I'm all about easy dinners these days. I don't always have time to be actioning pan sauces and individually blanching vegetables. We've got ballet, soccer, an Army career and a bunch of writing going on over here, so the evenings can sometimes be our witching hour.
In light of all of this hustle, I want dinner to be easy but also healthy, homemade and good.
That's no small order, but I've found a few dinner menus/ideas that fit the bill.
Here is the easiest dinner I make from scratch ingredients, no chemicals, that the kids will eat and that doesn't break the bank:
Roasted Half-Chicken w/Potatoes & Veggie
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
Get out a cookie sheet and line it with foil and/or parchment paper. You can skip this if you're all kinds of environmentally friendly and don't mind scrubbing said cookie sheet later.
Put a half-chicken on the sheet in the center. Mine is pre-marinated in garlic, herbs and olive oil at the local market, but I've also done this by cracking herb-infused sea salt and some pepper over the top and drizzling it with olive oil.
Take a bag of mini potatoes ($5) and slice the potatoes in quarter or halves so they're all the same size. Toss with olive oil, salt and herbs (or no herbs, whatever). If you want to swank it up a bit, add some cut carrots as well. They get darker than the potatoes, but I like that.
Put the potatoes on the cookie sheet surrounding the meat.
Throw that all in the oven for 45 minutes to an hour.
Take it out of the oven and let it rest while you blanch whatever veggie you're serving. I usually go with asparagus, broccoli or green beans. Toss those veggies with butter when they're done because bland vegetables are a sad, sad thing.
I serve this with freshly sliced baguette for the kids and glasses of wine for the adults.
It's always a big hit. I've also served this for dinner parties.
If I'm going all-out, I'll take the drippings from the chicken (there isn't a lot) and make a quick pan sauce with chicken stock, a slurry of corn starch to thicken, dijon mustard, a splash of wine, a pat of butter and a slosh of cream. Kids really eat that up, dredging the baguette through the leftovers.
This dinner does take an hour and some change to make, but it's easy time, most of it hands-off.
I've also done versions with beef tenderloin, pork tenderloin and sausages. Same pattern and basically same cooking times. With the beef, I obviously cook it less time, as we prefer medium-rare meat. If we're particularly hungry or if I have more than the 4 of us, I throw two half-chickens onto the sheet.
$5 chicken half ($10 if I make 2)
$5 bag of mixed color potatoes
Total: $15-$20 for family of 4
We can't eat at McDonald's or Panera for that much, and this food is so much better.
Anyway, anytime I can get a meal on the table without a lot of fuss, dodgy ingredients or flack from the crew, I consider it a win.
I hope everyone is barreling into a new week full of zest. Sandy and I are flopped on the couch after a harried morning of hustling grumpy, tired kids who would rather still be sleeping in and on spring break. Sandy and I couldn't agree more. School runs are for the birds. Luckily we have coffee to keep us going.