While summer is winding down and we all try to get in that last bit of relaxation in the sun, those weeknight routines are bound to be on our minds. Managing the hectic afternoons of balancing the dinner prep and homework assistance isn’t an easy feat! Not only do we have to juggle doing it all, but the kids also have a lot on their shoulders, and a comforting home-cooked meal can fuel their bodies and their spirits. Here are some delicious and simple dinners that won’t take too much time to prepare and will still make you look like a rock-star mom that can do it all!
Pizza dough. This must-have for your freezer will help you get dinner to the table in no time. Defrost the dough in the fridge the night before, then let your kids top with their favorite pizza toppings for their own individual pizzas. Roll up pizza dough filled with cheese and veggies for a stromboli or calzone. Or make a fleishig pizza topped with tomato sauce and browned ground beef or turkey. Top with sautéed onions if your kids like.
Frittatas. Nothing is faster than eggs, and what an easy way to get your kids to eat hidden veggies! Start with a base of whipped eggs, which are packed with protein, and add in their favorite veggies (and some of their not-so-favorite veggies) and your shredded cheese of choice for a delicious and nutritious quick meal. Slice it up into wedges and serve. Great as a leftover as well, either warmed up or at room temperature.
Soups. A good soup can be a one-pot meal when filled with veggies, added meats, and pasta or rice. A good minestrone with beef and cannellini beans is satisfying and filling. Any kind of stew with beef and barley or chicken and rice is a one-pot meal that can be made in the morning and will be ready to eat at dinnertime. A quick tomato soup can be served with grilled cheese on whole-wheat bread. The best part is these soups can be made in advance whenever you have time and only get better when reheated.
Tacos. Another hands-on meal for kids is soft or crunchy tacos. Chop up all kinds of veggies, brown beef, or turkey or grill some chicken and cut into strips, and prepare some toppings like salsa and guacamole. Your kids will enjoy the do-it-yourself dinner and you’ll be happy that the prep is minimal and that they actually eat what they make!
Meatballs and spaghetti. Kids love this hearty, comforting dinner, and meatballs can be made in advance and reheated or frozen and used for another time. But it does take time to form the meatballs and you might be too busy for that. Alternatively, make a take on sloppy joes by making a meaty sauce without forming meatballs. It will have the same flavor without all the work. It will cook quicker and be easier to eat!
Finger food. What dinner do kids love more than chicken nuggets or fish sticks? These handheld finger foods are fun to dip and easy to eat. But the frozen varieties might have mystery ingredients that you don’t want on your kids’ plates. You can make your own easily using fresh chicken breast or boneless chicken thighs, or the fish of your choosing. You can quickly pan-fry in a little canola oil or coat a baking pan with a little oil and spray the chicken or fish sticks and bake for a crispy result without all the flipping and frying. v
2 cups mixed vegetables (peppers, mushrooms, tomatoes, broccoli, spinach), raw or roasted
1 lb. pizza dough
1 cup mozzarella
2 tsp. olive oil, plus more for veggies
¼ tsp. kosher salt
½ tsp. garlic powder
1 Tbsp. sesame seeds, optional
marinara sauce, warmed
To cook veggies: Toss chopped vegetables of your choice with ¼ cup olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Place in preheated 400° oven for 20 minutes or sauté in a large skillet till tender and starting to brown.
Preheat oven to 450°. Roll out pizza dough into a rectangular shape on a baking sheet lined with parchment. Spoon cooked veggies into the center of the dough. Top with cheese. Fold remaining dough on both sides over filling and seal ends, tucking underneath the stromboli. Combine 2 teaspoons olive oil, salt, and garlic powder in small bowl. Brush over dough and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Bake stromboli in oven for 15 minutes to golden. Slice and serve with marinara sauce.
Want to learn how to cook delicious gourmet meals right in your own kitchen? Take one-on-one cooking lessons or give a gift to an aspiring cook that you know. For more information, contact Take Home Chef personal chef services by calling 516-508-3663, writing to elke@TakeHomeChef.net, or visiting www.TakeHomeChef.net.