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Hi! I am definitely challenged in the kitchen. I am looking for some new ideas that are really simple! Also ideas for dinner that don't require having a lot of ingredients. I sometimes look into recipes that have so many ingredients on the list that I get overwhelmed and shut the book / click off the website. I have two sons - 9 and 13 - and although they are picky and not great eaters I have to say that they will try almost anything! Help me feed my family!!!!!!!!

What is your favorite easy dinner?? I am open to all suggestions. TIA
 

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Cheesy Rice & Tomatoes

Prepare on stovetop in a large, deep skillet

1 cup leftover cooked rice
1 can stewed tomaotes (or equivalent fresh)
1 onion chopped
4 stalks celery, chopped
garlic - 1 tablespoon pre-chopped or 2-3 fresh cloves chopped
salt & pepper, to taste
1 1/2 cups shredded cheese (your choice)
oil

Brown onion, celery, & garlic in oil. Add rice, tomatoes, salt & pepper. Simmer on low heat about 15 min or until warm through. Add cheese & continue to heat until melted. Good as a side or main dish. May want to double as a main dish if serving more than 2-3 people.
 

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Every month, Gourmet magazine runs a column called Five Ingredients. You can find it online here:

http://www.epicurious.com/gourmet/5_ingredients/

This month's column is chicken with beans and tomatoes. I don't eat chicken (or bacon, another ingredient) myself, but if your family does, that would make a good dinner and it seems like it's pretty simple. Click on the pull-down menu on the page I have linked to get a bunch more 5 ingredient recipes, including a lot of meat dishes.

As a vegetarian, I have a couple of meals that I make that are simple. I do a lot of pasta with frozen vegetables, mainly peas. You can make that with some toasted sesame oil and tamari and black pepper. There, that's four ingredients. (Put the frozen veggies into the hot water with the pasta right before you drain the pasta, to thaw and heat them. Then toss the pasta and peas back into the warm pot and sprinkle them with sesame oil, tamari and pepper.)

I also do brown rice, canned beans and steamed vegetables, usually fresh broccoli. I get black beans and season them with grated fresh ginger, sesame oil and tamari. The rice and the broccoli are just plain, so it's easy to cook all at the same time. Don't know if your boys will go for that though.
 

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I'm with you on being challenged in the kitchen! So i'm always looking for easy recipes. Do you have a rice cooker? makes rice so much simpler to make. Anyway, i just made this super easy lentil dish & put it over brown rice:

1 onion & 1 carrot - diced
3 garlic cloves - pressed
3 T fresh finely chopped ginger (or 1 T ginger powder)
enough veg. oil to saute those ingredients together for a couple minutes.

add about 2 cups lentils, 5 cups broth, little bit of salt if want. Bring to boil, then simmer until lentils are soft (30-40 min, depending on what kind of lentils you use). It makes a lot, so you get leftovers or can freeze some.
 

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My kids do anything pasta. They especially love it when I toss the noodles with pesto (store bought) before topping with marinara sauce. Then I grate parmesan cheese on top. I sometimes make "meat" balls out of fresh cheese but that's probably too complicated for this thread. But you can buy your "meat" balls of choice and add to the sauce. We eat it with a side salad and garlic bread. I make garlic bread by buttering whole grain sandwich bread and sprinkling garlic salt and then putting it in the oven on low broil for a couple of minutes.

Here's a super easy dish that my best friend's mom used to make for her family. This was always popular and my best friend is from a family of 8 kids with very different tastes in food:
Ramen and veggies
packages of ramen noodles (we get the organic buckwheat noodle ones at the health food store)
meat or tofu of your choice
bag of frozen veggies
cheese for garnish if you want
oil or butter for cooking.

First, brown your choice of protein in butter/oil, then add frozen veggies until they are coated and not quite frozen anymore, then add your ramen flavor packets. Add enough water so that the veggies are covered but not swimming. Break up ramen noodles a bit and set on top. Then cover and let it steam until the noodles are done. About 2-3 minutes. Stir and serve.
 

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I like to make bean, cheese and veggie quesadillas for an easy meal. Ingredients: one can refried beans, shredded cheese, sliced veggies (I usually use bell peppers and onions, sometimes corn and zucchini) and tortillas. You can cook the veggies in a little olive oil, then if you have a quesadilla maker it's really easy. If not it's also easy to assemble the quesadillas and cook them in a frying pan - you just have to flip them once during cook. Serve with some sour cream, lettuce, salsa, guacamole or whatever else you like.

There are a million variations for quesadillas that you can do - you can add leftover chicken or beef, if you like.

Also, an easy meal is breakfast burritos - again with tortillas and some sauteed veggies, cheese, scrambled eggs, sour cream and salsa.

I've come to love crockpot meals lately because it's nice to come home to dinner already cooked and ready to eat. I subscribe to an email newsletter that includes at least one healthy crockpot recipe every week. You can check it out at http://dayzines.com/crock.htm. Some of the recipes have a good many ingredients but others are pretty simple.

Good luck!
 

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Not really cooking here, but I get a little creative with Annie's mac n cheese.
Add frozen veg. Add beans. Add tuna and peas and breadcrumbs, you've got a casserole!
The other night I made a casserole, quite easy. I mixed together enchilada sauce (homemade, but you could use canned), a can of black beans, cooked rice, corn, and carrots, and topped with cheddar cheese. Baked it about 45 minutes. It was
especially with salsa!
 

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My personal favorite is to make something in the crock pot- spend about 10-15 minutes preparing everything in the morning when I have energy and then a hot meal is ready at dinnertime when I'm wiped out. I have the book "Fresh from the Vegetarian Slow Cooker" out of the library right now and I plan to purchase a copy before I have to return this one- lots of low-cost, low-fuss balanced meals (that DO require some planning though!!!)

On those nights when I didn't plan ahead, I have a couple of pasta favorites:

Pasta primavera: cook pasta (usually shells, but any shape should work) in a big pot. Add whatever vegetables I'm using that day to the pot of pasta (cubed carrots added before adding pasta, any frozen veggies get added closer to the end of cooking time.)

In a separate pot, I make a cream sauce to serve with the pasta and veggies (or I use a can of cream soup if I'm feeling lazy.) It's also yummy with a can of tuna mixed in (I usually do that with leftovers for my lunch since my kids won't eat it that way.)

Another quick meal is spaghetti with tomato sauce (while spaghetti cooks, saute onion, garlic, green pepper in olive oil, add tomato paste and water.)
 

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I put chicken breasts in a baking pan, sprinkle with salt, pepper, and whatever else I like (suggestions: thyme, garlic, rosemary, or tarragon). Then I chop up some vegetables (suggestions: potatoes, carrots, squash, onions, garlic cloves, celery, leeks, yams) in about 1 1/2 inch chunks, toss with olive oil, and put them around the chicken in the pan. Bake about an hour at 350 degrees.

This takes about 15 to prep, and it's a whole meal. The great thing about it is you can add more or less ingredients depending on your mood and your schedule. It's a nice, warming winter dish.
 
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