When I lived in Los Angeles, I got hooked on the Food Network. I studied under some of the best chefs. Ina Garten was my guru. I used to lovingly prepare meals that looked as good as they tasted. It was a time-consuming endeavor, but one I thoroughly enjoyed. Before kids, I had a hard and fast rule: If you don’t eat what I make, you don’t eat.
Seriously, I couldn’t even type that with a straight face. That rule died hard and FAST. Holy smokes, did it die hard and fast. Now, faced with two children out of three with severe food aversions, I will make anything that is quick, easy, healthy, and can be deconstructed to please everyone.
Here’s my round-up of our family’s favorite go-to weeknight meals with a couple of recipes thrown in.
Go-To Weeknight Recipes
This recipe was passed on to me by a dear friend many, many years ago. It was a favorite long before I had a family of my own to feed. I no longer use a recipe, so I’m sure there is some deviation from how it was originally taught to me, but it’s a simple recipe to customize to your own liking.
- Grilled chicken breast
- 2 cans black beans (drained and rinsed)
- 2 packages frozen corn
- 4 roma tomatoes (diced)
- 1/2 red onion (finely diced)
- 3 limes
- 3 Tbs. chili powder
- 2 garlic cloves (grated)
- 1 bunch cilantro (finely chopped)
- 3 Tbs. olive oil
- Chicken stock -- as needed
- In a large salad bowl, add the chicken, black beans, corn, tomatoes, cilantro, and onion. In a medium pan, saute the garlic in olive oil until it is slightly caramelized. Zest the limes before slicing them in half and juicing them. Add the chili powder to the sauce pan and stir for about a minute, allowing the seasoning to blend with the garlic. Add the lime zest and juice and stir. You want about one-half cup total dressing to coat the salad, so add enough chicken stock to reach the desired amount. Let it simmer for about two minutes before tossing it in with the salad.
- This salad is best if it's left to marinate in its own yummy goodness for an hour or so, but can be eaten right away. It also makes excellent leftovers. Picky eaters can easily pick out any offending food stuffs.
- 3-5 lb. chuck roast
- 1-2 lb. vegetables of choice (diced) -- We do a mix of potatoes, carrots, onion, and celery.
- Sweet potato or butternut squash (cubed; optional)
- Seasoning of choice -- My go-to for any roasted meat is Trader Joe's Seasoning Salt and fresh cracked black pepper, but rosemary is a fab herb to throw in, as is fresh thyme.
- 1 cup beef stock
- Start by seasoning your roast and setting the instant pot to saute. Add oil and, when the oil is hot, sear your roast for a few minutes on each side until the outside is caramelized. Place your vegetables on top of your seared roast, and season them however you like. If you are adding fresh herbs, just sprinkle those on top. Add about a cup of beef stock to your pot, and seal the lid. Cook on high pressure for about an hour, and allow your instant pot to naturally release pressure for about 10 minutes.
And These, Too
Tomato Basil Bisque with Italian Meatballs — Okay, my picky eaters won’t eat this one, so I usually whip up a quick grilled cheese for them, but the rest of us love this easy paleo soup. If I’m in a hurry, I’ll use Trader Joe’s frozen meatballs to save time. I usually make extra and freeze some for another night when I need a quick meal.
Dijon Chicken Breasts — This is another one my picky eaters won’t eat, but I bake their chicken plain without the dijon, and there you go.
Grilled Shrimp Tacos — Tacos of any kind are a huge hit with my family and usually make an appearance in some form in the weekly rotation.
Greek Marinated Chicken — This recipe is super simple and absolutely divine. Lots of bold flavor, but still kid-friendly.
Asian Grilled Salmon — Salmon is one of my Costco staples. I’ll buy a big ol’ salmon, cook it up, and then eat on it for days. We’ll have it for dinner one night, and then I’ll have leftovers for a salad for lunch. This recipe is Ina’s. I haven’t completely abandoned her.
Lean in real close and let me tell you a secret. Can you hear me? Cereal for dinner is a thing. Popcorn for dinner is a thing (just set out some carrot sticks with it). Letting the fam fend for themselves is a thing (occasionally)! But when you a need a quick, simple, and tasty meal that can be customized to your family’s preferences, these are some great options. Enjoy!