7 Surprisingly Delicious Microwave Dinners (Recipes)

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By Cooking Panda

At the end of a long day, it can be darn near impossible to put forth any effort at all into making dinner. 

Sauteing something on the stove can seem daunting when picking up your phone to order delivery is just so convenient, and firing up your oven during hot summer evenings is just out of the question some nights.

But don’t worry, if you want to save money AND be healthier, there’s a gadget that you might not have thought of: the microwave.

Yes, seriously! You can make some awesome (EASY) dinners inside of that thing, and it’s so easy to adjust the portions as needed, whether you’re making a single serving mug dinner or a small feast for the whole family. Enjoy!

P.S. If you need an easy side for any of these dishes, consider nuking your rice. It’s beyond easy and tastes just as good as any other method. Here’s how to do it.

1. Microwave Salmon

It might sound weird, but if you do exactly as the directions say by patting the fish dry, seasoning it properly and checking for doneness so it doesn’t overcook, you’ll have a surprisingly moist, pleasant slab of fish that’s ready to eat in no time. Really!

2. Quick Quiche

This quiche is impossibly easy! You can even skip the crust entirely and make more of a frittata for an even faster approach. Feel free to add and subtract whatever ingredients you want: Just about any leftover or frozen (defrosted) veggies and/or meat are delicious, like diced ham, bacon, asparagus, spinach or roasted peppers.

3. Five-Minute Burrito Bowls

You can put just about anything you want in these bowls. They are great for leftover night and would be awesome with any of the following, especially if they are from last night’s dinner: meat, tofu, sweet potato, mushrooms or peppers. Sprinkle some pepitas or crushed tortilla chips on top at the end if you want some extra crunch.

4. Ropa Vieja

Seriously, you can make this top-notch classic stewed beef dish without turning on your oven or stove. LOOK AT HOW GOOD THAT IS. You could make this fancy dish for company, and they’d probably think you toiled over for hours. Hours!

5. Grilled Chicken Penne al Fresco

Usually when you’re in a pinch, you can use just about any type of noodle for these pasta recipes and come off ok, despite what purists might say. But I do recommend sticking to the penne or something similarly shaped, since the short, just thick enough noodles will do best in the microwave. Don’t have leftover chicken? You can microwave it like so.

6. Single Serve Microwave Macaroni and Cheese in a Mug

Of course, if you’re making this for a larger crowd, it’s easy enough to double, triple or quadruple the recipe, but it’s also kind of nice to have as your little secret when you need a midnight snack or quick cheat meal. Right?

7. Ten Minute Enchiladas (Gluten Free Option)

No joke, you can nuke a whole tray of enchiladas, and they come out great! If you’re in a rush, you can layer the tortillas and fillings like a casserole, with two layers of tortillas (depending on the size of your pan) sandwiching the filling.

Featured Photo Credit: Stacy Spensley/Flickr

Tags: easy weeknight dinner, fastest dinner recipe, five minute meals, microwave dinner, quick dinner
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9 Outstanding Loaded Casseroles To Warm You Up In Winter

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By Cooking Panda

One thing that we love during winter is baking, mostly because the cold weather is an amazing excuse to fire up the oven and let it warm you up while delicious smells waft through your home. As the weather gets more and more chilly, we crave warm, hearty dinners that will keep us full, satisfied and toasty. Enter the casserole, one of the most underrated dinners out there. Casseroles get a bad rap sometimes, but we’re pretty sure that after trying a couple of these, even haters will have a new fondness for the nice warm, crunchy on top, creamy on the inside quick dinner.

1. Easy Loaded Baked Potato Casserole

If you love all things baked potato, you will adore this easy-to-customize casserole that you can top with absolutely anything you like. Leftover chicken? Olives? Crispy fried onions? Have it all.

2. Buffalo Chicken Casserole

Spicy. Cheesy. Buffalo-y. Low carb. Need we say more?

3. Hawaiian-Style Sushi Bake

Whoever decided to turn a California roll into a casserole is a complete genius. A GENIUS.

4. Taco Bake

Love Tex-Mex? Make this delicious and super-easy taco casserole, which is basically just another name for nachos that are so fully loaded with cheese and meat that you’ll need a fork to properly devour them.

5. Loaded Cauliflower Bake

Don’t eat noodles? Pour mac and cheese sauce over some cauliflower for a slightly healthier version that will 100% make you want to eat your vegetables on the regular.

6. Fabulous Fried Chicken Casserole

This is the best use ever for leftover fried chicken. If you’re using yesterday’s dinner in this, just pop the chicken into the oven for a bit and toast until the skin gets crispy again, and you’ll be all set to enjoy this crispy, creamy chicken bake.

7. Broccoli and Cheese Casserole

We love the white cheddar and Gruyere cheese in this recipe, but feel free to switch it up and use anything you have on hand. You can even add some chopped cooked chicken for a protein boost. However you make it, this crispy on the top, gooey in the middle creamy casserole will have you singing its praises for sure.

8. Gooey Chocolate Peppermint Bread Pudding

You didn’t think we’d forget about dessert, did you? How about a nice festive and EASY baked chocolate dessert? If mint isn’t your thing, feel free to swap out the peppermint extract for your favorite flavor, like vanilla or hazelnut, or mix in a dab of raspberry jam, peanut butter or even a bit of toffee. You can’t go wrong!

9. No Bake Chocolate Lasagna

Another dessert option, just in case you want something easy and sweet without firing up the oven. All you need to do is mix up a few ingredients, layer them and then forget about it in the fridge for a few hours until you’re ready to dig in.

Featured Photo Credit: Calista/Good Morning Cali

Tags: casserole recipe, chicken bake, easy dinner, quick dinner, Tasty Tuesday
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8 Quick But Fancy Meals You Should Make This Week

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By Cooking Panda

We hope you’re feeling hungry this week. While these recipes all require a little more work than, say, making a sandwich, all of these are pretty easy and very realistic for your busy weeknights – bonus, they are all super tasty. Knock yourself out:

1. One Pot Cajun Chicken and Sausage Alfredo Pasta

One Pot Cajun Chicken Pasta Alfredo with Sausage

A one-pot wonder. If you don’t feel like buying Cajun seasoning, go ahead and mix equal parts cayenne pepper, onion powder, paprika, garlic powder, salt, and pepper.

2. Slow Cooker Mongolian Beef

Let it cook all day when you’re at work. Then just serve it with some rice and maybe veggies if you’re feeling healthy.

3. Pretzel Crusted Cordon Bleu

You can totally use this formula and up your ingredients if you want – for example, you could totally fill the inside with spinach and ricotta and/or wrap the outside in bacon. Follow your heart.

4. Easy Chicken Piccata

Creamy, crunchy, salty, tangy, moist – this chicken recipe has it all. We recommend serving it with this easy rice cooker rice pilaf.

5. Pork Cutlet Sliders

No, you don’t understand – the pork cutlets are the buns!

6. Rigatoni Pasta Pie

It looks awesome and tastes even better. Make sure your sauce isn’t too chunky so that it will slide down into the noodles and keep them nice and moist.

7. Spicy Sesame Cauliflower Wings

These Sticky Spicy Sesame Cauliflower Wings are the best veggie wings I've ever had! Loaded with a maple sesame flavor and spice, they are the perfect game day snack for vegans!

Be sure to make extra, because you are going to devour these faster than humanly possible.

8. One-Pot Poached Shrimp And Orzo

One-Pot Poached Shrimp And Orzo

If you have a rice cooker with a steamer attachment, use it to make this one of the easiest recipes you will ever cook.

Featured Photo Credit: Tablespoon

Tags: easy weeknight meal, one pot meal, quick dinner, recipe list, weeknight dinner
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You Absolutely Must Make These 7 Exciting Dinners

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By Cooking Panda

We don’t ever want you to stress when pondering the age old question, “What should I make for dinner tonight?” Dinner should always be a source of excitement, and we’re here to make it easy for you. As a sign of our undying friendship, we rounded up seven solid recipes that, yes, you should absolutely make for dinner this week. You’re welcome.

1. Avocado Stuffed with Spicy Shrimp

Want a super quick dinner? Stuff an avocado half with shrimp and mango. It’s that simple! If you want to go a little more elaborate, you can totally bake or grill the avocado half first for next-level deliciousness.

2. Chickpea, Barley and Zucchini Ribbon Salad with Mint and Feta

A quick vegetarian meal that is super healthy but tastes incredibly decadent.

3. Slow Cooker Braised Lamb Shanks

Lamb shanks are affordable and so tender and delicious when braised. But traditional braising methods can require a lot of time and attention, so keep it simple and use a slow cooker instead.

4. Steak in Whiskey Mushroom Sauce

Got some inexpensive whiskey that you just haven’t been able to finish? Turn it into an excellent steak sauce. If you’re on a budget or steak isn’t your thing, you can swap it out for ground beef patties, chicken, tofu… whatever you’re in the mood for. This is a pretty versatile sauce.

5. Ramen Gnocchi with Mushrooms and Peas

This is not a drill, and we’re not joking. This recipe is not only cheap and way easier to make than traditional gnocchi, but it’s also adapted from world-renowned chef David Chang. The ramen noodles give it that extra classy zing, and the vegetables will make you feel like you aren’t dying on the inside when you eat this. But forget about all that, because it’s super delicious.

6. Vietnamese Loaded Fries

Ok, this isn’t exactly the healthiest of dinners either, but it’s totally worth it. If you need more veggies to justify eating (delicious) loaded fries as a meal, dump some shredded cabbage and quick pickled carrots and daikon on top. There. Better?

7. Wild Arugula Salad with Pears

If you’re going to have a salad for dinner (perhaps to atone for the ramen gnocchi or Vietnamese fries?), you might as well make it with arugula, hazelnuts and pears. If you need more protein, top it with any kind of sliced pork, chicken or your veggie protein of choice. Use leftovers, or cook your protein in this tangy, savory raspberry sauce.

Featured Photo Credit: Steamy Kitchen

Tags: dinner recipes, one pot dinner, quick dinner, recipe list, weeknight dinner
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5 Easy Summery Recipes That Will Save You From The Heat Wave

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By Cooking Panda

It’s summer, and there’s a good chance that you’ll be coming home from work, exhausted from your day and the heat wave. But that’s not a reason to stay out of the kitchen!

If you have 30 minutes or so, you’ll be able to whip up some super easy, comforting summer recipes that’ll make you forget about the heat.

1. Orange Chicken

Sometimes you need a good ol’ comfort food to revitalize you from the summer heat. The best part? It’s super easy to make, and you don’t need to use your oven!

If you want to round out your meal, you can add pineapple chunks, kale or similar greens, or cauliflower – either saute it or treat it exactly like the chicken – battered and fried. Want a healthier sauteed version that has all the deliciousness of the original stuff? Skip the batter and use this recipe.

2. Fig and Blue Cheese Tart with Honey, Balsamic and Rosemary

It’s way too hot for the oven! Make small versions of these guys in the toaster oven, or grill them – the best part is that you’ll get a sublime flavor kick. Use this guide to avoid disaster when grilling tarts and pizzas.

3. Sake-Steamed Mandarin Fish

This white fish recipe is delicious, easy and summery, complete with refreshing tangerines. No oven needed – you can either cook in a dedicated steamer or throw it with some veggies in a steamer rack at the top of your rice cooker for a few minutes for a one-pot meal. If you don’t have a steamer, you can also wrap it in foil and grill it like so.

4. Pork Chops with Peaches and Walnuts

Cook in a cast iron skillet (or a regular skillet if you don’t have it) for a super easy 20-minute dish. You can also make this with chicken thighs or breasts – adjust the cooking time as needed to make sure it cooks all the way through.

5. Raw Mango Curry

Spiced mango curry is totally delicious and would make for a refreshing and light meal or side, served with rice and roti (Indian flatbread) or over coconut rice as a tasty dessert.

Featured Photo Credit: Mommyhood's Diary

Tags: fruit dinner, no oven, quick dinner, summer recipe, weeknight recipes
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7 Weeknight Dinners That Will Rock Your Socks Off

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By Cooking Panda

1. 20 Minute Thai Basil Beef and Lemongrass Rice Bowls

Got some extra ground meat and 20 minutes? Try this insanely fresh and warming dish that cooks up in a flash.

2. Brown Butter Scallops with Parmesan Risotto

Looking for something beyond quick? Go restaurant-status fancy with this deceptively simple meal. If you want to do even less work, make your risotto in a rice cooker like this. Seriously!

3. 30 Minute Sesame Mango Chicken Teriyaki

Craving a simple, sweet and savory dish to whip up that is more or less healthy? Give this a try. We bet it would be great with green beans and/or bell peppers too.

4. Lightened-Up Spaghetti Squash Alfredo

This might be The. Best. Recipe. Ever. Whether you are craving some Fettuccine Alfredo but don’t want something quite as heavy, or if you’ve been meaning to make some spaghetti squash but don’t know where to start, or if you simply need a delicious dinner, we love this recipe. Seriously. Try it.

5. Meatball Bake

This is a winning recipe, especially if you have frozen or leftover meatballs lying around. (If you don’t, they are really simple to make – check out this recipe. Feel free to use just ground beef if you don’t have veal and pork lying around.) Throw it all together with just a few ingredients for some classic comfort food.

6. Cold Peanut Sesame Noodles with Chicken

Cold noodles, hot chicken and fresh cucumbers. Yum!

7. Pasta with Yogurt and Caramelized Onions

You can and absolutely should use Greek yogurt as the base of your pasta sauce.

Featured Photo Credit: Pinch Of Yum

Tags: 20 minute, dinner recipe, quick dinner, recipe, weeknight meals
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