Quick and Easy Family Dinners - And Hopefully Fun!
Quick and Easy Family Dinners
Quick and Easy Family Dinners - And Hopefully Fun!
I have a unique situation where I work for 7 months of the year, and I'm off on job attached unemployment for 5 months. That creates an interesting gap, because for about half the year, I'm the hustle and bustle, rush around, busy person with dinner to make every night for me and my hungry husband. For the rest of the year, I'm basically June Cleaver (but I don't wear a dress and pearls while I do the housework!), and that's when I cook the complicated stuff that takes hours and hours, uses every ingredient and every dish in the kitchen, and is served as a true masterpiece of my domestic genius. (I'm kidding! Mostly I just follow a recipe.)
So I keep a running list of our favorite easy recipes that take only a few ingredients, and are pretty simple with no culinary magic acts to perform. I also keep a list of the same ease and limited ingredient recipes that are designed for hot weather, which don't heat up the kitchen, and are more of a refreshing than heavy nature. Here's a few favorites from each list.
Quick and Easy Work-Season Recipes
Hot Beef Sandwich: Get an envelope of brown gravy mix (low sodium if you can find it) and prepare per instructions. When the gravy is ready, put a pound of chopped deli roast beef into the gravy, and let it heat through. Make a batch of instant mashed potatoes using your favorite recipe. Toast some Texas toast bread. To plate it, put one or two slices of toast on the plate. Put a scoop of mashed potatoes on each toast. Pour gravy over all. Eat. Variations: Canned or rotisserie chicken, cream of chicken soup, diluted with a half can of milk. Leftover turkey and turkey gravy. Pulled port (or any meat, for that matter) and BBQ sauce.
Chicken Parmesan: Heat up a batch of your favorite breaded chicken fingers (or use grilled or rotisserie chicken). Boil some spaghetti or linguine per package directions (I use whole wheat). Grab your favorite spaghetti sauce, and your favorite part skim mozzarella, and some grated Parmesan. To plate, lay out 2-3 chicken fingers, top with a serving of spaghetti and sauce, cover with cheeses. Microwave for a minute or two until cheese is melted. This is my favorite!
Oriental stir-fry chicken and noodle bowls: Get some canned or rotisserie chicken, a couple packages of frozen stir-fry vegetables, and some Ramen noodles. Also, get some soy sauce, ground ginger, and 5 spice powder. Get your 4-quart pan rolling with boiling water and prepare the Ramen noodles per package directions. Add soy sauce, ginger, and 5 spice to the water as the noodles boil. Meantime, microwave the vegetables per package directions. Once noodles are done, add chicken and vegetables, and heat through. Serve. This is a hot yummy slurpy soup that preps up fast, for those cold snowy days when you need warmth and comfort of home. This can be varied with beef or shrimp, and any type of frozen vegetable.
Taco Rice Skillet: This is my latest easy peasy hurry up meal. Do your usual browning of ground beef or turkey in your biggest skillet. Once that is browned and drained if needed, add an envelope of taco seasoning. Then add cans of black beans, corn, and Rotel tomatoes. Next put in an envelope of prepared brown rice (the genius trick that makes it a fast meal). Make sure all is heated through. Serve topped with crushed tortilla chips, a couple cubes of avocado, shredded cheese, and reduced fat sour cream. Yummy and fast and tides over your Mexican cravings for a day or two.
Yankee tacos: I haven't heard of very many people that know this recipe. Maybe it's just my husband's family? Don't know, but this is a hit with my people. Brown some ground beef and drain. Put in four cans of pork and beans, a generous squirt of ketchup, some Worcestershire sauce, and salt and pepper to taste. Warm through. To plate, toast some bread and lay it into your pie plate (my husband said one time, "if only there were plates with sides!" I handed him a pie plate. End of story!). On the bread put slices of cheddar or American cheese. Spoon bean mixture over the top. Enjoy. My kids and I eat this differently. We dish the beans up in a bowl and top it with shredded cheddar. Then we rip a whole wheat tortilla into 8ths. We dish a spoon of the beans into a tortilla piece and eat, until our tortilla pieces are gone. Then we finish the bowl. Mmmm comfort food!
Quick and Easy Hot Weather Work Season Recipes
Big Salad (per my husband's description) or Salad Bar Salad (per me!): You can buy a prepared salad bag if you like, but I just chop up some romaine heads. Boil a couple eggs. Prep any other vegetables you have, like tomatoes, cucumbers, or bell peppers. Open cans of chicken, garbanzo beans, pickled beets. Get out your croutons, shredded cheese, chopped nuts of any kind or sunflower seeds, and raisins or dried cranberries. To plate, we use pie plates for this. Put a portion of each item in the pie plate, and top with your favorite salad dressing. There are so many variations of this! Any meat, any vegetable! It's really awesome with 3-bean salad on it, or egg or tuna salad.
Guacamole Bacon Burgers: The grill is our best friend in hot weather! We use the frozen beef patties, prepared per directions. We put the medium rare hamburger on a whole wheat bun, pile on lettuce, tomato, prepared bacon, Swiss cheese slices, and finally the top bun spread with guacamole that you either make yourself, or buy prepared. Last summer we made these with sweet potatoes that we sliced lengthwise, spread with a little olive oil, and grilled alongside the hamburgers. Oh so good! And there are so many variations! You can use grilled chicken, or leave the burger out altogether and just have a BLT with guac, which is amazing. I make mushroom Swiss burgers as well by sauteing mushrooms with garlic. Amazing and yummy.
Salads of the week: During the summer, while I'm working, I like to prep our meals on either Saturday or Sunday. At this time, if we expect hot weather, I will make 2 or 3 salads during those prep sessions. I of course keep a list of our favorites and add in new ones as I come across recipes I want to try, and I rotate them so we aren't eating the same salad over and over. These include macaroni salad, potato salad, taco salad, Italian pasta salad, Greek salad, our new favorite Cowboy salad, three bean salad, etc. So, during the hot weather, we will have something from the grill, like chicken, burgers, hot dogs, or even ham steak. (Oh and there's one we kind of invented: Bologna steak! You go to the deli and have them cut you bologna slices 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick, and then you grill them. Wonderful with honey mustard and cheese on a bun!) We have a couple meals of salad and meat from the grill, in our nice, cool, mosquito-free kitchen!
There You Have It!
Try these recipes. Let me know what you think. And let me know what your favorite quick go-to recipes are, so we can all share! Thank you for reading, and please put your questions and comments below. Hope I inspired you to cook something fast!
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.