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These 7 easy dinner recipes are perfect for hectic school nights

These 7 easy dinner recipes are perfect for hectic school nights

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With the start of the school year — as unconventional as it may be — we’re back to juggling busy schedules. We could use some easy go-to dinner ideas for those hectic weeknights. Here are seven of my family’s favorite that we have in our regular rotation.

Spaghetti with homemade marinara sauce


▪ 28oz San Marzano tomatoes

▪ 7 cloves garlic

▪ 1/4 cup olive oil

▪1 pound spaghetti noodles

▪ Fresh basil

▪ 3/4 cup water

▪ Parmesan cheese

▪ 3/4 tsp salt

▪ 1/4 tsp black pepper


First, pour tomatoes into a bowl and crush. Pour 3/4 cup water into can and slosh it around to get tomato juices. Reserve.

Next, slice the garlic into thin slivers. Cook the garlic in a large skillet over medium-low heat. As soon as garlic is sizzling, add the tomatoes, the reserved tomato water, pepper and salt. Stir.

Bring your pasta water to a boil. Make it salty like the sea. Cook pasta.

Then, place basil sprig, including stem, in the sauce. Simmer sauce until thickened, about 15-20 minutes. Discard the basil.

Toss cooked pasta in the sauce. Top with parmesan cheese and serve.

Tofu scramble


• 1 block firm tofu

• 4 tablespoons butter

▪ Fresh broccoli

▪ Carrots (shredded)

▪ 1 cup frozen peas

▪ 1 cup Soyaki sauce

▪ Olive oil

▪ Rice for serving


Start by pressing tofu to remove excess moisture and prep your veggies.

Then add olive oil and broccoli to a large skillet and cook over medium-low heat. As soon as the broccoli is sizzling, add the carrots and stir. Then add the cooked peas and toss. Break up the tofu and add to the pan. Cook until extra moisture is out.

Next, add the sauce. I like to go 1/3 cup at a time and simmer, about 15 to 20 minutes. Keep stirring. When ready, serve over rice.

Baked ravioli


• 4 tablespoons butter

• ¼ cup flour

• 2 cups milk

• 2 cups water

• 2 packages of refrigerated ravioli

• 1 bag shredded mozzarella

• Grated Parmesan cheese


In a large oven-safe pan (a cast iron pan works best), melt the butter. Add flour and stir.

Next, add milk, water, 1/4 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon of black pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer.

Add the ravioli to the pan and cook through, stirring occasionally, about five minutes. Top with mozzarella cheese and sprinkle with Parmesan. Broil until cheese is melted and browning (keep a close eye on this). Serve immediately.

Variations: This recipe can easily be cut in half for a great date-night meal.

Chicken pot pie


• 1 cup diced carrots

• 1 cup diced celery

• 1 cup frozen peas

• 1/2 cup diced onion

• 1 cup shredded rotisserie chicken OR 1 cup diced russet potato

• 3-4 cups chicken broth

• 3 Tablespoons heavy cream

• 4 Tbs butter

• ¼ cup flour

• Store bought pie crust

• Salt and pepper to taste

Heat the oven to 375 F. Dice all veggies and shred your chicken.

Heat butter in a sauté pan and add carrots, celery, onion and potatoes. Cook until softened, about 10 minutes. Add chicken (if using). Coat vegetable mixture in flour. Add chicken broth and a pinch of salt and pepper. Simmer about 10 minutes until mixture begins to thicken. Add the peas and heat through, about five minutes. Remove from heat and add the cream. Stir.

Add the mixture to a pie pan or oven-safe baking dish. Top with pie crust. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until crust is golden brown. Serve in bowls.

Sausage and potatoes

• 1 package mild sausage

• 4 russet potatoes

• 1 onion

• Salt and pepper to taste

Heat the oven to 400 F. Slice sausages into pieces, about 1-inch thick. This works best if the sausage is slightly frozen. In an oven-safe dish, add the sausages and bake.

Next, peel and cube potatoes to approximately 1 to 2 inches in size. Add the potatoes to the cooking sausage. The grease from the sausage will mix with the potatoes.

Chop the onion and add it to the already-cooking ingredients.

Bake for 1-1/2 hours, stirring every 15 to 20 minutes. Serve immediately.

Mom's chili

• 1 pound browned hamburger

• One 14-ounce can dark red kidney beans, drained

• One 14-ounce can red beans, drained

• One 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes

• One 15-ounce can tomato sauce

• 1 tablespoon chili powder

• 1 teaspoon cumin

• 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt

• Sour cream, cheese, fresh diced tomatoes, crackers or bread for topping

In a large skillet over medium-high heat, brown hamburger.

Next, in a large soup pot, add the hamburger, canned beans, tomatoes and spices. Stir thoroughly.

Cook on high heat for four hours or on low heat for 6 to 8 hours. Once finished, serve immediately topped with your favorite ingredients.

Variations: I do a vegetarian version of this by omitting the meat and adding an additional can of beans.

Pasta with lemon and asparagus

▪ Fresh asparagus

▪ 4 Tbs butter

▪ 1 Tbs olive oil

▪1 pound spaghetti noodles

▪ Juice and zest from two (2) lemons

▪ 1/2 cup pasta water

▪ Parmesan cheese

▪ 1/2 tsp salt

▪ 1/4 tsp black pepper

First, rinse and dice asparagus into two inch pieces, discard woody stems. Heat two tablespoons of butter and 1 tablespoon olive oil in a deep sauté pan. Add asparagus and sauté on medium low.

Bring a pot of water to a boil, add salt and cook pasta. Cook pasta while your asparagus cooks.

Add two more tablespoons of butter to the asparagus pan. Add cooked pasta, lemon juice, zest and ½ cup reserved pasta water. Toss until incorporated. Add a pinch of salt and pepper to taste.

Dish up, top with Parmesan cheese and serve.


Shea Saladee lives in Papillion with her husband, Brent, and their three children. She works as an instructor at the University of Nebraska Omaha.

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