Category Archives: Quick

Summer Suppers! New Recipe 1…

Standard

Summer is here and I am ready!  As a family of educators we endure the crazy schedule during school year knowing that summer is coming.  It is amazing how much one can accomplish when there are no papers to grade, concerts to plan/conduct, and of course all the parenting things that go along with having kids in school too!  I already have one of my summer projects done with all this “extra” time I have now…cleaning and reorganizing the pantry!

IMG_7616

I am happy to be enjoying preparing family dinner again now that I have more time.  I love sitting around the table with my family (it is one of the reasons I have this blog!) but honestly as the school year progressed, I dreaded making dinner.  I was becoming the queen of “throw down dinners”.  You know, the ones you buy in the freezer section and throw into a skillet and about 10 minutes later, dinner is served!  We actually enjoyed many of these dinners. The prep and clean-up were easy enough to where I didn’t have to spend an hour or more in the kitchen after teaching all day.

Tonight I made “Creamy Tomato and Spinach Pasta” and it earned four smiley faces!  It will definitely make it into our “school-schedule” friendly recipes too as it was quick and easy to put together.  I plan to have my girls make it with me the next time so they can learn to make dinner during the school year. It would be easy to double if you need more than 4 servings.  Here is how I made the recipe for my family:

Creamy Tomato and Spinach Pasta

Bring a large pot of water to boil and add:

  • 2 cups of penne pasta

Cook until tender and then drain the pasta.  While the pasta is cooking:

  • dice 1 small onion
  • mince 2 cloves of garlic

In a large skillet heat

  • 1 Tablespoon of olive oil

Add to the heated oil the diced onion and minced garlic and cook over medium-low heat until softened and transparent.

Add to the skillet and stir to combine:

  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • ground pepper, to taste

Now add to the skillet and stir to combine:

  • 2 Tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup of water

Turn the heat down to low and add:

  • 2 Tablespoons of cream cheese

Blend the cream cheese into the sauce and then add

  • 1/4 to 1/2  cup of grated Parmesan

Stir until the Parmesan is melted.  Then add

  •  4-5 ounces of fresh spinach

Stir the spinach gently into the sauce until it has wilted.

Add the pasta and stir until it is well coated in the sauce.

Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve warm.

I served it with a fruit salad and we all loved it.

It took me about 30 minutes to make the dish and was easy to clean up after dinner.

I’m looking forward to many relaxing and enjoyable dinners this summer!

Advertisements

Quick Dinner: Tex-Mex Rice and Black-eyed Peas

Standard

Since I’m back in the classroom teaching full-time for the second year now (after 14 years of doing other things), I’m all about finding quick, easy and tasty recipes.

Unfortunately, I don’t have near the time to share recipes with y’all now that I’m working full-time.  But I just had to take a few minutes tonight to share this one that I pulled out of a November 2011 Food Network Magazine.  It has the tag of “Weeknight Cooking” and “Done in 30 minutes” and this time the tags really do apply!  I made this dish tonight in no time at all.  I was worried that the girls would not like it so I switched it on our menu.  Brad was home tonight for dinner but will not be home on Wednesday.  I didn’t want to attempt it just on the girls.

But I’m happy to say that Heather deemed it a “four smiley face meal”.  So now I can add another meatless option to our meal planning!  It reminded us of something from Chipotle or Qdoba  but without all the spice.

Tex-Mex Rice and Black-eyed peas

Serves 4

Cook as label directs:

  • 1 cup white rice

Meanwhile heat in a medium saucepan (2 qt) over medium-high heat for about 5 minutes to soften:

  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup fresh salsa (I used mild pico from HEB Grocery)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

Add

  • 1 can of black-eyed peas undrained
  • 1 can of black-eyed peas which has been drained and rinsed
  • 1/4 cup water

Cook, stirring occasionally, until the beans are creamy and tender- about 12-14 minutes.  I put the lid on the saucepan while this was happening.

Fluff the rice and divide it among bowls.

To the black-eyed pea mixture add and stir until wilted: (about 1 minute)

  • 4 cups of baby spinach
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro (I had a wee bit more than 1/4 cup)

Spoon the black-eyed pea mixture over the rice and top each serving with:

  • Avocado slices
  • Shredded cheddar cheese
  • Sour Cream- if desired.
Easy, Quick, and Healthy!

Easy, Quick, and Healthy!

 

Enjoy!

Lemon Chicken Breast

Standard

In many ways I can’t believe that April is almost over!  When I think back to where we were this time last year…our basement was about to flood and begin a month-long craziness, Brad was about to have interviews in Texas, and I was starting to fill out job applications for Texas districts around the places Brad had interviews.  A LOT has happened in this last year.

On the other hand I am so glad that May is around the corner.  Because of all the craziness from last year, we didn’t get much of a summer to relax and regroup.  This will be the first summer in a while that we have been able to just breathe.

I’ve missed blogging for those two people that actually read my posts 😉

Believe me I think many times about sitting down to share a recipe for the table or a recipe for life—but working as a full-time teacher again keeps me hopping!  The last time I was in the classroom I didn’t have children of my own at home—that is a game changer in the world of education.

This year our family dinners have taken on a different look.  The weekends used to be for quick and casual while our weeknights were the meals I spent time on preparing.  Now it has flipped.

Here is a quick and easy dinner that I found this week.  We all enjoyed it and I was able to get it into the oven and the kitchen cleaned up before it came out of the oven.  (And with no dishwasher now for almost a month—that is a big deal!….Home Warranty company has finally decided to replace the ailing dishwasher but now we wait on that!)

Lemon Chicken Breast

Preheat the oven to 400°

Warm in a small saucepan over medium-low heat

  • 1/4 cup of olive oil

Add to the warmed olive oil and cook for just one minute (don’t allow the garlic to brown):

  • 3 Tablespoons minced garlic (about 9 cloves)

Remove the saucepan from the heat and add to it:

  • 1/3 cup of dry white wine
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 Tablespoons lemon juice (I used the juice freshly squeezed from the lemon I had zested)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground thyme
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt

Pour the saucepan mixture into a 9 x 12 inch baking dish

Add to the baking dish:

  • 4 boneless chicken breasts (I used skinless too but you could have skin on them…put them skin side up if you do)

Coat the chicken, on both sides, with the olive oil mixture in the pan.  Sprinkle the coated chicken with:

  • Kosher Salt
  • Pepper

Cut what remains of your lemon into slices and tuck it among the chicken pieces.  If you have a second lemon you could just slice that one into wedges and use that.  I only had one lemon so we just used it thoroughly!

Bake for 30-40 minutes depending on the size of your chicken breasts.

After removing the chicken from the oven, cover the pan tightly with aluminum foil and let it rest for about 10 minutes.

We all enjoyed this dish and it was quick and easy for me to prepare after giving state tests all day long 😦

 

(I based this recipe off of one that I found online at shescookin.com that was called “Ina Garten’s Lemon Chicken Breast”)

Tortellini and Ground Beef…who knew?

Standard

We tried a new recipe at our house this week and it was a winner.  It has the two characteristics of a recipe that I love: fast and easy!  Then it has two more loves for us…tortellini AND ground beef, I never would have thought to put them together.

Our life here in the Smith house has been going a little fast too….not so much easy but not too difficult.  I have had many thoughts of blog entries to write and share with you, but things just are moving too fast to sit down and write at this point.  Meals at our house have not been to creative either as my schedule has been very full.  But I did finally try something new this week and since everyone liked it at our table, I thought I would share it with you.

I first found the recipe and pinned it to  Pinterest and then when we made it had to change a few things to fit the ingredients we had in the house.   So here is my version:

Baked Tortellini Casserole

In a large skillet or chicken fryer pan:

  • Brown 1 lb of lean ground beef

Add to the beef before it is totally browned:

  • 1 small, onion diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp of kosher salt
  • pepper to taste

While the beef is browning, prepare according to package instructions:

  • 1 large (12 oz) bag of dried tortellini (We had cheese and spinach tortellini in the pantry.  I cooked it on the shortest end of the cooking time so that the tortellini would finish cooking in the oven.)

tortellini bag

Once the beef is thoroughly cooked through and drained, stir in:

  • 2, 14-oz cans of diced or petite diced tomatoes (could use crushed tomatoes too)
  • 1, 8-oz can of tomato sauce

Stir into the beef mixture:

  • prepared tortellini
  • 1 1/2 cups of mozzarella cheese (we mixed mozzarella and Parmesan)

Transfer to a casserole dish and bake at 350° for about 20-30 minutes

Sprinkle 1 1/2 cups of Italian cheese of your choice over the top and serve!

 

Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

When Fast Food Won’t Do

Standard

No, I haven’t gone all healthy on you…”when fast-food won’t do” doesn’t mean I’ve given up eating at all my favorite drive-thrus.  Rather my eating out budget has been drastically reduced as we have shifted priorities in our family budget.  Now I want to save that money for just the right night.  But what is a girl to do when she gets home from work and is exhausted and hasn’t a clue what to do for dinner?

Here are some quick and easy fall-backs.  Plan your grocery list each month to include these items and you won’t find yourself in need of running through the drive-thru as often as before.

Mindless

  1. Tortellini.  Open a bag and boil it–it takes about 10 minutes.  Slice up an apple, throw some little carrots and maybe cut up some other veggies and D-O-N-E.  We server our tortellini with cheese and some Italian seasonings.
  2. Quesadillas (The Mexican version of Grilled Cheese).  Always have flour tortillas on hand and a big bag of mexican blend cheese.   I often have some frozen grilled chicken strips that we can heat and add to quesadillas too.  My girls like just cheese and maybe a bit of chicken.  I also like to put onions on mine.  Simply heat a nonstick skillet and place one tortilla down in the skillet.  Sprinkle the tortilla with cheese and other desired items then top with another tortilla.  Flip the tortilla when it is browned and before it chars!  Open a can of refried beans or some Ranch Style Beans (K-Mart sells then in PA) serve with some little carrots.
  3. Burritos.  This is a favorite at our house.  Open up cans of refried beans (it takes two cans for my family) and heat on the stove.  I sprinkle some fajita seasoning into the beans and stir it in while they heat up.  Then pull out those flour tortillas again.  Zap the tortillas for a few seconds in the microwave to warm them up.  I put mine between two damp paper towels and warm for a few seconds.  Then load them up with beans, cheese, and onions…even lettuce if you want.  I like to serve with Taco Bell Hot Sauce and Sour Cream and then of course some chopped apples or other easy fruit to cut and serve.  (Sometimes I just set the clementine bowl on the table and that serves as our fruit selection for the evening)
  4. Fish Sticks/Portions.  Keep in the freezer you favorite battered fish.  Prepare this along with some frozen broccoli and some fresh fruit (or my throw-down fruit of canned mandarin oranges when the fruit basket is empty)

Tiny Bit of Thinking

  1. Pancakes.  I keep a box of Aunt Jemima’s Original in my pantry at all times (along with syrup of course too!).  I mix in an individual serving pack of applesauce and sprinkle in some cinnamon into the batter before firing up the griddle for dinner on the table in less than 20 minutes.  Sometimes we have sausage and/or eggs too but often it is pancakes and fruit.  (Then a bag of popcorn later when we are a teeny bit hungry before bedtime.)
  2. Tacos.  Brown some ground meat and empty the taco seasoning and water (per package instructions) into the browned meat.  Serve on warmed hard shells, tortillas, or tortilla chips.  You can load the tacos with as much or as little as you can stand to prepare (shredded cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, sour cream, salsa)  Refried beans, black beans, or corn on the side are a nice addition too.
  3. Spaghetti.  I have a child that does not care for spaghetti (I guess she takes after her Grandaddy).  However, it is a perfect “tiny bit of thinking” meal.  One pot of water to boil the noodles and one skillet to brown the ground meat  (maybe some onions and peppers too) and then add a jar of your favorite sauce.  Pull green beans out of the freezer and pop open a can of crescent rolls or french bread and you are on your way to dinner on the table in no time.

Sides

  • Salad bags are good to have for throw down meals…that is if your family eats salad.  Most of mine doesn’t.
  • Fresh Veggies…call it Crudite and it sounds more fancy …like you spent some time on it!
  • Slice up Fruit- apples and pears are quick favorites for our mindless and tiny bit of thinking meals
  • Frozen vegetables are quick and easy to prepare.  I like to have broccoli and green beans all the time in my freezer.

So the next time you are on your way home from a long day of work and feel your car pulling towards Chick-fil-a or Burger King, resist!  You can still have an easy meal at home with your family for a lot less cost and a lot less salt!

 

Enjoy!

Mindless meals give you more time to snuggle with the ones you love.

Mindless meals give you more time to snuggle with the ones you love.

Quick and Easy

Standard

I love the week of Thanksgiving.  I know in years when I have hosted the big dinner I have been so focused on the Thursday meal that I almost forget about meal planning for the days leading up to Thanksgiving.  If you are in need of some quick and easy dinners for this week, I’ve linked a few here that you might be interested in.  Yes, they are mainly soups but the best thing about soups is that you can get them prepped and walk away!

This one is a dinner your upper elementary or older kids could handle preparing without much help from you.  Pepperoni Pizza Pinwheels

Another quick one that your older kids could do with minimal supervision would be Chicken Fajita Melts

This one is a good one if you want a meatless meal, use vegetable broth rather than chicken broth and it can be vegetarian too!  Tuscan Bean Soup

Then there is always Taco Soup or Taco Soup’s close relative of Chicken Enchilada Soup.  If you don’t have enough chicken to make the chicken enchilada soup, use what you have and throw in a can of black beans to help make up the difference.

I hope you have a great week.  Food and Family are two of my favorite things!

Oh and if you need something to do with your leftover turkey, try this one: Ro-Tel Chicken or Turkey

Enjoy!

Broiled Tilapia Parmesan

Standard

Fish is not a favorite of mine but I know it is supposed to be so good for us that I try to find recipes that will please the family—me included!  I’m not sure where I found this recipe online, but it had great reviews and claimed to be easy.  So you know I am a sucker for something that is easy and yummy.  I printed it out purchased some frozen tilapia and then almost a month goes by before we have a chance to make it.

Saturday night I finally tried out the recipe, tweaking it with some of the review comment suggestions.  Everyone loved it and since the bag of tilapia was a 10 lb bag, we will be having it again soon.

Broiled Tilapia Parmesan

Preheat your oven’s broiler.  I used the Lo setting on our broiler.

Line a broiling pan with aluminum foil and spray the foil with cooking spray.

In a small bowl mix together:

  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened (I actually melted mine in the microwave)
  • 3 Tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 2 Tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon celery salt

After mixing the above well, set it aside.

Arrange in a single layer on the prepared pan:

  • 2 lbs of tilapia.  (for us this was about 8 fillets)

Season the fish to taste with:

  • Old Bay seasoning

Broil a few inches from the heat for 2 to 3 minutes.

Flip the fillets over and broil for a couple more minutes.

Remove the fillets from the oven and cover them with the cheese mixture on the top side.

Broil for 2 more minutes or until the topping is browned and fish flakes easily with a fork.

Enjoy!