If you need some new dinner ideas you have come to the perfect spot! George and I love to cook healthy, but more importantly delicious dinners. When he is at work, I’m not gonna lie my dinners may consist of pizza and Spaghettio’s most of the time BUT ya girl is busy studying for the MCAT so I have little motivation to actually cook when I am home alone! When we both have days off though, I love spending time with him in the kitchen and we have made some bomb dinners over the past 9 months. When my mom came to visit we cooked a lot of our favorites for her and she said she felt SO spoiled. So here are my 5 favorites that you can try at home or have planned for when you have someone visit and want to make a nice meal!
“Food is an important part of a balanced diet.”– Fran Lebowitz
Pasta with a Healthy Spin
This is the simplest of the 5 dinner ideas I am sharing but also probably my favorite. The pasta we use is Banza chickpea pasta which makes me feel good about eating because it is high in protein and not just straight carbs! Although, I do love my carbs… Anyway, we cook the pasta and add our favorite Alfredo sauce. The last few times we have looked for it, it has been out of stock but if your store carries Bertolli Creamy Alfredo sauce I would highly recommend trying it! Otherwise any Alfredo or even red sauce is good! We cook beef and add it to the sauce and also steam some broccoli. We use an slow cooker to steam it which takes about 10 minutes. George prefers his plain but after the broccoli is done I like to open the lid and add cheese on my half. Once everything is cooked, top your pasta with your sauce, meat, steamed broccoli, some salt for taste & OMG your mind will be blown! Haha that may be a bit dramatic, but I really love this dinner. It has lots of protein, a serving of veggies, and the only not super healthy ingredient is the sauce.
- Banza chickpea pasta
- White or red sauce
- Choice of meat (optional)
- Cheese to top the broccoli
Total time from start to clean up is a mere 15 minutes!
Salmon w/ Homemade Mashed Potatoes
Another simple dinner I love is baked salmon with veggies and mashed potatoes. It’s funny that I love salmon so much now because I would not DARE eat fish or seafood until halfway through college when I started to be a little more adventurous (and a lot less picky)! I think the first time I tried salmon I started getting these single fillets at Ralph’s/Kroger’s and I was obsessed but it was pretty expensive to buy them in singles like that. I eventually switched to buying salmon at the deli which is obviously much more affordable.
Salmon: We put foil on the pan for easy clean up, set the oven at 400 degrees and bake the salmon for about 20 minutes. As far as seasoning, we just add some salt, a square of butter, and George has this Honey Hog BBQ Rub that he adds. BBQ sounds weird for salmon, I know, but trust me it is yummy!
Homemade Mashed Potatoes: Our favorite potatoes to use are Yukon gold potatoes. We boil them until tender, mash them up, add a splash a milk, a couple tablespoons of butter, garlic seasoning, salt & pepper to taste, and whip it all together with a fork until the consistency is just right. It comes out so good!
Veggies: If we aren’t steaming broccoli, our go to is to bake them at 400 degrees so they can just go in with the fish. It makes the timing easy since the salmon and veggies will be done at the same time, and the 20 minutes that those cook you can whip up the mashed potatoes and dinner is ready! We also switch between broccoli, asparagus, yellow squash, carrots (less often, but sometimes) and zucchini. All of which cook at the same temperature and basically the same amount of time so it is easy to add some veggie variety.
Pulled Pork Quesadillas
Okay, so the other dinner recipes are ones George and I have made countless times since we have been living together. This is a newer revelation that happened after a trip to Costco where we decided to try something new. I think if I were put on a deserted island and could only pick one dinner to eat for the rest of my life, this would be it. Not kidding. I am also still a big child when it comes to my food pallet so quesadillas are an easy fave for me. So what makes these quesadillas so yummy is using Del Real pork carnitas. I am sure any brand of pork carnitas would be delicious, this is just what we happened to use! Besides that we added cheddar cheese and cooked onions to the quesadillas and while being very simple the were SO good!
This is definitely a go to dinner idea if the weather is nice and you want to grill and spend time outside. Also if the weather is horrible and you are just craving a good burger! Eating burgers at home feels so much better than going to a restaurant. It has been a long time since we have went to a sit down restaurant and had a burger because the ones we make at home are just that good (not just bc restaurants were closed due to COVID-19 lol). I will tell you what we love to put on ours but the great thing is there is such a variety of toppings and sides you can choose to add that the possibilities are endless! We are totally the kind of people that once we love something though we rarely change it so we stick to the same things every time! We go back and forth between a toasted brioche bun or just sans bun altogether to eliminate the simple cards. Depends on how healthy we feel like being that night! As for toppings we add sliced avocado, melted cheese, pickles (which I actually never ate before I started making burgers with George), cooked onions, mayo, and lastly we always have some variation of a spicy ranch sauce to add (highly recommend!).
Instead of the typical burger and fries, we have baked asparagus instead. I am a huge fan of asparagus when it is cooked just right. I think I literally like fries less because of how yummy perfectly cooked asparagus are! The key is to pay attention to the thickness when you are buying them at the grocery store. Don’t choose the really fat ones or the super skinny ones, the perfect asparagus are medium thickness are maybe even slightly thinner. At home, drizzle them with olive oil, add salt, pepper, and a couple squares of butter. Then after baking at 400 degrees for 20 minutes you have delicious asparagus that are buttery, salty, and have just the right amount of crips at the ends!
Stuffed Bell Peppers
So a few months ago I was scrolling on my Instagram and a friend had posted a video on her story of these stuffed bell peppers she had made. They looked so good I immediately googled the recipe and made them that week!
George and I both loved how they turned out and make them on a regular basis now. Also, as someone who loves to try new foods now it was fun to cook with an ingredient I had never used or eaten before (referring to the couscous). I figured if I didn’t like it we could just use brown rice the next time but no rice needed! It was perfect! This is at the bottom of the list simply because it’s the least simple of the 5 dinner ideas but will still be ready in 30 minutes and doesn’t require too many ingredients!