Wednesday, July 29, 2015

five favorite easy dinners

Look at this! I'm fulfilling a promise I made a commenter, and linking up with Dwija AND Jenna!! So multitasking. Much efficient. Yes.

These aren't strictly "one pot" recipes except one, because they generally involve rice or pasta cooked in a separate pot. But they're all easy and uncomplicated and delicious. (A couple of them have long-ish ingredient lists, but that's mostly just spices.) If you have littles, or if your dinnertime is just hectic, I highly recommend cutting up veggies and meat beforehand and storing them in ziplock bags or tupperware in the fridge until you're ready to use them. I don't know why the pre-dinner hour is always so stressful, but it is, and anything to reduce that stress gets a big thumbs-up from me.

1. Kielbasa and Peppers

I don't have a picture of this because A- it came from a cookbook with no pictures (something called Speedy Suppers that I got as a gift long ago) and B- it barely qualifies as a recipe anyway. You can adjust all proportions to your liking. It's delicious and super easy. But basically, here it is:

- a few tablespoons olive oil
- pre-cooked kielbasa, sliced into rounds (the recipe calls for 2lbs; my family of 2 adults & 2 littles use 1lb)
- bell peppers, sliced into strips (it looks pretty to use multiple colored ones, the recipe calls for 3 but 2 peppers is plenty for us)
- yellow onion, halved and sliced

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add kielbasa and saute for a couple minutes, then add vegetables. Cook until kielbasa is golden brown and vegetables are tender, about 8-10 minutes. Serve over rice.

2. One-Pot Cajun Chicken Alfredo

Adapted slightly from Note that if you already have (or prefer to purchase) a Cajun seasoning mix, you can use 4 tsp of that in place of all the dried spices (including the salt) in the recipe.

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 lb. boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite-size chunks
1 tsp salt
1 tsp garlic powder
1 1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 tsp dried minced onion (or 1/2 tsp onion powder)
1/2 tsp cayenne
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp dried thyme
pinch crushed red pepper flakes
10 garlic cloves, minced
3 cups chicken broth
2 cups milk
1 16oz box fettuccini pasta
2/3 cup grated parmesan cheese

Heat the oil over medium-high heat in a large pot or large high-sided skillet. Add the chicken, salt, and all the spices. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic and cook for 1 additional minute, stirring often.

Add the broth and milk. Break the pasta in half and add it to the pot. Cover and bring to a rapid, rolling boil, stirring occasionally. (Make sure your milk doesn't boil over!)

Reduce the heat to medium-low and let the pasta simmer, covered, for 12-16 minutes. Stir every 2-3 minutes to prevent sticking. Cook until there is about 1 inch of liquid in the bottom of the pot.

Remove the pot from the heat. Stir in the parmesan cheese. Serve immediately.

3. Chicken & Vegetable Stir-Fry with Noodles

Adapted slightly from Feel free to use the whole box of noodles if you prefer, and whatever vegetables you have on hand.

1/2 pound (1/2 a box) whole wheat spaghetti
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound boneless chicken breasts or thighs, cut into bite size pieces
salt and pepper to taste
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/2 cup low-sodium soy sauce
1/4 cup honey
1 teaspoon BBQ sauce
1/2 teaspoon pepper (additional)
1-2 cups carrots, cut into half-moon slices
1-2 cups zucchini, cut into half-moon slices
1 cup peas (I leave these out because my husband doesn't like them, but I'm sure they'd be delicious)

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add noodles and cook according to instructions MINUS 2 minutes, then drain.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and season with salt and pepper. Cook until chicken is done, then remove chicken with a slotted spoon.

Using the chicken pan (including all the drippings and brown bits) add about 1/4 cup of water and 
sauté carrots first. Stir, being sure to scrape all the bits off the bottom. After 3-4 minutes, add ginger, soy sauce, honey, BBQ sauce, and pepper. Add zucchini and cook for 2 minutes. Return chicken to pan plus peas. Add drained pasta and stir. Serve. 

4. Cincinnati Chili

Okay guys, this is a real Ohio specialty. Cincinnati chili isn't really chili at all; it's a meat sauce to serve over pasta (or you can use it as a topping on hot dogs). It's different, but delicious. Don't be weirded out by the cinnamon and allspice. It's Mediterranean-spiced, so don't expect it to taste Italian like spaghetti sauce or Mexican like chili. It's a thing all its own. It's good, trust me. And you can make it a day ahead of time, thus minimizing the pre-dinner witching hour mayhem. 

2 lbs ground meat
1 quart (4 cups) water 
1 tsp cinnamon
2 T chili powder
1.5 tsp allspice
½ tsp cayenne pepper
1 T salt
3 bay leaves
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp black pepper
1 large onion, diced
6 oz tomato paste
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 clove garlic
½ tsp apple cider vinegar

(Best if made 1 day in advance.)

Combine all in large pot.  Bring to boil, then simmer 1 hour.  Remove from heat, let cool a bit, and place in fridge.  The next day, skim the fat off before reheating.

Serve over spaghetti and top with shredded cheddar cheese.

5. Best Italian Sausage Soup (for the slow cooker)

Adapted slightly from The only thing that makes this not a "dump and go" slow cooker recipe is that you want to brown the sausage/onions/garlic beforehand to make them super delicious. Serve it with crusty bread if you want to be fancy. My family can't get enough of this soup.

1 pound sweet Italian sausage
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 yellow onions, chopped
2 (16 oz) cans whole peeled tomatoes
1 1/4 cups dry red wine
5 cups beef broth
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp dried oregano
2 zucchini, sliced
1 green bell pepper, chopped
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley (or about 2-3 tsp dried)
1 (16 oz) package short pasta (to add later)
salt and pepper to taste

In a large pot, cook sausage over medium heat until brown. If desired, remove sausage with a slotted spoon to drain fat (reserving 3 tablespoons). 

Cook garlic and onion in reserved fat for 2-3 minutes. Stir in tomatoes, wine, broth, basil, and oregano. Transfer to a slow cooker, and stir in sausage (if you removed it), zucchini, bell pepper, and parsley.

Cover and cook on low for 4-6 hours-- or honestly, as long as you want. It's soup. The longer the better. But at least 4 hours.

Soon before you're ready to eat, boil the pasta until al dente, drain the water, and add the pasta to the slow cooker. Stir together and simmer for a few minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste and serve.


  1. Thank you so much for posting these! I can't wait to try them!

  2. Some kielbasa and beautiful peppers in season make a great mea. Yum!

    1. Meal. Sigh. Typing too fast for my own good.

  3. Hey Emily!! I hope you are still making post ! I tried to send you a private message but not sure if it went through !

  4. These look great! I am in such a cooking slump, lol...