Time-Saving Dinners When You Don’t Have Any Time

We all have jobs and kids and families and obligations that seem to pull us in a million different directions these days. And yet we’re constantly told how important family dinners are; taking that time every evening to sit down with your children and loved ones to eat a good meal and really talk, really listen. But in a world where it feels as though there are fewer hours every day, how do you carve out the time to make those meals (let alone get everyone at the table at the same time to eat)? We here at Better Housekeeping Shop have these struggles too and while we may not have figured out how to manage the ever-moving timetable of baseball games, lacrosse practice, train schedules and school projects to get our family members to the table together every night, we thought we’d share a two of the recipes in our rotation that can at least offer a good (and easy to prepare) meal when we do all get there.

Slow-Cooker Chicken Burrito Bowls
You’d be hard-pressed to find a recipe that is so delicious, serves so many people, comes in handy for almost any occasion, and is so unbelievably easy to make. It’s also incredibly versatile; you can swap the chicken with more beans to make it vegetarian or use it as a filling for traditional burritos (and then freeze them for those nights when you really don’t have time to cook!)

Serves 6 to 8
1 ½ lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts, thighs, or a mix
1(14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes
2 cups low-sodium chicken brother
2 tsp chili powder
2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cumin
1 cup brown rice
1 (15 oz) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup frozen corn kernels
Optional toppings: Shredded cheese, chopped cilantro, sour cream, diced avocado, salsa, hot sauce, diced green onions, shredded lettuce

Combine the chicken breasts, diced tomatoes and their juices, 1/2 cup of chicken broth, chili powder, salt, and cumin in the bowl of a 2 1/2- to 3 1/2-quart slow cooker. Make sure the chicken is covered, and add additional broth if needed. Cover with the lid and cook on low for 3 to 4 hours.

Uncover and add the rice, beans, corn, and remaining 1/2 cup chicken broth. Cover and continue cooking on low for another 3 to 4 hours. Check the rice periodically in the last hour of cooking, stirring once or twice to make sure the rice cooks evenly and adding more chicken broth if the mixture seems dry. Cooking is done when the rice is tender — if the rice is done while there is still liquid left in the slow cooker, remove the lid and cook on high to let the liquid evaporate.
Use 2 forks to shred the chicken into bite-sized pieces. You can do this either in the slow cooker itself and then mix it into the rice, or you can transfer the chicken to a cutting board if you prefer to keep it separate. Taste the burrito mix and stir in more salt or other seasonings to taste.
Serve burrito bowls with toppings of your choice.

Pasta con Ceci
This one comes by way of Jenny Rosenstrach’s Dinner: A Love Story, a blog dedicated to the value and importance of family dinners. Pasta con Ceci is on constant rotation in our house and is a favorite of those aged 1 to 65.

Serves 4-6
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
6 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
6 tablespoons good tomato paste
2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 15 oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1cup uncooked ditalini pasta (or any smaller pasta that you have on hand)
4 cups boiling water
crushed red pepper flakes, for serving (optional)

In a large heavy-bottomed pot, heat the olive oil until it shimmers. Add the garlic and cook, stirring until it becomes lightly browned and fragrant. Stir in the tomato paste and salt and fry for 30 seconds or so. Add the chickpeas, pasta, and boiling water. Stir to scrape up any browned bits on the bottom of the pot, lower the heat, and simmer until the pasta is cooked and most of the liquid has been absorbed, about 15 to 20 minutes. If you have any chunks of parmesan cheese (or the rinds), throw it into the pot for a boost of flavor. To serve, ladle the pasta into shallow bowls, sprinkle with crushed red pepper flakes if using, and drizzle a bit of extra-virgin olive oil on top.

We understand the importance of family dinners, no matter what they look like, and know that kitchens are often where busy families come together. We’d love to help you find the right appliances for your kitchen. Give us a call at 732-741-4310 or visit us anytime at in Red Bank.

2 thoughts on “Time-Saving Dinners When You Don’t Have Any Time

  1. Hello. How are you doing? Came across your blog and some incredible recipe’s that I have written down in my ” to try recipe’s” . I also came across your November 12th,2017 post and was wondering what is the best way to clean burners? Just got this type of stove (Used). I look forward to reading more of your posts.

    1. Hi, thanks for your comment. If you have a coil electric range… for baked-on food or stains the best thing to try is to turn the burners on high and have the residue burn off. Of course, be very careful due to the heat. Replacement burners run around $40 each if they are really beat up and you need to replace. Unfortunately, this is really the only wa​y to clean the coils. Good Luck!!

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