Sunday, January 13, 2008

What's for dinner?

You asked for it and here it is: what we eat for dinner every night. Here's the way it works for me: I'm not a big believer in a set menu. I never know what the day will be like, what time Andrew will be getting home, etc, so I don't want to be stuck with a meal that I don't feel like making. Instead, I have a list of 12-13 meals that lasts us about three weeks or so. (The rest of the nights are filled with leftovers or eating out.) I only go big grocery shopping about every three weeks and buy the ingredients for all those meals, and then have to go back in between for more produce, milk, and bread. When I make a dinner, I just cross that off the list and choose something else for the next night. Here are our recipes at the moment. I usually add/remove a recipe or two every couple of months.

Fill my plate!

Chili and Cornbread
Fast and easy. Andrew and I love it. Whit eats it. Brandon usually takes a couple bites.

Two 15.5 oz cans red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
8 oz can tomato sauce
14.5 oz can diced tomatoes, undrained
1/2 Tbs chili powder
1/2 tsp ground cumin

Throw all ingredients together in a pot for at least 7 minutes, or until Andrew gets home from work. I use the Krusteaz Fat Free Honey Cornbread mix in a box and everyone in the fam loves that.

DiGiornio frozen pizza
Ah, this is one of the dinners to fall back on when it has been a crazy day or I just don't feel like cooking. I either get the half pepperoni/half cheese combo or the Spicy Chicken Supreme, which everyone in the family will eat. I serve with a salad or carrot sticks.

Chicken Penne
This is the favorite meal for the kids and Andrew.

Bake a breaded chicken breast in the oven. (I buy the big bag at Sam's club and it lasts us for months.) Meanwhile, boil penne pasta. Top the pasta with heated Ragu sauce, the baked chicken breast, and some mozzarella cheese. If we're lucky I'll bake some frozen rolls. If not we'll have bread and butter. Also served with a salad or some microwaved Green Giant veggies.

Magic Spaghetti
Another option when time is short. Boil spaghetti according to directions on pkg. Heat Ragu in the microwave. Top noodles with Ragu, but before serving, ask one or two children to help make it "magic" by waving hands above plates and saying, "Magic Spaghetti, Magic Spaghetti, Magic Spaghetti." (I have to give Andrew the credit for that one. For some reason, the kids like Magic Spaghetti more than regular spaghetti.) Serve with a salad or veggie.

Cheese Ravioli with tomato and artichoke sauce
This is my personal favorite recipe and often what I serve when company comes over because it makes enough for more than the four of us. Although my kids must be growing, because the amount of leftovers keeps shrinking.

1 bag frozen cheese ravioli(25 oz)[we've tried several brands and the generic Wal-Mart one is my favorite]
1 TBSP olive oil
1 can of Italian Style Diced Tomatoes
1 (6.5 ounce) jar marinated artichoke hearts
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 TBSP grated Parmesan cheese


1. Cook ravioli according to package directions. (The friend that gave me this recipe said to never use sausage ravioli)

2. While the pasta is cooking, prepare the sauce. In a large nonstick skillet, heat 1 TBSP oil over a medium high flame. Add tomatoes, artichokes (drained and chopped), and salt and pepper. Cook 2 to 3 minutes, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are warmed through. Remove from heat.

3. Drain pasta well. Transfer to a large serving platter. Add half of the sauce to the ravioli; toss gently but thoroughly to mix. Pour remaining vegetable sauce over ravioli. Garnish with Parmesan cheese.

Chili Cheese Fries
I think this is my version of comfort food. Mmmmm.

1 can chili beans
Frozen french fries
Shredded cheddar

Cook fries in the oven until nice and crispy. Heat beans in the microwave when fries are almost done. Place fries on the individual dinner plates. Top with beans and cheddar.

Three Cheese Pasta Bake
The kids love this one. Usually served with a frozen broccoli, cauliflower, and carrots mixture with cheese sauce--also their favorite veggie combo.

1 can 98% fat free cream of mushroom soup
1 pkg (8 oz) shredded two-cheese blend
1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 cup milk
1/4 tsp. pepper
4 cups cooked rotini pasta

Mix soup, cheeses, milk, and pepper in 2 qt. casserole. Stir in pasta.
Bake at 400 for 20 min or until hot.

Bow-tie skillet
Yes, we are pasta lovers and we eat it just about every way possible.

3 cups farfalle (bow-tie) pasta, cooked and drained
1 jar (14 oz) spaghetti sauce
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
1 cup shredded mozzarella, divided
1/4 cup parmesan cheese, divided

Combine pasta, spaghetti sauce, ricotta cheese, 1/2 cup of the mozzarella and 2 Tbsp of parmesan in large skillet or saucepan. (I usually use the pan I cooked the pasta in.)

Cook on medium heat for 10 min or until heated through, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat.

Sprinkle with remaining mozzarella and parmesan. Let stand about 5 min or until mozzarella is melted.

Pasta Primavera
Yea, that's just a fancy way of saying mac and cheese with veggies. :) Another hit with the kids.

1 (12 oz) pkg Shells and cheese dinner made with 2% milk
2 Tbsp Italian dressing
1 cup broccoli florets
1 cup red or green pepper strips
1 cup frozen baby peas
1/4 tsp dried basil leaves
2 Tbsp parmesan cheese

Prepare shells and cheese as directed on pkg

Meanwhile, heat dressing in large skillet on medium heat. Add broccoli and peppers; cook and stir 5 min or until crisp-tender. Stir in peas; cook until heated through.

Add prepared dinner and basil, mix lightly. Top with Parmesan cheese.

(Ok, I have a confession to make here. This is the recipe I started with and I really like it, but the kids wouldn't eat the peas and didn't care for the peppers, either. So I've altered it. I now use the shells and cheese dinner and while the pasta is boiling, I dump in about 1/2 a bag of frozen california mix veggies and let them cook right along with the pasta. Drain them all and then add the cheese packet.)

Italian salad
Already shared this recipe, so click on the link if you didn't see it before.

Pasta and Broccoli
Andrew's mom shared this recipe in a blog comment somewhere along the way and we love it!

1 pkg penne or ziti pasta cooked and drained
1 bunch broccoli steamed (I actually use 2 bunches--we're broccoli fans)
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
3/4 c shredded mozzarella
1/2 c parmesan
2 Tbsp butter
1/2 c chicken broth

Chop broccoli and set aside. Heat oil in lg skillet on med-high. Add garlic. Cook and stir until lightly browned. Add broccoli; cook and stir 3-4 minutes. Stir in both cheese, butter and broth. Reduce heat to low. Simmer until mixture is thoroughly heated and cheese is melted, stirring occasionally. Pour sauce over hot pasta in lg bowl. Toss to coat.

Southwest Pasta
I got this recipe from some vegetarian website when I was looking for new recipes a while back. I really like it, but it makes a very large batch and the rest of the family only tolerates it.

1 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 onion, chopped (I usually only use 1/2)
1/2 green bell pepper, diced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 Tbsp chili powder (I found I have to add a little less for the kids)
1 tsp ground cumin
1 (28 oz) can diced tomatoes with juice
1 (15 oz) can chickpeas
1 (10 oz) pkg frozen corn kernels, thawed
1 (12 oz) pkg uncooked elbow macaroni
1/2 c shredded cheese (recipe called for Monterey Jack, but I use a two-cheese blend)

Heat oil in large, deep skillet. Saute onion, green pepper, garlic, chili powder and cumin. Stir in tomatoes, chickpeas and corn. Reduce heat to low and simmer 15 to 20 minutes or until thickened and heated through.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add macaroni and cook for 8-10 min; drain.

Combine pasta and sauce. Sprinkle each serving with cheese.

Phew. There you have it. That's how our family subsists. I think Boca tacos will make the rotation. And every once in a while we'll throw in something random like Navajo tacos or broccoli cheddar soup with rolls. Feel free to share your favorite recipe that could fit into the menu of the anti-red-meat girl.


Marty said...


Anonymous said...


Loved the recipes. Would you like a new one? This is what everyone asks for on birthdays in our family:

Stuffed Shells (actually this was a manicotti recipe, but we couldn't get manicotti on base in Germany, so we substituted jumbo shells)

24 jumbo shells, cooked,rinsed in cool water and drained

8 oz cream cheese, softened
8 oz mozarella cheese, cubed
12 oz cottage cheese
1 egg
1 T parsley flakes
nutmeg to taste (just a few shakes around the bowl)

26 oz. spaghetti sauce (I use Prego)
1/2 lb. sliced mushrooms

Pour enough spaghetti sauce to cover the bottom of a 9 x 13 pan. Mix filling together and stuff shells. Place in pan and cover with remaining spaghetti sauce. Top with sliced mushrooms. Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes.

Serve with garlic bread, broccoli (our family's favorite vegetable too) and fresh pineapple for the best effect.

Thanks for sharing your recipes and your beautiful family!

Love, Stephanie Ranquist

Natalie said...

Magic Spaghetti cracked me up! And are the chili cheese fries a meal in themselves? If so, I wanna come over when you have that for dinner. Yummy! David always talks about how when he was young, once in a while, they would have ice cream for dinner. I bet that would be a hit in your house.

Marianne said...

I love your it gold or silver?

I know something else that you made that's yummy and easy....Hawaiian Haystacks!!! :)

marianne said...

that you "make"..." not "made"

Amy said...

Andi, I love your recipes! They're so ME! (Although I do cook with meat about once a week)In fact, your 3-cheese pasta bake has made it into my regular routine. It's one of those recipes that I always seem to have the ingredients for without planning it. Here's my recipe suggestion. It's a lot like your 3-cheese pasta bake, but the slight variation is mine (and Dave's) favorite part.

Campbell's Baked Macaroni & Cheese
1 can Campbell's Cheddar Cheese Soup
1/2 soup can milk
1/8 tsp ground black pepper
2 cups cooked corkscrew or medium shell pasta
4 Tbs dry bread crumbs*
2 Tbs melted butter or margarine

Mix soup, milk, pepper, and pasta in 2 qt casserole dish.

Mix bread crumbs with butter. Sprinkle over pasta.

Bake at 400 degrees for 20 min.

*I actually use two slices of toast that I rip into pieces and dip in the melted butter. It's enough bread to cover the top of the casserole and makes it more filling and it's a great addition. After I tried this recipe, I started adding the bread crumbs to the top of your pasta bake, and it's great. Jack really likes the bread crumbs too. (-:

Thanks for all the recipes. We're going shopping tonight and I'm getting the stuff to try your Pasta & Broccoli and Shells & Cheese dinner along with Aunt Stephanie's Stuffed Shells.'ll be good eatin' this week.

jake said...

I love this post!! I'm gonna have to refer to it for future dinners:) I also have to put in a plug for stuffed shells - it was a favorite in my family growing up and the kids like it now, too!

Ang said...

So many great recipes! Thanks Andi! It was fun to see what you cook, and I'll have to steal some of them. And I must say that you probably keep the Creamette Pasta Noodle people employed! (I'm guessing no low carb diets for you guys? :-) I actually make a lot of pasta, too--but it's tough because Ethan doesn't like tomato sauce. I'd make more if he wasn't so particular about it. Do you ever do breakfast dinners? That's one of my kids' favorites (waffles, eggs, etc etc).

Here's a recipe you might like, though. It's a childhood favorite of Forrest's--and it's meatless but full of protein and comfort-foody, good in the winter and yummy. And Forrest does it from memory, so here's the recipe straight from his lips:

Kidney Bean Casserole

1 can drained & rinsed kidney beans
Just about 1/2 cup mayo (enough to coat everything)
About 1/2 cup to 1 cup (however cheesey you want it) shredded cheddar cheese
Enough chopped pickle to give it a little taste. Not more than a couple tablespoons.
Mix the beans, mayo, cheese and pickle.
Pack it in a small casserole type dish.
Crush Ritz crackers and sprinkle over the top.
Bake at 350 for about 30 minutes

Voila! And I promise, it's really good.

Mom Sweat said...

Loved reading all these recipes - I'm going to try them all (and I'm with Marianne - Hawaiian Haystacks is such a fun tradition when we visit you - I am so impressed with your evolution as a cook of great talent!
P.S. - if you try Angie and Forrest's recipe you'll probably have to increase the mayo to 1 cup for your husband, the famous "mayonaise" boy of Subway fame :)
Mom Sweat

Greg & Nicolle Sherwood said...

Here's an easy recipe you guys might like... Mexican chicken skillet:
-1 can black beans
-1 can corn
-1 jar salsa (we like to use the fresh stuff from Costco)
-grilled chicken (1-2 breast halves, or however much you want... you could also make it without meat).
I serve it over brown rice.
It feels like I am forgetting something, but I think it really is that easy. Just throw it into a skillet until heated through. Serve with shredded cheese and sour cream.

Jayne said...

And you say that I'm organized? HA! The grocery store is my second home. Maybe I'll try your rotation system.