August 18, 2016

Mom Meals: Quick Week Night Dinners

If you’re anything like me, cooking dinner during the work week is a dreadful experience. The last thing I want to do or have time for when I get home is to put together a meal for just Tim and I. I’ve been cursed with having a mother-in-law who worked in a kitchen for many years, so Tim has grown up used to creative, delicious home cooked meals. For me, cooking is a chore. Eating…one of my favorite things. But I much prefer someone else to do my cooking. Over the last year, I’ve been able to throw together a few easy and delicious meals that are a fail-safe for cooking during the week. And I’m going to share them with you today. Lucky you…  

Shopping staples.
Okay, the most important and convenient thing you can do is stock up on kitchen staples when you grocery shop. I am a big fan of stocking up on meats and frozen veggies. I always buy the value packs of chicken breast and ground hamburger, and then break them up into individual meal sizes in Ziploc bags as soon as I get home. Then I freeze them until we need them. Frozen veggies are an easy side to use with any meal, and are usually on sale! I love getting the kind in the steaming bags so I don’t have to use anymore pots or pans. Also, some places sell brown rice in the same kind of steaming bags so I love grabbing those to use as our starch with dinner. Having a lot of frozen things takes up room. Luckily, Lowe’s & Home Depot usually sell a small chest freezer for about $150 that you can use for your frozen food stock pile. I’m going to pick ours up this weekend because between that and the baby food, our freezer is packed tight. Make sure you have every common spice you can think of. The staples are definitely salt, pepper, garlic powder, minced onion, olive oil and some balsamic or red wine vinegar. These items can save pretty much any food you have. Stock up on pastas and jarred sauces, both red & alfredo. I love keeping Knorr Pesto sauce mixes on hand, too. These are so delicious and take 5 minutes to make.

Swedish meatballs.

What you need:
  • Frozen bag of Swedish meatballs (I cheat and get the Italian style if they don’t have Swedish. They taste just as good.)
  • Cream of Mushroom Soup
  • Nutmeg
  • Large Crock-Pot
Here's what you do:
  • Throw your frozen meatballs into the slow cooker.
  • Mix in cream of mushroom soup until all the meatballs are covered. We like to throw in a little extra so they are really saucey.
  • Sprinkle a hint of nutmeg and mix. Not too much!
  • Cook on high for 2-2.5 hours. Done!
This is an easy one to do on a busy night because it take a couple minutes to prep and that’s it. Throw in one of your steamed veggies before you’re ready to eat and Voila!

Ranch cheesy bacon chicken.

What you need:
  • Chicken breast
  • 1 Ranch dip mix packet
  • Shredded mozzarella cheese
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • Oscar Meyer Bac-O Bits (Hormel also makes a version. Make sure they are the real bacon bits).
  • Glass casserole dish
Here's what you do:
  • Preheat oven to 420 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Salt and pepper both sides of chicken.
  • Sprinkle ranch dip mix on both sides of chicken
  • Place chicken in casserole dish and put in over for 20 minutes.
  • Take out of over, sprinkle a semi-thick coat of shredded cheese and a thick coat of bacon bits on top.
  • Place back in oven for 5 more minutes.
Enjoy the cheesy bacon goodness! You may want to adjust your cooking time based on how thick your chicken breasts are. Always cut into them to make sure they are cooked enough.

Baked Pesto Cod & Scallops.

What you need:
  • 2 – 1 lb Cod Fillets
  • 1 lb Bay Scallops (cooked shrimp would be good too!)
  • Olive Oil
  • Minced Garlic (I used the kind in olive oil in the jar. Much faster!)
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • Old Bay seasoning
  • Knorr Pesto Sauce mix
  • Water
  • Aluminum foil
Here's what you do:
  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Rip two sheets of foil large enough to fold around your cod fillets like a pouch.
  • Season cod with salt and pepper and a little Old Bay
  • Brush on olive oil and garlic to preference.
  • Wrap each fillet in a sheet of foil loosely and roll open ends closed.
  • Place foil pouches onto a baking sheet, and put in oven for 20 minutes.
  • Using a small saucepan, cook pesto sauce mix per directions on back of the packet. Should only take you about 5 minutes.
  • Throw bay scallops into a large frying pan.
  • Season with a little salt and pepper, and Old Bay
  • Cook scallops about 4-5 minutes and then set aside.
  • Once cod is cooked, pour scallops on top and drizzle pesto sauce over all.

This is a healthier option for dinner, and it’s SO delicious. I always use olive oil over butter wherever possible. If you are cooking shrimp instead of scallops, I’d allow for some extra time to cook as most cooked shrimp are frozen prior. Make sure to stock up on seafood items when they are on sale! Sometimes you can get some really great deals. Throw them in a freezer and they will be good to go whenever you need it.  

I have a few more tricks up my sleeve, but I’ll save those for later. Try a couple of these out and tell me how you like them!


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