Easy Dinner For A Busy Family

Easy Dinner For A Busy Family
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Once school starts, no matter what grade your children are starting, the days seem to become busier and busier. Between volunteer opportunities, sports, clubs, conferences and homework plus the regular adult routines, it can get downright chaotic.

One thing I've found is that if I don't have a planned dinner, it becomes much easier to give in to the kids chanting "Let's just get pizza!".  Meals for the busiest days need to be easy and inexpensive.  Over the years my crock pot has become my favorite method of cooking when I know it’s going to be a full, busy day.  

Boneless frozen chicken is not always the best deal, unless it's on sale, but it‘s healthy, and can be used in so many great recipes without any fuss. I watch for sales and try to buy an extra package to put in the freezer.  Mexican style chicken, cooked in the crock pot, is incredibly easy, and a family favorite. In the recipe below I use packets of taco seasoning, but fajita seasoning will work as well.

Slow Cooked Mexican Chicken

4 pounds frozen, skinless, boneless chicken
2 envelopes taco seasoning, favorite brand
hard taco shells
soft burrito size tortillas
8 ounces shredded Cheddar cheese
16 ounce can refried beans, any variety
sour cream
chopped green onion
salsa or hot sauce
tortilla chips

Place the chicken into the crock pot, add one envelope of the taco seasoning. IF the chicken is frozen, put it on in the morning on low and sprinkle the seasoning over the pieces, put on the lid and cook all day. It can also be put on around noon, and set on high, which will be done about the same time as the low setting, cooked all day. If the chicken is thawed, it takes even less time. The chicken will create a lot of broth, especially if frozen. Stir once or twice if possible as it cooks. When the chicken is done, no pink left (almost falling apart) break it up with a serving fork or knife. Leave the crock pot on as you do this, being careful not to burn yourself, using a pot holder to hold the cooker still while breaking up the meat. Once it's broken into pieces, add another envelope of the taco seasoning and stir well. If it seems dry at all, add a little more water. If there is too much liquid, take some out with a ladle. It should be moist and fairly saucy, but not soupy. Cook for about 20 more minutes. Transfer to a serving bowl.

Refried Beans: Place the refried beans in a microwave safe bowl. Add in a couple tablespoons of the seasoned broth from the chicken, a tablespoon of hot sauce or salsa, ¼ cup of shredded cheese and heat two minutes on high, longer if need be, until hot. Stir again before serving.

Set out the chicken, along with the bowl of beans and any of the optional ingredients listed above.

BURRITOS: To make burritos, spread a soft tortilla with a spoonful of beans and cheese.  Heat in the microwave for 25 seconds on high. Remove and place a large spoonful of the chicken on top of the beans and cheese. Tops this with tomato, lettuce, onion, salsa or sour cream. Fold in the two ends, then roll up the tortilla.

TACOS: Heat the hard taco shells for 25 seconds in the microwave on a paper plate. Several can be heated at the same time, as long as they don't touch each other.  Remove the plate, place a small spoonful of chicken in the bottom of the shell then top with cheese, lettuce, tomato and whatever extra ingredients you prefer.

Leftovers can be used to make nachos the next day as an after school snack by placing a layer of tortilla chips on a paper plate, then topping with chicken and/or beans and cheese.  Heat in the microwave for 30 seconds or until the cheese melts. Remove from the microwave and top with sour cream, tomatoes and lettuce or other favorite nacho toppings.

You may also enjoy:

Easy Breakfast Recipes
Easy Beef Recipes for Busy Times
Easy Quick Bread


About The Author

Brenda Hyde is a freelance writer living on ten acres in rural Michigan with her husband and three kids. She is a mom, grandma, gardener, cook and writer. She blogs on all of these topics at Harvestmoongazette.blogspot.com.


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