Lindsey Bell: The Dinner Darling

By CINDY COOPWOOD    Photography by ABE DRAPER

Darling and delicious: Make your weeknight meals a little easier with three of Lindsey Bell’s most requested back-to-school recipes

     “Y’all, I literally could not cook at all just five years ago,” proclaimed Lindsey Bell of Jackson, on a recent post for her weekly recipe subscription business.  As owner and creator of The Dinner Darling, a small business designed to help busy people put dinner on the table with two weekly recipe subscriptions, no one is more surprised than Bell herself.  After years of preparing the same boring meals each week, Lindsey realized that she wasn’t the only person having trouble coming up with dinner recipes to feed her growing family, and decided to do something about it. 

     Lindsey, a Jackson native, and her husband, Ryan, have a busy family with two young sons ages four and seven, and a wild German Shorthaired Pointer. And like every young family, their schedule is packed every day. “I hated being in the kitchen because every recipe I attempted took over an hour and made the biggest mess—and it was just super stressful!  More stress with two young children was the last thing I needed,” she laughed. “I had this crazy Southern-instilled thought that I needed to serve a ‘meat and three’ for every meal, and it just wasn’t feasible for me.”

     Her mission became to take classic dinner recipes and turn them into easy, throw-together meals that anyone could pull off, whether they have been cooking for years or days. It all started with a Facebook group called Dinner Darlings that Bell started with her sister. “We added our close friends and we would all cook and share our favorite go-to recipes.   A year in, we had over 3,000 members across several states all sharing recipes.  I just knew then that there was a growing need in my community for helping people cook at home.”

     So, after ten years in corporate sales and marketing, Lindsey quit her full-time job to launch The Weekly Dish, an email-based recipe subscription service providing three easy recipes plus the grocery list and nutritional information, to paying subscribers each week. Six months after her successful launch in 2019, she added The Weekly Dish Lite, a healthier version geared towards people counting calories, macros, and points. 

     And the proof is in the pudding, no pun intended. The business has grown from thirty initial subscribers to over 2,000—proving Bell was definitely not alone. 

     “This community that I’ve helped build is such an encouragement to me. When I get emails and messages from subscribers telling me how much I am helping them, I know that God used my stressful situation to help others, and that makes it all worth it,” says Bell. 

TACO BAKE

1 pound ground beef
1 packet taco seasoning
cup water
1 cup salsa, divided
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup cooked Spanish rice
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese, divided
6 large flour tortillas

     Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray a 9×13 baking dish with non-stick spray. 

     Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and cook ground beef until no longer pink; drain grease.

     Stir in taco seasoning and cup water and simmer on low for a few minutes. Stir in ½ cup salsa and remove from heat.

     Meanwhile, rinse and drain the black beans, and cook rice according to package directions.

     In the 9×13 dish, layer 2 tortillas, ½ the taco meat mixture, ½ the black beans, ½ the rice and of the cheddar cheese. Repeat the layers once and top with two more tortillas, ½ cup salsa and the rest of the cheese.

     Bake for 20 minutes or until bubbly, and serve with your favorite taco toppings.

     8 servings

SKILLET LASAGNA

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 pound ground beef
1 14.5-ounce can fire roasted diced tomatoes
1 8-ounce can tomato sauce
2 cups water
1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons fresh chopped basil, divided
8-ounces dry bowtie pasta (about ½ box)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
1 cup part-skim shredded mozzarella cheese 
cup cottage cheese

½ cup ricotta cheese
1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese

     Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and sauté for about 1 minute,  or until fragrant. Add in the ground beef and cook until browned; drain excess fat. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and add in diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, water, Italian seasoning and 1 tablespoon of fresh basil.

     Stir in pasta. Bring to a boil, cover pan with lid and reduce heat to medium-low.

     Cook pasta 15 minutes, removing the cover and stirring every 3 to 4 minutes so pasta does not stick to the pan. Remove from heat and stir in mozzarella and cottage cheese. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.

     Top with dollops of ricotta cheese and cover pan for an additional 2 minutes until cheese is melted. Sprinkle with chopped parsley, remaining basil, and parmesan cheese.

     6 servings

Helpful Tip: This skillet lasagna is so easy and tastes like the labor-intensive lasagna we all know and love! This one is perfect comfort food, and easy to whip up during a busy school week.

RANCH CHICKEN AND VEGGIE BAKE 

2 cans cut green beans, drained
1 pound baby red potatoes, cut into fourths
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, trimmed and seasoned with 
salt and pepper

1 packet dry Ranch dressing mix
3 tablespoons butter, melted
4 tablespoons olive oil
Salt & pepper to taste

     Preheat oven to 375 degrees, and spray a 9×13 baking dish with non-stick spray.

     Pour drained green beans in half of the baking dish, and place the diced potatoes in a single layer on the other half of the dish. Season vegetables with salt and pepper.

     Lay your chicken breasts on top of the beans and potatoes, and sprinkle the dry ranch dressing mix over the entire dish.

     Whisk melted butter and oil together, and drizzle on top. Cover with foil, and bake for 1 hour.

    4 servings  

Helpful Tip: Say goodbye to boring chicken! This recipe can be prepped beforehand, and then just add the ranch dressing mix, and butter mixture right before cooking.

Follow Lindsey at: @thedinnerdarling on Instagram; Dinner Darlings on Facebook, or check her website, thedinnerdarling.com

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