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Back-to-School Meals

Quick-Cook Recipes for Families

Meatball Sliders

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Have a lined baking sheet ready. In a large bowl, mix 2 pounds of ground beef (or ground turkey) with 2 eggs, ¾ cup panko breadcrumbs, ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese, 1 teaspoon minced garlic, 1 teaspoon each of oregano and salt, and 1 tablespoon olive oil. Mix well, and work quickly. Use a scoop or estimate about 2 tablespoon-size meatballs and place them on the tray. They can be close together but not touching. Bake for 25 minutes or 165 degrees on an instant-read thermometer. While meatballs are baking, warm tomato sauce (one small 8-ounce can) on medium low, and bring to a simmer. Toast the slider buns and place a meatball or two on each, and top with sauce and grated or fresh mozzarella.

Black Bean and Sweet Potato Tacos

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Peel and dice two large sweet potatoes into 1-inch cubes. Place cubes on a baking sheet lined with parchment or foil (for easy clean-up), drizzle with a little vegetable oil, and sprinkle with ½ teaspoon each of salt and chili powder. Roast for 30 minutes or until very tender when pierced with a fork. Meanwhile, rinse and drain 2 cans black beans and set aside. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, add 1 tablespoon olive oil, and when hot, but not smoking, add 1 minced clove garlic. Stir quickly so it doesn’t burn, for about 30 seconds. To the pot, add sweet potatoes, black beans, ½ teaspoon ground coriander, and 1 teaspoon each of salt and cumin. Allow the spices to combine for about 1 minute, then add ½ cup tomato salsa, and stir frequently. The beans are done when they begin to break down and the mixture is more of a paste. Taste and adjust the seasoning. When sweet potato/beans mixture is finished, warm your favorite tortillas. Set out sliced avocado, salsa, sour cream, and cilantro, and you’re ready for taco night.

Big Greek Salad

For the dressing, whisk ¼ cup red wine vinegar, 1 tablespoon dijon mustard, ½ teaspoon dried oregano, ½ teaspoon salt, and a few cranks of ground pepper in a small bowl. Slowly drizzle in about a ½  cup or more extra virgin olive oil in a steady stream until the vinaigrette is emulsified. Wash and chop 2 heads of romaine lettuce and in a large bowl, combine lettuce, 1 can rinsed and drained chickpeas, 1 English cucumber cut into ½-inch chunks, 25 halved cherry tomatoes, 1 small minced shallot, about 10 pitted and halved kalamata olives, crumbled feta cheese, and fresh parsley. Toss well, drizzle on the dressing, and serve.

Chicken Curry

Slice 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts into 1-inch cubes. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a large skillet over medium high heat. When hot, add chicken. Let chicken brown on each side until golden and almost cooked through. Reduce the heat to medium. Add ½ cup diced onions to the pan and cook for 4 minutes. Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Meanwhile, mix together 1/3 cup flour, 1 teaspoon sugar, 4 teaspoons curry powder, and ½ teaspoon ground ginger. Sprinkle dry mixture over the chicken and onions, and allow them to cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Slowly pour in 1 cup chicken broth and 1 cup milk, and stir to coat. Stir and scrape dry bits from the bottom of the pan. Simmer until thick and bubbly, stirring frequently. Add 1 tablespoon lemon juice and 1 cup thawed mixed vegetables (peas and carrots), and cook for about 5 more minutes, or until thick and bubbly, and vegetables are cooked through. Serve over warm brown rice.

Photo: Jenny Tremblay Wes

Jenny Tremblay West began her career as a pastry chef and currently teaches cooking in Richmond. Jenny, her husband, and their two young boys live in Church Hill. She has worked in food for more than twenty years and is a kitchen coach and personal chef with Caper.
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