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Shortcut Recipes

Quick and Easy Dinner Ideas That Start with Simple Shortcuts


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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