Chicken fajitas

If you find yourself in a dinner rut, try some of these tasty weeknight meals. They’re all quick, easy and family-friendly, so they make great back-to-school eats.

BAKED RAVIOLI

• 4 tablespoons butter

• ¼ cup flour

• 2 cups milk

• 2 cups water

• 2 packages of refrigerated ravioli

• 1 bag shredded mozzarella

• Grated Parmesan cheese

In a large oven-safe pan (a cast iron pan works best), melt the butter. Add flour and stir.

Next, add milk, water, 1/4 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon of black pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer.

Add the ravioli to the pan and cook through, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Top with mozzarella cheese and sprinkle with Parmesan. Broil until cheese is melted and browning (keep a close eye on this).  Serve immediately. 

Variations: This recipe can easily be cut in half for a great date-night meal.

BUN TACOS

• Hamburger buns

• Hamburger (1 pound for a family of four)

• Cheddar cheese

• Tomatoes, diced

• Black olives, sliced

• Lettuce, shredded

• Taco seasoning packet

• Sour cream and salsa to top

In a large skillet over medium-high heat, cook the ground beef. Once cooked, season with taco seasoning according to the package. 

Next, prepare the toppings — olives, tomatoes and lettuce (and whatever else you'd like). Place the cooked meat on a hamburger bun and add your desired toppings. Finally, add sour cream and salsa.  Serve immediately. 

CHICKEN AND RICE

• 1 cup cooked shredded chicken

• One 14-ounce can cream of mushroom soup

• 1 cup uncooked rice

• Salt

• Lemon pepper

• Butter

Heat the oven to 350 F. To start, butter a casserole dish. In a separate bowl, mix the soup, rice and one soup can of water in the dish. Stir well.

Next, add 1/4 teaspoon of lemon pepper and 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Adjust to taste. Pour into the casserole dish.

Cover the dish with aluminum foil and bake for 45 minutes.

Next, add shredded chicken to the casserole dish and stir well. Re-cover the dish and bake for an additional 45 minutes.  Serve immediately. 

Variations: I almost always use shredded rotisserie chicken for this recipe. You can use raw chicken breasts. You add them from the beginning and bake 1 1/2 hours.

HOMESTYLE CHICKEN NOODLE SOUP

• 2.5-3 quarts chicken broth (depending how thick you like the broth)

• 1 cup cooked chicken (rotisserie chicken works great)

• 2 carrots, chopped

• 2 celery stalks, chopped

• 1 small onion, chopped

• One 12-ounce bag frozen egg noodles

• 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

• 1/2 teaspoon salt

• 3 tablespoons flour

In a pot, bring the broth to a boil. Once boiling, add diced carrots, celery and onion and let the soup simmer for 10 minutes.

After 10 minutes, add cooked chicken and cook for an additional 5 minutes.

Next, add spices and frozen egg noodles, and cook 10 minutes.

After 10 minutes, mix flour and water and slowly add to soup. Let the soup thicken and simmer for 10 minutes. Serve immediately. 

MOM'S CHILI

• 1 pound browned hamburger

• One 14-ounce can dark red kidney beans, drained

• One 14-ounce can red beans, drained

• One 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes

• One 15-ounce can tomato sauce

• 1 tablespoon chili powder

• 1 teaspoon cumin

• 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt

• Sour cream, cheese, fresh diced tomatoes, crackers or bread for topping

In a large skillet over medium-high heat, brown hamburger.

Next, in a large soup pot, add the hamburger, canned beans, tomatoes and spices. Stir thoroughly.

Cook on high heat for four hours or on low heat for 6 to 8 hours. Once finished, serve immediately topped with your favorite ingredients.

Variations: I do a vegetarian version of this by omitting the meat and adding one can of beans.

SAUSAGE AND POTATOES

• 1 package mild sausage

• 4 russet potatoes

• 1 onion

• Salt and pepper to taste

Heat the oven to 400 F. Slice sausages into pieces, about 1-inch thick. This works best if the sausage is slightly frozen. In an oven-safe dish, add the sausages and bake.

Next, peel and cube potatoes to approximately 1 to 2 inches in size. Add the potatoes to the cooking sausage. The grease from the sausage will mix with the potatoes.

Chop the onion and add it to the already-cooking ingredients.

Bake for 1-1/2 hours, stirring every 15 to 20 minutes. Serve immediately. 

SLOW COOKER CHICKEN FAJITAS

• 2 cups of cooked chicken, shredded

• Bell peppers, varying colors, cut into strips

• 1 onion, sliced

• 1 can Rotel

• Taco seasoning

• Tortillas

• Sour cream and cheese to top

Cut the pepper and onions into strips. Add the cooked chicken, spices, peppers, onions and Rotel to the slow cooker. Cook on high for 2 to 3 hours. Serve on tortillas and top with sour cream, cheese and any other fajita toppings you like.

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Shea Saladee lives in Papillion with her husband, Brent, and their three children. She works as an instructor at the University of Nebraska Omaha.

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