For You

Don’t you think that if you presented this heart toast to your kids on Monday morning then you could check off the how-to-make-this-day-special box on your Good Parent List and be done with it? Anyway, I think we have the girls covered, but what about you guys? I’m loving the comment boards these days (thank you to anyone and everyone who has weighed in) and decided that it may be time for another giveaway. Perhaps you are in the market for some modern furniture? Some table linens for the dinner table? Some sleek Alessi glassware from which you may sip your Manhattans a la Andy? has graciously offered DALS readers the chance to win a $75 gift certificate to their site. All you have to do is send me one of your tried-and-true go-to weeknight family dinner recipes — the dinner that is so easy you can tell me how to make it in just about the same amount of words as a tweet. The reader who turns in a recipe that passes the litmus test (i.e. one my daughters select and — here’s the hard part — enjoy the most) wins. As always, you can send me the recipe in the comment fields below, post on the DALS facebook page (please start your post there with “CONTEST ENTRY”) or email me directly (jenny AT dinneralovestory DOT com.). Winner and recipe to be announced on March 2. Thanks all and Happy Valentine’s Day!

Another reason I love Trader Joe’s! Their Canadian White Bread practically comes in a heart shape. All you have to do is cut off the sides. No cursed cookie cutter required.

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“Shake n Bake” pork chops w/steamed green beans is a go-to meal in our house.

Preheat oven to 400 degree.

“Shake n Bake” pork chops

pork chops- bone in or out
4 c. dry bread crumbs
1/3 c. vegetable oil
1 T. salt
1 T. paprika
1 T. celery salt
1 tsp. ground black pepper
1/2 tsp. garlic salt
1/2 tsp. minced garlic
1/4 tsp. minced onion
1 pinch dried basil leaves
1 pinch dried parsley
1 pinch dried oregano

Mix the dry ingredients together. Wash chops and pat dry. Dip in oil to coat each side of chop then dredge in dry ingredients mixture. Place on foil lined rimmed baking sheet. Cook uncovered for about 20 minutes (boneless) or 40 minutes (bone in).

Steam green beans then toss with just a smidge of 100% maple syrup.



lemon chicken pasta (modified from giada) is our tried & true recipe. it’s perfect for a weeknight meal, pretty enough for company & tastes great as leftovers, too 🙂

*cook 1 lb spaghetti
*shred 1 roasted chicken (from deli) or a couple of roasted chicken breasts
*in a large bowl, whisk:
1/2 c lemon juice
2/3 c olive oil
2/3 c grated parmesan

*drain pasta (save 1 c of cooking liquid)
*add pasta & chicken to lemon sauce, mix and add reserved cooking liquid as needed
* garnish with 1T lemon zest and some chopped parsley
*serve with extra parmesan at the table


My standby — “Ricotta Pancakes” (that have no ricotta). They are high in protein, so they make a good breakfast-for-dinner meal without having to also cook sausage or eggs.

Whirl in a blender until smooth:
3 eggs (or 6 whites)
1 cup cottage cheese, plain yogurt, and/or sour cream
1/2 cup flour (white makes for smoother pancakes, but wheat is fine)

Since the thickness of the dairy portion varies with what you use, sometimes the thickness of the batter needs to be adjusted with more flour or some milk/OJ (if you aren’t sure, make a pancake and see how it goes).
Pour batter onto greased & hot griddle, and flip when bubbles stay open on the top. I think it works best to make smaller pancakes with this batter (~4″ inches in diameter). Keep cooked pancakes warm in a 200 degree oven until serving time. Good topped with maple syrup or fruit compote (dump a bag of frozen berries, a splash of water, and a spoonful of sugar into a covered saucepan & bring to a simmer when you start gathering ingredients).

This makes a good amount for two adults and one toddler — might want to double it with kids who eat more.


Cook 1 lb pasta. In food processor, puree 1 can drained artichoke hearts, juice of 1/2 lemon, 2 cloves garlic nuked 30 secs in 1/2 cup olive oil, handful parsley (or spinach), salt & pepper. Toss with drained pasta. Pass the parmesan.


White Bean Chili

Sautee 1 med. onion, diced, in olive oil until soft. Add 1 lb. ground turkey or chicken, 1 tsp. ground coriander, and 1/4 tsp. white pepper. Cook until no longer pink. Add 1 15 oz. can white beans, drained (canellini or great northern work well), 1 14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes, drained, and a 1/2-3/4 cup of your favorite salsa and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes. Add fresh lemon juice and salt to taste.

The addition of salsa let’s you play with the flavor and customize the spiciness to your family’s liking. My kids like to scoop the chili up with blue corn chips instead of a fork or spoon. But if you’re feeling ambitious, cornbread or biscuits go really nicely, too. Leftovers combined with some jack or cheddar cheese make a great burrito filling, esp. topped with sour cream, fresh tomatoes and avocado.

Jan @ Family Bites

Egg Fried Rice – Place a little olive oil and sesame oil in the bottom of a cast iron skillet and sautee 4 cups of leftover rice. Add 2 cups of frozen peas, 2 carrots (peeled and shredded), and some chopped baby bok choy. Cook until rice is golden brown and veggies are soft. Add a few teaspoons oyster sauce, soy sauce and/or hoisin sauce and top with a fried egg.


Pasta With Sausage & Arugula:
In about 1 T of olive oil, saute 1 pound sweet Italian sausage , removed from casing and crumbled, until cooked through. Transfer to a bowl or plate. Add chopped onion to the pan and saute until soft, add 1 clove pressed garlic and stir for about 1 minute or less. Add sausage back in. Add a package of arugula or spinach until wilted. Meanwhile, cook a pound of penne or other fav pasta. Stir in 1/2 cup pasta liquid to sausage, toss drained pasta into sauce, stir in 1/2 cup parm. Pass more parm. For fussy kids, do your split screen thing with sausage on one side of plate, pasta on the other.


Cook a lb of pasta, any variety, al dente please. In a generous amount of olive oil saute some garlic. Throw in some dried red chiles if you like that sort of thing. Combine pasta and olive oil/garlic. Serve with grated pecorino romano.

(This is a weekly standard. It is so beloved that my second grader will taste parmesan and ask suspiciously, “this isn’t pecorino is it?”)


Shred the meat from a rotisserie chicken. Mix with a can drained corn, half of a tub of sour cream, half a can of enchilada sauce, and a cup of shredded cheese. Divide filling between 6-8 tortillas, roll ‘em up, and line ‘em up in a greased dish. Top with another ½ cup of cheese and the rest of the enchilada sauce. Voila, Mexican Night.


Our go-to is ham and pea pasta. While the pasta water is coming to a boil, you saute chopped garlic and sliced up ham in olive oil (sometimes I sneak in some shallots, too) – use more olive oil than you think you want. Add some dried oregano and thyme and pepper. Cook the pasta – in the last two minutes, toss in frozen peas. Drain the pasta and peas and mix them into the hot olive oil with the ham. Serve with plenty of “sprinkle cheese” (as parm is known at our house).

I’d say we eat this about twice a month. With chopped ham steak some nights, with julienned lunch meat others. It is one thing that we almost always have all the ingredients for and that all of us will happily eat!


Jerk chicken chili – Sautee one onion with 2 T jerk sauce (or to taste). Mix in two cans (or 4 cups cooked) white beans with meat from 1/2 a rotisserie chicken. Serve with grated cheddar and tortilla chips (or chopped radishes for a healthier crunch)

belle on heels

courtesy of tasty kitchen: put a 5-ish lb. pork loin in the slow cooker. dump a jar of salsa verde and 3 tbsp. lime juice on top. cook on low for 7-8 hours. shred with 2 forks when done and stir in some chopped onion and cilantro. et voila! serve as tacos, bbq sandwiches, in a hash, or anything else your heart desires. unbelievably easy, unbelievably delicious!


Found this one on OhJoy’s website.

saute garlic in olive oil, add cubed butternut squash turn the heat up and cover the pan – start to let some brown bits form on the squash. throw in some edamame (frozen or fresh!) add pepper to taste. put a little goat cheese on top of each serving. it’ll melt and give the whole thing a slightly creamy tang. takes 15 minutes and tastes amazing!


Can’t Lose Tortilla Soup
1/2 onion, 1 garlic – saute in evo
Dump in 1 qt veggie or chick stock
1 can (rinsed) black beans
1 can tomato sauce
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can corn (optional)
2 zucchini chopped
Cook til zuchs are done. Kids get to top the bowls with (and this is critical) crumbled tortilla chips and grated cheese.
Can add leftover chicken if you want.


Pasta with White Clam Sauce, Saute 1 to 2 cloves of minced garlic in 1/4 c olive oil and 1/4 butter add 3 cans of chopped clams( drain first two cans but keep juice from last one), 1/3 cup white wine, some fresh chopped parsely if you have it and a couple of shakes of red pepper flakes. Serve over your favorite pasta with grated cheese, yum!


“Mac and Cheese” with Peas and Tomatoes

Boil water and add one pound of pasta – cook according to directions
Save one cup of pasta water for later and when pasta is done – take hot pasta and mix with one cup ricotta cheese

While pasta is cooking, Saute 2 minced garlic cloves in olive oil
Once garlic has softened, add in about a cup of frozen peas (or more if you think your kids really like them) – season with salt and pepper

After the peas have cooked about 4 minutes, add in the reserved pasta water and let simmer for a few minutes (not too long)

Cut a pint of grape tomatoes in half and throw in with the pea mixture (turn off heat)

Then add in the pasta mixed with the ricotta into the pan until everything is mixed together

Serve with some grated lemon zest on top (rare if I have this in the house, but if I do, it is a nice touch!)

My son does not like tomatoes, so we just pick them out. In my opinion, this is really good hot the first time around, but leftovers are best cold.

Enjoy – and I hope my directions make sense. I have made this so many dozens of times it is hard to come up with the order of what to do when!

Love this site!!


Saute onions, celery, garlic. Add juice from 2cans clams, basil, parsley.Add clams to sauce. just before pasta is done. Serve on pasta with lots of parm

Victoria Boundy

Contest Entry – “Trite and True” Mac ‘n’ Cheese

Cook whole wheat pasta according to package directions.

In the meantime, saute sliced mushrooms and diced broccoli in a mixture of olive oil and butter (I’m sort of a butter snob and I love Organic Valley Grassfed), along with shakes of parsley, basil, and salt and pepper. While that is cooking, make a roux of butter, flour and milk – cook, stirring, until it is thickened, then add in a cup of grated cheese. No skimping on the cheese here! Mix it all together.

Claudine Campbell

Pork shoulder in crock pot…

Put pork and 1 jar of pepperoncini’s in crock pot
Cook on low for 7 hrs.
Pull roast out, shred & return to pot
Add 1 onion, chopped
Cook 1 more hour

Serve w/ burrito fixings. Serves a crowd and kids love it!


This is the only meal that everyone eats and no one complains about any of it. From the 3 & 5 yo’s to the adults.

Can apple pie filling
6 pork chops
bag stuffing

put apple pie filling on bottom of casserole dish. brown pork chops and place on top of apples. cook stuffing according to directions and put on top of everything. cover and cook at 350 for about an hour or until pork is done.

Britney R.

Sun-Dried Tomato and Artichoke Chicken Linguine

Chop sun-dried tomatoes, artichokes, and grilled chicken into bite-sized pieces. Saute tomatoes and artichokes over medium heat in olive oil. Add salt, pepper, garlic, and basil.

Add linguine, chicken and more olive oil if necessary.

Also great as a vegetarian meal. You can add other veggies as well. Still tastes great.


It was a relief to see my kids inhale the very same dinner that my mom made for me just about every week when i was a kid. This Chicken Piccata was on the menu every single week and I never got sick of it. I tweaked this Bon Appetit recipe from 1981 to fit our busy schedules, it is a great 30 minute meal. I also loved these parslied potatoes, this is the food that I make for myself if I am having a pity party (table for 1!).

Chicken Piccata with Parslied Potatoes
1 pound red skinned potatoes, sliced in half and boiled in salted water till a knife cuts through easily. I start these before the chicken.

Slice 3 skinless boneless chicken lengthwise so they are thin-ish cutlets. Dredge in flour and salt and pepper. Melt butter in a skillet and brown the chicken, 3 pieces at a time (doesn’t have to be cooked all the way through). Remove and set aside. When chicken is finished, add the juice of 2-3 lemons, 1/2 cup chicken stock and a 2 spoonfuls of capers, scraping up the brown bits from the pan. Taste it and declare this is the best batch you’ve ever made. Then place the chicken and a pat or two of butter back into the sauce and let it simmer for 5-8 minutes.

Parslied Potatoes
Once the potatoes are cooked through, drain and toss with chopped parsley and a good amount of butter and salt and pepper. Use any extra parsley to sprinkle over the piccata dish.


Bacon Pasta…. (aka Bucatini all’Amatriciana)

While pasta water comes to a boil, saute chopped onions, red pepper flakes and minced garlic in some olive oil and butter. When soft add chopped up bacon until cooked (or turkey bacon or pancetta if I’m feeling fancy. I try to keep some in the freezer. I often just cut up the bacon with kitchen sheers). Then add crushed tomatoes and cook while the pasta cooks. I use bucatini if I have it but if not any long pasta. Toss all together with some parm or pecorino. Yummy for everyone.


Black Bean and Sweet Potato Tacos-Yummy! Easy!

Heat about 1 T. olive oil. Add 1/2 c. or so chopped onion and 1/2 c. red or green pepper if you have it. saute until onion is tender, then add 1 t. miced (I use jarred) garlic. Cook for 1 minute, then add 1 can undrained black beans and 1 stweet potato cubed and a 1/2 packet taco seasoning. cook until potato is tender and serve with you favorite taco fixings.


BBQ chicken pizza: saute red (or other) onions and some garlic, mix rotisserie chicken with your favorite BBQ sauce (and maybe some fresh spinach), top TJ’s pizza dough (we like whole wheat) with chicken, onions, cheddar and mozzarella cheese, and bake in oven for about 15 minutes at 425 degrees. Enjoy!


b-bque pork ‘butt’ (ha, ha – appeals to the 1st grader in the house)

rub a de-boned, trimmed pork butt (2.5 lbs) with a mix of brown sugar, cumin, and chili powder. Put in slow cooker, dump an entire bottle of bbque sauce on top, cook on low 9 – 10 hours, shred and eat as tacos, on top of rice or noodles … so yummy.


I am loving all these ideas! My go-to right now is Spaghetti with Chickpeas… or
Chickspaghetti (as the 5yo says)

Heat a few Tablespoons of olive oil in a large pan over med-low heat with 3-4 cloves chopped garlic, tsp dried thyme (fresh is wonderful if you have it), a pinch of red pepper flakes and salt/pepper until soft and fragrant. Add 2 cans drained/rinsed chick-peas and mash with a potato masher untill smashed but chunky (you can also whirl the chickpeas in a food processor for a smother consistency but I don’t like to do extra dishes…) turn up the heat and add a good glug of white wine and let that bubble for a minute or two. Add a 15oz can of crushed tomatoes.
meanwhile – boil whatever pasta shape suits your fancy. When that is done, toss the sauce with the pasta and serve with plenty of shredded parm.
We usually serve this with a green salad, too.


sausage, bean, and kale stew

1 onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
8 italian sausage links, chopped (or whichever type you like
1 (32 oz. ) container of chicken broth
1 (14.5 oz) can of diced tomatoes
2 cans cannellini beans, rinsed & drained
1 large bunch of kale, rinsed & chopped (or other greens)

saute onion in dutch oven in olive oil until softened, add sausage and cook until browned and heated through. ass garlic and cook until fragrant. add broth, tomatoes, and beans. add salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper to taste. bring to a boil. add kale, simmer until wilted. serve with shredded parmesan or romano and crusty bread.

my 2 year old is not a meat fan and loves this. hope you enjoy. got your book yesterday and am really enjoying it!


it’s been mentioned a couple of times already, but our go to meal is crockpot pulled pork. we eat this 2-3 times per month, and it was one of the first meats my boyfriend’s nephew ate/enjoyed. he is two now and loves pulling apart the strings of pork to eat. it also it great for me, because i have a hatred towards bbq sauce of any kind.

you can also mix up the paprika/chili powder ratio and add more or less cayenne to adjust for individual tastes. we like it a little spicy, even the baby.

night before, mix the following in a bowl, [or in your crockpot like i do – less mess]:
1 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp brown sugar
1 Tbsp salt
2 Tbsp paprika [i used smoked, but whatever is fine]
2 Tbsp chili powder
lots of ground black pepper
dash or two of cayenne – optional

rub all over a 2-3.5 lb pork loin, then put pork loin in covered crockpot in fridge overnight. if there’s extra rub, just dump it in the pot, too.

in the morning, remove from fridge, add about a 1/4 cup of water – i eyeball it – then plug crockpot in, turn to low and cook for at least 8 hours. i’ve let it go for over 10 and it’s still moist.

about 20 minutes before dinner, shred pork with two forks and allow to soak up some of the juices. serve as sandwiches, or in tacos, enchiladas, etc. or just eat by itself, with a veg on the side, like the nephew.


This is a new one that everyone at least tried, developed after we had a TON of leftover spiral sliced ham in the freezer.
Cut up leftover ham, or ham steak into julienne type strips. Sautee with green beans (frozen are fine) and teriyaki sauce. (We like Soy Vey’s Veri Veri Teriyaki). Serve with rice, or noodles on the side.


I have two. The are hardly recipes but we eat one or the other probably once a week and they are super fast and super easy which is necessary when you work full time and have a 3year-old at home. First is quesadilla! The filling can change. Favorites are: handful of frozen corn (thawed), some black beans, and cheese. Or leftover chicken, cilantro leaves and cheese. Use whole grain tortillas so it’s not a nutritional disaster and fry them in a medium hot nonstick pan with just a little oil. Small children like to cut with a pizza cutter. Serve with some sour cream if you have it. And I generally serve steamed broccoli, and/or carrot sticks, and/or black beans and rice on the side. Hot dinner on the table in 15 minutes, using leftovers or pantry staples, for reals. The second is egg scrambles. Saute part of an onion or a shallot, some mushrooms if you have them, add some leftover ham or bacon if you have it, add the eggs (beaten), add some cheese, and a big handful or two or three of spinach leaves. Cook over medium low heat, stirring frequently, until done and serve with whole grain toast and sliced fruit.


Dinner; 1, 2, 3~

1. Sausages, grilled or sauteed

2. Smashed (NOT mashed) potatoes: smallest possible new potatoes; boil until just done, then toss with olive oil, S&P and a bit of diced garlic on a cookie sheet. Use pan top to smash potatoes somewhat, then bake in 450 oven for 30 min. until they get crispy and delicious.

~ Fly High Kale salad (thanks, stay at stove dad!): cut lacinato kale into thin ribbons. Briefly sautee in olive oil. dress with lemon juice, lots of parmesan and toasted pine nuts. Could also serve this raw.


4 eggs whisk with 1/4 cup greek yogart, 1/2 cup shredded cheese of your choice 1/2 cup milk, Salt and pepper to taste. Any vegetables you like chopped chunky and softened in 1 tbsp. olive oil. When they are done poor in the eggs and cook on top of stove until set, then put in oven at 350* until done. Serve with salad and garlic cheese bread! This will pack great to take to the ball park too.


In a 1/2 c. of olive oil, saute a couple of cloves of garlic and a pinch of red pepper flakes until fragrant. If you are so inclined, add a can of tuna. Remove from heat. Boil a pound of pasta and reserve a cup of pasta water. Mix the tuna mixture, pasta, and pasta water. Add a couple of handfuls of arugula or baby spinach. Cover for a few minutes to wilt the greens. Serve.


red potatoes and carrots cut into bite size pieces (easier for my kids this way), drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with kosher salt, pepper, grated parm cheese, and some thyme. bake at 400 for 45 to 50 min, stir it up during cooking if you feel like it. makes a delicious side to any dinner! we make this every week, and every time i can’t get enough.


I love this post – so many recipes that we can all try! For us, like many, the go to meal is pasta. I never get “ahhhguh” when I tell the kids we’re having baked gnocchi.
Saute any kind of sausage with a little olive oil, deglaze with your choice tomato sauce – about 4 cups for a family of four – enough to coat your gnocchi and a little extra. Meanwhile, cook regular potato gnocchi until al dente. Dump it all into a casserole dish & mix. Top with mozz cheese or mixed italian cheeses. Broil about 5-10 min or until melty and just lightly brown. Sometimes I add some sauted spinach too (to one side of the casserole for some of us). Serve with salad or green beans.


RGR–Roasted garlic rosemary chicken

2 chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces
2 large potatoes, cut into bite-size pieces
1 large zucchini, cut into half moons
1/2 pint of grape tomatoes
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 T. fresh rosemary, chopped

Toss all of the above onto a sheet of foil sprayed with cooking spray, drizzle olive oil over top, sprinkle with S&P. Bake for about 30 minutes at 400, just until the chicken is done. The grape tomatoes in this dish really sing, and what smells better than rosemary in the oven?


Cut up zucchini into chunky batons and fry in oil/butter. Cook some pasta. Mix zucchini with pasta . Add more olive oil, lots of lemon juice, parmesan cheese, fresh basil or mint and black pepper.


Instant Curry with Basmati Rice
A container of “Maya Kaimal’s Tamarind Curry Sauce” Available in the refrigerator section of health and specialty stores. We eat it with tofu or sauteed chicken, carmelized onions, a pkg of spinach, and a jar of chickpeas or some frozen peas.

The kids eat parts of it….one loves the sauce if you sort out the onions….the other eats the sauteed chicken and spinach we reserve before cooking with rice. Not exactly family style but close enough for now.


This recipe originated from Jacques Pepin and was my introduction to reduction sauces, which I simply love because of the brilliant flavors you get from those yummy brown bits and reduced alcohol, etc. (not to mention the great excuse to have a little of the cooking alcohol on the side!). It’s a great recipe for many reasons: measurements don’t have to be exact (I’ve been eye-balling it now for years w/fabulous results), versatile because I’ve found you can use pork tenderloin or beef tenderloin (if your budget will allow), feels “gourmet” but is simple enough for a weeknight meal w/your kiddos, can be made into an elegant meal for company depending on what you serve w/it (I happen to favor a spinach gorgonzola risotto myself), and most importantly it comes together VERY quickly w/just a few ingredients.

Petits Filets Mignons of Pork in Port Wine Sauce:

Take 1 large pork tenderloin (1 1/4 – 1 1/2 lbs) and trim most of the fat off of it. Cut it crosswise into 8 or so small filets about 1 to 1 1/2 inches thick. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Heat a pat of butter and a glug of olive oil in a large saucepan over med-high heat. When the butter and oil are hot, arrange the filets in one layer in the saucepan and brown on each side (~2 to 3 min per side). Remove from the pan onto a plate and keep warm in a 180-degree oven. Add 1/3 cup port wine to the drippings in the pan, bringing it to a boil over high heat for 1 minute. Then add 1/2 cup chicken stock and 1 1/2 tablespoons ketchup and continue to cook over high heat for another 2-3 minutes. Add some chopped fresh thyme and mix well. Spoon sauce over filets and serve with your favorite plain rice and sautéed spinach.


Butternut Squash Pear Soup – great for feeding babies as well as feeding adults at a fancy party.

Sweat 2 chopped onions and 1 T ginger in butter. Add 1 peeled, cubed butternut squash and 4 cubed pears and sweat those too a bit. Pour in enough stock to submerge solids. Add sprig of rosemary and some nutmeg. simmer until tender. Remove rosemary. Puree with immersion blender. Add a touch of cream and season to taste. Freezes well!!!


Bastardized Oyakodon

Slice one large onion very thinly. Cook this in a big dash of olive oil over medium-low heat until onions are soft and brown. While these are cooking, mix equal parts soy sauce and sugar to form a thickish sauce. Cut about 1-1.25 lb of boneless chicken (white or dark–we like dark) into chunks and stir into the sauce. When onions are ready, add the chicken and sauce to the pan; cook over medium-high heat. While the chicken cooks, beat four eggs in the bowl that the chicken was in. When the chicken is done, add the eggs, let them set a little, then stir every once in a while, like you’re making scrambled eggs, until all the egg is cooked. Garnish with chopped scallion, if you’re feeling fancy, and serve with rice.


Stone Soup (via the folktale): whatever veggies we have in the fridge, (potatoes, carrots, celery, kale, etc), bouillion, a handful of farro, some dried or canned beans. . . Glug in some jarred pasta sauce or tomato paste just before serving. It doesn’t take long to cook, and it makes a hearty meal with bread, cheese, and fruit.


Chicken/Broccoli/Cheese/Rice Cassarole

Put leftover rice in the bottom of a dish (or cook 1 cup of rice).
Zap two bags of broccoli and cheese sauce, and layer that on top.
Top this with two cups cooked chicken.
Top that with enought shredded cheddar to cover.
Bake at 350 about 20 minutes or until cheese is melted and everything is hot.

Colorado Mama

Lemon Chicken & Asparagus: Dredge chicken breasts in flour & salt & pepper. Saute med-high just until brown. Pour in about 1/2 c. chicken stock & squeeze in some lemon juice. Also nestle some asparagus spears alongside, cover & cook on medium heat until done, adding more liquid if needed (gotta love sides cooked right along the entree!). Sprinkle with chopped parsley & capers if you like. My family loves this over buttered orzo


Cashew pork and broccoli — put some white rice on to cook, or pull your pre-made healthy brown rice out of the fridge or freezer and heat in the microwave. Cut about a half pound of pork tenderloin into smallish pieces; stir in a bowl with a couple of tablespoons of cornstarch. Heat some oil (peanut or canola) in a frying pan or saute pan, saute half a chopped onion, add a couple of teaspoons each chopped ginger and chopped garlic (jarred is fine), then the pork. Stir-fry until the pork is half done, throw in a generous amount of broccoli chopped into florets, stir-fry until broccoli is pretty much done. Turn the heat down and add about a half cup chicken broth, a quarter cup soy sauce. Let the sauce reduce and stir in some cashews. Add a dab of Asian chili pepper sauce to the grownups’ portions. Serve over rice. Variations: boneless chicken instead of pork; green beans instead of broccoli; almonds instead of cashews.


From Ruth to Ruth…This is my version of Ruth Reichl’s Pasta Carbonara.
Put 1 lb. of pasta on and cook 6-8 thick slices of bacon chopped into 1/2 inch pieces with 2-4 cloves of garlic smashed. Toast a handful of pine nuts. When pasta is 4 minutes from done throw in 2-3 cut up crowns of broccoli. Scrammble two eggs in a large bowl (big enough for all food to be well tossed). Salt and pepper. When pasta is done drain and throw in with eggs and toss like crazy. Add the cooked bacon, chop up the garlic if you want extra garlicy meal, and some or all of the bacon fat. Top with pine nuts and parmesan. My kiddos love this meal.

Amanda S

I love everyone’s ideas! I needed some quick meal ideas for the next couple weeks – we are moving so we’ll be low on time!
Here is my submission for the Contest:

1 head cauliflower
2 tablespoons Olive Oil
1 shallot
½ box spaghetti noodles
1 can cannellini beans,drained (or other white bean)
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
½ cup shredded parmesan
(You could also use a can of garbanzo bean and roast them with the cauliflower to mix it up – roasted garbanzos are good!)

Coat the cauliflower olive oil, sprinkle salt and pepper. Roast in a 450° oven for about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile cook spaghetti noodles according to the package directions, reserve 1 1/2 cups of the pasta water when you drain the noodles.

Put 2T. Olive oil in the pot and sauté the shallots for 2 minutes. Add the roasted cauliflower, beans, noodles, pasta water, chopped parsley and stir to coat the pasta

Serve with Parmesan


saute chard in olive oil with onions or shallots, maybe a little white wine if it’s already open. Chop up kalamata olives and add. Toss with pasta and plenty of parmesan. The kids eat this because of the olives, but they eat it.


Thai Pork and Noodles

1 lb of ground pork/ turkey/ chicken
1 chopped red onion
1 cup frozen peas
1 red pepper diced

Cook onion with a little olive oil, add peppers and peas until soft. Remove vegetables from pan. Add ground meat and cook thoroughly. I like it browned. Prepare sauce: 3 tablespoons fish sauce, 1 tbsp brown sugar, juice of one or two limes. Mix vegies and meat and sauce in a bowl. Garnish with cilantro and serve over white rice, brown rice, or rice noodles.

Lisa B in GA

Crock pot beef
Just mix stew beef, 2-3cans beef broth, 1 pack dry onion soup, 1 can cream of mushroom soup, 1pack sliced mushrooms. Cook on low for 5 hours. Blend in 1/2 cup of sour cream just before serving. Serve over rice or egg noodles, or in a bowl like soup.


Salmon with Tropical Guacamole

2 salmon filets
1 avacados. chopped
½ mango, chopped
½ golden delicious apple (or jicama)
2 T red onion, minced
2 T fresh lemon juice
1/8 tsp. salt (or more, to taste)


Coat the salmon with a little olive oil. Broil until done.

Meanwhile, chop everything up and mix together.

Pour over salmon.

Mary P

Slightly mash a can of black beans with a teaspoon of cumin. Spread some of this into a flour tortilla, fold it in half and cook like a quesadilla. THEN, pry that baby open and fill it with a quick slaw made from shredded cabbage, green onion, lime juice, and grated carrot if you feel up to it. The best part: plenty of crumbled feta cheese. You may recognize this as an old SmittenKitchen recipe, I confess, but it is still so delicious every time I make it, regardless of the ridiculously quick prep time.


Here’s one we love, Eggs in Tomato Sauce, that I’ve adapted from a Smitten Kitchen recipe. It’s fairly quick and easy, and my kids (2 and 4) love to help me “paint” the olive oil on the baguette slices.

1 32 oz. can crushed tomatoes
2 Tbsp olive-oil, plus more for bread
4 cloves of garlic, minced
A couple pinches of sugar
Salt and pepper
2 – 3 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
6 – 8 large eggs
Loaf of crusty bread
Freshly grated Parmesan

Preheat broiler.
In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic and cook, stirring, about 1 minute. Add crushed tomatoes and bring to a boil; season with sugar, salt and pepper. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 10 to 15 minutes. Add balsamic vinegar and simmer for a few more minutes.
While sauce simmers, slice baguette and brush with olive oil. Broil until lightly toasted on each side, or if you’re like me and always burn your bread under the broiler, you can saute it in a separate skillet.
When the tomato sauce is done, gently crack eggs into it, cover, and let cook 5 minutes. Remove lid and place skillet under broiler for 2 – 5 minutes, or until tops of the eggs are set to your liking.
For each serving, place 3 – 4 pieces of toasted bread on plate, top with tomato sauce and 1 – 2 eggs. Sprinkle with cheese.


1. Pasta-whatever’s on hand, cook a batch
2. Heat butter, olive oil, and garlic, toss with pasta
3. Add in protein (personal favorite-Trader Joe’s langostinos)
4. If you’re feeling fancy, toss in some peas or leftover veggies
5. Top with parmesan


I get two dinners out of this recipe (adopted from Jamie Oliver – Jamie at Home).

Day 1 – Sausage and tomato bake
Day 2 – sausage & tomato pasta

Drizzle extra virgin olive oil on bottom of pan (I use 9×9 or 8×11 – depending on how much I’m making). Cover bottom of pan with grape or cherry tomatoes. Throw in a few peeled garlic cloves, a few sprigs of fresh thyme or rosemary, then place several fresh sausage links on top of the tomatoes (I use sweet italian but you can use brats, hot italian, chicken, turkey, -whatever you have on hand). Pierce the sausages with a knife so they don’t explode while baking. Bake in the oven at 375 until done (juices run clear). remove and discard herbs. Serve with crusty bread or mashed potatoes.

Day 2 (leftovers) — slice sausage and reheat with remaining tomatoes in a pan. Toss with cooked pasta – you can use some leftover pasta water to loosen and thin out the sauce. Sprinkle with fresh parsley and/or parmesan cheese.

Kristen M.

Ok, totally keeping these comments as my meal-planning go-to the next few weeks…

Tempeh tacos: Browned tempeh, pinto beans, taco seasoning. Chopped fresh tomatoes, avocado, red peppers. Grated cheddar cheese. Bowl of salsa. Awesome hard corn shells from Trader Joe’s. Tons of bowls, tons of choice, kids will love!


Cook tortellini, add sauce. Put into baking dish. Mix in cut vegetables of choice (broccoli, carrots, etc.) Cover with grated cheese. Slide it in the oven.


Two of our go-to dinners:
– “Smorgasboard” – any and all leftover veggies, cheeses, and meats, cut and arranged on our big cutting board with pita pockets, crackers or tortillas, little piles of nuts and any other pickings we can pull from the pantry. The kids think it’s so cool to put their own dinner together off the spread. Even better if we lay it on the floor and do it picnic-style.
– Green beans, tossed in balsamic vinaigrette, with sauted red onions, bacon, and hard-boiled eggs. Surprisingly filling for the adults – especially with crusty bread and a glass of wine. The kids like it “deconstructed” – all separate without the onions and dressing.


Roasted Veggie Pizza

Roast bite sized pieces of sweet potato, butternut squash, carrots, red onion, potato medley (from tjs) and garlic with a little olive oil and s&p.

Roll out tjs whole wheat pizza dough and cover with mozzeralla, then the roasted veggies, dollops of ricotta and a little more mozzeralla. Bake for 25mins and enjoy! Tastes like candy and it’s veggies!!!


Chicken Fajita Pizza! 1 premade pizza crust, salsa as base, chicken fajita meat, chopped red onion and bell pepper, topped with mozz. cheese, baked until bubbled and golden!


2 cans black beans, drained
1 can corn, drained
1/2 c.-1 c. your family’s favorite salsa (I don’t actually measure it–just dump it in until it looks tasty)

Serve with baked tortilla chips. Other than a spoon for the beans, you don’t even have to set any silverware on the table if you don’t want to!

We’re living abroad this year and miss this super-quick meal, although I guess I could make here it if I made my own salsa and made my own corn tortillas and cooked the black beans from scratch…Nah.


Ceci Soup–here is my all-time favorite easy weeknight meal (a friend who lived in Italy taught it to me). Perfect because all the ingredients can be in your pantry and my three children LOVE it.

In a large soup pot or dutch oven, lightly brown 4-5 cloves of garlic in a little olive oil. Remove garlic and discard.

Add 1 14.5oz can of chopped tomatoes and a dash of rosemary*. Simmer for 10-20 minutes. (*I use Penzey’s powdered rosemary, because my kids don’t like “sticks” in their food!)

Add 2 cans of drained and rinsed chick peas and simmer until heated through (about 5 mins).

From a 48oz can of chicken broth, add 1-2 cups of broth and bring to a simmer. Pull away from the heat, and use an immersion blender to puree the ingredients (you can leave some bits of tomatoes and chick peas for texture if you think your kids can handle it).

Add remaining chicken broth, stir thoroughly, and bring to a boil.

Add approx. 1 cup of pastina and cook per package directions (6-7 mins.), stirring occasionally.

Serve soup with a drizzle of quality olive oil and a healthy sprinkling of parmesan cheese.

Viola! An easy, delicious, healthy soup that is perfect for a cold night. We usually have some form of biscuits or parmesan bread to accompany the soup. This recipe is very forgiving with timing. You can speed it up or slow it down depending on what level of craziness is happening in your house.


Pasta + Greenies

chunk of pancetta (roughly 1/4-1/3 lb)
greens of any kind (beet, kale, chard – one big bunch)
1 lb pasta (we adore percatelli, but whatever you have works)

Chop pancetta into rough dice, and cook in a large saute pan until crispy. Start pasta water and clean and slice greens into ribbons while you wait. Smash a few cloves of garlic.

When the pancetta is nice and crispy, remove it from the pan. Drain off some of the rendered fat, if necessary. Saute the smashed garlic cloves for a moment, then add the greens. Cook until tender.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta.

When the pasta is just a touch shy of al dente, drain it and toss it in the pan with the greens to finish cooking for a moment or two. If it seems dry, add a bit of olive oil or pasta water. Toss in the pancetta. Serve with parm for grating over.

It’s my first-grader’s favorite meal.


Soba noodle stir fry:

We have this at least once a week. It’s literally 15 minutes start to finish (esp if you use frozen veggies) and my 3.9yo and 17mo devour it.

1 package of soba noodles (~8oz)
1 package asian-style baked tofu (we like SoyBoy Tofu Lin), cubed
Stir fry-able veggies of your choice (we often use Trader Joe’s frozen Asian veggies but if I have time, I’ll do carrots, snow peas, sugar snaps, asparagus, mushrooms, baby bok choi, etc.)

Boil a pot of water and put the soba noodles in. Swirl around with a fork so they separate. Follow instructions on package (cook minimum amount of time so that they are al dente). Drain in a strainer and rinse with cold water. Drain completely and set aside.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together:

2 T toasted sesame oil
2 T honey
2 T rice vinegar
2 T soy sauce
minced ginger (to taste)
minced garlic (optional, if you have time)

Meanwhile, start heating your stir fry pan of choice (I use a Le Creuset braising pan, actually, b/c it gets nice and hot & retains the heat well) until very hot. Add a Tb of vegetable oil, and saute the cubed tofu until brown and crispy on most sides. Remove to a paper towel.

Add veggies to pan and saute, stirring frequently, until crisp-tender.

Turn off heat and add the sauce, which will start to bubble and caramelize a little. Add tofu and noodles back to the pan and toss everything together until everything is coated with the sauce and the noodles are hot.

Serve immediately. Garnishes optional but my family likes pickled ginger, cut into small strips, sprinkled on top.

Kristin Klarkowski

Quick Healthy Pizzas –

Trader Joes Whole Wheat Naan
Really Good Olive Oil
Shaved Parmesan
Fresh Spinach
Fresh Cracked Pepper
Cherry Tomatoes – halved

Take the naan, brush with olive oil and put under the broiler. when it becomes a bit toasted add the shaved parm and return it to the broiler. When cheese is melted pull it out and add a handful of fresh spinach, fresh cracked pepper, a pinch of sea salt, another splash of olive oil or vinagrette. Cut into strips and serve with a lovely glass of red wine or for the kiddies a slash of white milk. You could also make these into cheese pizzas but my little guys like spinach so we run with that.


We make “whatever noodles” — this is the basic outline, but it varies according to “whatever” we have lurking in the fridge. Bok choy, broccoli, or sprouts are nice additions, when they aren’t neglected and mushy in the fridge.

1 package Asian noodles — ramen, udon, etc.
a splash of sesame oil
a splash of soy sauce
cooked, shredded chicken
shredded carrots
diced apple

Cook noodles according to package directions. Rinse in cold water and drain.
Combine sesame oil and soy sauce in bowl. Add noodles, chicken, carrots, and apple and mix thoroughly.


Love the site- keep it coming!
If you can settle for Minute Rice, this gets on the table in 15 minutes:

Scallops with Citrus Cream Sauce
For the scallops- Saute scallops in olive oil with a little salt and pepper, turning once about 4-5 mins total.
For the sauce- Meanwhile, melt 1 1/2 T butter in a saucepan. Add comparable amount of flour & cook until nutty to make a roux. Add 1/2 t chicken bouillion to 2/3 c water and microwave it to warm it up. Deglaze pan, add a nice glug of white wine and stir. Add juice of 1/2 lemon and 1/2 orange and simmer. Add cream to taste- we did lots- and simmer until you like the consistency. Add salt and pepper to taste.


Pita Pizza

Our go to for guests and easy weeknight dinner. Is to pull out frozen pita bread the thick kind that gyro’s are usually wrapped in. Then spread tomato paste over the top of it. Then sometimes I sprinkle with some herbs or just salt and pepper. Then really anything goes that’s in the fridge. Sometimes it’s cheddar cheese that goes on other times it’s feta, goat, parmesan. Things seen on the top of these are nearly all vegetables, olives, pepperoni, artichoke hearts, leftover grilled vegetables and pineapple and and and.

Then just pop them in the oven on broil for 3 minutes or so.

We had a playdate with a bunch of mom’s the other day and everybody got to make their own and everybody had a great time.


Pregnant Pasta: Get thin spaghetti cooking. Fry garlic & chilli flakes, add a few lumps of frozen chopped spinach and small tin tuna. When pasta is done, toss with the rest and serve with generous glug of lemon juice and loads of parmesan. (Invented when I was pregnant)


Do crockpots count?

1 jar marinara, 1 can 14 oz diced tomatoes, 1 pkg sliced mushrooms, 1/2 pound italian sausage, 1/2 ground beef. Cook 8 hours on low. When you get home, drop in 1-2 9 ounce packages of fresh cheese tortellini. Top with 1 cup mozzarella. The hot sauce cooks the tortellini. We serve with bread and a salad served (with your all-purpose vinegarette)


In a large pan, fry a handful of diced garlic and onions w/ cracked black pepper in olive oil. Dump a tray of ground turkey (you know, the ~1 lb tray from TJ’s) with soy sauce; once cooked, dump 2 bags frozen penne arrabiata pasta and 1/3 of a bag of frozen spinach and succotash (also from TJ’s). Mix, cover, uncover, mix, until cooked. Turn off fire. *Now this is key: grab a handful of cilantro, cut stems into ant sized pieces, followed by coarsely cut leaves. Then squeeze half a lime over the pasta and mix, cover for about a minute. Done.


Quiche! Trader Joe’s pie crust, 6 eggs, one cup of cream, salt pepper, nutmeg and whatever protein, cheese and herb I have. My favorite: ham, swiss and green onion. Husband’s favorite: bacon, cheddar and mushroom. Can’t screw this up and it’s always possible with what’s on hand. 375 for 40 minutes.


Lemon chicken…preheat oven to 400. In 9x 13 pyrex, lay bone in, skin on, chicken breasts, thighs, legs or any combination. We do thighs. Combine juice of one lemon with 1/4 cup olive oil and pour over chicken. Sprinkle generously with kosher salt and pepper and about 1/2 tablespoon of dried oregano. Cook for 35 minutes or until skin is golden brown and crispy. Serve with cous cous and some kind of green vegetable steamed quickly.


Italian Fusilli
12 oz dried Long Fusilli pasta
½ lb Turkey or chicken Italian Sausage
2 cans (14 oz each) stewed Italian tomatoes
2 tsp fennel seed, crushed
1 cup chopped basil leaves
salt and pepper
grated asiago or parmesan

Cook pasta. Squeeze sausage from casings, break into chunks and brown. Stir in tomatoes and fennel. Simmer for 5 minutes. Stir in chopped basil. Drain pasta and return to pan. Add tomato mixture and toss to coat. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add cheese.


“Cheesy Peasy Pasta”

– Cook 1 lb. pasta (aim for different types of pasta each time you serve this up to keep the kids interested)

– Save some of the boiled water to steam 2 cups frozen peas

– Mix pasta and peas together and add cheese (feta has been a big hit lately)

There you go–cheesy peasy pasta.


Sesame Chicken & Broccoli

Cut 1.5 lb chicken breasts into 2 inch chunks
-whisk two egg whites and 1/4 c cornstarch
– add chicken, S&P, toss to coat
Sautee with vegetable oil 6 – 8 minutes (in two batches)

Meanwhile, make sauce:
-3tbsp honey
-2 tbsp sesame seeds
-2 tbsp soy sauce
-1 minced garlic clove
Toss cooked chicken with sauce and return to pan

Steam cut-up broccoli, 4 – 6 minutes (or bok choy)

Serve with rice


Pork loin, can root beer in slow cooker. 8 hrs low. Dump root beer out. Shred. Add favorite BBQ sauce. Serve.

(You did say it should fit in a tweet!). Can’t remember where this came from…but we use it regularly during the winter…varying the types of BBQ sauce depending on our mood.


Pork loin, can root beer in slow cooker. 8 hrs low. Dump root beer out. Shred. Add favorite BBQ sauce. Serve.

(You did say it should fit in a tweet!). Can’t remember where this came from…but we use it regularly during the winter…varying the types of BBQ sauce depending on our mood.