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Seven Simple Family Meals | dinner | best recipes

As a single mother, the biggest challenge I faced at the end of a day was to put aside my fatigue, work worries, and financial woes to spend time with my two little girls. We were all starving for attention – and just plain starving. Dinner had to be fast, simple and inexpensive. Moreover, I had to be able to cook it while helping with homework, reading Dr. Seuss aloud, or putting together a puzzle.

What’s more, recipes had to get us all involved in cooking. Before our first year together with me as a busy chef and unexpectedly single mother, my young daughters had mastered pasta, waffles, apple fritters, tuna salad and mashed potatoes. Being able to put together a delicious, healthy meal even at the end of a long day raised their self-esteem, not to mention mine. And it saved us a million dollars on takeout. Here are seven of our favorite dishes. – Gillian Clark

  • One-Pot Roasted Chicken with Potatoes

    This is one of those throw-in-the-oven things. You can get a lot done while it is cooking and there is very little clean-up. Have the kids wash the potatoes!

    Ingredients:

    • 3-pound chicken (fresh if you can get one)
    • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
    • 8 or 10 small new potatoes, scrubbed and cut in half
    • 1 onion, quartered
    • 1 Tbsp Salt
    • 1 tsp pepper
    • 1 Tbsp olive oil
    • 2 tsp of flour
    • 2 sticks of fresh thyme
    • 1 cup chicken stock or water

    Method:

    Preheat the oven to 450.

    Then rinse the chicken inside and out, and pat dry with a paper towel.

    Fill the cavity with the garlic, salt and pepper.

    Place the chicken in a pan (oven safe) just large enough to hold the chicken with about and inch or two to spare on the perimeter.

    Rub the bird with the olive oil, tuck the wings under, and tie the legs together loosely just to cross at the ankles.

    Sprinkle the oiled skin with salt and pepper. Place in the center of that hot oven.

    When you hear the sizzling and popping (“singing,” as it’s called) and the bird is beginning to brown, turn the heat to 350. Add the potatoes and onions around the bird.

    Cook for an additional 45 minutes or so. Cooking time should be twenty minutes per pound. Prick the thigh and the juices should run clear.

    Remove the chicken to a warm platter and surround it with the cooked potatoes and onions (you could leave them in the pan and brown them a little more on the stove if you like, then remove them with a slotted spoon).

    Pour most of the fat out of the pan but for a tablespoon.

    Toss in the thyme and flour in the pan and turn the heat to medium. Scrape the bits of baked on chicken and cook stirring for about 2 more minutes.

    Pour in the water or chicken stock. Simmer for 5 minutes or so. Remove the thyme and pour into a gravy boat.

  • Homemade Pasta

    This is a recipe that kids can do all by themselves with an adult assistant. The pasta machine is a great investment and safe for kids of all ages. It functions much like the Play Doh fun factory.

    Ingredients:

    • 3 cups of flour
    • 3 whole eggs
    • 1 tbsp olive oil
    • 1 tsp salt

    Method:

    Make a mountain of flour on the counter and make a well for the eggs and oil. Break the eggs into the well and add the oil and salt. Using a fork, blend all of the ingredients together until you have a smooth ball. Knead for five minutes.

    Using the pasta machine, knead the dough and fold through the highest setting. Keep rolling it through six times. Then lower the setting with each consecutive pass until you have a thin sheet. Cut with the fettuccini cutter.

    Let the pasta hang and then dry while you bring 3 quarts of salted water to a boil.

    The Sauce

    • Crushed Tomato Sauce
    • One pound of tomatoes
    • 1/4 cup olive oil
    • 1 large white onion diced
    • 2 cloves of garlic
    • salt
    • pepper

    Method:

    Sweat the onions and garlic cloves in the olive oil in a large, stainless steel pot. Let simmer for 20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add tomatoes. Grind the sauce through a food mill.

    Top the fresh pasta with this sauce. Garnish with whatever pleases you: Finely diced cooked shrimp, roasted garlic, shredded parmesan, minced Italian sausage.

  • Green Deviled Eggs & Ham

    This recipe is just plain and simple fun food. Depending upon their fine motor skills, kids can do anything here from peeling the eggs to piping the filling.

    Ingredients:

    • (24 deviled eggs)
    • 12 Eggs
    • 1/2 cup of heavy cream
    • 1 Avocado, peeled and seeded
    • 1/3 cup of parsley leaves
    • 1 tsp salt
    • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
    • 1/4 cup minced ham

    Method:

    Place the eggs in a pot large enough for all twelve to rest on the bottom. Cover the eggs with cold water, so that there is four inches of water above the top surface of the eggs. Bring the water to a boil, cover and turn off heat. Let the eggs sit in the hot water covered for eleven minutes. Drain and place the eggs in an ice water bath. After five minutes, remove them from their shells. Set to dry on a towel.

    Carefully cut the eggs in half and remove the yolks. Cut a small flat spot on each half of the boiled egg white cups so that they lay flat on a platter. Set aside in the refrigerator. Place the yolks in a bowl and break them into a powder with a whisk. In a blender on the lowest setting blend half the cream, avocado, parsley, salt and pepper. Do this gently and carefully; you do not want to make whipped cream here. Whisk this mixture with the broken yolks. The green cream and yolk should be beaten hard enough that you make a smooth, pipeable, whipped cream. Fill a star tipped pastry bag with the mixture and pipe a good tablespoon or so into the halved egg whites. If you don’t have a pastry bag, you can fill the eggs by spooning about a tablespoon of the filling into each half. Garnish with the minced ham.

  • Corn Fritters

    I never shuck corn anymore. All that tearing and pulling is cathartic for kids with school stress.

    Ingredients:

    • 6 ears freshly shucked corn
    • 4 eggs
    • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 2 cups vegetable oil for frying

    Method:

    Remove all silk from corn. Using the coarse side of a box grater, cut raw corn from the cob over a large bowl. Scrape the juice from the cobs into the bowl as well. Discard cobs. Stir in the eggs, flour and salt to form a batter the consistency of thin pancake batter.

    Heat the oil in a heavy bottom skillet to medium high heat. There should be enough oil in the pan to cover the sides of the fritter. Use a large serving spoon to make 4 pancake sized fritters at the same time. Fry for about 5 minutes on each side or until golden brown. Drain on paper towels and serve warm. Makes about 10 fritters.

    We have the fritters as a side dish, a snack or for breakfast.

  • Portobello Reuben

    A great lunch option that I have them make for themselves after I’ve given them all of the cooked ingredients.

    Serves:

    4

    Ingredients:

    • 8 portobellos, cleaned and stems removed
    • 1/4 cup olive oil
    • salt
    • pepper
    • 8 slices of swiss cheese
    • 8 slices of rye bread
    • 1/2 cup sauerkraut

    Method:

    Toss the portobellos in the olive oil and with a pinch of salt and a pinch of pepper. Roast the portobellos in an oven preheated to 350 degrees. While the portobellos are roasting (it should take about 15 minutes) toast the rye bread in the oven with a slice of the cheese on each slice of bread.

    To assemble the sandwiches, place two of the mushrooms on one slice of the rye and one fourth of the sauerkraut. Place the other slice of bread on top of the sauerkraut. Slice the sandwich in half and serve.

  • Grilled Tomato & Spinach w/Garlic Sandwiches

    This is a healthy sandwich you can whip up when you’re down to just a couple of vegetables in the fridge.

    Serves:

    4

    Ingredients:

    • 1/4 cup olive oil
    • 1/2 Tsp salt
    • 1/4 tsp black pepper
    • 1 cup of fresh spinach leaves
    • 8 slices of whole wheat bread

    Method:

    Heat an oven to 350 degrees. On a sheet tray, arrange the tomato slices. Sprinkle with the olive oil and the salt and pepper. Roast the tomatoes until the skins start to wrinkle and the slices begin to weep juices. Arrange one fourth of the spinach leaves and tomato slices on one slice of bread. Using a spoon or ladle, dress the tomato slices with the garlic dressing. Top with the other slice and cut in half then serve.

    The Dressing

    Ingredients:

    • 3 Tbsp minced Garlic (about 10 cloves)
    • 1/4 cup sherry or white wine vinegar
    • 2 cups olive oil

    Method:

    Whisk together

  • Pot au Feu

    This is a healthy sandwich you can whip up when you’re down to just a couple of vegetables in the fridge.

    Ingredients:

    • 1/4 cup olive oil
    • 1/2 Tsp salt
    • 1/4 tsp black pepper
    • 1 cup of fresh spinach leaves
    • 8 slices of whole wheat bread

    Method:

    Heat an oven to 350 degrees. On a sheet tray, arrange the tomato slices. Sprinkle with the olive oil and the salt and pepper. Roast the tomatoes until the skins start to wrinkle and the slices begin to weep juices. Arrange one fourth of the spinach leaves and tomato slices on one slice of bread. Using a spoon or ladle, dress the tomato slices with the garlic dressing. Top with the other slice and cut in half then serve.

    The Dressing

    • 3 Tbsp minced Garlic (about 10 cloves)
    • 1/4 cup sherry or white wine vinegar
    • 2 cups olive oil

    Method:

    Whisk together:

Article Posted 7 years Ago

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