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10 Ridiculously Simple and Delicious Dinners Even a Sleep-Deprived Mom Can Cook

Posted on December 04 2019

Complicated recipes and restless parents do not mix.

There are many reasons parents rarely treat themselves to home-cooked meals. For one, there's little time or energy to grocery-shop, let alone stand over a stove, when you're caring for needy children. For another, following a complicated recipe calls for more concentration than the five hours of broken sleep parenthood sometimes offers. So we tasked Elana Karp, head chef and culinary co-founder of meal-kit-delivery service Plated, with coming up with recipes that even the most fatigued parents can whip up. The other challenge: These dinners would have to taste a lot better than the microwaveable meals we're used to eating.

Brown Butter Orecchiette with Spicy Sausage and Peas

This high-comfort recipe uses just six ingredients, and one of them is butter (so you’re basically winning before you even take out a pot). Small and round orecchiette pasta is tossed with spicy Italian sausage, fragrant sage and bright green peas for a dish that’s simple, filling and comforting. The aforementioned butter and a little Parmesan cheese give the dish a rich, creamy texture you’ll want to experience again and again. Recipe here.

Four Cheese Pizza with Cherry Tomatoes and Basil

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. Working Mother

Serves 2

Courtesy of Plated

Pizza night just got a whole lot cheesier, and we couldn’t be more excited. This super easy recipe has four (count ’em, four) kinds of cheese: Fontina, mozzarella, provolone and Parmesan. Cherry tomatoes and basil, dressed in balsamic vinegar and roasted garlic, are a tangy, summery upgrade to the traditional tomato sauce. Put down the delivery menu; this dinner will satisfy everyone’s pizza cravings. Recipe here.

Soy-Glazed Beef with Cucumber and Sticky Rice

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. Working Mother

Serves 2

Courtesy of Plated

Don’t get us wrong, we love having the kitchen to ourselves every now and then—but there’s something extra-special about cooking with loved ones. For tonight’s crowd-pleasing combo of saucy beef and juicy marinated cucumbers, get an eager helper in on the fun of kneading sticky rice with a spoon. The resulting rice balls are as fun to make as they are to eat and give the finished plates a wow factor. Recipe here.

Greek Horiatiki with Marinated Feta, Za'atar Naan and Toasted Chickpeas

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. Working Mother

Serves 2

Courtesy of Plated

It's definitely not all Greek to us, especially when it comes to this popular recipe. We're embracing the traditional horiatiki salad with cucumber, tomato, onion, olives and herb-marinated feta cheese while adding our own twist with crisp toasted chickpeas and creamy hummus. For scooping it all up, there's charred naan drizzled with za'atar-infused olive oil. Close your eyes: You're really sunning yourself on the Greek isles ... Recipe here.

Kale Pesto Grilled Cheese with Marinara Sauce

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. Working Mother

Serves 2

Courtesy of Plated

These ooey, gooey grilled cheese sandwiches use a flavorful foursome of cheeses: shredded mozzarella, shredded provolone, fresh mozzarella and Parmesan. They’re sandwiched between toasted brioche with a vibrant basil-kale pesto. Embrace your inner kid and dunk the sandwiches in the warm marinara sauce (that’s exactly what we did). Recipe here.

Soy-Glazed Chicken with Long Life Noodles, Sriracha Cashews and Pea Shoots

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. Working Mother

Serves 2

Courtesy of Plated

Soy and hoisin make the perfect salty-sweet glaze for chicken and tender long life noodles in this supremely flavorful dinner. The dish is topped with Sriracha powder–laced cashews, scallions and crisp pea shoots, ensuring a serious bit of crunch in every bite. Recipe here.

Sheet Pan Chicken with Spinach, Roasted Potatoes and Lemon-Parsley Cream Sauce

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. Working Mother

Serves 2

Courtesy of Plated

Chef Michelle knows the truly crowd-pleasing comfort of a slow-roasted chicken slathered in a silky pan sauce. But we’ve officially reached easy season: the time of year when “easy to make” also needs to mean “easy to clean up after.” So here, the chicken is roasted with crushed garlic and lemon slices, right alongside potatoes on the same baking sheet. During the roast, you’ll throw together the quick, luscious yet light sauce of lemon, parsley, a splash of cream and white wine (good news for the under-21 crowd: the alcohol cooks off!). Recipe here.

Salmon Fried Rice with Apricot-Soy Glaze, Bok Choy and Peas

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. Working Mother

Serves 2

Courtesy of Plated

The soy sauce and apricot preserves on this roasted salmon lend a hint of sticky-sweetness to a very familiar fried rice. Chef Giuseppe's covered the classic mix-ins like bok choy, peas, shredded carrot and egg that's scrambled in the same pan for easier cleanup. A favorite knife skill of ours, called the bias cut, makes the simple scallion garnish feel extra cheffy. Recipe here.

Caprese Chicken and Quinoa Bowls with Spinach and Balsamic Vinaigrette

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. Working Mother

Serves 2

Courtesy of Plated

Chef Elana’s showcasing the flavors and textures of classic Italian Caprese salad in this hearty quinoa bowl with crispy-skinned chicken. For extra flavor, the quinoa’s cooked in chicken stock and tomato paste, which adds depth and a little sweetness. It’s finished with fresh spinach and a homemade, tangy-sweet balsamic vinaigrette. All you need for this summertime stunner: a pot, a pan and a little imagination (you’re really dining al fresco on the island of Capri). Recipe here.

Steak and Black Bean Quesadillas with Tomatillo Salsa

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. Working Mother

Serves 2

Courtesy of Plated

We’re bringing back a favorite Test Kitchen hack with quesadillas that are baked instead of pan-fried. Tortillas are layered with seared steak, black beans and plenty of cheese for extra meltiness. Roasted tomatillos—a tomato variety that's firm, green and encased in a papery husk—are the base for a tangy salsa that’s a fantastic alternative to the usual pico. Recipe here.

Written by Elana Karp for Working Mother and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@getmatcha.com.

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