How to turn three easy dinners into delicious double-duty meals


January 30, 2017 | Food Lion
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School's in full swing now, and the kids have dozens of things to do -- and so do you. How can you cut time and effort in cooking and still get a great meal on the table each night? Two words: double duty cooking.

School's in full swing now and it's the holiday season, which means you have dozens of things to do each day. So you may be thinking, "How can I cut time in the kitchen and still get a great meal on the table each night?" Three words: double-duty cooking.

The premise is simple: You make a big batch of a meal one night, and then transform leftovers into something else another night. For you, this means easier cooking. For your family, it means never feeling like you're eating the same thing night after night. (Let's face it: that's a bonus for you, too!)

And the best part? These recipes are all wallet friendly — especially when you get to day two.

Recipe 1

Day One Meal: Slow Cooker Meat-Lovers Chili

Serves 4, with leftovers for another meal

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb beef stew meat
  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 1 red onion, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 (20 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • Garnish: avocado, cheddar cheese, sour cream

In a heavy stock pot set over high heat, brown the stew meat on all sides. Transfer to the bowl of a slow cooker. Reduce the heat to medium, and add the ground beef and onions to the pot. Brown the meat thoroughly, and then add the garlic. Stir, cooking until fragrant — about 1 min. Transfer the meat mixture to the slow cooker.

Now, add to the slow cooker the crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, corn, water, cumin, chili powder, salt and pepper. Stir to combine.

Set slow cooker to low and cook for 6 to 8 hours, until the meat is fall-apart tender. Serve, garnished with cheese, sour cream and/or avocado chunks.

Reserve leftovers for meal two recipe.

Day Two Meal: Twice-Baked Chili Cheese Sweet Potatoes

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 4 sweet potatoes
  • 2 cups leftover chili
  • 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Place foil on the oven rack. Prick each sweet potato with a fork four times. Place on the foil and bake for 50 to 60 minutes, until tender. Remove from the oven and cool for 10 minutes before handling.

Cut a T in the top (where you pricked) of the potato. Using a fork, mash the flesh. Add ½ cup chili and 2 tbsp cheese to each potato and mix well. Top each with an additional 2 tbsp cheese.

Return the potatoes to the oven and bake for an additional 10 to 15 minutes, until the cheese is melted.

Cool slightly and then enjoy.

Recipe 2

Day One Meal: Skillet Herb Chicken Breasts

Serves 4, with leftovers for another meal

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp finely chopped fresh basil
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped fresh oregano
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • ½ tsp ground black pepper
  • 2 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • water

Stir together the herbs, olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper in a mixing bowl. Add the chicken breasts and the marinade to a resealable bag, seal and chill in the fridge for at least one hour, turning once or twice. (You can marinate for up to 10 hours)

When you're ready to cook, heat a large nonstick skillet (if all the breasts don't fit, cook in two batches) over medium heat on the stove. (Be sure to use a skillet that has a cover.). Add the chicken and brown, 5 to 6 minutes per side.

Pour ¼-cup water into the skillet (per batch), cover and cook for an additional 10 to 12 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through. It should be firm to the touch.

Remove the chicken to a cutting board and let sit for 5 minutes before slicing thinly. Enjoy.

Day Two Meal: Chicken Fried Rice

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 shallots, peeled and rough chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
  • 3-4 cups chopped fresh spinach or kale
  • 1-2 cups chopped leftover Skillet Herb Chicken Breasts
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 cup dry rice, prepared
  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • salt and pepper, to taste

In a large skillet or wok, heat the olive oil. Add the shallots and cook, stirring frequently, until golden and softened, about 5 to 7 minutes.

Add the garlic to the skillet and stir to combine. Add the spinach or kale and toss well. Cook until just wilted, about 4 to 5 minutes. Stir in the chicken and mix to combine, then push all veggies and chicken to one side of the skillet, leaving half of the skillet exposed.

Add the sesame oil to the exposed part of the skillet and top with the cooked rice. Stir continuously until the sesame oil is evenly distributed through the rice. Then, stir together with the vegetable mixture. Continue cooking for 2 to 3 minutes.

Remove the skillet from the burner and pour in the soy sauce. Toss well to combine. Taste, and season with salt, pepper and additional soy sauce to desired flavor.

If desired, this can be served with a poached or fried egg on top of each serving.

Recipe 3

Day One Meal: Margherita Roasted Spaghetti Squash

Serves 4, with leftovers for another meal

Ingredients:

  • 2 spaghetti squashes
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 4 medium ripe tomatoes, diced (about 2.5-3 inches in diameter)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • ¼ cup fresh chopped basil
  • ¼ cup fresh chopped parsley
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 4 oz fresh mozzarella, cubed
  • Additional fresh basil

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Cut open the spaghetti squashes and scoop out seeds and slimy sinews inside. Brush the cut portion and cavity with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Place all four halves cut-side down on a nonstick baking sheet. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, until tender. Remove from oven.

While the spaghetti squash is cooking, stir together the tomatoes, garlic, basil, parsley and vinegar in a large mixing bowl.

Using a fork, pull apart the insides of the spaghetti squash into spaghetti-like strands. Add to the mixing bowl and toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper, as desired.

To serve, divide about half of the spaghetti squash between four plates. Top each with ¼ of the mozzarella and additional fresh basil.

Day Two Meal: Cheese Baked Spaghetti Squash Casserole

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups leftover Margherita Roasted Spaghetti Squash (about ½ of the recipe)
  • 1 cup part skim ricotta cheese
  • ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 cups mozzarella cheese

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Add the leftover Margherita Roasted Spaghetti Squash to a casserole pan.

In a mixing bowl, whisk together the ricotta cheese with the Parmesan, egg, and ½ tsp each salt and pepper. Dollop into the casserole pan with the spaghetti squash. You should have white lumps of this mixture together — but don't mix fully into the spaghetti squash. Top with mozzarella cheese. Cover with foil and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until it's bubbling at the edges. Remove foil and bake for an additional 10 minutes.

Remove from the oven, cool slightly and then enjoy.