Sheet pan meals are great solutions for an easy dinner for those on a busy schedule. These meals often contain a protein source for the main dish and two vegetables for sides, cooked together on a single sheet pan in the oven. Cooking multiple menu items in one pan appeals to those looking for recipes that require little preparation and use minimal dishes. Sheet pan meals can be very convenient and nutritious. However, it is important to keep food safety in mind. 

Follow these tips for a safe sheet pan meal:

• Wash the vegetables thoroughly before cooking. This can prevent the introduction of bacteria that can cause foodborne illness.

• Use separate utensils and cutting boards for produce and raw meats.

• You can line your pan with foil. You will find clean up to be easier.

• Cook the protein source to the correct internal temperature: Chicken (165°F), beef steaks or chops (145°F), pork (145°F) and seafood (145°F).

Unlike a slow cooker where the foods are all mixed or layered together, this method lays the items out so that they retain their own flavor and uniqueness. ​

It is easy to combine different ingredients to make your own sheet pan dinner if you know the roasting times and temperatures of proteins and vegetables. Two charts to help you to be able to use whatever you have on hand are available at parker.agrilife.org. If one item takes longer than the others, then just give it a head start alone on the pan and then add the other items later.

You can season the items with whatever herbs, spices, marinades or rubs that you have, so they are very flexible. Bottled salad dressings and marinade mixtures work well along with powdered seasoning mixtures like ranch, taco seasoning or zesty Italian mixes.

Sheet Pan Fajitas

1 ½ pounds chicken breast or beef flank steak

3 bell peppers, cut into strips

1 large yellow onion

2 cloves garlic, minced

3 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons lime juice

2 tablespoons cilantro chopped

Seasoning

2 teaspoons ground cumin

1 teaspoon chili powder

½ teaspoon ground paprika

½ teaspoon salt

Directions:

- Wash your hands and rinse all the fresh vegetables under cool running water before slicing.

- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray a baking sheet with non-stick cooking spray.

- In a small bowl whisk together, cumin, chili powder, paprika, salt and pepper and set aside.

- Slice the onion and bell peppers into strips.

- Cut the chicken or beef into even slices.

- Arrange the meat, bell peppers and onion on a baking sheet. Sprinkle garlic and seasoning evenly on the fajita mixture.

- Drizzle olive oil over top then toss everything to evenly coat. Spread into an even layer working to keep meat from overlapping.

- Bake in the oven, tossing once halfway through cooking until veggies are tender and beef is 145 degrees F or chicken has cooked through to 165 degrees F, about 18-25 minutes.

- Drizzle with lime juice and sprinkle with cilantro. Toss the mixture to coat and serve.

Makes: 6 servings

Calories: 230; Total Fat 10 g., Sodium: 200 mg.; Carbohydrates: 7 g.; Protein 27 g.

Kathy Smith is a Texas A&M AgriLife extension agent in Parker County.

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