Surviving Weeknight Meals

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Meal planning, grocery shopping and cooking week night meals can be exhausting amidst a jam packed schedule. The planning part is so important. If you’re like me, you like to cook. The rest of you, may not. Either way – we don’t really have a choice in the matter because you know, Parenting 101.

In our household, we’re both out of the house by 6:30 a.m. and crossing the finish line at 5:30 p.m. / 6 p.m. Kids go to bed at “8 p.m.,” every other night there is a bath in there if we’re really on our game, so the overall time table is tight. Dinner has to be fast, but it also has to be enjoyable (see last week’s love affair with food post). While I love the whole Sunday meal prepping thing and homey casseroles, our favorites are too heavy and fattening to rely on regularly. You know the drill – a casserole without pasta, potatoes or cheese gets a little lame. Having said that, I’m pretty keen on a handful of recipes that we’re able to pull off quickly, so I thought I would share them here! Feel free to leave a comment if you try anything, and let me know what you think.

Buffalo Chicken Sliders

Yields 4 servings / 2 sliders per serving
  • 1 lb of ground chicken breast
  • Whole wheat slider buns
  • Franks Red Hot Buffalo sauce (the BEST)
  • Seasonings: dill, chives, garlic, salt & pepper (these are Ranch packet like ingredients)
  • Ranch  or Blue Cheese for topping

Instructions:

In a mixing bowl, season ground chicken lightly with salt & pepper. Add 1 tablespoon of dill and 1 tablespoon of chives. Add 1/4 cup of Franks Red Hot and mix. With a large mixing spoon, make slider patties by starting with the mixing spoon and scooping up a large meatball sized ball of meat. Pat down to patty. Don’t worry about the meat being sticky, it’s chicken, so it’s very tender and not as robust as beef.

Pan fry patties in a non-stick skillet with just a touch of olive oil. Use cooking spray for other pans. Cook 3-4 mins each side until opaque white all the way through. Serve on whole wheat buns, topped with an extra drizzle of Franks and a dollop of your favorite dressing – low fat Ranch keeps it lower calorie.

Teriyaki Chicken Stirfry

If you live in Texas and you have an H-E-B, they have these wonderful stir-fry bags of fresh vegetables in the produce aisle where you buy salsa and guacamole. There is a bag of fresh mixed stirfry vegetables and a packet of sauce is included.

For everyone else, I’d recommend a fresh of steam-bag of broccoli already cut and cleaned, 1 cup of snow peas, 1 carrot sliced into thin diagonal discs, red peppers if you like them.

Yields 4 servings, serving size about 2 cups of meat & veggies
  • 1 bag of stir fry veggies (fresh, not frozen) from HEB
    • OR- 1 bag of broccoli + 1 carrot sliced + 1 cup of snow peas and diced red peppers and jar of Terryaki sauce
  • 1 pack of sliced boneless, skinless chicken tenders
  • 2 packs of brown basmati minute rice

Instructions:

Cut chicken tenders into chunks and pan fry in a non-stick skillet with a little salt & pepper. Once white, throw in veggies and toss / cook until softened and bright colored. Add in your sauce packet or 1/2 cup of terryaki. Stirfry until chicken is all the way cooked and your veggies are tender.

Serve over 1/2 cup of brown basmati minute rice per serving.

Summer Salad

I’m loving this salad for my lunches, but it’d work well as a side for a summer grill-out or any weeknight meal.

  • 1 bag of baby spinach / spring mix
  • Oceanspray reduced sugar dried cranberries
  • Walnuts
  • Feta Cheese
  • Strawberries or blueberries or both
  • Fruit vinaigrette or homemade balsamic

Instructions:

In a bowl, throw in all the salad, 3 tablespoons of dried cranberries, 3 tablespoons of feta, 4 tablespoons of toasted walnuts (toast on a baking sheet until fragrant. watch closely because burnt nuts are extremely bitter). Cookwell company makes an excellent Watermelon Vinaigrette but this might be regional – use your favorite Raspberry vinaigrette as replacement. For homemade dressing, splurge on a good Balsamic vinegar. Mix 3 parts vinegar to olive oil, a teaspoon of Dijon, a teaspoon of honey and salt & pepper.

In all scenarios, for a family sized bowl of salad I’d start with 2 tablespoons of dressing, toss to coat and add more if needed.

Top with thinly sliced strawberries and a handful of blueberries – approximately 1.5 cups of fresh fruit.

Grilled Pork Chops and Baked Sweet Potato Wedges

Yields 4 servings, 1 pork chop and a cup of wedges per person

  • Pork chops (we buy the lean, half-inch thick pork chops which come 4 to a pack)
  • 2 Sweet Potaoes (by longer ones for easier cutting)

Instructions:

Pre-heat oven to 450. Season pork chops with a BBQ blend seasoning. Have your husband or whomever start the grill while you start slicing sweet potatoes length wise. Flip each half potato / flat side down. Continue to slice each half into wedges. Throw pork chops on the grill and cook, basting at the end with your favorite BBQ sauce. Layout sweet potato wedges evenly on a cooking sprayed baking sheet. Drizzle with oil & sea salt and bake for 10 minutes before flipping for a total of 20 to 25 minutes or until edges start to get crispy. The potatoes will be soft but with crisped skin holding them in one piece.

 Bon Appétit!

 

 

 

 

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