Our family loves this meal! We literally could eat it once a week (we practically do) and NEVER tire of it. It’s a great meal to feed a large crowd and even picky eaters. We love it so much that Ellie requests it every year for her birthday- actually, for her first birthday we served this meal and probably had 40 guests.
Thanks to Nathan, he wrote most of this post. Last night I had a terrible headache and he was a champ and helped me out (though I’m not sure how many of you are even needing/wanting the recipes, but I mentioned I would be posting!).
Marinate your chicken in lemon juice (juice of one lemon) and soy sauce (1/4 cupish) for at least an hour or overnight. You can either grill the chicken or broil it…we cut our chicken into strips before cooking and don’t even bother with skewers.
Garlicky Green Beans
Pour into large skillet:
2 Tablespoons of Vegetable Oil
1 teaspoon of Sesame Oil
Heat skillet on high heat till the oil is very hot, almost smoking (3-5 min.)
Add 1 Tablespoon minced garlic (be ready for some serious sizzle)
Have the green beans ready because you need to add them before the garlic has burned. I let the garlic take on some toasty color, but don’t brown it all. We use the frozen FRENCH GREEN BEANS FROM TRADER JOES.
Add green beans to skillet, I usually do about 1/2 lb. at a time, it’s enough for 4 people.
Turn over the beans in the hot oil, picking up the garlic with them. Keep turning and mixing till the green beans are softening and showing some color change where they have contacted the pan. (about 2-3 minutes on high heat, it might take a bit longer if they are frozen).
Add 2 Tablespoons of soy sauce. Keep stirring until the soy sauce has concentrated and is sticking to the beans a bit. If you go too long they may get overly soft, you will find your preference.
Sprinkle with a pinch of salt and sugar. Turn over the beans once and put them on the plate.
1 cup white rice (jasmine is our favorite)
1 cup water
1 cup coconut milk or light coconut milk
just under a teaspoon of salt
1 Tablespoon sugar
Bring to a boil while stirring, put the lid on, lower heat to a low boil/simmer, simmer for 20-25 minutes or until all the liquid has been absorbed. Check to make sure the heat is not too high, or the bottom will brown.
(measurements are approximate- develop your preference with weekly practice)
2-3 teaspons lemon juice
1-2 teaspons soy sauce
2-3 Tablespoons natural peanut butter (crunchy is best)
1-2 Tablespoons coconut milk
a grind of black pepper
dash of fish sauce
dab of Thai chili sauce
Whisk all the ingredients together in a bowl. If it is too thick add more coconut milk or water, if it’s too runny or too tart, add more peanut butter. Find your sweet spot for a balance of salty, tart and creamy texture. Make enough so that no one gets crabby. (Nice, Nathan…your speaking to Ellie and me, huh?)
I love Jamie Oliver and his cookbooks. I don’t love this photo as it does not do justice to the TASTE of this great meal…but, I had to rush out the door with Ellie for a violin lesson and needed to take a quick shot of Wednesday night’s meal. This dish is a perfect example on how to avoid the tasteless pasta that so many American kids eat…noodles with butter. You what I am talking about, right?
You can find this recipe in Jamie’s dinners on page 187.
1# piece of ricotta cheese
salt and pepper
1 flat tsp. oregano
1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
a knob of butter (I love that description!)
2 14 oz. of good quality plum tomatoes
3 T. balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp. sugar
1# pappardelle or other wide ribbon pasta
a handful of basil
2 handfuls of fresh Parmesan
Preheat the oven to 400. Rub the ricotta all over with olive oil, salt, pepper, oregano, place on a baking tray (if you have a small baking dish or casserole dish, this will prevent the cheese from oozing all over the tray) and cook in the oven for 20 minutes until golden and firm. In a pan, slowly fry the onion and garlic in the butter and a good drizzle of olive oil. Cook for 4 minutes until sweet and softened. Add the tomatoes, simmer gently for about 15 minutes, then break up tomatoes with a spoon. Add the balsamic vinegar and the sugar and stir.
Meanwhile, cook pasta according to package instructions. Toss the pasta with the tomato sauce. Add Parmesan and basil to your liking. Crumble ricotta over the top or serve separate and let everyone serve themselves.
You will love this dish and never order pasta at a restaurant again. And your kids will never want the boring butter and pasta combo again. I served this with a salad and fresh bread…Nathan added some meat (chicken sausage) and ate less pasta because of his diabetes, but everyone was fed and happy. And we got to Ellie’s lesson on time.
Now, go make dinner! This would be a perfect weekend meal!
By the way, last night while waiting for Ellie at her violin lesson, I used my “dinner card” method and it literally took me 10 minutes to make my list with time to spare. I love it and thanks to all of you with your kind comments. What meal do you all want to see next? Let me know!
Tostadas for dinner is a huge hit with everyone in this house. They are easy and everyone can pile on what they like…avocados, tomatoes, cheese, salsa, lettuce, corn, Spanish rice and beans. It’s also great when there are leftovers for the next day’s lunch!
Obviously you can put whatever meat (or meatless) on you like, but I find that buying a roasted chicken from the market is easier and cheaper than buying and roasting it myself. PLUS, I save the bones (throw them in the freezer for future use) for making a quick and easy chicken stock. I actually make the beans and rice, but don’t let that fool you… making this meal is fast- I mean, really fast!
Here is the recipe for the Quick Cowboys beans, found in this book, which by the way is one of my favorite Mexican cookbooks…
4 thick slices of bacon, cut into small pieces
2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
Half of a 15 oz. can diced tomatoes in juice (preferably fire-roasted)
*I freeze the 2nd half of the can for future use!*
Two 15oz. cans of pinto beans
1 or 2 pickled jalapenos (from a can)
1/2 cup chopped cilantro (optional)
In a large (4 quart) saucepan, cook the bacon over mediu heat, stirring regularly, until crisp, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and stir for a minute, then add the tomatoes with their juice. Cook, stirring regularly, for 3-4 minutes to blend the flavors. Add the beans, with their liquid, and simmer over medium-low heat for about 15 minutes.
While the beans are simmering, stem the chiles, cut in half lengthwise and scrape out the seeds. Chop into small pieces and add to the beans.
*I personally like to cook the beans “down” more so they are not soupy…add another 15 minutes and stir occasionally. This makes it easier for tacos or tostadas.
Spanish Rice- from my husband’s brain, hopefully I get this right!
1 cup rice (we like Jasmine)
1 1/2 cup chicken stock
1/2 cup tomato sauce (you’ll need a small 8oz. can)
Start out with heating a Tablespoon of Veg. oil in a large saucepan.
Add 1 cup of rice and stir until rice is opaque.
Add the chicken stock and tomato sauce, bring to a boil.
Shake a bit of salsa in the pan and cover.
*Lower flame to a simmer.*
Cook for about 20 minutes.
Check- stir it around, if it needs more time, place lid back on and cook for another 3-4 minutes.
We especially love this meal on the weekends and when we have guests- Sorry the above photo is not the best, you need to understand that I snap a photo right before eating, as the sun is setting and my family is staring at me blankly to get on with it!
Enjoy, now go make dinner!
Alright- here is my list of 15 meals that I will use over the next month. Remember, we are not vegetarians, but a few meals can be adapted to fit preferences…I like this because (1) meat is expensive (2) we don’t need to eat it everyday… I know, we live in the midwest and should be hunting our meals ourselves (3) I could easily be a vegetarian.
All of these meals are approved by my kids. They are not exotic. They are relatively inexpensive. They are basic. I have found that being simple with our eating is a way more nutritious choice. Plus, the idea is to enjoy dinner, right? I’m anxious to make my grocery list tomorrow and test out my strategy…
1. Chicken Piccatta/roasted potatoes with rosemary and garlic/broccoli
2. Crisp Goat Cheese salad
Kids will have pesto pasta and salad since they detest goat cheese and we love it too much to not have it.
3. Chicken Satay/Coconut Rice/Garlicky Green Beans *WE LOVE THIS!
4. Tostadas (with a variety of vegetables and toppings)/ Quick Cowboy Beans/Spanish rice
5. Tortilla soup
6. Homemade Pizza/SALAD
7. Beef Bulgogi/Coconut Rice
8. Pasta with Sweet Tomato and Baked Ricotta/ SALAD
9. Spaghetti and Meatballs/SALAD
10. Grilled burgers/Fresh Vegetables
Below are 5 meals that I will most likely have my husband make while I am at work:
11. Grilled cheese (kids)/ Tuna Melt (nathan)/Fresh fruit or Vegetables
12. Marinated Pork Ribs/Rice/Fresh Vegetable
13. Breakfast for dinner (eggs, pancakes, whatever) with fruit smoothies
14. Tilapia/Fresh Vegetable/Rice (maybe?)
15. Tomato soup/Salad/Fresh Bread
Last night’s dinner was Tomato soup and I decided Grilled Cheese would be good too. We had a lot of things going on-homework, Karate for the kids, Bookclub for me and so the departure time was 5:30 for everyone to be out of the house!
I know dumping a can of soup into a pan or going through the drive-thru COULD be tempting, but it’s not really an option with me. This soup is so easy that you will never buy the canned stuff again.
Cream of Tomato (you can leave out the cream, but why?)
2 28 oz. cans of whole plum tomatoes
2 yellow onions
salt and pepper
2 cups chicken stock or vegetable (I made mine, but you can buy it in the can)
Pre-heat oven 450
Slice the tomatoes in half, sliced side down in a roasting pan (reserve the tomato juices/puree in can)
Cut up 2 onions- I just cut mine in wedges
drizzle olive oil on top
Sprinkle salt and pepper and you can add Oregano if you want…
Roast for about 50 minutes, check if onions are cooked through…you are probably done.
Whirl in the blender or food processor.
Add mix to stock pot, add reserved tomato puree and chicken stock, also add 2 tsp. of sugar.
Just before serving, as you are warming up the soup, add a cup of whipping cream…whisk until smooth.
Now, go eat!