As a full time teaching mom with three teen boys in sports, I have a few important requirements for dinner.
- Quick and easy: I am the worst with meal planning and prep. Before I went back to work, and the kids were into so many sports and activities, I would plan out meals, prepare things in advance, and even make freezer meals sometimes. I was so together. Yeah, that is over.
- Healthy: I have three teenaged boys who play sports and prefer to eat healthy as much as possible. So my comfort meals are nice, but need to be sparing. I need to make healthy meals as often as I can.
- Quick and easy clean-up: In addition to sports, and my two oldest are taking four AP classes each next year. So as much as well all love a good home cooked meal, clean up cannot take forever. They have too much work at night, and often, so do I . I want my kids to look forward to a great meal with their family, not dread it because there will be a huge clean up process afterwards.
So far, I have found two things that fit all of these requirements, my Staub cast iron skillet and my InstanPot. I am probably WAY late on the band wagon, but I just discovered “One-Skillet” meals using a high quality enameled cast iron skillet. And I am telling you, I AM IN LOVE. Busy teacher moms, you need this Staub Skillet. You can sear your meat, throw on some veggies, and then throw it in the oven to finish cooking! It is a time saving game changer. I love this skillet because it was easy to use and clean up, thanks to the enameled coating. But what made me love it even more was that my entire family loved this really simple (and healthy) meal! OK, I know I sound like an infomercial, but busy teaching moms need help. And if I can make a dinner in 10 minutes of “work time” I am in! I got my 10″ skillet from Sur La Table, and they even have free shipping right now! A 10″ skillet will fit four large chicken breasts. But that isn’t enough for my family, and I love left-overs, so I just ordered a second 10″ skillet.
Cost of two 10″ skillets = Cost of one 12″skillet
My other favorite thing is the InstaPot. It makes soft boiled eggs in under 10 minutes. I steam fresh green beans in it. And most recently, I cooked perfect brown rice in it. Tonight my son was so disappointed that I didn’t make white rice like he has at school, until he tasted it! And it was so easy. I put my recipe below.
I’ve only tried two recipes in my skillet, but my family raved about how great it was so I had to share! I would love more recipes if you have a favorite!
Basically, don’t make skillet cooking hard. Season and sear the meat, remove the meat from skillet, put liquid of your choice in skillet to get the seared stuff unstuck from the skillet, put meat back in, top with fresh veggies if desired, then transfer to the oven to finish. You can add your seasonings, extras (GARLIC!), and liquid. I recommend wine, but you could also use broth.
Skillet Garlic Lemon Chicken
- Season chicken. I used garlic salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper (for some spice).
- Heat some olive oil in the pan and then sear it, for about 3 minutes on each side.
- Remove the meat and add some liquid to get the stuff in the pan loose and in your sauce! I probably use half a cup of wine, and about half a lemon. This will bubble up so beautifully, and you can whisk up all of the stuff in the pan.
- Optional: Add more stuff, like garlic or herbs! I press at least 3 bulbs of fresh garlic into my bubbling broth. Garlic cooks fast and you don’t want it to burn! So as soon as it starts sizzling, turn off the heat.
- Put the chicken back in the skillet, and then add chopped veggies on top! I then sprayed them with Olive Oil and sprinkled them with salt and pepper.
- Cook for 10-15 minutes in the oven at 350 degrees.
So, the entire meal is in the oven and I have 10-15 minutes to chill before dinner. And then clean up is ONE skillet! Rice goes really well with this, so I cooked some in the InstaPot. And I sometimes make a salad.
Perfect Brown Rice in the InstaPot
Warning: Is is really not “Instant” rice. It will still take at least 30 minutes to cook the rice in a pressure cooker, 10 minutes to come to pressure, 15 minutes to cook, 5 minutes to release pressure. So plan accordingly. It’s not really much quicker, however it’s just worth it because it is low maintenance and comes out perfectly every time.
- Use equal parts rice to liquid. Too much liquid will make your rice mushy (yes, this happened to me the first time). I used chicken broth instead of water because it makes the rice very flavorful.
- Cook on high pressure for 15 minutes.
- Once it finishes, let the InstaPot release the pressure naturally.
- Season it how you like. My kids like some butter in their rice, but it doesn’t take much!
Creamy Cilantro Chicken
I also have to include this recipe, Easy One Skillet Creamy Cilantro Lime Chicken, as my son loved it! I used reduced fat sour cream and it still made the most incredible sauce!
Again, I am sure that I am the only one who is not already making one-skillet meals! So please let me know if you have a great one!
Here’s a recipe:
8 large boneless chicken breasts cut in half
1 bottle French dressing (your choice)
1 package dried onion soup mix
1 can whole berry cranberry sauce
Minced garlic to your liking (about 2 cloves)
Oven to 400 degrees F.
Mix dressing, soup mix, cranberry sauce, garlic together in a bowl.
Put chicken into baking pan. You could split it between your cast irons if you wanted.
Pour sauce over chicken.
Bake for 45 minutes.
You could prep everything the night before and put it all in a large ziplock bag to marinate. Just dump the bag into the pan and cook for an hour.
Or, you could dump everything into a crock pot and cook on low for 8 hours.
Serve over rice. Yum! It’s an odd mix of ingredients, but it’s my Jewish grandmother’s recipe (Jewish grandmothers make the best freaking food!).
My kids love French dressing and French onion dip so this sounds delicious! I can’t wait to make it! Thank you!
Random! I just got a cast iron pan too!
I am a risotto fiend. And I have found that Instant Pot risotto s AS GOOD as me sweating over the stove for hours. I use this recipe (the white wine glug is a must) but obviously you have to put a heck of a lot more parm than what they list!
Also similarly, you can make really good rice pudding (same rice as risotto!):
This isn’t an instant pot thing, but this is one of those “HOLY COW, this tastes so much better than I thought it would, and is super easy to make” recipes for a side/salad (though usually this is my dinner… and it’s great the next day at room temp…):
Similarly, few ingredients, super duper quick, super crazy delicious: https://www.budgetbytes.com/spicy-noodles/comment-page-41/#comments