Dance class. Ball games. Homework. Eat. Sleep. Repeat. Does this schedule sound familiar? With the kiddos back in their busy school routine, extracurricular activities will be piling up quicker than you can even think about putting dinner on the table. Never fear! The following recipes are hearty, delicious and beyond easy to prepare so you can kiss those old frozen dinners goodbye. Bon appetit!
1. Grilled Chicken Skewers
Serve with sour cream or greek yogurt for a tangy bite. Adjust the spices in the marinade to accommodate heat preferences.
1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 cup fresh pineapple, cut into chunks
1 zucchini or eggplant, sliced
1 red bell pepper, cut into chunks
2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1/2 – 1 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 – 1 tsp. chili powder
1. If using wooden skewers, soak in water for 30 minutes to prevent burning. Place diced chicken in a large bowl. Toss with olive oil, chili powder, cumin and salt and pepper to taste. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes to marinate.
2. Once chicken has marinated and skewers have soaked, heat grill over medium-high heat. Thread the marinated chicken, pineapple, zucchini and red peppers onto skewers in an alternating pattern. Cook the skewers on the grill until chicken is cooked through and vegetables are softened, about 10-15 minutes.
2. Pesto Stuffed Shells
Serve with a Caesar salad topped with croutons, grape tomatoes and freshly grated Parmesan cheese.
16 jumbo shells
5 oz. reduced-fat cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup shredded Mozzarella cheese + 1/4 cup for topping
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
6 tbsp. basil pesto (I use Buitoni.)
1 1/2 – 2 cups grilled chicken, shredded
2 cloves garlic, minced
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9×9 baking dish with nonstick spray.
2. Boil pasta shells in a saucepan until al dente. Drain and rinse with cold water to cool shells.
3. In a large bowl, combine cream cheese, 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese, Parmesan cheese, pesto, chicken and minced garlic. Mix well to combine. Add additional pesto to taste.
4. Scoop a spoonful of the chicken and cheese mixture into the pasta shells one at a time and place each shell filling side up in the prepared baking dish. Top with remaining mozzarella cheese.
5. Bake for 25 minutes or until the cheese and filling are bubbly. Serves 4 – 6.
3. Taco Rolls
Serve with fresh corn, black beans and tortilla chips for a festive dinner. Top with sour cream or salsa if desired.
1 can giant crescent rolls
1/2 lb. lean ground beef
1/2 packet mild or hot taco seasoning
4 oz. cream cheese, softened
2 tbsp. mild or medium salsa
1/3 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Heat skillet over medium heat. Brown ground beef, drain and return to pan. Add taco seasoning with a bit of water and toss until combined.
2. In a large bowl, combine cream cheese, salsa and cheddar cheese. Add ground beef mixture to the bowl and stir to combine.
3. Grease a baking sheet with nonstick spray. Separate crescent roll dough on pan. Add about 2 tablespoons of the beef and cheese mixture on top of the large end of each roll. Roll up like normal, carefully sealing the openings so the filling doesn't spill out. Sprinkle extra shredded cheddar cheese on top of each roll.
4. Bake 11 – 13 minutes or until rolls are golden brown. Makes 8 rolls.
4. Poppy Seed Chicken Casserole
Serve with steamed broccoli florets for a well-rounded meal.
1 1/2 lbs. chicken breast tenderloins, cooked and cut into bite-sized pieces
1 cup sour cream
2 (14.5 ounce) cans cream of chicken soup
2 cups crushed Ritz crackers
4 tbsp. butter, melted
1 tbsp. poppy seeds
1 cup white rice, cooked
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray bottom of 13×9 glass baking dish with nonstick spray. Spread cooked white rice across bottom of pan. Top rice with cooked chicken.
2. In a medium bowl, combine chicken soup and sour cream. Season with salt and pepper if desired. Pour mixture over chicken and rice.
3. In a separate bowl, stir together the crushed crackers, poppy seeds and melted butter. Sprinkle cracker mixture evenly over casserole.
4. Bake for 30 minutes or until the crackers are lightly browned. Serves 6 – 8.
5. Crockpot Chicken Teriyaki
Serve with cooked white rice and the vegetables of your choice.
1lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts, cubed
1 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup teriyaki sauce
1/3 cup brown sugar
3 cloves garlic, minced
1. Cook on low for 6 hours or until chicken is cooked through and tender. Serves 4 – 6.
6. Bacon Pesto Panini
Serve with a side salad or baked sweet potato fries on a busy weeknight.
1/3 cup basil pesto (I use Buitoni.)
4 slices of bread
1 – 2 roma tomatoes, sliced thin
4 ounces fresh mozzarella, sliced thin
8 slices center-cut bacon, cooked
1. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Spread pesto generously over four slices of bread.
2. Top two slices of bread with tomatoes and mozzarella. Place 4 pieces of bacon on top of each slice. Cap with two remaining slices of bread and place on warm skillet.
3. Cook until bread is golden and cheese is melted, about 5 minutes per side. Cut in half and serve.
7. Cheesy Chicken Couscous
Serve with a simple salad tossed with balsamic vinaigrette and a slice of crusty bread. Tip: For a milder flavor, substitute feta cheese for the goat cheese.
1 (5.8 oz.) box Near East Roasted Garlic and Olive Oil Couscous
4 chicken breast tenderloins, cooked and cut into bite-sized pieces
2 1/2 cups baby spinach
1/2 pint grape tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup goat cheese, crumbled
2 tsp. extra virgin olive oil
1. Bring water and seasoning packet to boil in a medium saucepan. Add couscous, cover and remove from heat. Let sit for about 5 minutes or until liquid has been absorbed.
2. While the couscous is cooking, heat olive oil in a medium skillet. Add grape tomatoes to skillet and cook for about 3 minutes. Add spinach and toss until spinach begins to wilt. Remove from heat.
3. In a large bowl, combine couscous, cooked chicken, grape tomatoes, spinach and crumbled goat cheese. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serves 4.