Weeknight Dinner Ideas | Roasted Chicken 3-ways
If your're like me, then you occasionally fall into a rut trying to come up with quick, easy, and most importantly healthy weeknight dinners. Dinner time is always the trickiest time of the day. First of all, it's "witching hour" for the kids. They're cute and adorable all day, and then 4:30/5 o'clock rolls around and they turn into little beasts: constantly fighting, whining uncontrollably, and asking for any unhealthy snack or dessert they can think of. My favorite is when Hank chucks a toy at Jack and then whines for an ice cream cone. Seriously. Mix in the fact that you are completely exhausted from the day and not to mention hungry, on the verge of hangry, and you have a wonderful little situation. Haha. In my opinion, as moms, the hardest part of our day is at the end of it when we are the most tired... who's idea was that? There's a reason people make meme's like this:
Real talk, I can be a Cruella sometimes, sans cigarette (duh). Matt usually knows it can be cured with some food or an alcoholic beverage. This is why moms need wine. Am I right??
Most nights, Matt comes home from work during witching hour and when they are in a "mood" I have to do my best to downplay the craziness of the day. Can you imagine coming home from a long day at work, and walking into a nut-house? No thanks. Of course, the second Daddy walks through the door, the kids instantly morph into sweet and adorable little cuddle-bugs and go "Yay! Daddy's home! Let's play!"
In order to get dinner cooked and the kids off to bed, I like to keep weeknight cooking pretty simple. Making an effort to not repeat the same meals over and over can be tough (when in doubt, tacos? right?). I recently started doing this little trick: make the your meat ahead of time, and then use it in different ways throughout the week.
The first night, I roast a whole chicken. One bird will feed my family of two adults and two rascals. But if you have a larger family, I would roast two chickens at a time. The idea here is to have a lot of leftovers. I like to buy my whole organic chickens at Costco. They come in a two-pack and they are only $2.50/lb. If you don't use both at one time, just freeze the extra bird.
Rinse the chicken and pat it dry... I know, gross. Place roughly chopped onions and lemons in a roasting pan then place your chicken on top. Rub the whole top with olive oil and season it with salt, pepper, and whichever dried herbs you like: rosemary, sage, and thyme are some of my favorites to use. If you have extra lemons, you can roughly chop them and place them in the cavity- again, gross. Throw that sucker in a 450 degree oven for 20-25 minutes. Then pour some white wine all over it and reduce the oven temp to 375 degrees. Continue cooking for about an hour or so, basting every 15 minutes. Use a meat thermometer and make sure the internal temperature is 165 degrees. Let the chicken rest for 15 minutes before carving.
For side dishes, I usually keep it simple and make a salad and a veggie dish. Roasted potatoes and carrots are also delicious. This dinner is an impressive one because it will make your whole house smell divine, like you've been in the kitchen all day! It is one of my favorite dinners to make on a cozy Sunday night.
You are then left with leftovers like this, that you can use for different upcoming recipes. I realize that this is meal prep 101 and you could just make a bunch of chicken breasts and call it a day, but I think roasting a whole chicken instead will give you much more flavor and the leftover chicken doesn't get as dried-out. Plus, you can save the bones and make homemade bone broth later! Hi Matty, you know you love it...wink, wink.
The next night, I sauteed onions, garlic, and a bunch of different veggies (clean out that vegetable drawer, yo) in olive oil. I added some of the chopped chicken and made a quick teriyaki sauce to simmer everything in. You could use store bought sauce too, if you are short on time, but I like to make my own because those pre-made sauces are usually full of crap. This was served with brown rice. The kids LOVE this kind of dinner too... always an added bonus.
On the third night, I boiled some organic penne noodles. Then, in my skillet, I sauteed onions and garlic in olive oil again, then added cherry tomatoes and chopped asparagus. I let those cook for a bit, until the asparagus turns bright green in color. Add your chopped leftover chicken and spoon in some pesto sauce. I like to make mine with basil, fresh garlic, olive oil and Parmesan cheese- or again, you could use store bought. Then toss in the penne, and voila! Easy chicken pesto penne! I love one pot meals. I served this with a green salad.
I hope this inspires some of you! And let me know if y'all have any other great weeknight dinner ideas!