Okay, this was going to be a post about 5 weeknight meals, but, I started getting burnt out after writing the third one, and thought I should actually save the rest of my mental cooking energy for dinner tonight. I did push through for the fourth recipe!
Coming up with healthy dinners used to be one of my least favorite things to do. I am generally tired in the evenings and ready to just sit down and relax, but with three growing children and a husband who loves to cook, but works late, dinner is usually up to me.
Over the past few years, cooking has become a much more enjoyable experience for me once I realized that eating healthy and delicious meals doesn’t mean you have to spend hours in the kitchen. Along with most areas of life, meals can be simplified too! I now spend around 20-25 minutes cooking dinner from start to finish, and they are healthy, simple and great tasting meals!
I can’t take the credit though. I’m not a natural born cook, so all of these recipes I’ve gotten from others who are talented in the cooking arena. Try these out for yourself and make dinners simple!
This recipe is one of my family’s favorites. I actually added in the shrimp and chicken broth, but the general recipe is from Jules Clancy’s wonderful site TheStoneSoup. If you are looking for a wide range of recipes that are quick, healthy and few ingredients, I can’t recommend her site enough.
Sausage, Rice and Veggie Dinner
What You’ll Need:
3-4 Sausage links- we love mild Italian
1 yellow onion
1 large bell pepper
½ pound medium deshelled and deveined shrimp
2 cups low sodium chicken broth
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup brown or white rice
Parmesan Cheese (optional)
Green vegetable, broccoli, green beans, fresh spinach or arugula
Here is my 20-minute breakdown:
Throw butter, rice and chicken broth into your rice cooker and press on. If you don’t have a rice cooker, do it the old fashioned way and get your broth and butter boiling on the stovetop, then put in your rice.
While the rice is cooking, chop up the onion and bell pepper and slice the sausage up. Pour a little olive oil into a pan on the stovetop, heat to medium and put it all in. Keep an eye on it, stirring occasionally, when it’s all cooked and the veggies are soft, throw the shrimp in there for 3-4 minutes. They cook fast, so keep an eye on it!
While the above is cooking, steam your vegetable, or toss your spinach leaves or arugula in some balsamic dressing. Okay, time to bring it all together. If you’ve got a large serving plate or bowl, I like to dump the rice in it, put the sausage and shrimp mixture on the rice and grate Parmesan cheese on top. Serve the salad or other veggies on the side. (If you want to get REALLY creative like me, tear up some fresh cilantro or parsley and sprinkle over the top of the sausage and rice AND the salad) I know…genius!!
Okay, next dinner. This one is my husband’s absolute favorite at the moment, and since he is a gourmet chef when he’s not at work, I know this is a good one. It also came from one of my favorite cookbooks, the 6 Ingredients or Less Cookbook.
Black Bean Queso Tostadas
What You’ll Need:
1 container cherry tomatoes
2 cans black refried beans
4 ears of fresh corn
Queso Mexican Crumbling cheese
Corn tostado shells
Salt and pepper
Okay, this one just can’t get any simpler. The amount above will feed 4 hungry people.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees, and line a baking sheet with foil.
Cut the cherry tomatoes in half and put in a bowl. Cut the corn off of the cobs and put in the bowl with the tomatoes. (Sometimes, if I’m feeling lazy, I even leave the little strings on…it still tastes good!) Toss corn and tomatoes with a couple tablespoons olive oil and salt and pepper. Spread on the baking sheet and pop in the oven. Set the timer for 10 minutes.
While you’re standing around for those ten minutes, get the queso cheese out and crumble it in a bowl…okay, while you’re still standing around you could set the table, maybe clean up the corn husks? Okay, after ten minutes, stir the corn and tomatoes and set the timer for another 10 minutes. I know, this is hard work. You’re on your own for ideas on what to do for the next ten minutes. Oh wait! You need to heat up the black refried beans! Get them heating in a pan on the stovetop.
When the corn and tomatoes are finished baking, dump them in a bowl, put them on the table along with your queso cheese, beans and tostada shells and you’re done! Layer all the items on top of the shells and eat. So good.
This next recipe I pretty much have to bribe my kids to eat. They don’t even know how good they have it with me force feeding them Salmon!! My husband and I love it, and if you like seafood, this is going to taste pretty great. Mainly because I got the recipe from Emeril.
Rosemary Salmon & Baby Golden Tomatoes
What You’ll Need:
Salmon (However many fillets you need to feed everyone)
Garlic (1 clove per fillet)
Lemon (enough to slice and cover fillets)
Salt and Pepper
Baby Golden Potatoes (small bag)
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line TWO baking sheets with foil. Make sure one of them has enough room and foil to completely enclose the salmon.
Ready, set, go! Cut the golden baby potatoes in half and place in bowl. Toss them in olive oil and salt and pepper. If you’re feeling really gourmetish, sprinkle them with some Mrs. Dash or other seasoning blend. Turn them out on the lined baking sheet and put them in the oven to get started baking.
Wash and pat dry the Salmon, or don’t. 😉 Place it on the foil-lined pan and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Slice the garlic cloves, lemon and chop up the rosemary. Layer on top of the Salmon starting with rosemary, then garlic, then lemon slices. Drizzle a little bit of olive oil over the top.
Close the foil around the salmon so it is completely sealed inside. Sometimes I don’t cut enough foil, so just grab another piece as needed to finish sealing it shut. Place in the oven with the potatoes. Stir the potatoes while you’ve got the oven door open. Multitasking here!
Okay, so you should have another 10 minutes or so of cooking time, so clean up, set the table, go check on why the kids are so quiet…then check the salmon and potatoes to make sure they are done, they probably are, so plate everything up and you’re ready to eat! If you want more veggies, by all means put some spinach leaves on your plate with some dressing or lemon juice.
I had to throw this one in because it is probably my kid’s favorite dinner, not as healthy as I’d like, but not as unhealthy as Papa John’s! This recipe comes from one of my other favorite cookbooks, Cooking Light 200 Calories.
Naan Bread Pizza
What You’ll Need:
Whole Wheat Naan Bread (1 for each person)
24 oz. Fresh mozzarella cheese (We love Bel Gioioso)
Pizza sauce (I get low sodium, organic so I feel healthier)
Turkey pepperoni (for the kiddos)
I’m betting you can figure out what to do here, but just in case…preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Brush the Naan bread with a light layer of olive oil. Slice up the fresh mozzarella and make a layer on the bread of first sauce, then basil leaves, then pepperoni (my husband and I omit it for ours), then sliced cheese. You want the cheese on top so it helps the pepperoni stay glued to the bread.
Bake until it’s done enough to your liking. Enjoy!
Okay, so here is my secret bonus fifth weeknight dinner recipe…cold cereal! Just kidding, sort of. Yes, there are evenings when I still resort to letting the kids eat their favorite cold cereal and yogurt for dinner and my husband and I indulge in our Whole Foods Vanilla Granola when I really am just too tired to spend even one minute in the kitchen, but they aren’t nearly as frequent anymore!
In all seriousness, I hope you try the recipes out and let me know in the comments if you have any others that I can try and add to my collection!