Quick Weeknight Meals for Busy Moms
If there is one thing that I have mastered, it’s getting great food on our table quickly. With two kids in school and countless after school activities on our calendar, it’s important to me that I can prepare healthy weeknight meals under thirty minutes that provide nutritional value to my family’s diet.
I wanted to share with you four weeknight winners that our family absolutely loves! These dishes are fast, simple and delicious.
Tilapia is one of my favorite types of fish, and I’m always on the lookout for fresh ways to prepare it. This is a fun cross between a gyro and a fish taco. Of course, the best part is that this dish is so fast to prepare and a perfect way to spice up your usual taco night.
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup Italian salad dressing
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
1 pinch cayenne pepper, or to taste
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper, or to taste
1 pinch salt
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound tilapia fillets
Old Bay Seasoning (a generous sprinkle)
2 cups romaine lettuce, chopped
6 pita breads, cut in half
In a small bowl, stir together the mayonnaise, Italian dressing and your feta cheese.
Season with cayenne pepper (optional), black pepper and salt. Mix until well blended, then set aside. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Place the tilapia fillets in the skillet, and season with Old Bay Seasoning, salt and pepper. Sauté until browned on each side and fish flakes easily with a fork, 5 to 7 minutes. Warm pita breads in the toaster or in the microwave to soften. Open from the cut side to make pockets. Fill pita bread halves with tilapia fillets, then spoon in some of the feta cheese sauce. Serve with your favorite fruits and vegetables for a yummy fresh side dish.
Italian Turkey Sliders
Sliders are not only highly fashionable for entertaining, but they also are fantastic for little ones who will appreciate your small burger efforts as a way to make the dinner hour more fun. We declare it, “Diner Food Night,” and we dine on these sliders with a package of store-bought French fries that I bake in the oven with our mini burgers.
16 ounces lean ground turkey
4 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, grated
1 clove garlic – minced
1/2 teaspoon basil, dried
1/2 teaspoon oregano, dried
1 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper
9 dinner or slider rolls (we selected a wheat variety)
Combine ground turkey, cheese and all seasonings. Mix together well. Shape turkey into nine small patties. Place patties on a greased baking sheet. Bake at 400 degrees for 13-15 minutes or until cooked through. Be careful not to cook too long or they will become dried out. Place on rolls and top with your favorite toppings.
Rosemary Chicken is my go-to dish that can be made with a couple of ingredients you likely already have in your pantry. If you don’t have fresh rosemary on hand, you can substitute with dried rosemary instead. This quick chicken dish makes for fantastic leftovers that you can put in tortilla wraps to send to school with your children, or it can make a fantastic addition to a delicious salad.
4 pieces boneless, skinless chicken breast, 6 to 8 ounces each
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 stems rosemary, leaves stripped and chopped, about 2 tablespoons
Salt and coarse black pepper
4 cloves garlic, cracked away from skin with a whack against the flat of your knife
Coat chicken in balsamic vinegar and then olive oil. Season chicken with rosemary, salt and pepper and let stand 10 minutes. Heat a medium nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken breasts and cracked garlic to the pan. Cook chicken 12 minutes, or until juices run clear, turning occasionally. The balsamic vinegar will produce a deep brown, sweet finish on the chicken as it cooks.
Presto Pesto Pasta Con Pollo
This dish replicates the flavors from my favorite meal at one of our favorite local Italian restaurants. With the simple addition of sautéed mushrooms, spinach and sun dried tomatoes, this easy dish becomes an elegant meal with minimal effort. Of course, no dish is complete without my signature addition of lemon zest and a squirt of lemon juice to freshen and lighten the flavors. The best part about this dish, in my opinion, is that it incorporates items I already have in the pantry and can easily be pulled together with leftovers in the fridge. Leftover chicken, vegetables and any type of pasta can be pulled together for a dinner that is worthy of an evening with friends and family around the dinner table.
2 tablespoons olive oil
8 ounces button mushrooms, sliced
8 ounces bow tie pasta
1 jar of pesto sauce (8.1 ounce)
2 1/2 cups rotisserie chicken, diced
1/2 cup sundried tomatoes, cut into thin strips
2 cups fresh baby spinach
1 lemon (zest and juice)
Salt & Pepper to taste
Finely shredded Parmesan cheese (optional) for topping
In a 4-quart Dutch oven, cook pasta according to package directions. In a large sauté pan, cook mushrooms in olive oil (approximately five minutes) and season them to taste. Drain the cooked pasta, reserving 1/2 cup of the pasta water. In a small bowl, mix together the pesto and the 1/2 cup of pasta water to make a sauce. Sprinkle spinach on top of the mushrooms in the sauté pan and pour the hot pasta on top to help wilt the spinach. Add to the pasta mixture, the sundried tomatoes, rotisserie chicken, zest and juice from a lemon and pesto sauce over the pasta. Give the mixture a gentle toss to combine. Season the pasta to taste. If desired, serve with a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese.