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75 Budget-Friendly Dinners That Are Big on Taste

Need dinner on a budget? These cheap meals made with pasta, ground beef, stir-fry veggies and more will keep your wallet full and your taste buds happy.

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Slow Cooker Mac and Cheese

What could be more comforting (or easy!) than a slow cooker mac and cheese? Nothing! This classic casserole is a rich and cheesy meatless main dish, and I’ve never met anyone who didn’t ask for second helpings of the cheesy dish. Bernice Glascoe, Roxboro, North Carolina

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Hay and StrawTaste of Home

Hay and Straw

This recipe is not only quick and easy to prepare, it's pretty, too. This colorful pasta dish combines julienned ham, Parmesan cheese, peas and linguine.Priscilla Weaver, Hagerstown, Maryland

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Penne with Tomatoes & White BeansTaste of Home

Penne with Tomatoes & White Beans

I learned how to make this dish from friends in Genoa, Italy, where they're known for creating tasty combinations of veggies, pasta and beans. You can sub feta cheese to give this a Greek twist. Trisha Kruse, Eagle, Idaho

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Southwestern CasseroleTaste of Home

Southwestern Casserole

I've been making this mild family-pleasing southwest casserole recipe for years. It tastes wonderful, fits nicely into our budget and, best of all, makes a second one to freeze and enjoy later. Joan Hallford, North Richland Hills, Texas

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Cheesy Bow Tie ChickenTaste of Home

Cheesy Bow Tie Chicken

Here's a super-simple dish that tastes like it's straight from a nice Italian restaurant. Spinach-artichoke dip is usually available in supermarket delis. It comes frozen, too. Just make sure to thaw it according to the package directions before dinnertime. Sally Sibthorpe, Shelby Township, Michigan

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Carolina-Style Vinegar BBQ ChickenTaste of Home

Carolina-Style Vinegar BBQ Chicken

I live in Georgia, but I appreciate the tangy, sweet taste of Carolina barbecue chicken. In fact, my sons are more likely to show up to dinner if they know I'm serving this slow cooker recipe. Ramona Parris, Canton, Georgia

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Chicken & Bacon TartTaste of Home

Chicken & Bacon Tart

If youre one of those folks who think bacon is a food group, youll love this weeknight-friendly twist with a sweet and spicy kick from jalapeno jelly. Crisp puff pastry and store-bought chicken strips make prep work goof-proof! Simple & Delicious Test Kitchen

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Rosemary-Apricot Pork TenderloinTaste of Home

Rosemary-Apricot Pork Tenderloin

You'll be surprised at how quickly this dish comes together for an easy weeknight meal. And with very little effort, you'll have tender and juicy meat that begs to be added to a salad or sandwich the next day. Marie Rizzio, Interlochen, Michigan

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Peas & Pasta CarbonaraTaste of Home

Peas & Pasta Carbonara

Using cream cheese to fortify the sauce speeds up cooking time and will have you eating my take on this old-time classic carbonara recipe in about 30 minutes. Celeste Brantolino, Lenoir, North Carolina

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Italian Pesto PizzasTaste of Home

Italian Pesto Pizzas

These individual pizzas, ready in 30 minutes or less, give you good reason not to call out for dinner. The pesto base makes the kitchen smell wonderful while its baking. Kelly Evans, Kalamazoo, Michigan

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Conga Lime PorkTaste of Home

Conga Lime Pork

Dinner guests wont be too shy to get in line when this yummy chipotle pork moves to the buffet table. Janice Elder, Charlotte, North Carolina

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Beef & Pepper SkilletTaste of Home

Beef & Pepper Skillet

I love Mexican-inspired food. I also enjoy experimenting with recipes like this one and making them as healthyand downright good!for my family as possible. Jenny Dubinsky, Inwood, West Virginia

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Slow-Cooker Buffalo Chicken LasagnaTaste of Home

Slow-Cooker Buffalo Chicken Lasagna

When I make this tasty chicken lasagna at home, I use a whole bottle of Buffalo wing sauce because my family likes it nice and spicy. Increase the pasta sauce and use less wing sauce if you prefer. Heidi Pepin, Sykesville, Maryland

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Refried Bean-Taco PizzaTaste of Home

Refried Bean-Taco Pizza

When Im in a rush, I take advantage of convenient prepared pizza crust to create this Mexican-style pizza. If you like it spicy, add a little chopped jalapeno pepper to the skillet when cooking the beef. Mary Detweiler, Middlefield, Ohio

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Sassy Chicken & PeppersTaste of Home

Sassy Chicken & Peppers

This quick and healthy chicken and peppers recipe tastes like a naked taco and is bursting with fresh flavors. And it can all be prepared in the same pan for easy cleanupit's a win-win! Doris Heath, Franklin, North Carolina

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Soupy Chicken Noodle SupperTaste of Home

Soupy Chicken Noodle Supper

At least once a week my six-year-old son, also known as Doctor John, hands me a prescription for chicken noodle soup. Needless to say, I'm always happy to fill it. Heidi Hall, North St. Paul, Minnesota

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Feta Stuffed PeppersTaste of Home

Feta Stuffed Peppers

One of my favorite meals when I was younger was a recipe my mother made called Quick Chili Rice Casserole. I put a Greek spin on it and stuffed it in a pepper. It works great paired with a garden salad and fresh bread. Sacha Morgan, Woodstock, Georgia

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Chicken & Mushroom AlfredoTaste of Home

Chicken & Mushroom Alfredo

Everyone in my family loves when I make this dinner...even my kids! What's great about this recipe is that you can add vegetables you have on hand to make it heartier, such as corn, peas, or diced red bell pepper. Monica Werner, Temecula, California

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Great Northern Bean StewTaste of Home

Great Northern Bean Stew

This thick and hearty stew with great northern beans is sure to chase the winter chills away. Mildred Sherrer, Fort Worth, Texas

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Pork & Ramen Stir-FryTaste of Home

Pork & Ramen Stir-Fry

I normally serve a traditional stir-fry, but I wanted to change it up with this ramen noodle recipe. Ramen noodles are a quick sub for the rice, and we really like the crisp-tender bite from fresh broccoli and a package of coleslaw mix. Barbara Pletzke, Herndon, Virginia

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Chicken Sausages with PolentaTaste of Home

Chicken Sausages with Polenta

I get a kick out of serving this chicken sausage disheveryone's always on time for dinner when they know it's on the menu. Angela Spengler, Tampa, Florida

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Chicken Taco PieTaste of Home

Chicken Taco Pie

This is truly a family fave and is perfect for a busy night of rushing to soccer, swimming lessons or scouts. I put it together in the morning and pop it in the oven when we get home. Karen Latimer, Winnipeg, Manitoba

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Easy Chili VerdeTaste of Home

Easy Chili Verde

I love chili verde. I order it whenever I can at restaurants, and figured out how to make an easy, tasty version at home. People have the option to eat the chili verde with a fork or in tortillas with a variety of toppings such as cheese, cilantro, minced onions or lime wedges. There are never leftovers at my house. Julie Rowland, Salt Lake City, Utah

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Spinach-Stuffed Chicken with LinguineTaste of Home

Spinach-Stuffed Chicken with Linguine

Worthy of an anniversary or an unexpected promotion, this elegant stuffed and rolled chicken looks gorgeous and tastes delicious. Simple & Delicious Test Kitchen

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Spanish Beef HashTaste of Home

Spanish Beef Hash

This tasty blend smells so good as it cooks that it lures people into the kitchen from all over the house. Thomas Reynolds, Tampa, Florida

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Muffin-Cup Cheddar Beef PiesTaste of Home

Muffin-Cup Cheddar Beef Pies

My kids love these beef rolls so much. I always make extra since they heat up so quickly. I give them their choice of dipping saucesspaghetti sauce or ranch dressing are the top picks. Kimberly Farmer, Wichita, Kansas

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Family-Favorite Fried ChickenTaste of Home

Family-Favorite Fried Chicken

I was never impressed with the fried chicken recipes I'd tried, but then I started to experiment and came up with one that my whole family loves. Once you taste it, you'll know why! Samantha Pazdernik, Breckenridge, Minnesota

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Beef and Bean BurritosTaste of Home

Beef and Bean Burritos

This recipe made it through the pickiest taste testers: my kids! They absolutely hate beans, but love, love, love these plump burritos. Mindy Culver, Post Falls, Idaho

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Super Quick Chicken Fried RiceTaste of Home

Super Quick Chicken Fried Rice

After my first child was born, I needed meals that were satisfying and fast. This fried rice is now part of our regular dinner rotation. Alicia Gower, Auburn, New York

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Champagne Cajun TilapiaTaste of Home

Champagne Cajun Tilapia

We think the champagne dressing in this recipe is yummy on almost anything, but its excellent with this lovely fish. The tilapia is perfect in tacos, too! Bernadette Bennett, Waco, Texas

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Chicken Sausages with PeppersTaste of Home

Chicken Sausages with Peppers

Chicken sausage is lower in calories compared to its pork counterpart, but it doesn't skimp on the bold, savory flavors you love. Try it with sweet, crunchy bell peppers for a fast and healthy dinner. Deborah Schaefer, Durand, Michigan

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Chili Mac & CheeseTaste of Home

Chili Mac & Cheese

This Mexican/southwestern casserole of comfort food is high on taste and low on the scale of difficultya delicious combination. Mary Aguilar, Shelby, Ohio

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Cassoulet for TodayTaste of Home

Cassoulet for Today

Traditionally cooked for hours, this cassoulet recipe offers the same homey taste in less time. Its easy on the wallet, too. Virginia Anthony, Jacksonville, Florida

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Chicken Caesar FlorentineTaste of Home

Chicken Caesar Florentine

I adapted this dish from my favorite chicken Caesar salad recipe. It has many of the same ingredients as the salad: croutons, grated Parmesan, chicken, and creamy Caesar dressing. This makes the perfect comforting meal on a busy weeknight. Joyce Conway, Westerville, Ohio

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Tex-Mex PastaTaste of Home

Tex-Mex Pasta

After a recent surgery, I wasnt able to stock up on groceries. One night, I looked in my pantry and created this. The results were fabulous! Michele Orthner, Lethbridge, Alberta

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Southwest-Style Shepherd's PieTaste of Home

Southwest-Style Shepherd's Pie

I was born in Montreal and lived in New England and the Southwest, so Ive merged these influences into recipes like this shepherds pie with turkey, corn and green chiles. Lynn Price, Millville, Massachusetts

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Sausage Pasta with VegetablesTaste of Home

Sausage Pasta with Vegetables

I made this for our pastor one night. He loved it so much we nicknamed it Jasons Pasta. Its a sneaky way to get our kids to eat more veggies. Suzie Foutty Mansfield, Ohio

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Parmesan Baked ChickenTaste of Home

Parmesan Baked Chicken

This no-fuss recipe has been a longtime hit with my family. After a few minutes of prep, the oven does the rest of the work. Janet Faldowski-McFarlan, Gahanna, Ohio

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Taco Salad TacosTaste of Home

Taco Salad Tacos

I was making tacos one night and noticed I was out of spicy taco sauce. Using a combination of spices and fat-free Catalina salad dressing saved our family taco night. Cheryl Plainte, Prudenville, Michigan

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Honey-Mustard Breaded ChickenTaste of Home

Honey-Mustard Breaded Chicken

I get bored with the same old breaded chicken, so I came up with this simple recipe. The coating adds fast flavor to tender chicken cooked on the stovetop. Laura Theofilis, Leonardtown, Maryland

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Healthy Hoppin' JohnTaste of Home

Healthy Hoppin' John

We love Hoppin' John, so I developed this new (and faster) version. I like to mix my chopped green onions in with the hot cooked rice before serving. Debra Keil, Owasso, Oklahoma

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Mexi-Mac CasseroleTaste of Home

Mexi-Mac Casserole

Heres one of my favorite all-in-one meals that uses items I typically have in the pantry. Green chilies give it just a little bite, but its easy to swap in a spicier can of tomatoes if you want to turn up the heat. Jan Conklin, Stevensville, Montana

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Simple Creamy Chicken EnchiladasTaste of Home

Simple Creamy Chicken Enchiladas

This chicken enchilada recipe is one of the first dishes I created and cooked for my husband right after we got married. He was so impressed! We fix these creamy enchiladas for friends regularly. Melissa Rogers, Tuscaloosa, Alabama

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Hearty Portobello LinguineTaste of Home

Hearty Portobello Linguine

If you love Mediterranean cuisine, youll love this entree! It turns any night into a special occasion. I like to serve it with fresh bread and a crisp white wine. Tre Balchowsky, Sausalito, California

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Light Mexican CasseroleTaste of Home

Light Mexican Casserole

A must-try dinner: Here's a healthy layered casserole using whole wheat tortillas, lean beef and more veggies than traditional recipes. Taste of Home Test Kitchen

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Tater Tot CasserolesTaste of Home

Tater Tot Casseroles

Ground beef, sausage and cheese make this tater tot casserole with green beans a crowd-pleaser. Cayenne pepper and hot Italian sausage give it a pleasant kick. Ryan Jones, Chillicothe, Illinois

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Super-Stuffed Mexican PotatoesTaste of Home

Super-Stuffed Mexican Potatoes

These taters are packed! Your whole family will enjoy these hearty stuffed Mexican potatoes. Steve Westphal, Wind Lake, Wisconsin

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Beef & Rice Stuffed Cabbage RollsTaste of Home

Beef & Rice Stuffed Cabbage Rolls

This recipe is special to me because its an easy one-pot meal that tastes like you spent the whole day in the kitchen. My family loves it. Lynn Bowen, Geraldine, Alabama

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Dill Pickle Hamburger PizzaTaste of Home

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 start laughing because it's so good. Angie Zimmerman, Eureka, Illinois

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Spaghetti Pie CasseroleTaste of Home

Spaghetti Pie Casserole

My family adores this spaghetti casserole. It's old-timey comfort food. This is how to make baked spaghetti with cream cheese. Patricia Lavell, Islamorada, Florida

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Mexican Beef-Stuffed PeppersTaste of Home

Mexican Beef-Stuffed Peppers

I grew up eating stuffed peppers and thought my husband would immediately love them as well. He didn't at first, but then I created this slow-cooked recipe. Because he loves fajitas and tacos, I created these peppers with all his favorite flavors tucked inside. Nicole Sullivan, Arvada, Colorado

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Roasted Chicken & Red PotatoesTaste of Home

Roasted Chicken & Red Potatoes

Here's how long to bake chicken leg quarters. Pop this homey dinner in the oven for about an hour, then enjoy! It has so much flavorthe meat juices help cook the veggies just perfectly. Sherri Melotik, Oak Creek, Wisconsin

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Pizza in a BowlTaste of Home

Pizza in a Bowl

On busy days, it's a comfort to know that my family can sit down to dinner minutes after we walk in the door. Double it to wow at a potluck. This recipe works in a slow cooker, too. Virginia Krites, Cridersville, Ohio

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Angel Hair PrimaveraTaste of Home

Angel Hair Primavera

I love to make this when summer is in full swing and the vegetables are at their very best. You can substitute almost any vegetable when in season and at my house, this dish is almost never the same. Tre Balchowsky, Sausalito, California

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Salsa Verde Chicken CasseroleTaste of Home

Salsa Verde Chicken Casserole

This is a rich and surprisingly tasty rendition of all the Tex-Mex dishes molded into one packed, beautiful casserole. Best of all, its ready in only half an hour! Janet McCormick, Proctorville, Ohio

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Garden Vegetable PrimaveraTaste of Home

Garden Vegetable Primavera

Although I enjoy this dish throughout the year, it's even more special when I use my garden to supply the vegetables. A splash of white wine and a sprinkle of fresh basil really add flavor. I have also roasted the vegetables and mixed in chicken breasts with scrumptious results. Carly Curtin, Ellicott City, Maryland

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Hearty Vegetable Beef RaguTaste of Home

Hearty Vegetable Beef Ragu

This recipe is healthy yet satisfying, quick yet delicious. It's on the table in less than 30 minutesand one that my children will gobble up! If you are not fond of kale, stir in baby spinach or chopped broccoli instead. Kim Van Dunk, Caldwell, New Jersey

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Beer Can ChickenTaste of Home

Beer Can Chicken

You'll be proud to serve this stand-up chicken at any family gathering. Treated with a savory rub and then roasted over a beer can for added moisture, its so tasty youll want to call dibs on the leftovers! Shirley Warren, Thiensville, Wisconsin

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Busy-Day Chicken FajitasTaste of Home

Busy-Day Chicken Fajitas

When I don't have much time to cook supper, slow-cooker chicken fajitas are a flavorful way to keep my family full and satisfied. If you aren't cooking for young tastes, try spicing things up with medium or hot picante sauce. Michele Furry, Plains, Montana

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Bacon-Topped Mini Meat LoavesTaste of Home

Bacon-Topped Mini Meat Loaves

Here's all the savory deliciousness of Mom's meat loaf in a single-serving size! Taste of Home Test Kitchen

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Chicken and Rice SkilletTaste of Home

Chicken and Rice Skillet

My Cuban mother-in-law makes the best Arroz Con Pollo, but it is very time consuming. This is my quick, weeknight version of the dish she makes. Jacqueline Correa, Landing, New Jersey

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Shepherd's PiesTaste of Home

Shepherd's Pies

When you need a real meat-and-potatoes fix, try this hearty layered casserole that blends from-scratch mashed potatoes with cream cheese and a meat filling. Your favorite barbecue sauce gives the dish an extra tang. Cindy Kliskey, Pepperell, Massachusetts

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Smothered BurritosTaste of Home

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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Apple Balsamic ChickenTaste of Home

Apple Balsamic Chicken

I just love the sweet and tart flavor that balsamic vinegar gives to this dish. It's easy to prepare and after cooking in the slow cooker, the chicken thighs are tender and flavorful. Juli Snaer, Enid, Oklahoma

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Beef Teriyaki NoodlesTaste of Home

Beef Teriyaki Noodles

At our house, we love to combine fresh ingredients with a pantry product. This version starts with beef, onions, peppers and mushrooms, since we always have them on hand, but make the dish your ownbring out your inner chef! Richard Robinson, Park Forest, Illinois

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Bubbly & Golden Mexican Beef CobblerTaste of Home

Bubbly & Golden Mexican Beef Cobbler

Add whatever you like to this Mexican beef cobbler to make it yoursblack beans, sour cream, even guacamole! Mary Brooks, Clay, Michigan

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Crispy Garlic-Broiled Chicken ThighsTaste of Home

Crispy Garlic-Broiled Chicken Thighs

These garlicky chicken thighs are also great on the grill. Kelley French, Colchester, Vermont

68 / 75
Chili HashTaste of Home

Chili Hash

A little micro time, a dash in the pan and you'll have a satisfying meal for those "where-did-the-time-go?" kind of nights. Now you can put up your feet and relax! Taste of Home Test Kitchen, Milwaukee, Wisconsin

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Glazed Roast ChickenTaste of Home

Glazed Roast Chicken

I like to make this for weeknight dinners. You can make this roast chicken with apricot glaze or quince jelly. Victoria Miller, San Ramon, California

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GolombkiTaste of Home

Golombki

Tender cabbage rolls are stuffed with a delicious mixture of ground beef and onion. Instant rice and canned tomato soup speed along the prep work, and the long oven time gives you a chance to whip up a side dish and pour the wine. Valerie Lipinski, Buffalo, New York

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Chicken Thighs with SausageTaste of Home

Chicken Thighs with Sausage

Whether youre serving your family or special guests, this comforting entree hits the spot on cold winter nights. Joanna Iovino, Kings Park, New York

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Walking TacosTaste of Home

Walking Tacos

These Walking Tacos are great for an on-the-go dinner, campfire meal or easy game night supper. The ingredients transform a bag of chips into a taco in a bag! Beverly Matthews, Pasco, Washington

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Microwaved Chicken KievTaste of Home

Microwaved Chicken Kiev

I fix these microwave-easy chicken breasts all the time and love the taste. Dorothy LaCombe, Hamburg, New York

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Cheesy Mexican Chicken AlfredoTaste of Home

Cheesy Mexican Chicken Alfredo

I was hosting a baby shower and wanted to serve something everyone would enjoy. I created this recipe on a whim, so I was totally surprised that it turned out to be such a hit. Tia Woodley, Stockbridge, Georgia

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Chicken Salad PizzasTaste of Home

Chicken Salad Pizzas

Sometimes it just takes a little creative spin to get the kids to gobble up an otherwise grown-up dish. Add the word pizza to this pretty, piled-high salad, and you wont have to worry about leftovers. Simple & Delicious Test Kitchen

Dana Meredith
Dana is an editor and writer who shares her passion for travel, food and the beauty of American landscapes. When she's not wielding her red pen, she can be found tending her flower gardens, remodeling her house, creating one-of-a-kind jewelry or dancing to "Uptown Funk."