Dinners So Simple, Even We Can Do Them

by Shannon Hembree on May 1, 2011

It’s 4:30 p.m. The kids are cranky, you are out of energy, and cooking something for dinner is about as appealing (and likely less rewarding) as banging your head against the wall. Short of ideas for what to cook as well as time? Try a recipe from the list below.  

Our disclaimer is…we can’t actually cook. The nice thing about these recipes is that you can play with the ingredients (amounts as well as actual ingredients) and still have some measure of success.

Chicken Nuggets
Prep. Time: 10 to 15 minutes
Bake Time: Approximately 30 minutes
You Will Need: Chicken breasts, Italian salad dressing, olive oil, and Italian seasoned breadcrumbs. We are not listing specific amounts, because dinnertime in our houses is usually so chaotic we wind up throwing things in bowls and hoping for the best.
To Prepare:
  • Mix olive oil in a bowl with Italian salad dressing (Just throw in the amounts you want – some people like more olive oil than dressing and some like more dressing than olive oil. You can also use just one of these ingredients if that is all you have on hand.).
  • Put breadcrumbs in a separate bowl.
  • Cut up chicken breasts into nugget-sized pieces (using all necessary food safety precautions).
  • Dip the pieces into the dressing/olive oil mix.
  • Place coated pieces in breadcrumbs bowl and cover with breadcrumbs (Note, once you are done with the breadcrumbs in the bowl, you will throw them away, so you can always just coat the bottom of the bowl and add more as needed.).
  • Place coated chicken nuggets on baking sheet that you have sprayed with a cooking spray.
  • Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 30 minutes. Check centers to make sure they are no longer pink.

Baked Scallops
Prep. Time: 10 minutes
Bake Time: Approximately 20 minutes
You Will Need: As many scallops as you would like to eat (Sorry, this is another on-the-fly recipe), olive oil, garlic (I prefer the minced garlic in the container you buy at the store, but even garlic powder will do), onion powder, Italian breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese, and pepper.
To Prepare:
  • Spray the bottom of a baking dish or pan (I use a square glass one, but whatever holds your scallops is fine) with cooking spray or rub a small amount of olive oil on the bottom.
  • Place your scallops in the pan. They should be side-by-side rather than on top of each other. Again, please take the appropriate food preparation precautions.
  • Dab the tops of the scallops with olive oil. I use my fingers and then wash my hands really well.
  • Sprinkle minced garlic (however much you like) over the scallops. I try and get a little on each.
  • Sprinkle onion powder and pepper over scallops. You can substitute whatever spices and amounts you like. It is rare that I don’t forget an ingredient when making this recipe.
  • Sprinkle Parmesan cheese and breadcrumbs over the scallops (as much or as little as you like – I like it on the lighter side.).
  • Bake at 400 degrees for approximately 20 minutes or until the tops are brown and the scallops are fully cooked.

Pepper Steak
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Bake Time: Approximately 15 to 25 minutes
You Will Need: Steaks, garlic salt, and black pepper (ideally from a grinder).
To Prepare:
  • Set the oven to broil.
  • Coat each side of the steaks with garlic salt and ground black pepper.
  • Place on broiling pan (cover top of pan with aluminum foil to cut down on cleanup) and put in the oven.
  • Broil until top is brown to desired level.
  • Turn steaks and repeat on other side. The only trick with this is to place the oven rack close enough to the top of the oven that the steaks broil, but far enough down that they don’t catch on fire. And yes, I have watched my steaks burst into flames, so it is possible.

Lasagna Rolls
Prep. Time: Approximately 15 to 20 minutes once you boil the noodles
Bake Time: Somewhere between 15 and 25 minutes, depending on your oven
You Will Need: 8 to 10 whole wheat lasagna noodles; 1 to 2 cups of shredded mozzarella or Monterey Jack cheese, depending on how much you like cheese; Parmesan cheese, 1 can of diced spiced (oregano, etc.) tomatoes (I use Del Monte diced tomatoes with basil, garlic and oregano); a splash of milk; and Boursin spreadable cheese. You can also add spinach or other veggies if you prefer.
To Prepare:
  • Cook lasagna noodles and cool.
  • In a bowl, mix the Boursin, ½ cup to one cup of mozzarella, depending on how much you prefer, and enough milk to give the mixture a spreadable consistency.
  • Spread this mixture onto each noodle. You can use as much as you like, but keep in mind that the more you use per noodle, the fewer the rolls you will have. I usually just coat with a thin layer.
  • Once you coat a noodle, roll it up from one end to the other.
  • Place it in a baking pan that you have coated with cooking spray (Note, if you aren’t using that many rolls, you can fit them in a loaf pan.).
  • Drain some of the liquid off of the canned tomatoes. Pour the remaining tomatoes and juice over the rolled up noodles.
  • Sprinkle as much shredded cheese as you like over the tomatoes.
  • Sprinkle as much parmesan cheese as you like over that.
  • Bake at 350 for approximately 20 minutes – start checking it at 15 minutes, but it may take as long as 25 or 30, depending on your oven. The goal is for the top to be slightly brown and bubbly.

These are just a couple of our go-to recipes. Stay tuned for our next article where we explore how to make hand-ground ice cream from scratch…Oh please people, there will be no such article. My recipe for ice cream is pretty straight forward…open the door in the grocery store freezer section, select desired flavor, and take home. Happy cooking! 

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