Comfort food in an uncomfortable world. That’s my solution, at least. Think: easy one-dish favorites and casseroles — classics as well as those with a twist — that will make you the most popular mom in the house. There are plenty of vegetarian options here, too.
Crispy Corn Flake Chicken
(10 min prep + 45 min cook)
With three little ones to keep busy while I’m busy, I’m always looking for simple, fail-proof recipes that can involve all hands on deck. Everybody enjoys snacking on Corn Flakes while prepping this dish. Plus, all kids love to CRUSH and SHAKE.
Preheat oven to 400°. In a large bowl, mix together 2 eggs & 2 tbsp water. Set aside. In a large Ziploc bag, add 4 cups Corn Flakes then crush. Sprinkle 4 boneless chicken breasts (halved) w/ salt then dip in the egg-water mix and put them in the bag. Shake to coat all sides of the chicken. Arrange chicken in a single layer on a baking sheet & bake for 45 min. Serve w/ steamed veggies.
Taco Turkey Stuffed Peppers
(15 min prep + 30 min cook)
I think I hit peak Mommy here ’cause the kids were genuinely excited to eat these.
Preheat oven to 375°. Cut tops off 5 bell peppers & remove seeds, saving a few pepper scraps for later. Arrange peppers in a baking dish. Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Add 1 onion (chopped), 3 cloves garlic (minced), 1.5 lbs ground turkey & 3 tbsp taco seasoning. Cook, breaking up meat w/ a spoon, until browned, 7 min. Add 1 can diced tomatoes & 1 cup cooked rice & stir to combine. Reduce heat & simmer 3 min. Spoon turkey into peppers, packing firmly. Sprinkle w/ shredded cheese & add olive eyes + pepper mouths. Bake until peppers can be pierced w/ a fork & cheese is melted. 30 min, if you’re pressed for time. 40 min if you want the cheese to be a golden brown.
Slow Cooker Chicken n’ Rice Soup
(8 min prep + Cook times vary)
This soup won’t take as long as your grandmother’s to prepare but goes a couple steps above opening a can of Campbell’s. Is there anything better than dropping a bunch of ingredients in to a slow cooker and walking away for the day, letting the thing do the work for you? It’s like someone else made dinner!
In a slow cooker, place: 1½ lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts, 1 yellow onion (chopped), 4 handfuls baby carrots, 4 stalks celery (sliced), 1 cup rice, 6 cups chicken broth, 1 tbsp minced garlic, 2 tbsp fresh dill, 1 tsp dried thyme, 1 tsp dried parsley, 1 tsp salt & 1 tsp pepper. Cook on LOW for 5-6 hrs or HIGH for 3-4 hrs. Adjust salt & pepper to taste. Shred chicken w/ two forks & serve.
Cauliflower Gnocchi Bake
(15 min prep + 15 min cook)
As you can probably tell, I’ll use anything as a vessel for melted cheese. In this case, no one suspected the gnocchi was made from cauliflower. Suckers.
Preheat oven to 450°. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil & add 1 bag frozen cauliflower gnocchi. Cook until tender, 2 min, then drain. Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Add 1 onion (chopped) & cook, stirring, 4 min. Add 3 cloves garlic (minced), 1 pinch each: red pepper, salt & dried oregano, stir 2 min. Add 5 handfuls chopped kale, stirring until wilted (2 min), 1 can crushed tomatoes (28 oz.) & 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar. Bring to a boil then remove from heat. Add gnocchi to tomato mix & stir in 2 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese. Top w/ 7 oz fresh mozzarella (chopped) & bake until bubbling, 15 min.
(10 min prep + 30 min cook)
Casseroles somehow fell out of style somewhere along the way and were replaced by “one-pot meals.” Whatever you want to call them, this is delicious and can easily be made vegetarian by omitting the meat and throwing in another can of beans.
Preheat oven to 375°. Cook 1 lb lean ground beef on stovetop. In a large bowl, combine 1 can beans (rinsed, drained), 1 tsp chili powder, 1 tsp cumin & 1 jar chunky salsa. Layer in an 8 x 8-inch casserole dish: ½ the bean mixture, meat, the other part of the bean mix, 1 cup broken tortillas chips, ½ cup shredded Mexican style cheese. Loosely cover w/ foil & bake for 25 min. Remove foil and bake 5 more min. Serve w/ sour cream.
Baked Chicken Tacos
(10 min prep + 15 min cook)
Tacos are going to be a hit no matter what, but I officially found my new favorite way to make this staple. Baking the tacos gives the dish a new crispy flair, which will almost make you feel like you’re at a restaurant. Feel free to improvise the fillings here—beans, sliced peppers, meats, etc.
Preheat the oven to 400°. Microwave 9 corn tortillas in batches of 3 for 30 sec so they’re pliable for folding. Add 6 oz cooked chicken breast (chopped) to one half of each tortilla. Top w/ shredded cheese before folding over. Gently press down to seal each taco. (Microwave tortillas for another 15 sec if you notice any tearing.) Place tacos on a baking sheet then add a second pan on top w/ a bit of weight to press down the tacos. I used a cast iron skillet. Bake for 12-15 min, until the tortillas are golden brown. Serve w/ cilantro, green onions, salsa, sour cream, avocado.
(10 min prep + 65 min cook)
My mom made this for dinner every year on the first day of school & I’ve carried the tradition on in our house. You don’t necessarily need a dedicated meatloaf pan, but, then again, you can find one on Amazon for about $13 and it really does make all the difference. Go ahead and treat yourself.
Preheat oven to 350°. In a medium-size bowl, mix together 2 pounds ground beef, 1 cup oats and 1 cup tomato juice. Put mix into a meatloaf pan (this is important bc meatloaf pans have holes that allow the fat to drain off), smooth the top w/ a knife, pour a thin layer of ketchup on top, sprinkle w/ parsley and bake for 60-70 min. Let the loaf sit about 10 min before removing from pan so it comes out easily. Serve w/ mashed potatoes and peas.
Tater Tot Casserole
(10 min prep + 45 min cook)
You could take this in so many directions depending on what ingredients you have on hand… Broccoli + cheddar, kale + gruyere. You really can’t go wrong here.
Preheat oven to 425°. Press 2 cups tater tots (from a 28 oz bag) into a greased 11-inch cast-iron skillet. In a large bowl, whisk together: 10 eggs, 3 tbsp milk & ¼ each salt & pepper. Whisk in 2 packs frozen spinach (thawed, squeezed dry) & 1½ cups shredded cheddar. Pour mixture over crust in skillet & top w/ remaining tots. Bake until browned & bubbly, 45 min. Let rest 10 min before serving.
Ground Turkey Sloppy Joes
(15 min prep + 10 min cook)
Every meal is sloppy in our house, if I’m really being honest. If your kids don’t go for this, trade ‘em in for new ones.
In a large skillet, heat 1 tbsp canola oil over medium-high heat. Add 1.5 lbs ground turkey & 1 garlic clove (chopped) then cook, breaking meat up w/ a spoon until browned, 5 min. Mix 1 can tomato sauce, ¼ cup brown sugar, ¼ cup barbecue sauce & 1 tbsp Worcestershire into turkey mixture; season w/ ½ tsp salt & ¼ tsp pepper. Reduce heat & simmer until thickened, 5 min. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk together: ⅓ cup sour cream, 1 tbsp red wine vinegar, ½ tsp salt & ¼ tsp pepper. Add 1 bag prepared coleslaw & toss to coat. Serve turkey mixture on hamburger buns w/ coleslaw & pickles.
Quicker Shepherd’s Pie
(20 min prep + 30 min cook)
It won’t win any beauty contests, but the kids devoured this. My 7-year-old was, however, quick to point out that there’s no actual pie involved.
Preheat oven to 400°. In a large sauté pan, brown 1 lb lean ground beef over medium high heat, breaking the meat up as it cooks. Season w/ ½ tsp salt & pepper. When cooked, set aside on a plate. Add 1 tsp olive oil, 1 onion (diced), 2 cloves garlic (diced), 8 oz mushrooms (sliced) & 4 celery stalks (diced) & sauté on medium heat for 6 min, until veggies are tender. Add 2 tbsp flour, 1 package of frozen mixed veggies, 1 cup beef broth, 2 tsp tomato paste, 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce, 1 tbsp thyme, cooked meat & mix well. Simmer on low about 10 min. Spread the meat on the bottom of a casserole dish. Top w/ mashed potatoes and sprinkle with paprika. Bake 25 min, then place under the broiler for about 2 min until the potatoes turn golden.
Coconut Chicken Soup
(20 min start to finish)
I love the way this Thai-inspired soup smells and tastes, and the kids ate it, too. Well, the little one wore it. But that’s what you get for giving a 2-year-old soup.
Heat a Dutch oven over medium-heat. Add 2 tsp canola oil & swirl to coat. Cook 1 lb boneless chicken breast (cut into bite-sized pieces) for 4-5 min, until cooked through. Add 1 package sliced mushrooms, 2 bell peppers (chopped), 4 tsp ginger & 4 garlic cloves (minced) then cook 3 min, stirring occasionally. Add 1 tbsp curry paste; cook 1 min. Add 3 cups chicken stock, 1 can coconut milk, 4 tsp fish sauce & 1 tsp sugar; bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low; simmer for 10 min. Top w/ green onions, cilantro & lime juice.
Black Bean-Stuffed Sweet Potatoes
(8 min prep + 50 min cook)
There’s nothing more comforting than a baked potato with a knob of butter. But sometimes you have to switch it up a bit. Everybody in our family loves sweet potatoes so it wasn’t a hard sell to build an entire meal around them.
Preheat oven to 425° & poke 4 sweet potatoes w/ a fork several times. Place on baking sheet & cook for 50 min. In a medium-size bowl, mix together: 1 can black beans (rinsed, drained), 1 can corn (rinsed, drained), 5 green onions (chopped) & ½ cup cilantro (chopped). In a smaller bowl, mix: juice from 2 limes, 1 tbsp oil, 2 tsp honey, ½ tsp salt & pepper. Pour over black bean mixture & toss to combine. Slice open sweet potatoes & use a spoon to scoop out some of the insides. Stuff potatoes with the black bean mix. Serve w/ sour cream.
One-Pot Chicken & Rice
(10 min prep + 30 min cook)
I realize this meal isn’t Instagram-worthy. In fact, it looks like the mush from Goodnight Moon. But gooey carbs = comfort.
Melt 2 tbsp unsalted butter in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add 1½ cups uncooked white rice, 1 clove garlic (minced) & cook 1 min. Add 2 cups chicken broth, 1¾ cups milk and season w/ salt & pepper. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Add 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast (cut into bite-sized pieces), stir to combine and bring back to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover & simmer until liquid is absorbed & rice is tender, 15 min. Remove from heat. Stir in 1 cup frozen peas and 1 cup shredded cheddar. Sprinkle w/ more cheese & set under the broiler to brown the top.
Gnocchi and Chicken Soup
(10 min prep + 20 min cook)
Rich, creamy and ridiculously easy, you’ll want to open the hatch and pour this right in. Sub 2 tbsp corn starch for flour if you have a gluten-free crowd.
Heat 1 tbsp butter & 1 tbsp oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add in ½ an onion (diced), 4 stalks celery (chopped), 4 carrots (chopped) & 3 garlic cloves (minced). Sauté until tender. Add ½ salt & ⅓ tsp pepper. Mix in ¼ cup all purpose flour & cook for 1 min. Pour in 4 cups chicken broth & 2 cups heavy cream, stirring until it starts to thicken. Add 1 tbsp fresh thyme, 5 handfuls fresh spinach, 3 diced cooked chicken breasts & 1 package potato gnocchi. Simmer for 5 min or until gnocchi is cooked & soup is thickened. Add more salt & pepper to taste. Mix in ¼ cup parsley (chopped) & serve.
White Bean Stew
(11 min prep + 17 min cook)
Serve this hearty dish with a good hunk of bread on a snowy day with whatever pantry items you want to throw into the mix.
Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a large pot over medium-high until shimmering. Add 8 oz of brown mushrooms (sliced) and stir for 1-2 min then add 1 more tbsp of oil and 1 yellow onion (diced). Sauté until lightly browned, about 3 min. Add 3 cloves of garlic (minced) and 1 small jar of oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes (drained) and cook another 2 min. Add 2 cans of diced tomatoes, 2 cans of cannellini beans (drained, rinsed), 1 jar/can of quartered artichoke hearts (drained), some salt & pepper, 1 tsp dried oregano and 1 tsp dried thyme. Cover the pan, turn the heat down to medium, and cook for 10 min. Garnish stew with parsley & serve.
Crustless Broccoli Quiche
(10 min prep + 40 min cook)
I’ve actually brought this to a book club meeting before—casual yet elegant! Serve with roasted potatoes, fruit or even Greek yogurt. Go wild.
Preheat oven to 350°. Grease a pie dish. Steam 2 cups chopped broccoli florets in microwave until tender, 3 min. Evenly spread broccoli in dish & top w/ 1 cup grated cheddar cheese. In a medium bowl, whisk together: ⅔ cup milk, ¼ cup half & half, 6 eggs & pinch of nutmeg. Pour mix into dish, season w/ salt & pepper then bake 40 min, until center is set. Serve w/ buttered toast & fruit.
Vegetable Baked Ziti
(18 min prep + 30 min cook)
You could easily make two of these and throw one in the freezer. It’s like your present self making a gift for your future self. Or bring one of these cheesy bundles of goodness to your neighbor. Highly recommended.
Preheat oven to 350°. Boil large pot of water for 1 box of penne pasta. Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add 1 onion (thinly sliced) & cook until softened, about 4 min. Add 1 large zucchini (diced) & 1 bag of sliced mushrooms then cook until softened, about 7 min. Remove from heat. Combine pasta with veggies in a large baking dish & mix with 1 jar of marinara sauce, 1 15 oz container of ricotta cheese, some salt & pepper, 1 tbsp of oregano. Stir until well combined. Top w/ 1 cup of mozzarella cheese. Bake for 30 min. Sprinkle w/ parsley before serving.
Chickpea Coconut Curry
(5 min prep + 20 min cook)
The kids were hooked on this dish and had fun seeing who could find the most chickpeas in their bowls. How’s that for some healthy competition?
In a large pot, heat 1 tbsp olive oil over medium heat. Add 1 red onion (thinly sliced) & 1 red bell pepper (thinly sliced) then sauté until nearly tender, 4 min. Add 1 tbsp ginger (minced) & 3 garlic cloves (minced) then sauté until fragrant, about 1 min. Add 1 head cauliflower (cut into florets) & toss well to combine. Stir in 2 tsp chile powder, 1 tsp ground coriander & 3 tbsp red curry paste then cook until the mix darkens, 1 min. Stir in 1 can coconut milk & bring to a simmer over medium-low heat. Cover pot & continue to simmer until the cauliflower is tender, 8 min. Remove the lid & squeeze juice from 1 lime into curry, stirring well to combine. Add 1 can cooked chickpeas & 1½ cups frozen peas. Season w/ salt & pepper, then bring mixture back to a simmer. Garnish w/ cilantro & serve w/ rice.
Sheet Pan Shrimp Fajitas
(10 min prep + 13 min cook)
Quick and easy shrimp fajitas in one pan? Yes, please. It’s nearly impossible to mess up this recipe and there’s no grill required.
Preheat oven to 450°. Place 1½ pounds raw shrimp (peeled, deveined) in a large bowl & pour in 1 package fajita seasoning & 1 tbsp olive oil then toss to coat. Lay shrimp in a single layer on a baking sheet. Add 1 red bell pepper (sliced into strips), 1 yellow bell pepper (sliced), 1 green pepper (sliced), 1 red onion (sliced); mix with shrimp & spread out evenly. Roast until shrimp are opaque, 10 min then switch oven to broil until pepper/shrimp mixture is lightly blackened, about 3 min. Serve w/ avocado, cilantro, tortillas, sour cream, salsa, etc.
Macaroni Beef Bake
(15 min prep + 30 min cook)
Honestly, there’s no need to dress up macaroni for my kids, but this recipe is a delicious way to secure ample leftovers. Plus, the beef adds some heft for the parents.
Preheat oven to 350°. Cook 1 box macaroni until al dente then transfer to a large baking dish. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat 3 tbsp olive oil. Add 1 onion (chopped) & 1 bell pepper (chopped) & cook over high heat, stirring, until softened, about 5 min. Add 2 lbs ground beef & 2 tsp cumin & cook, stirring occasionally, until meat is browned & any liquid has evaporated, about 8 min. Stir in 1 can crushed tomatoes & simmer until thickened, about 3 min. Stir meat/tomato mixture into macaroni. Sprinkle dish w/ 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese & ¼ cup chopped parsley. Bake for about 30 min, until cheese is melted. Let stand for 5 min before serving.
(10 min prep + 15 min cook)
A fun take on traditional nachos, these will surely be a crowd pleaser. You could even give yourself a break & just put the whole tray in the middle of the table for feeding time.
Preheat oven to 400°. Split 4 pitas in half horizontally then cut into wedges & place in an even layer on a tinfoil-lined sheet pan. Spray w/ olive oil & bake 8 min, until browned. (Or take a shortcut & buy a bag of pita chips.) In a large bowl, add: 4 cups shredded romaine lettuce, 1 cup grape tomatoes (halved), 1 cucumber (chopped) & 1 jar pitted kalamata olives (w/ juice); toss to coat. Top pita slices w/ 8 oz boneless rotisserie chicken breast (shredded), 1 cup shredded mozzarella & ½ cup crumbled feta. Bake for 5 min, until cheese melts. Top w/ lettuce mixture & 2 tbsp chopped oregano.
(5 min prep + 20 min cook)
My Mom made tuna melts for us a lot growing up so these are very sentimental for me. In fact, I once cried when I bit into one because I missed her so much. It’s a super-normal thing to do while eating a tuna melt!
Preheat oven to 400°. In a small bowl, combine 2 cans tuna, 3 green onions (sliced) (or celery if you have it), ⅓ cup mayo, 1 tsp Dijon, 1 tsp lemon, some salt & pepper & mix. Place 6 English muffin halves on a baking sheet & broil 3 min until they start to brown. Remove from oven. Divide tuna mixture over English muffins.Top w/ tomato slices & cheddar cheese. Bake 10-15 min, until cheese is melted. Broil 1 min.
(10 min prep + 20 min cook)
These are a staple for a reason. Even the pickiest eater accepts a cheesy enchilada.
Preheat oven to 400°. In a large bowl, combine 1 can corn (rinsed/drained), 1 cup shredded cheese, ½ tsp salt & ¼ tsp pepper, 1 can black beans (rinsed/drained). Spoon the mixture into large tortillas & roll. Place tortillas seam-side down into a baking dish. Top w/ 1 bottle enchilada sauce & ½ cup shredded cheese. Bake 15-20 min, until cheese is bubbling. Sprinkle w/ cilantro & serve.
(20 min start to finish)
Lentil tacos… who knew?! Buckle up because your crew is going to love this vegan dish. As usual, feel free to fix these up however you please, with shredded lettuce, sliced jalapeños, guacamole, etc.
In a large frying pan over medium-high heat, add 1 tbsp olive oil & 1 onion (diced). Stir 4 min until onion is translucent. Add 2 garlic cloves (minced) & 1 tbsp taco seasoning & cook 1 min, stirring frequently. Add 2 cups cooked lentils & stir to combine. Add ¼ cup vegetable broth & gently mash, using a potato masher or fork, until lentils start to look like ground meat. Cook another few min until hot. If the lentils start to dry out, add another tbsp vegetable broth (can also use salsa here). Place a heaping spoonful or two into each taco shell & add your fillings.
French Bread Pizza
(5 min prep + 15 min cook)
Fail-proof. Tailor the toppings to whatever your family likes, and watch the smiles light up as you take these puppies out of the oven.
Preheat oven to 375°. Slice 1 large French baguette lengthwise in thirds. Place bread on a sheet pan. Top evenly w/ 1½ cups marinara sauce, 1½ cups shredded mozzarella cheese & toppings: diced bell pepper, diced onion, sliced mushrooms, sliced olives, diced pineapple, jalapeño, artichoke hearts, pepperoni, etc. Bake 15-20 min, until cheese has melted & bread is crispy along edges. Let pizzas cool 5 min then cut each in half & serve w/ a big green salad.