Five Quick Dinner Ideas

Weekdays are full of deadlines, tasks, activities, and busyness; between work, family, errands, cleaning, and hobbies, it’s no wonder few of us have time to cook a full-fledged ‘dinner’ at the end of the day! Casseroles, one-dish meals, and limited preparation times are key recipe styles to look out for when planning your week. It’s not only easier to shop for these items, it limits your time spent in the kitchen, or the need to ‘prep’ food overnight.

Weekends can be easier to plan a night out, or cook a lavish dinner at home, but weekdays are often a struggle for most. You still want to create nutritious, healthy, and satisfying meals without running to the nearest fast-food spot, but may be short on time. Here are five quick, simple, and easy dinner ideas that can be prepared and served in less than one hour! Each dish serves 2-4 people, and can be stored for up to two days in the refrigerator. If you have time to cook ahead, this will also help you simplify dinner preparation.

Mediterranean Pita Pizza

This delicious ‘pizza’ works well as individual servings for dinner, and also a filling snack/appetizer when cut into wedges. Use your oven’s broiler to melt the cheese.

6 whole pita rounds (whole wheat works best)
1 package flavored hummus (roasted eggplant, sundried tomato, or plain work well)
1 package crumbled feta cheese
1 can marinated artichokes
1 can black sliced black olives
1 package premade grilled chicken/tofu
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

Lay out each pita round, and spread hummus up to 1/2″ of each edge. Sprinkle feta cheese, artichoke pieces, black olives, and grilled chicken for toppings. Add mozzarella cheese, and broil in oven on a medium setting for 2-3 minutes.

Chicken Pasta Primavera with Mozzarella

This simple pasta dish is a colorful assortment of vegetables and pasta; add cooked chicken, tofu, or shrimp if you would like.
8 oz. Farfalle (bowtie) pasta, boiled and rinsed
16 oz. of your favorite pasta sauce
1 bag frozen mixed vegetables (cauliflower, broccoli, and carrots work well)
2 tbsp. garlic
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 cup shredded mozzarella
Salt/pepper to taste
Grated parmesan

Boil and rinse the pasta, and set aside. Saute garlic in hot olive oil, and add frozen mixed vegetables. Add salt and pepper, then the pasta sauce. Heat to high for 2 minutes until bubbling, then reduce and simmer for 5 minutes. Add to pasta, and mix thoroughly. Serve topped with shredded mozzarella, and fresh grated parmesan.

One Dish Chicken Enchiladas
This easy and satisfying dish can be served with a bean salad, cornbread, Mexican rice, or alone.

2 whole skinless, boneless chicken breasts
1 package enchilada seasoning mix
1-2 chopped red/green bell peppers

12 corn tortillas
8 oz. Monterey jack cheese
1 small can green Chile sauce

Cook chicken in a pan, and set aside to cool. When cool, slice each piece then shred in food processor, along with seasoning mix and bell peppers. Set aside.

Heat �¼ cup oil in saut�© pan, and fry tortillas slightly until warm but not hard. Fill each tortilla with chicken mixture and cheese, roll, and set into baking dish. Line up all tortillas, and spoon green sauce over entire dish. Finish with more cheese, and bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes until bubbling. Serve immediately!

Spicy Vegetable Shrimp Stew
This lowfat and spicy seafood stew has a strong kick, so do adjust the level of chilies used as you like!

1 pound uncooked shrimp, peeled and deveined
�½ cup lime juice
4 banana peppers
4 large jalapeno peppers
1 medium onion
2 cups chopped zucchini
2 cans (14.5 oz.) diced tomatoes with juice
1 tbsp. tomato paste
1 cup sliced yellow squash
�¼ tsp. chili powder

Combine the shrimp and lime juice in large mixing bowl, and set aside.

Remove seeds from 2 jalapeno peppers and 4 banana peppers. Chop jalapenos, banana peppers, zucchini, and onion in a food processor.

Spray a large pan with cooking spray, and cook the pepper mixture for approximately 5 minutes. Add diced tomatoes in juice, paste, and yellow squash. Bring mixture to a boil, then simmer for 10 minutes until squash is softened. Add chili powder and mix well.

Mix the shrimp into the mixture, and bring to a boil. Cook for 5-7 minutes until shrimp is cooked thoroughly.

Cranberry Chicken
This dish is great with noodles, a light salad, or with couscous.

4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (2 chicken breasts)
1 – (15oz) can whole-berry cranberry sauce
1 cup chopped apples
1/2 cup raisins
1/4 cup walnuts
1 Tbsp. curry powder

Spray casserole dish with cooking spray. Season chicken breasts with salt and pepper, and bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees. Mix apples, raisins, walnuts, and curry powder. Pour mixture over chicken, and bake for an additional 30 minutes.

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