Simple Weeknight Suppers

The Food Network&s Robin Miller shares her tricks for getting a healthy meal on the table . . . now!
Feb 06, 2013



It’s 6 p.m. on a Tuesday, and the hungry mob is racing around the kitchen. At times like these, cooking from scratch is out of the question, but a healthy homemade meal is a possibility. My trick is to grab a “convenience” item (rotisserie chicken, prepared salad, etc.) out of the fridge and doctor it up. That may sound like cheating, but it’s not — the key is to buy nutritious convenience items and to make your own as often as you can. Then, with well-stocked shelves and some cutting-board creativity, you can satisfy the mob any night of the week. Join me in the kitchen and I’ll show you how.


Streamline Your Shopping

You can use certain tactics and strategies to make a grocery run almost pain-free while ensuring you get the foods you need. Start with the end aisles of the store where you’ll find the cold and fresh foods, such as fruits, vegetables, meat, and eggs. Next, head to the core aisles for whole grains (cereal, bread, tortillas, pasta), canned veggies, beans and legumes, bottled foods (sauces, marinades, roasted red peppers, sun-dried tomatoes) and good-for-you, unsaturated fats (such as olive and vegetable oil). When your cart is full of these wholesome goods, it’s easier to skip or cut down on junk food or other items you don’t really need.


Aim to buy a rainbow of naturally colorful foods to expand your child’s tastes while fortifying her meals with fiber, nutrients, and antioxidants. Broccoli, kale, and berries provide lots of all three.


I also recommend not shopping when you (or the kids in tow) are hungry — that way you’ll use your head instead of your gut and make smarter food choices.


Mix ‘n’ Match

Many convenience foods are good for you, so don’t beat yourself up for relying on them when time’s at a minimum. Your mind might jump to TV dinners or hot dogs when you hear “convenience,” but prepared salad, canned mixed veggies, and jarred fruit also fall into that category.


Many of these healthy items are also kid-friendly, so you can feel good about serving your little ones something they love. Pairing a familiar food (such as chicken nuggets) with something new (like roasted red pepper sauce — check out my recipe below) helps you introduce new foods and flavors in a fun way. Fill out your child’s plate with salad and a baked sweet potato or brown rice, and you’ve got a healthy, balanced meal with some cool flavors.


Get Prepped

You can assemble a weeknight home-cooked meal in no time if you can plan ahead. When you’ve got an extra 20 minutes or so (say, on Sunday morning), cook pasta or rice and store it in the fridge all week — no waiting for water to boil when your kids are bubbling over with hunger.


Turn your refrigerator into a “bank” from which you can withdraw exactly what and how much you need at any time. Roast a chicken for chicken salad, chili, or sandwiches. Chop veggies for soups, stews, and side dishes up to four days in advance. If you’re making a big dish like lasagna, make two and freeze one. When your kitchen is full of prepped ingredients, you can whip up magnificent meals while enjoying more quality family time.


Chicken Nuggets with
Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

1 package chicken nuggets (I like Tyson’s 100% All Natural)
1 cup roasted red pepper pieces (from water-packed jar)
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
1⁄4 tsp garlic powder or to taste
2 Tbsp chopped fresh basil, optional

  1. Cook chicken nuggets according to package directions.
  2. In a blender, combine red peppers, vinegar, and garlic powder. Puree until smooth. Fold in basil (if using).
  3. Serve the nuggets with the roasted red pepper sauce on the side for dunking. Sauce can be served room temperature or warmed up.

Makes 4 servings (about 1 cup sauce)

Chicken Pizzettes with
“Choose ’Em” Vegetables

1 cup diced cooked chicken
4 whole-wheat flour tortillas
4 cup prepared pizza sauce or pasta sauce
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
2 cups mixed chopped vegetables
4 tsp grated Parmesan cheese

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
  2. Arrange tortillas on a flat surface and top each with 3 tablespoons of the pizza sauce. On top of the sauce, add the mozzarella cheese (1⁄4 cup per tortilla), then the chicken and any combination of vegetables. Finally, sprinkle Parmesan on top. 3. Transfer pizzas to baking sheets and bake 5 to 7 minutes, until cheese melts.

Makes 4 servings

Beef Stroganoff
8 ounces wide egg-free egg noodles
2 teaspoons olive oil
½ cup chopped onion
2 cups sliced fresh cremini or white button mushrooms (about 8 ounces)
1 teaspoon dried thyme (optional)
1 ½ cups reduced-sodium beef broth
2 packets (6 ounces each) Tyson® Fully Cooked Seasoned Steak Strips
1 cup light sour cream
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Pinch salt and ground black pepper
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives (optional)

  1. Cook noodles according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
  2. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
  3. Add onion and sauté for 2 minutes. Add mushrooms and sauté for 3 minutes, or until mushrooms are tender. Add thyme (if using) and stir to coat.
  4. Add beef broth and steak strips and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 5 more minutes.
  5. Stir in cooked egg noodles, sour cream and Dijon mustard. Mix well.
  6. Remove from heat and season to taste with salt and black pepper. If desired, top with fresh chives just before serving.

Makes 4 servings

Chicken Pot Pie
2 teaspoons olive or vegetable oil
½ cup chopped yellow or white onion
2 carrots, peeled and sliced into rounds
2 cans (12.5 ounces each) Tyson® Fully Cooked Premium Chunk White Chicken
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
15 ounce can tomato sauce
1 Idaho or russet potato, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
½ cup frozen corn kernels
½ cup frozen peas
Pinch salt and ground black pepper
11 ounce container refrigerated bread sticks

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. To make the filling: heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions and carrots and sauté for 2 minutes. Add chicken and flour and stir well to coat everything with flour. Add broth, tomato sauce, potato and Dijon mustard and bring mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low, partially cover and simmer for 8 minutes, or until potato cubes are fork-tender. Stir in corn and peas and remove from heat. Season to taste with salt and black pepper.
  3. Spoon mixture into a 2-quart casserole dish.
  4. To make the crust: unwrap breadsticks and separate into 12 pieces. Place (stretch if necessary) 6 of the breadstick strips (flat) on top of the casserole dish from one side of the dish to the other. Arrange the remaining breadsticks over the top, either on a diagonal or perpendicular crisscross pattern. Pinch around the edges of the casserole dish to seal the ends and secure the breadsticks to the dish.
  5. Bake 10-13 minutes or until the breadsticks are puffed and golden brown.

Makes 6 servings

To form a woven lattice top: Place 6 of the breadsticks on top of the casserole dish. Fold every other breadstick back, making ends meet, and then place one breadstick crosswise just beyond the folded edge. Return the folded breadsticks to their original flat position. Fold back the strips that were just left flat and repeat the procedure. Repeat until all 6 breadsticks are woven into the breadsticks on the surface of the casserole dish.


Chicken Cacciatore
2 teaspoons olive oil
½ cup chopped white or yellow onion
1 green bell pepper, seeded and diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups sliced fresh cremini or white button mushrooms (about 8 ounces)
2 packets (6 ounces each) Tyson® Fully Cooked Oven Roasted Diced Chicken Breast
1 ½ teaspoons dried basil
1 ½ teaspoons curry powder
28 ounce can diced tomatoes, undrained
Pinch salt and ground black pepper
2 cups cooked white rice
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley (optional)

  1. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat.
  2. Add onion, bell pepper and garlic and sauté for 2 minutes. Add mushrooms and sauté for 3 minutes, or until mushrooms are tender.
  3. Add chicken, basil and curry powder and cook for one minute, or until spices are fragrant, stirring frequently. Add tomatoes and bring to a simmer for 5 minutes.
  4. Remove from heat and season to taste with salt and black pepper.
  5. Divide rice among four individual bowls and spoon chicken mixture over the top. Garnish with fresh parsley, if desired.

Makes 4 servings

Chicken Parmesan Casserole
1 pound whole wheat pasta
2 packets (6 ounces each) Tyson® Fully Cooked Grilled Chicken Breast Strips
¾ cup prepared tomato sauce (pasta sauce or pizza sauce)
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese, regular or part-skim
3 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons seasoned dry bread crumbs

  1. Cook whole wheat pasta according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
  2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
  3. Arrange chicken breast strips in the bottom of a shallow baking dish. Pour tomato sauce over the chicken and sprinkle mozzarella cheese over the tomato sauce.
  4. In a small bowl, combine the parmesan cheese and bread crumbs. Mix well and sprinkle the mixture over the mozzarella cheese.
  5. Bake for 20 minutes, or until the top of the casserole is golden brown and the cheese is bubbly. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.
  6. Divide whole wheat pasta among four individual bowls, spoon casserole mixture over the top and serve.

Makes 4 servings

Raising Kids
Age 10
Age 9
Age 8