Fall is in the air, and I’m craving comfort foods for dinner! The only problem? I seem to lack the hours and hours needed to prepare fancy dinners for my family. I need dinners that come together fast! Sound familiar? Read on! Below are my five favorite working parent-friendly fall dinners. If you have any to add, feel free to post your favorite easy fall meal in the comments!
1) Pot Roast with Carrots and Potatoes
4-5 Pound Beef Chuck Roast
5 or 6 medium sized red potatoes
5 or 6 carrots
1 cup of water
1 onion (any kind!)
1 packet of Good Seasons Garlic & Herb (in the salad dressing aisle)
In the morning, heat a skillet until it’s hot. Drizzle it with olive oil. Sear the roast on all sides for about 30 seconds per side. I hold it up with two big forks, if you were wondering how *that* happens. Place the roast in the crock pot. Mix the seasoning packet with the water and pour it over the roast in the crock pot. Chop up the onion and sprinkle it over the roast. Cut the carrots and potatoes into chunks (about 1-2 inches each) and put them in the fridge for later. Turn the crock pot to “low”, and go to work/school/Gymboree/TJ Maxx/whatever it is you need to do for approximately 7-8 hours. When you return, add the carrots and potatoes. About 45 minutes later, it will all be ready for the table. If you don’t have a spare 30-45 minutes to wait for the veggies to cook (i.e., if you need dinner on the table as soon as you walk in), simply put the potatoes in with the roast in the morning, whole, and buy frozen veggies in a steamer bag to go along with it.
2) Beef Chili
Leftover beef from pot roast (see above), cubed into bite-sized pieces
Packet of chili seasoning
Can of kidney beans (16 oz)
Can of corn (16 oz)
Big can of diced tomatoes (28 oz)
A delicious carb (corn bread, corn chips, bread bowl…whatever you prefer)
Shredded cheddar cheese
Remember that 4-5 pound pot roast? Chances are high you have leftovers. You can use those leftovers to make chili in about 20 minutes! Take out a big stew pot. Add the can of tomatoes and packet of seasoning; stir well. Add the leftover pot roast, beans, and corn; stir. Simmer for 20 minutes at medium heat on the stovetop. Enjoy with your delicious carb of choice (see above) and a sprinkling of cheddar.
3) Stupid Simple Roast Chicken
*This recipe is not my own! I will summarize here, but the recipe can be found over on allrecipes.com.
4-5 pound whole chicken, without giblets (note: the recipe says to rinse, but I’ve read it’s less sanitary to rinse chicken as it can spread bacteria, so I ignore this step)
1 lemon, halved
Kosher salt (about 1.5 teaspoons, but adjust as desired)
1 tablespoon of rosemary (this is my own addition…feel free to leave it out if you don’t have rosemary!)
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Unwrap the chicken (key step…key), and awkwardly massage it with salt and rosemary. Cut the lemon in half, and stuff it inside the chicken. Place it in a roasting pan, or, if you don’t have one, just in an oven-safe dish…it will still be fine. Roast for about an hour, or until the pop-up timer comes out or when a meat thermometer reads 160 degrees when inserted into the meaty thigh area. Sides that go well include couscous, wild rice, salad, steamed veggies, and mashed potatoes…so use whatever you have time to prepare.
4) Chicken Pot Pie
*You can put this together the night before and bake it ahead of time, then just reheat after work
Leftover chicken (see above recipe, or buy a rotisserie chicken if you’d rather)
1/3 cup butter
1 small onion, finely chopped
1/3 cup flour
salt and pepper to taste
1 3/4 cups of chicken broth (I use low sodium)
1/2 cup milk
Bag of frozen mixed veggies (I use a mix of peas and carrots)
2 frozen pie crusts (take them out the day before you need them and let them defrost in the fridge)
My recipe is based on this recipe by Pillsbury, with some minor changes. Here’s my shorter version:
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. You are going to start by making a roux, which is a fancy way of saying you’ll be mixing butter and flour over heat to thicken your pot pie. Melt the butter in a medium sauce pan. Add the onion and cook about 2-3 minutes while stirring. Add the flour to the melted butter and onion, stirring until well-blended. Add the chicken broth, milk, salt, and pepper, and cook on medium-high until it thickens (a few minutes). Add the chicken and frozen veggies and remove from heat. Pour this mixture into the pie crust. Top with the second crust. Cut slits in the top to let the steam out, and seal the edges by smushing them together with a fork. Place the pot pie on a cookie sheet (to catch any drips!) and bake for 30 minutes or until the crust is lightly browned. This keeps really well in the fridge after it’s baked…you can just reheat by the slice and eat if you would rather cook it ahead of time.
5) Baked Potato Soup
This recipe is from The Crockin’ Girls, who have a ton of great crock pot recipes. I follow it exactly as printed on their website. It’s a fantastic super-easy potato soup that tastes amazing topped with chopped crisp bacon, cheddar cheese, broccoli florets, sour cream, chives…yum. To save time, I cut up the potatoes, onion, and garlic the night before and put them in the removable pot part of my crock pot. I keep that in the fridge, then in the morning, add the chicken broth and butter (I actually only use about 1/8 cup of butter, and it’s still fantastic).
So there you have it! My favorite fall comfort dinners, all in a pretty manageable form. I’d love more, if you have suggestions! Happy Fall!