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47 Dinnertime Recipes for Empty Nesters

There's a lot to get used to when your last child leaves home. For starters, you don't need to make as much food anymore. These mains and sides for two make the perfect amount for you and your partner.

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Grilled Jerk Shrimp Orzo Salad Exps Cf2bz20 48862 B12 12 3b 4

Grilled Jerk Shrimp Orzo Salad

The heat, seasonings and appearance of this colorful main-dish salad are perfect for summer—or any time of year that you want to summon memories of sunshine. —Eileen Budnyk, Palm Beach Gardens, Florida
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Beef Filets with Portobello Sauce

These tasty steaks seem special, but they are fast enough for an everyday dinner. We enjoy the mushroom-topped filets with crusty French bread, a mixed salad and a light lemon dessert. —Christel Stein, Tampa, Florida
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Beef Orange Stir-Fry

This dinner for two is loaded with lots of flavor and color. Red pepper flakes add a little kick to the orange beef sauce, and the tender veggies add a pop of color. — Taste of Home Test Kitchen
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Greek-Style Ravioli

Here's a flavorful Greek twist on an Italian classic. It’s an easy weekday meal that’s become one of our favorites. My husband and I enjoy it with garlic cheese toast. —Hetti Williams, Rapid City, South Dakota
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Beef Burgundy Over Noodles

I got this delightful beef burgundy recipe from my sister-in-law many years ago and have used it ever since. Whenever I serve it to guests, they always request this. The tender beef, mushrooms and flavorful sauce are delicious over noodles. —Margaret Welder, Madrid, Iowa
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Seasoned Tilapia Fillets Exps Sdfm18 41183 C10 10 6b 19

Seasoned Tilapia Fillets

If you need a healthy, keep-it-simple solution to dinner tonight, you just found it. This restaurant-quality tilapia fillet recipe relies on spices you're likely to have on hand to deliver big flavor. This is how to make tilapia. —Dana Alexander, Lebanon, Missouri
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Bacon-Wrapped Asparagus

My husband and I grill dinner almost every night, and I love grilling veggies for a side dish. I serve this grilled bacon wrapped asparagus recipe with meat and sliced fresh tomatoes for a wonderful meal. —Trisha Kitts, Dickinson, Texas
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Golden Chicken Cordon Bleu

For an entree that's as elegant as it is easy, try this moist classic chicken recipe. It's a simple dish for two, but looks like you really fussed. —Taste of Home Test Kitchen
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BLT Skillet

This quick weeknight meal reminds me of a BLT, with its chunks of bacon and tomato. The whole wheat linguine gives the skillet dish extra flavor and texture. —Edrie O'Brien, Denver, Colorado
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Herbed Lemon Pork Chops Exps Sdfm17 16850 B10 07 7b 9

Herbed Lemon Pork Chops

Expect to get plenty of compliments on these fast, flavor-packed chops. They're tender and juicy. —Billi Jo Sylvester, New Smyrna Beach, Florida
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Saucy Beef with Broccoli

When I’m looking for a fast entree, I turn to this beef and broccoli stir-fry. It features a tantalizing sauce made with garlic and ginger. —Rosa Evans, Odessa, Missouri
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Tilapia With Jasmine Rice Exps Sddj17 39834 B08 03 1b 4

Tilapia with Jasmine Rice

This tender, full-flavored tilapia with fragrant jasmine rice is absolutely to die for. Your family will love this healthy and delicious dish! —Shirl Parsons, Cape Carteret, North Carolina
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Chicken Gyros

This yummy chicken gyro recipe is a cinch to prepare. Just take tender chicken, coat it in a creamy cucumber-yogurt sauce, then tuck it into pita pockets. Some folks like lettuce and diced tomato on top. —Taste of Home Test Kitchen, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
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Southwestern Fish Tacos

These bright tacos take me on an instant trip to sunny Southern California. The recipe has been on my family's most requested list for years. —Joan Hallford, North Richland Hills, Texas

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Beef Tenderloin in Mushroom Sauce

When our kids are visiting Grandma, I make this recipe for just my husband and myself. It's a recipe my mother-in-law has been using for more than 30 years. I especially look forward to preparing it as part of a special Valentine's Day menu. —Denise McNab, Warminster, Pennsylvania
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Breaded Sea Scallops

I never liked seafood until my husband urged me to try scallops, and now I love them. He says my breaded version is the best he's ever had. A tip I learned was to put them on a paper-towel-topped plate to soak up excess oil. —Martina Preston, Willow Grove, Pennsylvania
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Asparagus 'n' Shrimp with Angel Hair

We’ve all heard that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, so when I plan a romantic dinner, this shrimp asparagus pasta with angel hair is one dish I like to serve. It’s easy on the budget and turns out perfectly for two. —Shari Neff, Takoma Park, Maryland
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Zucchini Pancakes

These Zucchini Pancakes are a tasty change of pace from ordinary potato pancakes. Add a little shredded onion to give them a savory kick. —Charlotte Goldberg, Honey Grove, Pennsylvania
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Garlic-Butter Steak

Made in a skillet, this quick-and-easy garlic butter steak is restaurant-quality and sure to become a staple at your house, too! —Lily Julow, Lawrenceville, Georgia
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Garden Chickpea Salad

Looking for a summer dish with a difference? Combine colorful crunchy veggies with soft feta cheese and good-for-you garbanzos. If you like, add sliced, cooked chicken or lamb. —Sally Sibthorpe, Shelby Township, Michigan
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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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Creamy Twice-Baked Sweet Potatoes

I like to make these twice-baked sweet potatoes because they can be prepared ahead of time. With the addition of cream cheese, they are very creamy and not overly sweet. It is so easy to increase the quantity to any number. —Linda Call, Falun, Kansas
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Pineapple-Stuffed Cornish Hens

My mother brought this recipe back with her from Hawaii about 25 years ago. The tender meat, pineapple-coconut stuffing and sweet-sour sauce made it a favorite of my family and friends. I keep copies of the recipe on hand to share. —Vicki Corners, Rock Island, Illinois
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Honey-Pecan Pork Chops

This one is a family favorite! —Linda Bounds, Cedar Hill, Texas
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Roasted Sugar Snap Peas

We’re betting you won’t find a faster way to dress up crisp sugar snap peas than this simply scrumptious recipe. It goes with a variety of entrees and is pretty enough to dish up for company. —Taste of Home Test Kitchen
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Quick Ginger Pork

My husband and I are empty nesters. It was a challenge learning to cook for just two again, but recipes like this give us delicious scaled-down dinners. —Esther Johnson Danielson, Lawton, Pennsylvania
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Sea Scallops and Fettuccine

This luscious and lemony pasta dish is so easy, it's become one of our weekly meal mainstays. But it's also elegant enough to serve to guests. —Donna Thompson, Laramie, Wyoming
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Spanish Noodles and Ground Beef

Bacon adds flavor to this comforting stovetop supper my mom frequently made when we were growing up. Now I prepare it for my family. —Kelli Jones, Peris, California.
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Tasty Turkey and Mushrooms

Fresh mushrooms star in this tender turkey entree that comes together in 15 minutes. Served with a side of brown rice, it makes a light but satisfying dinner. —Nancy Zimmerman, Cape May Court House, New Jersey
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Pea Pod Carrot Medley

We grow pea pods, and I wanted to use them in something other than stir-fries. This fit the bill! I've carried it to church potlucks and received compliments on its pretty orange glaze and fresh taste. —Josie Smith, Winamac, Indiana
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Cranberry-Sesame Spinach Salad

For a feast or any occasion, we love this snappy fall salad that balances sweet and sour with good crunch from almonds and sesame seeds. —Stephanie Smoley, Rochester, Minnesota
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Vegetable Meat Loaf

I'm not big on leftovers, so I've pared down my recipes to serve two. This meat loaf is simple and quick to prepare, plus it helps you eat your veggies. It's great served with cheddar-topped baked potatoes. —Judi Brinegar, Liberty, North Carolina
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Maple Sausage Skillet

Maple syrup adds sweetness to this yummy stir-fry. I sometimes add a little broccoli, too, for a change of pace. Add a green salad and a crusty loaf of bread for a complete meal in minutes. —Dottie Tarlton, Malvern, Arkansas
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Skillet Steak Supper

With all the ingredients cooked in one skillet, this steak dish couldn't be quicker to prepare—or to clean up! But the wine and mushroom sauce makes it seem special. —Sandra Fisher, Missoula, Montana
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Turkey Saltimbocca

I kept prosciutto and sage in this Italian classic, but instead of veal I added turkey. This saltimbocca is so divine, you won't believe how quick and easy it is. —Deirdre Cox, Kansas City, Missouri
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Spinach Rice

I like to serve this Greek-style rice dish alongside steaks with mushrooms. It makes an elegant side that can be doubled for guests. —Jeanette Cakouros, Brunswick, Maine
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Beef Barley Soup for 2

Who knew you could simmer up such a hearty soup in 30 minutes? This is packed with my favorite homey veggies and savory roast beef.—Sue Jurack, Mequon, Wisconsin
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Portobello Mushrooms Florentine Exps Sddj17 47568 16 C08 04 2b 17

Portobello Mushrooms Florentine

A fun and surprisingly hearty breakfast dish packed with flavor and richness. —Sara Morris, Laguna Beach, California
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Sourdough Turkey Melts

When days feel rushed, these sandwiches with turkey and green chiles are one of my favorite standbys. They stack up in about 10 minutes, honestly. —Leah Carter, San Pedro, California
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Grilled Steaks with Greek Relish

My ribeye steak showcases the flavors of Greece my husband and I were introduced to while on a cruise. We like it with pita bread and hummus. —Mary Lou Cook, Welches, Oregon
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White Chili for 2

This chili for two goes over especially well on a cool night. We're racing fans, and I'm frequently asked to bring this dish to the races. I'm happy to do so, because I enjoy it, too. I just double or triple the recipe. —Carol Swainston, Sheridan, Michigan
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Lemon Basil Salmon

My husband came up with this easy, foil-packet recipe for flaky, fork-tender salmon. This recipe is a winner. —Marianne Bauman Modesto, CA
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Shiitake & Butternut Risotto

I like to think of this recipe as a labor of love. The risotto takes a bit of extra attention, but once you reach that requisite creaminess, your taste buds will let you know it was worth the effort. —Stephanie Campbell, Elk Grove, California
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Chicken Reuben Roll-Ups

My Nebraska-native husband loves Reuben sandwiches and anything with chicken, so I combined his two favorites in a fun roll-up. —Ashli Kottwitz, Hermitage, Tennessee
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Chicken Tzatziki Cucumber Boats

I’ve tended a garden for decades, and these colorful “boats” made from cucumbers hold my homegrown tomatoes, peas and dill. It’s absolute garden greatness. —Ronna Farley, Rockville, Maryland
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White Beans and Spinach

This skillet side is a variation of a recipe I received from my Italian mother. I've prepared spinach this way for years—because my children eat it happily! —Lucia Johnson, Massena, New York
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Chicken Quinoa Bowls with Balsamic Dressing

I love this recipe because its simplicity allows me to spend time with my family while not sacrificing taste or nutrition. Plus the fresh spring flavors really shine through! —Allyson Meyler, Greensboro, North Carolina

Emily Racette Parulski
Emily Racette Parulski is a Senior Editor for Taste of Home, specializing in email newsletters. When she’s not writing about food, she’s baking something sweet to feed her chocolate obsession.