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When I first became a mom, I used to get those recipe chain emails. You know, the ones that instruct you to to send out the recipe in your head right now. And in return, you receive lots of easy recipes to try out on your family.

So I would send out the only recipe in my head which was called the delete button. I lived in New York City, I had a million take out menus and no need for such suburban rituals. (Although I did make a mental note to investigate that “cookie swap” thing I had heard about because that seemed deliciously intriguing.)

Because of my years of deleting chain emails, I’ve obviously been punished by the culinary food gods because now at night, I try to think of what to feed my kids and it’s like my memory has been completely erased and I can’t think of one thing I’ve ever fed them.

This wouldn’t be a major problem except the little nuggets (the people, not the food) constantly need feeding. You clean up one meal and it’s time for the next. It’s simply exhausting.

And as every parent knows, it’s actually possible to go to the grocery store, spend a hundred dollars and still have nothing for dinner. Unless you feed your kids goldfish, Capri Sun drinks and buffalo chicken dip. Which I’m now thinking might be a good option for tonight’s meal.

I’m always on the lookout for dinner ideas so when Rick and I sat down to watch TV over vacation and saw an advertisement for a cookbook called “Dump Dinners” – I was paying attention. There was a minor red flag like using the word “dump” to describe anything you plan to eat.

I don’t want to gross you out in case you happen to be eating a five star gourmet dinner while reading this blog, but these dinners don’t look good.

Please know I’m not a food snob. I’m not against dumping a bunch of ingredients in one bowl.  I am the one after all who had a girlfriend bring a spice packet to our Miami girls weekend so I can make Italian chicken in my slow cooker. But I do think we need to hold on to a shred of food dignity.

Conveniently, there is another companion cookbook called “Dump Cakes” which doesn’t seem like a fantastic option either.

If you don’t believe me, just watch…

Honestly, I would eat the chocolate one. But the rest – reminds me of my only bad meal at Magic Kingdom – a “taco salad” I can’t talk about without getting shivers.

With the dump dinners and cakes off the table, I am in trouble. So maybe you can sort of, kind of forget that I deleted those chain emails a few years ago and tell me your favorite recipe. You know the one in your head right now. I promise not to delete.

40 Responses to no dump dinners, no dump cakes. just dinner please.

  • masha says:

    I just marinated some Italian chicken for tomorrows dinner. Just marinate some chicken tenderloins in Italian salad dressing overnight in a bread pan or some pan with tall sides. Then before dinner cook them in the same pan for about 40 minutes. You can wrap then up in some tortillas with lettuce and to mates!

  • Nancy says:

    BBQ pulled pork – 2 lbs of pork tenderloin, 1 cup of chix stock, 1- 16 oz jar of bone suckin’ BBQ sauce in the slow cooker for 6 hours. Seed and serve on mini sliders with coleslaw or plain. A crowd pleaser and so easy!

  • Roasted Chicken (I make this for my crew once/week)

    1 6-lb. roaster chicken (at 20min/lb = 2hours)
    **remove innards from chicken asap – it would be a huge bummer to find these still present upon serving!!**
    season chicken with salt & pepper and rub some olive oil over the whole thing. Cut a few slits in the chicken (if you don’t care where, neither will it) and insert whole garlic cloves (I do about 6: 2 by breasts, 2 by drums, 2 on other side).
    Put in a deep casserole pan and cook at 400F for about 2 hours, basting with its juices (not necessary, but will make the skin brown and crackly) maybe once or twice after the first hour.
    [Adjust time 20min/lb for a larger bird]

  • Kim R says:

    1.google life as a lofthouse lemon chicken. My kids love this and it’s crock pot friendly.
    2. Pinterest. 🙂

  • Jordana says:

    Cook elbow macaroni (or any pasta) dump in Pyrex dish mix with sauce and cheese. Sprinkle cheese on top and cook about 30 min. You can add browned meat too (cook when you make pasta then dump all together). Did you like the cornflake chicken?

  • Alex says:

    My go to recipe is usually 1. Call Bruce 2. Have him pick up ingredients 3. Have him cook dinner. But I have a couple easy ones memorized for emergency evenings. Get the chicken breasts that have been sliced into small/thin cutlets. Dredge them in an egg wash, then in a seasoned flour mixture. Then fry. Voila: chicken fingers. Another easy one is to take ground turkey, mix with 1 egg, 2 tbsp ketchup, 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce, 1/4 cup grated Parmesan and bread crumbs. Roll into 1-inch balls and fry. Delicious turkey meatballs. When all else fails, just throw a plain cheese pizza in the oven and let the kids doctor it up with their own toppings.

  • beachgirl says:

    I got nothing! I sped $250 at the supermarket on saturday and ended up ordering take out for dinner because I didn’t have the makings of entire dinner…I had stuff but nothing to complete a meal…sigh….good luck and look forward to your “quick, healthy meals in under 30 mins” post soon!

  • Suzanne says:

    Slow Cooker Chicken Taco

    1 onion, chopped
    2 16oz. can black beans, drained
    1 8oz. can tomato sauce
    10oz. package frozen corn kernels
    2 14.5oz. cans diced tomatoes w/chilies (Rotel)
    1 packet taco seasoning
    1 tbsp cumin
    1 tbsp chili powder
    3-4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
    1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

    Combine beans, onion, chili peppers, corn, tomato sauce, cumin, chili powder and taco seasoning in a slow cooker. Place chicken on top and cover. Cook on low for 10 hours or on high for 6 hours. Shred chicken and stir in. Top with fresh cilantro, cheddar cheese, sour cream/plain yogurt. Serve over rice, wrapped in tortillas or scoop with tortilla chips.

    Ta- da! I make this before work every few weeks. It takes about 10 minutes of prep and then you get to walk away and it’s ready. So easy! So tasty! I love it.

  • Caro says:

    Cook pasta. Then fry meat in pasta pan while pasta is draining (I like to conserve dishes). Throw pasta and meat in baking dish with tin of tomatoes and anything else that’s cluttering up the fridge (leftover anything – half-empty tins of beans, chickpeas and tuna work together weirdly well). Top with cheese. Bake. Serve. I call it ‘Pasta Surprise’.

  • ErinB says:

    Cookie Swap!!!! :-}

    Salsa Chicken- chicken breasts or cut up chicken- sprinkle with taco seasoning, and dump a can of salsa on it and bake 350 for 30 min or so.Turn off oven Add some cheese on top and let it sit until melted (2-3 min) then voila dinner! Serve with brown rice and a little sour cream…yum! And this comes from someone who hates to cook so you know its easy! xo

  • Lisa says:

    So many and I barely cook
    Frozen meatballs in crockpot or oven with marina or BBQ sauce.
    Chicken breast…sprinkle with lemon pepper and garlic salt, brown in olive oil. When both sides are brown add 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar, cover and let them finish cooking.Love this.

    Bone in skin on turkey breast on top of foil balls in your crockpot. The balls keep the turkey out of the “ick.” Sprinkle with lots of seasoned salt,like Lawrey’s, cook till done, house will smell like Thanksgiving and turkey will fall apart when done. Use for sandwiches,salad, casseroles.

    Anything on Pioneerwoman.com. I know many people are not fans of her but everything I hade made from there is good.

    Pasta salad…your fave pasta cooked, mixed with veggies the kids like and a sweet italian dressing, the kind from the refrigerated section at the grocery store. Delicious.

  • Amy says:

    This works for either a roast or 1 #beef stew meat

    Spray your crock pot.
    Dump the meat in the pot
    Mix together 1 can cream of mushroom and 1 can french onion soup
    Pour over meat
    Cook on low 8 hours

    If you use the beef stew meat and this recipe – 30 minutes before serving, boil some egg noodles and throw them in the pot along with 8 oz of sour cream.

    Homemade beef stroganoff 🙂

    You might need to double up this recipe for your crew

    • Princess Judy says:

      This is a good one. Thanks for the reminder. I haven’t made this in forever. I did learn to not crockpot cook when I’m at home. The smell makes me hungry all day and the one cat goes crazy.

  • Kelcey says:

    My friend just emailed me this one for fried rice….

    I cook this in a wok. You can easily double the recipe. It’s not too exact, but easy enough to decide on how much you need.

    -bag of Trader Joe’s frozen jasmine rice, cooked (or any rice would do)
    -1 egg
    -peas, corn, broccoli (i use frozen)
    -soyaki or veri yaki teriyaki

    -defrost veggies (i then put broccoli in food processor so they can’t pick it out)
    -scramble egg in wok in little oil
    -add cooked rice
    -add veggies
    -add a little soyaki or veri yaki teriyaki (taste to see how much works)
    -stir frequently for a few minutes until it’s all blended and warm

  • Cara says:

    Take a cut of beef (I usually use tri tip sirloin bc it’s a decent cut, but cheap) and cut into chunks. Marinate for a couple of hours in soy sauce, pepper and garlic. Put beef (drained of marinade) into shallow baking dish with cut up veggies (I do carrots, bell peppers, potatoes). Stick in the oven on 425 or so for 20-25 minutes. Delish!

  • emah says:

    On Sunday (the night my mother-in-law cooks and I don’t have to) I put a bunch of meat — a brisket, pork tenderloin, some obscene amount of boneless chicken — into a slow cooker, cover with beer and broth and a chopped onion or two, and then cook it slow and low all day.

    Then I shred it and put it in ziploc baggies for several meals.

    Before dinner each day, I take it out and add seasoning. Taco seasoning, barbeque sauce, a little Italian seasoning and throw it in some simple butter and parmesan pasta, mixed into mac and cheese, etc. It’s really versatile (and freezes really well). To heat and add seasoning, I just throw it in a non-stick frying pan and toss with some liquid until it’s warm through.

    Complete life-saver.

  • Kate Najor says:

    A friend down here just forwarded me this big (and easy) winner in her house.

    And here is the very detailed recipe…spinach/kale pasta: blender + spinach and kale + olive oil + garlic + pine or walnuts.

    PS: I may have finally found “my people”!

  • Kate says:

    We also eat this at least once a week:

    Dry bowl – parmesan, zest of one lemon, finely chopped arugula (or spinach for a less peppery taste), finely chopped proscuitto (or chunks of tinned tuna).

    Wet bowl – olive oil (good quality – Lucini brand from Publix is not bad and pretty cheap), juice of zested lemon above, fresh/flaked red chilli (could omit if the littlies aren’t fussed).

    Cook spaghetti (the longest part by far).

    Mix altogether.

  • ChrisinNY says:

    3-4 pounds beef (I used a trimmed chuck roast)
    1/2 cup brown sugar
    1/3 cup soy sauce
    1 head garlic (peeled, but leave cloves intact–approx 10 cloves)
    1/2 onion, diced
    1 inch fresh ginger root, peeled and grated (can use ginger in a jar)
    2 tablespoons seasoned rice wine vinegar
    1 tablespoon sesame oil
    1 whole jalapeno (can be omitted)


    Use a 6-quart slow cooker. Trim off the visible fat. Throw everything in however you’d like.

    Cover, and cook on low for 8-10 hours or until meat has fully shredded— you can help it out by cutting the meat into pieces an hour or so before serving time.
    Serve in soft corn or flour tortillas with shredded cabbage salad and white or brown rice.

    shredded cabbage:

    1 bag shredded coleslaw from the grocery store’s produce section
    1 tablespoon soy sauce
    2 tablespoons seasoned rice vinegar

    toss together and serve immediately (it gets wilted if you make it early)

  • ChrisinNY says:

    Mexican Lasagna

    1 pound ground beef
    2 cups frozen kernel corn, thawed (may substitute 1 can corn, drained)
    1 cup salsa
    1 med. can chopped tomatoes (no salt added)
    ½ envelope taco or chili seasoning mix
    Small can chilies (optional)
    1 (16 oz.) black or kidney beans, drained
    10 corn tortillas
    1 ½- 2 c. shredded cheddar, Cheddar & Monterey Jack cheese, mixed (or Mexican mix cheese)

    1. Spray large skillet with cooking spray or put a little oil in the bottom of the pan and put on low/medium low heat.
    2. Brown meat
    3. Add seasoning mix and stir mixing completely. Add corn, tomatoes, salsa and (and chilies if using). Simmer, stirring often, for 5 minutes.
    4. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
    5. Grease 9 x 13 inch pan.
    6. Line bottom of greased pan with 5 tortillas, overlapping edges. (Can cut in half to make it easier
    7. Top with ½ meat mixture.
    8. Layer ½ the cheese and then layer the beans.
    9. Arrange remaining 5 tortillas over beans.
    10. Spread remaining meat mixture over all and top with the rest of the shredded cheese.

    Bake at 375 degrees for 30-45 minutes or until cheese is melted.

  • Jen M. says:

    Dorito Ranch Chicken – my kids literally beg me for this and it is super easy:

    Slice up several chicken breasts into 1-2″ chunks. Put 1/2 a bag of Ranch Doritos into a large Ziploc, and then pound on them until they are pulverized. This is really great for taking out your frustrations on.

    Mix the chicken pieces in a bowl of ranch dip until they are all coated. Dip and coat the chicken pieces into the crunched up Doritos, and then place them on a cookie sheet. Cook the whole mess at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes. Super quick, easy, and kids love it.

  • LeeAnn Fritsch says:

    Sweet Chicken
    2 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts and or thighs.
    4 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
    1 cup brown sugar
    1 stick butter
    salt and pepper to taste.

    Place chicken in baking dish.
    pour W. sauce over it.
    sprinkle brown sugar over that.
    slice the butter into four long wedges, lay over chicken intermittently,
    salt and pepper.
    Cover with foil bake at 350 for 40 minutes.
    Uncover chicken, bake at 350 for another 15 minutes.
    Take out and cover to rest for 10 minutes.
    Serve with rice and vegetable of your choice.

    I don’t personally like this, but the rest of my family loves it.

    Candied Yams

    2 large cans of sweet potatoes
    1 bag small marshmallows
    1/2 cup brown sugar
    1/2 stick butter
    salt, pepper and cinnamon to taste

    drain 1 can of yams completely, and the other 1/2 way. Pour into casserole dish.
    put butter, salt, pepper, cinnamon and brown sugar into dish, cover.
    Bake at 350 for 45 minutes.
    remove from oven, top with marshmallows, place back in the oven, UNCOVERED, for another 15 minutes or until ‘mallows are toasted, remove from oven and enjoy.

    If I had my personal cookbook with me I could offer more tasty and NOT difficult recipes for you, but these were what we had for dinner last night, so the recipe’s are in my head.

  • Steph says:

    My girls are picky eaters so I am limited in choices. On Fridays our local grocery sells the rotisserie chickens for $5. Or I buy chicken breasts and cook them over the weekend to have for weeknite dinners. To make tacos I shred the cooked chicken and add cheese and lettuce to the tortilla. Or for enchiladas tuck the rolled tacos in oiled pan and top with queso or whatever sauce your kids will eat. for pasta, cut chicken in strips and toss with cooked pasta and olive oil and little butter and parmesan (sometimes marinara sauce,too). for pizza, I buy Paul Newman’s frozen cheese pizza and add little pieces of chicken and yellow bell peppers (or whatever veggies your kids like) and some more cheese on the toppings. with all the above, we have a side of cut up veggies or fruit. So these aren’t really recipes so much as a map to how I keep my sanity and feed children:)

  • Linda says:

    I’m a bit horrified (with the childhood obesity epidemic going on) that almost ALL the recipes for kids’ dinners contain sugar and tortillas/bread (that turns into sugar in a diabetic child’s body). How about a good different salad (crudités plate so the kids don’t think “salad”, by a fast arrangement of grape tomatoes, mini carrots, cut up colored pepper, mushrooms, etc.), roasted vegetables (kids loves brussels sprouts that way, but truly any vegetable or two can be thrown into a pan with some oil into the oven at 350 and left for 45 min. and come out deliciously sweet) and then a simple protein (fish sticks, hamburger without bun, sliced roast that can be made and eaten for 2-3 days and then leftovers frozen in ziploc bags, or cook wild flounder in frying pan with a bit of oil, 3 min. on a side) with fresh fruit and some sorbet for dessert? You all seem to have such good imaginations and thus can make yummy, healthy and very quick dinners. Many kids have sugar allergies and even a “little bit” keeps that craving alive.

  • Jess says:

    I haven’t commented before but this post moves me to contribute.

    Something I do often is choose one from each list below, cook, and mix:

    List A:
    Mac-a-cheese (if using this then I skip list D)

    List B:
    Ground chicken
    Ground pork
    Chicken breasts that I throw in the pan frozen and then chop up as they cook
    Canned tuna

    List C: (I often choose more than one from this list)
    Green Beans
    Red bell pepper
    Red onion

    List D:
    Red pesto
    Green pesto
    Whatever else kind of pesto
    Tomato based pasta sauce of varying degrees of fanciness

    I cook the list A choice and keep it separate (unless it’s mac-a-cheese or pasta). Fry up B choice (unless it’s tuna, then I add it at the end). Cook C either with B or on its own. Throw in D at some point. Pour it all over A or mix it all together.

    My favorite is the chopped up chicken with green pesto and green beans over bulgar. None of these take more than 30 minutes.

  • stina says:

    Easy Homemade Spaghetti
    (You need a dutch oven for this)

    1 pound of ground beef or sausage or whatever if you want meat
    2 small onions
    1/2 package of mushrooms, sliced
    1 large can of crushed tomatoes or tomato puree
    2 bottles of beer OR 1/2 bottle of red wine OR 3 cups of water
    1/2 cup of minced garlic (i buy the stuff in the jar)
    1/4 cup of oregano
    1/4 cup of basil
    salt & pepper
    half a box of spaghetti noodles (uncooked)

    1) Turn the oven on to 350º
    2) Put the dutch oven on the stovetop and use it to fry up your beef or sausage or other meat. Skip this step if you’re not using meat.
    3) Slice the onions into thin slices and put the onions & mushrooms in the bottom of the dutch oven.
    4) Put in your spices and garlic.
    5) Pour over your beer/wine/water. (You can sub 1.5 cup of water for each bottle of beer.)
    6) Take the spaghetti noodles and just lay them over the top, uncooked. You can break them in half if that’s the only way they’ll fit.
    7) Pour the can of tomatoes over the whole thing.
    8) Put the lid on the dutch oven and bake it in your oven for about 20 minutes.
    9) Check the noodles (they should be done by now), stir the mix up a little, and remove the lid until the liquid cooks off to your desired liquidness. I like my spaghetti a little more dry and concentrated, the husband likes it a little more wet, so we compromise.

    Seriously, it’s the easiest way to get spaghetti done because you only need 1 pot. Also, it’s a lot less sodium and a lot cheaper than buying spaghetti sauce. Also! The kids won’t realize that half of the “spaghetti” is actually long strings of cooked onion. Woo for sneaky vegetables!

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