Easy Weeknight Dinners

SNACKS

Blueberry Oatmeal Breakfast Cookies – These are “kitchen pantry cookies.” With lots of optional add-ins, you can throw in whatever is in the pantry.  Consider chocolate chunks, nuts, raisins, etc.  I added some extra honey because my bananas were nowhere near ripe.  If your bananas are super soft and ripe, reducation the honey.

DINNERS

Kale Pesto and Ricotta Spaghetti This is such a fast, easy and incredibly flavorful dish that I cannot get enough of!

Balsamic Vinegar Chicken with Fresh Tomatoes – Pan sear some chicken and onions and then throw them, and a few other ingredients, in a baking dish.  A super flavorful dinner is ready in no time.  Minimal preparation makes this an ideal weeknight meal.

Creamy Spinach Lentil Soup – If you like easy, this soup is for you.  Everything happens in a one stock pot.  Talk about a flavorful, creamy soup option with tons of health benefits too.  A perfect option for a cold winter weeknight.

Hope Something Makes Your Belly Smile…

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Blueberry Oatmeal Breakfast Cookies

Adapted from How Sweet Eats


Dry Ingredients

  • 2 c. old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 c. white whole wheat pastry
  • 1/3 c. organic ground flaxseed
  • 1/2 t. baking powder
  • 1/2 t. baking soda
  • 1/2 t. ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 t. sea salt

Wet Ingredients

  • 2 ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1 large organic egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 c. organic coconut palm sugar (yes, this is a wet ingredient)
  • 3 T. coconut oil, melted
  • 2 T. organic butter, melted
  • 3 T. organic milk
  • 2 T. organic vanilla extract
  • 3 T. to ¼ c. local honey (increase honey to ¼ c. if your bananas are not ripe and/or if you like things a little sweeter)

Add-ln Ingredients

  • 1 c. fresh organic blueberries
  • 1/2 c. toasted sliced almonds, optional
  • 3 oz. dark chocolate, chopped (my favorite is liberty chocolates), optional

Directions: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  In a small bowl, stir together the dry ingredients.  In a separate, larger bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients.  Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredient.  Stir gently, just until combined. Stir in any or all of the add-in ingredients.  Use a scoop to create cookie mounds. Bake on a silicone lined baking sheet or baking stone for approximately 15 minutes.  (If using a baking stone, a few more minutes may be needed)

Note: I added the full amount honey to this batch because my bananas were nowhere near ripe.  If your bananas are super soft and ripe, omit the honey.


Kale Pesto and Ricotta Spaghetti

Adapted from Heather Christo


Ingredients

  • 4 c. organic kale, stems removed
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1/8 to 1/4 t. red pepper flakes, depending on your preferred level of spiciness
  • ¼ cup of olive oil
  • ¼ c. grated Parmesan cheese
  • Sea salt to taste
  • 1 lb. 100% whole wheat spaghetti
  • 4 oz. whole milk ricotta
  • olive oil
  • red pepper flakes

Directions: Prepare the pesto in a food processor.  Add all ingredients, pulsing until combined (but not pureed).  Season with sea salt to taste.  Cook pasta in salted water.  Drain the pasta and return it to the pot in which it was cooked (off heat).  Stir the pesto into the hot pasta.  Plate and top with a generous dollop of ricotta.  Sprinkle with sea salt, a few red pepper flakes, and drizzle with olive oil.  If you like things spicy, add a bit more red pepper flakes.


Balsamic Vinegar Chicken with Fresh Tomatoes

 Adapted from Amazing Pinterest World


 Chicken Preparation

  • 4 organic, boneless/skinless chicken breasts
  • Sea salt/pepper, freshly ground
  • 1/3 T. 21 Trader Joe’s Seasoning Salute, optional
  • ½ T. olive oil
  • 1/2 red onion, sliced

Basil Sauce

  • 4 – 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 c. fresh basil, chopped
  • 1 T. olive oil
  • 1 t. balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 c. water
  • ¼ c. Parmesan cheese
  • ¼ t. each sea salt/pepper, freshly ground

Chicken Toppings

  • 1 c. mushrooms, sliced (optional)
  • 2 large organic tomatoes, chopped, (alternative: 1 pkg. organic cherry or grape tomatoes, halved)
  • ¼ c. organic Mozzarella Cheese, shredded

Directions: Warm a skillet to medium heat. Season both sides of the chicken with salt/pepper and a few dashes of Trader Joe’s 21 Seasoning Salute to each side. Add olive oil to the skillet. Sear the chicken for about 4 minutes on each side to lock in the juices.

Note: The chicken will not be fully cooked at this point. It will finish cooking in the oven.

After flipping the chicken, add the red onion to the skillet in the areas the chicken isn’t.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

While the chicken is searing, prepare the basil sauce in a blender or food processor.  Puree the basil sauce ingredients (garlic cloves, basil leaves, balsamic vinegar, water, Parmesan cheese, and salt/pepper).

Line a lasagna pan with foil. Add the seared chicken. Pour the basil sauce over the chicken.  Next, add the onions, mushrooms, and finally the tomatoes.

Bake uncovered for 30 to 40 minutes, or until the chicken is fully cooked. During the last 5 minutes of baking, top with the mozzarella cheese. Finish each serving with a drizzling of olive oil and freshly chopped basil.


Creamy Spinach Lentils Soup

Adapted from Pinch of Yum


Ingredients

  • 2 T. olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 2 organic carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 2 organic sticks celery, chopped
  • ¼ t. each sea salt, freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ c. dry white wine (NOT cooking wine)
  • 2 c. organic uncooked lentils, rinsed
  • 2 medium organic Yukon potatoes, cubed into bite size pieces or smaller
  • 4 c. organic chicken broth (plus 2-3 more cups of broth or water during cooking)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • a few sprigs fresh parsley and fresh thyme (alternatively ¼ t. each dried parsley and thyme)
  • ¼ t. dried sage
  • ½ c. organic half and half
  • 4 c. fresh, organic baby spinach
  • Sea salt and pepper to taste (likely ½ t. or more of sea salt is needed)

Toppings

  • olive oil and red wine vinegar

Directions: Heat a large stock pot to near medium heat.  Add olive oil to coat the bottom of the pot.  Add the onion, carrots, celery, and sea salt/pepper.  Stir occasionally.  Sauté until the vegetables have softened (about 8 minutes).  Add the remaining ingredients (with the exception of the spinach).  Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Simmer for 30 minutes.  Check the liquid levels often, adding additional broth to keep the lentils covered by the broth.  Add the spinach and stir until it has wilted.  Season with additional sea salt/pepper to taste.

Prior to serving, add a drizzle of olive oil and a scant teaspoon of red wine vinegar to each bowl of soup.

 

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An Abundance of Basil and Zucchini…

SNACKS

  1. Honey Cinnamon Greek Yogurt
  2. Zucchini Brownies

A quick, sweet, and creamy snack – Honey Cinnamon Greek Yogurt.  No need to buy premade flavored yogurt.  Have you ever looked at the ingredients in those suckers? Bad news!  If individual servings are a go to work or school snack, buy a large container of plain Greek organic yogurt and mix up a big batch.  Make individual servings on the weekend for the entire week!

Zucchini brownies is a family favorite when zucchini are over flowing in the fridge.  I promise, these brownies do not taste like zucchini.  They are cake-like chocolate goodies that hit the spot!  Please don’t judge them from my picture – it does them no justice 😦

DINNERS

  1. Zoodles Puttanesca With Pan Seared Chicken Sausage
  2. Balsamic Vinegar Chicken with Fresh Tomatoes & Our Take on Smashing Tomato’s House Salad
  3. Zucchini & Tomato Feta Bake With Pan Seared Chicken Sausage
  4. Cheesy Potato Frittata
  5. Avocado Turkey Burgers & Creamy Coleslaw

I found a new favorite recipe this week – Zoodles Puttanesca.  Rumor has it that Italian ladies of the night lured men with this dish.  While other possible origins for this recipe are out there, I’m buying this one because the aroma wafting from the skillet is most definitely enticing!  One bite and you’re sure to fall in lust too!

Balsamic Vinegar Chicken is a great dish for entertaining that requires little effort.  Pan sear some chicken to lock in the juices, top the chicken with several fresh ingredients, and bake!

Zucchini & Tomato Feta Bake is a great recipe to incorporate zucchini or yellow squash and tomatoes.  Garlic, basil, and feta are added to the mix and everything is baked to perfection.  This is a great addition to any meal.

I love a frittata as a fast and easy meal.  The Cheesy Potato Frittata is no exception.  Just about any potato variety can work in this recipe.  Add an Organic Greens Salad to go with the frittata and you’ve got a winner!

It just isn’t summer without burgers.  Red meat burgers are not a common meal in my house.  I have nothing against them, they just aren’t my favorite.  However, I do like a turkey burger, if the seasonings are right.  The Avocado Turkey Burger is an example of a potentially great recipe (with a bit of a seasonings face-lift).  Some cumin will make this burger go from good to great.  No changes are needed for Creamy Coleslaw – it’s great, time after time.

EXTRA

  1. What to do with tons of basil leaves.

Hope something makes your belly smile!

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Honey Cinnamon Greek Yogurt

  • ½ c. plain organic Greek yogurt
  • 1-2 T. local honey (adjust to desired sweetness)
  • ½ t. ground cinnamon
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • 1 T. granola (check labels – granola can be full of added sugar)

Directions: In a small serving bowl, stir all ingredients together. Enjoy as is, or top with your favorite granola for some added crunch!


Zucchini Brownies

 Adapted from Carpe Season

  • 1 + 3/4 c. whole white wheat flour
  • 1/2 c. unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 t. baking soda
  • 1/2 t. sea salt
  • 3 c. organic zucchini, partially peeled and shredded
  • 1 organic egg
  • 1/2 c. organic honey (alternative: maple syrup)
  • 3/4 c. organic coconut palm sugar
  • 1/2 c. organic plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 c. olive oil (alternative: softened coconut oil)
  • 1 t. organic vanilla extract
  • 1 c. clean dark chocolate bar, chopped (try: liberty chocolate)

Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly spray two 8” round pans with olive oil. In a large bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients. Mix the zucchini into the wet mixture. In a smaller bowl, mix together the dry ingredients (flour, cocoa, baking soda, sea salt). Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and gently combine (do not over mix). Gently stir in the chocolate OR add it to the top of the batter (just prior to baking). Pour the batter into the two baking dishes. Bake for approximately 25 minutes. Allow to cool slightly before slicing.

No round pans? No problem.  Use a 13 x 9 rectangular pan and bake for 35-40 minutes.


Zoodles Puttanesca with Pan Seared Chicken Sausage

Adapted from The Londoner

  • 6 organic zucchini (alternative: zucchini and/or yellow squash)
  • 3-4 T. olive oil, depending on your skillet size
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 5-6 anchovies (alternative: anchovy paste)
  • 1/8 to ¼ t. chili flakes, depending on your heat preference
  • 2 T. capers, do NOT rinse
  • 1/3 c. black olives
  • 2 cans, diced organic tomatoes
  • Parmesan, to sprinkle on

Directions: Use a spiralizer tool to create zucchini noodles (a.k.a. zoodles). Set them aside.

Warm a skillet to medium heat. Add the chicken sausage, turning every 3-4 minutes. While this continues to heat, begin preparing the Puttanesca…

Warm a large skillet to just below medium heat. Add enough olive oil to coat the bottom of the skillet. Add the minced garlic, and allow it to sizzle for 30 seconds. Next, add the anchovies to the oil. Don’t worry, you won’t have to look at these guys for very long.  They will dissolve and serve as flavor only for this amazing sauce. Finally, add the chili flakes that add both flavor and heat to the oil. Give everything a stir.

While the sauce bubbles at the edges and smells up the kitchen something fiercely delicious, give the olives and capers a rough chop before adding them to the skillet. Finally, stir in the final ingredient – canned tomatoes. Adjust your skillet heat so that a little bit of simmering is happening to marry all the flavors.

Using tongs, add the zoodles to the sauce.  Toss them to evenly heat and coat them with the sauce. Once plated, drizzle with olive oil and Parmesan cheese!

Serve with grilled or pan seared preservative free chicken sausage.


Balsamic Vinegar Chicken with Fresh Tomatoes & Our Take on Smashing Tomato’s House Salad

 Adapted from Amazing Pinterest World

Balsamic Vinegar Chicken

Chicken Preparation

  • 4 organic, boneless/skinless chicken breasts
  • Sea salt/pepper, freshly ground
  • 1/3 T. 21 Trader Joe’s Seasoning Salute, optional
  • ½ T. olive oil
  • 1/2 red onion, sliced

Basil Sauce

  • 4 – 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 c. fresh basil, chopped
  • 1 T. olive oil
  • 1 t. balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 c. water
  • ¼ c. Parmesan cheese
  • ¼ t. each sea salt/pepper, freshly ground

Chicken Toppings

  • 1 c. mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 large organic tomatoes, chopped, (alternative: 1 pkg. organic cherry or grape tomatoes, halved)
  • ¼ c. organic Mozzarella Cheese, shredded

Directions: Warm a skillet to medium heat. Season both sides of the chicken with salt/pepper. I also added a few dashes of Trader Joe’s 21 Seasoning Salute to each side. Add olive oil to the skillet. Sear the chicken for about 4 minutes on each side to lock in the juices. Note: The chicken will not be fully cooked. You’re going to finish the cooking in the oven. After flipping the chicken, add the red onion to the pan. Let the onion fill in any spaces that the chicken is not touching.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

While the chicken is searing, prepare the basil sauce in a blender or food processor.  Puree all of the basil sauce ingredients: garlic cloves, basil leaves, balsamic vinegar, water, Parmesan cheese, salt/pepper.

Line a lasagna pan with foil. Add the seared chicken. Pour the basil sauce over the chicken.  Next, add the onions, mushrooms, and finally the tomatoes.

Bake uncovered for 30 to 40 minutes, or until the chicken is fully cooked. During the last 5 minutes of baking, top with the mozzarella cheese.

Finish each serving with a drizzling of olive oil and freshly chopped basil.

Our Take on Smashing Tomato’s House Salad

Salad

  • Organic greens of your choice
  • ¼ c. chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
  • ¼ c. shredded Parmesan cheese

Salad Dressing

  • 3 T. red wine vinegar or balsamic vinegar
  • 2 T. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 T. Dijon mustard, optional
  • 1 t. honey, optional
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Zucchini & Tomato Feta Bake With Pan Seared Chicken Sausage

Adapted from Nami Nami

  • 2-3 organic yellow squash and/or zucchini
  • 3 large organic tomatoes (alternative 5-6 roma size organic tomatoes)
  • 4-6 large garlic cloves, peeled
  • 2 oz. feta cheese
  • 4 T. extra-virgin olive oil + more for drizzling
  • 2 T. fresh basil, chopped
  • 1 t. dried oregano
  • Freshly ground sea salt/ black pepper

Directions: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Cut squash into ¼ inch slices. Cut each large tomato into 6 wedges. Lightly spray a round baking dish with olive oil. Alternate the squash slices and tomato wedges in a circular pattern. Push whole garlic cloves between the vegetables. In a small bowl, mash the olive oil, basil, oregano, & salt/pepper. Pour the mixture over the vegetables. Add a drizzle of olive oil.  Bake for 30-45 minutes or until vegetables have softened.

Serve with grilled or pan seared preservative free chicken sausage.


Cheesy Potato Frittata

 Adapted from Clean Eating Magazine

  • 8 organic new potatoes, scrubbed well and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 5 organic eggs, (alternative: 1 large organic egg plus 6 organic egg whites)
  • 2 T. organic milk (alternative: organic almond milk)
  • 1/4 c. fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 T. fresh thyme, chopped (alternative: 1 t. dry seasoning thyme)
  • 1/2 t. each sea/salt black pepper, freshly ground
  • 1 t. healthy oil (ideas: olive oil, coconut oil, avocado oil)
  • 1/2 red or yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • ¼ c. organic sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • Organic plain Greek Yogurt, optional topping
  • Green onion, finely chopped, optional topping
  • Tobasco style hot sauce, optional topping

Directions: Boil or microwave the potatoes until slightly softened.  In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, parsley, thyme, and salt/pepper.  Set aside.  Warm a skillet to medium heat.  Add olive oil to coat the skillet. Add the onion and cook until translucent.  Add the garlic and stir.  Allow to cook until fragrant (about a minute).  Scrape the bottom of the skillet to minimize sticking.  Pour the egg mixture in the skillet, and roll the pan around to evenly cover the bottom.  Allow the eggs to cook and firm up (approximately 10 minutes).  Evenly sprinkle the cheese over the eggs.  Cover the skillet and reduce the heat slightly to low/medium and allow to cook an additional 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cook slightly before cutting.  If desired, top slices with a dollop of Greek yogurt, green onion, and/or a few dashes of hot sauce.


Avocado Turkey Burgers & Creamy Coleslaw

 Adapted from My Fridge Food, Eat Clean Diet

Creamy Coleslaw

Adapted from Eat Clean Diet

  • 1/4 c. organic mayonnaise
  • 1/4 c. organic plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 T. honey
  • 1 T. white vinegar (alternatives: red wine vinegar or apple cider)
  • 1 T. fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/2 t. sea salt
  • fresh ground black pepper
  • 4 c. shredded cabbage
  • 1/2 c. shredded organic carrot

Directions: In a serving bowl, whisk together the first, seven ingredients (mayo, yogurt, honey, vinegar, lemon juice, salt, pepper). Stir in the shredded cabbage and carrots. Taste and season with salt/pepper, if needed. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Tip: The longer you refrigerate, the better it gets. Make it a day ahead of time, if you’d prefer.

Burgers

Adapted from My Fridge Food

  • 1 lb. all natural ground turkey
  • 1/2 ripe avocado
  • 1/2 c. grated Parmesan
  • Sea salt/pepper
  • ½ t. garlic powder
  • 1 t. cumin – I will add this next time!

Directions: In a large bowl, add the ground turkey, avocado, Parmesan cheese, salt/pepper, garlic powder, and cumin. Mix thoroughly and form into 5 patties.  Pan sear or grill on medium/high heat for approximately 6 to 7 minutes per side, flipping only one time.  Allow to rest a few minutes before serving to ensure the juices remain intact.

Note: I originally made this without cumin.  I highly recommend the addition of some cumin. It pairs well with turkey and will most certainly make this burger great!


What to do with tons of basil leaves … chop and freeze it.

I have lots of fresh basil leaves from my CSA, but I cannot use them all before they go bad.  My solution: roughly chop the basil and add 1 tablespoon to individual silicone cups or ice cube trays.  Add just enough olive oil or water to cover the basil and freeze.  Once frozen, pop them from the containers and store them in a baggie.  When needed, defrost them or drop them into soups/sauces for indisputable, delicious flavor!