Based on the overwhelmingly positive response to our DinnerBelle giveaway, I know I am not alone when I say that pulling dinner together on a week night can feel impossible sometimes. I thought I’d share my top 5 weeknight recipes, all of which require relatively few ingredients and come together pretty quickly.
I wish I could take credit for this one, but this is a regular in our household. What I love about Iowa Girl Eats’ interpretation of Chipotle’s bowls is that they are extremely satiating, require no additional sides to make a meal and taste extremely similar to the real version except much fresher. When we make this recipe, we usually make enough for two nights because we like it that much.
- 1-2 cups long grain rice
- 1/2 cup chopped cilantro (we use more)
- 1 can black beans, drained & rinsed
- Chili powder, cumin, oregano, cayenne pepper, onion powder, garlic salt
- 1 pound of chicken breasts (though less or more is fine of course!)
- Shredded cheese, sour cream and other toppings (love Whole Foods pico de gallo personally)
- Cook the rice as you would normally and when it’s done, stir in butter, salt, lime juice and cilantro.
- Meanwhile, warm the black beans in a small saucepan with 1/4 cup water on low heat. Season with chili powder, cumin, oregano and cayenne pepper to taste.
- Also while the rice is cooking, chop chicken up into bite-sized pieces and season with chili powder, cumin, oregano, onion powder and garlic salt. Saute in a medium-sized skillet until cooked through.
- Assemble, add toppings and devour!
This one sounds fancy, but I can assure you that it’s not hard. In fact, we love the mustard chive sauce so much that we sometimes use it on other dishes as well. With this recipe, you can have all of the ingredients on hand ahead of time so that all you need to grab from the store is the fish itself (and honestly any fish would work). Depending how hungry we are, I usually serve it with sauteed spinach and Near East cous cous (a staple in my pantry).
- 2-4 tilapia fillets
- Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 cup plain, full-fat Greek yogurt
- 2 teaspoons agave nectar or honey
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1/4 cup lemon juice (from 1 large lemon)
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
- Preheat a broiler. Spray a small baking sheet or glass baking dish with cooking spray.
- Drizzle the tilapia fillets on both sides with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Arrange the fillets in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet and broil until cooked through and the flesh flakes easily with a fork, about 6 to 8 minutes. Set aside to cool slightly.
- Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix together the yogurt, agave nectar, and mustard until smooth. Whisk in the lemon juice and chives. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
- Serve the tilapia with sauce on top and enjoy!
What I love about this meal is that you really don’t need to follow a recipe. I’ve included my favorite ingredients below, but you can really add anything that you like. If you don’t have chicken on hand, you can always use turkey or ham (or even all three!) If you remember to make extra chicken when you make the Chipotle Burrito Bowls, you can even set some aside for use later in the week on a Cobb Salad. We usually eat this with broiled french bread.
- Romaine (or lettuce of your choice)
- Hard boiled eggs
- Shredded cheese (or bleu cheese is also yummy)
- Sliced beets
- Cherub tomatos
- Chicken (or ham / turkey … you could also do shrimp)
- This one is sooooo easy – you literally just throw everything together and top with the salad dressing of your choice! I prefer ranch, but you can use whatever you want. Like I mentioned, I usually slice some French bread, add a little butter and broil it for about 3-5 minutes to get it nice and crunchy (just do not take your eye off the bread and also make sure you broil it in the center of the oven – otherwise it WILL burn!)
This recipe is best described as comfort food. It takes a little bit of prep but is still pretty quick compared to a lot of other recipes I’ve tried. We also usually make extra of this one to have as leftovers because it still tastes great the next day. This is also a great one to make for friends after they’ve welcomed a new baby because it’s really satiating and hearty. It’s nothing fancy or special of course, but it’s just a really easy and reliable recipe. You can add a vegetable to the side if you want, or we also sometimes do caesar salad.
- 2-4 boneless chicken breasts, pounded to 1/2 inch thickness (hint: slice regular chicken breasts in half instead of pounding!)
- 1 egg
- 1/2 cup milk
- seasoned bread crumbs
- 2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 8 slices mozzarella cheese, or more
- 1 jar (16 oz) spaghetti sauce – just choose your favorite brand
- Parmesan cheese
- Pasta of your choice
- Whisk together the egg and milk. Dip the chicken breasts in milk and egg mixture and then in bread crumbs.
- Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Brown the chicken in the hot oil on both sides until golden, about 3 to 4 minutes on each side.
- Set chicken in a baking dish. Slice 8 pieces of mozzarella cheese and put two on each chicken breast. Pour 1 jar of your favorite spaghetti sauce over all. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and a little more mozzarella and bake at 350° for about 25 to 30 minutes, or until bubbly.
- Meanwhile, bring water to a boil and cook the pasta of your choice.
Green Chili Chicken Burritos
When we were living in Arizona, a friend shared this recipe with me, and it quickly became a regular in our rotation. It is ridiculously easy and quick (it’s kind of like crock pot cooking), and it’s really tasty. It’s easy to shop for all of the ingredients ahead of time, too, but even if you need to stop at the store, you just don’t need that much to complete the meal. We’ve been making this about once a month for the past 5 years and it never gets old. At least not to us!
- 2 -4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 2 jars of green salsa (salsa verde)
- 2 small can of diced green chilis (either mild or hot, whatever you prefer)
- Cumin, oregano and chili powder
- Toppings, as desired (shredded cheese, sour cream, etc)
- Mix salsa, chilis, cumin, oregano and chili powder together.
- Place chicken in a wide pan that has a lid (we usually use the same pot we use to cook pasta in). Pour salsa mixture over chicken breasts. Bring to a boil over medium to medium high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and let cook for about 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Remove lid, break up chicken into small pieces (I use a fork, as it should just fall apart at this point).
As for sides, this is also personal preference. We often make jalapeno corn (which is basically corn sauteed with jalapenos and butter on the stove), refried beans and/or homemade mexican rice. The sides are up to you!