Back-to-School: Easy Family Dinner

Hidden Valley-Hither-Thither-03

The switch back to school days comes when it still feels like summer around here. It’s a sort of funny limbo in many ways at our house: not only does it feel too soon for sweaters and sharpened pencils, our preschooler’s day still isn’t all that different from his summer one. Dirty knees and make-believe are the cornerstones either way.

Still, I can feel the shift. We’ve signed him up for swim in the afternoons and he’ll be running around on the soccer field a few days each week. Afterward, dinner will need to be ready faster than usual if we hope to have any time between meal- and bedtime.

I’ve started to think about my repertoire of fast, healthy (tasty) dinners, and it could use some expanding. What are your favorites?

These baked, crispy chicken burgers are one of mine. They seem appropriate for this limbo: a little bit like summer (with its fried chicken and barbecue burgers) but with step that requires an oven—a sure sign of fall. Plus, the chicken here is baked and not fried: because back-to-school means back-to-business.

Panko breadcrumbs give it a satisfying crunch and a packet of Hidden Valley® Original Ranch® Salad Dressing & Seasoning Mix gives it a wonderful flavor. The whole process takes about 10 minutes hands-on and 25 in the oven. And the result is juicy and delicious.

Hidden Valley-Hither-Thither-01-2

Baked Crispy Chicken Burgers
4 Chicken Breasts (each the size of a deck of cards)
3/4 cup mayonnaise, plus 4 Tbsp for buns
3/4 packet of Hidden Valley® Original Ranch® Salad Dressing & Seasoning Mix
2 cups of Panko bread crumbs
4 buns (I like to go with ballpark style soft rolls so the crunch of the chicken stands out)
12 pickle slices (the lighter brine and sweet flavor of bread-and-butter pickles are great here)
Meat Thermometer
Optional: Sliced tomatoes, butter lettuce, parsley, ground pepper.

Download a Printable Shopping List

Hidden Valley-Hither-Thither-01-3

Crispy Chicken:
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

Combine mayo and Hidden Valley® Original Ranch® Salad Dressing & Seasoning Mix in wide bowl.

Set out Panko bread crumbs on plate and leave box open nearby. Cover a baking sheet with foil.

Coat your chicken with mayo mix and dip into the bread crumbs, covering entirely. (I like to use only my left hand for handling the chicken and the crumbs, so that my right stays clean for handling other items—like the box of bread crumbs, if I need more.)

Arrange each piece on the baking sheet and place in oven. Set timer for 25 minutes.

When ready, chicken breast should register 165 degrees on the meat thermometer. Remember, any extra mayo mix or bread crumbs that the raw chicken touched has to be thrown out.

Hidden Valley

Burger Assembly:
While chicken is in the oven, set out your burger ingredients. Some people like theirs with just pickle and mayo; I like to spread extra mayo on the bun and add some fresh parsley and ground pepper along with a leaf of butter lettuce.

Hidden Valley 2

For some reason, the kids tend to prefer their burgers deconstructed. (Aren’t they funny about textures?) For them, I slice up the chicken breast and place their tomatoes and pickles and half a bun to the side—but I like that we’re still all having the same family meal.

Hidden Valley-Hither-Thither-02

They’re really wonderful fresh from the oven, but as the days grow shorter you can also wrap these up in waxed paper and take them to the soccer field.

What are some of your favorite dinners for heading back-to-school? 

This post is sponsored by Hidden Valley®—Hidden Valley It! Check the site for more recipe ideas.

Related posts:

Travel Guides

Browse By Category