Simplicity on Monday: Four Quick Meals for Back-to-School Nights

We’re back in school.  My son started first grade today.  That means I need to plan simple meals throughout the week.  By simple, I mean few ingredients, little prep time, and a cooking time under 20 minutes.

Here are four meals that have passed the Hines Simplicity Test and are ready for our menu rotation.

Sloppy Joe Loaves

¾ pound ground beef or turkey                               2 tablespoons brown sugar
¼ cup of chopped onion                                          2 tablespoons white vinegar
1 (14 ½ ounce) diced tomatoes                                Italian bread loaf or bread loaves already sliced
1 teaspoon of garlic                                                 1 ½ cups of cheddar cheese

Cook beef, onion, and garlic in a skillet over medium heat.  When no longer pink, drain. Add tomatoes, brown sugar, and vinegar to skillet with meat, stirring constantly, 3 minutes.

Place sliced loaves on ungreased baking sheet. Bake at 425 degrees for 5 minutes until toasted. Spread bread loaves with meat mixture, and top with cheese. Bake at 425 degrees for 12 minutes or until cheese melts. This mixture could also work on buns. This recipe was adapted from a Southern Living Cookbook, published in 2003. The original recipe calls for using an entire loaf bread, not slices.

Pita Pizza Pockets

1 cup of pizza sauce                                        1 ½ cups of shredded mozzarella cheese
4 (6 or 7-inch pita rounds, cut in half)               2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
Sliced pepperoni

Pita Pizza Pockets
Spread 2 tablespoons pizza sauce inside each pita half.  My pita halves were smaller so I used less sauce. Arrange pepperoni slices inside each half.  Sprinkle cheeses evenly in pockets. Place pizza pockets on a baking sheet and bake at 400 degrees for 8 to 10 minutes. This recipe is also from the same Southern Living Cookbook that I've owned since 2003.

Pasta with Broccoli and Tofu

This is a family staple in my house. I’ve featured it before on my blog, but I now have a better photo.

Broccoli florets                                                  6 tablespoons of Olive Oil
One package of Extra Firm Tofu                        1 cup of grated Parmesan Cheese
16 ounces of Bow-Tie Pasta

Pasta with Broccoli and Tofu
Dice Tofu, and cook until brown in 2 tablespoons of olive oil.  Cook bow-tie pasta according to directions.  To save time, toss broccoli florets in your boiling pasta water for the last six or seven minutes of boiling.  Drain pasta and broccoli.  Once your tofu is browned, add it to the pasta and broccoli in a large bowl.  Begin to toss the pasta mixture with the remaining four tablespoons of olive oil and parmesan cheese.  Serve in bowls. This recipe was created by me. 

Pasta with Zucchini, Tomatoes, Bacon, and Feta

This recipe for Pasta with Zucchini, Tomatoes, Bacon and Feta can be found in Real Simple Magazine, and it’s now online.  It is from the August magazine, and it’s great.  I could not find a short pasta when I was at Trader Joes so I used rotini and  turkey bacon. I loved it and will make it again.

Pasta with Zucchini, Tomatoes, Bacon, and Feta

I would give you a fifth meal, but I give you permission to close the kitchen and eat out.

Bon appetite, and I hope everyone has a great school year.

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