It’s that time again… Dinner time. It comes at the same time every day. Everyone’s screaming. Everyone’s starving. And they’re all looking at YOU! It reminds me of a joke I heard once; “Who are these children, and why do they keep calling me MOM?!?!” Remain calm. They can smell fear.
Do you know why dinnertime is the longest part of your day? Because it started three days ago, while you were grocery shopping. You said, “Maybe I’ll get a bag of chicken. We might make chicken. I should probably get a vegetable to go with that. What will we eat the next night? Tacos? Ugh. We always do tacos. We should do a slow cooker meal. Then maybe I’ll get a nap!” And then your children started screaming/throwing things/crying/grabbing things/eating things/vomiting or some other kind of horrifying behavior that pulled your attention away. And you ended up walking out of the grocery store with one bag of chicken, two bags of steam-able veggies (because: #goals), and two to three frozen pizzas with a promise to come back in two days to “really grocery shop”. Well, I have two newsflashes for you. Number 1: You forgot the toilet paper, and Number 2: Dinnertime doesn’t have to be the worst time of your day.
I know, I know, I hear you. You already meal plan. Been there, done that, but you ran out of recipes and that’s why you’re here. So grab a pen, or your printer… cartridge…, and get ready because these simple recipes are delicious and quick! The weather is frigid here in the midwest so it’s time for warm comfort food! The first recipe is a Black Bean & Bacon Soup, and it’s super easy to make and super delicious, so here we go:
Q&E Dinner #1: Black Bean & Bacon Soup with Grilled Cheese
- 8 slices bacon, chopped
- 1 onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced (I use 2-3 tsp of the jar kind)
- 3 (15 oz) cans black beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 (15.25 oz) can of corn, drained
- 1 (32 oz) carton chicken broth or 4 bouillon cubes + 4 cups water
- 2 Tbsp tomato paste
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- ¼ tsp ground red pepper
- ¼ tsp salt
- Cook bacon in a large saucepan over medium heat until crisp; drain, reserve 1 Tbsp drippings in pot. Return bacon to pot.
- Add onion and garlic to bacon and drippings in pan; cook 5 – 6 minutes or until onion is tender.
- Add beans, corn, broth, tomato paste, cumin, red pepper, and salt; bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes.
#1: Use Pre-Cooked Bacon to save even more time. Chop and drop, no need to pre-heat.
#2: For extra heat, use a can of Southwest corn, drained.
#3: Mash beans with the back of a spoon for a thicker consistency.
Okay, what else can go with this meal though? You all know how to make a grilled cheese sandwich, right? No? You in the back? Never done it before? Okay, piece of cake.
#4: Use a sliced sourdough bread. Delicious.
- Bread of your choice, sliced
- Cheese of your choice, sliced
- Butter, softened
- Layer half of bread slices with cheese slices; top with remaining bread slices.
- Spread softened butter over outsides of sandwiches.
- Grill sandwiches in a skillet over medium heat, about 3 minutes per side or until toasted.
#5: Dip the grilled cheese in the soup and ENJOY!
Boom. You’re welcome.
Q&E Dinner #2: Turkey Ham and Vegetable Ranch Pasta Salad
It’s June Cleaver’s nightmare. She’s got her pearls on. The rugs are vacuumed. Dinner is ready and what’s-his-face is all, “Honey, I’m HOME!” And, boom, dinner is COLD! Come on, June! Get it together!
Fortunately, some dinners can be served cold. No, I don’t mean day-old pizza like you used to eat in college. I’m talking about purposefully-cold dinner that’s full of delicious ingredients. This kind of dish makes an excellent leftover. It’s a perfect dish to take to a new mom. She can scoop a serving out and eat on the fly in the two minutes that her new baby is asleep.
Here’s a favorite recipe for my family. It’s got a little something for everyone!
- 1 (16oz) pkg penne pasta
- ¾ cup ranch dressing
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 ½ cup fresh broccoli florets, chopped
- 1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
- 1 English cucumber, chopped
- 1 (16 oz) pkg cubed ham, drained
- Black pepper to taste
- Cook pasta according to package directions; drain and rinse in cold water.
- Whisk together dressing and lemon juice in a large bowl. Add pasta and remaining ingredients; toss to coat.
- Serve with crescent rolls.
Voilà! Eat your heart out, June!
Q&E Dinner #3: Quick Chicken and Dumplings
And when I say “quick,” boy, do I mean it! You can do the chicken in this recipe a couple of ways. You can boil chicken (10 min if thawed, 20 min if frozen) and shred it with two forks, or you can buy a rotisserie chicken and shred the meat off the bones. If I’m planning ahead to make this meal later in the week, I’ll use frozen chicken. But if I’m out grocery shopping and need to feed the fam as soon as we get home, you better believe that rotisserie chicken is gonna save the day! And the extra flavor is an enjoyable bonus! Another variation on this One Dish Dinner is the choice of vegetable. The recipe calls for mixed vegetables, standard green beans, peas, carrots, and corn. I’ve found that substituting a California Medley (broccoli, cauliflower, carrots) is also really delicious! Add some corn for good measure and it’s golden!
- 3 cups shredded deli rotisserie chicken
- 2 (32oz) cartons chicken broth
- 1 (16oz) pkg frozen mixed vegetables
- 1 (10.75oz) can cream of celery soup
- ½ tsp poultry seasoning
- 1 (8oz) can refrigerated biscuits, cut into quarters
- Stir together chicken, broth, vegetables, cream of celery soup, and poultry seasoning is a large Dutch oven; bring to boil over medium-high heat.
- Reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes.
- Drop biscuits into simmering broth one at a time.
- Simmer, stirring often, 10 minutes or until biscuits are cooked through.
- This is a classic family favorite that even my kids will eat!