Top Ten Weeknight Recipes

For more Tuesday Top Ten fun, head over to ohAmanda’s.

If  weeknights at your house are anything like weeknights at mine, there’s no guarantee that you’ll have the time or the energy to stand over the stove and make dinner.  Usually Jude’s whining by this time and gearing up for bed, my feet hurt from a long day at school, the house is a disaster, and the dogs are running hyper circles excitedly from room to room.  I try to relax but, to quote Mary Shelley, it’s often like the witching hour.

In truth, I usually want a cocktail more than a nutritious meal, but there’s definitely something rewarding about sitting down to a table of good food , even better if it’s easy-to-make good food.  Here, in no particular order,  are my top ten weeknight meals.  I’ve linked to the website I found them from if it’s available.  Most of these are healthy, fast, and easy clean up!

  1. Black Beans with Onions, Ham, and Greens – I’ve done lots of variations of this recipe, depending on what greens I have on hand.  This is especially a favorite when Scott is gone on business.  I can quickly make my own dinner and have some for lunch the next day.  I only use 2 cans of black beans though.  3 sounds like a lot.
  2. Kale, Tomato, and Mushroom saute, served over polenta This is another wholefoods.com recipe.  I fell in love with pre-cooked polenta as a result of this one. (It’s sold in a container like a sausage or something, and you simply slice it off and brown it in olive oil.)  We add extra mushrooms, too.  (Kale is said to be the healthiest vegetable, by the way.  We try to eat it a couple times a month when it’s available.)  I sometimes add bacon to this at the beginning of the recipe.  That probably cancels out a few health benefits but it’s yummy.
  3. Black Bean and Ravioli Casserole – This is something that might not sound like it would be good. (Mexican and pasta?)  Let me assure you though… it’s yummy!  I’ve never had a  Southern Living recipe I didn’t like.  My only complaint is that it can be a bit expensive as it requires a whole bag of frozen ravioli.
  4. Marinated Salmon – We always have salmon stocked in our freezer. Combine melted butter with a touch of lemon juice,  worcestershire sauce, and apple cider vinegar.  Sprinkle with parsley.  Yummy.  We usually eat with a baked potato and a fast vegetable like asparagus or broccoli – whatever’s in the fridge or freezer.
  5. Vodka Pasta – I love love love this recipe. It has a little bit of a kick.
  6. Quesadilla with Fresh Guacamole – Alone quesadillas seem boring, but some mashed up avocados (Jude’s favorite food!) combined with a spoon or two of salsa makes for some delicious impromptu fresh guac.  I usually stir-fry onions and mushrooms and place them on the tortilla with some shredded cheese for our veggie quesadillas.
  7. “Real Food” Hamburger HelperGood for you (compared to the boxed, plastic-tasting one at least).  Fast.  Filling.  Comforting.
  8. Trader Joe’s Mandarin Chicken – Okay this isn’t homemade.  It’s seriously good though!  The added bonus is that you can pronounce all the ingredients on the package, and it’s made of whole, real, normal ingredients.  That’s hard to find in the frozen aisle.  We saute and serve it over rice at our house.  Tastes like take-out but cheaper!  I know Land of Lovings likes it, too.  We ran in to each other buying it once at the local TJ’s!
  9. a previously-frozen casserole – Most casseroles can be frozen.  When I make them, I often do a double batch and use it on a hurried weekday.
  10. Cuban Beans and RiceThis is such a healthy dish, and it’s made from absolute scratch, so there are no worries about additives or preservatives.  We like it with crusty garlic bread.  It does take a long time to cook, but you get it started and leave the rest to the stove.  Really easy!

So what about you?  On a hurried weeknight, what dish can you rely on to fill your belly and restore your sanity?

Homemade Baby Food

I’ve heard from so many people that making your own baby food is easy, so I was not hesitant at all to give it a try when Jude was ready for solid foods.  Last weekend, we started with pears and acorn squash, and this weekend I’ve added sweet potatoes and more pears since he loves them so much.  My sister told me about a great website that gives you recipes, and it couldn’t be easier.  I think a lot of moms are unsure about making your own baby food because it sounds time-consuming.  It really isn’t at all!  Working full-time, I find that weekends are a mad dash to finish tasks before Monday morning, and I still found the time to do it.  Your stove or oven and your blender do most the work, and you can make a freeze a large batch all at once, so it’s not like you have to do this numerous times throughout the week.

For pears, you just peel and slice them and place them in a pot on the stove.  Cook them on low heat for about 20-30 minutes or until they are fork tender.

Then you simply let them cool and then dump them in to the blender to puree.  After they are smooth, I pour them into ice-cube trays and let them set up in the freezer.  Once they are solid, pop them out in to a snack-size ziplock bag, and they can stay in your freezer until ready for use.  Each ice-cube is one ounce, so that gives you an idea of how much your baby is consuming as well.

For the acorn squash, I cut it in half down the middle, scooped out the seeds, and placed the halves, open sides down, in a Pyrex baking dish with about an inch of water in it.  Roast for one hour, scoop out the “meat” and place in the blender.  Sweet potatoes are similar.  Bake in the oven as you normally would, scoop out the potato, and blend until it’s smooth.  Squash and sweet potato both freeze well.  I added a little water to them in the blender in order to get the best consistency for Jude.

There are so many reasons to make your own food for your baby.  You know what’s in it and whose hands have touched it.  It’s also more cost efficient.  I spent about $7 on organic sweet potatoes, and it made this much food.

56 ounces of organic baby food!

The leading brand of organic baby food runs about 25 cents an ounce, so it’s a huge savings.  Most significantly, you get the satisfaction of making your baby happy.  For a lot of us, there is no better feeling than making something and watching someone happily devour it.  You can’t get that same feeling from purchasing a jar on a store shelf.  Here’s Jude enjoying some sweet potatoes soon after I made them.  He’s serious about his food!