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5 Stress-Free Family Dinners From 1 Short Shopping List

September 01, 2020

A week of kid-friendly work-night recipes—no further meal planning needed.

Planning out your family's meals for the week can be complicated and stressful—especially if you don't have time for frequent grocery store trips for everything you need. To make things simpler, we asked cookbook author Claire Tansey to create five days of easy weeknight dinners you can whip up using just one short grocery list, plus some household staples. Here's what you'll need:

Groceries to grab:

• Ricotta, about 23 ounces
• Eggs, 15
• Marinara sauce, 2 14-ounce jars
• Yellow onions, 2
• Boneless, skinless chicken breasts, 7
• Button mushrooms, 1 pound
• Asparagus, 6 spears
• Boston lettuce, 1 head
• Spaghetti, 1 pound
• Sweet red peppers, 2

Check that you have:

• Canola oil
• Chili powder
• Salt
• Barbecue sauce or hoisin sauce
• All-purpose flour
• 2 percent milk

Ricotta Dumplings

  • Heat the oven to 300°F. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil; reduce heat to a gentle simmer. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Whisk 3 eggs in a large bowl, then whisk in 2 cups ricotta cheese (about 15 ounces), then 1 cup all-purpose flour and 1 1⁄2 teaspoons salt. Use one cereal spoon to scoop up batter and another to scrape large blobs of batter into the water. Gently simmer dumplings for 5 minutes, or until firm and cooked through. Do this in 2 batches.
  • Use a slotted spoon to lift dumplings out of the water, and place them on the prepared baking sheet. Keep the first batch warm in the oven while you cook the second batch. Serve with as much warmed marinara sauce as you’d prefer (but save 1 1⁄2 cups for Spaghetti Pan Pie).

Spaghetti Pan Pie

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. Working Mother

Serves 4, 30 minutes

  • Heat the broiler, and make sure one oven rack is directly below it. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, and cook 1 pound of spaghetti. (Save the extra for the Barbecue Chicken recipe below.) Combine 4 cups of cooked spaghetti with 1 cup of marinara sauce in a large bowl. Heat 1 tablespoon of canola oil in a 10-inch oven-safe frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the spaghetti mixture, and spread into an even layer. Cook for about 2 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, whisk 4 eggs and 1⁄4 teaspoon of salt vigorously until combined, then pour evenly over pasta. Cook 5 minutes, or until set at the edges and bubbles start to appear throughout the pie. Spoon the remaining 1⁄2 cup tomato sauce over the pie and sprinkle with 1⁄2 cup ricotta. Broil for 2 to 5 minutes, or until ricotta is piping hot. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

TIP: You can store rinsed pasta in the fridge for up to 2 days,

Barbecue Chicken and Noodle Lettuce Wraps

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. Working Mother

Serves 4, 15 minutes

  • Chop 3 cooked chicken breasts into matchsticks.

  • Combine with 1⁄3 cup of spicy barbecue sauce, hoisin sauce or a mixture of the two, in a medium bowl.

  • Chop spaghetti, and add to chicken along with 1 sweet red pepper (diced).

  • Spoon into Boston lettuce leaves (about 8).

TIP: This is delicious served chilled, or you can warm the chicken and spaghetti mixture in a frying pan over low heat.

Sheet Pan Chili-Mushroom Chicken

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. Working Mother

Serves 4, 40 minutes

  • Heat the oven to 400°F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Place 4 chicken breasts in a row. Combine 2 tablespoons of canola oil and 1 teaspoon of chili powder in a large bowl. Brush over each breast. Sprinkle chicken with 1⁄4 teaspoon of salt. Bake 10 minutes.

  • Meanwhile, add 1 pound of mushrooms (cut in half ), 1 medium yellow onion (cut into thin wedges) and 1 sweet red pepper (sliced) to the remaining chili-oil mixture. Add 1⁄4 teaspoon of salt, and stir well. After chicken has baked for 10 minutes, spoon the vegetables on the pan around the chicken. Increase the heat to 425°F and bake another 20 to 25 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked and vegetables are tender.

TIP: Cook the chicken for Barbecue Chicken and Noodle Lettuce Wraps at the same time: Brush with vegetable oil, sprinkle with salt, and bake on a parchment-lined baking sheet for 25 minutes.

Mushroom and Asparagus Frittata

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. Working Mother

Serves: 4, 20 minutes

  • Heat the oven to 350°F. Whisk 8 eggs with 1⁄4 cup of milk and 1⁄2 teaspoon of salt in a medium bowl. Reserve.

  • Heat a 10-inch oven-safe frying pan over medium- high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of canola oil. Add 1 medium yellow onion (thinly sliced) and 1⁄4 teaspoon of salt. Cook, stirring often, 2 minutes. Add 6 button mushrooms (sliced) and cook, stirring often, another 5 minutes, or until mushrooms are golden and tender. Add 6 spears of asparagus (trimmed and cut into 2-inch lengths), and cook another 1 to 2 minutes, or until tender-crisp.

  • Reduce heat to medium. Drizzle 1 tablespoon of canola oil over the vegetables, and spread them into an even layer. Pour the egg mixture over the top. Break 4 ounces of ricotta into small lumps, and sprinkle evenly over the egg. Season with pepper. Cook 1 to 2 minutes, or until you can see one or two bubbling spots in the egg mixture. Transfer to the oven.

  • Bake 5 minutes. Switch on the broiler. After 2 minutes, the frittata should be set but jiggly (it will continue cooking after it comes out of the oven). If it’s still wet, continue broiling, checking every 30 seconds. Remove from the oven, and let stand 5 minutes before serving.

Written by Claire Tansey for Working Mother and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@getmatcha.com.

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