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Shortcut Recipes

Quick and Easy Dinner Ideas That Start with Simple Shortcuts

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King Ranch Chicken

King Ranch Chicken Casserole

Stephanie Gallagher
You don't have to resort to bland, convenience foods like boxed mixes or frozen dinners to get a hot meal on the table fast. With these easy shortcuts, you can have high-quality, nutritious dinners that take less time than ordering take-out and taste great, too.

Don't Miss: 10 Quick and Healthy Recipes for Busy Families

Rotisserie Chicken Shortcut Dinners

Rotisserie chicken has been a boon to busy families. Not only can you pick up a great, hot, home-cooked main dish at the supermarket, but you can use it to make other wonderful dinners, too. Here are some of my family's favorite meals made with rotisserie chicken:
  • Barbecue Chicken French Bread Pizza Recipe - This five-ingredient recipe has a gourmet pizza shop flavor, yet it is so simple to prepare, thanks to rotisserie chicken and bottled barbecue sauce as shortcuts.

  • Chicken Pot Pie - What could taste more comforting and homey than chicken pot pie? With rotisserie chicken, a refrigerated pie crust and frozen vegetables, this recipe comes together in no time.

  • King Ranch Chicken Recipe - This popular Texas dish is basically a Mexican casserole. Rotisserie chicken and jarred salsa make this recipe a breeze to prepare.

  • Chicken Quesadillas - These four-ingredient quesadillas come together in less than 15 minutes. Switch it up a bit by trying different types of cheese.

Recipes That Start with Pre-Cooked Meatballs

Frozen or refrigerated pre-cooked meatballs are the ideal starter for lots of different creative meals. Your family will never believe some of these recipes started with pre-cooked meatballs.
  • Sweet and Sour Meatballs - A homemade sauce of green peppers, tomato sauce, brown sugar and lemon juice gives this dish wonderful flavor. Serve these meatballs over rice.

  • Hash Brown Potato Casserole with Meatballs - If you're a fan of the popular cheesy hash brown casserole at Cracker Barrel, you will adore this recipe. It's made entirely in the slow cooker, and the addition of pre-cooked meatballs turns what could be a side dish into a hearty one-dish meal.

  • Meatball Pie - Italian-style meatballs, spaghetti sauce and a refrigerated pie crust make quick work of this tasty dinner. Kids love the idea of eating "pie" for dinner.

  • Spaghetti and Meatball Sandwich Recipe - Leftover spaghetti and meatballs are piled on Italian bread, then pressed in a George Foreman Grill (compare prices) or panini press into a hearty sandwich. This is a great meal for active kids who need extra calories.

Shortcut Recipes That Start with Tortillas

Tortillas are an inexpensive, easy way to start a meal. Here are some great, creative ways to use them:
  • Tortilla Pie Recipe - Vegetarian refried beans, black beans, salsa and cheese are layered between flour tortillas in this easy-to-make, free-form pie. This makes a terrific, high-protein vegetarian dinner for kids.

  • Tortilla Pizzas with Spinach - Tortillas serve as the crust for these simple individual pizzas. Fresh baby spinach, ricotta cheese and mozzarella cheese make these pizzas appealing to both kids and adults.

  • Mexican Beef Casserole Recipe - Tortillas are layered with beef, beans, salsa and cheese in this easy, inexpensive Mexican casserole. This recipe is hearty enough to be a one-dish meal, and it freezes well, too.

Don't Miss: Ground Beef Casseroles

Quick and Easy Recipes That Start with Salsa

There are so many terrific gourmet salsas available at local supermarkets today, and these richly-flavored condiments make a perfect shortcut for everything from meatloaf to casseroles. Check out these dishes:
  • Chicken Tortilla Soup Recipe - Salsa adds rich flavor and lots of vegetables to this hearty soup. For variety, try a chipotle salsa.

  • Taco Casserole - Salsa adds pizzazz to this taco casserole. Try a black bean salsa or a mango salsa to switch things up a bit.

  • Easy Chili Recipe - Salsa saves you the time of having to chop, cook and season peppers, onions and tomatoes in this easy chili recipe. Choose a salsa to match your family's heat preference, for the spicier the salsa, the spicier this chili will be.
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