(Family Features) When busy mornings give way to a hectic workday followed by homework and after-school activities, a fresh, simple meal is often the only option. Before you hit the drive-thru or settle for an equally unhealthy alternative, check out these delicious dishes you can prepare and serve without the hassle.
Find more ideas to make your busy weeknights easy at Culinary.net.
Savory and Scrumptious
Take a nutritious dish to the family table that still brings a flavorful bite. This savory lasagna recipe boasts meaty eggplant, fresh zucchini and lycopene-rich tomatoes. Whole-wheat noodles pack fiber and natural plant compounds, called phytochemicals. Find more better-for-you recipe ideas at AICR.org.
Roasted Vegetable Lasagna
Reprinted with permission from the American Institute for Cancer Research.
- 2 eggplants (about 3 pounds), quartered lengthwise
- 6 medium zucchini (about 3 pounds)
- canola oil cooking spray
- 1 pound whole-wheat lasagna noodles
- 15 ounces low-fat ricotta or low-fat cottage cheese
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 3 cups low-fat mozzarella cheese
- 4 cups low-sodium tomato sauce, divided
- Heat oven to 450° F. Grease 13-by-9-by-2-inch baking pan; set aside.
- Slice eggplant and zucchini in 1/2-inch slices. Layer on two baking sheets and coat both sides of vegetables with cooking spray. Roast 20 minutes. Toss vegetables and continue roasting until well browned and soft, about 20 minutes more. Transfer vegetables to large bowl.
- Reduce oven temperature to 375° F.
- Cook lasagna noodles according to package directions. Separate noodles and let cool slightly.
- In medium bowl, mix together cheese, eggs, Parmesan, nutmeg and garlic powder.
- To assemble: Spread thin layer of sauce over bottom of prepared pan. Cover with layer of pasta (noodle strips slightly overlapping). Spread with one-third of ricotta mixture.
- Sprinkle 1/4 of the mozzarella over ricotta. Spoon 1/3 of roasted vegetables on top. Top with 1/2 cup tomato sauce and continue assembly as directed until there are four layers of pasta and three layers of filling. Spread remaining sauce on top and sprinkle with remaining mozzarella.
- Cover pan with aluminum foil and bake 30 minutes. Uncover and continue baking until golden and bubbly, about 15 minutes more. Let stand 15 minutes before serving.
Quick, Flavorful Meal Idea
It’s not always easy to make healthy food choices. When time is of the essence, look for delicious recipe ingredients that are convenient and easy to prepare while also offering great taste and health benefits.
In fact, 40 percent of American consumers said shorter cooking times are especially important when buying grocery items such as rice, grains and pasta, according to research from Statista, and 83 percent said taste is an important factor when purchasing food.
Ready in 10 minutes with flavor infused in every grain, Uncle Ben’s Flavor Infusions rice is ideal for those looking for quick and healthy meal options. With its one-step cooking process, it makes it easy for families to cook with their kids and quickly get dinner on the table. The resealable pouches ensure freshness for multiple uses, and any of the five flavors can be combined with fresh vegetables, proteins and herbs for a simple meal that’s ready in less than 20 minutes.
Simple recipe options using Flavor Infusions, such as Easy Thai Chicken Satay and Rice Salad, are quick meals the entire family can enjoy, even when short on time. Find more meal ideas at UncleBens.com.
Easy Thai Chicken Satay and Rice Salad
- 1/4 cup canned, unsweetened coconut milk
- 1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
- 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 2 teaspoons red curry paste
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
- 1-2 tablespoons hot water
- 1 cup Uncle Ben’s Flavor Infusions Roasted Chicken
- 1 1/2 cups shredded rotisserie chicken
- 1 cup shredded carrots
- 1 cup sliced pea pods
- 1 cup sliced red pepper
- 1 avocado, pitted and sliced
- 4-6 red radishes, thinly sliced
- 2 tablespoons chopped peanuts
- 2 tablespoons chopped green onions
- To make dressing: In small glass bowl, stir together coconut milk, peanut butter, rice wine vinegar, soy sauce, red curry paste, cayenne pepper and hot water; set aside.
- Cook rice according to package instructions. Makes about 3 1/2 cups.
- In center of individual plates, place about 1 cup rice. Arrange chicken, carrots, pea pods, red pepper, avocado, radishes, peanuts and green onions around rice then drizzle with dressing.
Fish with a Twist
Add a little variety to your dinnertime protein with a smart, heart-healthy option like fish. Fillets cook quickly and a slightly sweet white fish like farm-raised catfish has a mild enough flavor to entice picky young eaters. White fish is also quite versatile; it can take on other flavors such as this citrusy topping with ease. Find more family-friendly fish recipes at USCatfish.com.
Catfish Quesadilla with Cilantro-Lime Sour Cream
Recipe courtesy of The Catfish Institute
- 4 U.S. Farm-Raised Catfish Fillets, grilled or baked
- 2 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- salt, to taste
- freshly ground pepper, to taste
- smoked paprika or chili powder
- 1 small red bell pepper, diced
- 1/2 red onion, diced
- 3/4 cup whole corn kernels
- 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
- 4 flour or wheat tortillas (10 inches each)
- 1 can (16 ounces) refried black beans
- 2 cups grated pepper jack cheese
Cilantro-Lime Sour Cream:
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
- 1/2 lime, juiced
- lime zest
- salt, to taste
- Lightly brush fish with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Season with salt, pepper and smoked paprika or chili powder. Prepare fish on grill or bake until done. Place in refrigerator to cool. When cool, cut into bite-size pieces.
- In large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium-high heat. Saute red pepper and onion until soft, about 5 minutes. Add corn, red pepper flakes, cumin and salt and pepper, to taste. Toss to incorporate and saute 3 minutes. Transfer to bowl and add cilantro.
- Heat pan large enough to hold flat tortilla to medium heat. Lightly brush pan with remaining olive oil.
- Spread tortilla on work surface. On half of each tortilla, spread refried beans and vegetables; top with fish.
- Place in heated pan and sprinkle 1/2 cup cheese on other half of tortilla. Heat until cheese is melted and tortilla is lightly crispy. Fold cheese side over vegetable side and remove to plate.
- Using serrated knife, cut each tortilla into four pieces. Serve with Cilantro-Lime Sour Cream.
- To make Cilantro-Lime Sour Cream: In small bowl, mix all ingredients until combined.
Photo courtesy of Getty Images (Roasted Vegetable Lasagna and Catfish Quesadilla with Cilantro-Lime Sour Cream)
Photo courtesy of Uncle Ben’s (Easy Thai Chicken Satay and Rice Salad)
(Family Features) With people across the country observing Lent, a religious tradition observed during the 40 days before Easter, it’s time to rethink the standard family meal menu.
This nearly eight-week period typically calls for a special diet. Specifically, red meat is cut out on Fridays for some and for the entirety of Lent for others. According to Datassential, 26 percent of consumers observe lent and of those, 41 percent said they eat fish on Fridays instead of meat.
Eating two servings of seafood per week – as recommended by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans – is one way to make a positive commitment to you and your family’s health during Lent and throughout the year. According to a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association, research shows eating seafood 2-3 times per week reduces the risk of death from any health-related cause. Seafood also provides unique health benefits as a lean protein and is a quality source for omega-3 fatty acids, which are healthy fats essential to human health and development.
With so many seafood options available, including Alaskan cod, snapper, salmon and more, it can be easy to incorporate this nutritious lean protein into your diet.
This simple recipe for Blackened Catfish with Quinoa and Citrus Vinaigrette can help you on your way to a more nutritious meal plan that includes consuming seafood twice per week. If you can’t find catfish or prefer to substitute, any white fish such as cod, mahimahi or flounder will work.
For more seafood recipes and Lenten meal inspiration, visit seafoodnutrition.org or follow #Seafood2xWk on social media.
Blackened Catfish with Quinoa and Citrus Vinaigrette
Recipe courtesy of chef Tim Hughes on behalf of the Seafood Nutrition Partnership
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1 tablespoon pepper
- 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
- 1 tablespoon garlic powder
- 1 tablespoon thyme
- 1 tablespoon peanut oil
- 1 cup corn, canned and drained or frozen and thawed to room temperature
- salt, to taste
- pepper, to taste
- 1/2 cup edamame, shelled and thawed to room temperature
- 3 cups quinoa, cooked
- 1 tablespoon peanut oil
- 1 pound catfish, cut into four fillets
- 5 tablespoons Blackening Seasoning
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1/2 teaspoon thyme
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- To make Blackening Seasoning: Combine salt, pepper, cayenne pepper, garlic powder and thyme.
- To make Quinoa Salad: Heat and oil skillet. Add corn; salt and pepper, to taste, and saute until golden brown. Add edamame and sauteed corn to quinoa and set aside.
- To make Blackened Catfish: Heat cast-iron skillet to medium-high heat with 1 tablespoon peanut oil added. Coat both sides of catfish fillets with Blackening Seasoning. Add catfish to skillet and cook 5-6 minutes per side, or until well done.
- To make Citrus Vinaigrette: Whisk together lemon juice, lemon zest, honey and thyme. Slowly add olive oil, whisking until dressing is formed.
- Serve Blackened Catfish on top of Quinoa Salad and drizzle with Citrus Vinaigrette.
Photo courtesy of Getty Images
Source: Seafood Nutrition Partnership
(Family Features) Sweaters and scarves aren’t the only ways to brace yourself against blustery weather. There’s no time like winter to putter in the kitchen, where the cozy heat from the stove and the aromas of mouthwatering dishes can warm you from the inside out.
Rich, hearty stews and creamy casseroles are perfect for winter dinners, but when you’re craving something other than traditional comfort food, there are plenty of other options that will chase away the chill, such as a glass of Pinot Noir.
These three dishes feature common proteins – chicken, beef and fish – in preparations that make it easy to reimagine your winter weather menu. Find more recipes and ideas for warming up this winter at culinary.net.
Fruit Juice and Fish Fillets
The temperatures may be falling, but you can still fire up the grill and fill up your plate with a tasty recipe like this Grilled Citrus Rosemary Catfish, which combines sweet juices for a citrus sauce that coats grilled catfish. Find more main dish recipes including catfish at uscatfish.com.
Grilled Citrus Rosemary Catfish
Recipe courtesy of The Catfish Institute
- 1 lime, juice and zest only
- 1 lemon, zest only
- 1 orange, zest only
- 6 ounces pineapple juice
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 4 U.S. farm-raised catfish fillets
- 2 lemons
- salt, to taste
- freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Heat grill.
- To make citrus sauce: In small saucepan, combine all sauce ingredients. Bring to boil; reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes.
- To make catfish: Place catfish in shallow dish and squeeze 1/2 fresh lemon over each fillet. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Let rest 5 minutes.
- Grill catfish fillets, skin-side-up, 3-4 minutes. Flip over and grill 2-3 more minutes.
- Transfer catfish to serving plates and spoon warmed citrus sauce over fillets.
A Cold-Weather Solution
While it can be a challenge, there are several ways to pair food and wine appropriately during winter, despite bitter weather. A warm, comforting dish, like Roasted Chicken with Salsa Verde from James Beard award-winning chef Jonathan Waxman, combines well with rosé during the cold season. One reasonably priced wine that matches chicken well is Angeline California Rosé of Pinot Noir. The crisp flavors of light red fruits combine with the herbs accompanying the chicken. It’ll also complement the many other flavors of winter, when an array of dishes hit the table and challenge hosts to find the right wine to serve.
For more wines that work well in wintertime, visit angelinewinery.com.
Chicken and Salsa Verde
Recipe courtesy of chef Jonathan Waxman
- 1 fresh free-range organic chicken (4 pounds)
- sea salt, to taste
- freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 lemon
- 1/4 cup capers in salt
- 4 anchovy filets
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
- 1/2 cup chopped arugula
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
- 1/4 cup chopped tarragon
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh chives
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh sage
- 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- To make chicken: Heat oven to 450° F.
- Wash chicken in hot water. Dry with paper towels.
- Using kitchen shears, cut out backbone of chicken and remove any fat (this can be added to chicken stock). Using heavy chef’s knife, cut out breastbone. Season halves with sea salt and black pepper.
- Place chicken halves, skin side up, on two sizzle platters and dab with olive oil. Cut lemon in half and place 1 half, cut side down, next to chicken on each platter.
- Roast chicken 35 minutes, basting every 10 minutes. When done, remove chicken to platter and pour off excess fat. Cut each breast in half and cut the thigh from the leg. Serve with salsa verde (recipe below) and garnish with roasted lemon.
- To make salsa verde: Soak capers in cold water 1 hour then drain.
- Soak anchovies in cold water 15 minutes then pat dry and remove bones.
- Using mortar and pestle, smash capers, anchovies and garlic, until smooth, then transfer to large bowl.
- Add all herbs and olive oil.
- Season with sea salt.
Pair each serving with Angeline California Rosé of Pinot Noir.
Whole and Hearty
A hearty meat-and-potatoes meal is a sure way to warm up on a cold winter night. This heart-healthy, one-dish meal is made with lean top round beef, lots of vegetables and a spicy herb mixture. Find more healthy main dish ideas at health.gov.
Black Skillet Beef with Greens and Red Potatoes
Recipe courtesy of the USDA
- 1 pound top round beef
- 1 tablespoon paprika
- 1 1/2 teaspoons oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/8 teaspoon red pepper
- 1/8 teaspoon dry mustard
- nonstick spray
- 8 red-skinned potatoes, halved
- 3 cups onion, finely chopped
- 2 cups beef broth
- 2 large garlic cloves, minced
- 2 large carrots, peeled and cut into 2 1/2-inch strips
- 2 bunches (1/2 pound each) mustard, kale or turnip greens, stems removed, coarsely torn
- Partially freeze beef. Thinly slice across grain into strips 1/8-inch thick and 3 inches wide. Trim away visible fat.
- Combine paprika, oregano, chili powder, garlic powder, black pepper, red pepper and dry mustard. Coat strips of meat with spice mixture.
- Spray large, heavy skillet with nonstick spray. Heat pan over high heat.
- Add meat; cook, stirring constantly, 5 minutes.
- Add potatoes, onion, broth and garlic. Cook over medium heat, covered, 20 minutes.
- Stir in carrots; lay greens over top and cook, covered, until carrots are tender, about 15 minutes.
- Serve in large serving bowl with crusty bread for dunking.
Photo courtesy of Getty Images (fish photo and beef stew photo)