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Easy Weeknight Recipes

Some nights are more stressful than others. We get it. Sometimes it’s just easier to order pizza, but occasionally, cooking can be a destressor. Here are some ideas for quick weeknight meals and one delicious dessert for when you just need some comfort food and a dinner win:

Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 tablespoons butter (or olive oil)

  • 12 fresh sage leaves (optional)

  • 3 large cloves garlic, minced

  • 1 pound (about 4 cups) diced butternut squash*

  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable stock (or chicken stock)

  • 1 pound uncooked pasta (I used shells)

  • 2 cups whole milk

  • 8 ounces good-quality sharp cheddar cheese, shredded*

  • fine sea salt and freshly-cracked black pepper, to taste

INSTRUCTIONS

  • Bring a large pot of generously-salted water to a boil.

  • Meanwhile, heat the butter in a separate large sauté pan until melted. Add the sage leaves (if using) and sauté for 1-2 minutes until crispy. Transfer the sage leaves to a separate plate and set aside.

  • Add the garlic and sauté for 1 minute, stirring occasionally. Then add in the butternut squash and vegetable stock and stir to combine. Continue cooking until the stock reaches a simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the squash is tender and mashes easily with a fork.

  • Transfer the squash mixture to a blender. Add in the milk and give the mixture a quick stir. Then very carefully (I recommend slightly opening the cap on the blender lid, so that excess steam can escape) pulse the mixture until smooth.

  • Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook according to package instructions until al dente. Reserve 1 cup of the starchy pasta water for later. Then drain the pasta.

  • While the pasta is cooking, return the butternut squash mixture back to the sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add in the shredded cheddar cheese, and stir until it has melted into the sauce.

  • Taste and season the sauce with salt and pepper as needed. (I used about 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper.)

  • Then once the pasta is drained, return it to the stockpot. Pour the butternut cheese sauce on top of the pasta, and toss to combine. If the sauce is too thick, add in some of the hot starchy pasta water to thin it out.

  • Serve warm, garnished with the crispy sage leaves if desired.

Instant Pot Roast and Potatoes

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 lb. chuck roast
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp. chopped rosemary
  • 1 tsp. chopped thyme
  • 3 tbsp. tomato paste
  • 2 tbsp. all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 c. red wine
  • 3 c. low-sodium beef broth
  • 1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 lb. baby potatoes, halved
  • 4 medium carrots, peeled and sliced on the bias into thick chunks

DIRECTIONS

  • Season chuck roast generously with salt and pepper. Turn Instant Pot to Sauté setting, set for 15 minutes, and heat oil. When oil is shimmering, add beef and cook until seared on both sides, about 5 minutes per side. Remove beef then add onion. Cook, stirring occasionally, until starting to soften, about 5 minutes. Stir in garlic, herbs, and tomato paste and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in flour, then whisk in wine until combined. Bring to boil and cook until slightly thickened, about 2 minutes.

  • Add broth, Worcestershire sauce, potatoes, and carrots and 1 tablespoon salt and a bunch of freshly ground black pepper. Place beef on top of mixture. Lock lid and set to pressure cook on high for 1 hour.

  • Follow manufacturer’s guide for quick release, making sure to wait until cycle is complete before unlocking and removing lid. Let beef rest in sauce for at 10 minutes.

  • Slice roast against grain.

Dark Chocolate Mug Cake

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour

  • 2 tablespoons dark chocolate cocoa powder

  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder

  • 3 tablespoon granulated sugar

  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

  • 2 tablespoons dark chocolate chips

  • 1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon warm milk (you'll want to pop this in the microwave for like 30 seconds so it's not super cold otherwise it'll seize up the coconut oil)

  • 2 tablespoons melted coconut oil

INSTRUCTIONS

  • In a medium bowl, whisk together dry ingredients and dark chocolate chips.

  • Whisk in the milk and coconut oil until all ingredients are combined and batter has no clumps.

  • Pour batter into a microwave-safe mug. Mine was a 14-ounce mug. You want enough head space for the cake to rise without pouring over.

  • If you're adding peanut butter or any nut butter spread, at this time, put it in the middle of the batter. Just drop it in the middle, no need to push it down and sink it in the batter. It does that on its own when it cooks! :)

  • Place a paper towel into the microwave and set the mug on top (this is to catch any batter if your mug cake overflows).

  • Microwave mug cake for 60-90 seconds on high

  • Carefully remove from microwave and enjoy!

Easy Chicken Skillet Enchiladas

INGREDIENTS

  • 8 ounces cooked chicken (about 2 cups shredded)

  • 1 teaspoon oil

  • 1/4 yellow onion, minced (about 1/3 cup)

  • 3 cloves garlic

  • 15-ounce can tomato sauce

  • 1/3 cup water

  • 4-ounce can mild green diced chilis

  • 2 teaspoons chili powder

  • 1 teaspoon oregano

  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin

  • 8 taco-sized flour tortillas

  • 8 ounces cotija cheese

To serve:

  • Cilantro

  • Radishes, thinly sliced

  • Sour cream

  • Avocado

  • Jalapeño

METHOD

1 Shred chicken: Shred the leftover chicken so it’s ready when you need it. You should have about 2 cups.

2 Make the sauce: In a large, high-sided skillet set over medium heat, add the oil. Once the oil shimmers, add onion and garlic and cook for 1 minute, just until softened.

Add tomato sauce, water, diced green chilis, chili powder, oregano, and cumin. Stir together, then let the sauce simmer on medium to medium-low while you assemble the enchiladas.

3 Assemble the enchiladas: Put about 2 tablespoons of shredded chicken down the center of each tortilla. (You don’t really have to measure the meat. Just divide it evenly among the tortillas!) Sprinkle about 1 tablespoon cotija cheese (just eyeball it) across the chicken, and spoon 1-2 teaspoons sauce over the cheese.

Fold in the sides of the tortilla, roll it up, and put it seam side down in the sauce. Nestle them in the pan. Repeat this until the pan is full. Spoon sauce over the top of the enchiladas.

4 Top with cheese and cover: Sprinkle additional cotija cheese over the top of the enchiladas. Cover with a lid and let them simmer until the cheese is melted and the tortillas look puffy, like they soaked up some sauce. This should take about 5 minutes.

5 Garnish and serve: Lift the lid and sprinkle cilantro and thinly sliced radishes over the top. Serve alongside sliced avocado, jalapeño, and sour cream.

Nacho Bread Pizzas

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 loaf baguette or semolina bread, day old is fine
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, 1 turn of the pan
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped or 1 pickled hot pepper of any kind, chopped
  • 1 (15-ounce) can black beans
  • 2 teaspoons hot sauce
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 cup prepared salsa, any variety
  • 2 cups shredded Cheddar, smoked Cheddar, Monterey Jack or pepper Jack
  • 1 heart romaine or 1/2 iceberg head, shredded
  • 1/2 cup green olives with or without pimiento, chopped
  • 1/4 red onion or 2 to 3 scallions, chopped
  • 2 plum or vine tomatoes, seeded and diced

DIRECTIONS

  1. Split bread lengthwise. Hollow the bread out and cut each half in half across, making 4 boats.

  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

  3. Heat a small nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add oil, 1 turn of the pan, garlic and hot peppers. Drain beans. Add half of the beans then mash the remainder of the beans in the can using a fork. Add mashed beans to the pan and combine with whole beans. Season beans with hot sauce, chili powder, cumin, salt and pepper. When the spicy beans are hot through, spread them evenly across all of the bread. Top with salsa and liberally sprinkle with cheese, covering bread to all edges. The boats will only be half-full. Melt cheese in the oven until it bubbles and begins to brown.

  4. Top Nacho Bread Pizzas with lettuce, olives, onions and tomatoes and serve. .