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72 Weeknight Dinner Ideas for Kids

Tired of the dinnertime battle? Check out these dinner ideas for kids that will please little ones and parents alike. Best part: They all get on the table in a hurry so you can enjoy some extra family time!

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Cheeseburger Cups

A terrific recipe for moms with young kids and busy lives, this simple, inexpensive dish is made with handy ingredients and takes just a short time. Best of all, kids will go absolutely crazy for these darling dinner bites! —Jeri Millhouse, Ashland, Ohio

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Easy Chicken Strips Exps Ft20 43833 F 0417 1 Home 5

Easy Chicken Strips

I came up with these crispy strips one night when I was looking for a fast new way to serve chicken. They also make delightful appetizers, especially when served with barbecue or sweet-and-sour sauce for dunking. —Crystal Sheckles-Gibson, Beespring, Kentucky
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Ravioli Casserole Exps Ft20 8609 F 0528 1 Home 1

Ravioli Casserole

The whole family will love the fun, cheesy flavor of this ravioli casserole. It’s like lasagna—without all the fuss! Timesaving ingredients, including prepared spaghetti sauce and frozen ravioli, hurry the preparation along. —Mary Ann Rothert, Austin, Texas
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Ham and Scalloped Potatoes

I fix this saucy skillet dish often, especially when I’m running late, because it’s easy and it takes so little time to prepare. The recipe won first prize in our local paper some years back. —Emma Magielda, Amsterdam, New York
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Contest Winning Taco Casserole Exps Ft21 30012 F 0430 1

Contest-Winning Taco Casserole

My preschooler doesn’t eat ground beef unless it’s taco flavored, so I came up with this taco bake we all like. To make assembly easy, I prepare the taco meat and freeze several bags at a time. I also cook the noodles over the weekend for a timely supper later in the week. –Kathy Wilson, Romeoville, Illinois
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Chinese Pork Fried Rice Exps Tohescodr22 24928 Dr 02 18 6b

Chinese Pork Fried Rice

Pretty peas and crunchy carrots add color to tender poultry and rice in this savory supper recipe sent by Peggy Vaught of Glasgow, West Virginia.
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Baked Orange Chicken Exps Ft21 41694 F 0720 1

Baked Orange Chicken

This baked orange chicken is a quick and elegant recipe. It can easily be doubled or tripled for company. I like to serve mine with a baked potato. —Pamela Siple, Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania
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Bacon Cheeseburger Pasta Exps Gbbz19 12349 C11 08 6b 2

Bacon Cheeseburger Pasta

I try to make foods that are not only kid friendly, but are also easy to reheat since my husband works long hours and often eats later than our children. If you like, use reduced-fat cheese and ground turkey for a lighter version. —Melissa Stevens, Elk River, Minnesota
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Sloppy Joe Pizza Exps Gbbz19 17168 E11 28 6b 2

Sloppy Joe Pizza

If your kids like sloppy joes, they'll love this pizza. I came up with the six-ingredient recipe that's easy to assemble. —Brenda Rohlman, Kingman, Kansas
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Skillet Mac & Cheese

This creamy mac and cheese is so simple it’s almost too easy! Kids always go for the rich cheese flavor, but I’ve never met an adult who didn’t love it just as much. —Ann Bowers, Rockport, Texas
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Steak Sandwich Kabobs Exps Sdam19 37275 C12 11 2b 8

Steak Sandwich Kabobs

Skewers with seasoned steak, bread and veggies are grilled and topped with provolone cheese for a fantastic meal. Coleslaw, spruced up with chopped walnuts, is a great side for the kabobs. —Taste of Home Test Kitchen
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One Skillet Lasagna Exps Oprbz22 50956 Dr 06 23 4b

One-Skillet Lasagna

This is hands-down one of the best skillet lasagna recipes our testing panel has ever tasted. And with classic flavors and cheesy layers, it’s definitely kid-friendly. —Taste of Home Test Kitchen
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Fair-Favorite Corn Dogs

Bring the county fair home to your kitchen with these summer-ready corn dogs. A tip for dipping: Pour the batter in a tall Mason jar and dunk the dogs to create an even coating all around. —Taste of Home Test Kitchen
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Crispy Baked Corn Flake Chicken Exps Ft21 19857 F 0505 1

Cornflake Chicken

I took a recipe off a box of baking mix and altered it to make the prep easier. The result was this moist oven-fried cornflake chicken with a thick golden coating that’s a lot crisper than the original. —Angela Capettini, Boynton Beach, Florida
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Hearty Pita Tacos Exps Gbbz19 47975 E11 13 3b 3

Hearty Pita Tacos

You don't need to skimp on flavor when trying to eat healthy. Our 9-year-old daughter enjoys helping us make these tasty tacos, and likes eating them even more. —Jamie Valocchi, Mesa, Arizona
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Game Night Nacho Pizza Exps Opbz18 46936 C06 29 2b 9

Game-Night Nacho Pizza

Some like it hot with jalapenos; others like it cool with a dollop of sour cream. But one thing’s for sure: This is “nacho” ordinary pizza night. —Jamie Jones, Madison, Georgia
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Chicken And Bows Exps Ft20 33339 F 0416 1 3

Chicken and Bows

I first made this chicken bow tie pasta when I was a professional nanny. It comes together quickly at dinnertime when the kids are hungry. —Danette Forbes, Overland Park, Kansas
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Tangy Sweet And Sour Meatballs Exps Sdjj19 7920 C02 08 1b 20

Tangy Sweet-and-Sour Meatballs

A fabulous sauce, green pepper and pineapple chunks transform premade meatballs into something special. Serving them over rice makes for a satisfying main dish. —Ruth Andrewson, Leavenworth, Washington
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Pork Chops With Parmesan Sauce Exps Sdam19 47698 C12 12 6b 9

Pork Chops with Parmesan Sauce

Moist and tender chops make a speedy and comforting weeknight meal. They’re dressed with a smooth, creamy sauce seasoned with Parmesan, onion and a hint of nutmeg, parsley and thyme. Here’s a new family favorite! Taste of Home Test Kitchen
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Gnocchi Chicken Skillet Exps Chbz19 24576 C10 23 8b 12

Gnocchi Chicken Skillet

Stovetop chicken and gnocchi recipes like this one make for a homey dinner in a hurry. Personalize it with your own favorite sauce and seasonings. —Taste of Home Test Kitchen
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Mexican Turkey Roll-Ups

This is the perfect recipe when you're hungry for a dish with Mexican flavor and want to use turkey. These roll-ups are fun and so tasty, even kids like them. It's a different use for leftover turkey. —Marlene Muckenhirn, Delano, Minnesota
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Weeknight Pasta Squiggles

This zesty pasta dish is ideal for busy weeknights. It contains just a few ingredients, is easy to prep, and tastes so comforting when the weather turns cool. A salad on the side makes this healthy pasta recipe a meal. —Stacey Brown, Spring, Texas
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Waffle-Iron Pizzas

These little pizza pockets are a fun mashup using a waffle iron. Try adding your favorite toppings or even a few breakfast fillings, such as ham and eggs. —Amy Lents, Grand Forks, North Dakota
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Flavorful Sloppy Joes Exps Cf2bz20 34366 B12 04 4b 6

Flavorful Sloppy Joes

Do you like sloppy joes but not all the leftovers? This recipe makes just enough for two hearty sandwiches. The sauce level in the meat mixture is low, making it a little less messy to eat on a bun.
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Garlic Chicken with Herbs

Pan-roasting garlic cloves turns them into rich, creamy deliciousness. This chicken is also fantastic with a loaf of crusty bread or mashed potatoes on the side. —Kathy Fleming, Lisle, Illinois
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Cowboy Stew Exps Ft21 63233 F 0720 1

Cowboy Stew

I made up this cowboy stew in the early 1970s when I was down to very little food in the house. Because it’s a combination of barbecue sauce, hamburger, hot dogs and beans, this one-skillet meal makes both children and adults happy. —Val Rananawski, Millville, New Jersey
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Dill Pickle Hamburger Pizza

My husband's favorite foods are pizza and cheeseburgers, so I combined the two in a pizza with mayo and dill pickle juice topping. People who try it always laugh in surprise because it's so good. —Angie Zimmerman, Eureka, Illinois
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Parmesan Fish Sticks

I wanted a healthier approach to fish sticks and developed a baked tilapia with a slightly peppery bite. My husband and sons love the crispy coating. —Candy Summerhill, Alexander, Arkansas
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Southwestern Spaghetti

Chili powder and cumin give a mild Mexican flavor to this colorful one-skillet supper. With chunks of fresh zucchini, it's a nice change of pace from typical spaghetti dishes. —Beth Coffee, Hartford City, Indiana
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Ground Beef Shepherd S Pie Exps Ft22 18787 F 0224 1

Ground Beef Shepherd’s Pie

This hearty ground beef shepherd’s pie is an ideal supper-in-one for small families. I use ground beef, frozen veggies and canned gravy to hurry along the down-home dinner. —Elaine Williams, Surrey, British Columbia
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Black Bean Enchiladas Exps Ft21 14206 F 0727 1

Black Bean and Cheese Enchiladas

Picante sauce gives lots of zip to the tasty filling in these meatless black bean and cheese enchiladas. Each generous serving is packed with fresh-tasting ingredients—and fiber, too. — Taste of Home Test Kitchen
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Homemade Fettuccini Alfredo Exps Toham21 21260 B12 02 13b 1

Homemade Fettuccine Alfredo

This easy Alfredo sauce is creamy, comforting and coats fettuccine noodles in fine fashion. This recipe is wonderful as is, but sometimes I like to add sliced fresh mushrooms and black olives that have been sautéed in butter and garlic. —Jo Gray, Park City, Montana
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Pizza Pancakes

I clipped this recipe from our local paper a few years ago. It's a tasty lunch treat for hearty appetites. Plan on doubling the recipe for hungry grandkids. —Maxine Smith, Owanka, South Dakota
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Ham And Cheese Pockets Exps Sdfm19 1092 C10 17 6b 5

Ham and Cheese Pockets

These unique sandwich pockets are filled with ingredients both kids and adults enjoy. —Callie Myers, Rockport, Texas
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Beef With Ramen Noodles Exps Ft21 22747 F 1116 1

Beef with Ramen Noodles

I made up this beef with ramen noodles recipe when I was looking for good Chinese food in beautiful Oregon. Each time I make this, I change something slightly. Leftovers heat easily in the microwave or fry pan.
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Chicken Broccoli Casserole Exps Ft21 151 F 0729 1 9

Chicken Broccoli Casserole

Broccoli is a favorite vegetable in our home. This is one dish that always gets rave reviews. Serve it for a brunch or dinner. —Colleen Lewis, Cottonwood, Arizona
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Quick Chili Mac Exps Sdfm17 26633 C10 07 4b 2

Quick Chili Mac

This combines chili with one of my favorite pasta dishes. I often serve it for company or potlucks and occasionally add taco seasoning or use beanless chili and add black beans. —Lee Steinmetz, Lansing, Michigan
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Smothered Burritos

My brother-in-law teased that I only knew five ground beef recipes. I proved him wrong with my inventive spicy burritos. —Kim Kenyon, Greenwood, Missouri
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Muffin-Tin Lasagnas

This is a super fun way to serve lasagna for make-ahead lunches, potlucks or other fun get-togethers. My daughter took some of these to work and by noon was emailing me for the recipe. —Sally Kilkenny, Granger, Iowa
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Chicken Nuggets Exps Sdon18 1500 E06 13 1b 16

Chicken Nuggets

I like to make these golden chicken nuggets because they’re so quick and easy. My whole family loves them. You can also use the seasoning to cook chicken breast halves. Stack them on rustic bread with mayo, lettuce and tomato for delicious sandwiches. —Annette Ellyson, Carolina, West Virginia
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Burger Sliders With Secret Sauce Exps Mtbz21 260175 B03 11 2b 1

Burger Sliders with Secret Sauce

These sliders are super easy to put together and are always a hit! I love that they are “fast food” without our having to go to a restaurant. Take them to a party, make them for dinner or serve them on game day. The meat can also be made ahead of time in preparation for your gathering. —April Lee Wiencek, Chicago, Illinois
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Stovetop Beef and Shells

I fix this supper when I'm pressed for time. It's as tasty as it is fast. Team it with salad, bread and fruit for a comforting meal. —Donna Roberts, Manhattan, Kansas
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Chicken Rice Skillet Exps Miopbz17 15416 C10 13 5b 4

Chicken Rice Skillet

Pleasant seasonings and plenty of vegetables highlight this traditional chicken and rice pairing. Leftovers are great reheated in the microwave. —Jan Balata, Kilkenny, Minnesota
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Frito Pie

Frito pie is legendary in the Southwest for being spicy, salty and cheesy fabulous. Here’s my easy take on this crunchy classic. —Jan Moon, Alamogordo, New Mexico
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Grandma S Swedish Meatballs Exps Sdon16 76175 D06 03 3b 13

Grandma's Swedish Meatballs

My mother made these hearty meatballs when we were growing up, and now my kids love them, too. My daughter likes to help shake the meatballs in flour. —Karin Ness, Big Lake, Minnesota
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Chicken Parmesan Stromboli Exps Rc21 262786 B07 21 4b 15

Chicken Parmesan Stromboli

I love chicken Parmesan and my family loves stromboli so one day I tried to combine the two using a few convenience products. It turned out better than I could have hoped for. It’s now a staple in our house. —Cyndy Gerken, Naples, Florida
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Cheeseburger N Fries Casserole Exps 13x9bz19 7899 E10 05 6b 2

Cheeseburger and Fries Casserole

Kids love this casserole because it combines two of their favorite fast foods. And I like the fact that I can whip it up with just four ingredients. —Karen Owen, Rising Sun, Indiana
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Sweet Potato-Crusted Chicken Nuggets

I was looking for ways to spice up traditional chicken nuggets and came up with this recipe. The chips add a crunchy texture and flavor, while the meat is tender on the inside. —Kristina Segarra, Yonkers, New York
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Tacos On A Stick Exps Sdjj18 18425 C02 16 1b 2

Tacos on a Stick

Teens like assembling these creative kabobs almost as much as they like devouring them. The whole family is sure to love the sensational Southwestern flavor of this twist on beef shish kabobs. —Dixie Terry, Goreville, Illinois
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Steak Mushroom Stroganoff Exps Sddj17 195331 16 C08 03 5b 5

Steak & Mushroom Stroganoff

This homey recipe of steak and egg noodles in a creamy sauce is just like what we had at my gran's house when we visited. It's one of my favorite "memory meals," as I call them. —Janelle Shank, Omaha, Nebraska
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Pork Barbecue Sandwiches Exps Bfbz19 21244 B01 16 2b 4

Pork Barbecue Sandwiches

We were happy when there was pork roast on the menu because we were sure that, within the next few days, we’d be feasting on leftover pork in these tasty sandwiches.
-George Hascher, Phoenicia, New York
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Chili Dog Pizza

My girls love it when I make this mash-up pizza with hot dogs and chili. It’s a marvelous way to use up leftover chili. —Jennifer Stowell, Smithville, Missouri
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Stovetop Turkey Tetrazzini

A very special aunt shared this fun spin on creamy tetrazzini. We think it’s even better the next day. —Tasia Cox, Niceville, Florida
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Ham & Swiss Baked Penne

As a kid I loved to the hot ham and Swiss sandwiches from a local fast-food restaurant. With its melty, gooey goodness, this bake makes me think of them. —Ally Billhorn, Wilton, Iowa
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Caesar Chicken with Feta

My tomatoey chicken is the perfect answer on those crazy days when supper has to be on the table in 30 minutes, tops (doesn't hurt that it's delicious, too). —Denise Chelpka, Phoenix, Arizona
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Easy Beef Soup Exps Ft21 10037 F 1117 1

Easy Beef Soup

This colorful, easy beef soup comes together in minutes. Even my husband, who admits he’s no cook, makes it on occasion. —Agnes Bierbaum, Gainesville, Florida
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Skillet Ham & Rice

Ham, rice and mushrooms make a tasty combination in this homey stovetop dish. It goes from start to finish in just 25 minutes. —Susan Zivec, Regina, Saskatchewan
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Whole Grain Chow Mein

My kids are picky eaters, but teriyaki and hoisin sauces work wonders with them. They love the meatballs, and I swap the noodles for whole grain pasta. —Kelly Shippey, Orange, California
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Veggie Tacos Exps Sdfm17 32191 C10 06 5b 3

Veggie Tacos

These vegetarian tacos are stuffed with a blend of sauteed cabbage, peppers and black beans so filling, you won't miss the meat. Top with avocado, cheese or a dollop of sour cream. —Taste of Home Test Kitchen
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Chicken-Pepper Alfredo

When I want a lighter dinner, I use lean turkey bacon in this recipe. It gives the pasta that richness you want without all the extra fat. —Courtney Harris, Denton, Texas
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Turkey Salsa Bowls with Tortilla Wedges

Delicious and nutritious, this dish was a favorite of the kids who participated in the junior chef classes I taught at my church. The recipe encouraged creativity and healthy eating as students designed their own salsa bowls using whole grains, vegetables and lean protein. —Jean Gottfried, Upper Sandusky, Ohio
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Pierogi Quesadillas

When I had hungry children in the kitchen and nothing but leftovers, I invented these quesadillas. Now it's how we always use up our potatoes, meats and sometimes veggies. —Andrea Dibble, Solon, Iowa
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Chicken Pesto With Pasta Exps30125 5ing2856595d03 13 5b Rms 2

Chicken Pesto with Pasta

Prepared sauce accents this warm chicken pesto pasta. Keep pesto in the freezer for the next time you have leftover chicken. —Taste of Home Test Kitchen
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Bbq Meat Loaf Minis Exps Cwas18 53418 B04 05  2b 11

BBQ Meat Loaf Minis

Kids can have fun helping to prepare these mini meat loaves in muffin cups. For extra spice, we sometimes add 2 teaspoons chili powder and 1 cup of salsa. —Linda Call, Falun, Kansas
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Chicken Pizza

My fun twist on typical pizza is an excellent way to use up leftover pesto. And since it’s loaded with protein-rich chicken and black beans, it’s hearty enough to satisfy everyone! —Taste of Home Test Kitchen, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
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15-Minute Microwave Meat Loaf

I combined a few awesome-tasting recipes to create this flavorful microwave meat loaf, which my husband loves. And because it's made in the microwave, the entree is ideal for busy nights. —Deb Thompson, Lincoln, Nebraska
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Triple Cheese Twists

Our stovetop macaroni and cheese is extra special, thanks to the buttery crumb topping. —Taste of Home Test Kitchen
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Zesty Grilled Ham Exps Sdam17 830 C12 09 5b 5

Zesty Grilled Ham

If it's ham, my kids will eat it, but they like this kicked-up recipe best of all. Even the small ones eat adult-sized portions, so be sure to make plenty. —Mary Ann Lien, Tyler, Texas
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Pizza Tater Tot Casserole Exps 13x9bz21 47280 E10 08 3b 18

Pizza Tater Tot Casserole

For a spin on a classic casserole, try this easy version. For a fun twist, just add your family’s favorite pizza toppings! —Sharon Skildum, Maple Grove, Minnesota
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Italian Submarine

My Italian husband grew up eating this flavorful sandwich, which his mother used to make it after Saturday chores were finished. Put the sub together a few hours ahead and refrigerate, then serve with chips, veggies and dip for a delicious meal. —Christine Lupella, Fifty Lakes, Minnesota
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Ranchero Supper

This hearty dish is fast and easy to fix after a busy workday. We like to use hickory and bacon baked beans and serve it with fruit or a green salad for a complete meal. —Karen Roberts, Lawrence, Kansas
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Easy Chicken Casserole Exps Ft21 8141 F 0616 1 17

Chicken Casserole with Crackers

I never bring home leftovers whenever I take this creamy chicken casserole with Ritz crackers to a potluck. Its mild flavor has broad appeal. I especially like the way that the crumb topping adds a bit of crunch to each meaty serving. —Faye Hintz, Springfield, Missouri

Carrie Madormo, RN
Now a freelance health and food writer, Carrie worked as a nurse for over a decade. When she isn't hunched over her laptop with a baby in hand, you will find her cooking her grandmother’s recipes, lacing up her running shoes or sipping coffee in the bathroom to hide from her three young children.