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.

 

Two Out Of Three Kale Meals Were a Hit…I’ll Take It!

SNACKS

Pumpkin Applesauce Muffins

Simply a solid recipe that gets the job done time and time again.  For a special treat, top one of these off with a thin layer of almond butter!

DINNERS

Roasted Beet, Kale & Goat Cheese “Grilled Cheese” Sandwiches and Organic Greens Salad

So while these are beautiful, my family was not a huge fan.  The kale was a bit too harsh and overpowering.  I failed to toss the kale in some balsamic vinegar, and this would’ve likely made all the difference.

Kale Pesto and Ricotta Spaghetti

Oh.my.goodness!  This an impressive recipe…like, dinner party impressive! I could eat my weight in this stuff people!! What makes this recipe even more appealing is that it’s ready in less than 20 minutes.

Kale, Sausage & Ricotta Pasta

This is a great fall pasta, especially when kale is plentiful.  Large quantities of kale wilt into tiny bits in this dish.  The kale is not harsh or overpowering, I promise.  I like using a slightly spicy sausage that is mellowed just a bit by the ricotta.

Hope something makes your belly smile…

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Pumpkin Applesauce Muffins

Adapted from Southern In Law

1 ½ c. white whole wheat flour
1/2 t. baking powder
1/4 t. baking soda
1 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. pumpkin pie spice or Allspice
Pinch of sea salt
2 organic eggs (alternatives: 1/2 c. organic egg whites or 2 flax eggs)
1 c. canned organic pumpkin
1 c. organic unsweetened applesauce
1/4-1/2 c. organic honey (alternative: maple syrup)
2 t. organic vanilla extract
Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a small bowl, mix together the dry ingredients.  In a larger bowl, whisk together the wet ingredient.  Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir just until combined.  Fill slightly muffin tins sprayed with olive oil 3/4 full and bake for 15 to 20 minutes.


Roasted Beet, Kale & Goat Cheese “Grilled Cheese” Sandwiches with Organic Bagged Salad

Adapted from BS’ in the Kitchen

1-2 organic beets, washed and sliced for sandwiches
1 T. olive oil
Kale leaves (alternative: Swiss Chard), destemmed
2-3 T. balsamic vinegar
4 oz. log goat cheese
organic butter (for making grilled goat cheese sandwiches)
100% whole grain bread
Sea Salt
Directions: Preheat oven to 375 degrees (bake not convection).  Double up foil to make a wrap for the beets.  Before sealing them up in the foil, drizzle with olive oil and sea salt.  Loosely wrap the beets and roast for 15 minutes.

While the beets roast, toss the kale in balsamic vinegar. Begin to prep the sandwiches by buttering the bread exteriors.  Spread goat cheese on the interior of both slices.  Add some kale and sliced beets to one of the slices of bread.  Before closing the sandwiches, sprinkle with a pinch of sea salt.  Proceed as you would any other grilled cheese sandwich … pan sear in a skillet or prepare in a panini press.

Organic Greens Salad with Honey Lemon Vinaigrette
Organic greens
Vinaigrette (can double and reserve for later use)
1 lemon or lime, (zest and juice)
1/8 c. vinegar (white, red wine, apple cider – you choose)
1/4 c. olive oil
1 T. organic honey
sea salt/pepper, freshly ground to taste
Directions: To a glass jar with a lid, add all ingredients and shake vigorously.  Pour desired amount over greens.  Refrigerate any leftovers.


Kale Pesto and Ricotta Spaghetti

Adapted from Heather Christo

Kale Pesto
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.


Kale, Sausage, & Ricotta Pasta

Adapted from Baked Bree

1 lb. 100% whole wheat pasta
3 c. organic kale
1 T. olive oil
1 pkg. preservative free chicken sausage, sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
Salt /pepper
1 c. whole milk ricotta cheese (whole milk ricotta is important)
1/2 c. Parmesan cheese
Juice and zest from one lemon
3 T.  pistachios, roughly chopped (a must!!)
Directions: Heat a large pot of salted water to boiling.  Add the pasta.  Note: during the last three minutes of cooking, add the kale to the pasta water.  When al dente, drain the pasta (reserve about 2 cups of pasta water.)

While the pasta cooks, heat a non-stick skillet to medium heat.  Add the olive oil and chicken sausage.  Cook until beginning to brown (about 4-5 minutes).  Add the garlic and cook until fragrant (about a minute).  Reduce the heat just slightly.  Stir in the lemon zest, lemon juice, and both cheeses.  Stir in the pasta and kale as well.  Give everything a good stir.

If the sauce is really thick (which is likely), add ½ cup of the reserved pasta water and stir.  Continue adding ½ cups of the water until your desired thickness is achieved.  Don’t be surprised if you add nearly all of the reserved pasta water.  Season with salt/pepper to taste.  Plate and finish with a sprinkling of pistachios and a drizzle of olive oil.