It’s also important to have a well-stocked pantry so ingredients you need for your recipe are at hand. There’s nothing more frustrating than being short one ingredient and having to run to the store, wasting more time and gas.
TIP: When you need quick meals for dinner it’s also a big time saver to have some of your ingredients cooked in advance and stored in the refrigerator.
For the following easy Mexican recipe I usually cook the chicken and rice ahead of time so dinner is ready in about a half hour or so. While the casserole bakes we have time to set the table and get additional condiments ready. It’s also a great time to share how our day was.
If your kids enjoy soft taco wraps you can put your tortillas in foil and add them to the oven to warm for the last 10 minutes or so while the casserole finishes.
• 3 cups cooked rice
• 2 cups shredded cooked chicken
• 1 can black or kidney beans, drained and rinsed (no more than 19 oz)
• 1 jar of (medium) salsa (16 oz)
• 2 cups cooked frozen corn (simmer with a small amount of water for 5 minutes while you assemble the ingredients for your casserole)
• 1 teaspoon ground cumin (optional)
• 1 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
• 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
• 1/2 tablespoon chili powder
• 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
• 4 tablespoons butter
• 1/4 cup flour
• 1-12 oz can of evaporated milk and 1/2 cup regular milk
• 1/2 cup chicken stock
• 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper to taste
• 1 cup freshly grated Cheddar cheese
Directions for Rice & Bean Casserole:
1. Preheat oven to 350F.
2. Grease a 2 quart casserole dish.
3. Mix together in a large bowl the rice, beans, chicken, salsa, corn, cumin, garlic, oregano, chili powder, cayenne and stir.
4. Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium low heat.
5. Stir in flour with a whisk until thick and bubbly.
6. Lower heat and slowly stir in milk, stirring constantly.
7. Add chicken stock, salt and pepper and continue stirring until thick and bubbly again.
8. Take care not to scorch or burn the milk.
9. Combine the butter mixture with the rice and chicken mixture in the large mixing bowl and stir together.
10. Pour into casserole dish and spread mixture evenly.
11. Cover with cheese and bake uncovered for 25 to 30 minutes or until bubbly.
12. Garnish with sour cream and chopped green onions. Goes great with tortilla chips, taco shells, or wrapped in a soft tortilla. (my kids like to add some shredded lettuce and additional cheese to their tortilla when they “fix” their taco)
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 medium carrots, shredded
1 1/2 pounds ground turkey breast
3 slices whole wheat bread
1/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon dried sage
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
3/4 teaspoon sea salt (or plain salt)
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 cup naturally sweetened ketchup (or regular ketchup)
Preheat oven to 350°. Spray a bread loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray or coat with a small amount of olive oil by applying with a piece of paper towel or a pastry brush.
In a nonstick skillet, heat the oil on medium heat. Add the onion, carrot, and garlic and cook till the onion and carrots are softened, stirring occasionally. (about 5min.) Transfer to a large bowl, add crumbled bread, milk, turkey, sautéed vegetables, egg, sage, parsley, salt & pepper, and mix well. Transfer mixture to prepared loaf pan.
Spread ketchup evenly over the top of meat loaf mixture and bake for 45 minutes or until cooked through and firm.
(Serves 6 people)
TIP: To help keep ground turkey moist, handle it lightly. Don’t compact it too much when forming meatloaf, burgers or meatballs.
In a hurry? Use the above recipe (omitting the sage, carrot and ketchup) to make 6 individual meat patties, sauté in a nonstick skillet with 1 teaspoon olive oil until cooked through. Serve with your favorite salad or vegetable side dish or use in place of beef patties for a tasty low-fat hamburger.
1 tablespoon olive oil or unrefined oil
1 onion, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped finely
2 green bell pepper, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup sliced mushroom (optional)
1-2 teaspoons chili powder (to taste)
¾ teaspoon each oregano, ground cumin, and coriander (cumin & coriander are optional) NOTE: Some kids don’t like the taste of cumin, so you may want to try it in a small amount first. (such as a 1/4 teaspoon to start)
1 pound ground turkey breast
1 (14 ½ oz) can chopped stewed tomatoes
1 (4oz) can tomato paste plus 1 cup of water
1 (15oz) can kidney beans, rinsed
In a Dutch oven or other large pot, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion, bell pepper, garlic, and mushrooms, and sauté until onion is soft. (5-10 min.)
Stir in chili powder, oregano, cumin, and coriander, and cook for 1 minute. Add ground turkey and sauté until no longer pink. Add stewed tomatoes, tomato paste, water & kidney beans, and bring to a simmer. Simmer for 10-15 minutes until heated through.
Serve with fresh baked corn bread and shredded cheddar cheese for sprinkling on top of the chili. We usually mix the corn bread batter (use a store bought mix if you’re in a hurry) when the turkey and onions are cooking and bake while the chili simmers. By the time the chili is done so is the corn bread. If you bake the corn bread batter in muffin tins they are usually done in about 15-20 minutes.
If you want to make some really special muffins that your family will really love try adding a can of creamed corn to the mix instead of water. (Be sure to grease your muffin pan first) We usually use 2 pouches of Jiffy mix or a similar brand that makes a total of 12 muffins.
TIP: Most of the ground turkey sold includes dark meat, skin and fat. Look for products labeled “Ground Turkey Breast”, which is made from skinless white meat. Or cut a turkey breast into 1” chunks and coarsely chop (on & off pulses) in a food processor.
Fixing quick meals for dinner should be a fun time, not a stressful one at the end of a busy day. So, enjoy this time with your kids and involve them in the cooking process. You’d be surprised how much you will learn about their day and how much they will learn and enjoy helping cook the family meal.
Hope these easy dinner recipes for kids are a success at your house and they help you plan a healthier alternative to fast food junk food.