Let’s face it, there are days in the weeks when you just don’t feel like cooking. Actually, forget the cooking – there are days where you dread standing in the kitchen washing dishes for an hour after dinner so badly that you’d rather starve or spend money outside of your budget to go pick something up. After all, who really wants to be spend a long day at work and then come home to figure out dinner plans that will leave you spending half your night in the kitchen? For all the single people out there, it might not be such a dilemma, but for those folks with kids who just have to be fed, it’s not quite as simple as ignoring the hunger pains or going to find a few things off the dollar menu at your local fast food joint.
So, if you’re not in the mood to go all-out for dinner during the week, check out these simple, yet delicious dinner recipes to make throughout your busy weeknights.
Taco Baked Pasta
Everyone loves pasta, and most people love tacos, so why not combine the two? This recipe is delicious, easy to make, and the perfect solution for those week nights when you just don’t feel like spending your few hours of free time standing over a hot stove.
Photo Credit: Buzzfeed.com
250 grams whole wheat penne, uncooked
250 grams ground beef
1/2 cup chopped onions
2 tsp garlic
2 tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper
1 tsp Ortega taco seasoning
3/4 cup spreadable cheese (we used Laughing Cow)
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
Cook pasta as directed in package, set aside.
Sauté garlic and onion in olive oil.
Add beef and cook for 3-5 minutes (make sure not to overcook).
Season with salt, pepper and taco seasoning.
Turn off fire.Toss together meat and pasta mixture.
Mix in spreadable cheese.
Transfer to a casserole. Top with grated cheddar cheese.
Bake in preheated 350 degrees Fahrenheit oven for 20-25 minutes or until cheese has melted.
Recipe via Pepper
Chicken Pot Pie Casserole
Everyone enjoys a good chicken pot pie, but not everyone is willing to go to the trouble of making one from scratch. We all know those pre-made, microwavable things just don’t do the trick, so here’s an easy weeknight recipe that will hit the spot just right.
Photo Credit: pipanddebby.com
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 cups chopped carrots (approximately 4 medium)
2 cups frozen peas
1 yellow onion, chopped
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 cups shredded cooked chicken
14.5-oz. can chicken broth
10.5-oz. can cream of chicken soup
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup flour (optional: use for a thicker sauce)
9-inch refrigerated pie crust
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Coat a 2 ½-quart round baking dish with cooking spray and set aside. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the carrots, peas, onions, salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until veggies are soft and the onion is fragrant, 4 to 5 minutes.
Add the chicken, chicken broth, soup, milk and flour (if using). Mix well and cook over medium-low heat for an additional 5 minutes.
Pour the contents of the skillet into the prepared baking dish. Cover with the pie crust, letting the edges hang over the sides of the dish. Using a sharp knife, cut a few slits into the dough. Place baking dish on a baking sheet and bake in the preheated oven for 40 minutes, or until crust is lightly browned. Let cool for 10 minutes. Cut pizza-style and serve warm!
Recipe via Pip and Debby
Parmesan-Baked Chicken Nuggets
Chicken nuggets are an American favorite and there are times when even adults can enjoy them. One of the best things about them is that they are quick and easy as a weeknight dinner, and dipped in your favorite sauce, they become the ultimate meal plan.
Photo Credit: gimmesomeoven.com
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 1 pound total), cut into bite-sized pieces
1 cup panko breadcrumbs
1/2 cup finely-grated or powdered Parmesan
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
Coarse sea salt and freshly-cracked black pepper
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
(optional) sauces for serving
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spread panko out evenly on a rimmed baking sheet and bake until golden brown, about 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer to a small mixing bowl, then add Parmesan, and thyme. Toss until combined. Rinse off the baking sheet, then cover with parchment paper.
Place flour and eggs in separate shallow dishes. Increase temperature to 450 degrees.
Generously season the chicken with a few pinches of salt and pepper. One at a time, add a piece of chicken to the flour, and toss until coated, shaking off excess. Then dip it in egg until coated. Then transfer to the panko mixture, and toss until it is completely coated (pressing to adhere the Panko if needed). Transfer to the parchment-lined baking sheet. Repeat with remaining chicken.
Bake until chicken is cooked through, about 10-12 minutes, flipping halfway through. Serve chicken nuggets warm with dipping sauce(s), if desired.
Recipe via Gimme Some Oven
Broccoli and Cheese Quesadillas
A delicious and healthy recipe that only takes minutes to make, this broccoli and cheese quesadilla the perfect solution for a weeknight dinner. In fact, you might have all the ingredients on hand already so it saves a shopping trip, too!
Photo Credit: picky-palate.com
11 ounce Green Giant™ Tuscan Broccoli Seasoned Steamers
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
4 burrito size tortillas
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
Heat Green Giant™ Tuscan Broccoli Seasoned Steamers according to package direction. Open bag carefully and with kitchen shears, cut broccoli into smaller pieces to fit inside quesadilla.
Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Spread butter on one side of each tortilla. Using one tortilla at a time, place buttered side down into skillet. Place 1/4 cup shredded cheese onto one half of tortilla then an even layer of Tuscan Broccoli. Top with another 1/4 cup shredded cheese and with a spatula fold tortilla over filling. Cook until both sides are golden brown and cheese is hot and melted.
Cut each tortilla in half and serve warm.
Makes four servings, 2 halves each
Recipe via Picky-Palate
30-Minute Skillet Lasagna
Lasagna can be a great dinner item, but it often takes a lot of prep work and quite a bit of time in the oven before it’s actually ready to go. This version of lasagna only takes about 30 minutes before it’s ready-to-eat, and you still get all the great flavors of a traditional lasagna recipe.
Photo Credit: fivehearhome.com
1 (28 oz.) can petite diced tomatoes
1 (8 oz.) can tomato sauce
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
5 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 pound ground beef
Garlic salt and freshly ground black pepper
5 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian herbs (such as basil, oregano, thyme, parsley), divided
8 ounces bow-tie pasta (farfalle)
1 cup shredded mozzarella
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup ricotta cheese
Pour can of diced tomatoes (with juices) into a 1-quart liquid measuring cup. Add water until the mixture measures 4 cups. Stir in tomato sauce and sugar; set aside.
Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add olive oil; tilt pan to coat. Add garlic and red pepper flakes and stir for 30 seconds, or until fragrant. Add ground beef and cook until done. Drain grease, season meat with garlic salt and pepper, to taste, and stir in 3 tablespoons of fresh chopped herbs.
Scatter pasta over meat and pour tomato mixture over pasta without stirring. Cover and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low and continue to simmer, covered, stirring every 5 minutes. Cook until pasta is tender, for about 20 to 25 minutes.
Remove skillet from heat and stir in mozzarella and 1/2 cup Parmesan. Taste and adjust seasonings, adding more garlic salt, pepper, and/or sugar, if necessary. Remove from heat and dollop heaping tablespoons of ricotta all over surface of pasta mixture. Cover and allow to rest for 5 minutes. Sprinkle with remaining fresh herbs and Parmesan.
Tips, Tricks, & Variations
I use a 5 1/2-quart saute pan when making this recipe, but any large, deep skillet (with a lid) should work.
Each time you stir the lasagna, push down on the pasta so that it’s all submerged in tomato sauce before recovering with the lid.
If sauce is evaporating too quickly during 20 minute simmering time, additional tomato sauce and/or water may be stirred in as needed.
Use your favorite fresh herbs. You may use all basil or a combination of basil, oregano, thyme, parsley. If you don’t have fresh herbs, you may use dried (but use less since dried herbs are more concentrated).
Be sure to taste and adjust seasonings at the end before topping with the ricotta. If the tomatoes sauce is too acidic, add a bit more sugar.
Recipe via Five Heart Home
We think these are some of the best recipes to try when you’re still looking for a “real” meal without all the fuss. We’d love to hear from you regarding your own favorite weeknight meals. Leave your comments and suggestions below!