I love spending time in the kitchen and I hope to help you find the love too!

- Erin

Culinary Collaboration 7: Easy Week Night Dinners

Culinary Collaboration 7: Easy Week Night Dinners

With school back in session, Culinary Collaboration #7 is all about time. Anyone with a long commute and/or kid activities knows it can be difficult to find time to make dinner every night and fit in cleaning, workouts, and a little time to unwind. I’ve put together a Culinary Collaboration to help get dinner on the table without a lot of effort.

Here are five meals that take 40 minutes or less. If you follow the prep in advance suggestions, these meals will be faster to pull together during the week. As always, the meals are broken down with a grocery list, prep in advance suggestions and notes on order of the meals. I’ve gone ahead and listed steps for each meal in this one so you don’t have to flip over to the recipe. This should save time and allow for printing if you like a hard copy.

As always, feedback is appreciated! Let me know if you enjoy this or if you have a suggested change to the format.

Easy Week Night Dinners

CC7 Meals:

  1. Spicy Chicken Bacon Wrap – simple meal that would work for dinner or a lunch. Pair with homemade fries if you have extra time (will take longer than 30 minutes).

  2. Cavatini – great for leftovers if you double below

  3. Orange Chicken – great for leftovers if you decide to double recipe.

  4. Blueberry Salad with Shredded Chicken – light but filling meal

  5. Mediterranean salmon quinoa bowl - impressive meal but incredibly easy

Grocery list and recipes are written below for 2 servings. Double as needed for larger families or for leftovers.

 Grocery List


  • 1 small container 5oz Arugula

  • 1 small container 5oz Spring mix

  • 1 large orange

  • 1 bell pepper (any color)

  • 1 medium head broccoli

  • 1-2 red chili pepper (increase to 2 peppers for extra spicy)

  • 2 lemons

  • 1 med sweet potato

  • 1 small container fresh blueberries

  • Broccoli slaw bag (6oz)

  • 1 carton cherry tomatoes

  • 1 avocados, sliced

  • 2 oz baby bella mushrooms

  • 2 sweet peppers

  • Spinach (small fresh for 1/4 cup)


  • Chipotle Peppers in Adobo sauce can

  • 1 can chickpeas

  • 1 can petite diced tomatoes


  • 4, 8-inch tortillas or 2, 12-inch tortillas (or wrap of choice)

  • Red lentil pasta (4.5 oz needed)


  • Goat Cheese (2 TBS)

  • 1 small mozzarella ball

  • 1 small bag shredded cheddar or block of cheddar to shred


  • Bacon (3 pieces)

  • 2 Salmon filets (6-10oz total)

  • Andouille chicken sausage (1 link)

  • 1/2 pound ground meat (beef, bison, venison)

  • 8 chicken thighs or 3 thighs, 1 large breast, 1 medium breast

Pantry Items

  • Jasmine Rice (3/4 cup total for 2 recipes)

  • Quinoa (½ cup for 1 recipe)

  • Olive Oil (2 TBS + ½ tsp)

  • Red wine vinegar (1.5 TBS)

  • Coconut milk (1 TBS)

  • Honey (1/2 tsp)

  • Poppy Seeds (1/2 tsp)

  • Sliced almonds (1/4 cup)

  • Corn Starch (1/2 tsp or arrowroot)

  • Soy Sauce (1 TBS or alternative)

  • Ground ginger (1/4 tsp)

  • Sesame oil (1/4 in sauce, 1/4 for cooking)

  • Greek Yogurt (1/3 cup)

  • Dill weed dried (1/4 tsp)

  • Garlic powder (1/8 tsp)

  • Minced Garlic (3 ½ tsp)

  • Italian Seasoning (2 tsp)

  • Kosher Salt (1/4 tsp)

  • Table Salt (all recipes)

  • Pepper (all recipes)

  • Red Pepper flakes (1/2 tsp-3/4 tsp)

  • Water (1.5 tsp)

Prep Options

  • Cook ¾ cup Jasmine rice for wrap and orange chicken recipes

  • Cook and crumble 3 pieces of Bacon for wrap

  • Boil 1 med chicken breast or 2 thighs for chicken wrap

  • Trim fat from 3 chicken thighs and marinate in the orange chicken sauce

  • Rice 1 med head of broccoli in a food processor for orange chicken recipe

  • Cook 1 chicken breast or 3 chicken thighs with lemon zest, salt and pepper for blueberry salad

  • Cook ½ cup quinoa for salmon bowl

  • Prep the entire Cavatini or Chop 2oz mushrooms, 2 sweet peppers, and ¼ cup spinach

Order / Notes

  • If you are doubling Orange Chicken and Cavatini for leftovers, make those towards the beginning of the week.

  • Plan the Wrap and salad for the two busiest nights as those are the fastest recipes

  • Recommend splitting up the chicken recipes with the salmon and cavatina in between so you don’t have chicken 3 nights in a row


Spicy Chicken Bacon Wrap

  1. Cook ¼ cup jasmine rice (Prep in advance for time savings)

  2. Make the homemade ranch by mixing 1/3 cup greek yogurt, ¼ tsp dill, 1/8 tsp garlic powder, ¼ tsp kosher salt, ½ tsp olive oil, and 1.5 tsp water. Place in fridge until ready to eat.

  3. Chop up cooked chicken into bite sized pieces or shredded to get 1 cup packed (1 medium chicken breast or 2 thighs)

  4. Combine chicken and 1 TBS Adobo sauce to a bowl

  5. Dice 1-2 chipotle peppers (based on your spice level) and mix in with the chicken

  6. Cook and crumble 3 pieces of cooked bacon (Prep in advance for time savings)

  7. Warm rice in skillet or microwave – if you prepped in advance

  8. Warm chicken in skillet (you can do this in the microwave but it tends to dry out chicken so if microwave is your only option, add an extra 1/2 TBS Adobo sauce to mixture)

  9. Assemble wraps by splitting the rice, arugula, bacon, and chicken between tortillas. Roll like a burrito or just straight across without folding in the ends.

  10. Preference: either drizzle the homemade ranch in before rolling or dip as you eat.


Entire recipe can be made in advance and then cooked the day of.

  1. Bring water to a boil in a 2 quart oven safe pot. Cook lentil pasta according to package (cooking to the lowest time directed). (You can also cook this in a standard sauce pot if you plan to transfer pasta to a larger dish for baking)

  2. While pasta cooks, brown ½ pound ground meat, drain fat, and set aside (it will cook again in the oven so some pink is ok)

  3. Preheat oven to 350

  4. Slice 1 link of chicken sausage and brown over high heat (these should already be fully cooked so this is an optional step)

  5. Chop 2oz mushrooms, 2 sweet peppers, and ¼ cup spinach. (Prep in advance for time savings)

  6. Drain pasta

  7. Mix the 1/2 can petite diced tomatoes, ground meat, half of the crispy chicken sausage, 2 tsp Italian seasoning, 2 tsp minced garlic,1/4 tsp salt, ¼ tsp pepper, ¼ tsp red pepper flakes, mushrooms, peppers, ¼ cup shredded cheddar and spinach into the pasta dish (or baking dish).

  8. After mixing all ingredients, smooth the top and then add the remaining chicken sausage in a single layer on top.

  9. Top with 4 mozzarella slices, divided to cover and 8 sliced cherry tomatoes

  10. Cook for 15 minutes

  11. Turn up heat to 375 and cook an additional 5 minutes or until the mozzarella is browning and bubbly.


Orange Chicken

  1. Bring 1 cup of water to a boil and add 1/2 cup jasmine rice. Turn down to low and cook 15 minutes or until water is absorbed and rice is soft. (Prep in advance for time savings)

  2. Mix 2.5 TBS fresh orange juice, 1 orange zest, 1 tsp minced garlic, 1 TBS soy sauce (or soy alternative), ¼ tsp ground ginger, ¼ tsp red pepper flakes(double if you like it spicy), and 1/4 tsp sesame oil. (Prep in advance for time savings)

  3. Trim any excess fat from the 3 chicken thighs and cut into bite size pieces. Place in a container with 1/2 of the sauce. (Prep in advance for time savings)

  4. Stir to coat chicken and refrigerate until ready to cook

  5. Rice 1 med head of broccoli in a food processor. (Prep in advance for time savings)

  6. Chop ½ bell pepper and the 1 red chili pepper into chucks.

  7. Heat 1/4 tsp sesame oil in a sauté pan over medium and add the chicken and peppers.

  8. Cook chicken and peppers for 10 minutes

  9. Stir ½ tsp cornstarch or arrowroot into the remaining sauce and pour over the chicken and peppers.

  10. Turn down to low simmer and cook until chicken is done and sauce begins to thicken. (5-10 minutes)

  11. Mix broccoli rice with the hot jasmine rice while chicken is finishing

  12. Serve chicken over broccoli and rice mixture.


Blueberry Salad with Shredded Chicken

  1. Season 1 large chicken breast or 3 chicken thighs with ¼ tsp salt, ¼ tsp pepper, ¼ tsp garlic powder and ¼ tsp lemon zest. Cook on stovetop. Slice in advance or after cooking. (Prep in advance for time savings)

  2. Whisk ¼ tsp lemon peel zest, 2 TBS lemon juice, 1 TBS olive oil, 1 TBS coconut milk, ½ tsp honey, and ½ tsp poppy seeds together

  3. Divide spring mix and arugula (not used with chicken wrap) between two bowls

  4. Top with ¼ cup sliced almonds and ½ cup fresh blueberries

  5. Divide 1 ½ cups sliced chicken between the salads

  6. Drizzle with dressing and sprinkle 1 TBS goat cheese over each salad


Mediterranean salmon quinoa bowl

  1. In a sauce pot, cover 1 med sweet potato (whole with skin) with water and boil for 10 minutes

  2. In another pot, cook ½ cup quinoa in ¾ cup broth or water. Bring to a boil and reduce to a slow simmer for 15 minutes. Set aside. (Prep in advance for time savings)

  3. While potato and quinoa cook, drain 1/2 can chickpeas and rinse, chop 1/2 bell pepper, and slice 10 cherry tomatoes.

  4. Preheat oven to 410

  5. Drain the water from the sweet potato and without burning yourself, quarter the sweet potato so it is in 4 large strips (like fries)

  6. Add potato, chickpeas and bell pepper on a pan with a nonstick mat.

  7. Drizzle beans and pepper with ½ TBS olive oil and 1 tsp Italian seasoning

  8. Bake all for 10 minutes. Remove chickpeas and pepper and continue to let potato cook for another 5 minutes until tender and starting to brown on the edges

  9. While potato and chickpeas cook, take out salmon and pat dry

  10. Optional: Remove skin

  11. Season fish with salt and pepper

  12. Mix 1.5 TBS red wine vinegar, ½ TBS Olive Oil, ½ tsp minced garlic, and 1tsp lemon juice together

  13. Slice avocado

  14. In a skillet, large enough to accommodate the salmon (or split into two sessions), heat ½ TBS olive oil over medium heat

  15. Add salmon, skinned side up, and cook until the color of the fish has changed half way up the side (~ 4-6 minutes depending on thickness). Do not rotate or check the fish.

  16. Flip the Salmon and cook an additional 2 minutes

  17. In large bowl, mix quinoa, ½ bag broccoli slaw, chickpeas, bell pepper, and tomatoes. Mix in the dressing and toss.

  18. Divide the quinoa mixture onto two plates or bowls. Alternatively, you could serve family style on a platter.

  19. Add the tomatoes, sweet potato, and avocado slices

Culinary Collaboration 6: Ground Meat

Culinary Collaboration 6: Ground Meat