Tuesday, March 2, 2010

tasty tuesday-easy dinners

 if you're like me, you're not up for cooking every.single.night. some nights we just need a break but that doesn't mean that we want to feed our kids junk. here are a few of the easy, yet still healthy, dinners that we have on nights where mama doesn't want to cook.

our go-to easy dinner is a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store deli. they are seasoned, hot and ready and usually only $5. bake some potatoes in the microwave and throw in some fruit or frozen veggies. i usually just call B on his way home from work and he swings by the store and picks one up while i prepare the sides. instant dinner that is healthy, cheap and yummy. what kid doesn't like chicken?

now let's talk frozen food. usually it's full of sodium and preservatives, and that's okay every once in awhile but i prefer to offer the boys something a little healthier. my mom actually introduced these bag meals to me and we love them. they are by birdseye and they are the Viola! meals.
now granted, they still have quite a bit of sodium (940mg in one cup) but to me, the fact that they get my kids to eat carrots and broccoli make them a win! our favorite variety is the Garlic Chicken but the boys also like the Three Cheese Chicken. you literally just pour the bag in a skillet, add 1/4 cup of water and heat to a high boil, then simmer for 7-9 minutes. one bag is about $4 and it will feed our whole family one meal. usually i will add a little bit more water, then add another handful of frozen corn or broccoli from the freezer and cook that up with it. its a great thing to keep in the freezer for a night when you just don't feel like cooking.

another frozen favorite is tyson's chicken nuggets, which have no artificial ingredients and are made of white meat only. we usually eat these with mac and cheese, frozen fries or mashed potatoes and a side of fruit.

probably my favorite easy dinner is one where we just thaw out something that i had previously made. usually this is a soup. i previously shared our easy peasy cheesy potato soup which freezes very well. i also make a fairly simple chicken noodle soup, chocked full of veggies, that freezes wonderfully. here is that recipe, though i use the term loosely as I don't measure.

Chicken Noodle Soup:
You will need-
-about 3 cups chopped carrots
-about 3 cups chopped celery
-about 1 cup chopped onion (i use chopped frozen)
-about 3 cups of previously cooked chicken, shredded or diced. (left over rotisserie works great! or you can use boneless skinless chicken breasts)
-chicken broth (how much depends on how much soup you want, I usually use 3 cans of broth/stock and then 2 cans of water and 1 bullion cube)
-24 oz bag reames frozen egg noodles

In a large pot, with a little bit of EVOO, saute onions until translucent. Add chopped carrots and celery and cook for a few minutes. Slowly add in a little bit of broth, taking a second to scrap off any seasoning/flavor that is on the bottom of the pot. Add chicken and remaining 2 cans of broth.

Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Let boil for about 5 minutes, then add chopped/shredded chicken and continue to boil for another 5 minutes. Turn heat down to low/medium and add noodles. Add salt, pepper and parsley. Let cook/simmer for at least an hour to an hour and a half. Take a spoon and taste it. What does it need? Stronger chicken flavor? Add a bouillon cube. Too plain? Add more seasoning/herbs. Parsley, salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder and or thyme are all good. As is Mrs. Dash. It can be done now, if the noodles are fully cooked. However, I usually leave it on low heat for 2-3 hours.

I typically make this during naptime, around 2:30pm and it takes about 30 minutes of prep between the chopping and boiling, etc. i let it sit on low heat from 3pm until we eat at 5:30.

This isn't a soup with a clear broth; by slow cooking the frozen noodles instead of boiling them quickly it will make a thicker heartier soup (the flour breaks down and acts as a thickening agent) similar to making homemade chicken and noodles over mashed potatoes. we usually have this with a french baguette from panera. so yummy and it makes A TON. i mean, a lot. we can easily eat it for dinner and have enough leftover to freeze and feed the whole family for another dinner. when reheating you may want to add a bit more chicken brother as it will be pretty thick.

next time i make it, i can try to take pics as a tutorial like i did with the potato soup. i'm not sure if this helps or not, let me know!

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