March 16, 2012

Easy Dinner Ideas from a Non-Food-Blogger

I know this isn't a food blog (there are PLENTY of those out there already), but I always like to share recipes, especially if they work for busy moms.  You see, I enjoy cooking (and eating), but I'm all about quick and easy when it comes to making regular dinners for my family.  A friend of mine mentioned that she loves it when I share dinner tips with her, so I figured I would share them here.  Who knows, maybe they will be helpful to someone else.

Just so you know, these are recipes I feed my kids, but they aren't picky eaters.... I don't allow that nonsense!  I had a roommate in college who was so incredibly picky (Andrea, if you are reading this, I love you to pieces, but you know this is true!) that she literally lived on frozen pizza, hamburgers, and Special K cereal... with no milk, because she didn't like milk, of course.  Oh, and occasionally she would gag down some carrots to assuage her guilt.  I'm not exaggerating.  She was most definitely the pickiest eater I have EVER encountered in my life.  And she freely admitted it was because her mother coddled her.  I decided then that I would NEVER do that with my own children.  And I haven't.

Now, don't get me wrong... my children aren't perfect eaters, but they will try anything I serve them, and they willingly eat a lot of things that many children (and adults!) turn their noses up at, including spicy ethnic foods, and they like all vegetables, salads, and fruits.  So, I'm more than satisfied. 

Anyway, over the next several days I will share some of my favorite quick and easy dinners.... just so you know.  I wouldn't want anyone to think they didn't come to the right blog or something.... if there is anyone still out there actually reading my blog.  (I think my husband does.... he checks occasionally to make sure I haven't revealed anything embarrassing about him.)

BUT FIRST, I have to share an essential tip before all the others.  Most of these recipes call for chicken.  And, well.... I'm lazy.  And I hate handling raw meat of any kind, so I avoid it whenever possible.  Here is my solution; cook a whole bunch of it in a large crock pot ahead of time... it makes dinner much faster, and you don't have to, well, you know, handle that disgusting raw meat.

Here's how:

1 large crock pot
A whole bunch of boneless/skinless chicken breasts
1/2 c. water (if your chicken is frozen)

OK, now pay attention because this is kind of tricky.  Dump all the chicken in the crock pot.  Did you get that?  Like, dump a whole bag of frozen chicken breasts from Costco in.... whatever your crock pot will hold.  Stuff it in there.  And IF, heaven forbid, you have to touch it (ewww!) to make it fit, wash you hands!  (At least when it's frozen it's not so gross.) 

Now, if your chicken is frozen, PLEASE don't forget to add 1/2 c. water... if you don't, your crock pot will crack in half (so I'm told) and you will be mad... but not at me, because I warned you!  So, there is my disclaimer.

In my crock pot, I cook it on high for 3 hours and it's perfectly cooked, tender and juicy.  Yours might a little different, but that's a place to start.  You will also end up with some broth to use in a recipe, so save it if you want (it freezes well).  You can season the chicken before you cook it, but I like to leave it plain and season it later; that way I'm not locked in to any particular "taste" when I use it in a recipe. 

So, there you have it.  A whole bunch of chicken ready to use in future recipes.  (Way cheaper, and tastier, than buying pre-cooked chicken.)  If you do this on Monday morning you can have chicken ready for all of your meals for the whole week.  If you aren't going to use it all in one week, freeze what you won't use.  Here are a few ways to do it:

1)  Cut into bite-size pieces and put individual portions in plastic zip bags. Then put them all in large zip bag (so you can keep them all together and find them easier, and so they won't "get lost" in your freezer, or freezer-burned) and put that in the freezer.  Then, just pull one out in the morning to defrost in the fridge, and use to make a salad for your lunch.

2)  Or freeze full-meal-size portions you can pull out for a recipe.

3)  Freeze frozen cooked breasts to cut up later and use.  Just remember full breasts won't thaw as fast as cut up pieces. 

So, there is your first step.  Tomorrow I will post a recipe you can use some of this chicken with.  Or you can just dip it in BBQ sauce and eat it.  Well, duh... you can make BBQ sandwiches with it!


  1. I always read your blog! :)

  2. This is awesome. Quick question... when the chicken breasts are non frozen, do you add any liquid to the crock pot or just the chicken?

  3. Sheree8:08 PM

    Alice, I always read both your blogs - love them! Hey, am I the friend who loves it when you share dinner tips with me? Yeah, I think I am. : )

  4. Lizi, No liquid needed if chicken is fully thawed. But you can add it if you want for a little extra broth I guess. Good question.

    Sheree, yes you. :)

  5. Alice, I read both your blogs. And I LOVE the food tips. Thanks!

  6. Anonymous4:56 PM

    Hi Alice - I'm reading! I love it - I don't think I've ever been mentioned in a blog before! My eating habits have improved soooo much. I now eat mashed potatoes, salad, I love rice, enjoy a few flavors of soup, and the list goes on. If I'm ever in AZ, we'll go out to dinner so I can show you! *Andrea

  7. Awesome Andrea! You're on! :)

  8. This article was a really interesting read, information has been presented in a clear and concise manner. Thanks!
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