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Easy Dinners

November 27, 2017

Okay, let's say that I'm a terrible planner. My main strategy for surviving dinner includes the following tips:
If you have a busy afternoon, make dinner at lunchtime!!! One of my smarter friends recommended this. It's a game changer.

If it's 4pm and you still haven't figured out what's for dinner, you can scrape something together if you have some building blocks on hand, in the pantry and in the freezer. Let's say you like to buy cooked chicken at Costco, and you split the package into four portions. This package costs $13 and will feed my family for 3-4 dinners. Once I open the package, I stick the other portions in freezer bags. 

Using this cooked chicken, you can make stuff like pasta with alfredo sauce, soups, tacos, salad, etc. Hopefully your pantry is stocked with pasta, potatoes, rice, bread or tortillas.

The same idea applies to ground beef.  While the big kids are at school, I make time to cook 2 lbs of ground beef.  Chop an onion and saute them together, season with salt and pepper and spices. Now you have enough cooked meat for 3-4 dinners.  Use one portion for chili or spaghetti, then put the other cooked stuff in the freezer.

Broccoli chicken
1 quart Broccoli cheese soup.  Add a bag of frozen broccoli, just steamed until it’s nice and bright green.  Add some chicken (Or use all your turkey leftovers!)  and serve over rice, or cauliflower rice, or with noodles or potatoes.

Chicken noodle soup
1 box chicken stock.  If you need more liquid, add some water + chicken boullion.
Frozen bag of homemade noodles
Once your chicken stock is boiling, add the noodles because they take like 20 minutes to cook.  After about ten minutes, add all the veggies and seasonings.  Such a great dinner in less than half an hour.

Cornbread chicken pot pie
This is one of Cade’s favorites. 
1 can cream of chicken
1 can corn, drained
2 C chicken, cooked and cubed
Mix these three together

1 pkg Jiffy cornbread mix
¾ C milk
1 egg
½ C shredded cheese

Pour the cornbread mix over the other stuff.  It works in a square pan, or in one just smaller than a 9x13.  Bake 400* 30 minutes.  (uncovered.  The cornbread needs to cook.  One time back in college, I put foil over the top and it was a huge mess.)

Miracle Lasagna
From a campbells cookbook.  I’ve probably made this a hundred times.

1 jar Prego (for a total of 2 ¾ C sauce)
6-7 uncooked lasagna noodles, just the regular kind
1 container cottage cheese (15 oz)
Cooked gr beef + onion
8 oz shredded mozzarella cheese (2 C)
¼ C parmesan

Spread 1 cup pasta on the bottom of 9x13 pan.  Add 3 noodles, and then if there’s room you can break some extra to make the bottom layer.  Add meat here, if desired.  Spoon in all the cottage cheese, next 1 C mozzarella, add all the parmesan.  Layer 1 C sauce, three more noodles, and then the last bit of sauce.  Bake 375* for one hour.  At the end, add the last 1 C mozzarella and let stand for 5 minutes. 

Saute an onion, add a can of refried beans.  Add in some salsa and cheese.  Stir together on the stovetop.  Sometimes we’ll add cooked ground beef/elk or chicken, sometimes not.  Use whatever stuff you have:  black beans, corn, cheese on top of the chips, whatever. Usually we make each plate individually and heat them in the microwave for 20 seconds.  Add lettuce, red peppers, green onions, sour cream, salsa, lime, guacamole…

And just for reading, and because it's fall, here's a bonus dessert. Actually, these cookies are pretty delicious and slightly nutritious so I've given them to a kid for breakfast, too.

Gingerbread Cookies
1 C butter, softened
1 C sugar
1 egg
1 C molasses
2 T vinegar

5 C whole wheat flour
1 ½ tsp bak soda
½ tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground cloves
2 tsp ginger

Cream the wet stuff together, add in dry ingredients.  Chill for 1 hour, this helps it roll out easier.  Bake 350* 10 minutes  This recipe works great for houses, or gingerbread men.  We used regular butter cream frosting, filled a quart sized ziplock bag and cut the corner off, and Shad and Karly went to town on these guys.

Buttercream Frosting
4 C powdered sugar
1/4 C butter
1/4 C crisco
1/4 C milk
1 tsp vanilla

Quick sidenote.  This is what they're not supposed to look like, ten minutes is all you need, not thirty.  Oops.  I think the timer went off but we were in the middle of dinner and I can't remember the rest.  


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