Six Quick and Easy Dinner Menus | Midwest Living

Six Quick and Easy Dinner Menus

Our six dinner menus—including a shrimp and pasta dinner, rigatoni dinner and simple steak dinner—offer quick and easy recipes for both main dishes and desserts.
  • #1: Shrimp and pasta dinner

    This quick dinner features Shrimp Fusilli with Sweet-Pea Pesto, garlic bread and a simple dessert. Frozen seafood is the rushed cook's friend—here, peeled and deveined shrimp let you skip the prep work. Peas, garlic, mint, butter and vinegar form the pesto. For dessert, a build-it-yourself ice cream sundae bar can be elegant or simple, depending on your topping choices. 

    Shrimp Fusilli with Sweet-Pea Pesto recipe

  • #2: Fish taco dinner

    Another fast meal from the International Culinary Arts and Sciences Institute: Tilapia Tacos with Chipotle Cream, Spanish rice, Mexican hot chocolate and purchased sugar cookies. Break spiced white tilapia into pieces for tacos and top with a creamy chipotle sauce. ICASI Student Services Director Ruthann Kostadinov says: "Sometimes, I feel like the queen of fast food. I've learned that if it takes more than 30 to 45 minutes, my husband will suggest takeout."

    Frozen tilapia is easy to work with; it's already skinned and boned. Rub with seasonings, and it's ready for the skillet. Rice mix from a box is an easy side dish. Another option: Pick up some side dishes at your supermarket's deli and get cookies from the bakery department.

    See Tilapia Tacos with Chipotle Cream recipe

  • #3: Off-The-Shelf Chili Meal

    This quick and easy meal includes Chicken Salsa Chili with assorted toppers and Mocha Chocolate Mousse. While the chili bubbles away, mix together the simple mousse (next slide). Chill it until you're ready for dessert.

    Chicken Salsa Chili recipe

  • Mousse in minutes

    This delicious mousse is a snap to mix together. You can layer it over fresh fruit and top with your choice of miniature chocolate pieces, chocolate sprinkles or chocolate-covered espresso beans.

    See Mocha Chocolate Mousse recipe

  • #4: Salmon Dinner

    The Chopping Block cooking school in Chicago suggested this menu: Oven-Roasted Salmon, fresh fruit and Chocolate Panini. Just four ingredients go into the salmon main dish. Pepper and a salt blend season the ready-to-cook salmon fillets. Use packaged broccoli slaw or cabbage slaw from the market's produce section and fruit from the salad bar for an easy, yet nutritious, meal. Serve with a melty chocolate dessert panini (next slide).

    See Oven-Roasted Salmon recipe

  • Chocolate Panini

    Warm and gooey Chocolate Panini

    Assemble the panini dessert while the salmon roasts. Just before serving, toast the sweet sandwich until the chocolate filling is warm and gooey.

    See Chocolate Panini recipe

  • #5: Rigatoni Dinner

    This menu, also from the Chopping Block in Chicago, features One-Dish Rigatoni, Italian bread and Pear Caramel with Ice Cream. Split up the prep time for this pasta meal by making the 30-minute main dish first; then heat the dessert (next slide) before serving.

    See One-Dish Rigatoni recipe

  • Pear Caramel with Ice Cream

    Scoop the ice cream and freeze while the pears cook in their sugary syrup. If you're interested in the cooking school that created this recipe, the Chopping Block has Chicago locations at Lincoln Square (773/472-6700) and the Merchandise Mart (312/644-6360). For information:

    Pear Caramel with Ice Cream recipe

  • #6: Simple Steak Dinner

    The meat lovers in your family will especially appreciate this meal: Cracked-Pepper Steak with Yogurt-Lime Sauce, Lemon Couscous, cooked vegetables and dessert coffee. A sprinkling of pepper adds a boost to already flavor-packed flank steak. A cool yogurt topper tames the peppery heat. St. Louis Kitchen Conservatory cooking school Owner Anne Schlafly Cori suggests a dessert coffee with her menu. For cooking school information: 314/862-2665;

    See Cracked-Pepper Steak with Yogurt-Lime Sauce recipe

    See Lemon Couscous recipe

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