Somehow, it’s much simpler to make a meal if you’re not juggling three or four different pots and pans to make a single meal; running from microwave to stove, oven to fridge to get it all prepared.
If you find that annoying, try engaging another member of the family in the meal-making business, so you can concentrate on just one aspect of it.
Or, make one-dish meals.
It also helps if you can do some meal preparation ahead of time. It just really smooths the way when you’re in a rush to get a meal on the table, if all the vegies are already cut up and the meat has been prepared.
I used to enlist the aid of my daughters when they were in their teens, to begin to do some of the chopping-up for supper, because they’d be home from school for a couple of hours before I got in from work.
We generally planned meals ahead of time, so we could do some of the meal prep ahead, and so all our week’s shopping could be done at once too. You’ll probably find you save money that way too.
Following are a couple of suggestions for one-dish meals that are easy to prepare.
There are lots more ideas for one-dish meals in my book, Jude’s Kitchen, which is organized by the seasons, to inspire you to create dishes using what’s fresh and in season. It’s available at Mosaic Books in downtown Kelowna or at the Wine Museum in the historic Laurel Packinghouse.
Jill’s Honey Mustard Chicken
This is a very flexible, all-in-one-dish dinner to which you could add a tin of corn or whatever other vegetables strike your fancy. This heats up well so is great for a lunch leftover. If you’d rather not use a can of soup, just substitute chicken broth, milk and a thickening agent such as flour or cornstarch.
6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
drizzle of oil
2 or 3 leeks
1 large garlic clove
12 oz. (341 ml) corn, opt.
1 tbsp. (15 ml) soy sauce
10 oz. (284 ml) cream of chicken soup
1/2 c. water
3 tbsp. (45 ml) honey
3 tbsp. (45 ml) Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp. (2 ml) garlic powder
1/2 tsp. (2 ml) thyme
salt and pepper, to taste
Cut the chicken up into bite-sized pieces and saute in a deep frypan or wok in a drizzle of oil until just barely cooked. Remove from pan.
Meanwhile, slice leeks lengthwise in half almost to the root, to help rinse any grit from between the leaves, then slice off the root and the tough green leaves and chop up. Chop carrots and mince garlic.
Once the chicken has been removed from the pan, saute the leeks and garlic, adding the carrots and any other vegetables, and any liquid that has pooled in the chicken, cover and let steam for a few minutes until the carrots are fork-tender.
Return the chicken to the pan, along with the sauce ingredients and stir well, bringing to bubbling and heating through for a few minutes.
Season to taste and serve over brown rice.
Clam & Shrimp Chowder with Sherry
Just a drizzle of dry sherry gives this chowder a lovely mellow flavour, but it’s delicious without that too, so don’t let that put you off trying it. Clams are a reasonably-priced and very tasty seafood and we can get lovely fresh ones at Codfather’s right here in Kelowna.
We paired this with the Arrowleaf Cellars First Crush White, with its fresh fruit flavours and crisp clean citrussy finish. It’s a winner.
2 slices bacon
1 large onion
1 stalk celery
1 clove garlic
14-oz. (398 ml) clam nectar
4 c. (1 l) chicken stock
2 med. potatoes
1/2 tsp. (2 ml) fresh rosemary
1/4 tsp. (1 ml) fresh thyme
1/4 tsp. (1 ml) paprika
1 1/2 lb. (680 g) small clams
1 c. (250 ml) 10 % cream
1 tbsp. (15 ml) dry sherry
1/8 lb. (54 g) fresh shrimp
sea salt and fresh-ground pepper
1 tbsp. (15 ml) fresh parsley
Cut bacon into very small dice and chop up onion.
Rinse the clams in cold water and ensure they’re all tightly closed. Any that don’t close when tapped should be discarded.
Saute the chopped onion and diced bacon in a large, heavy pot over medium heat until the onion is soft and the bacon cooked.
Meanwhile, thinly slice carrot and chop celery. Add to the pot and cook for a few minutes, stirring everything together.
Dice one potato and grate the other. I scrub the skin instead of peeling them.
Pour in clam nectar and hot stock, either chicken or fish, and bring to a boil. Add the potatoes, herbs and spices and lower the heat.
Simmer for 15 minutes with the lid on.
Add whole scrubbed live clams (I use B.C.-grown Manila clams) and the cream (you may substitute milk), and simmer for five minutes or so, just until the clams open. Don’t overcook or they’ll get tough.
Add sherry, shrimp, salt and pepper to taste, then sprinkle with parsley just before serving.