Glad you’re Cookin’ with me today!
So, do you tend to be a procrastinator or a preparer? Or a little of both?
I think I am both a procrastinator and a preparer in my work life and personal life. At work, there are certain things that I know come easier for me than others, and I can get done without a great deal of preparation. And when I have the opportunity to dig into those things, I could lose myself and I feel so good about what I get accomplished! But then there are other times when I have to work a little (or a lot) harder to complete an assignment because it doesn’t come as easy for me or it doesn’t bring me quite as much joy. And I have to fight the urge to wait until the last minute to complete them. However, I’ve realized that procrastination isn’t always a bad thing, and that there is always some form of preparation that takes place one way or another. And maybe “improvisation” is a better way to describe procrastination. That way it doesn’t feel so negative.
And when I’m in my kitchen, I love to “wing it”. I can pull together dinner in under 30 minutes for 15-20 people, without blinking an eye! And maybe many of you are the opposite. You are energized by the work you do each day and get a great sense of accomplishment from leading productive zoom meetings, presenting to a large audience, serving others in a medical or education role, and yet when you are on your way home, you panic! And you think, “Gosh I wish I prepared something for dinner or got my thoughts in order to get dinner on the table in under 30 minutes. The kids have to finish their homework, I’ve got to get them to soccer or play practice, then get them ready for bed and make the lunches for the next day.” Your list is a mile long and you’re exhausted just thinking about it!
Well, Jennie Boysen, this one’s for you! I say you can prepare dinner during the week without spending lots of time and energy. For example, when you are running a meeting, at work, you ask yourself, “What are the top three things I want to get across to my audience?” Well, when you are deciding what to make for dinner, ask yourself, “What are the top three food groups I am going to make tonight?” All you need to worry about is a Protein, Starch and Vegetable. Don’t look for fancy or gourmet (great if you have the time, the ingredients and cooking talent). Just keep it simple (just like you try to do at work). Keep some garlic, onion, and my “Shake it up Blended Oil Seasoning” on hand. (My blended oil is basically taking a few kinds of oil, like olive, grapeseed and avocado and blend it up with kosher salt, cracked black pepper and Kirkland’s no-salt organic seasoning.)
Remember when you took a test, and you have to match the term from the first column with the term that best describes it on the second column? Same concept! I’ve put starter lists below for each of the food groups, and guess what? In this case, you really can’t go wrong! Relax, grab a cup of tea or a glass of wine like I do, and pick one from each of the three lists below, then match them with a Sauce!
Protein Starch Vegetable Sauce
Chicken Pasta Broccoli Blended Oil
Fish Couscous Carrots Barbecue
Beef White or Red Potatoes Green Beans Honey Mustard
Pork Sweet Potatoes Brussel Sprouts Balsamic Rosemary
Tofu Rice Zucchini Chimichurri
Beans Tomatoes Spinach Lemon Thyme
Turkey Noodles Corn Tomato Parmesan
Then, based on what you decide to put together, get out a frying pan, aluminum pan, and/or medium pot or if your gas or charcoal grill is handy, fire that up. I LOVE to use those aluminum pans you put lasagna in because you can rinse them off and then toss them in the recycling when you’re done. I actually reuse mine when I can. They also hold up well in the oven or on the grill!
So tonight, let’s do chicken, rice, Brussel sprouts and my Blended Oil Seasoning. Preheat your oven to 400⁰ on convection roast if you have it or bake if you don’t. Grab a couple 9” x 12” aluminum pans. I have been using chicken thighs a lot because they come out so tasty and juicy no matter how you prepare them. Lay the thighs out in an aluminum pan. Chop a few cloves of garlic up and throw some of the garlic over the chicken. Squirt some of my blended oil seasoning on them. Cut the stem bottoms off the Brussel sprouts, slice them in half (or quarters if they are large). Lay them out in the second aluminum pan. Squirt some Blended Oil Seasoning on them and sprinkle with the remainder of the garlic. If you have some cranraisins or slivered almonds, throw some of those in if you want before or after for garnish. And heck, throw those in the chicken, too! Roast or bake them for 15 minutes, checking to make certain the chicken reaches 165⁰ and the Brussel sprouts are softened and a little crispy, but still have the bright green color. If you cook them too much, they’ll be dark green and taste like they used to when your mother boiled them until they were mushy!
For the rice, if you want to boil rice from scratch, follow the directions on the box or bag. But I have to tell you I sometimes cheat by using a couple pouches of Uncle Ben’s microwavable rice! They take 90 seconds in the microwave, and “voila”! They come out perfect every time! When you toss it in a bowl, add some salt, pepper, a little butter, and heck, put in some cranraisins and slivered almonds if you want! Or some fresh green parsley! I adore making my meals look colorful by simple using a sprig of fresh herbs, topping with minced red, yellow, or orange peppers, or red onion or green scallions. Just enough to make it pretty, not necessarily alter the taste!
After writing this post, I realized that I do prepare more than I procrastinate (improvise) when it comes to putting a meal together. I try to follow my rule of threes and keep in my pantry and fridge a little of each of some of the proteins, starches, and vegetables. Add in your stash the ingredients that can make up a little sauce, along with fresh garlic and onion, and ultimately some herbs and colorful veggies to serve as a side and/or top off the plate!
I think you’ll find that you like certain proteins with certain starches and veggies better than others. Next time we’ll select another protein, starch and veggie, and pair it with one of the sauces. But the possibilities can be endless!
Did you pass the match game test? (Hint, Hint……. everyone gets them all right!)
Thanks for being with me today!
Let’s Get Cookin’
Roasted Chicken Thighs, Rice and Brussel Sprouts in 30 Minutes
- 9" x 12" Aluminum Plans (2)
- 4 Chicken Thighs (Boneless if preferred)
- 1 lb Raw Brussel Sprouts
- 2 cups Cooked Rice Uncle Ben's Ready Rice, or 1 cup uncooked
- 1/4 cup Madeline's Blended Oil Seasoning
- 1/2 Red, Orange or Yellow Pepper
- 1/4 cup Cranraisins
- 1/4 cup Slivered Almonds
- 4 cloves Fresh Garlic
- 1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees on convection roast or traditional bake if you don't have convection.
- 2. Place chicken thighs in the 9" x 12" aluminum pan.
- 3. Cut the dark bottom off the the Brussel Sprouts and slice them in half or quarters so that they are the size of nickels. Place them in the 9" x 12" aluminum pan.
- 4. Chop the fresh garlic and sprinkle half over the chicken thighs and half over the Brussel sprouts. Sprinkle half the cranraisins and almonds onto the Brussel sprouts and half onto the chicken thighs
- 5. If making rice from scratch or using Uncle Ben's Ready rice,, prepare the rice according to the instructions.
- 6. IF using the Blended Oil Seasoning, shake and put half on the chicken and half on the Brussel sprouts. Toss so the chicken and Brussel sprouts are coated with the oil.
- 7. Place aluminum pans side by side n the oven center rack. Roast or bake for 15 minutes so the Brussel Sprouts are softened, but are crispy and the chicken thighs are cooked to 165 degrees and appear tender and juicy.
- 8. Add salt, pepper and butter to taste onto the rice before serving.