Plan now – these Thanksgiving inspired nachos are perfect for leftovers, or if you’re not the host and want to whip up something with Thanksgiving vibes leading up to the holiday!
Thanksgiving Nachos Ingredients: (serves ~4 as a meal, or ~6 as an app) 1 package waffle fries 2/3 cup jellied cranberry sauce 2 tablespoons sour cream 2 tablespoons mayo 1 cup shredded white cheddar cheese ~1 cup turkey (I used roasted chicken as it was before Thanksgiving) ~1 cup turkey gravy 6 sage leaves, chopped
Directions: Preheat the oven to 400-degrees (or as waffle fry package directs). Bake the fries (or air fry, but like nachos, there will be toppings and continue to cook). Blend together cranberry sauce, sour cream, and mayo. This can be prepped in advance and refrigerated.
Chop or tear the turkey into bite-size pieces and warm. Mix or warm the gravy. When the fries are cooked, top half with the cheese, half the chicken, and a drizzle of gravy. Then place the remaining fries on top with remaining cheese, and another gravy drizzle. Return to the oven for ~3-5 minutes to melt the cheese.
Remove from the oven and top with sage and a drizzle of cranberry sauce. Enjoy and serve remaining cranberry sauce and gravy on the side.
We had it for dinner with some green beans on the side. It was so fun! The 1st grader ate it all – and took care of the remaining cranberry sauce. The pre-schooler ate the cranberry aoli-sauce by the spoonful and only took a few bites of the rest.
I loved the bites with everything together! They are kind of a fork-nacho but these would be fun with sweet potato fries too! They could be party friendly as mini “stacks” and maybe a toothpick to hold together to serve a portion. The subtle cranberry was really good and would be great on a sandwich or wrap for leftovers or on a turkey burger!
Add this to your leftovers – or make this if you’re not having a turkey dinner!
These started with lots of our favorite flavors and ingredients – basil pesto! mozzarella! tomatoes! We are into a new groove with more in-person routines and special sandwiches make fast dinners – especially in September with some summer temps and some feelings of fall. Most of this can prep in advance and to make as sliders or full-sized sandwiches.
I loved these! Admittedly – the kids weren’t wow-ed. They ate all the elements but didn’t care about them being together. Not every meal will be everyone’s favorite so I feel like they were still a winner if the kiddos were reminded that their beloved pesto doesn’t only show up on pasta.
Pulled Pesto Chicken & Caprese Sandwiches Ingredients: (for 4 sandwiches or 8 sliders) 2 chicken thighs or breasts or rotisserie chicken 2 tablespoons basil pesto 4 rolls or 8 slider rolls 1/2 tomato 1/2 ball of fresh mozzarella 3 tablespoons creamy caesar dressing or garlic aoli or balsamic reduction drizzle (optional)
Directions: Cook the chicken and when fully cooked through, pull it apart with 2 forks and mix in the pesto. Toast the rolls (optional). Slice the tomato and mozzarella.
Spread the rolls with dressing or spread if using it. Assemble the sandwiches with tomato, chicken, and mozzarella. Enjoy!
I had some sourdough rolls and some slider rolls and we had it with caesar salad which the first grader loves to “make”.
These flavors work so well together and I appreciate that a smaller amount of chicken goes further for sandwiches like this, versus serving whole cuts of chicken per person.
I’d eat these as little appetizer crostini or as wraps or grilled into a panini too! I threw some of the leftover pesto pulled chicken on top of some pasta to pack for lunch or it would be fine to freeze too!
Sandwiches are the easiest dinner and was a hit for all of us! The kids were into it and I never expect everyone to like everything all the time. These were a good example of putting elements together the kids already know into a new combo. I thought they might dismantle and eat separately but they ate it as is- just less arugula!
Crispy Chicken Sandwich with Peach Topping Ingredients: (for 4) 1 peach or nectarine 1 slice onion 1/2 tomato 1 green onion 1/2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar 1/2 teaspoon olive oil ~6 breaded chicken fingers 4 sub rolls 1 cup arugula 4 tablespoons honey mustard dressing
Directions: Chop the peach, onion, tomato, green onion, vinegar, and oil. Stir well and refrigerate until serving.
Bake or air fry the chicken pieces until cooked through. Assemble the sandwiches by lightly toasting the rolls, spreading honey mustard on, then adding the arugula, chicken and lastly the peach topping. Enjoy!
I loved this! It was so fun and a great use for rolls we had from a sausage & peppers night and there’s always chicken kicking around here.
Add some avocado to the topping (mine weren’t ripe!) cheese would be good too!
We love anything on a pizza so some leftover chicken breasts had me thinking of chicken piccata and what better way than on a pizza! It was a low-pressure way to cook it and to see who will like it and the chicken and lemon sauce and parsley flavors seemed summery to be on a pizza!
It would also be wonderful as a sandwich – or into a panini. Go for it!
Chicken Piccata Pizza Ingredients: (serves 4 for 1 large pizza or 3 small pizzas) 1 ball of pizza dough (or on 3 pieces of naan) 1 chicken breast, cut into 2-3 pieces 4 tablespoons flour + 1 tablespoon flour 1 teaspoon garlic powder 1/2 teaspoon salt & pepper 2 tablespoons butter + 2 tablespoons butter + 3 tablespoons olive oil 1/2 cup chicken broth 1/4 cup lemon juice 3/4 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
Directions: Allow pizza dough to come to room temp – over a few hours. Preheat a large skillet with 2 tablespoons of the butter & olive oil for pan frying over medium heat. Pound the chicken out flat and stir together the flour, garlic powder, and salt & pepper. Dredge the chicken pieces one at a time into the flour shaking off the excess then pan frying for ~3-4 minutes per side, flipping once. Check the internal temp with a meat thermometer – it should reach 165 degrees.
Remove the chicken (without draining the pan) and set the chicken aside. To the hot pan, add in the broth and lemon juice. Cook at a low boil for 5 minutes to reduce. Add in the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter + 1 tablespoon flour whisking continually over low heat for ~3 minutes then remove from the heat and let cool for 5+ minutes. Chop the chicken. Roll out the dough. Assemble the pizza by spreading sauce onto the pizza dough (I used ~1/2 of the sauce). Then add the shredded cheese and then the chicken. Bake (our pizza oven outside cooks pizza in ~90-seconds per pie, in the oven it might take ~20 minutes if the dough is par-baked, or 30 minutes from raw dough on a hot pizza stone). Top with parsley & enjoy!
We liked it! It was very, very lemony but bright and as pizza, it felt summery not being a heavy meal. The sauce was strong and while it wouldn’t be authentic (but I won’t tell anyone) if it was too much for you, you could also stir in a touch of cream or cream cheese or alfredo sauce (do that off the direct heat so the sauce doesn’t break).
The chicken was super juicy. That’s what a meat thermometer will do – no guessing to know if it is done! I know the 90-seconds in the pizza oven isn’t going to keep cooking, though 30 minutes in a high temp oven will!
We have enough sauce for another time. Or it would be good has a hot melty sub.
I love a rice bowl because of the customization options! The little ones always surprise me with what is a hit any particular day and the bowls ensure everyone has the same things- maybe more of some parts than others. The littlest was most into the chicken and the big one loved the grilled zucchini…who knew! These were only a slight variation from grilling a few things.
BBQ Chicken Rice Bowls Ingredients: 1 cup brown rice 2 cups water/broth 1 tablespoon + 2 tablespoons BBQ sauce 4 chicken thighs 2 tablespoons mixed herb seasoning (we love Todd’s Dirt, or Italian seasoning, etc) 1 large zucchini 2-3 tomatoes 1 tablespoon Italian dressing 1 teaspoon honey
Directions: Cook the rice (mine took 7 minutes in the pressure cooker – or it could be made in advance too). Then mix in 1 tablespoon BBQ sauce. Preheat the grill. Season the chicken with the dried herbs. Then slice the zucchini into coins and brush with olive oil on both sides. Grill the chicken and when almost cooked through, add the zucchini to the grill for the last few minutes. Chop the tomatoes and mix with Italian dressing. Whisk or shake together the remaining 2 tablespoons of BBQ sauce with the honey. Spoon the bbq rice into each bowl, then top with sliced chicken, zucchini, tomatoes. Drizzle with honey bbq sauce and Enjoy!
Our kids tend to want things separate but I love love love the bites together. Letting them surprise us is always worth it. Grilled zucchini isn’t something we have all the time but they liked it. They do not love brown rice but I think the BBQ sauce made them a bit more into it, and we don’t try to please everyone all the time.
Avocado would be great in here, or corn, or greens, or cheese. The rice could be any grain or starch – farro or potlenta or orzo or couscous…go wild! I usually do a grain + a protein + 2 or more veggies + drizzle of something. I like contrasts of cooked and raw veggies. Here are others!
Such a fun way to have buffalo chicken and there’s lots of ways to customize yourself! I went mild on the spicy scale and below are lots of swaps to up the veggies.
Buffalo Chicken Pasta Salad Ingredients: (for 2 meals, or 4 sides) 2 cups pasta 2 breaded chicken tenders 2 cups arugula 1 tablespoon hot sauce 3 tablespoons blue cheese or ranch dressing
Directions: Cook the pasta and the chicken and let cool to room temperature. Chop the arugula. Whisk together the dressing and hot sauce.
Mix together the pasta, arugula and dressing. Then add in the chopped chicken just before serving. Enjoy!
Go as spicy as you like! I like minimal but you could really go for it by tossing the chicken in buffalo sauce AND making the buffalo dressing! To go super mild, the hot sauce could be totally separate and sprinkled on per serving.
To make in advance, keep the chicken separate but the rest could be mixed ahead of time. Greens get a little wilty but a few hours lead time would work, or mix the pasta & the dressing and add in the chicken and veggies before serving.
While I was into the simplicity of it but more veggies would be great. Cucumbers and bell peppers would be awesome. I detest celery but that’s a natural fit and maybe chunks of carrots.
Think of a broccoli & rice & cheese but as a warm wrap- instead of a casserole! These wraps were so fun and an ideal way to use some leftovers!
Chicken, Broccoli, & Rice Warm Wraps Ingredients: (for 2 wraps) 1 cup brown rice (+ water/broth according to required prep) 1/2 broccoli head, cut into small florets 1 cup roasted chicken 1/2 cup white cheddar cheese, chopped or grated 2 large wraps 2 tablespoons dressing (optional – creamy caesar or Parmesan Peppercorn)
Directions: Prepare the rice (mine was brown rice for 10 minutes in the pressure cooker). Keep warm. Roast the broccoli with a drizzle of olive oil in a 400-degree oven for ~10 minutes until getting golden and crispy.
Assemble the wraps with half of each the rice, warm chicken, broccoli, and cheese.
Drizzle dressing, if using any. Heat a pan to medium heat with a drizzle of olive oil. If the wraps had been refrigerated (or a touch stale!) warm in the microwave for 10 seconds to be the most pliable. Roll the wraps by tucking the sides in then rolling from the bottom and tucking the sides in further until completely rolled. Then pan sear on each side, starting with the seam side down first. Cook for a few minutes on each side- a cover will help the cheese to melt. Let sit for 1-2 minutes before slicing. Enjoy!
I loved these! It is like a burrito – just without any particular identity. I like the balance of a whole grain (rice), as much veggie (broccoli) as protein (chicken) and some decadence (cheese & dressing) with just a few ingredients!
Most of this could be prepared in advance: the rice, the chicken, the roasted broccoli. These freeze well too – when freezing any burritos, I wrap in plastic and defrost overnight or in the microwave. Then to finish, I pan sear or bake the in toaster oven with a spray of non-stick spray. The goal is to defrost or warm slowly enough to heat all the way through, then give a little crunch to the exterior.
The technique to roll a burrito takes some practice not to over-fill and roll keeping the ingredients in, here’s a video of tucking the sides in as you roll away from yourself:
I’ve been trying to give home lunches a bit of a face lift. These turkey melts on English muffins are just unique enough be exciting while keeping them a totally do-able weekday lunch. Somedays it is PB&J while doing 5 other things and then there’s a 5 minute special lunch with everyday ingredients like this!
These have a nice kick with a spicy sauce and crunch from an apple (or there are lots of variations below)!
English Muffin Turkey Melts: Ingredients: (for 1) 1 English Muffin 2 tablespoons mayo 1/2 teaspoon Sriracha sauce (or hot sauce) 2 slices turkey 1-2 slices cheese 1/4 apple (I used honeycrisp) 1 cup mixed greens
Directions: Toast the English muffin (the toaster oven is perfect for this, or “griddle” it on a pan to use again soon). Mix together the mayo and the sriracha in a small bowl. Slice the apple and chop the greens if needed, while the muffin toasts.
When the English muffin is toasted, spread the sriracha onto both halves, then top one half with greens, apple slices, turkey, and cheese. Pop the assembled English muffin into a toaster oven, the regular oven, or into a hot pan with a cover to melt the cheese and warm everything through.
Pop the top on and enjoy!
These are so fun and could easily swap with what you have. Honey mustard would be great, a pear would taste delicious, ham can swap with turkey. Go crazy! The English muffin definitely adds some variety, and the melty cheese + lunch meat + a fruit + a veg + sauce = is perfect. These can be open faced or popped together as a sandwich.
I’m partial to these Fiber One Multigrain English muffins. They are much more fluffy than others and the higher fiber is just an added benefit.
Approaching 1 year of the pandemic and some gloomy weather has me a bit blah. I desperately miss non-icy sidewalks at the moment. Sometimes a more exciting lunch is something to look forward to, right? I’ve been striving for some more varied lunches and this was a good one.
Just a few slices of bacon with chopped greens, tomatoes, chicken salad, and a bit of bright pickle is so satisfying and perfect in a pita, or on some great bread, or scooped with crackers. This also works nicely for reviving leftovers if you’ve eaten chicken lately!
BLT Chicken Salad Ingredients: (for 2-3 servings) 2 cups chicken (cooked and cooled) 1 teaspoon mayo 1 tablespoon Italian dressing 1 teaspoon pickle juice (optional) 2 strips bacon (cooked and cooled) 2 cups baby arugula 1 small tomato
Directions: Chop and shred the chicken and mix the mayo, Italian dressing, pickle juice (optional) and salt & pepper. Chop the bacon, arugula, and tomato and add in the chicken salad.
Stir gently to combine – add in another splash of dressing or pickle juice if needed. Serve as a sandwich, with more greens as a salad, or scoop with crackers! Enjoy!
This is use 103,894,380 for a Costco roasted chicken. Those things are so much better than anywhere else, and cheaper! I buy them even without a plan and take it off the bone to freeze it. For this chicken salad, it was easy to break off some frozen chunks and defrost in the fridge overnight.
I’m partial to Ken’s Italian Dressing that looks like nothing special but is ohh so good. I think that WITH the pickle juice is delightful and just enough mayo to keep it together.
Are chopped salads still a thing? I liked everything getting equally distributed but now I’m wondering if they were just a fad of the 2010s? Either way, it is the perfect way to ensure each bite has some of everything. The concept lives on at our house!
Let’s quickly shake up taco night, shall we? I love alllll tacos (see here, or here, or here, or here) but to keep things interesting, I went with chicken in the tacos and the topping was a super quick cherry salsa.
I always want the kiddos eating new things and knowing that “tacos” don’t mean one thing. Once a week(ish) taco night can be tacos, burritos, quesadillas, enchiladas, etc. Using frozen cherries makes this fit any season and makes it so easy!
Cherry Salsa Ingredients: (for 4) 1 cup dark cherries 1/4 white onion 2 tablespoons chopped arugula 1 teaspoon lime juice 1 tablespoon salsa
Directions: Defrost the cherries.
Chop the cherries, onion and arugula. Mix in the lime juice and salsa. Serve on chicken tacos with black beans. Enjoy!
I loved this and it takes less than 5 minutes to mix up. The cherries are juicy and sweet against the seasoned taco and the crisp of the onion and arugula. The arugula can swap for cilantro but we have arugula around so it does double duty here.
We often make meatless with Gardien crumbles (don’t get me started how quick and fool-proof or crispy fish tacos but for these I chopped some chicken thighs and sautéed them with taco seasoning.
2 gobbled up more tacos than usual and 5 deconstructed his and ate maybe a bit less than usual but didn’t have much to say either way about the salsa….so a win and a tie?