5 School Night Dinners

Quick but Delicious Pasta Dinners

Being busy mothers, we have all been there – after a long day at work (or looking after the kids all day), the last thing you want to do at the end of the day is to think about mid week meals. Expert blogger Diana from I Wanna Be a Domestic Goddess shares 5 school night dinners that are quick and easy to make, satisfying the brood during the midweek time crunch.

If you really want to feed the family something tasty and nutritious, even when you are so tired that all you want to do is to crawl into bed and sleep until some time next year, here are 5 quick pasta meals you can whip up in no time.

And the best part? Everything is cooked in one pot. Which means minimal washing up after.

Penne Chicken Alfredo (Serves 4) – Adapted from The Pioneer Woman Cooks

400g penne, or any pasta
40g butter
1.5 – 2 whole boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Salt and freshly grounded black pepper, to taste
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cups dry white wine (may Substitute Low-sodium Chicken Broth)
1/4 cup low-fat milk
2 tablespoons heavy cream
Low sodium chicken broth, as needed for thinning
1/2 cups grated Parmesan
1.5 to 2 tablespoons fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley, chopped

1. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
2. Salt and pepper both sides of the chicken breasts. Heat half of the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken breasts and cook until deep golden brown on both sides and done in the middle. Remove from the skillet, slice into thin strips, and set aside.
NOTE: If your chicken breasts are thick (like mine), then sear until brown on both sides, then bake at 180C in the oven for about 15 minutes so the chicken is cooked through.
3. Add the remaining butter to the skillet, followed by the minced garlic. Stir the garlic around the pan to avoid burning, and cook for 1 minute. Pour in wine (or broth), then let it bubble up and reduce for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes. Add milk, cream, and extra salt and pepper, whisking constantly until it’s all combined. Allow liquid to heat up and thicken for a few minutes. If it gets too thick, you may thin it with a little chicken broth.4.
4. When the sauce looks good, remove it from the heat. Add Parmesan to the pan, then throw the hot pasta right on top of it. Toss it a bit. Add the chicken and continue tossing until it’s all combined. Again, if it gets too thick, splash in a little broth (you may return the pan to low heat if it needs it.)
5. Taste it, adjust seasonings, and top with minced parsley and extra Parmesan. Serve immediately!



Orzo with chicken, mushroom and peas (Serves 4) – Adapted from cookwithcampbell’s

500g boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into strips
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon grounded black pepper
1/2 teaspoon corn flour
350g button mushrooms, sliced
1/2 white onion, finely diced
2 teaspoon garlic, minced
1 can (10oz) cream of chicken or cream of mushroom soup
1 1/2 cup water
1 1/2 cup orzo
1 cup frozen peas
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt, to taste
2 tomatoes, diced

1. Season chicken with salt, pepper and corn flour. Cook chicken, in batches, until well browned in heated oil at medium-high heat in large skillet. Drain on kitchen towel and set aside.
2. Cook onions for about 3-4 minutes until they are soft and translucent. Add garlic and sauté for another 30 seconds.
3. Add mushrooms and cook until they have become soft.
4. Put chicken back into the skillet, add orzo. Stir to coat the orzo with the oil.
5. Add cream of chicken, peas and water. Stir to combine. Cover, bring to boil then turn down the heat and simmer for about 15 minutes, or until orzo is cooked. Stir often.
6. Once cooked, add chopped tomato and salt and pepper. Stir to combine.
7. Serve hot.

Angel Hair Pasta with Tuna and Beech Mushroom-2


Angel Hair with Tuna and Beech Mushroom (Serves 4)

150g angel hair pasta, or any long pasta
500g tuna, drained
1 packet beech mushroom (or any other mushroom), roots removed
3 large chillis, deseeded and sliced
1/2 onion, diced
2 tsp mince garlic
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon grounded black pepper
2 tablespoons Italian flat-leaf parsley, chopped
Extra-virgin olive oil – use the best you have

1. Sauté the diced onion in a skillet in heated oil until they soften and turn translucent, about 3-4 minutes.
2. Add chilli and continue to stir for about a minute or so.
3. Add garlic, mushroom, salt and pepper. Stir to combine.
4. Add tuna, and carefully stir to mix.
5. Cook pasta, reserve some pasta water, drain the pasta and add pasta to the rest of the ingredients.
6. Using a pair of tongs, toss the pasta with the other ingredients.
7. Garnish with chopped parsley and drizzle with a little extra-virgin olive oil before serving.



Farfalle with Pancetta and Peas in Creamy Sauce (Serves 4)

225g farfalle or any short pasta
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, diced
2 cups low-sodium chicken stock
1 cup low-fat milk
400g pancetta, or 450g bacon or ham, diced
1 cup frozen peas
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon corn starch, mixed with 3 tablespoon water to form a slurry
1 tablespoon grated Parmesan
I tablespoon Italian flat-leaf parsley (optional)
Salt and pepper, to taste

1. Fry pancetta in a skillet drizzled with a little olive oil until pancetta turns golden brown. Drain on paper towels and set aside.
2. Sauté onions in olive oil until golden brown, about 5 minutes.
3. Add chicken stock, low-fat milk, and pasta to skillet and bring to a boil. Add pancetta.
4. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, covered, until pasta is tender, about 8-10 minutes.
5. To thicken sauce, pour corn starch slurry into skillet and stir. The sauce should thicken immediately.
6. Season with salt and pepper, then stir to combine. Add peas and lemon juice to skillet and cook until heated through, about 2 minutes.
7. Serve immediately, garnished with grated Parmesan and chopped flat-leaf parsley, if desired.

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Easy Tuna Baked Pasta (Serves 4)

1 large onion
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cans tuna, drained
2 cans chopped tomatoes, un-drained
4 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoons dried Italian herbs
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
2 tablespoons dried basil
1 tablespoon garlic granules
1 packet pasta shells, or any short pasta (take 2 minutess off recommended cooking time)
1 1/2 cups grated Cheddar
1 cup grated Mozzarella or Parmesan
1 teaspoon sea salt and coarsely grounded black pepper to taste

1. Cook pasta shells. Drain and set aside. Reserve a mug of the pasta water.
2. Heat oil, sauté onion until soft.
3. Add tuna and sauté for another 3 minutes.
4. Add chopped tomatoes, tomato puree, Italian herbs, oregano, garlic granules, basil, salt and pepper. Stir to combine.
5. When sauce has thickened, add drained pasta and stir through. Add the reserved pasta water a little at a time until the desired consistency has been achieved.
6. Transfer to tray or ovenproof baking dish.
7. Sprinkle cheese.
8. Bake at 180C for 20-25 min, or until the top has turned golden brown.


All content contributed by Diana Gale, I Wanna Be a Domestic Goddess.