One of the most popular types of recipes here on LLK is that of quick and easy dinner ideas. While we all love gawking at pictures of decadent, gooey chocolate anything drizzled in caramel with sprinkles on top, what we NEED is anything that will help get dinner on the table – FAST. I think this is because we all know how important it is to sit down together with our families and connect with each other over a meal, however simple it may be. The easier the preparation for the meal, the more time we actually have to sit down and enjoy it together. Because there’s always somewhere we need to be or something we need to get done soon after.
I rarely serve anything for dinner that takes longer than 30 minutes of prep time. When my boys get home from school, we have piano practice, soccer, cartooning class, orthodontist appointments, homework, and church activities. Not all of them every day, but every day SOMETHING. And then you throw in the little bits and pieces that come your way you really hadn’t planned on. Like that time I had to go to the park alone with a shovel.
Why would I do that you ask? A couple of weeks ago, we had a nice rainy day. As I was picking my boys up from school, the clouds began to part, and the sun came out. They begged to stop by the park on the way home to play for a little bit before Little Boy #1’s piano lesson. So we did, and they played… mostly digging an elaborate scheme of connected tunnels in the sand, which was the perfect consistency for tunneling because of the recent rain. ONE boy decided it would be funny to BURY another boy’s SHOE in the TUNNEL. So when we had to leave the park to get to the piano lesson, and went to collect shoes, it was no where to be found. Then he says innocently, “Oh GOTCHA! I buried your shoe so you could have a little treasure hunt! It’s right over here. (dig, dig, dig) Or maybe over here? (dig, dig, dig). Hmmm…”
So we left the park as one frustrated mama and three boys minus with five shoes, and drove home to complete the piano lesson. Later that evening, I went back to the park with a shovel in hand to dig up the lost shoe. Now you might wonder why I didn’t make the shoe burying child come and find the shoe. Going to the park two times in one day is a reward and would not reinforce the idea that burying shoes is not a good idea. So I arrived at the park with my shovel, and of course there were some teenagers hanging out at the picnic table nearby. So as I’m digging (alone), I’m painfully aware of how strange I must look. I almost shouted out, “OH HERE IS THE SHOE THAT WE LEFT HERE EARLIER!” when the buried treasure was finally found, just for their sake, but then I realized I’m past the age where I really care what teenagers think of me anyway. At least I found the shoe!
So all of that to say, sometimes you need an idea for a quick and easy dinner, and I totally understand that! So grab a few potatoes, some grilled chicken, and a little crumbled bacon. Take a few minutes to whisk together the creamiest, homemade cheesy alfredo sauce on your stovetop, and you are good to go. There really is something comforting about a piping hot baked potato, especially the ones topped with crispy BACON and creamy ALFREDO sauce. Especially if you’ve had the kind of day where you spend time digging for buried treasure in the sand!
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- 4 large baking potatoes, scrubbed clean (I used Russet)
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Salt and Pepper
- 2 chicken breasts, grilled and sliced
- 4 strips of bacon, cooked and crumbled
- 2 green onions, sliced thinly
For the Creamy Alfredo
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 glove of garlic, pressed through a garlic press or finely minced
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1 cup freshly shredded monterey jack cheese
- salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Dry your scrubbed potatoes, and rub them with vegetable oil and sprinkle the skin with salt. I like to use a coarsely ground sea salt, but any kind is fine. Pierce the potatoes a few times with a knife to allow steam to escape while baking and place them on the oven rack. Bake for 50-60 minutes, or until they feel soft when you squeeze them.
- When your potatoes are almost done baking, start on your creamy alfredo sauce. In a small saucepan, melt butter over medium high heat. Sauté your garlic in the butter for a couple of minutes and then add flour. Whisk the flour and butter together for a couple more minutes.
- Slowly add milk, and whisk the flour and butter paste into the milk until it is smooth. Bring it to a gentle boil and let it cook on medium heat until it starts to thicken up a bit (5-8 minutes). Whisk in the shredded cheese and add salt and pepper to taste. Remove the pan from the heat.
- Make a slit in the top of each potato with a knife, and squeeze the sides of the potato to open them up. Add a bit of butter to each potato and sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Divide your grilled chicken between each of the potatoes, and spoon your creamy alfredo sauce on top of the chicken. Sprinkle with bacon and green onions.
To make these even easier, you could use a rotisserie chicken instead of grilling your own. Also, steamed broccoli would be really good in here too!