Recipe Round-Up: Quick + Easy Weeknight Dinner Ideas
Man oh man have I been in a cooking rut! If you've watched my Instagram stories you've probably heard me talk about that a few hundred times (sorry for being a broken record but food ruts are so annoying.) Now that Harlow is walking, she's got to be on the move at all times and even a strategically timed episode of Sesame Street or The Chica Show doesn't always tame the toddler beast. So I need recipes that are quick on the front and back ends because mama ain't got time to be busting out food processors and doing dishes for twenty minutes to end the day. It's not quick or easy to find new, fun recipes that A) taste good, B) are light on time and the grocery budget, and C) I haven't already made a dozen times! Hence the rut.
So yeah 'quick and easy' are key for me when meal planning but so is 'healthy' and more recently 'low carb' because alas it is bathing suit season and I've been to the gym like four times in as many months and I live in Asheville AKA Beer City and for Pete's sake I have to give up plenty of indulgences as a mom to a one-year-old so you better not touch my cheeseburger and fries! Or that slice of pizza.
I should've called this post "Recipes and Mom Rants!" LOL!
Anyways, the good news is I have found a few new go-to's to add to my recipe box (AKA my Reci-please Pinterest board!) that I wanted to share you with you guys in case you need some food porn to rev your weeknight cooking engines! HA! As ever, I'm not a food blogger so I've linked to the original recipes to avoid any copyright issues (I can't afford a lawyer right now, bacon is too expensive) but I've included my notes on how to adapt the recipe to make it extra easy and/or extra delicious! If you want some more easy and awesome summery dinner recipes, check out this Recipe Round-Up I posted last year featuring two delicious salads and a light pasta dish.
EASY CHICKEN FAJITAS
Okay seriously this is my favorite new recipe -- just look, it says 'easy' in the title and it tastes like fajitas you get in a Mexican restaurant (or at least really close). I found the recipe on Food & Wine Magazine's website which isn't typically known for fast and simple meal ideas but this one is both! You basically just combine all the filling ingredients in a Ziploc bag to marinate for 15 minutes and throw them in a pan for 10 minutes or less and you're done. And I don't know about you but I could eat Mexican almost every night of the week so a good at-home Mexican recipe is gold!
Modifications/Notes: The recipe calls for chicken but you can substitute your favorite protein (or leave it out altogether). Our Publix meat department sells pre-sliced steak meant for fajitas and stir fries which eliminates not only an extra step but also extra dishes to clean. So look for that in your local grocery store!
I like to add more peppers and an extra half onion to the recipe to create more volume and leave some for leftovers. For toppings, I always serve shredded cheese, sour cream, lettuce, and tomatoes. I usually just use greens I have in the fridge because I don't ever buy iceberg lettuce unless I'm making wedge salads.
STUFFED BELL PEPPERS
I've tried several different recipes for stuffed peppers and this is the one I like the most. They kind of feel like you're cheating because they're meaty and cheesy and amazing....but since Chrissy Teigen said she eats these before a swimwear photo shoot I'm like welp, the proof is in the pudding!
Modifications/Notes: Some recipes say to use a certain color pepper and I think that's silly. If you want to cook with color, go for it! If you want to save money and buy all green peppers, they taste great, too! On that note, does anybody know why red/orange/yellow peppers are so much more expensive? I'm sure I could Google it but I think it's more fun to learn from other people :D
For the filling, I've used ground beef, ground chuck, and ground chicken depending on what other proteins I'm cooking with that week. Or what's on sale. I always use microwavable rice or quinoa for the grain instead of boiling a whole separate pot. The Seeds of Change rices and quinoas are great but you know Uncle Ben's makes a fine 90-seconds-or-less rice, too! And this is probably preaching to the choir but don't be stingy with the cheese!
BEEF AND SNOW PEAS
I've always enjoyed cooking asian food at home because you can either make it light, healthy, and full of veggies...or you can go full-bore with sweet, sour, and salty sauces and noodles or rice. This one was sold me to as a "take out fake out" because it tastes like the real thing and is ready in less time than it would take for you to get delivery. There's not much I'd change about the recipe; it's already simple and straightforward. A few points of note:
Modifications/Notes: Don't cheap out on steak here, otherwise it'll be tough and chewy. When you're cooking it, do as the recipe says and avoid overcrowding the pan, and keep it really hot so everything sears and crisps up.
The sauce does wind up getting awfully thick so you may want to adjust your marinade if you like a cleaner dish.
I buy Veetee microwavable Thai Jasmine Rice to serve with this dish. It's pre-portioned for two servings (and we don't even use all of it because it's so dense), and it's ready in two minutes without dirtying a pot. And it tastes like legit thai sticky rice you'd get in a restaurant!
As I referenced earlier, I often share what I'm cooking for weeknight dinners on my Instagram stories. Some recipes are awesome and really adaptable to feed to Harlow. Others don't turn out so well but that's not always the recipes fault...some things I'm just not good at cooking, like meatballs! How the heck do you get a meatball cooked all the way through on all sides without burning it?! I need an Italian grandmother to show me the way LOL!
Actually that's like a dream of mine, to take an Italian cooking class in Italy. If we hit the lottery tomorrow, I'd want to move to Italy indefinitely and travel all around it, spending time in different regions. Where would you move if money was no object and could go anywhere? It's so much fun playing games like this!
Happy Monday! Hope your new week is off to a great start! 💜 Brooke