More! St. Matt's Favorite Easy Meals
Updated: Aug 20
In the summer of 2022, I was frustrated with the same meals I was feeding my family every week, and with the calendar already full for fall activities and the first day of school hadn't even come and gone yet, the idea of meal planning, extensive cooking, kids complaints, etc. was overwhelming, to say the least.
What a blessing it was to have several of St. Matt's busy families share some of their favorite quick meals for when the weeks are too busy to think straight. We tried some new recipes, loved them, shared them, and once again - even more of you were willing to share a few new ones for this fall! I can't wait to try a few of these next week!
IN THIS POST:
FROM KATE LUKE
FRESH TOMATO SAUSAGE & PECORINO PASTA (from myrecipes.com)
This one is a family favorite (well, minus my one picky eater!) and SO easy!
I usually use a pound of chicken sausage (the best is the fresh chicken sausage that Giant makes - I get it plain or with kale - you can't taste the kale, it just adds a little color). I increase the pasta a bit.
I reserve some of the pasta water to use if the tomatoes don't release enough juice.
While this is all about the fresh tomatoes, I've used canned diced tomatoes when I don't have fresh and everyone still devours it!
Time: 40 minutes | Makes: 4 servings
8 ounces of uncooked penne
8 ounces of sweet Italian sausage
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 cup vertically sliced onion
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 ¼ pounds tomatoes, chopped
6 tablespoons grated fresh pecorino Romano cheese, divided
¼ teaspoon salt
⅛ teaspoon black pepper
¼ cup torn fresh basil leaves
Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat; drain.
Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Remove casings from sausage. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add sausage and onion to pan; cook 4 minutes, stirring to crumble sausage. Add garlic; cook for 2 minutes. Stir in tomatoes; cook 2 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in pasta, 2 tablespoons cheese, salt, and pepper. Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup cheese and basil.
“God never meant man to be a purely spiritual creature. That is why He uses material things like bread and wine to put the new life into us. We may think this rather crude and unspiritual. God does not: He invented eating. He likes matter. He invented it.” C. S. LEWIS, Mere Christianity
FROM MALOU RENNERT
GARLIC BUTTER SHRIMP WITH 7 UP (or Sprite)
Growing up in the Philippines, my mom used to make this shrimp dish for us. Quick, easy, and delicious. My mom never measured her ingredients, so I have adopted this recipe from others.
4 cloves garlic (divided), minced or 4 tsp bottled minced garlic
1 tbsp olive oil
¼ cup butter
1 cup 7 Up or Sprite
1 lb large shrimp ( Filipinos prefer them to be deveined, but shells and head kept intact, but you can use shelled and deveined ones )
salt and pepper, to taste
lemon juice, chopped cilantro (optional)
chopped chili peppers
In a shallow pan, brown half of the garlic in the oil over low to medium heat. Remove the browned garlic and set aside for garnish.
In the same pan, add the butter and remaining garlic (and chopped chili peppers, if desired). Cook until the butter is melted and the garlic is aromatic. Pour in the 7 Up. Simmer until the liquid is reduced. (about 3-5 minutes)
Add the shrimp. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Cook for about 3-4 minutes or until the shrimp has fully changed its color and is cooked through. (If you are cooking already shelled shrimp, just cook until they are fully opaque). Taste and adjust seasoning if needed.
Remove the shrimp from the sauce and reduce the sauce some more, if desired. If not, serve the shrimp on a platter and pour the remaining sauce all over. You may squeeze a few drops of lemon juice (optional) if desired. Garnish with the browned garlic. Add chopped cilantro for color. (optional)
* You can serve this with steamed or fried rice, or simple buttered pasta, and salad or vegetables.
*You can easily double this recipe. The reason we prefer to keep the shells and head intact is because it gives it a much deeper flavor. The head has a fatty portion that enhances the flavor of the dish. You don't have to eat it. But, not everyone likes shelling shrimp, so the shelled and deveined shrimp is the way to go for convenience.
APPLE CHEESE WRAPS WITH CRACKERS - LUNCH OR PROTEIN SNACK ON THE GO
Apple cheese wraps with crackers sound yummy for lunch. High protein & fiber - pack it up and snack on your way to or from activities!
1 granny smith apple
1 slice lemon
2 slices cheddar cheese, cut in half
2 slices deli turkey or ham, cut in half
Slice the apple into 1/2-inch thick slices. Rub the apple with the lemon wedge to prevent it from going brown.
Slice the cheddar cheese into 1/2-inch wide slices and the ham in 1/2 or in 1/4 (the ham needs to be large enough to wrap around the apple).
Place an apple slice and a cheese slice on top of the deli meat and fold over the deli meat to wrap.
FROM MIRIAM TURNER
EGG ROLL IN A BOWL
Easy to Make – this comes together in 1 pan.
Quick – Ready in just 20 minutes.
Reheats well – Makes for great leftovers and meal planning.
Simple – the ingredients are easy to find and affordable.
1 pound lean ground beef or turkey
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp fine sea salt, or to taste
¼ tsp pepper, or to taste
½ onion, finely diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
4 cups pre-shredded coleslaw mix
1 tsp ground ginger
1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
2 tsp sesame oil
½ tsp granulated sugar
1 Tbsp chopped green onion, optional for garnish
1/4 tsp sesame seeds, optional for garnish
Cook meat – In a large heavy skillet, heat the oil and add the ground beef or turkey. Cook the meat until no longer pink, breaking up the meat with a spatula as its being cooked. Season with salt and pepper.
Cook vegetables – Add the carrots and onion and cook until the onion is translucent and the carrots tender. Add the garlic, stir, and cook for 30 seconds.
Add remaining ingredients – Add the cabbage, ginger, soy, sesame oil, and sugar. Stir until well combined and cook for 5-7 minutes or until the cabbage is desired tenderness.
Serve with cooked rice or cauliflower rice.
Add-Ins as Time and Taste Allow
Add chopped water chestnuts with other veggies.
Add chopped peanuts
Add one scrambled egg to cook with veggies
Top with your favorite peanut or sesame sauce.
“What makes me feel alive and connected to God’s voice and spirit in this world is creating opportunities for the people I love to rest and connect and be fed at my table. I believe it’s the way I was made, and I believe it matters.” From Shauna Niequist
FROM HILARY HULTMAN-LEE
CHICKEN BACON RANCH SHEET PAN DINNER - QUICK & EASY (from Graceful Little Honey Bee)
This is the one-sheet pan chicken/potatoes/veg recipe we tried recently - great for a school night!
Time: 15 min prep, 30 min cook | Serves: 4
1 ½ tablespoons olive oil
1 packet ranch seasoning mix (or homemade)
4 russet potatoes cut into one inch cubes
1 10-ounce package of frozen broccoli florets (or other frozen veggies like green beans)
1 ½ pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts cut into bite-size pieces
4 strips bacon cut into one-inch pieces
2 cups shredded cheddar jack cheese
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and grease a large baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray.
In a large bowl, combine the potatoes, ½ tablespoon of olive oil, and 1/3 of the ranch seasoning packet. Stir to coat the potatoes, then transfer to the baking sheet.
Add the frozen broccoli to the bowl, ½ tablespoon of olive oil, and 1/3 of the ranch seasoning packet. Stir to coat, then transfer to the baking sheet.
Place the raw chicken pieces in the bowl and add the remaining olive oil and ranch seasoning. Stir to coat, then transfer to the baking sheet.
Top all ingredients with the cut-up bacon.
Bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes, then remove the pan from the oven and stir the ingredients slightly.
Top with shredded cheese and return to the oven to bake for 10 minutes or until cheese is melted.
FROM HILARY HULTMAN-LEE
CHINESE TOMATO & EGG STIR FRY (from the woks of life)
This is another easy recipe that my husband Evan's family makes all the time (it's a very popular comfort food in China). It's good for a school night, and it keeps really well to use as leftovers for lunch.
The basic ingredients are simple and very kid-friendly, but you can add other stuff easily (mushrooms, spinach, ground meat, etc.). You can serve over rice or noodles, or eat on its own.
Time: 10 mins | Serves: 2
4 small to medium tomatoes(about 500 g, 1 pound)
3/4 tsp salt (divided, or to taste)
1/4 tsp white pepper
1/2 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp shaoxing wine
3 tbsp vegetable oil (divided)
2 tsp sugar
1/4-1/2 cup water
Start by cutting tomatoes into small wedges and finely chop the scallion.
Crack 4 eggs into a bowl and season with ¼ teaspoon salt, ¼ teaspoon white pepper, ½ teaspoon sesame oil, and 1 teaspoon Shaoxing wine. Beat eggs for a minute.
Preheat the wok over medium heat until it just starts to smoke. Then add 2 tablespoons of oil and immediately add the eggs. Scramble the eggs and remove from the wok immediately. Set aside.
Add 1 more tablespoon oil to the wok, turn up the heat to high, and add the tomatoes and scallions. Stir-fry for 1 minute, and then add 2 teaspoons sugar, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ cup water (if your stove gets very hot and liquid tends to cook off very quickly in your wok, add a little more water). Add the cooked eggs.
Mix everything together, cover the wok, and cook for 1-2 minutes, until the tomatoes are completely softened.
Uncover, and continue to stir-fry over high heat until the sauce thickens to your liking. Serve!
FROM STEPHANIE ZEBROWSKI
CREAM OF MUSHROOM SOUP CHICKEN BAKE (from saltandlavender.com)
Time: 30 mins | Serves: 4
2 large chicken breasts cut in half lengthwise
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder optional
1/4 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning optional
Pepper optional, to taste
1 (10.5 ounce) can cream of mushroom soup
1 cup shredded mozzarella
Preheat your oven to 375F and move the rack to the top third of the oven.
Cut the chicken breasts in half lengthwise to make 4 thinner pieces.
Place the chicken pieces side-by-side in a casserole dish (9x13 or similar size) and season them with the garlic powder, Italian seasoning, and some pepper.
Spoon/pour the cream of mushroom soup over top and ensure each piece of chicken is coated, then top each piece of chicken with the mozzarella.
Cover the dish with foil and bake for 25-30 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through (165F). If desired, uncover and broil for a few minutes to brown the cheese (I did this step for the photos).
You can use 4 smaller chicken breasts, just ensure they're cooked through (use an instant-read thermometer). Or use chicken thighs if you prefer (cooking time may vary but they're less likely to overcook and go dry if you cook them for a bit longer than they need).
Cream of mushroom soup can be quite salty, so that is why I don't add any extra salt to this recipe.
FROM MARY BROWN
30-MINUTE SHEET PAN GNOCCHI WITH CHERRY TOMATOES & MOZZARELLA (from thefoodcharlatan.com)
This is really delicious, and fast! A family favorite at our house.
1 (16-oz) package of gnocchi (or cauliflower gnocchi if you are carb conscious)
2 pints of cherry tomatoes, any color
1 (12-oz) tub of marinated mozzarella (save the oil)
2 - 4 garlic cloves (to taste)
Fresh basil (to garnish
Balsamic vinegar (to garnish)
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
Open the package of gnocchi and dump the whole thing on the sheet pan.
Add 2 packages of cherry tomatoes to the dry pan. If your pan looks too full (you want each tomato to have a little space to roast) then remove some of the tomatoes.
Use the side of a chef knife to smash the garlic. Add it to the pan whole. Use as many as you like.
Open the tub of mozzarella. Remove the cheese to a bowl. Pour most of the herbed oil from the tub onto the pan with the gnocchi. You don't need to use all of it, just enough to make sure everything is coated. Use your hands to rub oil all over the gnocchi and tomatoes. Get all those herbs on there!
Arrange the gnocchi and tomatoes into a single layer on the pan. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper.
Roast at 450 for 17-20 minutes, until some of the tomatoes have popped and the gnocchi looks golden.
Let the gnocchi cool on the pan for a few minutes before adding the mozzarella (you don't want it to melt into blobs.) You can either add the mozzarella to the pan and serve it from there, or remove all of it to a serving platter and toss together.
Garnish with fresh basil and parmesan cheese! For a real treat, drizzle a bit of balsamic vinegar over each serving. You will not regret it!
NOTES: *You can find gnocchi on the pasta aisle, and sometimes in the refrigerated section where they sell ravioli. **Make sure the mozzarella is the kind marinated in oil and spices, not water. Galbani is the brand that I buy, see photo. It's not one big hunk of mozzarella, but rather little walnut-sized balls. If you can only find the kind marinated in water, you can still make this. Use about 1/3 cup olive oil mixed with 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning to coat your gnocchi and tomatoes, and drain the cheese well before adding to the dish.