Monthly Archives: April 2014

Mid Week Dinner

Earlier this week I channeled my inner June Cleaver – is that even a relative reference anymore?  Mike found out on Tuesday that a former work colleague was in town with his family and wanted to get together for dinner on Wednesday.  So Mike did the polite thing and invited them over for dinner.  Usually not a big deal, we like entertaining, we like having friends over for dinner, just not mid-week, when we have six things going on that evening.

I needed a meal that could be prepared ahead of time and in stages.   I had about an hour to fix dinner, but those free 60 minutes were scattered throughout the day in about 15 minute chunks.  Also, because we didn’t know the family very well I needed a pretty basic, easy on the palate meal.

The solution – chicken and potatoes!  I know not very exciting, but it was tasty and everyone left feeling full and happy. (I am sorry I didn’t get any pictures of the final plate, I didn’t know these folks well enough to break out my camera at the dinner table, it didn’t seem very June Cleaver like.)

lemons

Lemon garlic chicken was super easy to throw together.  I made the lemon butter in the morning while everyone was getting ready for school.  While the kids were enjoying an after-school treat I buttered the chicken and baked it while I was making a baseball practice drop-off and dance pick-up.
lemon chicken

The potatoes were just as simple – smashed and roasted.  I boiled them in the morning while I was working.  While still hot I tossed them with butter.
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Just before our company arrived I threw them on an oiled cookie sheet,  smashed them and put them in the oven to roast while we enjoyed drinks and appetizers.

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The meal was finished out with some asparagus that I had roasted earlier in the day and then served at room temperature with a quick sprinkle of Parmesan cheese and salt and pepper.

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Like I said nothing fancy, just a simple tried and true meal that was fixed in 60 minutes, looked impressive, and was super easy to throw together.

You don’t have to wait to be surprised by last minute guests to fix this chicken, it is perfect any night of the week and the leftover chicken is perfect for chicken salad later in the week.

Lemon Garlic Chicken
Printer Ready

4 bone-in chicken breasts
4 Tablespoons butter, softened
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1 tablespoon garlic, minced
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, roughly chopped
1 lemon thinly sliced

Preheat oven 350°

Rinse chicken and pat dry.  Place chicken in large baking dish, lightly coated with oil, lightly salt and pepper each piece, set-aside.

In small bowl combine butter, lemon zest, garlic and parsley.  Mix until combined.  Rub about 1 tablespoon on each chicken, getting butter under the skin.  Place 2-3 lemon slices on each piece of chicken.

Place pan in oven, bake for 40 minutes or until internal temperature of chicken reaches 165°.  Let rest 10-15 minutes before serving

Rainbow Cakes

After the never ending winter spring is finally starting to make her appearance.  Little bits of color are coming up from the ground and out on the trees.  With the changes in color happening outside it makes me want to change the colors inside as well.  I’m not talking about painting walls or any drastic changes, I am happy with just adding a little color to our meals.  And I don’t mean fresh fruits and veggies, although that is one of my favorite ways to bring spring inside.

This little burst of color comes from the simple pancake.

rainbow pancakes

My family loves pancakes.  We eat them for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  They can be sweet or savory. Are super simple to make, yet always make an impressive impression.  You feel a little extra special when given a plate of pancakes.  It’s as if someone is giving you a little extra love.   You feel some extra love with just a regular plate of pancakes.  Imagine the love that is felt with rainbow pancakes.  These are sure to make any day extra special.

The other thing I love about pancakes is that they are a great food for kids to learn how to make.  There are only a few ingredients, measurements are simple and there is wiggle room if mistakes are made.  The youngest of chefs can easily make a batch of pancakes with little to no help.  This batch was made by my 7 year old, I was around to supervise and offer some help when needed, but from the measuring to the mixing to the flipping she did pretty much everything on her own.

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When it comes time to cook them up I like using a griddle. I find it is easier and more stable for the kids to use, plus you can cook off a bunch at once.  If you don’t have a griddle any flat pan will work.  If you want to make a rainbow of pancakes, simply evenly divide the batter.  The number of colors you choose to use is up to you.  If you want to get even fancier pour each color into a squeeze bottle, then squeeze the batter onto the griddle in various shapes and designs.  You can use pancake molds or go freehand, if the kids are doing it, they will want to go freehand.

I am a big fan of buttermilk pancakes and my favorite recipe is below, but you can easily find recipes that don’t use buttermilk.  And one quick, but very important tip – if you want super fluffy pancakes do not over mix the batter.  A good batter should have some small lumps.

Buttermilk Pancakes       printer ready

2 large eggs, lightly beaten
3 cups buttermilk
4 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled slightly
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons sugar

Preheat griddle to 375०

In a large mixing bowl add eggs, buttermilk and melted butter, whisk together.  Sift dry ingredients into the liquids, then gently fold together.  Do not over mix there should be some small lumps remaining in the batter.

If needed, lightly coat griddle with butter or cooking spray.  Using a cookie scoop or ladle pour batter onto griddle, leaving 1”-2” between each pancake.  Cook until bubbles begin forming on top of the pancakes and the edges are slightly dry.  Flip pancakes and cook until golden, about 1-2 minutes.

Cooked pancakes can be kept warm in a 125०