Monday, October 24, 2016

Chicken and Potatoes with Creamy Garlic Parmesan Sauce

So crock pot meals are great when you're busy and all, but I realize that in order to make a crock pot meal, you have to think about it in the morning (or at least by early lunch). What's that all about, right? So for those of you who get to 4:00 o'clock and start thinking, "My tummy just growled, which means--wait--a meal-time is approaching; I have literally not thought about it until this moment, and soon my children will begin eating each other," then this meal is for you.

This meal is awesome because all the stuff goes into one pan and then that pan goes into the oven and then you can resume reading your book or breaking up fights over Candy Land or telling Tommy to stop licking the baby--whatever is your past time of choice. And then you'll get the pan out of the oven and, guess what? Dinner will be done. There will be meat, and potatoes, and healthy leafy greens, and a delicious sauce to pour over it all. Congratulations! You're a rock star and nobody had to smash a guitar or eat the baby.

Chicken and Potatoes with Creamy Garlic Parmesan Sauce
adapted from here
Serves 6
Prep time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes
Cost: $8.35 ($1.55/serving)
chicken: $5.00, spinach: .60, potatoes: 1.00, butter: .65, chicken broth: .10, half and half: .15, Parmesan: .50, seasonings: .35

4-6 chicken breasts, depending on how well-endowed your chicken was (or bone-in skin-on thighs if dark meat is your thing)
salt and pepper
1 Tbsp Italian seasoning
3 Tbsp butter, melted
3 C spinach, roughly chopped
2 Tbsp parsley, chopped
1 lb potatoes, diced into centimeter-sized cubes (peeled or not)

For the garlic Parmesan cream sauce:

1/4 C butter
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp flour
1 C chicken broth
1 tsp dried thyme (twice as much if using fresh)
1/2 tsp dried basil (twice as much if using fresh)
1/2 C half and half (or 1/4 C milk and 1/4 C cream)
1/2 C grated Parmesan

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Season chicken with Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper. If you're feeling fancy, you can then melt 2 Tbsp butter in a skillet and sear the chicken on both sides. But if you're pressed for time, or can't bear thinking of dirtying that skillet, just skip this step and put the seasoned chicken in a 9x13 inch pan.

Now add the chopped spinach and pour the remaining butter over all of this. (If you already got out the skillet, you can cook the spinach in the butter in the skillet and then put it in the pan, but again this step is skip-able for the lazy at heart).

Chop your potatoes and put them in the pan with the chicken and spinach and butter.

To make the garlic Parmesan sauce:

Heat butter in a pot over medium heat. Add garlic cloves and cook until fragrant (30 seconds or so). Add flour and whisk until smooth. Let it cook about a minute. Add chicken broth, thyme, basil--whisking as you add them.  Add half and half and Parmesan, whisking away and let it cook for another minute or two until it is slightly thickened.

Pour this over the chicken, spinach, and potatoes.

Put in the oven and cook for about 30 minutes (longer if your chicken breasts are big or your potato cubes are big).

Take it out and serve.


Monday, October 17, 2016

Three Favorite Crock Pot Recipes

I really love making dinner. I love the ritual, the smell and sound and sizzle. But lately, as I've been spending some time promoting my book at various events (and let's not even talk about marketing and figuring out computers and learning not to be an idiot with social media). Anyway, lately there have been days when I've been gone and known I wouldn't get back home until dinnertime. And let me tell you that pulling out the crock pot has made me feel like kinda the super star of the world. It is so amazing to come home to a hot, yummy dinner. It's so much better than swinging by and picking up a pizza. And while we're talking about swinging by and picking up a pizza, let me say that that takes time too. And sometimes, if you want to eat as a family, there just isn't time for it. Like Saturday, when I spent the afternoon at Tri-con being out-geeked by pretty much everyone; and Kip was leaving to go to work at 5:30 and I buzzed in just after 5:00. There's no way we could have all eaten together if a meal hadn't been at my house and ready to go. Which it was (see super star comment above). And while we're talking super stars, let me say that my kids have been a bit super starry in their own way--making rice, setting the table, cleaning the kitchen. Here's to a family working and eating together.

1. Crock Pot Italian Chicken. This one is so simple--even if made completely from scratch (though you don't have to do that if you don't want to; this time I bought me that packet of Italian dressing, and I didn't look back).

2. Ranch Roast. Another dry dressing-inspired crock recipe. And our all-time favorite. What I love about this is if you throw in carrots and potatoes, it's a full on meal when you get home. None of your kids even has to learn how to make a pot of rice because it's all there in the crock pot.

3. Crock Pot Chicken Enchilada Soup. And to move away from the hunk of meat in the crock...

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Secret Recipe Club: BalsamicBeef Roast

It's been busy and comfort-food-y around here. Which is why when I saw this recipe for Balsamic Roast on my Secret Recipe Club blog: I'm Hungry: Words of Growing Boys, I knew it was the one for me. And it was. Dead simple. But also flavorful, tender, and delicious. It uses a crock pot in the way I like to best use crock pots (the dump and forget method).

I can't tell you how amazing this was to come home to at the end of a busy day when it felt a little bit like I was drowning, and maybe even a little bit like I was failing (you guys know that feeling, right?) But I came home to this, and then all the sudden, I was a little bit of awesome. Amazing home cooked meal, check. Never mind that it took me less than three minutes to put together (less than three minutes people). Throw a 1/2 bag of baby carrots in there (time commitment: 9 extra seconds) and you've even got a vegetable to go with this.

Balsamic Beef Roast
from I'm Hungry
Serves 4-6
Prep time: 3 minutes
Cook time: 6-8 hours
Cost: $6.25
roast: $6, other stuff: .25

2 lb beef chuck roast (or any other similar hunk of beef)
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 C beef broth
1/2 C balsamic
salt and pepper

Put the roast in the pot. Add garlic powder and then sprinkle on salt, and pepper. Pour broth around it. Pour balsamic vinegar over it. (I'll confess I wish I'd thrown in a couple handfuls of baby carrots to go with this when we ate. Do so if you wish to live without regret of any kind.)

Cook on high for 6 hours (low for 8).

Told you. Dead simple.


Monday, October 3, 2016

Asian-y Noodles

 Mondays can be hard. Some might say that Mondays are inevitably hard. Which is why I'm giving you this recipe for Asian-y noodles of awesomeness. Because they're easy. And you can make them on a Monday. And your kids will probably eat them. And if you make them with some sort of veggie on the side, you can even feel good about your parenting. And if you don't, you can still feel good about your parenting. Because, guess what, you just made your family a delicious, home-cooked meal that somebody else would have gotten paid to make and put in a little Asian-y box for you to take out of their restaurant. But in the time it would take you to park your car, walk to the restaurant and wait to carry something out, you can make this meal. Also, it costs you $.20/serving, or less. So do it. (If you want; because Mondays are hard.)

 And maybe these don't seem like a big kid pleaser (note: they're brown; I know), but my kids--who are some of the pickiest kids alive (like, almost kind of clinically picky--I'm looking at you, Mark)--love these noodles. And try to eat them with chopsticks (which also makes you a good parent; or at least that is what I tell myself).

So get out the chopsticks, and some broccoli if you're rocking this Monday thing, and make these.

Asian-y Noodles
adapted from The Cooking Jar
Serves 8
Cook time: 20 minutes
Cost: $1.50 (See that price; it's about $.20/serving. Yeah, I know there's not a butt load of nutrition going on here, but there IS a lot of flavor, and go on and tell me how healthy your take out lo mein was, okay... Also you can add bean sprouts if you want, and that makes everything healthy, so there.)
noodles: $1.00, butter: .20, soy sauce: .10, teriyaki sauce: .10 (okay; I admit to BS-ing a little on the Asian sauces since I'm really not sure how much these small amounts would cost; maybe I'll figure it out on a day that is NOT Monday), other stuff: .10

1 lb spaghetti noodles
3 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp minced garlic
3 Tbsp sugar
3-4 Tbsp soy sauce (Note: I use about 3 and add 1 Tbsp of water to get it a little less salty)
1 Tbsp teriyaki sauce
Optional toppings: Green onions, seseme seeds, bean sprouts, chicken, whatever sounds good

Cook and drain your noodles. Try to get them al dente.

Melt butter in a frying pan. Add garlic and saute for a minute or so until fragrant (don't burn, so don't have your heat up way high).

Toss in noodles and stir to mix.

Add sugar, soy sauce, teriyaki sauce, and mix.

That's it. You're done. I know it sounds too easy. That was kind of the point. So make it already. Become a believer.



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