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The end of April spells the beginning of chaos for families with school-aged children. Recitals, field trips, concerts, plays, practice, evening games and more light to cram it all in means less time to think about dinner.

But gathering the herd together and spending time at the table, even if it's 30 minutes, is a great way to keep ahead of the calendar and make certain that everyone's stress level is still manageable.

Here are some ideas for dinner that you might want to try. All are easy, most are pretty quick, and using the slow cooker will help you even more.

And if there are leftovers, pencil them in for a night when there really truly will be no time to cook.

Bacon Cheeseburger Pasta

  • 8 ounces uncooked penne pasta
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 6 bacon strips, diced
  • 1 can (10-3/4 ounces) condensed tomato soup, undiluted
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 cup (4 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese
  • Barbecue sauce and prepared mustard, optional

Cook pasta according to package directions.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet, cook beef over medium heat until no longer pink; drain and set aside.

In same skillet, cook bacon until crisp; remove with a slotted spoon to paper towels to drain. Discard drippings. Drain pasta; add to skillet. Stir in the soup, water, beef and bacon; heat through.

Remove from heat and sprinkle with cheese. Cover and let stand 2 to 3 minutes or until the cheese is melted. If desired, serve with barbecue sauce and mustard. Serves 4.

(Recipe courtesy of "Taste of Home Easy Weeknight Dinners")

Reuben Casserole

  • 1 can (14 ounces) sauerkraut, rinsed and well drained
  • 1 cup Thousand Island dressing
  • 1 pound thinly sliced deli corned beef, cut into strips
  • 2 cups (8 ounces) shredded Swiss cheese
  • 4 to 6 slices rye bread, buttered

Combine sauerkraut and salad dressing; spread into a greased 13- by 9-inch baking dish. Top with corned beef and cheese.

Place bread, buttered side up, over top. Bake, uncovered, at 375 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes or until heated through and bubbly. Yield: 4 servings.

(Recipe courtesy of "Best of Country 30-Minute Recipes," Reiman Publications)

Grilled Chicken with Peach Sauce

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons peach or orange gelatin powder
  • 1 medium fresh peach, peeled and finely chopped
  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves (4 ounces each)

In a small saucepan, combine sugar, cornstarch and water until smooth. Bring to a boil over medium heat; cook and stir for 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in gelatin powder and peach; mix well until gelatin powder is dissolve. Set aside 1 cup for serving.

Grill chicken, uncovered, over medium heat for 3 minutes on each side. Baste with some of the remaining peach sauce. Continue grilling for 6 to 8 minutes or until meat juices run clear, basting and turning several times. Serve with the reserved peach sauce. Yield: 4 servings.

(Recipe courtesy of "Best of Country 30-Minute Recipes," Reiman Publications)

Rigatoni & Sausage

  • 3-3/4 cups uncooked rigatoni
  • 5 Italian sausage links (4 ounces each), sliced
  • 1 jar (24 ounces) spaghetti sauce
  • 1/4 cup dry red wine
  • 2 cups (8 ounces) shredded Italian cheese blend

Preheat oven to 350. Cook rigatoni according to package directions.

Meanwhile, in a Dutch oven, cook sausage over medium heat until no longer pink; drain. Add spaghetti sauce and wine.

Drain rigatoni; add to sausage mixture and toss to coat.

Transfer to a greased 13- by 9-inch baking dish; sprinkle with cheese. Bake, uncovered, 15 to 20 minutes or until cheese is melted. Serves 6.

Freeze Option: Transfer individual portion of cooked pasta mixture to freezer containers. To use, partially thaw in refrigerator overnight. Heat through in a saucepan, stirring occasionally and adding a little spaghetti sauce if necessary.

(Recipe courtesy of "Taste of Home Easy Weeknight Dinners")

Mushroom Cube Steaks

  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Dash pepper
  • 2 beef cube steaks (1/4 to 1/3-pound each)
  • 2 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce, divided
  • 1/2 pound fresh mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon chopped onion
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley

In a large resealable plastic bag, combine the flour, salt and pepper. Add beef, a piece at a time, and shake to coat.

In a large skillet, brown steak over medium heat, in 1 tablespoon butter until meat is no longer pink. Remove the steaks to a serving platter; spread each with 1/2 teaspoon mustard. Pour 1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce over each; keep warm.

In the same skillet, saute mushrooms and onion in remaining butter until tender. Add parsley and remaining Worcestershire sauce. Return steaks to skillet; cover and simmer for 5 to 7 minutes or until meat is tender. Yield: 2 servings.

(Recipe courtesy of "Best of Country 30-Minute Recipes," Reiman Publications)

Pasta Meatball Soup

  • 1 cup uncooked spiral or shell pasta
  • 1 package (12 ounces) frozen fully cooked Italian meatballs, thawed
  • 2 cans (14-1/2 ounces each) chicken broth
  • 1 can (28 ounces) diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1-1/2 cups frozen sliced carrots, thawed
  • 1 can (16 ounces) kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 jar (14 ounces) meatless spaghetti sauce
  • 1 jar (4-1/2 ounces) sliced mushrooms, drained
  • 1 cup frozen peas

Cook pasta according to package directions. Meanwhile, combine the remaining ingredients in a soup kettle or Dutch oven. Bring to a boil; cover and simmer for 5 minutes. Drain the pasta. Add to the soup and heat through. Yield: 10 servings (3 quarts).

(Recipe courtesy of "Taste of Home Almost Homemade 2012," Reiman Publications)

Au Gratin Ham Pot Pie

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  • 1 package (4.9 ounces) au gratin potatoes
  • 1-1/2 cups boiling water
  • 2 cups frozen peas and carrots
  • 1-1/2 cups cubed fully cooked ham
  • 1 can (10-3/4 ounces) condensed cream of chicken soup, undiluted
  • 1 can (4 ounces) mushroom stems and pieces, drained
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 jar (2 ounces) diced pimientos, drained
  • 1 sheet refrigerated pie pastry

In a large bowl, combine the potatoes, contents of sauce mix and water. Stir in the peas and carrots, ham, soup, mushrooms, milk, sour cream and pimientos. Transfer to an ungreased 2-quart round baking dish.

Roll out pastry to fit top of dish; place over potato mixture. Flute edges; cut slits in pastry. Bake at 400 degrees for 40 to 45 minutes or until golden brown. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving. Yield: 4 to 6 servings.

(Recipe courtesy of "Taste of Home Almost Homemade 2012," Reiman Publications)

Slow-Cooked Southwest Chicken

  • 2 cans (15 ounces each) black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can (14-1/2 ounces) reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 can (14-1/2 ounces) diced tomatoes with mild green chiles, undrained
  • 1/2 pound boneless skinless chicken breast
  • 1 jar (8 ounces) chunky salsa
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 1 tablespoon dried parsley flakes
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 3 cups hot cooked rice

In a 2- or 3-quart slow cooker, combine the beans, broth, tomatoes, chicken, salsa, corn and seasonings. Cover and cook on low for 6 to 8 hours or until a meat thermometer reads 170 degrees.

Shred chicken with two forks and return to the slow cooker; heat through. Serve with rice. Makes 6 servings.

(Recipe courtesy of "Taste of Home Almost Homemade 2012," Reiman Publications)

Italian Beef on Rolls

  • 1 beef sirloin tip roast (2 pounds)
  • 1 can (14-1/2 ounces) diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 medium green pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon sesame seeds
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seed, crushed
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 8 hard rolls, split

Place the roast in a 3-quart slow cooker. In a small bowl, combine the tomatoes, green pepper, water, sesame seeds and seasonings; pour over the roast. Cover and cook on low for 8 to 9 hours or until the meat is tender.

Remove roast; cool slightly. Skim fat from cooking juices; shred beef and return to the slow cooker. Serve on rolls. Yield: 8 servings.

(Recipe courtesy of "Taste of Home Almost Homemade 2012," Reiman Publications)

Sal's Stroganoff

  • 1 package beef stew meat
  • Flour, salt and pepper for dredging
  • 1 small onion, sliced thinly
  • 1 large can mushroom stems and pieces, drained
  • 1 can (10-3/4 ounces) condensed beefy mushroom soup
  • 1 can (10-3/4 ounces) beef broth or 1 cup wine
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • Cooked noodles or rice

Dredge meat in mixture of flour, salt and pepper. In 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet, brown beef and onions on medium heat until meat is no longer pink and onions are fully cooked. Add beefy mushroom soup, beef broth or wine to deglaze pan. Decrease temperature to low and add mushrooms. Simmer on low while preparing noodles or rice. Just before serving, remove stroganoff from heat. Add a bit of hot mixture to sour cream to temper it, then add all sour cream back in pan. Stir to combine and reheat gently on low. Serve over noodles or rice. Serves 4.

Note: Because this is an original recipe, I would advise that new cooks purchase an extra can of beef broth, especially if you prefer not to use wine. You may find the finished dish not "saucy" enough, in which case a bit more beef broth (or wine!) will work like magic. Just simmer it an extra minute to make sure it's all warmed up deliciously.

(Recipe is a Sal original)

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