As the summer draws to an end and school starts to pick up again, I’m sure that many of you are getting back into routines. Even though neither of us are in school and we don’t have kids, that “back-to-school” feeling creeps up on me every year. I think it’s almost a refresh – back to normal hours (we tend to stay up later in the summer) and getting a routine again.
With that comes the need for simple dinners that can be made in 45-60 minutes, all while I prep our lunches for the next day, make a fun dessert (instead of our usual fruit) and maybe even prep breakfast too. We eat our dinner leftovers for lunch every day, but if you prefer to make something else like a salad or sandwich, you can do that within this time too.
Zesty Honey Chicken Tenders
Herbed Garlic Rice
Crisp Steamed Asparagus with Garlic Butter
Pepper & Cucumber Salad
Fresh Strawberry Sundaes
(printable recipes at the bottom)
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Morning: In a large ziploc bag, combine chicken breasts with Italian dressing, lime juice and honey. Seal up the bag and put it in the fridge. Get on with your day. (You can also do this an hour before making dinner.)
5:30pm: Pour the chicken and marinade into a large pan set to medium heat. It needs to cook uncovered for about 40 minutes or until all the water has evaporated and the marinade has caramelized.
Meanwhile, chop up the parsley for the rice, as well as wash and trim the ends off the asparagus.
While I’ve got the cutting board out, I peel a cucumber and slice it up with some red pepper for a simple side salads that can go with dinner or lunch. A little container of balsamic dressing goes well with it.
I cut up the whole pepper and cucumber for easy snacking later on too. If it’s chopped up in the fridge, we’re much more likely to eat it.
5:40pm: Check on the chicken and it’s already starting to cook down a little. Give it a stir.
We usually have chopped up fruit for dessert, but tonight I wanted to make something special, so we’re having fresh local strawberries and ice cream with toasted oatmeal on top. I chop up the strawberries and set them aside. If you like them syrupy, add a sprinkle of sugar.
I also put strawberries and some fresh mint leaves into our water diffuser from the kitchen shop in Picton. The infused water is such a delicious thirst quencher, and we’ve been experimenting with different flavours all summer…but strawberry is still my fav.
***If you really want to be on the ball, use this time to quickly put together a baked oatmeal using fresh fruit for breakfast the next day. It takes less than 10 minutes to mix it up and chop the fruit, then you bake it for 30 minutes, let it cool completely and put it in the fridge. The next morning I scoop out some into a bowl and reheat it in the microwave with a little milk.
5:50pm – The chicken is looking pretty good now, but it needs some more time to darken the glaze.
Meanwhile, start to cook the rice according to the directions on the package.
5:55pm – Clean up as you go! While you’re waiting for the next step, wash the cutting board from the vegetables and set the table. I like to lay out all the dinner plates as well as the containers for the lunches and plate everything at the same time.
6:05pm – Roll up the asparagus in damp paper towels
You want the bundles to be damp, but not soaking.
Add a last paper damp paper towel on top and then microwave for 3-4 minutes. By doing it this way, you steam the asparagus while keeping it crisp.
6:10pm – The chicken is done and it smells amazing.
The rice is done too, so I stir in some garlic butter (normal butter is good too), the chopped parsley and some salt and pepper.
6:15pm – I plate up the dinner…a few chicken tenders each, a hearty serving of asparagus (with a little garlic butter on top) and some herbed rice.
While I’m plating up the dinner, I package up our lunch leftovers too. I chop up the asparagus into smaller pieces so that it’s easier to eat without a knife at lunch. I left everything cool a bit while we’re eating dinner and then add the lids before popping it in the fridge. 7:15pm – Dinner is over, the dishes are cleaned up and we’re in the mood for a little something sweet. With a little butter in a small frying pan, I toast up some oats.
7:20pm – A scoop of vanilla ice cream goes in these cute dessert bowls, then pile them high with the fresh strawberries and a sprinkle of toasted oatmeal for crunch.
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What are some of your go-to weeknight meals?
Here are a few more weeknight recipes that we have on a regular basis:
Maple Dijon Chicken with Salad and Baked Beans