quick and easy homemade dinners

by jenna on January 19, 2011

I know how it is.

You may have every intention to cook healthy, satisfying weeknight dinners but sometimes (most of the time?) life gets in the way. And then all too often we are left eating plain yogurt out of the container or peanut butter straight from the spoon.

Guilty as charged.

I also know how it is to see a great recipe, want to make it for dinner and then while you’re cooking, realize said recipe is more a three hour affair than anything else.

The following few recipes are quick and easy, and a great way to get out of that yogurt container dinner rut!

Spicy Jambalaya.  I adore this super fast version of the Creole classic! Now can someone bring me a beignet, please?

30 Minute Lemon Brown Sugar Chicken. Cause meats need some sugar, too! My favorite way to serve this is with roasted new potatoes and brussels sprouts on the side.

Curried Butternut and Red Lentil Soup. Try replacing the butternut with sweet potato for a little twist! This is one of my favorite soups..ever.

Linguine and Clams. I always keep an extra can of clams in my pantry so I can throw together this quick pasta dish! It’s a childhood favorite of mine and makes me happy.

Beef Tenderloin with Apricot and Olives. If you haven’t made this yet, you simply must! It’s my favorite way to eat red meat.

Migas. Scrambled eggs for dinner? Heck yes! Especially when said scrambled eggs have slivers of taco chips in them. My mouth is drooling just thinking about it!

Chicken Parmesan with a Twist. Adam is STILL talking about this dinner I made last week. I take that as a good sign.

Linguine with Shrimp and Tomato Cream Sauce. Everything about this pasta is a good idea. It might look fancy, but it’s quick and simple..I promise!

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{ 69 comments… read them below or add one }

megan @ whatmegansmaking January 19, 2011 at 12:17 pm

I’m always looking for quick and easy dinner ideas. It’s so hard to come home from work and cook a big dinner. I’ve started making a big pot of soup or a casserole of some sort on the weekend that we can heat up during the week. I actually haven’t tried any of these recipes – thanks for the round-up :)

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Jessica @ How Sweet January 19, 2011 at 12:19 pm

I will gladly vouch for that beef with apricot – that stuff is SO good! And I made the chicken parm for my husband on Sunday for his lunches. He has been loving it everyday.

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jenna January 19, 2011 at 1:03 pm

I love all the chicken in Mr. How Sweet’s lunches!

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kristina January 19, 2011 at 12:21 pm

That chicken looks phenomenal and I want to make Migas (yummy)

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Jess (Fit Chick in the City) January 19, 2011 at 12:22 pm

You’re right our good intentions on making a quick healthy dinner are often put to the side. This looks like a great list to help avoid that problem!

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Kelly January 19, 2011 at 12:29 pm

Ah Migas…gotta love Austin, Texas! I am saving the beef tenderloin with olives and apricots just saying it aloud makes me drool.

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jenna January 19, 2011 at 1:03 pm

love love love austin!

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Stacy @ Every Little Thing January 19, 2011 at 12:32 pm

Great ideas! Will definitely be bookmarking this, thanks!

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chelsey @ clean eating chelsey January 19, 2011 at 12:34 pm

All of my weeknight meals take less than n hour to make. I don’t have the time to be standing around creating intricate recipes!!

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Amanda (Eating Up) January 19, 2011 at 12:36 pm

I read through the post thinking oh! I want to make that, and that!, and that!…and that!

Well, you get the idea…

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Kristy January 19, 2011 at 12:37 pm

I can’t pick out a favorite, they all look so delish! Thanks for all the ideas, lord knows I need quick meals! :)

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Amy @ What Jew Wanna Eat January 19, 2011 at 12:38 pm

I made your 30 Minute Lemon Brown Sugar Chicken for my family when I was home for the holidays, and they loved it! Definitely a keeper.

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julie @ rosy+tart January 19, 2011 at 12:39 pm

Great ideas! Ironically, I’m sitting here making my menu plan for the rest of the week & weekend. I’ll have to mix some of these in. :)

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Jil @ Big City, Lil Kitchen January 19, 2011 at 12:40 pm

These all look like fantastic recipes – and I’ll admit – pb straight out of the jar has been many a meal.

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Brenna [fabuleuxdestin] January 19, 2011 at 12:41 pm

I can attest to the beef tenderloin with apricots and olives – it was so so so good! Can’t wait to try some of your others – I just got an oven! yay!

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Ellie January 19, 2011 at 12:41 pm

Thanks! I have been in a yogurt for dinner rut! Now I need to find friends who will eat so I don’t end up with no tupperware (the current issue) because they are all full of my leftovers

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Natalie @ Will Jog For Food January 19, 2011 at 12:48 pm

Those all look really good! I’ve always wanted to try making Linguine & Clams…looks like a great place to start :)

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Averie (LoveVeggiesAndYoga) January 19, 2011 at 12:51 pm

Ok these dinners look like a million bucks!! If these are quick and easy, I would like to see long and complicated :) Seriously very inspirational!!

As a FT mom with a FT job, quick and easy here means salads with tofu or TJ’s chicken strips on top :) With plenty of homemade desserts on the side. Lol

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jenna January 19, 2011 at 1:02 pm

I’m sure you rock it! I can’t imagine having kids and trying to cook every night, too. Having (and feeding?!) a cat is about as much as I can handle right now!

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Liz @ Tip Top Shape January 19, 2011 at 12:53 pm

That jambalaya caught my eye! I was just talking to my mom about how we haven’t had that in a while.

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Stina @ Girl Can January 19, 2011 at 12:56 pm

I made the Lemon Brown Sugar on Saturday for my boyfriend and we both LOVED it. It was probably the best chicken dish I’ve had in my entire life! It was the perfect balance of sweet and sour.

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jenna January 19, 2011 at 1:01 pm

thank you so much! I’m glad y’all enjoyed it.

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Chicago Cuisine Critique January 19, 2011 at 12:58 pm

Thanks for combining them all in one spot. I am dying to try a few of your recipes. :)

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Sonia January 19, 2011 at 1:06 pm

I made your chicken parm with a twist last Saturday for my friends and hubby, and after the first bite, they literally sighed and moaned with happiness. Through out the meal they kept saying how delicious it was. Hubby even went back to the cooking dish to scrape off any leftovers. None survived the night. Thank you for such a smashing dish.

I’ll give the beef with apricot dish when fresh apricots come back in season :)

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Val @ Balancing Val January 19, 2011 at 1:11 pm

Jenna . . .

THANK YOU!

I am so making the jambalaya and the brown sugar chicken in the very near future ;)

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Hannah January 19, 2011 at 1:14 pm

I made the chicken parm on Sunday and it was soo good! I had a small “Why is my kitchen so small?” breakdown during the breading process but it all worked out in the end :)

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Quisha January 19, 2011 at 1:16 pm

This post couldn’t have come at a better time. I literally just moved into my new place a couple of weeks ago and my boyfriend and I are always scrounging to find some good cooking ideas. I’m definitely saving these. The linguine looks delish!

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Baking 'n' Books January 19, 2011 at 1:18 pm

I could totally get behind those migas.

If tortillas and cheese are involved, no questions asked…!

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Baking 'n' Books January 19, 2011 at 4:27 pm

Also – might you do up a post on lunches? Of course, you can always have dinner leftovers ;) but sometimes it’s so darn hard to figure it out , especially when working on the go or stuck at a desk. Bah! Must. Get. Home. Job. ;)

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jenna January 19, 2011 at 5:23 pm

good idea about the lunches!

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jess January 19, 2011 at 1:29 pm

I made your chicken enchiladas last week and they were ridiculously good. i want to try that chicken parmesan asap.

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Elizabeth@The Sweet Life January 19, 2011 at 1:29 pm

My strategy is to make a meal out of your delicious dessert recipes!

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Natalia - a side of simple January 19, 2011 at 1:30 pm

I’m all about freezing meals into individual portions for those nights when a yogurt + cereal combination sound great. Knowing I can just as quickly defrost something (I prefer a Jenna-meal) saves me!

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Beth B January 19, 2011 at 1:40 pm

I want to try them all but think I will start with the Brown Sugar Chicken and Tenderloin Beef. Thank you!

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Conni January 19, 2011 at 1:40 pm

I make awesome home made beignets. Let’s do dinner, yes? You bring your chicken and biscuits and I’ll provide the beignets. How’s Saturday sound?

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Molly January 19, 2011 at 1:42 pm

mmm chicken parm. MY FAVORITE! <3

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Michelle @ Turning Over a New Leaf January 19, 2011 at 1:44 pm

Ah! Here I am planning to make Lentil Soup tonight and remembering that Angela made a curried version, and now you’re throwing in butternut squash, which I happened to have already cubed and stuffed in the freezer. I’m not sure this can get any better! ;)

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Andrea @ The Skinny Chronicles January 19, 2011 at 1:46 pm

All fabulous inspirations! Last night I managed to make tortilla soup in thirty minutes…Hallelujah for that.

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Stephanie @ Thorns Have Roses January 19, 2011 at 1:48 pm

Do you have any awesome fish recipes?

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Lauren January 19, 2011 at 2:00 pm

I made your “Chicken Parm with a Twist” for my boyfriend and I on Saturday night. It made my weekend! To be honest, I’m still thinking about it. I won major points from the boyfriend who thinks I am only good at baking cookies and mixing (bagged) Caesar salads!

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Karen January 19, 2011 at 2:39 pm

Your humility is such a breath of fresh air, Jenna. It’s so nice to read a blog that isn’t filled with self-importance. Despite your external beauty and talent, you remain self deprecating and modest. Love that about you, my friend!

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jenna January 19, 2011 at 5:24 pm

Thank you, Karen! That means a lot!

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Molly January 19, 2011 at 3:22 pm

You are such an amazing cook. Your pictures are always beautiful. Your writing is so easy to read. I just love your blog. It inspired me in 2008 to make my own. Thanks!

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jenna January 19, 2011 at 5:24 pm

aww thank you!

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Anna (Munching Mamacita) January 19, 2011 at 3:32 pm

Stop it! You’re making me drool all over my laptop!!

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britt January 19, 2011 at 3:41 pm

a consolidated list of quick and easy meals! thank you!!! this new mom is always looking for quick and easy :) i have been meaning to try out the linguine and clams for forever. must get on that!

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Bethany @Bridezilla Bakes January 19, 2011 at 3:49 pm

Oh, great! Thanks for the handy list! There are a bunch on here that I haven’t tried (although the couple that I have are my favorite) — I will definitely add these to the menu soon.

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Wine Girl (Kitchen Doesn't Travel) January 19, 2011 at 3:55 pm

They all look scrumptious! Can’t wait to try them. That Jambalya sounds perfect for this cold weather we are having. Thanks for the ideas!

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mary (what's cookin' with mary) January 19, 2011 at 4:07 pm

Always love quick dinner ideas! Thanks for the links ;)

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Erin January 19, 2011 at 4:59 pm

Yeah…guilty as charged. I just ate cheese and bread for dinner.
But everyone should make the beef with apricots and olives! It’s SO SO delicious. I made it for my boyfriend a month ago, and we’ve made it 3 times! And he is already asking for it again. It’s such a winner, and is so ridiculously easy and fast. I can’t say enough good things about it!

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Marie @ PeoniesNCupcakes January 19, 2011 at 5:09 pm

This post is fabulous! I am set for the week & I can’t wait to try the lemon brown sugar chicken :)

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Elizabeth January 19, 2011 at 5:09 pm

You must have been reading my mind when you wrote this post! I failed to menu plan this week, and have had sandwiches several nights in a row. Today I’m opting for baked beans (canned) and chik’n patty (frozen) which is pitiful. I need to get my rear in gear! Too bad your featured recipes today are all meat-ful, otherwise I’d start to cook them!

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Gabby (Quest for Delicious) January 19, 2011 at 5:10 pm

“You may have every intention to cook healthy, satisfying weeknight dinners but sometimes (most of the time?) life gets in the way. And then all too often we are left eating plain yogurt out of the container or peanut butter straight from the spoon.”
Those two sentences describe my life all too often. Definitely taking note on all these recipes! (:

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Michelle January 19, 2011 at 5:11 pm

Thank you for this! I now have lots of inspiration for dinner tonight. :) All boyfriend-friendly too, which is a big plus. :P

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jenna January 19, 2011 at 5:22 pm

boyfriend-friendly is a must! ;)

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joelle (The Pancake Girl) January 19, 2011 at 5:31 pm

Oh, yum! Thank you for posting these.. my boyfriend was just talking about Migas.. he’s obsessed with Austin so I may have to make these just to inspire him to want to do some traveling sooner rather than later back to Texas. ;)

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Cyndie January 19, 2011 at 5:32 pm

Thank youuu! Alex (the boyf) always wants me to cook (and I love to cook!), but it’s kind of tough with class and work now….the only OTHER thing I need is for these meals to be cheap.

Lemon brown sugar chicken or chicken parmesan are my first choice!

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Imwaytoobusy January 19, 2011 at 6:08 pm

Quick and easy!? I’m all for it. I will be making the beef tenderloin with apricot.
…and eggs for dinner!? Yes, please :)

If you ever have time… Your enthusiasm for yoga has me tempted to give it a whirl again. Are there any yoga training DVDs you like? I’d love to know!

Thanks for being a daily inspiration!

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Tara (My Pretty Pink Mixer) January 19, 2011 at 6:20 pm

I made the chicken parmesan with pepperoni on Sunday night and was told that I was “the best wife ever!” It was soooo good—so were the Caramel Apple Pie bars that I made for dessert that night!

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Heather January 19, 2011 at 6:33 pm

Thanks so much for posting this Jenna! I just moved to DC from Cincinnati and wanted a compile a list of my own of your quick and easy recipes and you just did it for me! Can’t wait to try them out in my own tiny kitchen sans dishwasher :)

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Maria @ The Fitted Apron January 19, 2011 at 6:40 pm

Dying to try Migas!

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meagan January 19, 2011 at 7:24 pm

Thanks for menu-planning my weekend! My husband thanks you too, since chicken parm is in his future.

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notyet100 January 20, 2011 at 12:52 am

for dinner i plan a ahead ,it gives me less stress,.

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Charlotte January 20, 2011 at 3:01 am

Caught red-handed! When I read this post I was eating plain yogurt and peanut FLOUR straight from the jar. I think that might’ve been my all-time low(/high?) thus far in 2011.

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Allie January 20, 2011 at 4:22 am

oh i love this post so much. i am not a good cook at all- i get overwhelmed and just give up, but you make these meals seems so approachable (and delicious)!!! thank you!!! i would love to see more posts like this. you have really inspired me to take some first steps in the kitchen to make some fantastic dishes.

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Grace January 20, 2011 at 5:01 pm

I made your chicken parm dish tonight…. FABULOUS!!!!!! It was soooo good. My husband is still talking about it. Thanks for the great recipes. I haven’t come across a single recipe of yours, that I didn’t like…. I don’t think I ever will either. :)

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Marie January 20, 2011 at 5:16 pm

Thank you Jenna! I made the linguine with shrimp and tomato cream sauce for dinner tonight, and boy my boyfriend and I loved it! I’m planning to make the migas for dinner tomorrow, yum. Seriously, great list!

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The Healthy Apple January 20, 2011 at 7:25 pm

O my goooodnessss; these look amazing. I am seriously starting to make them all this week. Fabulous, Jenna!

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Ffion @ Chocolate and Raspberries January 21, 2011 at 5:04 am

I’m always on the lookout for super quick recipes! I often finish work at eight, and I hate it when a recipe I’v planned is super long, cos then I don’t eat till nearly ten, which keeps me up way to late! I’m going to put that soup on my list for next week!

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