Simplify Mealtime with A New Approach to Dinner Prep
I’ve been making family dinners for over 25 years. And while I do love a wow-worthy dish, my weekday go-to meals are the ones that strike that magical balance between being delicious, crowd-pleasing (I’ve got a picky gang),and easily executed on a busy weeknight.
I used to think that dinner prep began as I ran into the house at 5 o’clock each day. But I’ve learned that if I choose my menu carefully – and break down the recipe into smaller steps (that can be executed either the night before or earlier in the day) – I have many more options. I discovered that 5 minutes here, 10 minutes there, add up – and once you try it you’ll see how much easier that 5 o’clock hour can be!
Here are two of my family’s favorite meals – that I’ve been making for years – and how I actually prepare them:
Your kitchen will never smell better than when this crunchy baked chicken is in the oven. One of my favorite do-aheads is freezing raw chicken in marinade. This works as well for boneless skinless breasts (which we use all summer on the grill) as it does for a cut-up whole chicken. I’ll purchase a bunch at a time and devote an hour or so to getting the chicken in the marinade, labeled, and into the freezer.
To make this dish, place a cut-up chicken in a heavy duty zip-loc bag – add one cup of your favorite Italian dressing (bottled or homemade), toss to combine, and freeze. Thaw in the fridge the day before you plan to use.
In the morning (or early afternoon), place 1-2 cups of cornflake crumbs in a plastic bag. Add a few pieces of chicken at a time, shake to coat, and place on a wire rack set over a baking sheet (this keeps the bottoms of the chicken from getting soggy). Pop in the fridge till you’re ready to cook!
Bake the chicken at 375 degrees for 1 hour and 15 minutes. I like to serve this with long grain rice – which I’ve measured and placed in the cooking dish earlier in the day, and blackened broccoli (washed, cut up, and kept in a plastic bag in the fridge). After the chicken is finished, turn the oven up to 500 degrees. Toss the broccoli with some olive oil, garlic salt, and fresh lemon juice and bake for 10-12 minutes.
Ready for another recipe? You could not ask for an easier dish than these chili chicken tacos.