The Foolproof Weeknight Meal Planning feature is a weekly series on Smells Like Home which maps out five fantastic family-friendly meal ideas for busy weeknights. You’ll usually find at least one meatless option and you’ll always find a delicious dessert…because we all need a little sweetness in our lives! [If you have requests for these menus or suggestions for how to improve this feature, post them in the comments!]
Sooo…this week’s menu was an insanely difficult one for me to assemble for you. I was already having enough trouble last week restraining myself from making #allthetexmexthings and thanks to seemingly hundreds (thousands?) of Tex-Mex food Pins I’ve seen in the past couple of weeks, this week’s menu proved just as difficult to not just go hog-wild. I broke down and gave you a bonus recipe for Cinco de Mayo because you can’t possibly let this day go by without my grilled corn guacamole. You can’t. And then I followed CdM up on Wednesday with my crutch meal using leftover grilled chicken. #sorrynotsorry The rest of the week is a little better balanced with a healthy one-pan farro dish on Monday, baked chicken parm pasta on Thursday, and a super fun breakfast pizza for brinner on Friday. For dessert, I’m pushing my lemon cupcakes with fresh raspberry curd filling on you this week – it’s a must-make cupcake this time of year! Have a fantastic weekend and Happy Cinco de Mayo (if not a little early)!
one-pan farro with tomatoes: If you’ve never eaten farro before, now is the perfect time to try this awesome grain! It’s little like rice but heartier and with a nutty flavor and it completely shines in this dish while soaking up the goodness from the other very basic ingredients. Quite possibly one of the easiest meals I’ve made in the past year (30 minutes start to finish and only one pan!), you cannot go wrong with this one in a pinch.
Tip: Farro is sold under different labels according to the amount of outer skin has been removed from the grain during processing. For a quick meal, look for semi-pearled or pearled farro (which is sometimes called Italian-pearled or perlato). The cooking time for either type should be around 15 to 20 minutes.
cinco de mayo tuesday!
grilled chicken fajitas: Hands down, this is one of my top five favorite meals of all time. A super quick soak in a garlic lime marinade is all the chicken needs to transform it into a stellar fajita filling and I promise you that you’ll look forward to grilling season every year just because of this recipe. We added a basic guacamole to our fajitas and that pushed them right over the edge and we haven’t looked back since.
Tips: Plan ahead and double up on the chicken you’re making tonight and save half for dinner on Wednesday – it’s a doozy! If you’re up to it, consider making your own flour tortillas on Sunday and keep them tightly wrapped in the fridge until you need them on Tuesday. Warm them wrapped in foil in a 250° F oven until warmed through. Or, if you actually find yourself with extra time, try your hand at making your own corn tortillas. About 30 minutes active time is fully worth the effort here.
grilled corn guacamole: If you’re going to do Cinco de Mayo, go big with it! This guac version highlights the smoky flavor of grilled corn and since you’ll already have the grill cranked up for those chicken fajitas, you may as well toss on a few ears of corn too! Mix the corn into a basic gauc recipe and if you’re really feeling fancy, stir some fresh cojita cheese into the mix as well – you cannot go wrong here. Trust me.
grilled chicken fajita burrito bowls: The party continues tonight with my take on Chipotle’s chicken burrito bowl. When I realized that a burrito bowl was “mysteriously” showing up on my desk once a week for lunch, I realized it was time to make them at home. Of course, the toppings are completely up to you but I loooove black beans, salsa verde, sour cream, shredded cheese, and loads of guacamole. Set underneath all of that goodness is my favorite cilantro lime rice (made with brown rice) but plain brown or white rice is fine here too. I’ve also swapped a taco seasoned lime quinoa in place of the rice and pretty much fell in love with that version too! You basically can’t go wrong here either.
Tip: Double-up on the amount of chicken you grill on Tuesday to use for leftovers tonight and make the rice on Sunday. If you like to make your own salsa, this can be made up to one week ahead.
chicken parm baked pasta: A deconstructed version of my very favorite childhood meal, this chicken parm baked pasta is quick to throw together and makes me do a happy dance each time we make it. Filled up with melted mozzarella, a quick homemade sauce, and breaded chicken, this one is sure to put smiles on your family’s faces.
Tips: Feel free to pick up a couple jars of marinara to use in place of the sauce in the recipe if you’re really pressed for time. Purdue sells great pre-cooked whole grain-breaded and antibiotic- and preservative-free chicken breasts that I’ve used (and loved!) in this recipe before and it’s a nice way to keep the guilt at bay while still putting a hearty meal on the kitchen table for your family tonight.
friday night brinner
bacon, egg, and cheese breakfast pizza: That Sunday morning we made pizza for breakfast was sort of fantastic. Who knew eggs cooked on top of pizza dough complete with toppings and cheese could turn out so amazing! We’ve made this recipe a number of times in the past couple of years and each time it turns out a little differently, based on whatever veggies and rogue blocks of cheese we have left in the fridge at the end of the week. Serve some hash browns or tator tots on the side to round out this fun Friday night brinner!
Tip: Feel free to pick up some fresh dough from the grocery store or your favorite pizza shop, make your own in advance, or pop open a can of refrigerate dough if by Friday night, your week has gotten the best of you.
don’t forget about dessert!
lemon cupcakes with fresh raspberry curd filling: These cupcakes may just be the perfect spring dessert and you guys have told me that you’ve made them for birthdays, brunches, bridal, and baby showers. While raspberries are in full-swing in mid-summer, they are synonymous with spring baking. Delicate and bold lemon cupcakes are filled with fresh raspberry curd and then topped with a delightful lemon buttercream frosting. They are some of my favorite cupcakes of all time and I crave them this time each year. Put aside a couple minutes to make and chill the curd in advance so it’s ready to quickly fill your cupcakes when you make them.
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