Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Easy, kid-pleasing dinner recipes wanted!

Max's favorite dish is macaroni and cheese pie, as he calls it—a casserole made in part with butternut squash. Sabrina is onto me. "I don't like that," she announced the other day, and when I asked why she said, "It has squash." I said, "Who told you that?" and she said, "You did." Now, unless this child slipped truth serum into my coffee, I wouldn't have ever mentioned that. Which makes me wonder whether she has been reading this blog. (Sabrina, if you are reading this blog, go clean your room right now.)

The kids are pretty good eaters, and they do like butternut squash ravioli, pierogies, salmon, garlic chicken and lasagna for dinner. They are, however, very weary of meatloaf.

I'm not the most adventurous cook in the world, unless you count my wondrous abilities to heat up Trader Joe entrees. I could really use some fresh, EASY recipes. Especially ones that make enough portions to last all week. Did I mention EASY? Ideally, they can't be too chewy or crunchy, because Max can't handle foods like that.

If you have a tried-and-true recipe that your family loves, I'd so appreciate it if you left it below or shared a link to one on a site. 

(Sabrina, if you are still reading this blog, go look up some recipes.)

Image: Wikimedia Commons/National Archives and Records Administration


  1. I love wraps with avo, chicken and veggies maybe you can try that.

  2. This is one of my easiest "recipes". It does rely on bottled dressing but its really good. Marinate tilapia in Newmans own light honey mustard dressing for a few minutes. Put tilapia on foiled cookie sheet and add a little dressing on top of each piece. Broil not too close to the top of the broiler (on a rack at the bottom of the oven for 5 minutes. Check the tilapia and put back in for another 2 minutes if its not ready (it needs to be able to be cut thru with the side of a fork. Repeat if necessary This shouldn't take long but you'll have to experiment the first time to get a feel for how long your oven takes) when tilapia is done top with Parmesan cheese lightly and retun to broiler for 30 seconds or so til bubbly. This is soft and easy to eat. I serve with green beans which I sautée in a pan with canola oil salt and pepper. But those might be too hard for max to eat.

  3. My favorite is a crockpot recipe I got off Pioneer Woman's cooking site, Crockpot Chicken Tacos: Layer these things in a crockpot on low-- 1/2 bag frozen corn, 1 can of rinsed/drained black beans, 1 packet of your favorite taco seasoning, 2-3 chicken breasts (frozen chicken works great, just takes longer to cook), and a large jar of salsa. Cook on low 4-8 hrs depending on if chicken was frozen. Shred the chicken with two forks (it's super tender by this point)and stir it back in. Use in tacos, burritos, quesadillas, whatever floats your boat. It's a staple at our house!

  4. My favorite is something we call "crockpot chicken" though I'm sure that that isn't was it was originally called! It's cream of chicken soup, cream cheese, and chicken. We don't really use measurements, but it's about 1-2 cans of the soup (don't add water) and a block of cream cheese and you can always increase the amounts to make more! You just need enough to cover the chicken in the crock pot. You can use whole chicken breasts, strips, or chunks. You don't even need to defrost the chicken. Just cook in the crock pot on medium or high until the chicken is cooked (depends on how much you're making, the size of the chicken and whether it was frozen).

  5. We do "make your own taco/burrito" night with rice, beans, chicken or ground turkey, cheese, veggies, whatever. You can use crunchy shells and/or soft tortillas. The best part is everyone likes SOME part of it so I am not making a completely different meal for anyone.

  6. Try making gnocchi or risotto one night. The rice in risotto gets really creamy and soft, and you can add frozen peas or pureed veg to the sauce near the end, to get that healthy factor in there (plus you can make it pretty cheesy, so a bonus for Max). And my husband has CP, so sometimes chewing is difficult for him, but he loves gnocchi. You can buy them premade at most grocery stores, and just boil till they float, at which point they are soft pillowy puffs of potato pasta. Then mix into sauce, with your fave veg or meats (again, cheesy sauce would be a hit here!), and also the option for pureed veg in sauce works well.

  7. Sweet and sour meatballs...a bag of frozen meatballs, a jar of grape jelly, and a bottle of cocktail sauce..heat the cocktail sauce and jelly, then add the meatballs...very easy, takes 10 minutes if meatballs are thawed. I make these for dinner and parties and people can't get enough!

  8. chili and beef stew in the slow cooker are always successful here, and i can put everything in the crockpot in the morning and forget it until dinner.

    publish the best ones in another post!

  9. Take 2.
    Hamburger Stroganoff: (it was a regular at my home growing up!) Brown 1lb or so ground beef or turkey; drain. Add cream o' mushroom soup and about 2/3rds cup or more sour cream; blend well. We also add a can of mushrooms which my daughter has called 'Pirate Boats' since she was little (now 8); serve over rice or egg noodles, with veg of your choice (we always had peas with it).

    Crock Pot Pork Chops
    4 or so 1/2 inch thick boneless pork chops; salt/pepper them-brown in a little oil. Throw in the crock pot on low. I deglaze the pan w/ a little liquid (water, apple jc-whatever) then add a can of cream of mushroom soup to the pan to make a sauce. Throw over the pork in the crock pot. Leave for work and bring home the bacon (not part of this recipe)... when you get home, meat is fall apart tender; serve over egg noodles with a side of applesauce for dunking; veg of your choice.

    Love this thread-I always need ideas!!

  10. I like to make my own black bean burgers and sweet potato fries. Super healthy and easy. Basically mush up a can of black beans with a cooked sweet potato, some bread crumbs and any other veggies you want, form into patties, and bake at 350 for about 10 minutes until its firm. The numbers can be adjusted if you want to make a big batch.
    For the sweet potato fries I use this recipe:
    Olive Oil, for tossing
    5 sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced into 1/4-inch long slices, then 1/4-wide inch strips, using a crinkle cut knife
    1 tablespoon House Seasoning (recipe follows)
    1/2 teaspoon paprika
    House Seasoning:
    1 cup salt
    1/4 cup black pepper
    1/4 cup garlic powder
    Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.Line a sheet tray with parchment. In a large bowl toss sweet potatoes with just enough oil to coat. Sprinkle with House Seasoning and paprika. Spread sweet potatoes in single layer on prepared baking sheet, being sure not to overcrowd. Bake until sweet potatoes are tender and golden brown, turning occasionally, about 20 minutes. Let cool 5 to 10 minutes before serving.
    (*These are also good with cinnamon and sugar!)

    1. oh oh oh sweet potato fries with cinnamon and sugar... I NEVER would have thought of it but can't wait to try it!!

  11. French dip sandwiches: boneless chuck roast, can of beef broth, and a packet of onion soup mix in the crockpot on low. Buy some hoagie rolls and a sliced cheese of your choice (we prefer Swiss). When the meat is done, assemble the sandwiches open faced and throw in the oven long enough to melt the cheese. Au jus tip: pour the liquid from the crockpot into a ziploc bag and seal. Hold it over a bowl and snip one of the bottom corners - fat floats to the top so as you drain the bag you can skim the fat.

  12. How about a kugel? This one's not too labor-intensive, at least no more so than a homemade mac and cheese. It's also pretty quick if you're not lazy like me and constantly wandering off to check the internet. What's more, it's fattening and buttery and kids love that. Pretty soft, too. I served mine with a cucumber salad and that was our dinner. (Note: I did not use a skillet, but a pan, and was low on eggs so made up for it with a shot of olive oil. Also cut down on the butter a little.)


    INGREDIENTS 1½ cups (12 oz.) sour cream
    1¼ cups (12 oz.) cottage cheese
    8 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
    4 eggs, lightly beaten
    Kosher salt, to taste
    8 oz. wide egg noodles
    Ground black pepper, to taste
    4 cloves garlic, minced
    1 large yellow onion, minced

    INSTRUCTIONS Heat oven to 350°. Whisk sour cream, cottage cheese, 6 tbsp. butter, and eggs in a bowl; set aside. Bring a 4-qt. pot of salted water to a boil; cook noodles until al dente. Drain; stir into cheese mixture. Season with salt and pepper. Heat remaining butter in a 12″ cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic and onions; cook, stirring, until lightly caramelized, about 8 minutes. Stir in noodles, and bake until browned, 35–40 minutes.

  13. Got to admit, I look for things that are heavy on the veggies and lean meats, and less on the processed foods, starches and empty calories. Miss 17 has down syndrome, so a sluggish metabolism would not do well on many of these recipes. That ol' 5-10 servings of veggies a day has kept her so healthy her whole life! Our family favourite is also my best marketing spin: To the kids, I call it ham and cheese slice. The recipe is actually called zucchini slice! It's also quite forgiving if you substitute the veggies.

    Grease a lasagna baking dish

    Combine in bowl:
    1 cup corn
    1 cup grated carrot
    1 cup (or more) grated zucchini
    1 cup diced onion
    6 eggs
    1 cup grated sharp or old cheese
    1 cup flour (whole wheat is OK)
    1 tsp baking soda
    1/2 tsp salt (optional)
    1 ham steak or package sandwich ham, diced (can also use 8 strips bacon, diced)
    1/4 cup oil

    Mix and pour all in to dish.
    Bake at 350 degrees for 30 min or until cooked through (do the toothpick test, like a cake)

    It freezes like a dream and I usually make double and have lunches/fast meals for ages. It's quite solid so also a good lunch slice, and I hate making lunches!!

  14. If you want to get inspired (and are ready to get sucked into yet another Website: - and no, I'm not on commission! However, I'd choose instant NOT precooked!) Polenta (and see for example, again, no sponsoring involved). Takes about 5 minutes to make, can be as cheesy as you want, can be eaten with a spoon, topped with mushrooms and/or bacon, served with gravy, made more healthy by grating Zucchini into it ...

    Quote from Leftover Polenta: Polenta will solidify into the shape of the container in which you store it. Leftover polenta can be sliced or cubed before being roasted, grilled, or deep-fried. To make it creamy again, warm it with a little broth, milk, or water, and stir vigorously. It won't be quite as creamy as it was originally, but it should still be pourable.

    What's not to love?

    I wouldn't serve chestnut puree (such as - the usual Sponsoring proviso) immediately after polenta, but even unsweetened and topped with whipped cream it does make for a surprisingly delicious and healthy dessert.

    Mash made from scratch takes about 30 minutes ( and I've yet to meet a kid who doesn't love it. Grate in kohlrabi (about 1/4 of the potato weight / put in frozen peas or frozen cauliflower or dooked broccoli and mash together / top with sautéed apples and onions). Mix with some coarse-grained French mustard for a posh side dish to grilled lamb racks, add a green salad and ask your friends to bring the wine ...

    Dilute leftovers with broth/nmild/cream to make potato soup (heat some Frankfurters sliced into coins with it and top with lots of chopped flat-leaf parsley) or use as a topping for hachis parmentier ( - I'd use leftover meat cubes or fry some mince with onions, season it, add a glass of red wine and a tbsp tomato paste, let it simmer for as long as I can bear and then top it with the mash ... or, indeed, cook the ragu in advance.

    I could go on ... but there are a couple of jobs to finish and a fridge to be raided (all this Food talk is making me very hungry)

    good luck

  15. OMG those typos - "nmild" is "milk" btw. The erratic caps are the laptop's fault, however ...

  16. Thanks, everyone, for the delicious-sounding recipes--I will be trying out a bunch! They seem like dishes all of us would enjoy! Now I just need someone to cook them. Ha ha ha ha ha. They all fit the "easy" bill!

  17. French pancakes (crêpes) are our saviour. Super quick and the kids love them. Batter: 2 eggs, 5 tbsps of flour, dash of oil, pinch of salt and sugar and enough milk to make it pour smoothly to cover the base of the frying pan as you pour in a ladleful and swish it round (thin, maybe 1/8inch). Turn, then sprinkle on ham/cheese/tomatoes etc, roll up and voilà! - tasty, healthy, soft finger food. I think my daughter loves it especially as you don't need to use cutlery.

  18. Everyone in my house loves stir fry. Make some brown rice, cook some chicken in a pan, throw in some veggies and some sauce (when I'm uninspired, Tereyaki or the Panda Express Orange sauce) and mix it all together. Simple, quick, and painless. Sometimes, I substitute rice for pasta and buy some alfredo sauce to mix with the veggies and chicken. If you need to hide the vegetables from your kids, which I may or may not have had to do in the past, make the pasta and chicken, buy some pesto sauce, and dice green vegetables into very small pieces. Is that pesto or broccoli? No one will ever need to know.


    We leave out the spices, and use cream of chicken instead of cream of mushroom soup. It's not too healthy, but it's easy and fast and really yummy. Make sure you cover the baking dish, or the rice won't cook. My Dad sometimes uses thighs instead of breasts, or makes the rice without the chicken and just bakes the chicken.

  20. Here's a good recipe, vegetarian tacos which I got from Netmums. It is for 8 people.

    List of what you need:
    1 onion
    1 medium carrot
    1 clove garlic
    2 tbsp vegetable oil
    Salt & pepper
    pinch of cayenne pepper
    ½ tsp. mild chilli powder
    ½ tsp chilli sauce
    400g tinned chopped tomatoes
    450g tinned taco beans (or kidney beans)
    8 taco shells
    ½ lemon

    Chop the onion, dice the carrot and crush the garlic.

    Heat the oil then cook the vegetables until soft. Stir in the tomatoes, beans & lemon juice. Season and stir in the cayenne, chilli sauce and chilli powder. Cook gently for 15 minutes or until the sauce has thickened. Stand the tacos on a baking sheet and warm in oven for 3 minutes. Fill the shells with the vegetable mixture. Top with sour cream or cream cheese & lettuce.

    To mix things up, here is a variation:

    You can vary the amount of chilli you add, to make sure it's to your taste. For young children, take out their portion and continue to cook it separately in a small pan, before adding the chilli to the adult portion. Just add a pinch to 1/2 tsp of cumin powder instead, which has a much milder taste than chilli.


Thanks for sharing!

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