4 Family-friendly Weeknight Dinner Ideas

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Even if you love to cook, we all have those weekdays when getting an interesting, healthy dinner on the table is more a chore than a chance to let your creative juices flow. The easiest way to shake a chef’s block is some new inspiration, ideas outside of your chicken, pork chop, pasta rotation.

Here are four totally manageable weeknight dinner ideas that are bright, nutritious and loaded with fresh flavors.

Curry Chicken and Rice | House of Bedlam

Weeknight Dinner Ideas

1 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
1 lb. chicken cutlets, cut into bite-size pieces
2 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
1 garlic clove, minced
1 medium zucchini, chopped
1 onion, diced
2 tsp curry powder
1 tsp cumin
1 cup chicken stock
½ cup coconut milk
Salt & pepper to taste
3 cups basmati rice, cooked

In a medium mixing bowl, combine the flour with the salt and pepper. Toss in the chicken and coat with the flour mixture.
Heat 1 tbsp. of the olive oil over medium high heat in a large skillet. Add the chicken and brown on both sides, about 2 minutes each side. Remove chicken and set aside.
Add in remaining olive oil to skillet and saute garlic, onions, and zucchini until translucent, about 6-8 minutes.
Add curry and cumin to the vegetables and cook for an additional minute. Pour in chicken stock and scrape up any brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Bring to a boil, then reduce to low heat, stir in coconut milk.
Place the chicken back into the pan and toss to coat and cook for a few minutes to warm through. Serve immediately over rice. Or let cool completely and freeze.

Baked Chicken with Cumin and Sumac | Spices and Seasons
Weeknight Dinner Ideas

11/2 tablespoons of whole cumin seeds
2 dried red chili peppers
1 tablespoon sumac
11/2 teaspoon of sweet paprika
2 pounds of boneless, skinless chicken thighs trimmed and cut into 2 inch pieces
1 tablespoon of freshly grated ginger
3 pods of garlic, minced
Salt to taste
2 tablespoons of olive oil
Chopped cilantro and mint to garnish

In a small skillet lightly roast the cumin seeds and red chili peppers. This should be done for about 2 minutes until the cumin is fragrant and darkens a few shades.
Place the cumin and red chilies in a spice grinder and grind to a powder. Mix in with the powdered sumac.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Place the chicken in a bake-proof baking dish. Rub the chicken with the cumin spice mixture.
Add in the ginger, garlic and mix well.
Add in the salt to taste and the olive oil.
Bake the chicken for about 30 minutes, by now, the chicken should be well browned, tender and turning crisp at points.
Remove from the oven and garnish with the cilantro and mint and serve with couscous, rice or warm pita bread.

Apple and Sage Meatballs in Spiced Cider Wine Sauce Spices and Seasons
Weeknight Dinner Ideas

For the meatballs:
1 pound of ground pork
1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
1 teaspoon ground fennel
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 apple, finely minced
1 tablespoon minced sage leaves
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon salt or to taste

For the sauce:
2 tablespoons oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
½ cup apple cider
11/2 teaspoons cornstarch dissolved in a little warm water
½ cup white wine
½ cup broth or water
1 jalapeno pepper minced
Salt to taste
Chopped Scallions to garnish and serve

Mix all the ingredients for the meatballs together and shape into small balls.
In a large wide skillet, heat the oil and add the meatballs and cook for about 3 to 4 minutes and stir well until the meatballs are lightly browned.
Add in the minced garlic and stir well and cook until the garlic is fragrant and clings to the meatballs in bits.
Add in the cider, cornstarch, white wine and broth and bring to a simmer. Add in the jalapeno and the salt and simmer for about 15 minutes, until the sauce thickens and the meatballs are cooked through.
Serve garnished with the scallions.

Sweet and Spicy Yellow Split Pea Soup | Seasonal Chef
Weeknight Dinner Ideas

1/2 cup celery, 1/4? dice, about 2 stalks
1 cup carrot, 1/4? dice, about 2
2 cups onion, 1/4? dice, 1 large
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt
Ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon red chili flake, plus more to taste
4 cups stock
1 cup yellow split peas, rinsed
2 cups sweet potato, 1/2? cubes, 1 medium
1 teaspoon dry parsley
Chives, garnish

Place the celery, carrot, onion and olive oil in a small stock pot. Season with 1/4 teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Sauté over medium heat for about 5 minutes, until the vegetables get soft and take on a little color.
Add the chili flake and cook for 30 seconds. Raise the that slightly and add the stock and yellow split peas and bring to a boil. Lower the heat, cover and simmer until the split peas are soft, about 30 minutes.
Twenty minutes into cooking add the sweet potato and replace the lid. Continue cooking until the yellow split peas and the sweet potato are soft. Take the lid off, mix in the parsley and turnoff the heat and allow to cool for 5 minutes.
With your immersion blender puree 1/3 of the soup contents, leaving most of it still whole. Stir the partially pureed mix with the chunky part. Tasted for seasoning and add salt additional chili flake as desired.
Garnish with finely sliced chives and serve.

 

 

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About Author

Megan McCaffrey is a food writer for The Journal News and contributor to the Small Bites Blog. She has a degree in Digital Media from Fordham University and a fondness for good craft beer. She loves to bake, read cooking blogs and taste all the Lower Hudson Valley has to offer. Megan lives in Ridgefield, Connecticut with her husband and three kids.

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