Thursday, October 10, 2013

Quick & Easy Weeknight Menus: Fall Edition

I recently posted a round-up of easy weeknight meals, and it was so well-received that I thought I'd make it a semi-regular fixture around here.  Last time, I gave you ten menus for busy weeknights.  I shared it in early August, so I was definitely still in summer-food mode.  I'm slowly beginning to transition to fall comfort foods, so this one is geared more towards chilly nights, and features lots of warm fall flavors.  I hope this is helpful for those of you who are struggling to plan meals for your family... I know it has provided some inspiration for my menu plan for next week already!

This brussels sprouts, bacon, and goat cheese pizza is the type of dish that converts brussels sprouts haters into lovers.  Just for future reference, if you want to convert someone to a new ingredient, adding bacon and/or goat cheese is always a good tactic.  I love the fall harvest pear salad, and make it at least once a week from September-March.  When I serve it with something that's already cheese-heavy, like pizza or a baked pasta dish, I just leave the cheese out of the salad.  It's still wonderful without it.  If you're feeling lazy or rushed, then just slice up some apples and/or pears to serve with the pizza.  Pizza + fresh fruit is one of our most common quick and easy weeknight dinners around here.

Cheese & Spinach Quesadillas

This spin on tortilla soup is super easy, and it's a new way to prepare shrimp.  I like to finely chop spinach (or any other green) and mix it with the cheese before making quesadillas.  They are great on their own on the side, but they're even better dipped into the soup!  Prep the quesadillas while the soup simmers, then grill them as the shrimp cooks in the broth.  

Spice-Rubbed Pork Tenderloin with Apple Salsa
Grain of your choice (rice, couscous, quinoa, Trader Joe's Harvest Grains, etc)
Roasted veggie of your choice (green beans, broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, etc)

This was one of our biggest slam-dunk dinners in a while.  It combines sweet, spicy, smoky, and savory flavors, is healthy, and super easy.  As the pork is searing on the stovetop and roasting in the oven, chop the ingredients for the salsa.  Toss some veggies into the pan with the pork as it roasts, and you have an instant side.  And cook up some grains on the stovetop at the same time, and dinner is done.  Easy peasy, lemon squeezie (as Caroline says).  And bonus:  the leftovers make killer sandwiches when cheddar cheese is added into the mix.

Grits and Greens Casserole
Cinnamon Baked Apples

This is the epitome of southern comfort food.  Bacon, cheese, greens, and grits.  You can even prep and assemble the casserole the morning of or night before to streamline even more in the evening.  For the cinnamon-baked apples, toss peeled apple slices with cinnamon, a smidgen of melted butter, and a pinch of nutmeg.  Spread them out in a baking dish, and cook alongside the casserole.  Just give them  stir every 5-6 minutes, and cook until they're tender and softened.  It's a super easy and healthy  side dish that all my kids love!

Salsa Verde Chicken & Dumplings
Salad with Bell Peppers, Carrots, and Dried Cranberries

This is one of my all-time favorite meals.  Combining Mexican food with southern comfort food is a sure fire winner.  I keep it simple and just serve a tossed salad on the side:  leafy greens, strips of bell peppers, shredded carrots, and dried cranberries, tossed in a simple honey-lime vinaigrette. 

Herbed Turkey Meatballs with Cranberry Dipping Sauce
Mashed Potatoes
Roasted Green Beans

It doesn't get any better than Thanksgiving dinner on a weeknight.  These meatballs are super easy and low-maintenace, healthy, and majorly kid-friendly.  To make this as efficiently as possible, I peel and chop the potatoes, and put them on the boil.  Then I mix and form the meatballs, and bake.  As the meatballs bake, drain, mash, and season the potatoes, and toss some green beans in the oven to bake alongside the meatballs.  I love mustard-maple green beans.  I just toss green beans in a 2:1 mixture of mustard and maple syrup, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and roast 10-15 minutes, tossing halfway through, until they are crisp-tender and beginning to brown.  You could streamline the process even more by mixing and forming the meatballs the morning of or the night before.  No matter how you choose to do it, this meal should be on the table in well under an hour.

Spinach Salad
Sliced Apples

If you will excuse the terrible picture, these quesadillas are something special.  Wild mushrooms, goat cheese, cranberry salsa.  Yes, yes, and yes.  I keep things really simple with a spinach salad (usually just plain spinach leaves dressed in a dijon vinaigrette) and sliced apples.  Psst, the apples are pretty great dipped in the cranberry salsa as well.

This vegetarian green chili is certainly nothing to look at, but it's one of my favorite chilis I've made.  It is LOADED with veggies, and is so so easy.  I love serving this with jalapeño-cheddar cornbread, which can be made into a weeknight-friendly side by making corn muffins instead of a big pan of cornbread.  Or just mix jalapeños and cheddar into your favorite cornbread recipe.  

Salad with dried cranberries, avocado, and toasted pecans

This is a shamefully easy recipe, and it hits all the major flavors:  sweet, spicy, smoky, salty... it's just a  winner all-around.  As the chicken bakes, throw together a simple salad.  I love the combination of dried cranberries, chopped avocado, and toasted pecans.  Toss with with a simple honey-lime vinaigrette, and call it a day.

Roasted Broccoli

It is almost embarrassing how easy this pasta is.  Very minimal prep, and you're rewarded with a creamy, comforting, alfredo-esque pasta dinner.  Roast some broccoli in the oven as the pass cooks.  I like to season with with salt, garlic, pepper, and lemon zest.  


Joanne (eats well with others) said...

I love this! It's such an awesome reminder of recipes of yore!

The Mrs. said...

Yahoo! I will try a few of these for sure! You should link some recipes on the friday five a few times!

Kimberly @ Healthy Strides said...

Looks so good! I made the Creamy Lemon One-Pot Pasta this week, having made other versions of the one-pot pasta, and it was an absolute winner.

Jessamyn Peace said...

you've definitely given me some great inspiration! i loved reading your sides, too, as those are often the hardest part for me! please keep these posts on the rotation!!

tiff01fer said...

Wow! They all look delicious. Love to try them all.

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Josie said...

that looks so delicious.. i want to make that one. :)

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Josie said...

i love to try them all. its looks like so delicious :D

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Josie said...

I want to eat now.

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