Easy dinners for the frantic fall season — FranklyStein

pasta prontoThis is the second in an occasional series on easy dinners for moms like me who have kids going in every direction and eating at all different times.

In order to make my list of quick weeknight dinners, the recipes must be simple to prepare and hold up to reheating several times throughout the night. It's a bonus if they make good leftover lunches.

Read on for three new dinners to make when you have very little time.

Maria's BBQ Beans and Rice

Maria was a friend and coworker of mine years ago before I had kids. She gave me this recipe around the time I got married, and we used to have it all the time. I guess we either got sick of it or I forgot about it, but I recently came across the recipe written on a scrap of paper in Maria's handwriting. I made it for the family and they loved it. Score! I've changed the original recipe slightly to fit our tastes.

1 large can of crushed tomatoes
1 can of black beans
1 can of kidney beans
10 ounces of frozen corn
2 tablespoons of barbecue sauce
1 tablespoon (give or take) of chili powder
White or brown rice

Drain the cans of beans and combine all the ingredients in a pot. Simmer for 15-20 minutes while rice is cooking according to package directions. Serve over rice.

Pasta Pronto

This recipe came from the book “365 More Ways to Cook Chicken” by Melanie Barnard, but I have changed it slightly to fit my own taste.

1 pound ziti or other tubular pasta
1 pound of chicken breasts
2 tablespoons of olive oil
4 cloves of garlic minced
1 can of diced tomatoes
1 can of diced tomatoes in sauce
½ cup dry white wine
1 teaspoon of dried basil
salt and pepper
Freshly grated parmesan cheese

Cook pasta according to directions. Meanwhile, cut chicken into thin strips and season with salt and pepper. In a large frying pan, heat olive oil over high heat. Add chicken and cook, stirring often, until golden — about 1-2 minutes. Add garlic, reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring for one minute. Stir in tomatoes, wine and basil. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to medium and cook until chicken is done all the way through — about 5 minutes. Toss pasta with the sauce. Grate a bit of parmesan cheese over each serving.

Laurie's Dorito chicken casserole

My best friend from high school brought me this casserole after the birth of my twins. I never thought my kids would like it because, well, it's a casserole, so I rarely made it. Last year, however, my older son requested it, and it was a big hit. Keep in mind, it's not incredibly healthy and there are a couple of steps that take a bit of time. It's great leftover though!

4 boneless chicken breasts
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 can Rotel tomatoes
2 cups of grated cheddar cheese
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 small pack of Doritos crushed

Boil the chicken breasts in a large pot until done, cool and shred. In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients along with ¾ a cup of the water used to boil the chicken. Pour mixture into a baking dish and bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees.

For more great recipes for busy moms, don't miss the last in my occasional series: Three easy weeknight dishes that keep for late kids — FranklyStein

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FranklyStein is a blog by Chesapeake Family Magazine editor Betsy Stein, who lives in Catonsville with her husband, Chris, and four children, Maggie, 17, Lilly, 15, Adam, 15, and Jonah, 11.