because it was the only day we didn’t have something else scheduled; it’s a nice perk.) So this means that Tuesday night after The Munchkin goes to sleep I’m up racking my brain about what to make for dinner that week. I’d been in a rut for weeks — maybe months.

Then I read about one food blogger’s method for organizing recipes. Now, honestly, I’ve been looking everywhere & can’t find the post anymore, so I think it may have just been a Facebook post or something, otherwise I’d send you there in a millisecond. But the gist of it was that she has a Word document (or you could use an Excel spreadsheet) of all the dinner recipes she likes to use, with either the link (if it’s from a blog) or the title of the cookbook, so she can find it quickly. Keeping it on the computer makes it easy to add to & modify the list, & you could organize it by cuisine (Asian, Mexican, Italian, etc.) or food type (beef, chicken, vegetarian, etc.), & it’s so much quicker than my old method of printing off the recipe & sticking it in my overstuffed binder of recipes. So that’s my goal.

Another way to streamline weekly meal planning is to assign “theme nights.” I actually read in this month’s Parents magazine that theme nights can get kids excited about sitting down with the family for dinner & can help them assume a larger role in meal prep. But on the practical side, if I know that Thursday night is going to be Mexican night, I can go to my handy-dandy “Mexican” category & have fewer meals to have to choose from.

So why am I saying all this? Because I’m trying to expand my repertoire to include more international foods for said “theme nights.” For Asian night, meet Beef with Broccoli (original recipe here).

  • 2 Tbsp. cornstarch
  • 1 Tbsp. water
  • 1 Tbsp. low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 lb.+ stir-fry beef
  • 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil, divided
  • 4 cups broccoli florets
  • 2 large carrots, peeled & sliced on a diagonal
  • 1 small onion, cut into thin wedges
  • Sauce, below
  • hot cooked rice

Sauce:

  • 1 Tbsp. cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/3 cup low-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsp. brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. ground ginger
  1. Combine sauce ingredients in a small bowl; stir until smooth. Set aside.
  2.  In a shallow bowl, combine cornstarch, water, soy sauce, & garlic powder; stir until smooth. Toss beef in mixture until well coated.
  3. Heat 1 Tbsp. oil in wok on medium-high heat. Stir-fry beef until done. Remove & keep warm.
  4. Stir-fry vegetables in remaining oil 4 minutes or until crisp-tender. (I like to cover the wok to allow the veggies to steam.)
  5. Return beef to wok & add sauce. Cook 2 minutes.
  6. Serve over rice.

I'm Lovin' It at TidyMom

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Italian Steak with Zucchini & Pasta.

My Husband The Breadwinner doesn’t cook much anymore: 1) he doesn’t need to with me around, except when it comes to pancakes, & 2) he doesn’t get home from work in time anyway. But this meal is evidence that he can find his way around the kitchen if the occasion calls for it. It’s his mom’s recipe, but he made it for me for my birthday a couple years ago & it was delicious & memorable enough to have me craving it this week.

In my own carnivorous opinion, the steak is really the star of this meal, but if you’d rather go the vegetarian route, it’d taste great with marinated portobellos, or even just by itself! It also heats up fabulously for leftovers.

  • 1 lb. flank steak
  • 1/2 cup of your favorite house Italian dressing
  • 2 cloves garlic, divided
  • 1 lb. pasta
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • 2 tsp. olive oil
  • 2 med. zucchini, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup (or to taste) diced onion
  • 2 cans (8 oz. each) tomato sauce
  • 1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper
  • salt, to taste
  • parmesan, to taste
  • chiffonade fresh basil, to taste
  1. Marinate the steak 6-8 hours or overnight in the dressing with one of the cloves of garlic, minced.
  2. Prepare the pasta as directed.
  3. Meanwhile, rub the pepper into both sides of the steak & cook it in a skillet on medium heat, 5-6 minutes a side or until desired doneness.
  4. Meanwhile meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a medium pot on medium heat & saute the other clove of garlic, minced, & the onion for a couple minutes.
  5. Add the zucchini, tomato sauce, & red pepper, then salt to taste. Cook another 2 minutes, then cover & let simmer on low another 2-3 minutes or until zucchini is tender.
  6. Toss pasta with sauce & zucchini, then place in serving bowls. Sprinkle with parmesan & basil, then spread sliced steak on top.

Picky (or at least skeptical) eater pleaser: Take out some of the pasta before tossing it with the sauce & place it in a section of one of those nifty partitioned plates & a little of the sauce & some zucchini slices in another. Cut the steak into small pieces & place them in a third. The Munchkin preferred to dip her pasta in the sauce rather than having it coated in it already, & even tried a slice of zucchini! As for the steak, it was gone before we knew it. I’d call that a success.



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Resolution-friendly recipes!

For the many of us who have resolved to treat our bodies a little better this year, here are some healthy recipes from the past year. (I can’t believe this blog is already almost a year old!)

More new recipes to come, promise!

I’m making these Chewy, Chunky (& Lowfat!) Oatmeal Bars for us to snack on as we walk around Disney World this weekend. They’re so hearty & delicious (we all love them), it’s hard to believe they’re so low in fat!

Start the day off right with yummy Oatmeal Raisin Pancakes. You just might want to skip the butter syrup.

Now, a couple vegetarian dinners: Pasta with Arugula & Tomatoes

…& Skinny Veggie Ziti.

If your Munchkins are joining you in your resolution, help them get some more veggies with some Veggie Latkes. (I can’t believe how young The Munchkin looks in this picture!)

Then finish it off right with the almost entirely nonfat Skinny Banana Bread for dessert!

Best of luck keeping your resolutions — health & otherwise — this year!

works for me wednesday at we are that family

36th Avenue

Cast Party Wednesday

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Savory Chicken Rolls.

I have a confession to make: I have had the hardest time getting inspired in the kitchen lately. Even though the morningsickness is pretty much gone, nothing sounds good to me, & none of the meals I cook myself have tasted good to me. (Anyone else have this problem?)

A few notable exceptions: this barbecue chicken, some stellar alfredo I found here, &…

These.

My good friend Mandy gave me her grandmother’s recipe, & it was so perfect, warm, & comforting — exactly what I was craving that day.

  • 1-2 pkgs. refrigerated crescent roll dough (depending on how full you want your crescents to be… I always use 1 & end up with a little extra filling at the end, no matter how full I fill them)
  • 3 oz. Neufchatel cheese, softened
  • 2 Tbsp. butter, softened
  • 1/8 tsp. pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 Tbsp. milk
  • 1 Tbsp. (or more, to taste) chopped green onions
  • about 1 1/2 cups chopped cooked chicken
  • 1-2 Tbsp. melted butter
  • Parmesan cheese
  1. Preheat oven to 350. Spray a cookie sheet with cooking spray.
  2. In a medium bowl, blend cream cheese & butter until smooth. Add salt, pepper, green onions, & milk. Mix well.
  3. Mix in chicken.
  4. Unroll crescents & separate into triangles. Spoon 1-2 Tbsp. of the chicken mixture onto the center of each triangle, then fold ends in. Pinch to seal.
  5. Brush each with a little butter, then sprinkle with parmesan.
  6. Bake 20 minutes or until golden brown.

Her grandma — & my mother-in-law, I might add — serve this with a sort of gravy made from cream of chicken soup, but I think the texture is perfect eaten as-is.

works for me wednesday at we are that family

Cast Party Wednesday

36th Avenue

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