My last few posts have been very focused on my writing, and while that’s all well and good this blog is supposed to be about finding magic and mishap as a housewife (really this blog is just about, whatever, and that suits me just fine). I was thinking about the things that I consistently loved growing up and one of those was dinner time. We almost always sat together at the table and as the meal would go on we would talk about everything. I think those mealtimes were where we were most drawn together. While, it’s not possible to have a big sunday type meal every day, and while the experience is now different (as I’m the one who does most of the work getting it to the table), I do think it’s important to sit down and eat together most nights of the week.
So, how do I do it? I cheat, a lot. If there’s a way to cut a corner and get that meal on the table faster and easier then I’m taking it. Our dinner usually consists of one big thing and one side, none of this multiple side dish thing my mother was able to pull off. If the meal is one of those skillet type things with meat and veggies then no side. Say, for example, our main dish is a leafy salad with grilled chicken, then I might toast up some everything bagels to go with it. Remember it’s not really about the food, it’s about being together at the table, and if you have small kids there’s a good chance they aren’t going to appreciate all your hard work any way.
My favorite meal cheat is to buy chicken from our local Bar-b-que place, Hogzilla, to use in skillets, soups, potpies, salads etc. Why spend all that time cooking chicken breasts or taking the meat off of bones when you can get it from a local business smoked to perfection and already shredded for you (plus Hogzilla meat is all from local farms)? Where ever you live I’m guessing you have places like this too, if not the rotisserie chicken from the deli is a good stand in. Here is a recipe using this kind of chicken, it’s what we had for dinner last night.
Chicken Stew with Sweet Potato Biscuits:
3 stalks of celery
1 large carrot
Other veggies (I used frozen green beans, and corn).
2 cups of chicken stock or broth
2 TBS butter
2 TBS flour
1 tsp of thyme
salt and pepper
1lbs of smoked shredded chicken (or rotisserie or cubed leftover chicken breasts)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Heat 1tbs oil in a pot. Dice the first three veggies and add to the pot. Add thyme salt and peeper. Let the veggies sweat a little maybe three minutes. Add the butter and flour let cook for a couple of minutes. Add the stock and stir until thickened into a nice gravy. Add the chicken and the rest of the veggies. Let simmer while you make the biscuits. I love this recipe (click HERE) the sweet flaky sweet potato biscuits are a perfect combination with the smoky chicken but you could also use the pillsbury biscuits from the can. Add the chicken stew to a casserole dish, place biscuits on top and place in the oven for about 12 min. If your using pillsbury biscuits it might take longer closer to 15 or so, bake until the biscuits are beginning to brown.
It’s significant, I think, that there are so many records of Jesus eating with his disciples. There’s just something about bonding and teaching around a table over food. The studies on the benefits of children eating regular meals at the table is overwhelming. This might seem like one more thing to feel guilty over, but it doesn’t have to be hard. Let’s cheat our way to dinner with reckless abandon and sometimes just bring a delivery order pizza to the table instead.
Do you guys have any great meal cheat ideas. I’d love to put a list of them together to help busy families. I want to reclaim dinner but I want to do it without the guilt. Who’s with me?!
P.S. There’s a giveaway over on the sewing blog (you know the blog where I’m systematically destroying the English language) so if your interested in winning some hand crafted headbands head on over. Click HERE.