More often than not, dinner is the only meal you get to actually eat with your children, so making it as healthy as it can is not a bad idea at all. And this is where we come in handy. Most of the time, you won’t have an idea what to cook. You might end up doing what a lot of people do, have a few dishes that they make every week. For my fiance and me, it used to be quiche, pasta Bolognese, shepherd’s pie (he is British and just LOVES it even though I was sick of it after a time), lasagna, and sometimes, if one of us felt fancy, we would make a gratin, enchiladas, quesadillas, or a Chinese chicken noodle soup. All of this to say that us humans love our routines, even when it comes to food. But every once in a while, it doesn’t hurt to change that routine.
So, keep on reading to find out about our 3 best dinner ideas for the family that your children will love!
Pizza Stuffed Shells
Source: Pillsbury – Pizza Stuffed Shells
- 24 jumbo pasta shells cooked according to package directions
- 5 ounces’ mini pepperoni divided use
- 16 ounces’ ricotta cheese
- 12 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese divided use
- 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
- 3 cups pizza sauce or marinara sauce
- 2 tablespoons parsley chopped
- cooking spray
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Coat a 9″baking pan with cooking spray.
- Spread the pizza sauce in an even layer in the bottom of the pan.
- Place 1/2 the pepperoni, ricotta cheese, 1/2 the mozzarella cheese, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper and parmesan cheese in a large bowl. Stir to combine.
- Fill each shell with the ricotta mixture and place in the baking dish.
- Sprinkle the remaining mozzarella and pepperoni over the top of the shells.
- Bake for 25 minutes or until cheese is melted and starting to brown. Sprinkle with parsley and serve.
Ham and Cheese Pockets
Source: Jocooks – Ham and Cheese Pockets
- 2 and 1/4 teaspoons yeast (1 standard packet)
- 1 and 1/3 cups (320ml) warm water, about 110°F (43°C)
- 3 and 1/2 cups (440g) all-purpose flour (spoon & leveled), plus more for work surface
- 1 Tablespoon (13g) granulated sugar
- 2 Tablespoons (30ml) olive oil
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- egg wash: 1 large egg beaten with 1 Tablespoon milk
- 8 slices cheese or 2 cups shredded (sharp cheddar is great for this recipe)
- 16 thin slices deli ham or 2 cups cubed ham
- In a large mixing bowl or the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with a hook attachment, combine the yeast and warm water. Stir it around and let sit for 5 minutes until the mixture is foamy. If the yeast doesn’t dissolve or foam, your yeast is dead. Start again with active yeast. Add flour, sugar, olive oil, and salt. Mix by hand or with the dough hook on low speed for 1 minute. Once all of the ingredients are mixed, slowly knead for 7 minutes by hand or with your dough hook on low-medium speed. If your dough is too wet, add up to 1/4 cup more flour. After kneading, your dough should be smooth and elastic. Poke it with your finger – if it slowly bounces back, your dough is ready to rise. If not, keep kneading.
- Shape the dough into a ball and place in a large mixing bowl that has been greased lightly with olive oil. Turn it over to coat all sides. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and allow to rise in a warm environment (about 75°F or 80°F/24°C or 27°C) for 1 hour or until doubled in size.
- Preheat oven to 400°F (204°C). Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.
- Once risen, punch the dough down to release the air. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Using a sharp knife, slice dough in half. Then slice each half into quarters. You’ll have 8 pieces of dough, as shown in the photo above. Flatten each piece with your fingers or use a rolling pin. You want each piece of flattened dough to be about 6 inches long and 4 inches wide. They don’t have to be perfect rectangles, as you can see in my photos! Transfer flattened dough to the baking sheets. Place the cheese (I fold the slice in half) and ham (2 slices for each) on top of the dough on one side, then fold the other side over top. Pinch the edges to seal as best you can. Use a fork to crimp the edges. Brush the tops and sides of each pocket with egg wash, then slice 2-3 slits in the tops for air vents (use a super sharp knife to do that).
- Bake the pockets for 20-25 minutes, or until the tops are golden brown. Make sure to rotate the baking sheet once or twice during bake time. Remove pockets from the oven and allow to cool on the pan until ready to handle and serve.
Slow Cooker Spaghetti and Meatballs
Source: Tasteofhome – Slow Cooker Spaghetti and Meatballs
- 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
- 1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes
- 1 (15-ounce) can tomato sauce
- 1 cup beef stock
- 1/2 medium sweet onion, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 teaspoons of granulated sugar
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 8 ounces’ spaghetti, broken in half
- 1/3 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
For the meatballs
- 1-pound lean ground beef
- 1/2 pound Italian sausage, casing removed
- 1/2 cup Panko
- 1/4 cup whole milk
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- 3 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan
- 3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
- In a large bowl, combine ground beef, sausage, Panko, milk, egg, Parmesan, parsley and garlic; season with salt and pepper, to taste. Using a wooden spoon or clean hands, stir until well combined. Roll the mixture into 3/4-to-1-inch meatballs, forming about 32-35 meatballs.
- Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add meatballs, in batches, and cook until all sides are browned, about 2-3 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate; set aside.
- Place crushed tomatoes, diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, beef stock, onion, garlic and sugar into a 6-qt slow cooker. Stir in meatballs until well combined; season with salt and pepper, to taste.
- Cover and cook on low heat for 7-8 hours or high heat for 3-4 hours.
- Stir in pasta; cover and cook on low heat for an additional 30-40 minutes, or until pasta is tender, stirring once. Stir in basil.
- Serve immediately.