February 3, 2014

Healthiness in 2014: Quick Dinners

So last week, I talked about Breakfast.  I love breakfast.  It's probably my favorite part of the day. I'm good at breakfast.  I'm bad at lunch.  I'm going to skip lunch.  Well, not skip lunch.  Skip talking about lunch.  Let's talk about dinner.  I'm pretty good at dinner too.

Dinner, for me, is all about meal-planning.  Meal-planning will be addressed in a future post.  I can be really good at it when I want to be.  Here's examples from last spring when I was really on my game: beginning of April and middle of April.

We are all guilty of calling for pizza or stopping to pick something up on the way home.  In fact, just a few years ago, if Scott wasn't going to be home for dinner, I'd go to Subway on my way home from work.  This just tells you how often he was actually home for dinner though because, really, could you imagine if I'd employed that tactic while he was deployed?  That wouldn't have gone over very well for the wallet. These are my go-to dinner recipes…

+Quick easy soups, like tomato or this Chicken Orzo Soup.  It was wonderful when we were both feeling under the weather last weekend.  

Lemon Orzo Chicken Soup
1 cup orzo pasta
1/2 lb.-1 lb. of chicken cutlets, seasoned, cooked, and cut into bite-sized pieces (once again, the amount you use depends on how chicken-y you like things)
1 cup of sliced carrots
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 ribs of celery (chopped into bite-sized pieces)
7 cups of chicken broth
3 T. of fresh lemon juice
3/4 cup of parsley

Cook the orzo for 8-10 minutes in salted boiling water.  Drain and set aside.
Cook the chicken in a soup pot, then add the vegetables and cook until tender.
Stir in the orzo, broth, lemon juice, and season to taste.  Let it simmer together until heated through, then stir in the parsley.

Also on the list…

+Thai Peanut Noodles.  I love spicy peanut sauces.  The best noodles ever were at a Japanese steakhouse in Great Falls, Montana.  These aren't anything like that.  But they're delicious in their own way.  I make them a lot!

+Spinach Pesto.  Before I started my smoothie kick, this was a great way to use up leftover spinach.  It also freezes really well in tupperware containers.  I like to add in chopped chicken to the pasta dish once it's all tossed together with the pesto.

+Veggie Quesadillas.  Lately, I've just been doing onions and peppers.  You cannot go wrong with a quesadilla.  I love the whole wheat tortillas just because of the flavor.  I don't like corn ones, or the big white flour ones.  That's a personal preference though.  Feel free to use what you like for a quick, filling dinner!

+Stove-top Mac and Cheese.  This stuff is quick.  It comes together in about 30 minutes.  All you need is a can of evaporated milk in the cupboard (one can will make 2 batches, so you can freeze half of it) and a good block of cheddar in the fridge.  

+Veggie Burritos/Enchiladas/whatever.  They don't have a sauce on them, so they're healthier (the sour cream sauce is what gets you!), and you can also add chicken.  We eat these once a week.

+Cheesesteak Pizzas.  On flatbread.  Or on french bread.  So tasty.  This is comfort food to the extreme.  Thinking about this kind of dinner would get me through a long day.

More pizza: 

+This Biscuit Puff Pizza is not healthy.  But I couldn't leave it out.  I love it. I spent many an Alaskan night eating this pizza.  Sometimes I shared with Scott.

+Tomato Basil Pizza.  Slightly healthier.  We survived on this our first year of marriage.  

+My favorite Pizza Dough Recipe.  To make all of your pizzas with.  I also like to flip it in half, make it into a giant pizza sandwich and call it a calzone.  Usually, I freeze a ball of dough, or make it on a Sunday and leave it in the fridge for a few days until I need a quick dinner.  Often, we also eat pizza on Sundays, when the dough is nice and fresh. (When I say "we", I mean I love pizza so, so much.  Scott is a good sport and goes along with it.)

+And, if you're really pressed for time, Tortilla Pizzas.  We had these just last week, but we put them on the pizza stone instead of in a frying pan.  

+We also do lots of steak salads and chicken salads.  I like to cube up boneless skinless chicken tenders, cook them in a pan, drizzle on some BBQ sauce (Sweet Baby Ray's) and caramelize them a bit.  Put them on a bed of spinach with tomatoes, french fried onions, and peppers.  Yum.

I'd like to say I use the crockpot during the week, but I usually don't.  I use it on the weekends to cook meatballs, tortilla soup, salsa chicken, etc.  I like to be around to check on the progress.  I get that the purpose of the appliance is being defeated in this way, but oh well.  

Alright, your turn:  What do YOU have for dinner on busy nights?  

As an attempt to write about lunch next week, who wants to send me ideas?  I'd love to feature them!


  1. My #1 favorite healthy but no-work-required dinner is eggs scrambled with spinach and onions, topped with tomato and avocado. Which probably defeats the whole purpose of it being "dinner" because I do realize that that is a traditional breakfast. :P Quesadillas are a favorite quick meal, too--on that note, tacos are really fast, actually that's my favorite low-work company meal when I'm having a bunch of family members over because you can make a lot with little effort, whether it's ground beef, chicken, or carne asada--I like all forms of tacos.

  2. Oh yum! I just love that lemon orzo soup idea!

  3. I love lemon orzo soup! Though I have never made it. We eat a ton of salads too..I like your recipes, must add after the Whole 30.

  4. That lemon orzo soup sounds good! I'm saving that to try. We've been loving stir fry lately. So simple and good!

  5. That cheesesteak pizza looks good!

  6. One of our go-to dinners is spaghetti wit meat sauce. It's just so quick and easy. We also do tacos a lot (which I always set in salad form).

  7. I typically cook on Sundays for the week. For the one night a week I might not have dinner, I will do a quick little quesadilla. I love htem.

  8. I meal plan and it has helped tremendously! I also utilize my crock pot a lot especially during weeks that I'm busier than normal.


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