A friend and I were talking about the craziness that is the dinner hour at our respective homes. My children start falling apart about 445 and if I don't have dinner on the table by about 515 it is madness. The witching hour. It is better in the summer when they can just go play outside while I'm cooking, but when we're inside they are just under-foot, asking for snacks, getting in the way.
I thought I'd share some of my new favorites to help get you thru those crazy winter days. I like to get dinner started during naptime when I have peace and then the witching hour doesn't stress me out so much. The crockpot is our friend, is it not!? Others are some quick-fix meals that I think you would like.
This post won't have photos; nor exact measure recipes; but basic recipes / menu ideas, etc.
I recently created a new Beef and Noodles recipe in the crockpot.
I put about a package of stew meat (actually I used "kabob" meat- but whatever) in a crockpot. Drizzle with a little olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Put in some diced onions and minced garlic. I think I used about half a yellow onion and 2 cloves of garlic. Pour in a can of Beef Consomme (in the soup section, dillons carries it), 2 cans of water, and 2 beef bouillon cubes. Put the lid on and walk away for several hours. About 2 or three hours before dinner, coin-up some baby carrots and throw those in, so you can officially say you had a vegetable with dinner. While this has been cooking, the meat has been getting tender tender. And while this was cooking, you may have elected to make a batch of home-made egg noodles. Best noodles in the world, and if you're really nice to me someday I'll teach you how to make them. If you don't know how to make them, then have a bag of those Reames Frozen Noodles on hand. About an hour before dinner, stir in the noodles and let it finish cooking. Yummy, hearty, and easy.
Another crockpot option, though it can be done on the stove/oven if you forgot to turn your crockpot on is Taco Casserole. This one is not rocket science... brown some hamburger with some diced onion. Throw it into a crockpot. Mix a can of tomato sauce, a packet of taco seasoning, and a stack of flour tortillas that have been cut into bite size pieces. Mix up and leave it on low. About 30 minutes before dinner, stir in some grated cheddar cheese. Serve with taco fixings if you want; and corn is a good side dish with this. As is, of course, spanish rice.
Which brings me to my next suggestion: Spanish Rice. I love this dish. Usually we do it as a side, but it can be a main as well. Measure out 2 cups of minute rice, and saute in a little olive oil in a pot with diced onion and garlic (apparently two of my favorite ingredients). When the rice starts to brown up a little bit, add in 2 cups of chicken broth, cover, reduce to simmer, and leave it alone for about 15 minutes. Upon return, the liquid should be absorbed. Drain a little of the juice off a can of rotel (regular, mild or however hot you like) and dump the rest of the can into the rice. Then stir in some cheese.
If you want to make this a main dish- you would also mix in some ground beef or some cooked chicken. In which case you should throw some salsa in there too to keep it moist. My mom used to make spanish rice with ground beef, then stuff hollowed out green peppers with it, and bake them for stuffed peppers. I'm not much of a pepper fan, so I don't do that!
Finally, another quick option is Lemon Pepper Chicken on fettucine. Pound out some chicken breasts so they are even thickness. Sprinkle them generously with lemon pepper, then put into a preheated skillet with a little olive oil in it. Put them sprinkled side down so once they are in the pan you can season the other side. Saute until lightly browned on the one side, then flip them over, put the lid on and let them finish cooking. Meanwhile, cook up some fettucine. Toss it with some pre-made alfredo (because this is a quick and easy dinner, right) and some parmesan cheese. Cut the chicken into slices for you and your spouse, and cut one into a little pile of bite sized pieces for the little monkeys. Serve chicken over the top of the creamy noodles, and put a little extra sauce on top. The Lemon Pepper gives the whole "chicken fettucine alfredo" a little extra bump.
And don't forget that classic meal, BREAKFAST. It's fun to have breakfast at night! Whipping up a batch of pancakes and some bacon, or a big bowl of scrambled eggs, or even a waffle bar is a fun easy dinner.
When all else fails, there's always pizza delivery :) Join with me in not stressing out over the dinner hour this week!
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