Your spring super-busy mom weeknight menu!

Oh my goodness, life is picking up, isn’t it?  With the longer days and the warmer temperatures, we are packing a whole lot more into our days.  For me, I’m finding that this means a lot more make-ahead meals.  We’re moving away from the slow cooker and doing soups and stews once a week, so it’s time to shift gears and remember how to cook in the warmer months. This week your super busy mom weeknight menu has three meals you can make ahead and one 30-minute meal.  The flavors are familiar but with healthy, delicious, palate-expanding spins on them.  You can feel good that your family will welcome these dishes, but also be trying some slightly new flavor profiles.  You can feel great about this menu, knowing you have got this week covered!

Fish in a Pouch from Emeril

Okay, if you haven’t ever done fish in foil, let me say right now- do this.  Try it.  And also, let’s just do the whole dinner this way.  And let’s make it super easy.  So, follow the recipe here, (Baby Bam can be substituted with any cajun seasoning, for the record) but add in some frozen veggies.  Take the time to thaw them, and I’d recommend the frozen broccoli, cauliflower blend you can find in the freezer section.  Here’s why:  my kids don’t love cauliflower, but with these yummy flavors, I know that they will learn to love it!  That’s the trick with kids- the first time you give them something new, make sure it’s deliciously prepared, and then suddenly they think they love it!  Serve this with a side of ready rice that you can cook in the microwave and dinner will take minutes!

For planning purposes:  You want to allow 20 minutes baking time for this.  You can make the foil pouches ahead of time and keep them in the fridge if need be.  It will take around 10 minutes to assemble the pouches.  If you need to thaw your veggies to add in, you can rinse them with lukewarm water in a colander- allow five minutes to do so.  This meal can come together in under 30 minutes.

2 teaspoons Baby Bam
4 (8-ounce) white fish fillets such as flounder, sole, cod, scrod, or whitefish
1/8 teaspoon ground white pepper
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened at room temperature

Add in:  frozen mixed broccoli and cauliflower blend, thawed.

Side of rice, Uncle Ben’s Ready Rice in Brown Rice or Seeds of Change Brown Rice and Quinoa blend.

Chicken Lasagna Rolls

My kids love it any time I stuff or roll up pasta.  This chicken and Greek yogurt blend is so packed with protein for your little growing athletes, but flavorful so that they don’t even realize it’s incredibly healthy!  Serve with a big green salad!

For planning purposes:  This one does take a couple steps, but if you take the time to plan, none of the steps take very long, and it’s a wonderful make-ahead recipe!  What I’d recommend:  while the kids are eating breakfast, put chicken breasts in the slow cooker (they can even be frozen) and implement the slow cooker chicken cheat method to get your chicken ready.  Then, mid day OR right before dinner, allow 15 minutes assembly time to boil your noodles and put this dish together.  You can either assemble it earlier in the day and bake right before dinner, or assemble it right before you bake it.  It will also hold really easily if you need to eat in shifts.

Chicken breasts, four, cooked and shredded
Fage, fat free plain greek yogurt, 1 1/2 c
Grated parmesan cheese, 3/4 c
Reduced fat milk, 1/4 c
Garlic salt, 1 t
Italian seasoning, 1 t (or 1/2 t oregano, 1/2 t basil)
Lasagna noodles, 19, boiled
Favorite marinara sauce, one jar (approx 25 oz)

Buttermilk Chipotle Crispy Chicken Thighs from Cooking and Beer, with sides of Brown Sugar Glazed Carrots and Rice

This chicken just sounds incredible all-around, and did you see the name of her website?  Cooking and beer, what could be better!?  I seriously think this is a night where you’ll really feel like a budding chef, but still only have to spend about a half an hour from start to finish.

For planning purposes:  Tonight is the night you’ll prep and cook right before dinner, so plan accordingly.  The carrots will take less than ten minutes on the stove top, and the chicken will take around 30 minutes.  With your rice, you can either do Uncle Ben’s Ready Rice or Seeds of Change Brown Rice and Quinoa blend (90 seconds in the microwave) or if you happen to have a rice cooker, let it do the work.

2 tablespoons garlic powder
2 tablespoons onion powder
1 teaspoon chipotle chili powder
2 teaspoons dried dill
salt and black pepper
2 cups buttermilk
2 tablespoons chipotle hot sauce
6 skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
fresh parsley, chopped, for garnish

1 Bag of baby carrots
½ cup water
1½ TB butter
1½ TB brown sugar
Salt & Pepper to taste

Rice, Uncle Ben’s Ready Rice Brown Rice, Seeds of Change Brown Rice and Quinoa, or your own rice you make at home.

Cajun Shrimp Quinoa Casserole from This Gal Cooks

This looks beautiful!  I love when it’s all there- all the nutrition in one pot.  This is a meal that definitely qualifies as cleaner eating, is nutrient-dense, and will fill up tummies with quinoa being so filling and delicious and nutty!

For planning purposes:  You can assemble this ahead of time if need be.  Either way, plan around 15 minutes to assemble, and 15 minutes to bake (maybe a bit more if you refrigerate and then take from the fridge to the oven).

¾ lb large shrimp, peeled and deveined
4 medium tomatoes, cut into chunks
1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped
½ C chopped sweet onion
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tbsp tomato paste
3 tbsp olive oil
2½ tsp cajun seasoning
Salt and pepper to taste
2½ C cooked quinoa
1 C shredded fontina cheese
Fresh cilantro for garnish

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