I wrote a book about quick meals but the reality of it is that having a small child brings new meaning to quick cooking. Nate is still on the two naps a day schedule. He usually sleeps for one to one and a half hours per nap. Two to three hours sounds like a lot of time but when you factor in bills, laundry, making dinner, washing dishes, vacuuming, and work it feels like no time at all.
I’ve become even better at cooking with little time. And, I can make a meal out of almost nothing. It used to be easy to run to the store to pick up what I needed to make exactly what I had in mind. Now, going to the store is an event. I’ve learned out of necessity to make do with what’s on hand. It’s almost always just as good, and often better, than what I had intended.
Having a well stocked pantry is key. If you don’t know how to stock your kitchen or are wondering what you could add to make it even better, check out my Meal Planning Made Simple series. It’s filled with details about what I keep on hand.
Another key is having the right kitchen tools. I used my Le Creuset enameled cast iron braiser for this one-pot meal. The braiser goes from stove top to oven to tabletop for serving. It’s so much easier on clean-up. If you don’t have an stovetop-to-oven suitable cooking vessel, you can transfer the mixture to a casserole dish and pop it in the oven.
To make sure I get dinner done on time, I always have a plan for dinner when the day starts though my meal plans are less detailed than they used to be. Sometimes I mentally scan what I have on hand and put together a meal. Other times I flip through a cookbook and find something that works with what’s in my refrigerator. And, of course there’s my favorite blogs and Pinterest, too.
What are your tricks for getting dinner on the table?
A simple stove-top to oven one-skillet dish full of flavor.
- 1/4 cup sweet rice flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ancho chili powder
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
- 4 - 6 organic chicken thighs
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 cups cooked pinto beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 (14.5 ounce) can fire roasted tomatoes, preferably Muir Glen Organic, with juice
- 1 cup organic frozen corn
- 3/4 cup chicken stock, or more
- 2/3 cup long grain brown rice
- 2 cloves of garlic, grated on a microplane
- 1 - 2 limes, cut into fourths
- 3 tablespoons chopped cilantro (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- In a large Ziploc bag, combine sweet rice flour, ancho chili powder, sea salt, and ground black pepper. Add chicken thighs and shake until coated.
- Heat the olive oil in a large, oven-safe skillet or a large pan. Brown the chicken on both sides. Remove from the skillet and cover to keep warm.
- Add the beans, fire roasted tomatoes, frozen corn, 3/4 cup chicken stock, brown rice, and garlic to the skillet. If there is not enough liquid to cover the rice, add a bit more stock.
- Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, add chicken on top of the rice mixture, cover and place in the oven. If you're not using an oven-safe skillet, carefully transfer rice mixture to a casserole dish, place chicken on top, cover, and place in the oven.
- Bake for 45 - 50 minutes, until the chicken is no longer pink and the rice is tender.
- Squeeze 1/2 of a lime over the finished dish. Garnish with cilantro if desired and serve hot with additional wedges of lime.