Thursday, July 21, 2011

Cooking with Kids

No, this post is not about how to have fun with your little one in the kitchen. I prefer to keep little ones out of the kitchen. No, this is about how to make a decent meal when you have a screaming baby in the background. I used to post recipes and pictures as I was cooking, but those days are gone. I cook so quickly that a camera can't even catch what I'm doing. Instead, I'm going to give you some tips on how to cook when you have a baby.

1) Cook fast. Really fast.

I do everything super fast now, because most of it gets done during Ibby's nap time. I can clean a bathroom in under 12 minutes. I actually timed myself. The kitchen completely wiped down and clean in under 20. Seriously. I will probably be featured in the Guinness book of records, so keep an eye out for that.

2) Clear the kitchen before cooking.

Guys, don't start cooking with a full dishwasher and a sink full of dirty dishes. Make sure you are ready to go! The dishwasher is empty, the sink is ready for all your dishes, and the counters are clear. It makes cooking a whole lot easier when you can just stick stuff in the dishwasher and you have space to work with.

3) You are not Ina Garten anymore.

I used to have tons of fun in the kitchen. I'd experiment with recipes, make super difficult stuff, and spend hours researching new ingredients and techniques. Those days are gone. During the week I make super easy food and occasionally make something more challenging on the weekend since the hubby can take over baby duty.

4) Embrace the crock pot, stews, and Campbell's mushroom soup.

Make everything easier on yourself. Buy pre-made sauces. Make stew like there is no tomorrow. It's ok! The fact you have a home cooked meal is awesome, so who cares what you used to make it? I used to be a food snob and I'd avoid stuff like that like the plague. Now were best friends.

5) Freeze.

Cook batches of food and freeze it. Whenever you need some food and don't have time to cook and have pad thai takeout coming out of your nose, frozen food is like finding a gift in your freezer.

6) Cook in increments.

Chop stuff the night before. Prep during baby's first nap and then cook during the next. It makes life a whole lot easier.

7) Make the mother of all grocery lists.

Buy for the whole week. I live in an apartment, and my parking garage is approximately 5 miles away (It really isn't but it feels like that). The last thing I want to do is lug groceries from my car throughout the week. Buy in bulk as much as possible. Freeze meat. Sell out costco. Stock your pantry as if their is a nuclear apocalypse on the way to town.

Now, I shall leave you with a recipe I recently made that was super easy and reallly delicious. Thanks Create TV! =)

Cooks Country Lemon Chicken:
1 whole chicken (3 1/2- to 4-pounds), backbone removed and butterflied 
3 tablespoons grated lemon zest plus 1/3 cup juice from 3 lemons
1 teaspoon sugar 
Salt and pepper 
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth 
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon water 
1 teaspoon cornstarch 
3 tablespoons unsalted butter 
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley 


· 1. SEASON Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 475 degrees. Pat chicken dry with paper towels. Combine lemon zest, sugar, and 1 teaspoon salt in small bowl. Following step-by-step, rub 2 tablespoons zest mixture under skin of chicken. Season chicken with salt and pepper and transfer to roasting pan. (Seasoned chicken can be refrigerated for 2 hours)

· 2. ROAST Whisk broth, 1 cup water, lemon juice, and remaining zest mixture in 4-cup liquid measuring cup, then pour into roasting pan. (Liquid should just reach skin of thighs. If it does not, add enough water to reach skin of thighs.) Roast until skin is golden brown and thigh meat registers 170 to 175 degrees, 40 to 45 minutes. Transfer to cutting board and let rest 20 minutes. 

· 3. MAKE SAUCE Pour liquid from pan, along with any accumulated chicken juices, into saucepan (you should have about 1 1/2 cups). Skim fat, then cook over medium-high until reduced to 1 cup, about 5 minutes. Whisk cornstarch with remaining water in small bowl until no lumps remain, then whisk into saucepan. Simmer until sauce is slightly thickened, about 2 minutes. Off heat, whisk in butter and parley and season with salt and pepper. Carve chicken and serve, passing sauce at table. 


More Lemon Flavor in Less Time Butterflying the chicken may be unfamiliar, but this surprisingly simple process makes it easier to flavor the chicken with lemon—and it speeds roasting, too.

1. Use kitchen shears to cut out the backbone. Flip the bird over and press to flatten the breastbone.

2. Carefully loosen the skin, then rub zest mixture into the breast, thigh, and leg meat.

3. Roast the flattened chicken in the lemony sauce so that its flavor can permeate the meat.

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