Dinner time can be a huge source of stress for most moms, especially those who work outside the home. Slave away for the man all day and make magic happen in the kitchen that night? That’s a big NOPE. Moreover, children are notoriously rude at dinner time, rejecting even our finest offerings. My sympathies, sisterhood. I can’t fix this. I am not a magician. I’m right there with you. May have even recently had a broccoli thrown at my head with malice and intent by my small person. Yet I persist in providing three meals a day. It’s kinda my job. And my pleasure.
While I work long hours and have little time for dinner prep, I do enjoy cooking. In addition, I care about my family’s health and try to avoid contributing to the obesity epidemic by not picking up fast food every night. So for me, it’s all about getting healthy, tasty meals on the table fast . . . as in before my three ravenous sons eat me. The bigger challenge has been finding meals that the whole family will actually eat because ain’t nobody got time to cook more than one meal.
Today I will discuss real meals that I have actually served my family, along with pics from our kitchen. I will focus only on recipes that have been approved and recommended by the hubby and our preschool-aged boys. Tastes vary. I am not a fancy chef, so our meals tend towards easy Southern Living recipes. I occasionally steal ideas from old Junior League cookbooks. Whatever keeps folks happy. Here is a week’s worth o’ meal ideas, with links or recipes included. Enjoy!
Weeknight Slow Cooker Meals
Let’s start with weeknight slow cooker meals. Yep. Busy/working moms, unite — it’s time to set it and forget it. I have a $40 Sam’s Club model that gets the job done. It’s bright red and makes my eyes bleed. But, my son begged for us to get this color because it’s “fancy”.
Slow Cooker Thai Peanut Chicken Curry
Birmingham is attracting increasingly diverse and exciting cuisine. Think The Pizitiz Food Hall. Let your family join the revolution! Try a curry. This one’s an easy sell for kids who love peanut butter!
Slow Cooker Pork Chops
Pork chops are quintessential Southern fare, and this is a fun, fresh spin with Asian flavors.
Turkey Meatball Stroganoff
This meal is hearty! No one is leaving the table hungry tonight.
Chick Pea Curry
Want to go earth friendly? How about a “Meatless Monday”? My kids gobble this up.
Tangy Asian Citrus Salmon (Quick oven entree)
Got a 20 minutes and want a delish seafood dinner? Grab a bag of frozen salmon filets at Sam’s Club and follow this recipe. My kids think they don’t like seafood so I call it pink chicken and now they gobble it up. You’re welcome.
Side Note on Side Items
For most of these entrees, you can just throw a bag of frozen peas and some of that 90-second rice in the microwave and — presto! Done. Most food groups represented.
You survived the week? High five. We can now transition from dump meals to something a bit more elaborate. Don’t worry, though — these recipes can still be knocked out during nap time.
Light King Ranch Chicken Casserole
This recipe is full of cheesy goodness and is a definite crowd-pleaser.
You can’t have a Southern potluck dinner without this recipe. I add sun dried tomatoes.
Because who doesn’t love muffins? See recipe below. I substitute ground turkey for beef and BBQ sauce for ketchup.
1 cup finely chopped onion
1/2 cup finely chopped carrot
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup ketchup, divided
1 1/2 pounds ground beef, extra lean (raw)
1 cup finely crushed fat-free saltine crackers (about 20)
2 tablespoons prepared mustard
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 large eggs
Preheat oven to 350°.
Heat the olive oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add chopped onion, chopped carrot, dried oregano, and minced garlic; sauté 2 minutes. Cool.
Combine onion mixture, 1/2 cup ketchup, and the remaining ingredients (except cooking spray) in a large bowl.
Spoon the meat mixture into 12 muffin cups coated with cooking spray. Top each with 2 teaspoons ketchup. Bake at 350° for 25 minutes or until a thermometer registers 160°. Let stand for 5 minutes.
Did you think I would go all health-crazy on you and neglect dessert? No ma’am. I don’t get down like that. Here are two simple Southern desserts that are bound to delight.
I have made this for my kids countless times. It is super easy and they love it. Pair with vanilla ice cream, and bonus points if you get your peaches fresh from Peach Park in Clanton. Just look for the “big peach” off I-65 south in Chilton County. It is about 40 minutes south of Birmingham and worth the road trip on its own!
2 cups sliced peaches
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup butter
3/4 cup flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup milk
Mix peaches with 1 cup sugar; let stand. Put butter in a 2-quart casserole, place in a 325 degree oven to melt. Combine remaining sugar, flour, baking powder, salt, and milk. Pour over melted butter. Do not stir. Spoon peaches on top of batter. Do not stir. Bake at 325 degrees for one hour. Makes 4-6 servings.
Step away from the box mix. It’s time to take banana pudding to the next level. This is delicious. I make it for most family events. No double boiler? No problem. Just keep stirring!
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons flour
1 3/4 cups milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons butter
Mix sugar, flour, and salt in top of double boiler. Measure milk and add enough milk to moisten the sugar, flour, and salt mixture. With whisk, beat in egg. Turn heat to medium-high, adding the rest of milk gradually. Stir constantly with spatula. Cook until sauce thickens and boils. Take off stove. Add vanilla and butter. Put lid on boiler while butter melts. In a deep casserole dish, put one layer of cookies and one layer of sliced bananas. Spoon custard over the sliced bananas. Make two more layers like the first. Chill. Makes 6 servings.
So, that’s what I’ve got cooking. Please share your go-to recipes in the comments below!